SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
How many wrestlers have died due to opioid addiction? Who knows the figure? It’s one that we don’t have a definitive answer to. But, there’s no debating that pain pills have had a long and sad history in pro wrestling, and more recently, they have become a huge problem in the United States.
On Thursday’s episode of Impact Wrestling, the company aired a short video on Rockstar Spud, who was recovering after he was beaten with a hammer by Swoggle on last week’s episode. The video was meant to be comedic, and most of it was quite funny.
The absurdity of Spud, with dramatic music playing in the background of a black-and-white video, asking “Why’d he do it? Why me? I didn’t mean to pull down his pants” was really funny. It’s supposed to be lighthearted.
But the opening few seconds of the video left me with a real sour taste. Spud said that he needed to “take four painkillers every morning, just to go to the bathroom.”
It was uncomfortable. If you were like me, it took you out of the intended comedy. Not only did we see Spud chomp on pills, but we saw empty pill bottles strewn about on a table.
People have died. People who have wrestled for Impact Wrestling have died, and I’m sure others are suffering with addiction problems at this very moment.
Prescription painkillers are a real problem in this country, and a real problem in pro wrestling, and it felt extremely uncomfortable watching a wrestler pop pills on television. It was tacky.
Am I being too sensitive? Am I overreacting? Maybe. I’m not suggesting that we bury our heads in the sand in the face of a big problem, but making light or poking fun at something that serious not only wasn’t funny, it was disrespectful. It didn’t do anything to further anyone’s character or story. It was a throwaway line in a comedy skit. But, it poked fun at an issue that has cost several people in the wrestling business their lives. It wasn’t necessary.
And this ignores the fact that Spud has been woefully underutilized. Just a few short years ago, he was one of the hottest wrestlers in the company, and the fact that so many people got behind his push in those few months is evidence that he should be doing things other than short comedy skits and getting beaten up by Swoggle. He shouldn’t have been Aron Rex’s lacky. He shouldn’t have been the ring announcer. He should be a valued member of the X Division.
The point behind the video wasn’t that Spud is inhaling pain pills on a daily basis. That wasn’t the message. But it was still included, and it didn’t need to be. They could have produced that same video, cut those 3-4 seconds, and the message would have been exactly the same.
Instead, it was cringeworthy.
Mike McMahon covers Impact Wrestling for PWTorch.com. Follow him on Twitter @MikeMcMahonPW and listen to him on th Post-Impact edition of the PWTorch Livecast every Thursday night (10 p.m. ET) with Andrew Soucek.