To recap one of the most troubling days in recent memory for the WWE, here's what happened:
- A few days ago Congress called WWE to a hearing in late september on the subject of steroid use in pro wrestling. This will be the same kind of thing that happened in MLB with Sosa, McGuire, Palmeiro, etc.
- Today, the WWE suddenly suspended 10 wrestlers. They did not immediately release the names of the wrestlers that were suspended. However, hours later a story popped up in the New York Daily News listing the names of WWE stars that were identified as clients of Signature Pharmacy in Orlando, the site raided by law enforcement agencies in February for distributing drugs (including steroids) to clients that had not been examined by doctors. It is important to note that the list of names in the Daily News article is NOT the list of the ten wrestlers that were suspended today, and is NOT an indication of any illegal actions on their part. This list is simply wrestlers that were clients of the Signature Pharmacy.
The eleven names in the article are Randy Orton, Charlie Haas, Adam Copeland (Edge), Robert Huffman (King Booker), Shane Helms, Mike Bucci (the now retired Simon Dean, who is not on the active roster and works in talent development), Anthony Carelli (Santino Marella), John Hennigan (ECW Champion John Morrison), Darren Matthews (William Regal), Ken Anderson (Kennedy) and Chavo Guerrero.
- ESPN later added, in an article found here, the names of Shoichi Funaki, Dave Bautista (Batista), and Chris Mordetsky (Masters), as being clients of Signature Pharmacy.
- Later, the Daily News reported that Eddie Fatu (Umaga) was also a clients of Signature Pharmacy.
After all of this, the excellent Dave Scherer of PWInsider.com wrote an excellent piece combining all of the findings from today and including them in one tell all piece. Things will get very interesting in the next couple of days.
Originally Posted by Dave SchererWWE got hit with as direct of a shot to the integrity of their company and their Wellness Policy as they could have possibly feared today as allegations of rampant usage of growth enhancing drugs came to light in the press, including a damning article by Sports Illustrated. In the wake of the Benoit family tragedy, the company has been publicly leaning on their testing policy with such vigor that it really needed to be completely bulletproof and able to stand up to the fiercest scrutiny in order for the company to maintain its credibility. Tonight, that policy is not holding up very well.
In light of the press coverage today, as well as the fact that Congress has called for a hearing on the use of growth enhancing drugs in wrestling next month on Capitol Hill, WWE's announcement of publicly naming those who fail Wellness tests starting in November comes across as trying to put out a fire after it's burned down the whole street. As I mentioned on the No Name Show today, if they wanted to show that their policy had some serious teeth, as well as some consequences for those that violate it, they would have been publicly announcing suspensions already. That that they haven't done so before now has always been something that critics have questioned. Now, the company will be forced to play catch up in the eyes of their critics and at least some of their fans.
With the number of active wrestlers who have been alleged to have received drugs from the Florida warehouse pharmacy, it places the effectiveness of WWE's testing policy in a really bad light. It's hard to come to any conclusion other that it was either very ineffective or WWE didn't monitor the results all that closely. Either way, WWE looks really bad here. In looking at the time frames that the talents are alleged to have received packages, it's hard to believe they could fly under the testing radar and not get caught in the random tests that WWE implements.
While we don't know definitively that the 10 suspended workers are the ten active names on this list, now that this has been made public, how can't these guys be suspended? If any one of them appears on TV in the next month, WWE will have a very hard time when they send their contingent to DC next month. So, whether the talents actually have been suspended or not, they all have a scarlet letter hanging around their neck and with some of the names on the list WWE will face some serious problems going forward.
At this point, it makes perfect sense to look at those who have been alleged to receive drugs from the pharmacy and what it will mean to the company. In italics, I will quote the Sports Illustrated article. Under that, I will give my thoughts on each worker, assuming that the SI report is 100% true.
• Chris Benoit, who died June 24, 2007, received nandrolone and anastrozole in February 2006. (Anastrozole is used by athletes to counter side effects of steroid use, such as water retention and breast enlargement.)
Is anyone shocked? Just looking at Benoit for many years now anyone could tell that he blew up from his natural size, which we all saw when he was younger. Even if he wasn't loaded up with testosterone at the time of his death, I think anyone with eyes would have assumed he was using. Since he has already been confirmed as a user, there is no more real harm he can add to what he has already done. But know this, from a business perspective he has already done considerable damage to WWE with his actions in June.
• Two weeks prior to Eddie Guerrero's death on Nov. 13, 2005, he was sent nandrolone, testosterone, and anastrozole. Guerrero died in a Minneapolis hotel room due to what a coroner later ruled as heart disease, complicated by an enlarged heart resulting from a history of anabolic steroid use.
This is really, really sad. Yes, it would have been worse if it were "street" drugs, but seeing that Eddie was using this stuff right before he died just makes his death all the more tragic. It's such a waste. It also makes me feel a little less sympathetic towards his tragic death. Here he was a man that was very well aware of the problems that came from drug use and yet he continued to receive packages? How couldn't he see what was right in front of him?
• Chavo Guerrero, who found his uncle Eddie dead in the Minneapolis hotel room, received, among other drugs, somatropin (HGH), nandrolone and anastrozole between April 2005 and May 2006.
This is just downright scary to me. Given what both Chavo and Benoit went through with the loss of Eddie, how either man couldn't have turned over a new leaf following Eddie's passing is something I will just never understand. I guess it is a situation where being in the business is worth shaving years off of their life to them. It's a very scary choice to make.
• Between November 2003 and February 2007, Shane Helms, a/k/a The Hurricane, received, among other drugs, testosterone, genotropin (HGH) and nandrolone. (As previously reported by SI, he allegedly received HGH from an Arizona doctor in 2005.)
