For the last 7 years WWE has tightened it’s stance on drugs and steroids when they introduced a program known as the Talent Wellness Policy. The program requires random testing of all WWE Talent a minimum of four times a year. This is something WWE has made it’s fans and talent aware of, yet we still hear of wrestlers being suspended under the policy. Just recently, Ricardo Rodriguez was suspended, and whilst there is speculation about what he failed on, this shouldn’t be the issue. The issue should be asking why talent are still continuing to flout the rules?.
Rodriguez is not of course the only case, however, he did not help his case when he took to Twitter to disparage the internet for being silly and bestowing ignorance. Am I the only one who finds this statement somewhat hypocritical? Ricardo has been silly and ignorant by breaking the policy of the company that pays his wage. If that were you or me in a regular job we would get far worse than a 30 day suspension most likely.
Since 1st November 2007 when talent suspensions were made public, 21 different talents have been suspended, some on more than one occasion, although 1 of the 21 was Chris Jericho who was suspended for desecrating the Brazilian flag at a WWE live event in São Paulo on May 24 2012 so it’s not really for a reason related to this article. Those who have received multiple suspensions are Chris Masters, William Regal, Umaga, Evan Bourne, Rey Mysterio, Randy Orton, and Jeff Hardy. Another notable suspension went to referee Mike Chioda.
Two of the last three names on the list of suspended talent are those I want to really focus on as these are not just any kind of talent, they are main event talent who were relied upon time and time again by WWE to set an example to fans and others in the locker room. Randy Orton is a unique case because he hasn’t just failed twice. Historically he has now failed 5 times since being a WWE talent, it’s only because the first 3 failures came before the policy the guy has a job. Orton has always had a reputation for having his behavioural issues and this has affected his position in the main event pecking order. Will he ever learn? Somehow I doubt it, but it was good to see WWE take away his main event status and not act like nothing had happened. I saw a bright future for Orton when he first came in, but he is a fine example of wasted talent.
And now comes WWE’s biggest failure, Jeff Hardy. Failure may be a harsh term to use but like Orton, Jeff had a bright future ahead of him. He came to WWE, rose through the tag team ranks with Matt Hardy, and has been a fan favourite for many years. Jeff has always lived his life on the edge, and unfortunately has let his demons get the better of him on several occasions. Since leaving WWE he went to TNA and even competed on TV and at live events whilst clearly on something that was affecting his performance. The guy could have had it all, he has been WWE Champion but still could not say no to his addictions. Thankfully, he now appears to have cleaned up his act since becoming a father, but the question with Hardy remains, for how long?
I think about the effects of the Wellness Policy and find myself asking why WWE does not take a tougher stance on it’s talent for failure of a test? I don’t care if your John Cena, Ryback, or Triple H who makes the company a bucket load of money, if you fail the test then you need more than a 30 day suspension, 60 day suspension, or being fired. It should be more ruthless and cut out the 30 days and drop to two failures and become much stricter. Because clearly talent do not see enough punishment in the current structure.
My concerns were again raised when watching WWE Payback it was revealed that the Whole F’in Show, Mr. Monday Night, Rob Van Dam would be returning to WWE at Money in the Bank. Now, whilst I am seriously excited by the prospect of RVD returning, I can’t help but wonder what agreements he has in his contract. It’s no secret RVD likes to indulge in smoking weed, he tweets at 4:20 quite frequently, which is a code-term that refers to the consumption of cannabis, and your not seriously going to tell me RVD is going to stop indulging whilst he works with WWE? He’s been caught previously with it when he was WWE Champion back in 2006 in a car with Sabu and was suspended for it. It makes a joke of the wellness policy and makes it look like WWE do not take this seriously.
What would I like to see WWE do other than tighten up the policy and it repercussions on talent? I would like to see WWE address this during their programming, much like they do with the Don’t Try This At Home vignettes. This sends a message they are serious about this and really highlights the issue to kids, parents, and talent. It’s all well and good naming talent who are suspended on WWE.Com and having a section about the policy on the WWE Corporate website, but why not go on step further and tell us what they failed for, tell us what you are offering them to help prevent future failures, and make a full list of suspensions and dates available. That way, it’s all transparent and it shows your not afraid to put your talent fully in the spotlight.
What are your thoughts on the Wellness Policy and the way WWE deals with talent following failures? I would love to hear your thoughts and opinions on this matter that really does affect everyone in WWE and fans of the company. When superstars are being hailed as role models for kids, lets make them behave that way and show that enough really is enough when it comes to these failures of a policy that forms part of your employment.
Follow me on Facebook Jamie Welton