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Fox Sports: "Zach Arnold's Fight Opinion site is one of the best spots on the Web for thought-provoking MMA pieces."

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Regulating professional wrestling

By Zach Arnold | July 2, 2007

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By Zach Arnold

I’ve written a new article over at CBS Sportsline regarding the issue of whether or not regulation (state and/or federal) of professional wrestling is feasible. I was able to talk to a couple of athletic commissions and was hopefully able to paint an accurate picture as to whether or not regulation would be implemented and if it could be enforced.

You can access the article at:

Sheldon Goldberg responds to the CBS Sportsline article. Fight Opinion Radio lead host Jeff Thaler also responds.

It should be noted that Benoit’s personal doctor, Dr. Phil Astin, turned himself into local authorities today. More details here. The Smoking Gun has more information.

Read more here (including breaking news updates)…

Update: It looks like there will be a spinoff of the Sportsline article, with the next article likely focusing on the drug culture in MMA. The great Tomer Chen (whose past Fight Opinion articles you can read here) has already helped me out with some material for the article, so I will be formulating a game plan soon. Thank you to everyone who has sent me e-mail feedback for the wrestling article. I never expected it to make the main page of CBS Sportsline, but it did.

The article is on the main page of Sportsline. Just look for this:

Naturally, what do you think would pop-up in the article from a Google ad?

Latest article links

The New York Daily News has the complaint, search warrant, and indictment documents in the Dr. Phil Astin case.

There were calls for federal regulation and/or scrutiny of professional wrestling Monday on ESPN Radio on both the Colin Cowherd and Sportsbash radio shows. You can listen to the audio segments here and here.

Fox News Channel is reporting that Dr. Phil Astin allegedly prescribed “a ten month supply of steroids” every three-to-four weeks to Chris Benoit. Was Benoit using all of the steroids or was he distributing the large quantities to other wrestlers?

  1. F4W Online: The latest Benoit link updates
  2. New York Newsday: Benoit doctor arrested, WWE hangs tough
  3. The Wellington Daily News: Pro-wrestling lost control
  4. The Sentinel Online: Time to probe pro-wrestling?
  5. The Orlando Sentinel: Is WWE headed for a body-slam?
  6. The Torch: A flashback to Dr. George Zahorian?
  7. Darren Rovell (CNBC): Why is McMahon ‘eliminating’ Chris Benoit?
  8. Fox Sports (Mark Kriegel): Congress needs to get involved … now
  9. Bruce Mitchell: The ramifications of the DEA investigation into Dr. Phil Astin for WWE
  10. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: Control issues cited instead of ‘roid rage’ in Benoit killings
  11. WXIA TV (GA): Doctor indicted in Benoit probe
  12. The LA Times: Doctor linked to Chris Benoit charged with illegally distributing drugs
  13. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: Family learns to cope with child’s Fragile X Syndrome
  14. Lance Storm: Benoit Tragedy
  15. The Charleston Post & Courier (Mike Mooneyham): Benoit’s steroid purchase excessive, papers say
  16. WBKO (KY): Local wrestlers react to Benoit tragedy
  17. The Dallas Morning News: After deaths, WWE show goes on in Dallas

Topics: Media, Pro-Wrestling, WWE, Zach Arnold | 31 Comments » | Permalink | Trackback |

31 Responses to “Regulating professional wrestling”

  1. MMA Fan says:

    cbs sportsline. zack is blowing up!

  2. Very good article, Zach! Two thumbs up!

  3. Ivan Trembow says:

    Excellent article. Do you have other links to the latest news on this case?

  4. Dave says:

    Zach Arnold is my hero. Thanks Zach for posting a screen of the Google ads, I think they (scientists) have done an amazing job as those ads surprisingly do a great job.

  5. JThue says:

    Benoit prescribed ridiculous amounts of roids by Astin, says Fox.

  6. Adam Morgan says:

    Look at you, Zach! Sportsline? WHOA!

