WWE has taken a definitive step towards the future with Triple H assuming backstage responsibilities. As the in charge of talent, Triple H has initiated several mechanisms such as the Performance Center. His vision for wrestlers and his understanding of the life on road only augur well for the change that WWE is marching towards.
Hence, it is the best possible time to expect an addition in the Health and Wellness policy that has long been absent.
I am talking about mental health and psychological assistance.
Given the nature of the business, the stress and complexities associated with being a pro-wrestler, mental health should have been a cornerstone of the mechanism. It is thus baffling that how such a crucial aspect has been missing from an otherwise robust and comprehensive health and wellness policy.
In this article, therefore, I will be discussing why mental health and psychological assistance are critical to the lives of pro wrestlers.
A Brief Overview of Health and Wellness Policy
•Comprehensive Medical and Wellness Staffing
•Cardiovascular Testing and Monitoring
•ImPACT™ Testing (It tests head injuries, traumas and concussions)
•Substance Abuse and Drug Testing
•Health Care Referrals
The health and wellness policy mainly deals with physical wellness, injuries, and substance abuse and rehabilitation programmes of wrestlers.
However, as mentioned already mental health is completely missing from the policy. Let us now see why it should be added to the policy as soon as possible.
Pro Wrestling: One of the Most Difficult Industries to Work In
Pro wrestling is one of the most demanding professions one could imagine, and yet this side is tragically underrated by the society.
Body wears down a bit after every show. Few bumps every night makes the life difficult. And this cycle goes on for 300 days of every year. As a result of such a grueling schedule, body wears down with every bump and every move. Endurance has limits, and once that has been breached painkillers remain the only way to escape it.
And while painkillers could provide some relief from the physical pain, it remains the tip of the iceberg. The pain comes from deep within. Every sleepless night, every missed opportunity and every single conflict, they all take a tremendous toll on soul. Body at least has a way to let its pains be known. Mind however has no such luxury, and hence there comes a moment when even a soul would cry.
One would expect that the life outside of business would offer some solace to wrestlers, but that would be a gross misconception. In WWE in particular, and in pro wrestling in general, there is a severe…
Lack of Work-Life Balance
There are some more aspects that wear the mind down. An aspect of a pro-wrestler’s life often forgotten by all of us is family. Many of the performers do have a family. However, the kind of schedule they hold makes it complicated to be with them.
Let us take an example of John Cena. Many of us don’t particularly like him, but he is the busiest guy in this business. He travels over the US and rest of the world for weeks in weeks out. Just imagine, what would be the amount of time he gets to spend with his family? In lesser proportions, it holds true for every other superstar.
Lack of time and lack of communication directly reflects into weathering bonds. We have seen sad cases like Hulk Hogan and Flair, to name the most iconic few. Among all the things they dearly lacked, one was a proper time with their families and their families support.
Consequently, domestic issues often arise. Life on the road has taken toll on many married lives. It has broken marriages. It has denied children quality time with their parents. It is not an exception in the business to have "Domestic Violence" charges leveled against performers.
It takes commitment, communication and time to build a house and to hold it together. The nature of this business simply denies wrestlers of these "luxuries." It all adds to more frustration and despair of an already gloomy mind.
After illustrating the backdrop, I will try to unravel the plausible mental health implications of the business to further accentuate my point here in a very brief manner. There are only three points that I am going to highlight here, as further analysis is a subject of a mighty thesis in the least.
1.Temptations and Addictions
A tired soul usually begins his search for respite and relief. It is then he realizes that right from girls to drugs, everything is available to him. From Ric Flair to RVD and Jeff Hardy, generations of superstars have squandered their lives in the pursuit of pleasure. There are people like HBK, who had reached the bottom but thankfully came back. Then we have people like Chris Jericho, who chose pleasure but not addictions. He did many things but never for once reached a state of disarray.
These are still rather comforting examples.
The real evil remains the abuse of performance enhancement drugs, steroids and prescription medicines. It leads to all sorts of complications, ranging from depression and roid-rage to mental disorders. If we think of those, whose lives were consumed by these substances, the list is simple harrowing. Chris Benoit, Umaga and Test are the three most tragic cases. Stress, head traumas, depression all played their roles in the substance abuse of these stars, which eventually claimed their lives.
2.Onset of Mental Disorders
It is very much likely that in extreme cases severe mental disorders could occur. Let us take an example of bi-polar disorder here, which has taken its toll in pro-wrestling industry for ages. While it is a genetic disorder, it could also arise because of circumstances.
According to National Institute of Mental Health
, Bipolar disorder essentially involves drastic mood swings and some terrible bouts of depression. Mania and depression are the two extremes that the patient oscillates between.
According to U.S. National Institutes of Health
, it may be inherent to the patient. It may run through a blood-line. However, there are some outside factors that stimulate this problem. Out of some that are there, I will name just two:
These are two things that have been inherent to the wrestling industry. It is a dangerous situation to say the least.
If this is not enough to have such a reality, we have another completely different dimension to this situation too. Let us see that.
Some of you might be flummoxed at this word, allow me to elaborate.
In psychology, experts call gimmick an ‘altered-biography’. It is a well-coined term. Experts agree that altered-biography is way too powerful in pro-wrestling than in any other performing arts.
Even in movies, stars live their characters for few hours a day for several months. In other arts, this period is even shorter. Compare it to the pro-wrestling here. In Pro-wrestling, performers live their characters for more than few years and on each and every day.
Unsurprisingly, it is not uncommon for wrestlers to get absorbed into character much more than we do. Every key-fabe experience their character goes through is lived with equal intensity by the performer. Every emotion that the character goes through is lived by the performer. The gimmick essentially becomes their life and identity. Consequently, pro-wrestlers go through double turmoil.
This is THE reason why Ted DIbiase roamed around with valets and limousines even when he could not afford it. This is the reason why Hulk Hogan could never fathom that he is not a superhero in real life.
It is borderline delusional, but it is real too. It is a very tragic aspect of gimmicks that we all love so much.
I have not even scratched the surface of the matter here, and this is not the place either. However I would like to hope that I could at least establish the urgency and the significance of mental health and psychological assistance for wrestlers.
We have to remember that a strong mind can drag a fragile body a long way, but a weak mind can never carry a strong body. Some battles like these are won inside, not on the prescriptions, and that is precisely why psychological assistance remains a long due addition to the health and wellness policy of the WWE.