A lot of people are asking me about Lance Cade’s passing last week (August 13). I’m not going to do a big piece on steroids in pro wrestling since I just wrote a thesis on steroids in professional sports. Nonetheless, I’ll comment on my thoughts surrounding steroids in pro wrestling since it remains a topic that continues to come to the forefront of the industry.
So as we all know, last week, Lance McNaught (aka Lance Cade) died what appeared to be heart failure. He was just 29 years of age. McNaught’s wife, Tanya, had noticed that Lance was not looking well in the week prior to his death, and was taken to hospital on August 10 with difficulty breathing. The next day, however, he discharged himself. The next day, McNaught went to visit his father’s workplace on August 12, still looking unwell. His father insisted that Lance stay the night with his parents, during which he passed away in the early hours of August 13.
Unfortunately, McNaught has a history of addictions with pain and sleeping pills. During his first tenure in the WWE, he was fired in 2008 after having a seizure on an airplane. Former commentator Jim Ross said that it was “a major league mistake while utilizing bad judgment,” leading many to logically believe that the seizure stemmed from another drug-related issue. To this day, however, details of the firing have not been released.
A drug-related death is something that the WWE and the pro wrestling industry has gotten used to over the years. Here are a few names of some stars who have gone well before their time;
“Mr. Perfect” Curt Henning (44) via cocaine overdose.
Brian “Crush” Adams (44) via painkiller overdose.
Bam Bam Bigelow (45) via lethal levels of cocaine & anti-anxiety pills.
Mike “Crash Holly” Lockwood (32) via lethal combination of painkillers.
Miss Elizabeth (42) via accidental overdose of alcohol, pain killers, nausea medication & tranquilizers.
Eddie Guerrero (38) via heart disease, complicated by an enlarged heart resulting due to history of anabolic steroids.
Eddie “Umaga” Fatu (36) via acute toxicity from combined effects of hydrocodone, carisoprodol and diazepam.
I just think it’s really unfortunate. Especially in the death of Guerrero, a lot of people are blaming WWE Chairman Vince McMahon or the pro wrestling industry as a result for wrestlers’ deaths, which isn’t fair or correct. WWE has a very strict Wellness Policy in place to ensure that their employees are clean under their bill. Many of these talents are dying while not employeed by the WWE. What they do to their bodies is out of WWE’s control. That’s also why Vince offers drug rehab to any former employees who ask for it, and all costs are covered by the WWE.
To be honest, I don’t believe the problem lies with the WWE or with Vince, but rather, with the wrestler him/herself. WWE is obligated to ensure that their employees have a clean bill of health when performing for them. What they do before or after their WWE careers is entirely uncontrollable. These wrestlers aren’t dying while they’re wrestling, which is often another misconception about pro wrestling. If these talents are dying while employed by WWE, it’s never because of a wrestling accident or mishap – there’s always a trace back to drug abuse. The Wellness Policy has done a very good job of screening talents over the years, and has saved a number of people. Case in point, MVP – in 2007, MVP (aka Alvin Burke Jr.) was diagnosed with Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome, which is essentially a rare heart condition that causes the heart to work faster than it normally would, which drastically increases the chance of heart attacks, etc.. Where would he be without the Wellness Policy? Who knows. He could be fine, he could be dead. Most likely the latter, since it’s certainly within the realm of possibility that the condition could’ve worsened, he could’ve experienced more severe symptoms and they wouldn’t have been able to do anything in time. This way, WWE has caught the condition early on and can cope with it and treat it as they go along, rather than learning of this during the autopsy.
