e premte, 31 gusht 2007

oh, THOSE steroids

Oops, some big names in the WWE are named in a steroid sting.

The WWE was rocked again today, after several of wrestling's top names emerged in the Albany district attorney's probe into a widespread Internet doping scandal.

The wrestling conglomerate based in Stamford announced that it will suspend 10 of its biggest stars for violation of its wellness policy.

In a list obtained exclusively by the Daily News, top wrestlers Randy Orton, Charles Haas, Jr., Adam "Edge" Copeland, Robert "Booker T" Huffman, Shane Helms, Mike Bucci, Anthony Carelli, John "Johnny Nitro" Hennigan, Darren "William Regal" Matthews, Ken "Mr. Kennedy" Anderson, Eddie "Umaga" Fatu, Shoichi Funaki and Chavo Guerrero were all identified as clients of Signature Pharmacy in Orlando, the site raided by Albany County and Florida law enforcement agencies in February for distributing steroids and other prescription drugs to clients who had not been examined by doctors. The investigation is part of a probe into illegal Internet drug distribution by Albany D.A. David Soares.

It is unclear at this time which of these wrestlers will be suspended by the WWE.

The WWE said in a statement that it issued suspension notices based on independent information received from the Albany D.A.

The WWE's announcement comes as members of Congress prepare to investigate steroid use in professional wrestling, as the Daily News reported today.

Two of its recently deceased stars - Chris Benoit and Eddie Guerrero - also received steroids and other drugs from Signature, as prescribed by Florida physician Gary Brandwein, who has pleaded not guilty to criminal sale of a controlled substance and criminal diversion of prescription drugs. Benoit murdered his wife and son before killing himself in June and Guerrero died in a Minneapolis hotel in 2005 from heart disease.

Guerrero received the steroids testosterone and nandrolone, along with the estrogen-blocker anastozole, a drug commonly taken by men on steroids to prevent developing breast tissue, Nov. 2, 2005, just 11 days before he died of heart disease.

Guerrero's nephew, Chavo Guerrero, found Guerrero unconscious in the hotel room.

Benoit received steroids from Signature, based on a Brandwein prescription, in February, 2006.

The WWE stars are among the first athletes to face discipline for their part in the nationwide Signature Pharmacy scandal, the Internet steroid ring that has already led to guilty pleas from nine doctors, anti-aging clinic owners and operators. Law enforcement sources have said they expect the names of numerous NFL and Major League Baseball athletes to emerge as well.

e hënë, 13 gusht 2007

Brian "Crush" Adams, RIP

Given his troubled past this one isn't as shocking but still sad nonetheless: Brian "Crush" Adams dead at 44.
Brian Adams, known to wrestling fans under names including Crush, was found dead today at his home in Northeast Tampa.

Authorities were called to the home 4918 Anniston Circle at 11:30 a.m. His wife had found Adams in bed, unconscious and not breathing, according to a Tampa police report.

Fire rescue crews could not revive Adams, 44, and he was declared dead at the scene, according to the report.

There were no visible scenes of injury. The incident is being treated as an unexplained death.

Word Wrestling Entertainment has posted the news of the passing of the former World Tag Team champion. He last performed for the World Wrestling Federation in 2001, serving on the roster beginning in 1990, according to a WWE press release.

e diel, 22 korrik 2007

RIP Kronus

we lose another one

When the man known as John Kronus wasn't doing flips off the top rope or getting beat in the head with a folding chair, he was George Caiazzo, who dedicated himself to his true passion: being the best father he could be to his 9-year-old son, Gage.

So says a Lakes Region family that is mourning the loss of Caiazzo, a former pro wrestling champion who was found dead in his girlfriend's apartment at 57 Blueberry Place on Blueberry Lane in Laconia on Wednesday.

Caiazzo, 38, a 6-foot-3, 273-pound behemoth, took on the ring name "John Kronus" when he began a pro wrestling career that paired him with Perry Saturn to form "The Eliminators" — a tag team duo that won several titles in the 1990s with the now-defunct Extreme Championship Wrestling, or ECW.

Police were summoned to an untimely death call on Blueberry Lane at 2:46 p.m. on Wednesday that they have deemed not to be suspicious in nature.

Authorities are not revealing the name of the man found in the apartment but officials from the State Medical Examiner's Office confirmed on Thursday that they had performed an autopsy on Caiazzo, saying it will not produce a cause of death until toxicology results are returned — a process they said could take some time.

However, the family of Caiazzo has confirmed the death of a man they are calling a consummate entertainer and the ultimate family man.

