POLLOCK’S NEWS UPDATE: “The Steroid Trials”

John Pollock reviews the "The Steroid Trials" edition of Dark Side, Jim Duggan out of surgery, UFC 267 preview, Joe Koff on ROH & more.

Photo Courtesy: Vice TV

POST IT NOTES

**Rewind-A-SmackDown is live tonight at 11:15 p.m. ET with Wai Ting and I. We will be going live for all members of the POST Wrestling Café with reviews of SmackDown, Rampage, and opening the calls for the remainder of the show. We will also spend some time discussing the season finale of Dark Side of the Ring on the “The Steroid Trials”. Tune in tonight at 11:15 p.m.

**As we mentioned on Wednesday night, Wai and I are going to be trying out a new daily news segment for POST Wrestling Café members with a video version available on the POST Wrestling YouTube channel. These will be shorter segments covering the major news items of the day that will also feature members of the POST Wrestling network and other guests stopping by on occasion. We are going to see what the response level is as we test this idea out throughout the month of November. This will begin on Monday for new subscribers of the Café.

**We will also have a very special announcement to make on Monday’s edition of Rewind-A-Raw.

**On Saturday, Phil Chertok and I will be live with the UFC 267 POST Show immediately following the pay-per-view, which has a 2 p.m. ET start time. The show will be live and free on the POST Wrestling YouTube channel and available afterward to download.

**On Sunday night, POST Puroresu returns with WH Park and I discussing all the latest news from New Japan including the fallout from the G1 Climax, Kota Ibushi’s injury, the return of Katsuyori Shibata, NJPW’s business, and Power Struggle. We will be discussing Katsuhiko Nakajima’s GHC title win and the state of Pro Wrestling NOAH, the one-hour match between Jake Lee and Kento Miyahara, and the Japanese candidates for this year’s Wrestling Observer Newsletter Hall of Fame.

**Mark Buckledee is covering the DDT D-Oh Grand Prix on his own site with reviews of each event. Mark has posted a primer on his site previewing the tournament and its participants for the 2021 version along with match recommendations.

POST SCHEDULE

Tonight: Rewind-A-SmackDown with John & Wai (11:15 p.m. ET for all Patrons)
Saturday: UFC 267 POST Show with John & Phil Chertok
Sunday: POST Puroresu with John & WH Park

DARK SIDE OF THE RING: THE STEROID TRIALS

The season finale of Dark Side of the Ring focused on a major part of Vince McMahon and the World Wrestling Federation’s history, the steroid trial from the summer of 1994 after being indicted the year prior.

From the extensive reporting at the time and many twists and turns through the several-week trial, there was so much attached to this story with larger-than-life personalities, behind-the-scenes machinations, and essentially, placing the pro wrestling industry on trial while the real world took a peek at what was going on in this corner of the entertainment sandbox.

Going into the episode, I felt it a daunting undertaking for this team to encapsulate the story within the confines of a 44-minute format as it would become easy to get lost in any particular sidebar story and lose sight of the overall focus. It’s not an exaggeration that the story of the steroid trial could be its own miniseries, and WWE will work with Blumhouse Television to do just that, although you would be right to be skeptical with the miniseries having a significant company slant that will maximize entertainment value over uncovering the real issues the trial assessed.

How the government arrived at this case is a story itself and can trace its roots to the articles that arose in early 1992 that had a heavier focus on the ring boy scandal after allegations became prevalent and led to the company departures of Mel Phillips, Terry Garvin, and temporarily, Pat Patterson.

That ring boy scandal came to light in a March 1992 article by Jeff Savage with the San Diego Union-Tribune where the accusations were made public by Tom Cole and Chris Loss. That story was further covered by New York Post columnist Phil Mushnick, who was derided by the WWF throughout the ‘90s and featured on Thursday’s episode.

As reported by journalist David Bixenspan, after Mushnick called for an investigation into Titan Sports/WWF, he received a phone call the next day from federal prosecutor Anthony Valenti to explore the sexual abuse scandal.

