The importance of having a wrestlers' union in professional wrestling
Last week, Daniel Bryan finally put the rumors to rest, when he confirmed that he was injured, and had to take yet another sabbatical from professional wrestling. Although the timeline of Bryan’s return is still up in the air, there is a good chance that we may have seen the last of one of the greatest technical wrestlers in the history of the business. When all is said and done, professional wrestlers, like any other normal human being, need to take care of themselves and their family, and if they have to choose between their well-being and competing in the ring, it is more often than not a no-brainer.
The logical conclusion may not always be rational; in the entertainment industry, especially in the WWE, the superstars spend 300 days in a year traveling and performing in front of the fans. While the fans and the youngsters cheer and boo the characters in the ring, the struggle of these superstars behind the curtains is unfathomable. Jesse Ventura once said that if you want to become a professional wrestler, you have to be prepared to live in constant pain almost every day.
Beyond the smoke and mirror, and away from the spotlight and the mad circus that is professional wrestling, one doesn’t often think about the personal lives of the superstars – the same performers who put a smile on the faces of the fans, as they’re supposed to, may be going through a tumultuous and torrid times in their personal lives. So why do they still persist with working over 5 days a week throughout the year? Putting things in perspective, one wonders how Daniel Bryan would survive while being injured.
The WWE takes care of their employees when they’re injured by sending them their paychecks and their royalty checks, but that wasn’t always the case. Professional wrestling, in its crudest form is one of the most demanding and unforgiving jobs in the world. Back in the 70s and 80s, it almost wasn’t worth getting into the wrestling industry, as more often than not, the performers ended up spending more than what they earned, and in case they suffered an injury, the writing was almost on the wall regarding their exit from the organization.
One of the most devastating periods for professional wrestlers was during the industry’s heyday – The Monday Night Wars. While most of the fans would claim that the “War” did more good than harm, it led to the performers getting protective about their spots. It was later revealed that most of the performers worked hurt, and in the process got addicted to pain pills and drugs. One of the most notable cases was Davey Boy Smith, better known as The British Bulldog, who hurt his back while performing, and was later released from WCW when he was home, recuperating.
This wasn’t the only instance, but a common practice, as many other performers were cut from the organizations when they couldn’t perform for more than 8 weeks while they were injured.