I was a wrestling fan for a while, around the turn of the millennium when Vince McMahon had real competition and therefore was required to give a damn. I'm not going to elaborate much on that whole period, except to say in that time and right up until his apparent murder-suicide, Chris Benoit was definitely one of the best performers in the show. However, given his distinctively sack-of-potatoes-like physique, his steroid use should have been pretty obvious, at least as obvious as Scott Steiner's balloon-animal biceps. What the hell is the WWE's "wellness program" actually doing? (Keep in mind this is a business where the sanest performer out there is Mick Foley, who once jumped in a pile of thumbtacks and has taken enough head shots to make even Troy Aikman, Mr. Concussion himself, woozy.)
I mean, fundamentally, where can you go with this? A couple of years ago, the porn industry was hit with its worst nightmare, an HIV scare. Having been through it before, the San Fernando Valley shut down and cleaned up. The porn industry knows what's up -- ultimately, the health of your talent is paramount, and losing a little money to keep them healthy is a smart long-term bet. There are sports coaches who don't get this. And Vince McMahon obviously knows this, because he pays lip service to it on a semi-regular basis.
Pro wrestling needs to be cleaned up. Look at Paul Wight, abusing himself out of a career even though he must know damn well he stands a good chance of not making it to 50. Look at the endless list of names claimed by heart problems, drugs, and mental issues: Curt Hennig, Bam Bam Bigelow, Mike Lockwood, Miss Elizabeth, Eddie Guerrero, Rick Rude, on, and on (I'd add Owen Hart, but his death was pedestrian in comparison). And the injuries -- Darren Drozdov (paralyzed), Bret Hart (brain injury), Mick Foley (too many to list -- he's hamburger on the hoof), Steve Austin (cumulative knee joint damage from too many bouts while injured). And Vince, the ringmaster, changes things slowly if at all, and the minor feds keep on in the same vein.
Let's call a halt to the whole thing for a few months and put the industry leaders (especially Vince) under the threat of heavy regulation. Bring it back for the fall TV season with some safeguards in place -- wrestling may not be a sport per se, but it's damned intense and it's a very popular form of entertainment. The watchword should be "Fix it or else".
And after that's done, let's talk about legal protection for sex workers. You think wrestling's a mess...