In the enticing, yet serious world of professional wrestling, days off are hard to come by. When dealing with bereavement one has to include himself in a storyline to explain his/her absence. Case in point, last Monday night on Raw; Daniel Bryan finds out hours earlier that his father suddenly passed away. Daniel Bryan insisted being on the show despite his mind being elsewhere. His wife, Brie Bella, being ringside, watches as her husband, Daniel Bryan is annihilated by Kane to give him his time away from WWE to have his bereavement.
What does it take for a superstar in professional wrestling to take time away from his career to be with his family for any reason? He has to travel across the states, be placed in a storyline for the fans to not wonder what happened to one of its main characters. Daniel Bryan may have chosen to appear on the show, but the price of fame in professional wrestling takes its toll on a person’s rights to rightfully and respectfully not appear on a television show during his moments of crisis. Daniel Bryan has been around in the sport long enough to know that the longer you are off television the more your career starts to dwindle. Fans have a short attention span, always looking for the newest and freshest storyline, anticipating its next big star to come in and fill their minds up with anything but the stresses of their daily life.
CM Punk walked out on the WWE because his mind and body could no longer take the stress of being a professional wrestler; being on the road over 250 days out of the year, living in hotels, missing out on birthday parties, weddings and yes, funerals. Fans cannot comprehend the idea of someone giving up their life of guaranteed money and celebrity status to become a regular person, working a 9 to 5 job, all for the sake of being able to share a eulogy about their loved one without the stress of someone else taking their spot in a storyline. When Punk walked away from the WWE, telling Vince McMahon that he was “going home,” most assumed it was a storyline. The very idea of no coming back to cable television to please someone else’s ego was beyond their comprehension. From all stories being told, CM Punk has peace of mind; he walked away before someone else was telling his eulogy. He got the best of the business where wrestlers of yesteryear never can seem to let go of. In their minds, they are still part of a storyline, or they are waiting for that phone call in hopes that they too will be inserted back to television to once again boost the egos of its fans.
The price of fame is like grass, which withers and fades away. Kane giving Daniel Bryan a Tombstone Pile Driver to be written off a television show to be with his family during a tragic time is a clear indication that professional wrestling is a “what have you done for me lately” industry. There’s never a right time to say goodbye. When Ultimate Warrior appeared on Monday Night Raw several weeks ago, he appeared to have given his own eulogy. He told his fans that regardless of what happens to him, he will always be with them. It is the fans that keep the wrestlers alive, not the other way around. What Ultimate Warrior failed to state was that despite fans spending their hard earned money to be entertained by people like the Ultimate Warrior, Daniel Bryan and CM Punk, he failed to mention the price it took on their bodies, their minds, their divorce rates, their lonely evenings abusing drugs and alcohol. The following day Ultimate Warrior passed away following a massive heart attack. Even when he had passed away, fans were looking for an excuse; they expected a storyline to come out of it, like the time the late Paul Bearer passed away and the WWE decided to keep him alive by inserting his name into a storyline between CM Punk and a wrestler Paul Bearer once managed, the Undertaker at Wrestlemania 29. Fans could not come to grips that it was the Ultimate Warrior who decided when his storyline was going to end, not the other way around.
Only time will tell when the WWE will market the passing of the Ultimate Warrior and insert him into a storyline. They are already taking advantage of his passing by marketing his life on their new WWE Network to try and reach new subscribers. Today, Daniel Bryan mourns the passing of his father; this Monday he will return to his usual storyline spot as though nothing ever happened.
Today, the WWE is responsible for your life; whether you are living here on earth or have passed on. Is the price of fame really worth it?