[WWE] NY Post’s Phil Mushnick Comments on Wrestling & Steroids

The NY Post’s Phil Mushnick, long a critic of Vince McMahon, tackles the issue for what he says is the last time, in his column today. Here are excerpts from the column, entitled WRESTLE WITH THIS:

WE’VE been writing it for more than 15 years, but we’re going to try it one more time. And then we’re going to try to do what the rest of the media does: we’re going to ignore it.

After all, what’s a dead pro wrestler, or two. Or 20. Or 80. They’re only pro wrestlers; it’s not as if they’re real people.

While Bud Selig and Donald Fehr resisted Congress’s efforts to expose and eliminate steroid use, they should be grateful that Congress, and, by extension America, gives a damn whether ballplayers live or die.

On the other hand, it’s hard to keep a body count on pro wrestlers, under the age of 40, who have died sudden, steroid-aided deaths in the last 20-25 years.

Not a single active MLB player is known to have died a steroid-related death. But imagine if there had been one. Or two. Imagine if a massively muscled outfielder with the Tigers or Cubs was found dead in his hotel room today.

Last week, as MLB and the MLBPA finalized the Congressionally exacted steroid policy, Eddie Guerrero, one of McMahon’s top WWE stars, was found dead in his hotel room in Minnesota.

Pro wrestlers are commonly found dead in their hotel rooms.

It works like this: The wrestlers know that their bosses want over-the-top muscle.

They know that there’s an implied, industry-wide directive to be on or to get on the juice.

They know that they have to be on the road many weeks at a time, without any medical coverage or sick days.

Miss a show due to illness or injury and you miss a payday. Often, one or two misses and you’re fired.

So the cycle begins. Steroids to get and keep the job, barbiturates to kill the pain and get some sleep, stimulants to get through the next gig.

That’s why pro wrestlers are found dead in their hotel rooms.

Guerrero was only 5-8, but with muscles that pushed the limits of natural physiology. And he was a pro drug abuser every bit as much as he was a pro wrestler – the two, in the Vince McMahon Era, rarely stand alone.

McMahon, the king of pro wrestling – himself once massed on steroids – skips through the cemetery. He surely must think it wonderful that so few people care, that the media view his business only as a trendsetter for lowbrow pop culture.

Last week McMahon exploited Guerrero’s death to make ratings hay with his NBC-TV partners, first on McMahon’s hideously desensitizing USA Network show (USA is now owned by NBC) and then through a speak-no-evil memorial on MSNBC. And let’s not forget McMahon’s long friendship and partnerships with NBC Sports boss Dick Ebersol, who convinced NBC to turn Saturday nights over to McMahon’s XFL.

Lowell Weicker, from McMahon’s home state of Connecticut, is a former governor and senator … [who has] long served as a member of the WWE’s Board of Directors. We don’t know what Weicker is paid for his presence, but given that he has to look past the perversity of McMahon’s TV product and that he has to look around the scores of dead young men produced by the industry, he works cheap.

Anyway, under threat of Congress, MLB last week introduced a stronger drug policy. That made big news – while another pro wrestler dropped dead. And they continue to drop dead, ever so softly, so as to scarcely make a sound.

Just the way McMahon likes it.

This can be found in full at NYPost.com (free subscription required).