WWE Hall of Fame Notes: ‘Hacksaw’ Jim Duggan, Grandfather of the ‘Wellness Policy’

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February 22, 2011
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World Wrestling Entertainment has announced that “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan, a mostly late eighties-early nineties guy, will join Shawn Michaels in the Hall of Fame class of 2011. Bully for Duggan.

I think pro wrestling experts would agree that Duggan’s best performances were for other promotions. From an historical standpoint, his main WWE legacy was something that isn’t likely to get mentioned at the April 2 induction ceremony: it was a 1987 incident involving Duggan and Khosrow Vasiri (“The Iron Sheik”) that provided the original impetus for what passes for company drug-testing.

Duggan and the Sheik were arrested by New Jersey state troopers. Duggan, who was driving, was charged with possession of marijuana and with drinking alcohol while behind the wheel. The Sheik was charged with possession of marijuana and cocaine. Duggan got a conditional discharge, Sheik a year’s probation.

The negative publicity was said to have most embarrassed Vince McMahon (whose company was then known as the World Wrestling Federation) because Duggan was a “babyface” and the Sheik was a “heel,” and babyfaces and heels are not supposed to be seen fraternizing.

In any event, McMahon then instituted drug-testing, mostly for recreational drugs; the joke inside the company was you got suspended if you tested positive for cocaine or negative for steroids.

Following the federal conviction of ring doctor George Zahorian in 1991, WWF then started testing for steroids. In 1996, random steroid testing was eliminated as a cost-saving measure, and also because deep-pocketed rival World Championship Wrestling was gaining a competitive advantage from WWF’s more stringent testing. And also, I might add, because no one was looking  any more.

In 2006, months after the heart attack death of star Eddie Guerrero, WWE reinstituted steroid testing as part of its “wellness policy.” But it all started with Hacksaw Jim Duggan. Hey-ohhhh!

As forHall of Fame valedictorian Shawn Michaels, see:

“Hall of Famer Shawn Michaels Should Speak Up on What Happened to Lance Cade,” February 14, http://wrestlingbabylon.wordpress.com/2011/02/14/wwe-hall-of-famer-shawn-michaels-should-speak-up-on-what-happened-to-lance-cade/

“Did WWE’s Lance Cade Have Brain Damage? It May Not Be Too Late to Find Out,” February 15, http://wrestlingbabylon.wordpress.com/2011/02/15/did-wwe%E2%80%99s-lance-cade-have-brain-damage-it-may-not-be-too-late-to-find-out/

Irv Muchnick

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