The Sharp Shooter #14
May 13, 2009
By: Sean Hurley of

To begin, let’s review and answer a possible rebuttal of my bartender analogy from last week’s column. Last week I crafted a scenario where an alcoholic, who often attends a certain bar, chokes on his vomit one night after visiting said bar and indulging in alcohol willingly provided by the bartender and bar itself. When scenarios like this happen, the blame, rightfully so, falls entirely on the alcoholic and his unwise decisions. However, in wrestling world, whenever a wrestler (current, past, retired, inactive or otherwise) dies of drug/alcohol addiction, the blame is immediately placed on the wrestling business, namely WWE, while the dead wrestler is absolved of all blame, responsibility and onus.

Last week’s column concluded that this idea of a wrestler being immediately pardoned of responsibility in his own death because his death is automatically WWE’s fault is ridiculous. I used the bartender/alcoholic example to show the readers that in everyday life drug/alcohol addicts and abusers are responsible for their own lives and are to blame for self-inflicted death. Not the bar who feeds the alcohol, not the dealer who peddles the drugs, not the pharmacist who prescribes the medicine and not the clerk who sells the cigarettes nor the company who produces them. Addicts and abusers are responsible for their own life and death, as was Andrew Martin.

However, some of you at home may be saying to yourself ?well in the bar/establishment doesn?t have a personal or working relationship with the alcoholic. The bar isn?t responsible for the alcoholic, while WWE employed Test, therefore WWE should have provided some protection, caring and oversight for Test during their working relationship.?

Firstly, readers at home would be correct in assuming the bar doesn?t have a personal or working relationship with the alcoholic, the alcoholic is not under contract with the bar, therefore the bar is not responsible for the alcoholic in any way outside maintaining a civil environment inside the walls of the bar itself. Furthermore, yes, WWE did employ Test, signed him under contract, and therefore, established a personal and working relationship with Test, something the bar/alcoholic lacked. However, personal and working relationships do not denote omnipresent guidance and safety for the employee. Yes, WWE should do everything it can to ensure their employees? safety during a WWE sponsored event, but as soon as a wrestler leaves the building, heading for a hotel, nightclub, what-have-you, the wrestler becomes an independent thinker, no longer under the watchful eye of his employer. Therefore, the ills that fall upon a wrestler outside of a wrestling event are absolutely the fault of the wrestler, not the employer.

Was WWE to blame when Shawn Michaels was jumped outside a bar in Syracuse? No. Was WWE to blame when Ric Flair got beat up by his daughter’s boyfriend last year? No. Was WWE to blame for Kurt Angle’s copious drug use and practical self destruction? Nope. In fact, WWE was recently vindicated, showing that they tried to do everything in their power to help Kurt. Would WWE have been blamed if Kurt Angle was to, or does die of drug related problems? Yep. Was WWE to blame when Jake Roberts relapsed any hundreds of times including most recently in Cleveland about a year ago when he claimed he was drugged by someone? Nope. Will WWE be blamed if/when Jake Roberts dies of drug related causes? Sadly, yes. Was WWE to blame any of the two times Test received a DUI within a 7 month span between Sept 2007 and Apr 2008? Nope. So why blame WWE for Tests? overdose?

WWE can only do so much to monitor their wrestlers? behaviors anyhow. I mean, aside from prison, in what environment does a healthy, free thinking adult need to be monitored so heavily? In Test’s case, he returned to WWE in July of 2006 complete with a fully juiced up frame covered in acne. For his drug use, Test was suspended in within six months and let go soon thereafter. At the time of Tests? death in fact, he was enrolled in a WWE sponsored and paid for drug rehabilitation program and was in regular contact with WWE, as they monitored his progress and offered support and solace. What more can you ask from an employer, really?

TNA, on the other hand, simply released Andrew after only a couple months due to concerns about his synthetic size and the fact that TNA had Congress breathing down their throats.

The truth is, Test came to the plate with cork in his bat and for that, neither WWE nor TNA wanted anything to do with him.

