The recent death of Chyna continued to be a topic of conversation over the past week, partly due to her manager, Anthony Anzaldo, claiming that he believed she died from an accidental drug overdose because she had been "inappropriately taking her legally prescribed medication over the course of two to three weeks."
According to TMZ Sports, Anzaldo had reached a secret agreement for Chyna to be the focus of an episode of Intervention, the A&E documentary series where addicts are given the opportunity to undergo a 90 day all expenses paid treatment plan at a rehabilitation facility. In my opinion, Anzaldo comes off very badly for his failure to seek immediate help for Chyna.
However, Chyna's death at the relatively young age of 46 has led to some renewed focus on the high mortality rate of wrestlers who performed from 1984-2007 when abuse of steroids and prescription painkillers was endemic in the industry. For example, Dave Schilling of the Guardian noted how "deaths such as Chyna's are worryingly common in the world of WWE" and came to the conclusion that "as long as there is no counterbalance to the hegemony of WWE, stories such as Chyna’s will continue to come out with startling regularity."
Although I agree with Schilling that WWE wrestlers would benefit from forming a union, as their combined bargaining power would lead to them getting better pay and benefits, I'm hopeful that the WWE Wellness Policy instituted in February 2006 and tightened in the aftermath of Chris Benoit's double murder suicide will make sad stories like Chyna's much less frequent.
It's likely such op-eds critical towards WWE led to Jim Ross coming out to defend the company again on his blog on Friday, with his message being "Don't Blame Chyna's Death on WWE":
"Chyna still in the news as more speculation continues to flow regarding her untimely and sad passing a week ago. Now the talk is about what I speak of on this week's Ross Report podcast and that's about her continued use of prescription meds such as Ambien and Xanax. These meds are not long term solutions for the diagnosed issues that one might take them.
On a personal level, I consider Ambien to be extremely destructive if one takes it long term. Mixing Ambien with Xanax and alcohol increases the chances for the worst case scenario which we all experienced with Joanie's passing.
So, why did her doctors continue to prescribe these meds to Joanie when they should have known the eventual disastrous upshot of taking them long term? Plus the fact that they also should have known that Joanie was likely mixing them with alcohol based on her medical history.
Helping one escape the horrors of drug an alcohol addition starts with the person that one sees in their mirror IMO so to blame society, the WWE or any other entity regarding Joanie Lauer's tragic passing isn't fair or accurate.
I communicated many times with Joanie over the past year or so and it was generally about Joanie talking about the fact that she knew that she had to make changes in her life even though she fully realized that the battle would not be easily won. Even Joanie realized that the solution to her issues started with her and no one else which is never easy to admit. Joanie never blamed anyone else for her troubles to me even though some people today are. These issues were far from being about her tenure in WWE, which was hugely successful by the way and, arguably, Joanie's happiest days, but more about the personal choices that she made after leaving WWE in 2001.
Perhaps the saddest aspect of this matter is the fact that WWE would have fully paid for Joanie Lauer to get the best treatment for her issues had she simply asked them for the help as so many of her peers have done over the years. Again, this process starts with the talent essentially 'raising their hand' and admitting that they need the help and then allowing WWE to put the wheels in motion to start the process. Former talents can't be forced to go into rehab but if the individuals in need ask for the help, WWE is there to assist them.
However, I still feel that some will continue to blame WWE in some misguided and ridiculous manner for Joanie Lauer's drug and alcohol issues which is massively inaccurate.
We seemingly live in a society that passing the buck, fading the heat, etc is prevalent instead of accepting responsibility for one's actions and doing something to rectify the matter."
I would be failing in my duties as a wresting writer if I didn't point out the parts where I disagreed with Ross' statement, even though I agree that placing total or majority blame on WWE for Chyna's downward spiral would be very unfair.