How to clean up pro wrestling.

Dubious and far-fetched ideas.
Dec. 19 2005 6:31 AM

How To Clean Up Pro Wrestling

Random drug testing is just the beginning.

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Stone Cold Steve: on to Soduko? 
Click image to expand.
Stone Cold Steve: on to Sudoku?

Professional wrestling has fallen in line with the rest of the sports world in adopting a new drug testing policy. As die-hard fans of the sport, we think WWE honcho Vince McMahon hasn't gone far enough to fix the sport we love so dearly. Before we turn our attention to steroids, there are a few problem areas that professional wrestling must address.

Nicknames: Drugs might give some wrestlers an unfair advantage in the ring. But the 'roid disparity can't compare to the nickname gap. If one competitor is named Kamala the Ugandan Headhunter and his opponent is Dave Smith, the match is over before the bell rings. If a wrestler doesn't have the means to provide himself with a nickname, the league or the state must do so on his behalf.

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Side note: Kamala the Ugandan Headhunter, an actual wrestler from the mid-1980s, was rumored to be an actual headhunter, finding work in the United States for hundreds of Ugandans. So, nicknames can also provide means of secondary employment for struggling wrestlers—yet another reason for socialized nicknaming.

Folding chairs: If you're going to leave portable metal chairs close to the action, you can expect that the wrestlers will use them, and not for sitting. We recommend bench seating in the first four rows. If a wrestler is strong enough to lift a 14-foot bench and savvy enough to find pugilistic uses for it, then that is worth watching.

The foreign object: There's enough xenophobia in this country as it is, especially in pro wrestling circles. We don't need to bump the terror alert up to Orange every time someone pulls a screwdriver or a piece of scrap metal out of his tights. That's why we recommend calling them "freedom objects."

The steel cage: With the popularity of Ultimate Fighting, elevating the proceedings by turning an ordinary match into a steel-cage match seems hackneyed. We tossed around a variety of solutions for this problem. Bed of Nails? Only affects the barefoot wrestlers. Velcro Octagon? Too fun. In the end, we decided on elevating the match itself—into a battle of wits. Two wrestlers, two folding chairs, two pens, one table, and one medium-level Sudoku puzzle. Sharpened pencils count as freedom objects.

Outfits: All outerwear must be equal. Not the same, just equal. If a wrestler struts into the ring wearing a boa constrictor around his neck, his opponent cannot be left with a simple zip-up jacket. He must be provided, by the league, with at the very least an angry tropical bird. Any unusually violent macaw or toucan will do.

Personal valets: Every wrestler—good guys, bad guys, no-nickname guys—should have his own valet. They do wonders for a wrestler's confidence. They can hold robes and warm-up jackets during the match or a championship belt afterward. Americans love to supersize everything. A tag-team match with four valets hanging out ringside could easily turn into a mini battle royale. That would delight anyone who's ever ordered a 20-piece Chicken McNuggets. Of course, if a wrestler cannot furnish himself with his own valet, he will be assigned a man in a red jacket who parks cars at a nearby fancy restaurant.

Instant replay: How many times have you yelled in frustration at a distracted referee who failed to notice a guy getting double-teamed in the corner? Imagine how much more fair the sport would be if each wrestler's valet could throw two challenge flags per match. We have the technology. It's time to deploy it.

To be clear, we are not against a drug policy in professional wrestling. We just want to see Gorgeous Dave Smith, his trusty toucan, and his valet Steve from Chez Louis throw a challenge flag to make sure his opponent brandished a freedom object after the Sudoku puzzle got laid down. At least before we make Stone Cold Steve Austin pee in a cup.

Randy and Jason Sklar are the hosts ofCheap Seatson ESPN Classic and regular contributors to NPR'sDay to Day.