AS I SEE IT 6/20/2001
One of the major themes for many AS I SEE IT columns over the last four years
has been the human side of the business...and the need to show concern for the wrestlers
that perform for us... particularly given the physical and mental cost to them for doing
Accordingly, an update on my June 10th column on Ric Blade...
Jersey All-Pro Wrestling made a $500 donation to Ric Blade, who accepted it in person (on crutches) at its June 15th show at the ECW Arena. He received a loud ovation from the crowd at the ECW Arena; and accepted the donation; then took the microphone, thanking JAPW and their fans for their support.
Hopefully the other promotions Blade has worked for will do the same thing on his behalf. At least one local independent promoter has proposed the possibility of a benefit show. We'll see if promoters can put their differences aside for one night to promote such a show.
For those of you who haven't yet done so, and would like to send your contributions to benefit Ric Blade, two e-mail addresses have been sent up: firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com.
Combat Zone Wrestling has set up a postal address to send actual get well cards and greetings, as well as any financial contributions you may have for Blade and his wife. They are expecting their first child shortly, and his injury will certainly have an effect on the family finances at a time they can least afford it. Blade has been working weekly in independents throughout the Northeast; including CZW, Jersey All-Pro, Liberty All-Star Wrestling, and the Eastern Wrestling Federation; and fans need to help Blade and his family through this time of personal and financial distress:
Ric Blade and Shorti
c/o CZW Weekly
339 Fry Avenue
Robesonia, PA 19551
Eric Loy of CZW Weekly reports that he's been receiving a "ton of mail so far".
A design for a t-shirt (with proceeds from sales going to Blade's family) is also being put together. As we get the information regarding where it can be purchased, it'll be reported on this website where you read AS I SEE IT.
Next, in a related vein to the need to show concern for the wrestlers that perform for us, thoughts on the last column...
I got some criticism from people who viewed advocating drug testing as being hypocritical given my involvement in Wrestling Fans Against Censorship. I don't agree.
First, let me explain that my thoughts on drug use aren't just some intellectual exercise.
I worked for a social service agency within the Philadelphia Prison System from 1995 to 1997 as an pre-release and post-release employment counselor. While working within the Prison System, I saw men and women addicted to heroin, crack and powder cocaine, meth, ice, angel dust, marijuana, many different prescription drugs, or combinations of many or all of them.
I found out from them personally what they did to get their drugs... burglary, prostitution, assault, and murder. I found out first hand from them what those drugs made them do... in more detail then anyone would ever want to know. I also watched wives, husbands, and lovers, and children as young as one year old sitting in a waiting room of a maximum security prison to see their parents.
I've had friends with substance abuse problems over the years as well.
So my feelings on the subject come out of real-life experience, not Philosophy 101 at Rutgers University.
The fact is that I have yet to see someone propose an alternative to what I suggest as the necessary step to control drug use within the wrestling industry. I'm for whatever would work, and am certainly not wedded to any particular theory. Any solution that is less of a threat to personal freedoms that accomplishes the same goal is even better. But whatever the solution may be, the current non-system of promotional damage control and case-by-case management certainly isn't it.
One option that may occur if Vince McMahon doesn't do it himself is state regulation. Republican New York State Senator Tom Libous (R) is promoting "The Professional Wrestling Health and Safety Act." Libous previously proposed such legislation after noting "an alarming number of participants dying of drug overdoses". While his bill would remove the requirement that promoters pay for State Athletic Commission deputies to attend shows, it would require examinations of performers before each match, not just when they obtain their licenses.
Vince McMahon, with his current monopoly of North American wrestling has a unique opportunity to change the culture of his business. Whether he utilizes that opportunity to make a change out of sincere concern, or does it to cover himself in terms of potential legal liability or PR nightmare is irrelevant. With wrestling overall going into a down cycle, skittish advertisers and TV networks won't need any excuses should a high profile death occur. So the opportunity to save lives is there... but must be taken advantage of, and soon.
It should be said that there were other fans who agreed with what I wrote. But there were less people responding overall to this column than to previous ones on the same subject. Sadly, it seems that unless another wrestling death makes the subject fresh in the mind of readers, it's out of sight, out of mind.
Among the responses to the column, I even had a e-mail accusing me of making up the information about Brian Lawler within last week's column... and telling me that I should print a retraction. This, apparently because Brian Lawler denied (or omitted) it in his message that appeared on KingLawler.com.
I suppose the findings of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police that Lawler was in possession of methamphetamine, marijuana and cocaine (reported in the Calgary Herald) aren't considered a source credible enough to combat the denial by some who wish the mention of drugs would go away...and that this column and others would talk more about Spike and Molly's "love affair" ...and less about the real world.
But guess what, readers?
Ignorance is not bliss.
This past week's Pro Wrestling Torch postal edition briefly reported the story of Scott "Raven" Levy passing his first anniversary of being free of painkillers... and that while addicted, he'd voted for himself in backstage "death pools".
For anyone who might not know, "death pools" are where bets are made in the locker room as to which wrestler or personality will die first. It's certainly not the first I've heard of them... but one of the first times where their existence in the WWF was reported in such a matter of fact way. I have to think that Vince McMahon and management are well aware of them as well.
If drug use is so ingrained within the WWF that "death pools" from the behavior of people in the company aren't any big deal; I assume it will take a profound change in attitudes within the company to motivate the company to require the drug testing needed to put a halt to the problem within the company.
Let's hope it doesn't take another death... or take the PTC and their many friends zeroing in on that vulnerability within wrestling to motivate that change... or government regulation that will take it out of the control of the business itself.
Unfortunately, it probably will...
Until next time...
(If you have comments or questions, I can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org)