The Day I Discovered That Wrestling Might Not Be Real

Not sure exactly how it happened, but today I ended up watching a bunch of videos of wrestlers telling stories about the Iron Sheik. Videos like this one, for example.

Somewhere in the midst of it all, I remembered something.

When I was in grade two, part of our routine was listening to a newscast once every day. I think it was usually the CBC, but there may have been others. We would all sit at our desks, the teacher would turn the radio on and we would pay the best attention that a group of six and seven-year-olds could. When it was over, she would go around the room and we would each pick one thing that stuck out to us. She would ask us questions, we would ask her questions, and we would all come away having learned a wee bit more about the world. I don’t know how many classes did this or still do it, but I’m sure glad mine did. Looking back, aside from my radio and TV dial twisting obsession, these current events sessions did more than almost anything else to help me understand how important the news is. Thanks, Mrs. Kenyon.

One day, amongst all of the usual politics and conflict and AIDS and acid rain, I heard something I wasn’t expecting.

“Police in New Jersey have arrested two wrestlers.”


Well, I know what my story is going to be today.

And then it continued.

“Hacksaw Jim Duggan and the Iron Sheik were pulled over…”

Aaaaaand my brain exploded.

How did Duggan and Sheik end up in the same car? Did Sheik kidnap him? I watch every show! These guys hate each other! I’ve seen Duggan go after him and Volkoff with a 2×4! There’s definitely no way they would be together willingly. The fact that there was beer and drugs involved was way down my list of concerns in that moment, because something really weird was going on here.

I can recall expressing all of these feelings to the class, but for the life of me I can’t remember what anyone else said. I was very confused and a little let down that day, though. It was a bit like finding out that your parents are Santa Claus. But it’s been 37 years since then and I’m still out here watching stupid amounts of wrestling, so I guess I got over it. And even after this, I don’t think I was completely convinced that it was *all* “fake”. Maybe some of it was, but this other stuff…totally legit.

In 1987, Duggan and The Iron Sheik (Khosrow Vaziri) were pulled over by New Jersey State Police before a WWF event, suspecting Duggan of driving under the influence. After a search of the vehicle and the persons, police discovered that Duggan was under the influence of marijuana and alcohol, while Vaziri was high on cocaine. Small amounts of cocaine were also found in the vehicle. Duggan received a conditional release while Vaziri was placed on probation for a year. The scandal that erupted after two in-ring enemies were found drinking and doing drugs together led to the end of the angle, the Sheik’s release, and Duggan’s temporary departure from WWF. Duggan soon returned to wrestling.

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