Pro wrestling as a whole is a pastime that I have cherished for over two decades. The memories I have garnished over that time has been priceless. At the age of six I saw Ric Flair wrestle in South Carolina, and that was my first time ever at a wrestling event.
In the following years after I would be treated to seeing such great bouts like Hogan vs. Savage, Taker vs. Hart, Jericho vs. HBK, and many more. So to say I have been blessed as a wrestling fan would be an understatement.
It hasn’t been all good though. Just like everything else in life you must take the good with the bad. In recalling my wrestling memories I couldn't help but remember the many other ring warriors that have fallen too early. It seems to me that it is an all too common thing these days.
These tragedies start from the top and work their way all the way to the bottom.
Since 1984, there have been well over 100 wrestlers that have died under the age of 65. In fact, after doing some research, I learned over 80 of them were under the age of 50. These numbers are scary to say the least.
Out of the 80 or so deaths, over 30 of them were due to heart failure. There were roughly a dozen suicides and the rest were due to overdose and freak in-ring injuries. Now this was the most disturbing part for me folks; Over 60 of these wrestlers died in their 20s, 30s, and 40s.
I am no doctor but I think I can go out on a limb here and say this is a serious problem. Please be patient with me because I am going to make a point.
I would like to list a few of these guys in case you may think I am over exaggerating.
Jay Youngblood, Rick McGraw, Ed Gatner, Buzz Sawyer, Kerry Von Erich, Joey Marella, Eddie Gilbert, Brian Pillman, Lou Spicolli, Rick Rude, Owen Hart, Bobby Duncan Jr, David Von Erich, Mike Von Erich, Chris Von Erich, Art Barr, Trent Acid, Lance Cade, Curt Hennig, Chris Benoit; all these men died early in life to entertain us.
As you can see, the scary rate of deaths in professional wrestling hits the stars and goes all the way to the lowly jobbers. We see the world of professional wrestling through tainted eyes. We see the lights, the cameras, and the larger than life athletes who entertain us each week.
What we don't see is wrestlers shooting themselves up. We also don't see them popping pain pills and the screaming from the pain after having to wrestle while being injured. This is a part of the business that we rarely ever see.
I have no doubt it has its perks, being a top star in the WWE or TNA. The top guys have more say in the career paths. What about the mid carders though? Even better, how about the Indie workers and jobbers in the world of pro wrestling?
What drives these men to go out and put their lives and bodies through Hell week in and week out?
Let's face it folks, they have to wrestle injured or not just to get by. They do it for the same reason I'm asking the question. They do it because at one point they were fans just like us. These hard working young men and women love the business to no end.
Make no mistake about it; wrestlers are in this business because they love it. It is a passion that burns in them that is rarely put out—unlike baseball, football, and basketball where money is tossed at them like it's going out of style.
In wrestling, most guys are poor and struggle to survive like the rest of us. They often have to work one or two jobs besides wrestling in order to pay the bills. I have just as much respect for the local indie worker as I do for the guy that headlines WrestleMania.
I would hope that you do too, because that respect is what keeps wrestling alive and well. Without that respect, wrestling’s foundation would crumble. It is also that respect that drove them to get into this ugly business.
So in the end is all the pain, suffering, broken bones, deaths, addictions, and days away from their families worth it?
I can't answer that question, and neither can you because it is not ours to answer. I am willing to bet though, whether you ask your local Indie guy or star on TV, they would most likely smile and say they wouldn't have it any other way.
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