When the story of 2005 is written, Eddie GuerreroÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¾Ã‚Â¢s death will most likely be remembered as the biggest news story of the year in wrestling. A tremendously popular international performer dropping dead in his hotel room is enough to make any news outlet stand up and take notice.
Eddie Guerrero left a legacy inside the wrestling ring, with his classics against Dean Malenko, Rey Mysterio, and others. He left a legacy with his tremendous tag teams alongside partners like Art Barr and Chris Jericho. He left a legacy with the memorable moments of his WWE title victory at No Mercy 2004 and he and Chris Benoit standing center ring at Wrestlemania XX. He left a legacy of being one of the greatest in-ring performers the business had ever seen. He left that legacy with endless good matches and feuds and promos and moments, and now that legacy has ended.
Eddie Guerrero is dead but that doesnÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¾Ã‚Â¢t need to be the end of his legacy. ItÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¾Ã‚Â¢s time for the true legacy of Eddie Guerrero to be that his is the one death that finally makes the industry stand up and take notice that it needs to police itself.
For many on the outside looking in, ItÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¾Ã‚Â¢s easy to dismiss the deaths of so many wrestlers who are so young. Wrestling doesnÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¾Ã‚Â¢t fall under any one banner so it slips through the cracks, with the exception of the time periods where itÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¾Ã‚Â¢s a hot fad. WhoÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¾Ã‚Â¢s going to pay attention to WWE when Major League Baseball players are lying to Congress about their steroid usage, only to get tripped up on roid tests afterwards? ItÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¾Ã‚Â¢s ÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬Ãƒâ€¦Ã¢â‚¬Å“only wrestling.ÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â
ItÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¾Ã‚Â¢s also easy to dismiss the deaths of those in the business as causes of their own personal faults. Brian Pillman, Louie Spicoli, Rick Rude, and Curt Hennig, among others, all died far too young. When they passed, all of them were mourned within the business but within a few weeks, their fellow wrestlers shrugged and said, ÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬Ãƒâ€¦Ã¢â‚¬Å“That wonÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¾Ã‚Â¢t be meÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â, went back to business and whatever they needed to do to succeed in wrestling.
ItÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¾Ã‚Â¢s easy to point at those who have died and dismiss that they were adults and the cause of their own deaths due to their own decisions, but the bottom line is that the industry that they decided to make their livings in is equally to blame.
There are more than enough reasons to go around. The pressures and temptations of being on the road. The stress of gaining and holding onto a spot. The stress of continuing to work injured. The hurt of allowing oneÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¾Ã‚Â¢s personal life to go to hell in order to make a professional life on the road work. The political minefield that one often has to navigate, to the point that lies become commonplace and morals become subservient to the paycheck, an endless schedule, and so many other factors that have become the norm for many professional wrestlers.
As a result, the industry continues to rot itself from the inside, dying a little each time a talented performer is taken from his family far before his time. None of the names IÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¾Ã‚Â¢ve mentioned will be the last, and neither will Eddie Guerrero.
What can make GuerreroÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¾Ã‚Â¢s passing different, beyond Guerrero being so universally loved that the Raw rating skyrocketed and the media took notice, is that someone of his importance can be the catalyst for change, and the time for change is now. Not tomorrow, not next year, not after Wrestlemania, but now.
THE FARCE OF INDEPENDENT CONTRACTORS MUST END
If you are a professional wrestler, when you sign a contract with World Wrestling Entertainment, you are told what to do creatively when you perform, where and when to travel for performances, and how to dress when you are both traveling and performing. You are required to make appearances both publicly and privately as a representative of the company (sometimes without pay). You are on the company's schedule, doing their bidding, but you arenÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¾Ã‚Â¢t an employee.
That farce needs to end and if WWE is going to claim they cannot end it tomorrow, they are lying. ThereÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¾Ã‚Â¢s no such thing as an independent contractor in WWE, because if there was, WWE certainly wouldnÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¾Ã‚Â¢t be able to strip the performers of their characters and personas on the way out the door. WWE owns everyone who signs a contract with them, and WWE wrestlers are independent contractors in word alone.