  7. JThue says:

    LOADS of stuff, including Meltzer *heart* Arnold 😉 Congratulations on hitting the big scene, Zach!

  8. Ian says:

    According to Bryan Alvarez’s latest audio update, there’s a loophole in WWE’s wellness policy. If you’re taking steroids as a part of testosterone replacement therapy, then you can have your E/T levels as high as you want (providing your body allows it).

    And there’s your wellness loophole!

  9. chairibofjustice says:

    Zach I want to be a big time MMA reporter like you.

  10. Zach Arnold says:

    Zach I want to be a big time MMA reporter like you.

    My sarcasm meter is broken and cannot detect anything. 🙂

  11. Mike says:


    All in all a very good read, but I will quibble with one thing: The vast majority of people out there are not rooting for Barry Bonds to break the record. Maybe they’re rallying around him in the Bay Area, but around the country most people do not want to see him break Aaron’s record. You make it sound as though only the media want him to fail.

  12. Zach Arnold says:

    I agree that a lot of people aren’t rooting for Bonds to break the record, but there’s a feeling of antipathy and resignation about it.

  13. Randy Rowles says:

    Great article, Zach!

    So basically we’re talking about regulating the WWE (and maybe TNA or ROH), and not pro wrestling. The question your article raises is — do we want to end up inadvertantly ending most pro wrestling indy shows, in pursuit of getting the WWE to clean up their act? Living in western PA, there are a lot of small pro wrestling promotions around, and most shows are drawing a crowd of less than a hundred (or even fifty). For most of the workers on these shows, there is no road and there is no money. They work locally for fun. Every once in a while a star comes into town.

    Not having a plethora of indy MMA shows going on everywhere is a good thing, that could get real ugly fast. On the other hand, there’s always a pro wrestling show going on somewhere. The cost of regulation would effectively put an end to most of these indies, except for the elite, like in MMA. Where do we draw the line? I mean the Iron Shiek still wrestles. Does the Iron Shiek (who hasn’t taken a bump in at least a decade) merit the same regulation as Bryan Danielson and his strong-style in ROH? For a lot of the old time wrestlers, making appearances in wrestling rings (sometimes called matches) is how they still make money.

    “Pro wrestling” covers a broad spectrum of events, since it’s not actual competition with rules that can be enforced, it features many forms and many finishes, all the way to borderline theatre. It seems the real problem isn’t with pro wrestling, but with the WWE. They offer their workers fame…without health care!?! For real, are there any other TV stars who don’t get health care from their employer?

    All this independently contracted mumbo-jumbo at least could be justified back in the WCW days. Now that the WWE has a virtual monopoly, it’s time for them to treat their “family” as such. I’d imagine Stephanie has health insurance. The WWE needs to clean up their act. Hire more people to wrestle and build a new model, where things become less dependent on a few people. Cycle people in and out. Instead of ducking and diving, the WWE needs to take accountability. The WWE needs to use this Chris Benoit tragedy to justify spending more money and focus on ensuring the actual wellness of their employees.

  14. UFC Junkie says:

    Great piece, Zach. The average sports fan will really have the situation (and problems) laid right out in front of them.

    Fantastic job.

  15. TG says:

    Missed the article because it is about fake wrestling. A waste of brain power on your part. And I don’t remember checking CBS MMA page and getting the latest about fake wrestling. It saddens me that my favorite sport is linked with a childrens entertainment show(WWE). I don’t get it? What does WWE have to do with MMA? One is a sport the other is a SHOW and a bad one at that. But hey, YOU got a real big spot on CBS, good for you.

    What do you think the % of MMA fans watch wrestling shows?

    ZAch, did you hear that hendo vs page isn’t for the title? This is something worth covering.

  16. Zach Arnold says:

    It’s not a waste of brain power — the drug culture in wrestling is one that MMA shares as well. To what degree, I’ll obviously find out when I interview fighters and promoters.

    But to say that there’s no connection between wrestling and MMA (two industries where physical appearance and marketability play significant roles) would be misguided.

