Ten years ago, Vince McMahon bought his main competition, WCW, after a long bout over TV ratings, talent and PPV buys. Fast forward to now and Vince is the lone wolf, essentially holding a monopoly over the wrestling business. His closest competition is Impact Wrestling, a horribly managed organization that is nowhere near Vince’s level, but it may pose the biggest threat to his company and wrestling as we know it. Here’s why.
Someone is going to die in an Impact Wrestling ring.
I’m not hoping for it and truly would hate for this to happen. However, I wouldn’t be surprised if a wrestler were to die in the middle of an Impact wrestling ring in the next year.
We’ve done a good bit of poking fun at the company for its stupid storylines and the Jeff Hardy saga, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Impact Wrestling is a horribly managed wrestling company that hasn’t learned from the deaths and tragedies that have changed the wrestling world over the last decade. The company has become a haven – a cesspool – where wrestlers that were kicked out of the WWE for chemical dependencies and personal demons can go to continue their habits while still earning a paycheck.
Earlier this year, Jeff Hardy, who has an extensive history of drug problems and is in the middle of a trial for drug possession, showed up to a pay-per-view main event hammered out of his mind. While there has been no indication he has undergone any rehab – and his brother, fellow wrestler and partying buddy, Matt, continues to struggle with his own DUIs and drug addiction – Jeff was allowed to return to the company last week. His high-flying antics require the utmost coordination and, if Hardy were to show up again in an Impact ring impaired, a drunk or high jump from the top rope could lead to paralysis or death right in the middle of the ring. With thousands watching on PPV.
Hardy’s not the only concern. A recent fascinating exposé on Ric Flair revealed that he has Alcoholic Cardiomyopathy. Yet the 62-year-old still drinks and is employed full time with the company. In fact, he’s going to wrestle in a pay-per-view next month. Flair’s been shown drinking on the weekly shows and is sadly on a path to his own financial and personal demise. But heart problems aren’t anything to fool around with. Flair gets tossed around and bleeds in damn near every match. His lifestyle of alcohol combined with his heart problem could lead to some sort of heart failure during a match.
Let’s also not forget that Impact wrestling regularly features unprotected chair shots to the head, which has already been banned from WWE as it contributes the types of concussions and brain damage that allegedly made Chris Benoit go off the deep end and kill his family.
Nobody has ever died in a major company’s wrestling ring in America from wrestling-related injuries. Yes, Owen Hart died in the ring in 1999, but that came from a freak accident involving a deployment from a stadium ceiling, a tragic mishap that could have happened at the circus or in any stunt show. But nobody’s died from the wear and tear of wrestling life and company irresponsibility. Imagine if a wrestler suddenly has a heart failure in the middle of the ring or an impaired performer tries to jump off the top rope and breaks his neck live in front if a pay-per-view audience. CNN wouldn’t just be interested in Impact Wrestling’s practices, but a national witch-hunt would take place.
Just think, if some backwoods porn company had an HIV outbreak. You think the media would just focus on that company? The big dogs would suffer and have to face investigations and in-depth articles about the way they handle business. The media goes for the biggest pockets and companies like Hustler and Bang Bros. would be the ones to suffer.
If a wrestler were to die in an Impact ring, pro wrestling in America may cease to exist. Wrestling’s already stigmatized as a barbaric “fake” sport full of ‘roided up goons with 40-year-old life expectancies. One fatal miscue and the industry would be looked at under the microscope as an ultimate danger to anyone that participates in it.
And the person that would lose the most is Vince McMahon.
He’s got the deep pockets, so he’d ultimately be the one left to answer questions from media and the government about wrestling (or sports entertainment) as a whole in this country. A company still reeling from the Benoit tragedy would most certainly be near extinction after a wrestler dies in a ring, regardless of if the WWE had anything to do with it or not and especially since the Impact roster consists mostly of former WWE talent. If McMahon were to buy Impact Wrestling, he could govern over the talent with his increasingly stringent drug testing policy, outright fire anyone that is a health risk and eliminate unnecessary damage these wrestlers inflict on each other. (He’d also be able to finally utilize Samoa Joe, which probably isn’t as important as the aforementioned benefits though it would make me a happy wrestling fan).
While Impact Wrestling is far from surpassing or even approaching the WWE product in any aspect, Vince McMahon needs to shell out the millions to buy the company to save it from itself. And to save American professional wrestling as a whole.