Where one can pinpoint the shift from the sexual abuse charges to the steroid distribution case is hard to discern. Frankly, due to the outcome and Vince McMahon’s semi-frequent braggadocio of “beating the U.S. government”, it plays much better from a company standpoint rather than looking underneath the surface at the roots of the trial and a much more lurid story of the allegations.

This paints the picture of the government’s focus on Titan Sports and exploring the connective tissue between the company and Dr. George Zahorian, who had stood his own trial in 1991 for illegally supplying anabolic steroids and was sentenced to three years in prison and fined.

Zahorian was a Pennsylvania-based urologist that was the assigned doctor by the Pennsylvania State Athletic Commission when the WWF ran its tapings in Hershey, Pennsylvania roughly every three weeks. His reputation preceded him, where it was known that he provided easy access for whatever the talent required and could be seen leaving Zahorian’s makeshift office at the venue with paper bags of supplies. Zahorian would cooperate with the government as a basis for their indictment of Vince McMahon and the World Wrestling Federation in November 1993.

Staring McMahon and the company in the face were two counts of steroid distribution and one for conspiracy to distribute.

The counts for distribution were specifically tied to alleged intent to distribute to its star wrestler, Terry Bollea a.k.a. Hulk Hogan on the dates of April 13 and October 24, 1989, in the Eastern District of New York, which is key. The distribution charges would ultimately be dropped based on the lack of jurisdiction in the Eastern District.

The prosecution needed to prove the distribution occurred on those dates with the venue in question being the Nassau Coliseum (in the Eastern District). There was no show at the arena on April 13th nor October 24th.

The prosecution relied on the testimony of McMahon’s former executive assistant Emily Fineberg, who kept detailed notes. She had stated she had sent steroids with driver Jim Stuart to deliver to Hogan at the Nassau Coliseum on October 24th, however, the Nassau Coliseum show was four days prior, and therefore, impossible to connect the two. When the trial was over, there was speculation that Connecticut could revisit the charges as they were thrown out prior to the verdict being read and could be relitigated but never were.

So, this left the prosecution, led by Sean O’Shea, to prove conspiracy on behalf of McMahon and the WWF with the specific count outlined in the Pro Wrestling Torch:

COUNT ONE Count one, broken into four separate charges, alleges McMahon conspired to defraud the United States.

The four separate charges of count one, only one of which needs to be proven true for a conspiracy to be legally established, were as follows: (1) defrauding the FDA in its attempts to regulate steroids; (2) introducing into commerce steroids which were distributed in ways prescription drugs shouldn’t be; (3) causing steroids to be distributed in ways prescription drugs shouldn’t be; and (4) knowingly possessing (with intent to distribute) and distributing steroids for purposes other than treatment of disease in humans.

This ties back to Zahorian and a change made in the state of Pennsylvania in July 1989 with the Professional Wrestling Act where the state athletic commission would no longer assign doctors to pro wrestling events but the company would be tasked with that responsibility.

The show directly tied to this story was December 26, 1989, in Hershey where it would have been the first show since the act had been passed where Zahorian would have been specifically hired by the WWF to work the show.

Anita Scales, who was then the WWF’s Director of Compliance and Regulations for Titan wanted to cease ties with Zahorian based on his reputation and being identified as “sleazy” by those in the company she leaned on for advice.

Zahorian was adamant about working the event and told Scales he would go “over her head” and did so to executive Pat Patterson. It was Linda McMahon, Scales’ superior, that instructed Scales to do as Patterson requested and she reluctantly assigned Zahorian to the show.

Several months later, is when Linda McMahon is tipped off that the government is investigating Zahorian and Zahorian was removed from the date in question.

In documents that have been made public, a confidential memo dated December 1, 1989, from Linda McMahon to Pat Patterson that reads:

I spoke to Vince about the fact that the State of Pennsylvania is probably going to launch an investigation into the use of all illegal drugs including steroids.

[Portion is redacted]

Although you and I discussed before about continuing to have Zahorian at our events as the doctor on call, I think that is now not a good idea. Vince agreed, and would like for you to call Zahorian to tell him not to come to any more of our events and also clue him in on any action that the Justice Department is thinking of taking.

