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12-22-07, 04:13 PM #1
Term. You might find this interesting.
Taken from the ajc.com...
Woodstock wrestler counts blessings after leaving WWE
Wrestler has survived broken neck, painkiller addiction and other ailments
By ADRIANNE M. MURCHISON
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Published on: 12/23/07
Wrestler Marcus "Buff" Bagwell counts his blessings.
He has seen the glory and the pain of professional wrestling and the tragic deaths of several friends in the sport.
More Metro news</STRONG>
The Marietta native was a premier wrestler with World Championship Wrestling in the 1990s and early 2000.
He and wrestler Chris Benoit, who killed his wife and son before he took his own life last June, were good friends. And like Benoit and other wrestling friends Bagwell was a patient of Dr. Phil Astin III.
Since Benoit's death, Astin has been indicted for overprescribing anabolic steroids to two people.
"If Chris Benoit was alive today he would say, 'Man I can't believe Bagwell outlived me,'" said Bagwell. "'Cause I was going to be one of the ones that went down first."
Bagwell, 37, now lives in Woodstock and only recently kicked a years-long addiction to painkillers and muscles relaxers, he said.
Earlier this week the Georgia Athletic and Entertainment Commission met to discuss drug testing and other regulations for professional wrestlers and promoters.
The meeting was at the urging of Cary Ichter, an attorney who represents Chris Benoit's father.
Michael Benoit faults the World Wrestling Entertainment organization for failing to provide proper drug screens and treatment for head injuries that his son sustained in the wrestling ring.
Bagwell was dropped from Vince McMahon's WWE in 2001 and now wrestles for smaller independent promoters around the country. He also has a book and a possible television series in the works, that offers an inside look into the world of pro-wrestling.
On Sunday, Georgia Wrestling Promotions showcases Bagwell in a match at Hot Wheels Skate Center in Woodstock.
"I went from 75,000 people at the Georgia Dome to 200 people seeing me at a skating rink. That's a pretty rough ride," said Bagwell.
Spiraling out of control
At the height of his career, Bagwell was a regular feature on WCW shows such as "Monday Nitro" and made occasional appearances in commercials, TV dramas and films.
His six-pack abs and tight physique still live up to the "Buff" stage name thanks to a strict diet of 50 grams of protein per meal, six times a day and a hard workout regimen, but his journey includes an addiction to Lortab painkillers and Soma muscle relaxers.
After an injury from a body slam against the wrestling ring floor in 1998 Bagwell's intake of medication steadily increased, he said.
That 1998 injury came during a tag-team match that aired live on the WCW's old TBS show, "Thunder." The then 28-year-old's opponent Rick Steiner leaped from the ring post and came down with the top of Bagwell's head tucked under his arm. Bagwell's head came out and smashed into Steiner's back.
His neck was broken.
"My cervical disk went into my spinal cord," recalled Bagwell. "I couldn't feel anything. I thought I was paralyzed for life."
He had surgery and was back in the wrestling ring nearly 11 months later with the help of the pain pills, he said.
Before the injury Bagwell said he only occasionally popped pills. After the injury he says he took several Lortab and Soma pills daily to get back to wrestling form.
He points out that football and other professional sports, or even entertainment shows such as "Dancing with the Stars," have an offseason that allows the participants' worn out bodies to recover. Wrestlers, he said, are thrown or fall against the ring floor during live shows every week. Bagwell complains that wrestlers have no union or benefits yet are required to stay at peak physical form.
"[Me], Chris Benoit, all of us; we were all in this thing together called pro-wrestling. And with pro-wrestling comes pressure and with pressure comes pain pills," said Bagwell.
Under WCW Bagwell earned more than $1 million per year. He built a large home near his parents in Marietta and bought himself a jazzed up Harley Davidson motorcycle and Jaguar XJR.
Those perks helped the wrestler to keep a handle on his addiction until he was released from WWE shortly after Ted Turner sold WCW to Vince McMahon in 2001.
Bagwell said depression set in and his addiction spiraled out of control.
His daily intake of pills spiked to 20 Lortabs and 40 Soma pills per day. His income plummeted. He sold his house and vehicles and moved to a smaller home with his wife Judy.
"[Wrestling] was an invisible leash for all these dead wrestlers," Bagwell said, referring to Benoit; Curt Hennig, who was known as "Mr. Perfect;" Ray "Big Boss Man" Taylor; and "Ravishing" Rick Rude. Authorities either suspected or ruled drugs as a contributing factor in their deaths.
