Wrestling is not ballet. That is a tired phrase that is used to justify the constant nicks, cuts, bruises and breaks that plague wrestlers all over the World. Yes, obviously wrestling is not ballet. There are inherit risks every performer takes when they step between those ropes. The problem lies when they are asked to take those risks approximately 280 times a year while also being on cramped airplanes, sleeping on strange beds and being away from their families. No, that’s not a violin playing in the background. These wrestlers choose to live the crazy lives they live so they shouldn’t get a ton of sympathy, but it is high time for WWE to address the injury problem they have. Here are a few avenues WWE could take to fix this issue.
- Have a off-season: Obviously the best way to avoid performers getting worn out and injured is to have them wrestle less. Sounds simple right? Well, you may be shocked to hear this, but WWE is big business. They make millions upon millions upon milli…you get the idea. Having the wrestlers simply take large chunks of time off wouldn’t be (ahem) “best for business”. That basically rules out any kind of off season that you would see in Lucha Underground for example. Well WWE could just run less shows all together right? Even though house shows don’t make up a huge chunk of their revenue that doesn’t mean they’d be willing to give it up. WWE doing less shows or giving the talent an extended break is not a realistic option.
- Bring back the brand split: Everyone complained about it at one point or another (don’t act like you didn’t), but it’s a very solid concept if executed properly. For those with short memories, this involves one group of wrestlers on RAW with their own PPVs, storylines, titles and general managers and a different group of wrestlers, titles, etc. on Smackdown. WWE does have enough talent overall to do this when everyone is healthy and you wouldn’t be reading this article right now if that was a likely scenario. This brings up one of this issues with a brand split. If a major star or two goes down on say RAW, they’ll most likely start pulling major stars from Smackdown. This will then create a hole in that shows main storylines. Speaking of pulling things away from Smackdown, RAW always got preferential treatment when it came to which wrestlers were on which shows. It was perfectly justified because RAW was and is WWE’s flagship show and it’s always live. Anybody with common sense would put their strongest, most popular performers on their main show. It’d be like Iron Man or Captain America showing up on the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. television show. The Avenger movies are Marvel’s bread and butter. Why would they waste Iron Man’s value by having him show up on a show where only about a million people would see him versus how many people would see a movie? Sorry got off track.
The point is RAW will always be treated as a higher priority in a brand split situation. Let’s also not discount the ratings. The second one of the shows dips in the ratings, you’ll start seeing wrestlers and titles cross over, jumping back and forth and soon the concept will fall apart once again.
- Have wrestlers take less risks: It sounds silly, but it’s come up before so it’s worth addressing. Obviously, the safety of the wrestlers should come before anything, but as stated earlier this is professional wrestling. Wrestlers are going to do things that few people on this Earth can do and that’s one of the reasons we love them. They put their bodies through Hell and yes some of that is avoidable, but the performances would certainly suffer. Not only that, but they could and do get hurt doing even the most basic of moves. The other night on RAW Neville injured himself sliding under Chris Jericho’s legs. That’s not exactly something you’d call “high risk”. Triple H tore two quads. The first one he was throwing a punch and the second one he was executing a spine buster. Again, not very risky. The point is performers can get hurt simply by playing to the crowd during an entrance (see: Sami Zayn) or by walking to the ring (see: Lillian Garcia). Taking out certain moves like the Curb Stomp or the Punt to the Head are probably smart ideas in the long run, but if someone is discussing taking out all the high flying, weapons and table spots they need to have their head examined. That is not going to fix the injury problem.
Skip to 2:41 for Sami Zayn’s injury:
So what will fix the injury problem? Well here’s one idea:
Have two teams of wrestlers alternate months on the road. This is going to sound a lot like a brand split and it is in a way, but only for house shows. In this concept WWE would split the roster into two teams. Team A would alternate house show schedules with Team B on a monthly basis. Both teams would still do all the television which breaks down to approximately nine days of work a month for one of the teams. This would give that team much more recovery time for their bodies to heal. They’d work Monday’s RAW and Tuesday’s Smackdown tapings and then not have to wrestle again until the following Monday. For a whole month. For six months. That’s a good amount of down time. Not only that, but the company doesn’t lose a dime. They have the TV side in tact and they don’t have to cut down the house show schedule. Yes, some guy in Spokane, Washington (no offense) may not get to see his favorite WWE star, but too bad. Maybe next time. This concept would come with it’s own set of negatives, but the positives way out weigh the negatives. The wrestlers are getting more rest for their battered bodies, it won’t hurt the company’s bottom line and the fans still get to watch everyone on TV every week.
There are many theories, concepts and ideas out there on how WWE can better manage the health of their talent. The hope is that they actually utilize one or several of them and not just plug wrestler Y into wrestler X’s spot and keep going. Ignoring the problem will only make it worse. It has to be addressed because there is no reason why we should have to watch a talented performer like Daniel Bryan crying in the middle of the ring because he has been concussed into retirement. Maybe a few less days on the road might have given him a few more years of dazzling us with his performances. The same could be said for those greats who have passed on due to the toll the road took on their bodies. WWE can do better and hopefully they do. What do you guys think? Let me know in the comments below. Thanks for reading.