On December 26th the State Athletic Commission is having a small meet and greet session with some of our talent, and I would definitely not want Zahorian there.

Please be in touch with me and I’ll relay all the details to you.

How big was this towards the 1994 ruling? It’s impossible to say but had McMahon not received that key information, there would have been a clear transaction of the WWF hiring Zahorian rather than being assigned by the commission (who in all of this, never appeared to face any scrutiny for the doctor they assigned on their watch for years dealing steroids and abusing his privileges).

The prosecution banked on the testimony of Emily Fineberg and Hulk Hogan but it was not a strong case and given the venue confusion and Hogan’s testimony serving more benefit for the defense than prosecution, it was a major miss by O’Shea and his team.

Amazingly, McMahon used the fact that Hogan testified against him as promo material in the lead-up to their match nine years later at WrestleMania 19 where it was positioned that Hogan turned on him, when in fact, he was subpoenaed and his testimony helped McMahon.

The other dramatic twist addressed in the episode was the role of Marty Bergman, who I never thought they would have the time to allocate any attention to, given the time restriction. This came out years after that Bergman, had gone around to several individuals – namely Fineberg – and pitched himself as a producer with ’60 Minutes’ as he gathered information with Phil Mushnick and Dave Meltzer stating he approached them as well.

Bergman was not a producer with ’60 Minutes’, although his brother was famed producer Lowell Bergman, who was a focal character of the 1999 film ‘The Insider’ with Lowell Bergman played by Al Pacino.

Marty Bergman was discovered to be the husband of defense attorney Laura Brevetti, who was defending McMahon while McDevitt technically represented the company, both of which were named defendants in the case.

It has never been proven that Bergman tampered with a witness with McDevitt vehemently against that allegation in the Dark Side episode, and McMahon famously going on WWF television for a rare editorial segment decrying the “yellow journalism” that insinuated Bergman utilized underhanded tactics – although it’s undeniable he misrepresented himself as Mushnick and Meltzer have stated publicly.

In closing, I thought the Dark Side of the episode was extremely compelling and it was probably the most complex story in terms of finding a way to make the information easily digestible for a viewer unaware of the details and doing so with the limitations of the time allotted.

Certainly, there are figures attached to the case that would be fascinating interview subjects with the benefits of 27 years removed from the trial. Sean O’Shea declined to be interviewed for the episode, which is probably understandable as it’s not a case you’re going to trumpet as a career achievement while McDevitt was more than happy to sit down and take part in a victory lap for the achievement he and his team pulled off.

In closing, there is some great work out there covering the trial and the preceding events. During the trial in 1994, Wade Keller of the Pro Wrestling Torch and Dave Meltzer of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter were two of the reporters most equipped to cover the trial with firsthand knowledge of Vince McMahon, Titan Sports, and the uniqueness of the industry. Over the years, David Bixenspan has uncovered a lot of new information and has done extensive work regarding the sexual abuse allegations of the ‘90s that do have a tie-in as the genesis of all this. As well, The Lapsed Fan podcast has done in-depth shows going day-by-day through the notes and testimonies of the trial.

WRESTLING NEWS

**Friday Night SmackDown takes place from Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania tonight with nothing announced ahead of time. Tonight’s episode is back on FS1 due to the World Series coverage on Fox. Originally, FS1 was going to air a one-hour edition of “Talking Smack” from 10-11 p.m. ET, instead, FS1 will air replays of SmackDown at both 10 p.m. and Midnight. Therefore, Rampage will go against an immediate replay of SmackDown instead.

**AEW Rampage is a taped episode from the Agganis Arena in Boston on Wednesday night. The show airs at 10 p.m. ET on TNT and streaming on TSN Direct in Canada with the following line-up:
*Trick-or-Treat No DQ Match: Dr. Britt Baker vs. Abadon
*World Title Eliminator Semi-Final: Bryan Danielson vs. Eddie Kingston
*Matt Sydal vs. Dante Martin
*CM Punk speaks with Tony Schiavone

**Jim Duggan is out of surgery with an update posted on his Instagram account:

Jim’s surgery went as planned. Thank you for your prayers, good vibes and well wishes. Please continue them as he continues to heal.

