Thursday, July 1, 2010

Roundhouse Roundup: License to Rassle

A version of this was published in The Santa Fe New Mexican
July 1, 2010

The state of New Mexico regulates a lot of professions — nurses, barbers, private investigators, massage therapists. But earlier this week, while searching the state Regulation and Licensing website for an unrelated story, I stumbled across some folks who I had no idea have to be licensed by the state.

Professional wrestlers. More than 500 of them.

Yes, the grunt 'n' groan business. If you're going smash an opponent with a metal chair before a paying audience in the state of New Mexico, you've got to pay your $35 license fee and fill out a one-page form.

"Wrestlers must pass with a clean bill of health pre-fight," said Regulation and Licensing spokeswoman Teala Kail in an e-mail Wednesday. This means they can't have any blood-borne illnesses, she said.

Applicants for a state professional wrestler license must, in addition to routine personal information, answer three questions — and explain if the answer is yes to any of them.

Have you ever had a license revoked or suspended by a state athletic commission? Do you now or did you ever hold any license issued by the New Mexico State Athletic Commission? Have you ever been convicted of a felony?

You also have to give the name of your manager, seconds or trainers who will be working in your corner. In pro wrestling, of course, the manager is the sneaky guy who distracts the referee and throws blinding powder into the opponent's eyes.

Cavalcade of stars: Looking through the list of those who have held New Mexico professional wrestling licenses, you'll see some of the biggest names in wrestling in the past couple of decades. Ted DiBiase — The Million Dollar Man — is there. So is Dwayne Johnson, better known as The Rock. He's held licenses three times, the last one expiring in 2008. There's Jimmy "The Mouth of the South" Hart, Kurt Angle, John Cena and Brett "The Hitman" Hart. Both Owen Hart and Eddie Guerrero were holding New Mexico pro wrestling licenses at the time of their respective deaths.
Keep your shirt on, Hulkster. Your license still hasn't cleared.
And you'll find the name of the man who probably is the most famous wrestler of all time — Terry Bollea, best is known as Hulk Hogan.

However, the former multi-time world champion never was licensed in this state. According to R&L's website, his application has been pending since Dec. 16, 2002.

Kail said she couldn't immediately say why the application is still pending. "I'll do my best to find out about the Hulkster," she said. "He was my favorite wrestler."

Randy "The Macho Man" Savage couldn't stop Hulk Hogan, but it looks like New Mexico red tape did.

Speaking of athletics: Former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson, who looks more and more like a 2012 Republican presidential candidate every day, has been to New Hampshire, the first primary state, several times. But what about the first caucus state, Iowa? "I'll be there next month," Johnson told me in an interview this week.

But no, he's not speaking at some Republican women's picnic in Davenport or eating rubber chicken at a GOP banquet in Cedar Rapids. "I'm going to ride the Ragbrai," the fitness-fanatic ex gov said.

He was referring to a seven-day, 472-mile bicycle ride across the state.

More state webcasting: Earlier this week the Legislative Council voted to allow the webcasting of interim legislative committees. In past years the meetings were held in locations around the state. But this year, in an effort to save money, the meetings will take place in the Roundhouse.

The first interim committee to webcast will be the Courts, Corrections and Justice Committee, which meets today at 10 a.m., Room 322. Check the state Legislature website.