Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Shooting the Messenger ...

Wrestlers who speak out against WWE and drugs sitation labelled 'bitter' says UK Sun

"Some people do say it but it is dismissed as sour grapes. They are written off as jealous or guys who never made it. But they are the ones with their eyes open" says Jim Cornette

UK Sun newspaper
Wednesday 20 January, 2010


JIM CORNETTE has blasted WWE owner Vince McMahon over the large number of grapplers who have died young.

Cornette says that wrestlers he either befriended, managed or trained during his time working for the WWE between 1993 and 2005 are now dead - including the recent tragic passings of Eddie 'Umaga' Fatu and Tony 'Ludvig Borga' Halme and previous deaths including Eddie Gurrero, Davey Boy Smith and Andrew 'Test' Martin.

He told us: "It is never easy when a friend dies.

"But at first it was 'oh my gosh', then it was 'oh no', then it was 'not again' and finally you're not surprised anymore.

"It is never good, but it isn't shocking. That's the sad thing.

"It is more shocking if a professional wrestler from the 1980s is actually found in good health and living a nice life with no problems.

"When I was a kid watching wrestling in the 1970s, every couple of years you would hear of a few wrestlers dying in a car wreck.

"Now a month doesn't go by that you don't hear some about wrestler dying at an early age, because of drugs or by-products of drugs which are by-products of the unfortunate work environment that they found themselves in."

Look at Vince himself....he is 64-years-old and on the cover of Muscle and Fitness.

Cornette blames the epidemic on a number of things, including the trend to headline shows with wrestlers who had bodybuilder style physiques.

He singles out 1980s and 1990s world champions such as Hulk Hogan and Ultimate Warrior and current main event star Triple H as examples, although all proved very popular with fans.

He told us: "It is no secret that in WWE a guy of average ability with a great physique will always get a bunch more chances in WWE than a guy with great ability and less impressive physique.

"That is what Vince has always tried to book and always tried to push.

"And look at Vince himself. OK yes, he has great genetics and trains vigorously, but c'mon he is 64-years-old and on the cover of Muscle and Fitness. That is the example he is setting.

"When I was working for rival firm NWA in the 1980s, we used to joke that half of the guys in our main events weren't big enough to open the show for Vince McMahon.

"A lot of the guys in the 1980s got on this s*** and it creates a dependence, a mental if not a physical one.

"Of course no one ever told you that you had to take steroids to get a job and there wasn't a bunch of 10 boys in the locker room sticking needles in their asses out in the open.

"But just look at the hiring practices. Who got the pushes and who didn't.

"Then when heat got on the WWE in the early 1990s about it, things changed and it was the smaller guys like Shawn Michaels and Bret Hart who were featured on top.

"But as soon as the heat was off of the steroids issue, the big guys started creeping back in.

"And even if it is not as prevalent recently as it was in the 1980s it was still obviously there, up until the past few years when the heat got back on again after Benoit.

"So, that's the steroid problem."

Talking about other issues, Jim continues: "The style of pro wrestling has got so much harder with bigger bumps, so painkillers come into it.

"In the old days, the fans thought we were hurting each other but we really weren't.

"Now, the guys are really hurting each other and the fans don't believe anything because they were told it's phoney.

"There are also guys who lose their push and need surgery, but put it off and off because they have the mentality that, not only does the show need to go on, but also somebody else might take their spot and they might not get it back.

"Then you take into account that wrestlers' careers are so much shorter because there is no territory system and they're on national television every week. Many more get burnt out.

"Guys get depressed when all of a sudden, after being stars for three or four years, they can't get a job because there is no place else to work.

"That then leads to a drug problem.

"So it's all of these things - fewer places to work, change in the style and Vince's hiring practices and who he pushes.

"All of those have lead to early deaths from heart attacks and drug and steroid related problems."

"Some people do say it but it is dismissed as sour grapes. They are written off as jealous or guys who never made it. But they are the ones with their eyes open."

Cornette does concede that the WWE are trying to tackle the problem.

The company have imposed a strict Wellness Policy on their talent - suspending and even firing those who fail drugs test.

They also offer to pay for any current of former star to get rehab, an offer that four per cent have taken up.

However Cornette believes these moves may be down to the company wanting avoid the bad publicity that came in the wake of the Chris Benoit murder/suicides.

While there is no evidence that WWE have anything but the best intentions, Jim claims: "The WWE are doing a lot but that's probably because of the bad publicity.

"They're a publically traded entertainment company and a bunch of their employees or former employees are dying at an early age.

"And let me just say this - top guys with a lot of money to spend can always get the good stuff if they want it to beat the test.

"Although for the guys who don't make much money, then they have to get clean now they are doing legitimate testing."

Although Jim, who currently works for indie group Ring Of Honor, is the one of the only people currently in the wrestling industry prepared to speak out - many former stars have.

However those grapplers, including Marc Mero, Bruno Sammartino and Superstar Billy Graham, have been labelled as bitter.

Is Jim worried that the same accusations may be levelled at him?

He says: "People may say I'm biased because the WWE screwed me out of a business deal here in Louisville with Ohio Valley Wrestling, and yes I am biased.

"But at the same time, look at it!

"A lot of people won't say what I am because they still want a job.

"Some people do say it but it is dismissed as sour grapes. They are written off as jealous or guys who never made it. But they are the ones with their eyes open.

"Nobody can dispute the facts. They just try to shoot the messenger.

"So I don't care what they think of me and I'm sure they don't care what I think of them.

"I'm just telling the truth."

Read more: