BY ISAIAH HARRIS, ClASS OF 2013 —
The bright lights, the cheering crowd, the adrenaline rush and most important, the main event. This is what professional wrestlers live for. The WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment) has more than 10 million viewers and is broadcast in over 125 countries. What makes it so popular?
According to the WWE, 66% of their audience are males. This is mainly because almost every boy and man wants to have the traits wrestlers possess such as the chiseled body, colossal muscles, great mobility, and extreme confidence. Young boys are told when they grow up they are going to big and strong, and nothing fits that description better than a WWE superstar. You will never see a skinny wrestler or your regular average Joe trying to be a wrestler. In some ways, they portray superheroes. The same way kids act like they can fly or have superpowers; they act like they have super strength and can do the same moves their favorite wrestler does.
Saint Peter’s junior, Malcolm Alexander, remembers how much professional wrestling affected him as a child. “I used to see The Rock and ‘Stone Cold’ Steve Austin and would want to be just like them.”
Alexander started watching wrestling at the age of seven and thought it was one of the greatest things ever. “I used to try and walk just like Steve Austin, I even chugged soda the same way he did beers when he would walk out.”
On the outside looking in, being a professional wrestler appears to be a fun job, but many people do not know about the demons hundreds of professional wrestlers face every day.
The amount of pressure some professional wrestlers put on themselves can be extremely overwhelming. They must always be in top physical condition and have massive muscles because that is the description of a typical wrestler. Sometimes gaining muscles the old fashion way takes too much time and effort, this is when steroids come into the picture.
Steroids are synthetic male testosterone that is used to build muscle or enhance performance. The drug helps the body retain protein, which is needed for the growth of muscles. It even has some effects that make you more masculine. It deepens your voice, gives you more facial and body hair, and it make you more aggressive. Some people take it so they would have a better body and look better to females, but others take it for a competitive advantage. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, over one million Americans have used steroids. Statistics from the National Institute On Drug Abuse show that 1.5% of 12th graders had abused anabolic steroids at least once in the year. The majority of people who use steroids are young, male athletes looking for that edge.
Some sports known for steroid use are football, baseball and boxing. The 2012 MLB All-Star MVP, Melky Cabrera, was suspended 50 games for testing positive for increased testosterone levels. He admitted to using a substance he “should not have used.” In 2006, San Diego Chargers linebacker, Shawne Merriman, tested positive for human growth hormone, which resulted in a four game suspension. After the suspension however, he went on to have a breakout year. This incident made NFL commissioner, Rodger Goodell, implement a rule that forbids a player who tests positive for steroids from being selected to the Pro Bowl or winning any performance awards in the year in which they tested positive. This rule is sometimes referred to as the “Merriman rule.”
Steroids are illegal, but there are other ways that you can help build your body, such as taking protein. A member of the Saint Peter’s University track team, who asked to remain anonymous, said he takes protein to help build his body naturally. “I’ve noticed that I got bigger and more cut up.” Being on a good diet and weight lifting combined with taking the protein allowed him to get built without the use of drugs. “I would never take that stuff and besides, it’s illegal.”
Eddie Guerrero was a famous Mexican-American wrestler for 18 years. He was born into Los Guerreros. Los Guerreros is a Mexican-American family that has been involved with professional wrestling since the 1930’s. His entire family has been involved with professional wrestling for three generations. Guerrero was a household name and loved by nearly every wrestling fan around the world. When news came on November 13, 2005 that Guerrero died in his sleep due to heart failure, the wrestling world was shocked and heartbroken.
Even though his death was surprising, it was something that some people saw coming. According to his autopsy, his blood vessels were very worn and narrow from years of substance abuse. It was bad enough he had an enlarged heart and other enlarged organs. His wife, Vickie Guerrero, said in interviews, her husband struggled with alcoholism, steroids and an addiction to painkillers. She remembers the last week she spent with her husband and she knew that something was not right with him. She shared her memories with WWE.com. “He was home and kept saying he wasn’t feeling good…” She also added that her husband had a crazy work schedule and was working out 24/7. The only way Guerrero could keep his body up sometimes was by using steroids. This made his heart grow bigger and work harder until it failed on him. Even though now he is now in the WWE Hall of Fame, notoriety came with a great cost.
Dr. Guy Francis, a family doctor in Maplewod, NJ, pointed out how steroids affect the brain. “You’re definitely going to be more agitated and aggressive than usual, but you’re going to be like this towards family and friends.” You will also be in a bad mood and it sometimes causes people to get violent. “It also can cause depression, along with some suicidal behavior in some cases,” Francis added. In addition, Rosalind Moses, a nurse at Saint Barnabas Hospital, mentioned that it also stunts growth, cause loss of hair, shrinks testes and affects your ability to reproduce.
Former WWE wrestler Chris Benoit was a fan favorite and once the World Heavyweight Champion. Everything seemed to be going well for Benoit on the outside, but on the inside he was being torn apart. It was known that Benoit was taking steroids. Benoit went through two divorces. His second wife, Nancy claimed that he would break and throw furniture around. She even had a restraining order against him, but it was not enough. On June 22, 2007, Benoit killed his wife, Nancy, and his seven-year old son, Daniel before committing suicide by hanging himself. The autopsy showed he was using steroids at the time he committed the murders. Many people say “roid rage” was to blame, but others say it was due to multiple concussions. Either way, the combination of both left him mentally and emotionally unstable.
Being a wrestler is not as fun as it looks. Having to keep getting bigger and stronger everyday can definitely take a toll on your body. Especially when you are taking drugs that tear down your body faster than it builds it. There is also the fact that younger, bigger wrestlers will try to replace you, as you get older. The use of painkillers is also an issue. The blows wrestlers take to the head can be mind-blowing at times so they overdose on painkillers to numb the pain. This is what goes on daily in the world of professional wrestling. You are either the best or you are not, but what would you do to get and stay on top?