The life of professional wrestling has its fair share of ups and downs. For most competitors, the thrill of performing in front of thousands of people is one of the biggest highs that they can experience. However, with this comes a cost in many cases. Since professional wrestlers are considered independent contractors, wrestling companies are not responsible for medical bills, which can pile up due to the constant wear and tear on one’s body.
Recently, there has been a round of class action lawsuits against WWE for brain damage, particularly CTE. Names such as Road Warrior Animal, “Mr. Wonderful” Paul Orndorff, and Sabu are among the list of over 50 that was a part of a class action lawsuit that commenced last year.
According to CNN, the lawsuit states that WWE failed to provide care for the wrestlers when their injuries occurred, but instead benefitting from their services instead of putting their health and wellbeing first.
One name on the list, former WWE team star and AWA Tag Team Champion Jim Brunzell, explained on the Pancakes and Powerslams Show an incident where he competed for WWE while having a concussion. He stated that he was working against the Barbarian, and the back of his head was slammed on the mat, causing him to pass out. Although he was dizzy and nauseous for days, and a local doctor told him he cannot wrestle, he was still forced to compete because there was no substitute.
Unfortunately, there are many more ex-wrestlers, even current ones, who have been affected physically from competing in the ring. Former WWE Tag Team Champion Rico Constantino was recently in the headlines regarding his declining health. Thankfully, current WWE United States Champion Chris Jericho was gracious enough to donate $3,000 to his GoFundMe campaign to pay for his overwhelming medical bills as a result of his ailing condition.
While this made a significant difference in a positive direction, Rico provided me an update on how he is now. Sadly, it is not good.
“Hello Chris my brother. I was doing good and I thought I was getting better but on December 29th they found another large blood clot in my leg. They are trying to try something prior to the blood clot breaking up. If it breaks up, depending [on] how large or small it is, [it] can go back to the lungs, [and] go back to my heart or to my brain.”
He went on to share that he is in good spirits, stating that he is listening to the doctors, but ultimately, “there’s only one doctor and that’s the Lord above.” He jokingly stated, “that’s why they call people on earth practicing physicians. LOL.”
Rico is a prime example of pursuing your passions and not letting any hurdle get in the way. After doing police work, as well as competing on the American Gladiators show, Rico decided to endeavor a professional wrestling career at nearly 40-years-old. Making a name for himself in both the Ohio Valley Wrestling (OVW) and the Heartland Wrestling Association (HWA) promotions, Rico went to be a manager for the controversial Billy & Chuck tag team in the early 2000s. Rico would then spend the later part of his WWE career as a competitor, winning the WWE Tag Team Championship on two occasions. After leaving WWE, Rico went back to police and security in Nevada, being at the top of his class.
Hopefully, Rico can get the help he needs and pull through this very critical time in his life. Moreover, situations like this could perhaps prompt professional wrestling organizations to be more open to providing more for their talent, since they spend their careers going beyond typical physical boundaries in order to please spectators and draw money to the company.
[Featured Image by WWE]