  17. Columbia Lou says:

    Terrible post by you, TG.

    It was the death of three people that prompted Zach’s article. A pro wrestler that killed his wife and son. A pro wrestler who was most likely a long term steroid user. Steroid use is an issue in MMA also.

    Pro wrestling used to be real in the past-it was called catch wrestling. Josh Barnett, one of the top heavyweight MMA fighters, claims he uses catch wrestling.

    MMA in Japan evolved from pro-wrestling. European and American catch wrestlers taught Japanese pro-wrestlers catch wrestling holds. The Japanese MMA organization Pancrase was created by pro wrestlers. The Japanese MMA organization Pride was sold to the Japanese people by using pro-wrestlers like Takada and Sakuraba and other Japanese pro-wrestlers. And in the U.S., Ken Shamrock started in pro-wrestling in the late 1980’s, then switched to MMA.

    So TG, pro-wrestling and MMA are linked.

  18. Jonathan says:

    Only problem with the article is that they mixed martial arts and BOXING on the header. I ask you, which is bigger?

    Sportsline Zach? Are you making like 5 billion dollars now?

  19. TG says:

    I see your points, zach, lou. But at this point MMA(to me) is a fight where two skilled fighters find out which one is better. Fireworks, rings, promoters are a side show to the reason people watch, the art. Why not tackle the latest kung fu movie with such concern, I’m sure they have some drugs on the set. Hey didn’t MMA evolve from some Kung Fu too? Its an industry where physical appearance and marketability play significant roles, right? Do we need to regulate the Kung Fu movie industry? I don’t think so. Lets let wrestlers be actors and not degrade MMA by comparing the two.

  20. Zack says:

    Great job Zach…you also got big props in Meltzers daily update.

  21. klown says:

    Zach, congratulations and I wish you more success.

    On the isse of whether this is the right forum for discussions of fake wrestling, TG’s points are worth considering. Personally, I’m not sure where I stand on this. I follow MMA and have never followed fake wrestling, have no interest in the subject and find little semblance between the 2 forms. Since I consider fake wrestling to be a silly, childish spectacle, I cringe whenever the topic is brought up on MMA fora. If there is a historical link as Colombia Lou argues, I’d rather distance our sport from it and get past it ASAP.

    Then again, Zach’s point that MMA is susceptible to similar dangers is a salient one. Better to examine the issue now before we have a fake wrestling-style fiasco in our cherished sport. I also appreciate Zach’s humanization of the performers of the industry. Frankly, I have never before heard someone speak of fake wrestlers with the concern and respect I hear from Zach and it’s opened my eyes to the harshness of this industry from a labor rights perspective.

    I’m looking forward to reading what Zach and Tomer Chen come up with.

  22. Zach Arnold says:

    I thank you for your comments, klown.

    With the old-timers in MMA, there is a larger cross-over into wrestling than there is with the new breed of stars. Don Frye wrestled in Antonio Inoki’s 1998 retirement match at the Tokyo Dome. Frye also fought Hidehiko Yoshida in 2003 at the Tokyo Dome and damn near had his arm snapped off while not feeling much of the pain because (as he suggested in an old radio interview for my other site) that he was on all sorts of medication.

    Throw in the fact that MMA training is a heavy gym-rat lifestyle and you have a recipe for a sport that can attract as big, if not a bigger, drug culture than professional wrestling. With an increasing amount of MMA events and a higher demand for fighters, the pressure is going to continue to grow for fighters to win at all costs.

  23. chairibofjustice says:

    Personally, I think the drugs that MMA fighters will have to really keep an eye on are the pain killers like Oxy. Guys get injured all the time during training and I feel the potential for abuse is really high. I mean Joe Riggs is someone, probably the only one who’s actually come out and made his addiction problem public.

    I don’t know how many people who I’ve personally met who hasn’t had take one of those pills because of jacked up back or knees. That’s just people who like to grapple or train for fun like myself.

