WWE and a Wrestle With Demons: One Wrestler's Journey To Stardom

Cec Van Galini@@MJA_GalbraithAnalyst IIIMarch 17, 2011

I grew up watching wrestling on television. From the moment I saw my first match, I was hooked. I knew what I wanted to be when I grew up: a professional WWF superstar.

I began to watch more and more shows—Raw, Nitro, ECW, Superstars, Saturday Night Main Event, Thunder, Smackdown, Afterburn. I watched religiously. I bought merchandise, ordered PPVs and I went to live events.

My journey to my own super-stardom would begin at my local gym. I would focus on a mixture of cardio and muscle work, that way ensuring that I was as fast as Rey Mysterio and as strong as Hulk Hogan. I would be the total package, the complete wrestler, one who had it all.

Day after day, I trained hard and, after months of hard work, I had lost much of my body fat. I had worked down to just eight percent. I was in prime condition, but I was still not yet strong enough.

My muscles were easily bigger than those of anyone in the gym, but they still looked small. I wanted to replicate my heroes from TV.

My muscles had to be big. They had to be the biggest in wrestling. My guns would sell me as the strongest man in the WWF. And with, my speed, I would be a runaway train—no-one could stop me.

Yet, they did not get bigger. I tried different machines, I tried lifting weights. I pushed my body to the limit and nothing worked. I had an image of what I must be, and it was just not happening.

I first began to take steroids on the advice of my friend. He had bigger arms than anyone I had ever met, and, because he was well respected in his gym, I felt this was the answer.

The first shot felt like a rush. It did nothing physically, but in my head, it had accelerated my career. I would soon make it.

And after several months, it had worked. My arms did get bigger. My pectoral muscles were stronger and my core was now tightened to the max. I was in peak physical condition.

I had lost some speed and mobility, but my muscles were hardcore.

I was looking like a wrestler.

The next weeks and months, I continued to do my workouts and take my shots. And when I looked in the mirror, I saw my heroes staring back. I looked like a wrestler. It was surely my time—I was about to make it.

My first-ever PPV was in a low-level indie league in Chicago. I was nervous, not least because he was bigger than I was. His body was a temple, and the fans were behind him. Not behind some small and weak person like me.

The match was scheduled for a dirty finish, but I would try and make enough impact to win fans. And how much I did depended on whether I would be a heel or face in the future.

I failed to win them over; I was a heel.

For the months that followed, I did everything to make the faces look good. I made them look convincing, I made them seem technical, I made them look unbeatable, but few could match my physique.

I had grown even more, and even my first opponent had nothing on me now. My efforts were about to be rewarded.

The WWF was about to call.

The night before WrestleMania, I signed my contract. I was to be a heel in a similar fashion to my indie days, but I was expected to generate more heat than I had previously been able to do. My first match would be on Superstars the night after the granddaddy of them all.

I sat in the second row at WrestleMania to see my future colleagues in action. I tried to watch the matches but could only think of how much bigger they were than me. I had been training for years, yet I was so much smaller.

I had wrestled in the indie leagues for 10 years and yet was not that big.

I committed myself to doing more work.

However, my first match was phenomenal. I took the microphone and taunted the home crowd. I would get a hiding from the face, but at least the crowd would know who I was.

The match itself was pretty standard, and, although I put in some good moves, I lost via submission. The hold had been so well put on that he had hurt my leg. It would put me out of action for two weeks, in fact.

My return to the ring was expected to be a triumph. I was booked to win the European Championship. It was the first step along the road to the WWF Championship and stardom.

And then it happened. An attempted elbow drop failed. I landed badly on my hip and fractured my right leg. I would be out of action for at least eight months.

As the time passed, my body hurt more and more. I returned to the ring after six months but was in constant agony. I performed moves that only heightened my pain, and each night I relied on crutches to get onto the bus.

The painkillers were simply not working. The more I took, the less effective they seemed to become.

The night of the Royal Rumble was when I first noticed it. I had just made a splash into the turnbuckle and felt my heart race. I had only just got into the ring and yet my body was running at a million miles a minute.

I couldn't breathe. I couldn't focus. My opponent, who had been expecting a roundhouse kick, simply fell back into the turnbuckle again, assuming I had forgotten my move.

The bright lights hurt my eyes as I struggled to find my breath. I inhaled for what seemed like an eternity, yet I could not find air.

My arm seemed to tighten as I fell to the floor. I rolled into a ball to gain some relief but soon felt an elbow to my ribs. My opponent could not see I was in trouble. He persisted in the pre-arranged plan and soon had lifted me to my feet.

I was doubled up in pain as he threw me over the ropes. I was meant to have won the Rumble. I was meant to have gone to WrestleMania. I was meant to have caught the rope, yet I simply let go and fell to the floor.

The crowd went crazy. I lay on the floor and closed my eyes, it seemed to relieve the pain a bit. The last image I saw before passing out was the taunt of my opponent. He was oblivious to what had happened.

The next night on Raw, I was scheduled to hold a celebration in the ring. I was meant to challenge the champion, and, after a brief tussle, I would run out of the ring and the show would end.

He didn't get to do this. He didn't make it to Raw. At the age of 35, and after 15 years in the wrestling business, he suffered a massive heart attack in his sleep and died.

There was no history of heart problems in his family, and his death was attributed simply to an enlarged heart. A post-mortem showed that his body had enough painkillers to have killed two men.

The aftermath of his death did little to change what happened. The company moved on to the next city, and, though a memorial service was held the following week, he passed into history.

He doesn't have a name, but choose any one of over a hundred wrestlers who have died and this could be their story. Their pursuit of stardom into a world of unrealistic muscled giants—the image is as dangerous as cigarette advert.

He was pushed by peer pressure to using steroids. His body grew, but so did the strain. His body could no longer take the pressures and bumps. He simply moved onto the next match, yet his body collapsed from within.

At an age when many consider starting a family and enjoying life, the wrestler was dead.


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