People flocked to see the WWE when it began in 1980, the seemingly death defying stunts and fights all intertwined with a soap opera like drama attracted huge crowds. Children were particularly drawn to the cartoonish violence. The business of wrestling and branding stars means the wrestlers can make big money. But there is a darker side. While it states that it is a group of skilled professionals, WWE gets a lot of flak for its reputation as fake fighting. The punching and kicking may look like something out of Hollywood movie but don’t think these performers don’t put their body on the line every day. The violence is real and fatal injuries is a real possibility.
One of the biggest dangers in wrestling is not in the ring, but the locker room
For nine years the WWE hid the reality of wrestling until 1989. Under the risk of being taxed by the Athletic Commission they were forced to admit publicly there is a risk of injury like any other sport. WWE have a reputation for exploiting their stars and tossing them in the trash when they break down. The problem is the break down can be blamed on the demands from the WWE themselves. One of the biggest dangers in wrestling is not in the ring, but the locker room. Steroid abuse has been a real problem in the organisation and while WWE promote its Talent Wellness Programme and claim to check their athletes regularly the reality is different. Famous stars like Eddie Guerrero and Chris Benoit died as a direct result of this. Between 1997 and 2004 sixty-five wrestlers from the thousand to perform have died!
Vito Lograsso 50 and Evan Singleton 20 sued the company last year over their own experiences. Lograsso claimed he had neurological damage and now suffered from daily convulsions due to a career of impacts on his head. In fact, a study found that WWE wrestlers were 20 times more likely to get permanent damage than NFL. That is a sport that has been through years of controversy with concussions and yet no one has been talking about Wrestling.
He was passed to compete despite knowing he had concussion
Concussion is a real issue in the WWE locker rooms. Megastar CM Punk was critical of the way WWE treated him when he was a member. He was passed to compete despite knowing he had concussion. “I got a concussion in the Royal Rumble. I knew I had a concussion. Everyone knew I had a concussion,” he was told to get in the ring. “I was like so your test is worthless. I’m not going out in the f—— ring like a two-week rookie to run the ropes in front of everybody. Let’s just call it [a concussion] now.” He also spoke about the truth in the background about WWE’s encouragement of steroid abuse. “There was a joke: If you did not test positive for steroids, you were fired,”.
Spectacular finishing moves have been the most dangerous part of the sport. Repeat concussions are very common and with much of the impact of moves near the head and neck spinal injuries are real possibilities. Fractures, herniated discs are all part of the career, Pedro Aguayor JR who fought in Mexico for instance was left with spinal trauma after a particular match. There is a fine line for the wrestlers between perfecting a move or long term damage.
The recent Will Smith film Concussion has brought the conversation about injuries in sport to the forefront of discussion
With WWE looking to expand and my hometown London potentially a venue for a Wrestlemania, I hope the company will have learnt from it’s mistakes and the fans and performers benefit from a safer work environment. The recent Will Smith film Concussion has brought the conversation about injuries in sport to the forefront of discussion. The NFL expect 6,000 former players to get Alzheimers in the next few decades and I wouldn’t be surprised, based on the accusations of former wrestler’s, WWE’s reputation, that there will be some big name wrestler’s in a new list in the not so distant future.