  24. D.Capitated says:

    Whether or not there’s a historical connection, particularly in Japan, is completely without merit in discussing MMA in this country. There is next to no historical crossover between the UFC and pro wrestling here, Brazil, or in the UK that would demand connecting the two by any legitimate media outlet, apart from the crossover of only a few stars between US pro wrestling and MMA in this country (Severn and Shamrock), which is easily shared or surpassed by football, another legitimate sport. As I said in a prior post, Takada, Funaki, and Maeda don’t matter in America. At all. And likely never will except as historical footnotes.

  25. D.Capitated says:

    Throw in the fact that MMA training is a heavy gym-rat lifestyle and you have a recipe for a sport that can attract as big, if not a bigger, drug culture than professional wrestling. With an increasing amount of MMA events and a higher demand for fighters, the pressure is going to continue to grow for fighters to win at all costs.

    Which it also shares with all sports. And yet, MMA and Football have only been mentioned in passing. Saying that this will deeply affect MMA is ridiculous, as MMA already is regulated by the states, and outright banned in several.

  26. chairibofjustice says:

    I don’t see it as a ridiculous statement at all, Zach’s got a point the potential for drug abuse is very high in MMA. And it’s something that people need to keep an eye on.

  27. D.Capitated says:

    I don’t see it as a ridiculous statement at all, Zach’s got a point the potential for drug abuse is very high in MMA. And it’s something that people need to keep an eye on.

    There’s potential for drug abuse in every single sport known to man. Hello? East German swimmers? Cycling? Sprinting? Baseball? Those are just noncontact sports who’ve had massive problems in the media. Football and Hockey most assuredly have issues of their own, just as much as boxing or MMA. Tying in pro wrestling with MMA specifically because of Ogawa’s participation in pro wrestling is stupid because doping has been all over the news since Jose Canseco’s autobiography and, to a lesser extent, the 1998 Tour De France. The idea that Chris Benoit’s death is going to cause federal regulation of an actual sport which is in no way connected to pro wrestling in this country is nothing short of ludicrious, and the kind of thing only puro marks who’ve been blinded to reality could possibly get behind.

  28. Fred says:

    I agree with you, Zach, that pro wrestling probably needs an outside entity (not necessarily government) to look into some of the practices. I would prefer a private commission rather than some gov’t group.

    However, I don’t think “roid rage” had anything to do with Benoit killing himself and his family. People mis-understand how steroids work in the body. STEROIDS ARE NOT GOING TO MAKE ANYONE CAPABLE OF DOING SOMETHING THEY’RE NOT ALREADY INCLINED TO DO! If you’re not already capable of double-murder, steroids won’t make you a murderer. If you’re not already an a**hole with a bad temper, steroids won’t turn you into that. It’s true that steroids will cause you to “act out” behaviors more aggressively that you’re already inclined to do. One will do a chosen act more readily, and perhaps with more physical force; but in a normal, well-adjusted person, that would just mean training harder or perhaps walking more briskly on the golf course.

  29. says:

    I think the biggest problem with enforcement is self accountability. WWE is making strides on drug testing but it’s so shady its hard to say exactly how effective it is. I think WWE faces the same problem as the UFC has in some states and that is self-policing. Perhaps state athletic comissions should do random tests when the WWE is in their states but, again, not being a real sport what basis do they have. And even if someone tests positive WWE just avoids the state or the wrestler just doesn’t wrestle in the state until any suspension is over. Perhaps there needs to be a national testing body but I think drugs are so much a part of professional wrestling it will be nearly impossible to effectively police it.

  30. D.Capitated says:

    I’m surprised that people are still talking about this and no one, NO ONE, has brought up Oregon. For shame.

  31. Thank you for taking a sensible approach about drug use in wrestling and the early deaths of wrestlers, including Chris Benoit. The mainstream media has been dropping the ball with this story and it’s disgusting to see. It’s not just about ‘roids, it’s about how much these men and women have to kill themselves just to make a living. It’s through their own volition, granted, but we need to look at ways to possibly provide ways to aid the men and women in wrestling.

    Great article


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