Athletes for all major league sports are treated as employees, and itÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¾Ã‚Â¢s time for professional wrestling to finally take a big step out away from the carny circuit that birthed it and start to truly provide for those who keep the business going. ItÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¾Ã‚Â¢s time for WWE to start running their business the way Major League Baseball and other sports franchises do. ItÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¾Ã‚Â¢s time to cover the costs of hotel, medical, meals, and car rentals just like every other sports team does. Lord knows the company makes enough money, even in this down time. A quick look at the financial records that are released publicly is proof of that.
WWE can claim that itÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¾Ã‚Â¢s better for the wrestlers in terms of taxes and things of that nature but if the company took the initiative to help oversee the change, it would actually be better for all involved. It would provide security for the wrestlers, and nurture them instead of creating a situation where they feel like have to run until they drop to succeed. WWE can claim that it wouldnÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¾Ã‚Â¢t be cost-effective, but thatÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¾Ã‚Â¢s another farce. The fact of the matter is that World Wrestling Entertainment has substantial cash reserves sitting around that they are doing nothing with and have been criticized in the past by stock holders for not using. They have more then enough money to make this happen. What better way to use the financial war chest than by investing in the future of the company and itÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¾Ã‚Â¢s most important employees?
Without the wrestlers, WWE has nothing, and the idea that in 2005 a production assistant helping to film promos being cut by main eventers probably has a better benefit package then anyone appearing on Raw or Smackdown is downright pathetic and ridiculous. This needs to end, now.
World Wrestling Entertainment loves to trot out the idea that they are a ÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬Ãƒâ€¦Ã¢â‚¬Å“familyÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â during times like this. Well, itÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¾Ã‚Â¢s time for the patriarch of that family, Vince McMahon, to make a hard decision and decide that everyone is under one roof in that Tower, and everyone should be treated equally. ItÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¾Ã‚Â¢s time for the farce that is "independent contracts" to die.
ALL WRESTLERS MUST BE INSURED
This goes hand in hand with the last point. All professional wrestlers (and their families, as after all, WWE is one big happy family) need to insured. It is a great thing that WWE covers the costs of surgeries when injuries occur, but itÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¾Ã‚Â¢s time for the company to completely cover their performers medically.
Every wrestler needs to gets benefits, not just the ones that retire and take office and announcing positions. WWE needs to provide another ring of protection for those who are beating their bodies to death in order for the company to run. Without the wrestlers, you have nothing. ItÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¾Ã‚Â¢s time for the business to treat their most valued assets like legitimate employees, not circus animals.
This shouldnÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¾Ã‚Â¢t all fall on WWE financially. Take a deduction from the wrestlersÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¾Ã‚Â¢ pay, just like any other business that covers its employees. I doubt any wrestler who deals with the daily aches and pains and has children at home is going to refuse a small percentage of his check be deducted so those kids can go to the doctor without writing a huge check.
It's not as if WWE doesn't already have an amazing benefit plan in place for it's office employees. According to one former WWE employee, "Our health insurance was standard issue. They took a few bucks out of each check for inclusion in the plan, which could be individual or family. Coverage was good, reasonable co-pay's, lots of in-network doctors. Dental and eye care as well. Life insurance was extra but so cheap it was silly not to do it. The 401K plan was nice. Before it started, the company would pay out a profit sharing bonus of either 5%, 10% or 15%, based upon your annual salary, depending on how much money the company made. They changed it once the 401K plan started to a 50 cent match per dollar invested with a maximum of 4% matched overall. You had to invest at least 8% of your salary to get the full match and the most you could put in was 10%. Those are pre-tax dollars, remember. Then at year's end, they would give you a bonus paid into your 401K. Maximum match was 15%, again pretax."
Why is it that someone sitting behind a desk in Stamford, CT is so well taken care of by the company but the wrestlers running the road and taking nightly bumps aren't unless there's an extreme case of injury or personal problems? While itÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¾Ã‚Â¢s true that some wrestlers are smart enough to invest in medical and life insurance for themselves, there are many who wonÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¾Ã‚Â¢t think or care about it until itÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¾Ã‚Â¢s too late. ItÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¾Ã‚Â¢s time for WWE to no longer give their wrestlers the option. They all work for the company, they all get benefits.