Earlier this week, Duggan announced that he had been diagnosed with prostate cancer and had been dealing with it for several months. His surgery was scheduled for earlier today in Charleston, South Carolina. We are all wishing Duggan a full recovery and sending him our best wishes.

**The full interview conducted by Mike Johnson of PWinsider.com with Ring of Honor COO Joe Koff has been printed on their site. Koff stated in the interview that as they head into the hiatus period after Final Battle, that Hunter Johnston will remain with the company in his current role overseeing the creative direction.

On the subject of a potential sale of ROH and/or its tape library, below is the question and how Koff responded for clarity:

Mike Johnson: Someone’s going to hear all this and assume this is the beginning of Sinclair looking to sell the Ring of Honor tape library and the rights to the company, can you discuss whether there’s any current conversations in regard to that?

Joe Koff: No, I wouldn’t discuss it. So the answer would be no.

When asked about the handling of the company during the pandemic and being at the forefront of safety and taking care of its performers, Koff was also asked about the flip side and how ROH got to this point:

I think it’s the business. The business changed and we saw another big company come in that really is doing what I think we had hoped that we could do. I think from a competitive standpoint, the cost of talent, which is the largest cost without a distribution point of rights fees makes it just very, very difficult to think of in a business model. We work every day to try to remedy that, but we ran out of time. So that’s really what it was, but I don’t want to minimize the last two years because Mike let’s think about this, you write wrestling and I read your column all the time. This is a vibrant period for wrestling. There so much opportunity. There was no opportunity in March of 2020, there is a ton of opportunity right now and you know that our talent and our guys are the best talent wrestling.  I am proud of what we were able to do when it was the darkest and bleakest, but it’s not like that right now. There’s so much opportunity out there that it gives me a better feeling that our guys will thrive in this new wrestling world.

**Brody King has been added to Game Changer Wrestling’s “Blood in the Hills” card on Friday, December 17th in Los Angeles. Earlier in the week, GCW was quick to book Bandido when the news of ROH’s hiatus and ability to book contracted wrestlers was made public. Bandido is set to work three events for GCW in December.

**GCW has added Thunder Rosa to its December 4th card in Dallas, Texas at the Irving Arena.

**In Canada, AEW Dynamite averaged 90,000 viewers and 47,600 in the 25-54 demographic in its return to Wednesday on TSN 2. In sports competition, AEW went up against the Toronto Maple Leafs vs. Chicago Blackhawks, the Toronto Raptors vs. Indiana Pacers, and the World Series. While Dynamite ranked tenth among sports broadcasts that night, they were sixth in the demo.

**Tuesday’s episode of NXT Halloween Havoc averaged 61,000 viewers in Canada on Sportsnet 360.

**Pro Wrestling NOAH has a big card from Fukuoka on Saturday morning that will stream for free on Wrestle Universe (the service is free until the end of the year if you commit to paying for the month of January) and will have English commentary from Stewart Fulton and Mark Pickering. The show will stream live at 3 a.m. ET with the following card:
*GHC Heavyweight Championship: Katsuhiko Nakajima (champion) vs. Masato Tanaka – Nakajima’s first defense of the title and a rematch from the N-1 tournament, where Tanaka beat Nakajima
*Kaito Kiyomiya, Masa Kitamiya & Daiki Inaba vs. Keiji Muto, Naomichi Marufuji & Masaaki Mochizuki – Mochizuki just won the GHC National title from Takashi Sugiura on Thursday’s card in Kumamoto
*GHC Jr. Heavyweight Championship: HAYATA (champion) vs. NOSAWA Rongai
*Takashi Sugiura & Kazushi Sakuraba vs. Atsushi Kotoge & Daisuke Harada
*Yoshinari Ogawa, Seiki Yoshioka & Yasutaka Yano vs. Eita, YO-HEY & Kotaro Suzuki
*Mohammed Yone vs. Kenoh
*Hajime Ohara, Kai Fujimura & Junta Miyawaki vs. Tadasuke, Aleja & Haoh
*King Tani & Kinya Okada vs. Manabu Soya & Nioh