Jenn Caiazzo Dunlop of Sanbornton, the man's sister, said her brother's death has come as a huge blow to a family that is split between the Lakes Region and Everett, Mass., where they grew up.

"It definitely came as a shock to us," said Caiazzo.

The sister and her husband, Brad Dunlop, said they can only speculate as to the cause of the death but noted that the family has a long history of heart problems that have taken lives at an early age.

Jenn Caiazzo said her brother, who preferred to be called by his ring name, John, was a light-hearted family man who got into wrestling at a young age while living in the Boston metropolitan area.

She said her father, the older George Caiazzo, was a star high school football player who later played for the New York Giants before becoming injured.

According to Jenn Caiazzo, her brother followed in her father's athletic footsteps but chose a different path when he began a pro wrestling career that suited his huge frame and natural acrobatic abilities.

"He loved sports, camping and cooking," said Jenn Caiazzo.

Dunlop and Caiazzo said the man who came to be known as John Kronus performed countless matches and rose to the top of the ECW, which took him all over the world, from Japan to Australia. They said he once got refused from an all-you-can eat buffet in China simply because of his size, which they assured was more than a little imposing to strangers.

Like many in the pro wrestling field, his sister said her brother eventually succumbed to the hardships of a sport that saw the entertainers being beaten and bloodied in an ECW that prided itself on taking "extreme" to the next level.

Family members say Caiazzo could do a flip in one step and was known as being the first big man to summersault off the top rope onto his opponents.

Popular wrestling websites list his "imploding 450 smash" and the "Kronus Krunch" as some of his signature moves which were developed out of his schooling with Boston-based trainer Walter "Killer" Kowalksi — a well-known pioneer in the sport whose students are being signed to pro contracts with the World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE).

e diel, 8 korrik 2007

"wrestlers deserve our sympathy"

A sports columnist that I really like, Jason Whitlock, writes about wrestling.

Believe it or not, pro wrestlers are human beings, too. I swear.

I thought this simple fact was worth mentioning in light of two things: 1. the murder(s)-suicide tragedy involving WWE star Chris Benoit, his wife and 7-year-old child; 2. the sympathy-reparations campaign being staged by old NFL players.

We can argue all day about whether pro wrestling should be taken seriously in the sports world. What is inarguable is that Americans are entertained watching oversized men behave violently in groups, and the NFL and all the other professional sports leagues — just like the WWE — are nothing more than television shows.

I say all of this because I have far more empathy for Chris Benoit and professional wrestlers than I do for other athletes who risk their physical and mental well-being for our amusement.

No one weeps for the wrestler who dies way too young or lives as a cripple, addicted to painkillers by age 45. No one cares about their exploitation. It’s like the men who entertained many of us during our childhood are somehow magically categorized as nonhuman because they participate in a “sports event” with a predetermined outcome.

I’ve often argued that pro wrestling would be legitimized if Vince McMahon hired skating judges to rate the performances at the end of the match. Maybe, with that teeny bit of legitimacy, we would then see wrestlers as human beings and Congress would hold steroids hearings on pro wrestling.

Obviously what Chris Benoit did was a horrible deed. I don’t want to in any way excuse the depravity of his actions. But since he already punished himself, shouldn’t we try to make something positive out of this tragedy?

Shouldn’t we use this as an excuse to force reform on pro wrestling? Shouldn’t the performance-enhancing drug crisis/discussion include wrassling?

These guys don’t start out as cartoon characters. Many of them start out as amateur wrestlers in high school and college. Long before he entered Vince McMahon’s world, Kurt Angle was an all-American golden boy, an Olympic hero.

Don’t these men deserve some protection?

I’ve watched in amazement as retired NFL players have orchestrated a beautiful public-relations campaign vilifying union president Gene Upshaw because he has little interest in forcing the current players to sacrifice more of their revenue to benefit retired players.

We all feel sorry for old, beat-up NFL stars and believe they should be allowed to rework their pension benefits for a fourth time and make it easier for them to qualify for disability benefits.

Rather than demonizing Upshaw, they should be thankful they have a strong union, especially a guy like Mike Ditka who did little to support the union when he was a player.

Pro wrestlers have virtually no rights. They certainly don’t have a union. They work year round, crisscrossing the globe and abusing their bodies for our enjoyment. Performance-enhancing drugs, painkillers and recreational drugs are all abused. They suffer depression. Their unpadded “sport” is far more physical and damaging than football.

No one cares.

This is foolish. Many young children are just as influenced by pro wrestlers as football and baseball stars. The drugged-up, overmuscled wrestler helps define manliness to a child, possibly more so than Barry Bonds’ and Mark McGwire’s home runs.

