AS I SEE IT 7/5: Extreme Cannabis Wrestling...up in smoke?

AS I SEE IT
Bob Magee
Pro Wrestling: Between the Sheets
PWBTS.com

Many of the likely booking plans for WWECW and even the futures of Rob Van Dam and Sabu went...in the words of Jerry Lawler Monday night, "up in smoke"....as Robert Alex Szatowski (aka Rob Van Dam) and Terry Michael Brunk (aka Sabu), were pulled over by Ohio State Troopers in Hanging Rock, OH at about 10:15 pm on Sunday, July 2. Szatowski and Brunk were driving from the ECW show in Huntingdon, WV earlier that night.

Ohio State Troopers indicated that Szatowski was first stopped for speeding, following by his car being searched after troopers smelled marijuana.

Troopers found Szatowski in possession of 18 grams of marijuana and five Vicodin (prescription painkillers). Brunk was charged with possession of drug paraphernalia and had nine pills that were "known to be controlled substances", but the type of which were not named in reports. Both Szatowski and Brunk were cited for possession charges, and posted bond at the scene.

Brunk and Szatowski had initially been scheduled to appear at 10:00 am Thursday in Ironton, OH Municipal Court; but the court date has been changed to an "undetermined date".

In terms of legal consequences (depending on the nature of the charges, if any, relating to the Szatowski's Vicodin possession and of Van Dam and Brunk's possession of whatever he was carrying), Ohio State Law states that possession of less than 100 grams of marijuana is considered a "minor misdemeanor"; and is a citable offense only (referred to as a summary offense in some states), resulting in a fine of only $100. In Brunk's case, drug paraphernalia possession (papers or a pipe) is a misdemeanor with a potential 30 days jail and $750 fine.

Needless to say, this throws WWE booking plans for WWECW into major disarray. The first changes were seen with Monday night's abrupt removal of the WWE title from Van Dam in an improvised match, changed from the originally scheduled three-way mystery partner tag team main event to an Edge-RVD-John Cena WWE Title match.

The next change saw last night's ECW title change to The Big Show...which produced a near-riot at the Wachovia Center as post-match, fans threw everything at the ring that wasn't nailed down, hitting the cameraman, Paul Heyman, The Big Show, and Joey Styles with water, food and anything else available from all over the building. This was a far worse scene that even the Bash at the Beach that featured the Hulk Hogan heel turn that began the NWO storyline. The crowd left with a loud "$#@k you, Vince" chant.

One hopes that WWE has no plans to run in the Philadelphia area in the near future.

Then, shortly after the show went off the air, ECW.com and news sources reported that Van Dam was being suspended for 30 days. No word yet on Sabu, although a feature aired on TV and he did work a dark match at the WWECW taping.

With two of the biggest names on the WWECW roster suspended or in Sabu's case, possibly wrose, preceded by Kurt Angle's apparent sabbatical to heal injuries, the WWECW brand will suffer a major loss in star power. With the reported desire of Vince McMahon to switch the WWECW brand from a brand at least featuring ECW talent to what appears to be a glorified combination of Velocity and Ohio Valley Wrestling....this won't help one bit.

While the legal implications may not be significant, the effects on RVD and Sabu's careers might very well be. With the WWE "Wellness Policy" having been put into place after the death of Eddie Guerrero, it would be nearly impossible for Vince McMahon to ignore this incident, given that it made the Associated Press newswire. While Van Dam's offense may technically not leave him with a criminal record in Ohio, Sabu's would; this leaving them open to the following aspect of the WWE Wellness Policy:

3. LIST OF PROHIBITED DRUGS

...(6) Prescription drugs. WWE recognizes that there are many prescription and over-the-counter medications that serve essential or beneficial purposes for the health and well being of WWE Talent, and nothing in this Policy is intended to discourage the proper use of these medications. Conversely, there are some medications that, even when used properly, may affect safety or health and also medications which can be abused and affect safety and health. Accordingly, the following uses are prohibited regarding prescription and over-the-counter medications.....

....(c) The use of prescription drugs taken without a proper prescription given for a legitimate medical purpose by the personal physician of the person tested.

(d) The use of prescription drugs obtained from a physician who was not advised that another physician was prescribing the same and/or similar drug(s).

(7) Illegal drugs. The possession, use, and/or distribution of any drug made illegal to possess, use and/or distribute by the laws of the United States of America and/or any of its fifty states is prohibited by this Policy....

7. TESTING FOR USE OF PROHIBITED SUBSTANCE
(2) Tests for violation of this Policy for alcohol and marijuana shall be on the basis of reasonable cause only.

13. DISCIPLINE FOR VIOLATION OF LAW

Any Talent who is arrested, convicted or who admits to a violation of law relating to use, possession, purchase, sale or distribution of prohibited drugs will be in material breach of contract and subject to immediate dismissal.

14. PENALTIES FOR POSITIVE DRUG TESTS

First Offense. In the event of an initial positive result for drugs prohibited by this Policy, as amended from time to time, the Talent shall be suspended without pay for 30 days.

Second Offense. In the event of a second positive result for drugs prohibited by this Policy, as amended from time to time, the Talent shall be suspended without pay for 60 days or, in cases where the Talent appears to be in need of a drug rehabilitation program, an indefinite suspension without pay until the individual has successfully completed the drug rehabilitation program.

Third Offense. In the event of a third positive result for drugs prohibited by this Policy, as amended from time to time, the Talentís contract with WWE will be terminated.


Needless to say, from a non-lawyer's perspective, several of these rules within the WWE Wellness Policy would seem to apply to both Van Dam and Sabu.

Vince McMahon is screwed no matter what he does. If he releases or suspends Van Dam and Sabu, there goes ECW as far as any of the long-time fans are concerned. If he does nothing, he puts the lie to his Wellness Policy.

Is it news that Van Dam and Sabu smoke marijuana...or that wrestlers in general do? It's about as big a news story as the sun rising in the east. I'll go further. I think pot ought to be legalized, just like I think alcohol should be (after all, we saw how well Prohibition worked...and works today with decriminalized possession of marijuana).

But getting caught while driving (and yes, I realize they weren't charged with DWI) is stupid as hell.

Van Dam and Sabu should also have understood the position McMahon is as head of a publicly traded company and their own position as publicly viewed performers before firing up in rural Ohio, where police take a look at two guys like Van Dam and Sabu and think "I have a catch in my speed trap". Then after they're stopped...police find drugs.

My guess is that Sabu is suspended or more likely fired; and that Van Dam is suspended for 30 days or more and/or largely kept off of RAW for awhile until everything dies down.

It seems ironic that, even with what I wrote in past weeks, that the people that may well do the most damage to WWECW aren't named McMahon. They're named Brunk and Szatowski.

Until next time...

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If you have comments/questions, or if you'd like to add the AS I SEE IT column to your website, I can be reached by e-mail at bobmagee1@hotmail.com)