Wrestling is a profession that wears and tears on the human body like nothing else. I have a few friends who are indy wrestlers, and it’s clear that your bones and muscles take an absolute beating, even without tables, ladders and chairs. Combine that with a schedule like WWE’s where their performers are on the road 300+ days a year, and it’s understandable to see why people turn to bottles of alcohol or prescription drugs to deal with aches, pains and bruises. Not everyone does this, though, and everyone deals with these nagging injuries differently. By looking at the veterans on the roster now, it’s easy to see that drug use is not the only route an individual can take. Guys like The Undertaker, Triple H, Edge, Kane, Christian, etc. have never had issues like these. Hell, WWE’s crash test dummy, Mick Foley, the world’s most glorified stuntman, is a prime example of this theory. Foley has suffered more injuries than anyone, and his career has been made famous by being slammed through tables, slammed onto thumb tacks, being tossed of a Hell in a Cell, and generally taking stupid spills that have made him an icon in the wrestling industry. He has, however, lived a clean life. Chris Jericho is another great example – WWE superstar by day, rockstar by night. The Fozzy frontman has never had a drug abuse issue, but you’d think with the number of drug-related deaths in the WWE mixed with the “typical” rockstar lifestyle, Jericho should’ve died 3 times by now.
Put it this way: if something makes you dependent on it, it’s not good for you. Nothing. I realize that I sound pretty hard on drug users. And I am. I really have very little sympathy for people who lack self control. I don’t have sympathy for people who have ruined their lives by making choices that they know are harmful to their health and well-being. I really don’t see how some people like Jake Roberts can live a life controlled by addiction and drugs. Personally, I have no experience with drugs. I’ve never tried smoking anything, I’ve never snorted anything, I’ve never injected myself with anything, and I’ve never put any kind of non-prescribed pill on my tongue. I don’t see why anyone would want to. I try not to take Robitussin or ColdFX when I’m sick. I try not to take a Tylenol when I have a headache. I wasn’t even a fan of taking Claritin to relieve my allergies in June. Hell, I don’t even take Pepto Bismol when I get the shits. Over the years, I’ve found the best medicine for any illness, pain, discomfort, etc. to be your own body – let it work it’s course – you’ll increase your tolerance for pain, you’ll overcome your illness quicker as well as develop a better immunity for it, and you strengthen your own immune system in the process. In fact, I’m usually sick only once a year, often during the transition from fall to winter, and usually because I still dress summer-y late into the calendar year. A few years ago, I underwent minor dental surgery to have 4 wisdom teeth removed. Immense pain – a dull, grinding, heavy, bland, monotonous pain that maintained its intensity for days. I was prescribed Tylenol 3 – a more powerful version of the regular Tylenol pill – to numb the pain from the surgery. I took it once and I’ll never take it again. I started throwing up black blood, I was dry heaving, my stomach was in knots, and I had zero appetite for the rest of the day. Personally, I don’t like the way it makes me feel, whether it makes you feel like everything is more significant, like you’re happier in general, or if it makes you light-headed like you’re on Cloud #9. I do drink socially (not hard liquor), but within my limits. I don’t see a reason for needing to go above and beyond what your body can handle.
Anyways, back to the matter at hand. McNaught’s death will not be the last we see of ex-WWE drug users. The likes of Jeff Hardy, Sean Waltman, Scott Hall and even Jake Roberts remain active in the wrestling industry, and as destiny will have it, each of them are burying themselves in an early grave because of their addictions. WWE has paid for rehab for all and has tried to do the same for Jeff. But like I said earlier, it’s not WWE’s responsibility to ensure that they all live long and fulfilling lives – it’s up to the individuals to get themselves clean. The help is there, but the next step is in their hands. And it’s especially interesting for Roberts, who continues to wrestle into his mid-50′s and counting. If he wasn’t broke off his ass and needed to live life paycheck-by-paycheck and had a job where he wasn’t being slammed for a living, would he be clean? Of course not. In fact, I don’t think any of those 4 would be. Their wrestling careers are completely and utterly irrelevant to their personal lifestyle and are entirely separate from the choices they make in their life – they’re not clean because he chooses to be. They’ve had countless chances to quit, but they simply don’t want to.
While McNaught was taken well before his time, the real tragedy is that he leaves behind two daughters, who will now grow up without their father, as well as his wife, who will have the task of raising two girls single-handedly, in addition to coping with the loss of her husband because of his addictions problem. Vince McMahon cannot be blamed, nor can the WWE. The fault lies solely on Lance McNaught.
Marc Valeri – email@example.com
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