I just want some consistency. Do we really care about steroids? Do we really care about athletes getting exploited?

OK, it’s incumbent on the athletes to care first. But the handful of people controlling professional wrestling have so much power and the high-paid wrestlers are so easily replaced that we’re unlikely to hear much organized dissent from within the industry.

Those of us in the media should care enough to complain loudly. We’re the watchdogs. We’re the voice of the voiceless. We don’t have to respect the “sport” to appreciate the humanity of the performers.

e mërkurë, 4 korrik 2007

thoughts on Raw

Let's see Vince....one of your bigger stars just committed the most heinous crime in the history of pro-wrestling, and it turns out he was on enough 'roids to make a horse say "whoa". There is intense media scrutiny over the juicing of your wrestlers. So, do you pick a charismatic and athletic looking wrestler to challenge for the title? Or, do you pick someone with the charisma of a paper bag and who looks like a poster child for steroid use. I've seen this movie before, so I know that Vince is going with Bobby Lashley. Maybe Lashley will turn heel, as he isn't working as a face.

Other thoughts: Who did Santino Morella piss off? He's gone from a star in the making to Salvatore Bellomo (an old jobber for any younger readers). He's turned into a punching bag of late. Sandman and Carlito are having a nice set-up to a PPV match.

Rick Steiner: realtor?

The dog faced gremlin is now a realtor.

Lex Luger: Lives on the ropes

The Atlanta Journal Constitution has a very good article about Lex Luger.

Lex Luger doesn't mince words when asked about pro wrestling's appeal.

"People like to see freaks," said the former Lawrence Pfohl. "It's like live cartoon characters."

Not long ago, Luger was 270 pounds of romping manly aggression and animalistic sex appeal. It's what his public wanted and he gave it to them in steroid-fueled, larger-than-life doses as "The Total Package," a man who borrowed his name — sort of — from Superman's arch-enemy.

But the freak show that became Luger's life nearly killed him. The man who made millions, flew in private jets and lived in mansions is now dead broke, sleeps on a used bed and keeps his clothes in neat piles on the floor.

Luger is a pro wrestling casualty, although he considers himself lucky. He recently turned 49, an age many of his friends in the business will never see.

The latest in that growing toll was Chris Benoit, the "Canadian Crippler." The 40-year-old Fayette County resident apparently strangled his wife, choked his 7-year-old son to death and placed Bibles by their bodies before hanging himself by hitching a weight machine's cable to his neck and letting drop 240 pounds.

The Benoit family's tragic end once again exposed the sordid underbelly of professional wrestling.

Luger hadn't seen Benoit in several years but believes his old friend was in a "dark place" due, in part, to the frenetic pressures of the life and many years of drugs he took to build himself up and to keep the pain at bay. Authorities found steroids in Benoit's home and are investigating whether "roid rage," an explosive fit of aggression traced to steroid abuse, had anything to do with the deaths.

Benoit is one of many who have died early.

Keith Pinckard, a medical examiner in Dallas, started logging the deaths of pro wrestlers and ex-wrestlers after his office performed an autopsy on one killed in an accident.

"It seemed bizarre," said Pinckard, "there seemed to be a lot of deaths."

There were. He found nearly 70 who died early going back nearly 20 years. It was a rate at least seven times the rate of the general population, he calculated. The causes of deaths fell in common themes: drug overdoses and heart attacks were most common, followed by suicide and "natural causes."

Vince McMahon, owner of the World Wrestling Entertainment, the federation for which Benoit and Luger wrestled, has said the organization has instituted drug testing in response to such allegations of abuse.

"The last test that Chris Benoit took of a random nature was in April which he was totally negative," McMahon said on NBC's "Today" morning program. "That doesn't mean that he wasn't taking prescription medication and perhaps even steroids when this happened. We don't know."

Wrestling's casualties

"Ravishing Rick Rude" died in 1999 after being found unconscious in his Alpharetta home with empty prescription bottles near his bed. The death of the 40-year-old (his legal name was Rood) was ruled a heart attack. He suffered a neck injury years earlier that virtually ended his career.

In "Rude's" obituary, wrestler Curt Hennig, "Mr. Perfect," memorialized his lifelong friend as a performer who gave fans what they wanted.

Four years later, Hennig, 44, was found dead in a hotel, Authorities ruled it cocaine intoxication.

In an obit for Hennig, Atlanta area wrestler Ray "Big Boss Man" Traylor Jr. noted the mounting loss of his closest friends. "It used to be me, him and Rick Rude together," Traylor said. "And then Rick died."

