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Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Chris Benoit and thoughts on Wrestling


Thanks for bearing with me today.
Tuesdays are always my hardest days to write and the Chris Benoit tragedy had me flummoxed as far as what to write.

Chris Benoit was ,along with Kurt Angle, my favorite wrestler of the new age of pro wrestling.
I thought his work rate was unbelievable as far as effort goes and his moves looked like they were actually being applied,unlike some of the new generation that you saw holes in them that one could drive an ice cream truck though.
Chris was one of the few current wrestlers (again Kurt Angle comes to mind as well) that I thought could have wrestled in any time period and had the respect and honor for the business that few in the "high-spot" era had.
I have always been a fan,I even own the Benoit DVD that was released.(BTW-If you want that and you see it on the store shelves,I would grab it,Bank on stores removing it FAST).
His intensity in the ring is what made him credible and different.
Sadly,that very trait seems to have led to this horrible tragedy.
I am not going to get into the gruesome details,there are many easy to find sites that will give you all the coverage that you could want.
However,I will say the following.
I am not willing to attempt to explain Benoit's actions,whether this was caused by steroids,drugs,
a unknown physical problem etc-I simply cannot explain such heinous actions and I do not want to speculate on what drove him to this.
I will not blame this on anyone directly with the WWE business from Vincent K.McMahon on down.
However,I have very good reasons to doubt this industry and myself for continuing to follow it.
The few of you out there know that I get the Wrestling Observer from time to time,despite the fact that I rarely watch the current product from WWE or TNA.
The only stuff I see is sometimes the edited RAW on Saturday mornings at 2 AM,if I have nothing else on the tube at work.
My Observer subscription comes and goes,renewed when yet another star passes away or a history series is going on,lapsing when it is just the current product.

The changes in the business have not been good ones and this is just from the wrestler perspective.
World wide travel,a much larger need to be well-sculptured physically and the never ending cycle of crazy bumps have to have taking their tolls on the people involved in the sport.
It does not take more than a cursory look at this business to see why steroids,pain medications and drugs run rampant.
Needing steroids to have the look needed to participate,pain medications to deal with the pounding one takes and drugs to keep one going from the endless cycle of airport,arena,hotel.
I am understanding,but not approving.
I know that I sound like a cranky "It was better in my time" guy,but it was.
For the fans and the wrestlers.
Gone are the days that a guy could leave pro athletics and wrestle for 15-25 years AFTER his athletic career.
The Ernie Ladds,Wahoo McDaniels,Ken Pateras etc could not take the beating that this era requires after years in the athletic arena,but they could just a generation ago.
The loss of territories meant the loss of a home base that a wrestler could return to every night or at least every other night.
Today,I would guess they are lucky to get home 4-5 days a month.
I would say it is much preferable for someones mental health to be at their home,with their family every day than to follow the current circus-like schedule.
I certainly am not naive enough to believe that the old system of wrestling was ivory-pure,it was in many ways just as dirty,it just was not as destructive to the bodies and minds of the athletes.
Again-I am not blaming the WWE directly for the actions of Chris Benoit,but the changes in business that were brought on by the WWE since 1984,I can certainly blame them for.

Sometimes I wonder about why I still support pro wrestling in the limited fashion that I do.
I buy the occasional Legends figure and the odd legend DVD and the Observer sub,but I have not attended a wrestling show by a major organization in over 15 years.
Maybe it is the memories,the links to a past where it mattered that Magnificent Muraco was the Inter-Continental champ.
Caring enough to lug a tv into Edna's room (the hottest in the house,due to the tin roof directly over it) every Saturday at 4:00 because in the pre-cable days,it was the only room in the house that could get WBFF out of Baltimore.
Perhaps the stories about past events involving me and my friends or the bonding between Shane and I over the business,as two kids in the country or running to a shop that sold the magazines to read about other areas 3 month old news in the pre-internet era.
In any event,I have many good memories of wrestling,but I have regrets about getting into it,Shane and my kids became fans as a direct result of my decision 28 years ago.
That might not have been the best thing to occur for me or any of them.

My father always hated the fact that Shane and I spent so much time on wrestling and loved to rib us and make life difficult for our hobby.
He always thought it was not worth the time or energy.
I am beginning to believe that he was right after all.

The Pirates won over the Marlins tonight 3-2.
I welcome any feedback on this post.
Back to the normal format later.

Photo Credit
At Eisenhower's Putting green-Cherie Heimberger

1 comment:

WWE Fanatic said...

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