WWE needs to hire a team of medical professionals to work for the company full-time and provide full, monthly physicals to all of the wrestlers. Monthly may seem invasive to some, but letÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¾Ã‚Â¢s face it, we are working within the realm of a business where growth enhancers has been the norm for the past two decades plus. These athletes need regular EKGs and full physical examinations done every four weeks, not just for the good of the company, but for the sake of their well being.
"I knew Eddie wasnÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¾Ã‚Â¢t feeling very good for the last week," Vicki Guerrero told the WWE website. "He was home and kept saying he wasnÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¾Ã‚Â¢t feeling good and we thought it was just 'road tired'. So we thought he just had to rest."
In the case of Eddie Guerrero, I donÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¾Ã‚Â¢t know that an examination would have saved his life, but had any EKGs changes been found, Guerrero could have been in an emergency room well before it was too late. If WWE maintained a regular full-time team of medical professionals that traveled with the company to provide regular physicals, Guerrero may have been able to relate his exhaustion to them and examinations could have been undertaken. Creating a system for the future could help prevent a future tragedy.
ItÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¾Ã‚Â¢s been proven that most State Athletic Commissions are a joke that treat their pre-show physical exams for wrestling as such and go on to collect their taxes (or in some cases, payoffs and taxes). ItÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¾Ã‚Â¢s time for WWE to become a true governing body within itself and force its performers to be the healthiest they can be. It may not stop the next guy from dropping dead on their watch. Years of abuse canÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¾Ã‚Â¢t be reversed, as has been proven by all the enlarged hearts in so many dead young wrestlers, but at least those who work for the company can go to bed knowing they did everything possible to prevent it from happening.
ItÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¾Ã‚Â¢s time for the company to get serious about drug testing, and not stop when the heat is off. There are wrestlers dropping dead under the watch of the industry and when the majority of the industry falls under the watch of one company, itÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¾Ã‚Â¢s WWEÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¾Ã‚Â¢s job to do something about it.
WWE has tried in the past to counsel and work with those who have had personal problems and addictions. They should be commended for that, but at the same time, itÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¾Ã‚Â¢s their responsibility to make sure that everyone under their umbrella as performers are being taken care of. WWE can take the next step towards do that by providing regular, mandatory drug testing for their athletes.
The company also needs to get serious about drug testing. The use of growth enhancers is often overlooked as a necessary evil of the business. That evil is there because itÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¾Ã‚Â¢s allowed to be. While a physical presence is needed to an extent to have that ÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬Ãƒâ€¦Ã¢â‚¬Å“star lookÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â, this isnÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¾Ã‚Â¢t the 1980s where the freak bodies were the attraction. The audience of 2005 wants to be entertained by interesting characters, creative storylines, and good wrestling matches. Bodies are secondary today. The highest rated wrestling segment of all time had nothing to do with bodies or looks - it was The Rock N' Sock Connection's "This is Your Life", which scored an 8.4 in the Nielsen ratings.
All WWE contracted wrestlers need to adhere to the policy. This canÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¾Ã‚Â¢t be a situation where some are policed while main-eventers are allowed to get away with anything they want. I donÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¾Ã‚Â¢t care if itÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¾Ã‚Â¢s Triple H or Big Vito, if they donÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¾Ã‚Â¢t want to play ball, take a nod from Major League Baseball and sit them out for three PPVs, without pay or royalties. Take whatever royalties they have coming during that time period and donate it to an anti-drug charity. DonÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¾Ã‚Â¢t release them because that will make it easy for them to head elsewhere and make money. Make sure that everyone knows the company is serious. What are they going to do? Complain on their websites WWE isnÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¾Ã‚Â¢t paying them because they failed a drug test? There are hundreds of wrestlers who are willing to play ball in order to get a WWE paycheck and in 2005, drug testing should certainly be a much bigger career obstacle than a dress code.
This has to happen. ItÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¾Ã‚Â¢s time for the company to think of the long term health of their wrestlers and force everyone off enhancement products and anything else they might be using thatÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¾Ã‚Â¢s illegal or harmful to their body. ItÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¾Ã‚Â¢s going to be impossible to catch and stamp out everything, but an attempt has to be made and it has to be done now, internally, before an outside force steps in like it has with Major League Baseball.