**Chad Gable (Chas Betts) revealed that he went back to school during the pandemic and graduated on Thursday with a Master of Fine Arts degree from Full Sail University. The WWE talent was named the class valedictorian with a 4.0-grade point average and received an award for advanced achievement. In his post, he added that he still has many goals left to achieve in WWE and that he has “a lot left to do here” while noting the extreme workload of going back to school, working for WWE, and having a third child during this time.

**The following matches will air on 205 Live at 10 p.m. ET on the WWE Network:
*Sarray vs. Katrina Cortez
*Jeet Rama vs. Boa
*Xyon Quinn vs. Ru Feng

**Big E. appears in-studio with The Breakfast Club to discuss winning the WWE Championship.

**AAW is holding the Jim Lynam Memorial Tournament this weekend with two shows beginning tonight with a card streaming at 8:30 p.m. ET on Fite TV from Berwyn, Illinois. Below are the matches set for night one:
*Josh Alexander vs. Mance Warner
*Myron Reed vs. Arez
*Alex Hammerstone vs. Manders
*Lee Moriarty vs. Ace Perry
*ACH vs. Davey Vega
*Daniel Garcia vs. Thomas Shire
*Mat Fitchett vs. Jake Something
*Hakim Zane vs. SCHAFF

Night two of the tournament airs at the same start time on Saturday.

**The WWE stock closed at $61.09 on Friday.

MMA NEWS

**The finale for PFL’s 2021 season did a dismal 166,000 viewers on ESPN2 and 0.05 in the 18-49 demographic as it finished 110th for the day among cable originals, per Showbuzz Daily. The event was simulcast on ESPN+, so there was a streaming component to the overall viewership. The main card alone was over four hours in length, which was preceded by prelims that began earlier in the day. It featured six champions crowned that each earned the $1 million prize including Kayla Harrison, who submitted Taylor Guardado.

Harrison is going to be a free agent to watch for the obvious reasons as she is the biggest star the PFL has and there is a great interest to see her against elite competition. The issue becomes what she is looking for. Harrison just earned $1 million and is fighting talent way beneath her level and would be sacrificing money to fight better competition, so it’s a hard choice to make. She fights at 155 pounds in the PFL, but she can make 145 and would be an instant challenger for Amanda Nunes, who has a fight with Julianna Pena next in December but has largely cleaned out both divisions. Harrison and Nunes are also teammates at American Top Team but if Harrison went to the UFC that fight would be unavoidable. Bellator’s featherweight champion is Cris Cyborg and a fight with Harrison would garner interest for Bellator and would be the promotion’s most significant fight since the Patricio Pitbull vs. A.J. McKee fight this past summer. It’s also a compelling argument to stay with the PFL, continue to make great money but the questions will exist of what her ceiling is and not having the opponents to build that legacy. To the PFL’s credit, they have brought in Julia Budd, who is the former Bellator 145-pound champion, and she competed at lightweight on Thursday and won her fight by unanimous decision against Kaitlin Young. At least, Harrison and Budd would represent the toughest opponent the two-time Olympic gold medalist has encountered in her MMA career.

**The UFC 267 card takes place Saturday from Abu Dhabi with the show airing free for subscribers of ESPN+ in the U.S. and running as a regularly priced pay-per-view outside of the country. It’s a very good main card with two championship fights, although not of enough marquee value that it would have been a big show on pay-per-view domestically. Jan Blachowicz will make the second defense of his championship as he takes on veteran Glover Teixeira, who just turned 42 this week.

In the other title fight, former 135-pound champion Petr Yan takes on Cory Sandhagen and the winner will become the interim champion of the division as Aljamain Sterling continues to recover from neck surgery earlier this year. Yan was disqualified in his fight with Sterling back in March at UFC 259 and Sterling received a lot of criticism for being unable to continue and because he couldn’t continue, he was ruled the winner of the fight and new champion. Sandhagen is coming off a split decision loss to T.J. Dillashaw is a very close fight but Dillashaw has a knee injury and this is hardly a controversial choice to contend for the interim title. Sandhagen scored one of the best knockouts of the year when he stopped Frankie Edgar in February.