I bet Helms is very happy to be on the disabled list right now. Seeing the first four names on this list it does show a pattern though, with naturally smaller guys trying to be bigger. It's a pattern that WWE is going to have make the company's top priority to break going forward.
• Starting in September 2004 through February 2007, Randy Orton received somatropin, nandrolone, stanozolol.
Orton, in many ways, has been a cat with nine lives during his WWE career. He may very well be on his last one. He could be in the position now where his next screw up will be his last. This also looks especially bad given that he just headlined one of the company's biggest PPVs of the year and was set to do so again next month. Then, he was set for a program with HHH. Now, he's in the middle of this and has to be taken out of the company's plans. This will definitely hurt the company's creative direction going forward.
• John Hennigan, a/k/a Johnny Nitro, a.k.a. Johnny Morrison, is the current WWE Extreme Championship Wrestling's heavyweight champion. Between June 2006 and February 2007 he was prescribed somatropin, anastrozole, testosterone, stanozolol and chorionic gonadotropin, a hormone produced naturally during pregnancy. (HCG is taken by anabolic steroid users to stimulate the production of testosterone, which is suppressed as a result of steroid use.)
ECW was already a brand lacking in top talent. Now, its biggest name (at least in the eyes of ECW creative head Dave Lagana) is under the microscope. How can't CM Punk finally get the win he has deserved for months now and get his hands on the ECW Title? The sad thing is if it does happen, it will be the right thing for all the wrong reasons.
• Ken Anderson, a/k/a Mr. Kennedy, lost to Eddie Guerrero in Guerrero's final match on Nov. 11, 2005. Kennedy received shipments of anastrozole, somatropin and testosterone between October 2006 and February 2007.
Ken Kennedy's name being listed is a double whammy of bad for WWE. For one thing, he was scheduled to be prominently featured in WWE storylines over the next month, reportedly being the person who would emerge as Vince McMahon's son in the paternity angle. Now, creative will be forced to go scrambling for a new son. What I find more offensive however is that he has been something of a company spokesman that stood up to the critics of WWE during the Benoit tragedy coverage. He even did interviews where he talked about how he used steroids as an indy worker and the Wellness Policy saved him. Now, he just comes across like every other athlete who has been caught with his hand in the cookie jar. He's the Rafael Palmeiro of WWE.
• Shoichi Funaki received somatropin in March 2006.
Honestly, the only damage that this causes WWE is that it brings the number to 10. Some may ask why he was taking a growth hormone since he wasn't big. People also take them to fight the effects of aging and to look younger. That is the only possible reason I can see that he did it.
• Brian Adams, a/k/a Crush, who retired from the pro circuit in 2001, was found dead of unknown causes on Aug. 13. He received nandrolone, testosterone and Somatropin or HGH in December 2006.
This is not detrimental to WWE but obviously fuels the overall argument about wrestlers dying far too young.
• Charles Haas was prescribed anastrozole, somatropin, stanozolol, nandrolone and chorionic gonadotropin between August 2006 and January 2007.
Haas isn't a top guy but I was somewhat surprised by his inclusion. If my brother had died suddenly as his did from heart issues, I would be a lot more discerning about what I put in my body.
• Edward Fatu received somatropin between July and December 2006.
This is another one that really hurts WWE. First Jeff Hardy got suspended, hurting their program. Now, it appears it's Umaga's turn to take 30 days off. The top of the Raw roster is suddenly looking very barren with Orton, Kennedy and Umaga all mentioned.
• Between November 2004 and November 2006, Darren Matthews received stanozolol, somatropin, genotropin, and anastrozole.
How can this be? Granted, it's not street drugs but how can William Regal, after his health issues and battles with substance abuse, do this? All I can assume is that his desire to be in the business outweighed his common sense. His suspension won't kill WWE but it certainly should make people wonder how he could be on this list. I know it does for me.
• Adam Copeland, a/k/a Edge, received somatropin, genotropin (both HGH), and stanozolol between September 2004 and February 2007.
Edge, like Kennedy, looks really, really bad here. He went on the offensive when the first Sports Illustrated article first came out, saying he hadn't taken steroids in years. If this information is true, like Kennedy before him his credibility will take a major hit here. He's very lucky to be on the disabled list because by the time he comes back, this will probably be forgotten by most, but for those of use who remember, his character has taken a hit. In this case, it would have been better to keep his mouth shut than issue a denial that could be so easily refuted.
• Sylvain Grenier received somatropin, nandrolone, genotropin and stanozolol, starting in February 2005 through July 2006.
Since he was already released, all this probably means is another name. Well, that and the fact that he won't be back any time soon.
As mentioned above, this information coming to light is a major shot to both WWE's integrity as well as its credibility, and couldn't come at a worse time from the company's perspective. For the most part, the constant coverage of the ills of the business had quieted. They had a chance to go to Washington DC next month with very little buzz in the mainstream about the issue. Now, every media pundit who overzealously misquoted the facts in this story not only just received a clean slate but also now will seem believable again. WWE is quite truly at a crossroads in their business. The days of flying under the radar are gone. The genie is now out of the bottle and the company can't go back to business as usual if it wants to stay in business and/or avoid regulation from a government that will be skeptical of everything that they say going forward.
The one silver lining that can come out of this situation is that the days of the untalented, overdeveloped muscle man who can't work but looks good to the right people in power has to be over. The days when guys looking like neon signs also has to be over, no matter what strain this loss of talent will mean to the already hit and miss creative department . Hopefully, what it will mean is that as time goes by, the number of wrestlers who die well before their time will get lower and lower. If that can happen at least something positive can come out of this otherwise dark time in the business.