Monday, September 5, 2011

Impact Wrestling: A Haven for Drunks and Junkies in Wrestling

Poster child for Impact's laxity on drug use
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There are a lot of exciting things happening in Impact Wrestling. Despite lack of direction, they have young guys who work exciting matches, and usually, shows can have as much good as they have bad. The bad can be really bad. However, as bad as they do in character, out of character, what they do, or should I be more specific, what they don't do is what is so infuriating. Two weeks ago, Matt Hardy was released from Impact ostensibly after getting into a single vehicle car accident, slamming into a tree. We all thought that maybe Impact was on the right track with their treatment of recidivist substance abusers, but then last night, Kurt Angle had his third drunk driving incident in the last five years. What was done? Nothing. Given the swiftness with which they handled Hardy, you'd think they'd have acted swiftly with Angle, right? ESPECIALLY since he was nailed earlier this year for something similar.

They didn't.

Granted, they could, but look back to the North Dakota incident this year. They didn't do anything to Angle at all. Look back at Victory Road too. They acted WAY too late when Jeff Hardy showed up to the arena (again, mind you) "in no condition to perform". Impact's long-term history when it comes to substance abuse is laughable enough that they deserve absolutely no leeway in judgment. So, what message do they send? It's loud and clear. Impact Wrestling is a haven for drug addicts and drunks. The only way you get fired is if creative has nothing for you, or you irritate Dixie Carter or someone above her in the pecking order. Obviously, that's why Angle and Jeff Hardy still have jobs. That's why Matt Hardy doesn't. It's clear as day.

So, why would anyone who toes the line even want to work there? I mean, all you have to do is get on someone's good side and anything you do is alright. What does that do to morale? What does that do to the people who don't do drugs or who don't run afoul of the law, ESPECIALLY when the people who do are the ones who get pushed to the moon? I mean, I hate going on conjectural reports about locker room morale, but when shit like this happens, and Angle isn't IMMEDIATELY reprimanded, then that smoke automatically says to me that there's fire. Absolutely.

The people who suffer aren't just the Austin Arieses and AJ Styleses of the world. It's everyone. For wrestling fans, all the work that CM Punk is doing to try and make this cool again will be undone because Impact will further the stereotype that carnies, junkies and white trash populate the ring, so of course the fans are the same. WWE suffers because no matter how stringent they make their Wellness Policy and no matter how much PR work they do with legitimate entertainment outlets (although Alex Riley and others have shown us this year that WWE has a LOT of work to do re: drunk driving), that they'll be lumped in with the old stereotypes because their biggest competition. Maybe David D. of The Smoking Section had it right with his idea that Vince McMahon needed to buy the company out for his own survival.

I'm beginning to sound like a broken record here, but c'mon son, how many more times are people going to be allowed to give Impact a black eye just because the brass likes them. They need to crack down, yadda yadda yadda. I can't even type it anymore. Hey, if Dixie and her bosses are happy running a fucking opium den, then it's their company. However, someone is going to die in their ring, and the fact that the government hasn't audited them is embarrassing. The wrestlers need to be shown consequence for their actions or else they won't learn. If Impact won't do it, Florida, Tennessee or Uncle Sam should.

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