Unfair perception of pro-wrestling

Last week we talked about professional wrestling. In particular we talked about some of the problems that people have with it. One of the biggest problems is perception. And one of the bigger perceptions of things wrong with pro-wrestling is steroids.

So we asked Vern May, AKA Vance Nevada of CNWA Wrestling. He’s been a professional wrestler for almost 20 years; he’s an author and is ranked as one of the top 500 wrestlers in North America. Needless to say, he has an opinion.

“The harshest critics of wrestling are people that have never seen it live.”

May believes live shows will clearly show that steroids aren’t running rampant in pro-wrestling, and especially not the CNWA. “If they want to say that all wrestlers are on steroids, the first challenge I would have for them is to identify which wrestler in the CNWA is on steroids.”

The challenge is out there for anyone who wants to check out the next pro-wrestling event that comes to Red Deer on May 3rd.

“I’ve been wrestling for 19 years and I’m not saying it isn’t a problem that hasn’t plagued wrestling at different times,” said May. “But I’ve never needed it for anything I’ve achieved in wrestling and that’s included matches with world champions.”

Mark McGuire admitted using steroids, but many enjoyed his homerun race with Sammy Sosa in the late 90’s. A race so competitive that it has been said it single-handedly brought baseball back from the dead. Remember it was 1994 when they had their strike and the fans did not forgive them so quickly.

That race was marred by steroid use, but we still watched, we still talked and we were entertained.

And in that respect Major League Baseball has a commissioner, Bud Selig and he has since installed a program in the league that is aimed at stopping substance abuse, and especially steroids. Sure it was after the U.S. Congress did an entire investigation into the sport of baseball, but they’re looking for it now.

So who is governing professional wrestling? “Wrestling doesn’t have a federal voice and that was part of the driving factor to create the CNWA,” said May. “We recognize that we’re small by comparison to the NFL, the NHL, or the CFL. But if we’re going to ever be looked at seriously as a sport entity, we need to get together and have a shared voice.”

That shared voice is a number of wrestling promotions across western Canada that may one day cover the entire country.

But until that day, smaller commissions like the Edmonton Combative Sport Commission will regulate pro-wrestling like the CNWA.

Of course there have been many stories of deaths of famous World Wrestling Entertainment wrestlers, but here in Alberta substance abuse deaths of wrestlers has not been the norm.

“There hasn’t been any problem with wrestlers in Alberta dying because of substance abuse or testing positive for hepatitis. It’s just not happening here,” said May. “Wrestling has done very well. It’s almost self regulated.”

As the summer Olympics approach, perhaps we should keep in mind that maybe a power lifter, a shot putter, and of course a few sprinters have done steroids. The thing is we don’t know, but many of us will watch. And we’ll do so with a lot less judgment than what we’ve placed on professional wrestling.

But then again, it’s not a sport is it? We’ll talk about that, next week.