Flying head-butt, curb stomp, chair shots, kicks to the head, the 619, DDT, the tombstone, twist of fate, and many other spectacular moves that get us out of our seats every time they’re performed. What do all these have in common do you ask? That’s simple in some way they involve taking a blow to the head, in some cases a very hard one. And what’s the most common injury from these moves? The answer is a concussion; an injury that at one time didn’t get taken seriously. With the NFL being more aggressive in their treatment of concussions, even limiting blows to the head by changing the way the game is played, made me think. .
This past Thursday I was watching NXT when wrestler Bull Dempsey executed a flying head-butt from the top rope, imagine my surprise when his attempt to protect his head was very limited and poorly done (in his defense he is still in training). WWE wrestler Dolp Ziggler has suffered a minimum of two concussions, and NXT wrestler Corey Graves has suffered multiple, this even leading to speculation his in ring career may be done.
Concussions in wrestling have been no secret, first coming to the forefront after the Benoit tragedy. Mike Benoit allowed his sons brain to be autopsied by Sports Legacy Institute, founded by former wrestler Christopher Nowinski (Harris, 2014). What they found was Benoit suffered from chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). This could have been caused from repeated blows to the head. Then again in 2009 Wrestler Andrew “Test” Martin was found to have CTE after his death.
Let’s focus on the short term symptoms of a concussion. They could be but not limited to:
Temporary loss of consciousness
Amnesia about the event
Some of these symptoms can be immediate or delayed (Mayo Clinic Staff, 2014). That’s the short term, the long term effects from multiple concussions are more severe, and one such side effect is CTE. Early symptoms of CTE are
Depression (White, 2012).
Did anyone notice that last one; in case you missed it, it was depression. Depression, which is a leading factor in suicide. Here is a list of wrestlers that have died by taking their own life in the last decade:
Sean O’Haire (Harris, 2014).
I am sure in no way is this a complete list, and I am in no way saying all of these wrestlers suffered from CTE. What I am suggesting is perhaps a simple thing such as concussion prevention may go a long way in the lives of these wrestlers.
In no way am I blaming WWE either, they are not the only Wrestling organization out there, making up only a small percentage of all the wrestlers in the world, they’re just the highest profile organization. WWE even gave 1.2 million dollars to the Sports Legacy Institute to research traumatic brain injuries. They created the “WWE & ImPact Concussion Management Program”. This lists the guidelines of how to prevent a concussion; what is acceptable behavior in the ring; and how to determine when someone can return from a concussion. They have supposedly banned Randy Orton’s punt to the head, which is a direct blow to the unprotected cranium. They have also eliminated chair shots to the head, and will levy fines for violations. Although there has been speculation as to how seriously they take this policy. Some wrestlers claiming that if you’re a big star you don’t get fined, they just look the other way.
Now I know what you’re thinking, you’re wondering if I watched the most recent PPV “Hell in a Cell”. In my opinion there were multiple violations of this policy and I am aware of no fines or suspensions being handed out. So the question here is, are they really doing enough, or just saying they are? Also there policy is only limited to WWE talent. So what about Ring of Honor, TNA, AAA, New Japan Pro Wrestling, and about 100 other promotions out there, who’s going to regulate them? Do we expect the wrestlers to police themselves?
I think in today’s wrestling world it’s hard to ask that of them. WWE is clearly the frontrunner of all the promotions; every wrestler wants to work there. TNA, ROH, and New Japan Pro Wrestling being the next big three. With hundreds of wrestlers wanting to make it to the top, they risk everything. They will seemingly do anything and risk anything to get the attention of the big promotions. Take a look at some of the matches that Seth Rollins, Fin Balor (Prince Devitt), Sami Zayn, and Adrian Neville all had before they signed with WWE. It’s a surprise they all still have their health and are able to still compete.
I believe the burden falls on the fans, we as fans need to say enough is enough. We need to find a way to help these wrestlers understand we love what they do in the ring, but if we had to choose over them sacrificing their health and well being, or having them in the ring longer we would choose them.
These wrestlers are giving up to much to entertain us. I enjoy coming home every day with a sound mind to my family. Let’s respect these men enough so they can do the same.
Harris, K. (2014, September 13). Sean O'Haire: A stark reminder about the long term-effects of brain trauma? Retrieved November 3, 2014.
Mayo Clinic Staff. (2014, January 1). Concussion. Retrieved November 3, 2014.
White, MD, J. (2012, May 2). CONCUSSION: Short and Long-Term Impact. Retrieved November 3, 2014.