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Thursday, August 20, 2015

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The Steroid Scandal And WWE's Obsession With Size

By Christopher Evans (@cool_calm_chris)

"The Land of the Giants", as it used to be referred to by many, WWE and more specifically Vince McMahon have had an obsession with size that dates back way past the 80's in the company. Wrestlers like Hulk Hogan, Superstar Billy Graham, and the longest reigning WWE/WWF/WWWF Champion of all time Bruno Sammartino were these larger than life figures with impressive physiques that made them look like they were out of a comic book. Not only that but you had guys like the "8th Wonder of the World" Andre the Giant, Earthquake, One Man Gang, etc.. who were just big, not necessarily physical specimens, but just big.

It was an obsession with size that is still felt today in WWE, but was especially a poignant issue during the late 80's - early 90's. In the early 90's (1990-1993) Vince McMahon, and at that time the WWF, faced charges of supplying their wrestlers with anabolic steroids, which had been added to Schedule III of the Controlled Substances Act in 1990. The physician tasked to oversee the WWF since the 1970's, Dr. George Zahorian, had been placed on trial in 1991 for a number of charges, mainly for selling steroids to a number of wrestlers, one in particular was Hulk Hogan. What made matters worse for the WWF, was that after the trial was over and Zahorian had been sentenced, Hogan would continue to lie about taking steroids. He would go on the Arsenio Hall Show in 1991 to say that he had only used steroids three times in his life, all for injury purposes. This obviously had been snuffed out as a lie, as he had over 14 years of steroid use at the time.
Vince McMahon and the WWF were later acquitted in a different trial in 1993 when the company was placed on trial for accusations of providing its performers with these illegal substances. The company would later go into a different route, focusing less on the size and more on the athletic ability of the wrestlers. Wrestlers like Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels were pushed into the spotlight, while guys like Hogan and Randy Savage would end up leaving the company. However, the problem can still be seen in today's WWE, while the athletes may not be "juicing-up" like they did in the 80's, the favoring towards larger competitiors is often celebrated.

Just look at their face of the company, John Cena. While John Cena has earned his spot in the WWE and has had some fantastic matches, it's pretty obvious that he is Vince McMahon's perfect choice for the face of the WWE. Guys like Daniel Bryan and CM Punk are/were often overlooked because they are just too small or just do not have the look. In fact, had it not been for the fans in Daniel Bryan's case or for Paul Heyman in CM Punk's case, neither man would have had the opportunities to shine that they had.

The WWE is an aesthetic business and if you don't fit the look that they are going for, you might not get the opportunity you deserve. Thankfully though, with Triple H and Stephanie McMahon having more control over the business, you can see the company being filled with superstars that don't necessarily fit the archetype of a WWE superstar. Guys like Bull Dempsey and Kevin Owens who have more of an old-school, rough look to them are getting chances to shine in that company.

With that chance, it is giving the audience an opportunity to see superstars that don't look exactly the same as everyone else. Hopefully this trend continues, as I and I'm sure a lot of other fans would like to see legitimate wrestlers and not just big guys with barely any wrestling ability.
Only time will tell.