The other intriguing stories include the return of Khamzat Chimaev, who burst onto the scene in the UFC with two wins in the span of ten days in July 2020. He followed those victories with a win over Gerald Meerschaert in September but then contracted COVID-19 and was ready to retire at one point. He has not fought in over 13 months and Lin Jingliang is a tough opponent, who just knocked out Santiago Ponzinibbio this past January while victorious in four of his last five fights.

Islam Makhachev has a huge level of expectation as the next dominant lightweight in the division. He is 20-1 and submitted Drew Dober and Thiago Moises this past year. Dan Hooker is coming back one month after fighting Nasrat Haqparast and has fought a murderer’s row of lightweights since 2018 with fights against Gilbert Burns, Edson Barboza, James Vick, Al Iaquinta, Paul Felder, Dustin Poirier, Michael Chandler, and Haqparast. The short turnaround could be difficult for Hooker, but this is easily Makhachev’s biggest test and a win over Hooker elevates his standing dramatically in the division. This is a really intriguing fight for many reasons.

**The weigh-ins took place early Friday with one fight canceled. Damir Ismagulov missed weight by 7.5 pounds for his lightweight fight against Magomed Mustafaev and the fight is off. The only other issue was with Khamzat Chimaev, who need two attempts before making the 171-pound limit for his fight with Li Jingliang.

Here is the full card for UFC 267 and the results from Friday’s weigh-ins:

MAIN CARD (2 p.m. ET on ESPN+, PPV outside of the U.S.)
*UFC Light Heavyweight Championship: Jan Blachowicz (205) vs. Glover Teixeira (205)
*UFC Interim Bantamweight Championship: Petr Yan (135) vs. Cory Sandhagen (135)
*Dan Hooker (156) vs. Islam Makhachev (155.5)
*Alexander Volkov (263) vs. Marcin Tybura (249)
*Khamzat Chimaev (171) vs. Li Jingliang (171)
*Volkan Oezdemir (205.5) vs. Magomed Ankalaev (205.5)

PRELIMINARY CARD (10:30 a.m. ET on ESPN+)
*Amanda Ribas (115.5) vs. Virna Jandiroba (116)
*Zubaira Tukhugov (146) vs. Ricardo Ramos (146)
*Roman Kopylov (186) vs. Albert Duraev (186)
*Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos (170.5) vs. Benoit Saint-Denis (171)
*Shamil Gamzatov (206) vs. Michal Oleksiejczuk (206)
*Makwan Amirkhani (146) vs. Lerone Murphy (146)
*Andre Petroski (185.5) vs. Hu Yaozong (186)
*Allan Nascimento (126) vs. Tagir Ulanbekov (125)

**UFC light heavyweight Jiri Prochazka weighed in at 205 pounds as an alternate for the main event, if needed.

**Bruce Buffer is going to miss his first UFC numbered event since 1996 with Joe Martinez handling the ring announcing duties for UFC 267 on Saturday. It was revealed by UFC president Dana White and confirmed by Buffer that the announcer contracted COVID-19 and didn’t make the trip to Abu Dhabi. On his podcast, Buffer explained he was double vaccinated and was in a two-week quarantine after learning he was positive for the virus. Buffer urged people to get vaccinated and stated he didn’t know what type of shape he would be in if he had not been. Buffer expects to be back for UFC 268 next weekend at Madison Square Garden in New York City.

ON THIS DATE

The Giant resurrected from the dead after falling off Cobo Hall to make it back in time for the WCW title match against Hulk Hogan that same evening:

Lucha Underground premiered on the El Rey Network on this date in 2014:

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About John Pollock 3366 Articles
Born on a Friday, John Pollock is a reporter, editor & podcaster at POST Wrestling. He runs and owns POST Wrestling alongside Wai Ting.