MANDATORY TIME OFF ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â
World Wrestling Entertainment runs 52 weeks a year and has fresh TV and house shows shows on most of those weeks. WWE may may need to run 24/7 as an entity but their performers do not. ItÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¾Ã‚Â¢s time that the company provide mandatory time off for their wrestlers. Some, like Undertaker, have earned part-time schedules due to their loyalty, service and position. The truth is, any wrestler who has been with the company for over a year has earned a well deserved break.
The mental crush of the road mixed with the physical wear and tear on the body in the ring can often be a recipe for disaster in the business. For many, once they head down the road of masking these problems, their fate is just a matter of time. All wrestlers, not just main-eventers, need to be afforded time off, to rest their bodies and their souls.
In a recent posting on his website, former WWE star Andrew ÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬Ãƒâ€¦Ã¢â‚¬Å“TestÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â Martin wrote, ÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬Ãƒâ€¦Ã¢â‚¬Å“When I started wrestling I had never seen or heard of Vicodin or Percocet or Soma. How come so many wrestlers die from these medications and football players and hockey players don't? The answer is simple...wrestlers especially WWE wrestlers work 5 days a week all year long taking bump after bump in the ring, a doctor explained it to me like this...every time you take a fall in the ring it's like getting rear ended by a car going 20 mph, so how many bumps in the ring a night do you take? Multiply that by how many times a week you work all year long..that's a hell of a lot of whiplash and pain.ÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â
ItÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¾Ã‚Â¢s time for WWE to give their talent a break from the pain. All talents need to be able to do this without worrying that theyÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¾Ã‚Â¢ve just cut the throat of their push. Triple H took several months off after his program with Batista earlier this year. He deserved the rest from the physical beatings. When he returned, he got a big reaction and was a fresh talent again, so the positives can work in both directions. If WWE cycles talent in and out of storylines on a regular basis (not just when they suffer major injuries) the company can actually lengthen the talentÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¾Ã‚Â¢s runs, their importance to the company and their personal well being all at the same time.
Wrestlers are often given time off to deal with ÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬Ãƒâ€¦Ã¢â‚¬Å“personal issuesÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â which at times is often a euphemism for ÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬Ãƒâ€¦Ã¢â‚¬Å“drug problems.ÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â If WWE instituted a system where guys could take time off without running themselves into the ground like Greyhound dogs about to be discarded from the racetrack, there would be much less of a need for anyone to take a break for ÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬Ãƒâ€¦Ã¢â‚¬Å“personal issues.ÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â
There are many other ideas that can be implemented for the health of the industry, but a stand has to be made and it needs to be made today. There will never be easy answers or a perfect system. There will always be those who try to work outside of it but in the end, WWE has to come to grips with the fact that as long as they are the industry (which will be forever), things have to change for the long-term betterment of that industry.
Eddie Guerrero's legacy shouldn't be just another wrestler who died young. It doesn't have to be just the series of great matches and feuds that he left behind for future generations to enjoy on DVD and Video on Demand. He doesn't only have to be remembered with tears and stories of the man and his greatness. He can be the after-the-fact martyr for a business that needs to change, not just for the sake of his peers, but for everyone who will come after them and for families like Guerrero's who will lose much more than their favorite wrestler the next time someone in this industry dies.
Vince McMahon has already won the wrestling war. His personal legacy will go down as the greatest wrestling promoter of all time. If he acts now though, he can cement his place in history as being not only the greatest of all time, but also as the one promoter who accomplished something no one before or since cared or wanted to do by truly doing the right thing for those who make his business possible ÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œ the wrestlers. He can take all the past, present, and future criticism of his company and shove those critics' faces into the mud. He can provide an aura of class to an industry that's seen as trashy and classless from the outside.
Vince McMahon has trumpeted in the past that when he expanded nationally, he changed the shape of the wrestling industry and brought it into modern times. It's time he does the same internally, a positive change, with a modern outlook, for his wrestlers.
Mike Johnson can be reached at Mike@PWInsider.com.