Death Of Wrestling

Death of Wrestling: By Lee Wilder: October 2003

Wrestling. Call it sports, call it entertainment, call it a soap opera's for men. Wrestling has been called so many things, yet the one thing is hasn't been referred to as, is simply, an art. A business shrouded by mystery, controversy, and even death, yet people are drawn to it in some way. The wrestling industry has gone from wrestling in territories to now wrestling in different promotions all around the world. Yet the one question remains......How far will a person/promoter go to put someone over with the crowd? In the past 5 years we've lost some of the best wrestlers in the world. Some due to overdosing on pain killers, due to the simple fact that a wrestlers body is constantly being challenged working 320+ days a year, constant traveling, nagging injuries, and still they continue to do this.....why? Fame? Money? Could it be simply put, a child hood dream, come true. Or could it be put the way Stone Cold Steve Austin has put it, "You might as well call me a junkie, because every time I hear that glass break, it's like a surge of Adrenaline rushing through my body."

February 10, 2003. A day that wont be soon forgotten as Curt Henning, better known to the wrestling community as "Mr. Perfect." was pronounced dead. Earlier that day he was suppose to wrestle at the Florida State Fair in Tampa wrestling for Jimmy Hart's All-Star Wrestling. Henning had started wrestling in 1979 and throughout the 80's and 90's had established himself in the World Wrestling Federation and World Championship Wrestling and possibly to the world, as one of the most talented wrestlers in the world. I just kept telling myself, that, there was no way that could have possibly been Curt Henning, because he was portrayed as a man who was above every other man, a man who excelled at all he did, and yet here I read an article stating he had passed away. We lost one of the best wrestlers in the world, due to a overdose, and all I could say to myself is, "Why would he do this? He's suppose to be superman. He chose the wrestling business, the business didn't choose him, so why did he do this?"

Perhaps the most horrific day that will never be forgotten is May 23, 1999 in Kansas City, Missouri. A wrestler by the name of Owen Hart, who at the time was to be lowered from the rafters 80' above the ring at a televised pay-per view event, by a cable attached to a safety ring, which once completely lowered to the ring, and his feet were planted soundly on the mat, that he'd have to pull this "O" ring, and it would completely release the cable/harness which was lowering him to the ring, would release it from his body. At the time this was happening, a rival wrestling promotion World Championship Wresting, was doing this same stunt on a regular weekly basis, with a man who was lowered from the rafters of arena's across the United States named Sting. The rating wars were so intense for the Monday night ratings between World Championship Wrestling and the World Wrestling Federation, now World Wrestling Entertainment.

The following ratings come from Neilson Media Research website. Around the time of Owen Hart's fateful day, WWF/WWE's Monday Night Raw programming was drawing in an average of a 6.0 plus. On April's 5, 12, 19 and 26, the ratings were: 5.8, 6.3, 6.1, and 6.0, and on May's 3, 10, 17, and 24 they drew in: 6.4, 8.1, 6.4, and 7.2. Whereas with WCW on April's 5, 12, 19, and 26 ratings were: 4.3, 4.4, 4.1 and 3.9 and with May's ratings: 3.4, 3.3, 3.8, 3.1. With ratings like these, why would the WWF/WWE need to place it's wrestlers in a position to do things not required? We have to remember these are people, they're not superhuman, and when they get hurt, it's real. They bleed like everyone else. They don't need to be doing Hollywood stuntmen's jobs. A wrestler should be just that...a wrestler. Nothing more, nothing less. Granted the gimmicks are great, but if you want it to be entertainment, try not filling with with blood, violence, sex, drugs and all sorts of things of that nature, and go back to the roots of wrestling. Go back to where two men, went into the ring, and took care of business.

Wrestling has gone from pure skill with such men as: Bruno Samartino, Nature Boy Buddy Rogers, and Don Leo Jonathan and Stu Hart, who came to the ring with a purpose. They came to settle bitter battles with the men they couldn't stand to be around to men such as: Goldust, The Hurricane, and his little sidekick Rosey, who all paraded with costumes, playing around, displaying more stupidity than actual ring skill, which in the past these 3 men have shown yet, we're no longer talking about wrestling but we're talking about entertainment. Wrestling is no longer wrestling but it's in fact a soap opera, filled with violence, sex, alcohol, abuse. It would seem that wrestling is no longer a factor in these promotions but it's how far will a person be pushed to get ratings, whether its to do some stunt, which these athletes, aren't stuntmen, or if they'll perform a certain angle which goes against their personal beliefs, and even if it goes against their own feelings about not feeling save about doing these things.

While attending a wrestling event down in Texas, I was able to get involved with wrestling by training to become one, and was able to talk with a few of the guys about things, and often asked about gimmicks and angles and such, and he said sometimes a promoter will ask you to do certain things and if you don't do them, you wont advance into the ranks. So, does this mean if a wrestler refuses to do dangerous acts in the ring that he wont be a superstar, that he'll be a jobber for the rest of his career? Wrestling is dead. Plain and simple, it's gone from pure skill and athleticism to a glorified version of Hollywood. I'm not saying wrestlers have no skill, because every wrestler has skill, they have the conditioning and they have what it takes to be where they are and they all possess something unique or they wouldn't be where they are.

The wrestling industry needs more men such as: Kurt Angle, William Regal, and Chris Benoit, men who exonerate the true meaning of wrestling and who can teach the newer guys the art of wrestling and to do it where others can learn and understand the meaning behind it all. Men who bring respectability to the business and who are what they call a true professional. As a great technical wrestler of the past 2 decades, Bret "Hitman" Hart had stated, " Wrestling isn't wrestling anymore, it's gotten so horrible and to the point where people are getting blood bloodthirsty for violence, sex, and drugs. They don't care for wrestling at all, they just want violence. We're not stuntmen, we're not actors, we're wrestlers."

Editors note: One in a while Mediaman and The Australian Sports and Entertainment Portal receive a letter from someone who is passionate about something, and indicate they would like to submit an article. The above article stems from this. A fan who had seen enough deaths, perhaps too many, in professional wrestling.

It is our pleasure and privilege, to put this information out into the mainstream media. Greg Tingle.


Wrestling Tributes & Deaths in Wrestling (Greg Tingle's)

Wrestling Legends (Greg Tingle's)

WWF Legal History

Wrestling Book Reviews

Owen Hart

Curt Henning

Davey Boy Smith

Adrian Adonis

Andre The Giant

Rick Rude

Lou Thesz

Fred Blassie

*the above list of deceased wrestlers is by no means intended to be complete. It is simply just a list of some of the wrestlers who have passed away over the years, many of them too soon.