Author's disclaimer: Any views stated in this article are mine alone except where I'm clearly quoting Devon Nicholson. Moreover, this post contains spoilers of The Last Of McGuinness documentary by Nigel McGuinness, which I strongly recommend you viewing, but for those that want to see the movie unspoilt, please read this at a later date.
After watching online Nigel McGuinness' fascinating film, The Last Of McGuinness, which I discussed last week, I contacted Devon Nicholson for his thoughts on the revelations contained in the documentary itself about the circumstances behind Nigel's TNA wrestling career being cut short.
Both men had their lives turned upside down when they tested positive for a blood-borne disease, which could have been contracted through bloody wrestling matches. Nicholson had his WWE developmental contract rescinded in 2009 when he tested positive for Hepatitis C, a disease he believes he obtained from Abdullah The Butcher cutting him with the same blade he had already used to cut himself with in a match on the Canadian independent scene. Three years later, Nicholson is yet to be cured of the virus. TNA stopped using McGuinness as a wrestler when he tested positive for the less serious Hepatitis B virus (usually the infection clears spontaneously within months unless it is chronic) and was eventually fired when the disease took longer to be cured than expected.
Nicholson graciously responded to me with the following comments:
"I am very happy to hear that Nigel McGuiness has cleared the Hepatitis B virus. McGuiness certainly isn’t the first wrestler to have contracted Hepatitis B. Former AWA Champion and Japanese wrestling legend Jumbo Tsuruta had Hepatitis B which led to him contracting cancer of the kidneys and liver causing his death in 2000. I would encourage anyone reading this to get vaccinated for both Hepatitis A and Hepatitis B as I have been. There is easy to access vaccines for both of these diseases.
Unfortunately there are no vaccines in existence for Hepatitis C which is the type of Hepatitis I have. Hepatitis C is a “blood to blood” disease that affects more than 170 million people worldwide and kills more people than AIDS. There are treatments available that are chemotherapy like with a lot of dangerous side effects and the medications are not 100% effective. I am currently in my ninth week of the new Invicek “Triple Therapy” Hep C treatment that has been very hard on me mentally and physically so far but is well worth the risk if I can get cured.
According to Eddie Guerrero’s WWE book his father, Gory Guerrero who was known for bleeding in matches died of Hepatitis C. Former World Champion “Superstar” Billy Graham had a liver transplant 10 years ago due to the Hep C he believes he caught from decades of “blood bath” matches in the 70’s and 80’s. His new liver is back in the cirrhosis stage and from what I understand he does not have a huge amount of time left to live....
Since there is no blood testing requirement for 95% of independent promotions I think it is great that Nigel is going to try to discourage the practice of blading in wrestling and raise awareness of the dangers of blood diseases. I hope that he will consider returning to the ring once all of his health issues are back to 100%. Wrestling today needs more guys of his caliber and I think it would be very inspirational."
We at Cageside Seats would like to wish Nicholson well with his ongoing fight to rid himself of Hepatitis C. I'm not speaking for my other colleagues here, but I for one wholeheartedly endorse Nicholson's message to raise awareness in the pro wrestling community about the risks of blading. If it saves just one future WWE / TNA prospect from contracting a blood disease and having their career as a consequence stalled or wrecked, then it would be well worth it.
Personally, I think the process of making the documentary, telling his story honestly so that others can learn from his mistakes and successfully moving forward with his life is inspirational enough that Nigel doesn't ever have to lace up the boots again to hammer that message home. It's understandable that he would want to move on when his dream of being a WWE wrestler would forever be out of his grasp. He gave it his best shot and at the end of the day that's all we can do in life, the cards can't be guaranteed to land the way you wanted, especially in a profession as beset with pitfalls as pro wrestling.
They say that adversity maketh the man, well both Devon and Nigel can be proud of how they've handled their health struggles and how they've acknowledged their problems publicly to prevent the next generation of wrestlers from suffering their fate. I hope we can all agree on that, even if some of you Cagesiders disagree with a blanket ban on blading.