A year later, "Big Boss Man" died of a heart attack.

The pressures on wrestlers to perform night after night grew as the business got more lucrative as federations such as McMahon's WWE went international.

But as wrestling exploded in reach, smaller regional circuits that gave more wrestlers a living dried up.

Atlanta resident Gary Juster, a former wrestling promoter, said the old circuits needed wrestlers, men who added a shtick to their act, but were athletes first and foremost.

Then, about 25 years ago, the sport changed. "The look of a typical wrestler changed," Juster said. "It changed from wrestler to bodybuilder, that chiseled look. There wasn't as much passion for the craft."

As "The Look" became more important, steroids became more popular. "Guys did whatever they had to do to get ahead," Juster said.

The pressure increased as jobs became fewer and more lucrative, said former wrestler Rick Steiner.

"Now there's pay-per-view every week and TV every night. There's the added pressure to look good and there's 100 guys wanting what you have, so a lot of guys take the easy way out," said Steiner, who is a real estate agent and school board member in Cherokee County. "You got to be ready to go every day — and if not, there's a lot of guys ready to step in for you in a heartbeat.

"Some guys sell their souls to be on TV," said Steiner, who came up in the business with Benoit in the mid-1980s.

Steiner said he took "every supplement I could" coming up. "It wasn't a controlled substance then." But Steiner stopped. "The benefits vs. my long-term goals went different ways."

He retired several years ago when his body started aching and he was asked to go back on the road 20 days a month. It was a scary moment. "There's no pension, it's what you save, " he said. "It's over and that's it. Once you are in the limelight and get a taste of the crowd, [some wrestlers] can't let it go. A lot of guys have trouble making that transition."

As is Lex Luger.

Seeking stability

Luger, a Buffalo native, banged around in the Canadian Football League and the United States Football League as an offensive lineman before trying his hand in a Florida wrestling circuit.

Luger still looks good as he sits behind a desk at Western Hills Baptist Church in Kennesaw. His face is tanned and heavily creased, the body lean and his biceps still resemble bowling balls.

But when he gets up to walk, he hobbles like he's 80. He has put in for hip surgery with Social Security.

Luger was as big as they came in the 1990s and rolled through millions of dollars, he said.

Life on the circuit was exciting and exhausting. Some years he was on the road 300 days a year. There were 5 a.m. flights, daytime gym work, shows at night, parties in some hotel or penthouse.

And then repeat again and again.

He needed help to keep up with the pace.

"Steroids were there as a shortcut to get size," he said. And then there's the pain from the never-ending body slams and pile drivers. "You start with a painkiller for bumps and bruises. And then you need more. It's never enough."

Those on the circuit were a family, "a dysfunctional family" he said. Everyone wants a piece of a superstar. "There's a lot of leeches, losers, cruisers and abusers."

"I found no matter how hard you chase it, it's never quite enough," he said. "Money makes you more comfortable being miserable."

Luger's fall was hard and quick. He got divorced and in 2003 he made an early morning call to Cobb County 911 saying his girlfriend, Elizabeth Hulette, known on the wrestling circuit as Miss Elizabeth, had passed out.

She was taken to Kennestone Hospital, where she died. The autopsy showed a mix of alcohol, painkillers and tranquilizers in her system.

He was arrested for possessing three kinds of steroids found in the home. Later, he got a DUI. "My life had fallen apart and I still didn't get it," he said.

A judge sentenced him to probation and revoked it in late 2005 when he went to Canada for a work appearance without court approval. An arrest and two strip searches later, the former Total Package was back in Cobb County Jail.

Luger credits Steve Baskin, the pastor of Western Hills Baptist, with pulling him from a terminal tailspin. The jail chaplain met Luger in early 2006 and sensed the former wrestler was spiritually wounded.

"Here's a guy who would have died or gone to prison," said Baskin. "He didn't have the skills to negotiate through his probation." Baskin said Luger had never learned to think for himself well enough to handle "regular" life experiences.

After Luger was freed, Baskin's friends — Doc Frady, pastor of Clarkdale First Baptist, and his wife, Jan — invited Luger to their home for a birthday party.

Luger learned the couple had been married 54 years and had lived in the same house for much of that time.

"It brought tears to my eyes," Luger recalls. "I didn't even know people like that existed anymore."

Luger lives in a spare bedroom in Baskin's apartment and is trying to figure out a path in life.

He'd like to help counsel those in trouble. Or maybe be a fitness coach. He even said he'd take clients out to the supermarket and show them what to buy. He's eager. He's uncertain. To him, regular life is a new business.