The Wrestling Genius: Wellness Program…What Wellness Program

Normally and hopefully I’m able to keep this column upbeat and positive. I don’t like to harp on all the negative things that happen in the WWE or wrestling in general. There are too many negative writers out there and that just isn’t me most of the time. I love wrestling and I accept all its faults and at times I embrace those faults. However, I find it very difficult to defend the WWE this week. Last week in Mississippi, Jack Swagger was arrested for marijuana possession and received a DUI. In the recent past this sort of thing would lead to an immediate suspension and thus ending any steam the wrestler might have been building. Just ask Evan Bourne or Rob Van Dam about that. The WWE in trying to clean up their sport in the after math of the Chris Benoit tragedy pushed their Wellness Policy hard. They pushed it on Good Morning America, ESPN, and every outlet they could. For a few years it truly seemed like they were trying hard to fix their image and their wrestlers. Wrestling has a long past of substance abuse and major stars falling from grace. I won’t go into the list of wrestlers who died young thanks to substance abuse but trust me it’s a long list.

This past week in the days following Jack Swagger’s arrest everyone, including me tweeted speculation on who Alberto Del Rio would wrestle at Wrestlemania because there was no way in the world the WWE wouldn’t suspend Jack. Well, that unfortunately never happened and the reason the WWE gave was a complete slap in the face to the Wellness Program. Their official statement essentially said Mr. Swagger is responsible for his own actions outside the arena. Now, imagine you are any wrestler who has ever been suspended due to Wellness Program violations. How pissed off would you be? Is this grounds for lawsuit if you are a wrestler who was let go due to wellness violations? How can the WWE justify saying Swagger is responsible for his own actions and still continue to have a Wellness Program?

The answer to that questions is simple; the WWE can keep doing whatever it wants because they don’t care. They can allow Swagger to keep wrestling because darn it his angle is getting over big time and getting some mainstream attention from Glenn Beck. You see for Vince the Wellness Program was just a shield against criticism post Benoit. It wasn’t anything he actually cared about because if he cared Swagger would have been “injured” Monday night and not seen again for 30 days. The moral of this story is simple, if you want to do drugs and drink and drive in the WWE make sure you are in the middle of a Wrestlemania push because then no one will care. What little credibility the WWE had built up thanks to the Wellness Program has been lost. It is clear to me and should be clear to everyone Vince doesn’t care about the well being of his wrestlers. He can claim he does and show the number of people he’s helped by putting them through rehab but the fact of the matter is I think he is only doing so he can say he’s helping. By letting Swagger off, he sunk his own BS Wellness Program and any credibility it might have gave him.

Ok, well now I’m off my high horse. You can tell me how amazing I am or what an idiot I am by emailing me at or tweeting me @JaredGebhardt.

  • Wilfred Brimley

    I disagree, I think they made the right decision here. The wellness program doesn’t include alcohol, and it can’t, because alcohol is legal. DUI is not an offense that falls under the wellness program, it falls in a different category. Lastly, wrestlers should never be de-pushed because they smoke weed, I’m sorry, it’s just not that big of a deal. I say this is a good move by the WWE.

    • jared

      It is hypocritical to suspend Evan Bourne, Mysterio, Orton and others for the same offenses but leave swagger alone. The wellness program is now a joke.

    • kohai

      DUI and DUAI, you can get for driving drunk, high on marijuana, coke, etc. I didn’t hear it was alcohol in his system but i could have missed that post

  • anonymous

    but what i would be curious to know is it the dope was in his system or if he was in possession because if i am not mistaken it is testing positive not possessing.

    • Jared

      Van Dam was suspended just for possession.

  • Anthony

    I also disagree, it would have seriously screwed the comapany if they took swagger out of the mian event after just earning the slot. Also my understanding of the wellness policy is that it only is in affect in the workplace. Imagine if you lose your job because you got arrested for drink driving I can assure you, you wouldn’t be happy about it. Sportsman get the serious rough end of the stick when it comes to anything non law-abiding. Also the WWE got a nice bit of publicity from it as well.

    • Jared

      Rob Van Dam was suspended after getting a DUI with Sabu in his car. Getting “push” is no excuse to throw out the integrity of the Wellness Program.