"When there's no more leash [wrestling matches], there's no one to say yes or no as to when you should stop taking pills. You just go deeper and deeper until you start OD'ing," he said.
Bagwell said he tried to be a functional addict. He has wrestled on the independent circuit since his firing from WWE and earns about $150,000 per year. But he was pretty lethargic from the pills.
The addiction tested the Sprayberry High School graduate's marriage.
"Sometimes he would fall asleep with food in his mouth and I had to wipe it out so he wouldn't choke," said his wife Judy Bagwell. "Then I'd walk him up to bed and change his clothes."
Judy, 44, is the wrestler's third wife. They married in 2001.
"It's been tough, but marriage is tough anyway," she said. "Everyone has some fault. I have faith and my parents raised me to take care of the ones you love."
Getting ahead of the drugs
Bagwell entered rehab three times but failed to beat his addiction. He recently completed a 20-month Cherokee County drug program after a DUI stop in 2005.
But neither Marcus nor Judy realized the wrestler had a bigger health problem atrial fibrillation, an irregular heart rhythm that Bagwell says prevented him from kicking the pills.
Bagwell said that his primary care doctor, who is not Astin, shocked his heart back into rhythm in 2006.
Before that Bagwell said he would get enormous chest pain if he tried to get off the pills. Then Bagwell and his doctor discovered an opiate called Suboxone, that has helped to ween him off the Lortab and Soma.
"It saved my life overnight," he said.
Bagwell acknowledged on a HBO "Real Sports" segment which aired in September that he was still taking some pain killers and muscle relaxers.
But Bagwell says he stopped those pills a week later.
Doors have opened as Bagwell has gotten clean. Last month California-based Fylmar Productions flew him to Los Angeles to film a pilot that would slightly resemble the HBO show "Entourage" but focus on the wrestling trade instead of acting. And a book deal on Bagwell's wrestling life is being spearheaded through Theo's Entertainment, the company of his longtime friend Kevin Pappas.
"I've known Buff for 25 years. Because of our relationship, he feels comfortable being able to tell his life story through us," said Pappas, who lives in Roswell.
Because wrestling is the only profession Bagwell has ever known, he has hopes of returning to WWE. Getting back to the mainstage would offer a certain redemption after six years on the independent circuit. Bagwell compares it to AAA baseball where players in their 20s want to get to the big show.
"It's less of a big deal for me because there are no promises or guarantees," he said. "But I'm going to be ready if I do get another chance. I want another three -or four-year run."
IF YOU GO
What: Marcus "Buff" Bagwell wrestles as part of Georgia Wrestling Promotions.
When: 8 p.m. bell time
Where: Hot Wheels Skate Center, 228 Farm Ridge Drive North, Woodstock
Info.: 770-592-4688dlefdal said:
Ummmm, what if I don't like thumbs in my butt?
12-22-07, 06:04 PM #2
Yeah, I've been reading up on that. I heard he's making $150,000 a year on the independant circuit right now.
12-22-07, 06:09 PM #3
Thats not bad coin....remember the story line with his mom in a wheel chair with a bum neck? Then he broke his....ahhhh, I miss the old WCW...the blonde Sting, the arrival of the outsiders....I could go OLD SCHOOL and bring up names like Barry Windham, and my personal favs Tommy "Wildfire" Rich and Ricky the Dragon Steamboat....500 fights, that's the number I figured when I was a kid. 500 street fights and you could consider yourself a legitimate tough guy. You need them for experience. To develop leather skin. So I got started. Of course along the way you stop thinking about being tough and all that. It stops being the point. You get past the silliness of it all. But then, after, you realize that's what you are.
12-22-07, 07:20 PM #4
I like the old the old WCW and the original NWO
12-22-07, 07:28 PM #5
I liked the WWF myself . Don't care about it since the two merged. It kinda got strange.The opinions of my posts are the sole responsibilty of my employer due to the fact that they have totally and completely warped my mind.
12-22-07, 11:49 PM #6Temporarily Civilianized
- Join Date
- East Tennessee
- Rep Power
I arrested him once...... simple possession I've got his auto graph layin around somewhere.There is no hunting like the hunting of man, and those who have hunted armed men long enough and liked it, never care for anything else thereafter. -- Ernest Hemingway
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