Before I continue on with the final part of this series, I would like to thank all of you on BR for the warm welcome. It has been some time since I have been on here, and truth be told I never thought I would come back.
You guys have been great, and because of that I may just pop in more often with some new stuff. Now that all of that silly stuff is out of the way, let's get on with part three and the final chapter of Pro Wrestling's Dark Side.
In the first two parts, I covered many black eyes that have hit pro wrestling over the years. Whether it was the NWA's Mafia-like tactics or the WWE steroid scandal, all of them had an impact on this business which I hold near and dear to my heart.
In this chapter, we are going to cover some of the heavy hitters. The events that I am about to talk about shook pro wrestling to its very core.
There are some things promoters can make you forget. These stories will never be any of them.
A Death felt around the world
If you ask any fan what death in wrestling affected them the most, you are more likely to hear the tragic tale of Owen Hart. I had the privilege of watching this great grappler for most of his career.
I also had the unfortunate privilege of watching it end. Throughout the years, Owen gave us many thrills in the ring.
The match I remember the most fondly was his bout with Bret Hart at Wrestlemania. He was known as a great guy who would give you the shirt off his back in the middle of winter.
That is why his death struck the heart of so many. While wrestlers have died, no one's death made more of an impact than his. This tragic tale would occur at a PPV called Over the Edge on May 23, 1999.
He was slated to wrestle The Godfather that night for the Intercontinental title. During Owen's entrance he was supposed to slide down a harness and then release himself in the middle of the ring. (He was portraying his "Blue Blazer" superhero persona. - ED.)
This bout would sadly never take place. Some say it was because the harness was messed up, while others would claim that Owen was too heavy to do that kind of stunt.
But either way, it became a tragic event that will never be forgotten in the realms of pro wrestling. Owen was able to release himself, but he would go way to fast. This resulted in him landing chest first into the top rope.
At first he seemed okay, because he sat up, but he would then pass out. He was taken to the hospital and worked on but he would later die from internal bleeding.
His death would result in a lawsuit in which the Hart family received almost $20 million.
I remember watching this PPV and Jim Ross announcing that Owen had died. I felt that it was shameful that the WWE would continue the show. But that is just my opinion on the matter.
Pro Wrestling runs on D and D
In all sports, we see athletes have untimely deaths due to various reasons. But the death toll doesn't even come close to the death of pro wrestlers.
You see unlike all your other major sports, pro wrestling doesn't enjoy the perks of a union or good health benefits if any.
Because of this, pro wrestling is more open for the use of drugs and steroids. We have seen many greats cut down in their prime due to heart attacks and drug overdoses.
In 2009, we had well over 20 deaths in wrestling. If you doubt my word, please feel free to look it up. If you dig back even further, the numbers are horrifyingly worse.
The problem is there is no simple answer. In order for this to change both wrestlers and promoters need to be responsible. A wrestler needs to know when to say no.
On the indy scene, a wrestler needs to wrestle to make money. So many times they will fabricate the truth of their status to get in the ring. They go out there doped on pain killers and many other illegal drugs in order to not feel the pain.
The promoters are just as bad when it comes to this. While they are obligated by law to have a medic at hand, many of these so-called docs are in the promoter's back pocket.
So they can easily get a wrestler cleared to go in the ring. It is a sad vicious cycle that has no end in sight. What the wrestlers need is a union and decent health insurance.
At least then they can have some control over their lives and careers. While it wouldn't solve the problem, it sure as heck wouldn't hurt the problem, either. The major setback with this plan falls at the hands of the major promoters.
Over the years, wrestlers have tried and failed to get a union formed. Wrestlers are thought of as pieces of meat to be discarded after they are no longer an asset. It is that kind of thinking that will continue to get our grapplers killed.
The Montreal Screwjob
I really wanted to leave this story off, but the fact is it has become one of the biggest stories in the history of pro wrestling. Most of us know the story. But for the sake of the few people who don't, here is how it went down.
It all started on a fateful night in 1997, Bret Hart was defending his title against HBK at Survivor Series. In this match, Vince, HBK, and Earl Hebner changed the outcome so that Bret would lose the belt.
Why the change of the Outcome? It was plain and simple, Bret had creative control over his contract and refused to lose the belt in Canada.
After the match was over, Bret made a WCW gesture and left the ring. The fun didn't end there though, in fact the fun was just getting underway. Bret found Vince in the back and knocked him on his butt that night.
This would only anger the boss even more. Vince went on Raw and did a public interview and said it was Bret that screwed Bret. He went on to claim that Bret didn't want to do what was right for the business.
Of course, if you listen to Bret's side things were a little different. He would claim that Vince double crossed him by lying and deceiving him.
This would go on to become a back and forth battle that we would here about for over 10 years. Bret Hart would slam Vince on Radio shows, newspapers, and in a movie. It seemed after the screw job things would only go down hill for him.
His career would be shortened after a Goldberg potato (a blow, in this case a kick, that landed way too hard - ED.). Not long after that his life would be shortened after a stroke while riding his bike.
His wife would then divorce him some years later. Needless to say, the whole incident left Bret with a bitter taste in his mouth that he carried for a long time.
The legend who never existed
If I mentioned the name Chris Benoit what would you think? If your a family man, you may think he was an awful human being who should burn in hell.
If you're a wrestling purist, you may think he was a great wrestler who made an awful choice. Who knows you may even feel both ways about him.
Chris Benoit did exist though. Before his double murder suicide he was considered by many as the best grappler to step in the ring.
He gave us countless five-star matches and could make a broom look good. All of that changed on June 25, 2007.
That was the night he murdered his wife and child, and then took his own life. Speaking for myself, I could never look at him with any respect again.
With that said, I feel it is wrong what the WWE has done to his name. His name and work has been black listed from just about every record book.
I'm not even sure if you can find his name on the WWE website anymore. WWE wrestlers are strongly advised to not even mention his name if asked in interviews.
Don't try seeing his matches on WWE on demand, they don't exist. Chances are that in 10 years he will probably nothing more than an afterthought.
It was later discovered that Benoit's brain was so severely damaged it resembled the brain of an 85-year-old Alzheimer patient. Because of this newfound information we would see things change for the better.
WWE Wrestlers are now trained to protect the head at all cost. They have even gone as far to ban chair shots to the head. At least his death didn't end completely in vain.
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