Let’s pull another example from everyday life just to realize how stupid it is to blame WWE for a wrestler’s drug/alcohol related death, especially when they haven?t worked for WWE in years at the time of their death?

I work at a hookah bar. (If you didn?t know, hookah is flavored tobacco) I do not smoke but smoke lingers around me and I do inhale it in second-hand form from time to time. I also have a heart condition which basically prohibits me from smoking. My boss is aware of my condition and continues to employ me. He follows a set of rules, codes and regulations to ensure that my working environment is as safe as it can be without hindering his business. I evaluated the risks involved with the job before taking the job and made my decision after evaluating said risks. If I contract lung cancer or die of a heart attack related to second-hand smoke while, or after my tenure at the hookah bar, I am completely, utterly, whole-heartedly and absolutely to blame although my employer knows my condition, knows the environment, and makes money off of a drug that pollutes me. Why am I to blame? Because I, under free will, decided to go to work for this company, knowing the risks and rewards involved, evaluating the health issues, and making a clear, conscious decision based on the criteria.

Test was about my age when he was hired by WWE; therefore, assuming his mental capabilities were sound, he should have, or did make health risk/reward evaluations similar to what I did before being hired at the hookah bar. However, Test writes in a blog which appeared after Eddie Guererro’s death ?When I started wrestling I had never seen or heard of Vicodin or Percocet or Soma.?

Assuming this is true, I do know that, while Test may not have heard of these drugs before, he had certainly heard of the word ?drugs? before, and was aware that certain drugs destroy your body as well as kill you. He also had to know the health risks involved with professional wrestling as well as the drug usage. Hell, Vince McMahon was on trial for distributing steroids to his wrestlers a mere four years before Test was hired. If Test says he didn?t know about drugs in wrestling and the health risks involved in the profession he was either lying or delusional.

Looking further into that same blog?

?I’m actually wondering who’s next? Who’s next to die? I can think of at least 15 to 20 people who have died from various things – mostly prescription pain killers. For all you wanna be wrestlers who wanna get in this business, especially now when WWE doesn’t pay you anymore than you would make at a 9 to 5 job??

There are a few things off about these few sentences that show us Test was completely aware of his dangerous addictions and should be blamed for his own death instead of WWE. He can think of 15 to 20 people who have died of mostly pain killers, therefore, he is aware that painkillers are dangerous because his peers and friends are dying from them. Yet, he returns to WWE months after this blog post, juiced out of his brain and popping painkillers just like his dead buddies. If you can identify the problem in one instance, yet indulge in the problem yourself, you represent a sophisticated level of irresponsibility that has nothing to do with who employs you and everything to do with your character and integrity.

In closing, next week’s installment will continue to focus on inconsistencies in Test’s blog as well as finally tackle Seth Mate’s blog for his assumptions and accusations. I have so much to say about this topic that it’s hard to get it all in order and present it in an organized, concise fashion. Therefore, I find splitting the piece into parts makes it easier for me to focus on a few key areas during each part before finally reaching my conclusion. Next week’s piece should be the conclusion to my diatribe on the societal blame game played with WWE each time a wrestler dies, but we?ll have to wait and see.

To close part two, let me just say that this is not a personal attack on Test the wrestler, as I enjoyed each of his stays in WWE, nor is it an attempt to slander Test and disgrace his name and image. I?m simply trying to point out the hypocrisy in society that occurs when a wrestler dies. When a wrestler dies of drug or alcohol related problems the blame is slapped hard on WWE for harboring and employing the wrestler, while when an alcoholic dies of alcohol related problems, the bar he frequents never comes under fire by society. If I were to be diagnosed with lung cancer tomorrow or die of a heart attack because of my line of work at the hookah bar, the hookah bar would be completely guiltless and blame free; people would remember me as the schmuck who died because of poor decision making, not as the martyr who was torn down and destroyed by his employer because the latter simply wouldn?t be true.

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