“John Cena is out with an injury and will miss WrestleMania.” “WWE World Heavyweight Champion, Seth Rollins, has been injured at a house show and will have to vacate the title.” “Bray Wyatt has been injured on the first show of the WWE’s European Tour and will miss several months of shows.” It seems like barely a week passes without the wrestling news sites breaking a story of another WWE Superstar going down with a catastrophic injury that will take them off of the road for months at a time. What exactly is going on and how has WWE seemingly created an “injury culture”? Well, if you ask industry folks, like Vince Russo (who opens this week’s “Bucket Full of Chicken Necks” show ranting about the injury epidemic), the general consensus is that the working style of the current generation of WWE Superstars is to blame for the massive increase in injuries.
I’m going to respectfully disagree. Look at the vast number of the high-profile injuries and you will see that most of them are the result of freak in ring accidents. Enzo Amore – freak accident. Seth Rollins – freak accident. Luke Harper – freak accident. Bray Wyatt – freak accident. The list goes on. In fact, only the Tyson Kidd / Samoa Joe “Muscle Buster” incident comes to mind where a specific move led to an injury. Even still, WWE did not ban Joe from continuing to use the move as finisher in NXT. Neville wasn’t injured doing one of his insane maneuvers… he was injured during a routine baseball slide. One of the worst “tumblers” (as Russo likes to refer to them), Sami Zayn, busted his shoulder during his entrance and not by way of a suicide dive through the ropes.
Now, in the case of AJ Styles, who is allegedly working through back and ankle issues, I’m sure getting powerbombed through announce tables and having to do his “Phenomenal Forearm” spot a bunch of times isn’t helping his injury. Likewise, we don’t know exactly what led to Emma’s recent injury that is requiring back surgery, but she’s not the kind of worker that takes “unnecessary risks” so it’s more than likely her injury is the result of general bodily stress from athletic competition. Take the case of Naomi and Tamina, both currently off the road with injuries. When was the last time you saw either woman involved in spots that would stand out as “extreme” in a match from 1997… much less the present day? These people are athletes and by nature athletes get injured.
What I think many are failing to consider in this case is that WWE is the only real game in town right now. I know Russo, in his podcast, claims that he “only had to deal with a few injuries per year during the Attitude Era”, but I’d argue that one would have to consider the annual injuries between WWE and WCW to even begin to make a fair comparison. Current WWE is roughly the same size as both companies combined when you factor in the NXT roster. Also, the vast majority of talent on WWE’s roster right now are at least 30 and even NXT is trending older with many of the new signings being in their mid to late 30s. The majority of these guys started training during their teens and have been in the business for ten to fifteen years already. Do any kind of athletics year round for that length of time and you’ll eventually start to develop nagging injuries just by going through the usual motions. I’d argue since the average WWE Superstar trains harder and typically puts more stress on their body than the average amateur athlete over their career, they’d be even more prone to developing injury problems as they age.
It seems convenient to blame the current working style, which many veterans in the business do not care for, as the culprit here. Sure, if Cena went down doing some insane “out of character” stunt, you’d have a point. If Rollins’s injury came from a crazy “this is awesome” spot, then I’d be inclined to agree. However, considering the vast majority of these guys and gals are getting hurt during routine and normal spots, the simplest answer to the WWE injury outbreak is that it is just a series of unfortunate events. What do you think? Fire away in the comments.