Posted in: Wayne's World Wayne's World: Death Is Not The End
May 31, 2013 - 12:21:39 PM
Writers Note: Today my best friend who moved out of town last year came to visit and we had some drinks and talked about many subjects. During that talk the unfortunate discussion of death came up since as he is a few years older than me he had unfortunately experienced recently with some old acquaintances from his past. As usual during the discussion my wrestling love came into play and Hector Garza's recent passing became involved. This lead to me remembering the column I am about to re-post. The column was written in September last year, mere weeks before my call up to the main page. While I am proud of most columns I write there are not many that move me at a fundamental level. Since I have been on the main page I have posted all of the columns I have written that have affected me deeply except for this one as before I have not seen a reason. Tonight I believe it is time. I would normally say enjoy this column but it will probably be too morbid, instead I will say please continue to read this column as it is something that effects all wrestling fans.
I’m going to forgo the normal pleasantries at the beginning of this column like I normally do for the fact that this column is not really going to be pleasant, death is never pleasant. I am not going to beat around the bush with any lead up or anything like that; instead I am just going to get the beast straight out of the way. Today I was present while my wife and her family buried her mother.
I don’t want to get into the personal details surrounding her death but I will state that she actually died about six weeks ago and it has been a long journey to get to this day. While I was never close with my mother-in-law and we never had much to do with each other, she was a woman who I have known for 12 years and of course she meant a lot to my wife, granted they hardly ever talked either but it still hit us both hard.
With all this going on in my life in recent times you could imagine what it felt like when sitting here at my computer talking to TripleR on Facebook one Tuesday morning (Monday night in USA) about the Nitro series when he suddenly says to me that Lawler has collapsed on Raw. My first thought was death and I immediately searched for a live stream since Australia would not get Raw on TV for another day yet. I spent the whole next two days clicking on everything that came up with his name to see if he was OK as I could only bring myself to think the worst for him.
I, like everyone else, am pleased to have found out that Lawler is fine and will be back to normal soon. This does not however make the fear of death any less for me as this was someone who has been a staple part of my wrestling diet for my entire viewing life and I practically nearly watched him die on my TV, doing the thing I knew him for. With someone so fundamental to my wrestling fandom nearly coming to an early end it reminds me of how many of the wrestlers I have watched over my twenty years have now left us and how many of those wrestlers made a major impact on me.
For those of you who have been here for a while you may remember last year I did a column on the top ten wrestlers who helped make me get hooked on wrestling in my early years of viewership. When looking at the list today, excluding Damien since he was a snake, 3 of those wrestlers are no longer with us in Earthquake, Big Boss Man and Randy Savage. Adding to those names we have lost over the years that have had a major influence on me include Bam Bam Bigelow, Miss Elizabeth and Eddie Guerrero. The biggest though of course was Chris Benoit due to the fact that he is in my top 5 wrestlers of all time and before his well-publicised death was what you may call my idol.
When Macho Man died last year I saw an article that chilled me to my bones. It stated that Savage was the 14th person of the 51 performers who appeared at Wrestlemania VII in 1991 to have died. This means that over a quarter of the people that appeared in that 3-hour extravaganza have left this earth. The article did not stop there though as it then went on to state how the whole 44 players who started the Super Bowl that year are still alive and that only 2 of the 44 boxers who held a World Championship belt that year have died. Now I am a guy that will look at a group of stats and find the tiniest of differences but even Eugene can tell you that those stats don’t look good for the case of Professional Wrestling.
It has been said time and time again that too many wrestlers die young and I believe that statement to be true. Looking ahead 3 years from the previous event we come to Wrestlemania X which has the unfortunate title of having the worst death ratio of wrestlers who competed in a match on the entire card. 7 of the 20 or 35% of the wrestlers that competed on that card have died, but let’s take a closer look at their ages.
Age at death
Age now if still alive
Bam Bam Bigelow
Now correct me if I’m wrong but is not the average life expectancy of a US male 75.6 and a female 80.8 (Australia’s are 78.9 & 83.6). These 7 individuals aren’t even close to that mark, even the world averages of 65.0 and 69.5 are beyond their reach. For this list to show any signs of looking good it would have to be for citizens of Swaziland or Mozambique.
Now I could continue giving you stats until you have been beaten black and blue with them but this is not a King of Stats column and I think you have already got the point. So who then should take the blame for these atrocious stats? Who needs to be accountable for all these early deaths?
Should it be the wrestlers themselves? It is painfully obvious of the use of Steroids throughout the years which is still evident in a lot of stars today. You would think by now they would have learnt what the long-term effects are from this drug are now. The wresters all have a bad habit of mixing god knows what concoction of pills together just to get through daily life and make themselves look like more than they actually are. Maybe it is the wear and tear they put on their body everyday just to earn a pay check.
Should it be the promoters? I saw a news report flicker past on my Facebook screen earlier about how Linda McMahon is once again being attacked about all the early deaths in wrestling during her current parliamental attempt. All I can say is maybe she should be attacked. It is the promoters that tell the wrestler that if they don’t get out there and perform they will be dropped down the card or left completely of it. It is them that doesn’t really take into consideration exactly how the body of the wrestler is holding up or how long they will be able to continue in the long run. For them it is just the dollars they will receive in the immediate future.
Should it be us the fans? Are we the ones to blame? Do we push these wrestlers way too far that they just cannot ever live up to our expectations. Reports are always coming in that Rey Mysterio is wrestling injured and unless there is surgery happening he continues to do so. Why does he continue to do this? Because us the fans continue calling for him to come out and perform for us so to do so he has to sacrifice his health and probably pop some pills to do what we ask.
In the long run it is everyone’s fault. We are all to blame for the early deaths in the wrestling world. We all contribute equally to the health problems in the performers which lead to these early deaths. Until things change in the way wrestling is conducted from beginning to end these deaths are going to continue to happen at these younger ages. The people in charge need to stop and look at what’s going on and work out a way to start to mend generations of damage or soon there won’t be any wrestlers left to entertain us.
Sitting in the back seat during the hour and a half drive home this afternoon from the funeral I wrote this column in my head. Playing continuously in my mind while doing so was a song written by Bob Dylan called Death Is Not The End. The version that kept playing though is the last song of my favourite album Murder Ballads by Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds. This song can be interpreted in many ways but what hit me today were those particular words, death is not the end. Death will not be the end for my mother-in-law and it will not be for all these wrestlers that have left us all too early for they will live on in the hearts of those that they have touched along the way,