Pro Wrestling

10 Reasons Why The Injury Bug Is Biting WWE So Hard Source:

It sure does seem like wrestlers are getting hurt a lot more than they used to, and the questions are increasing. Why is this happening? Why does it seem like it’s happening all at once? Who’s fault is all of this? And while we’re not doctors and we’re not wrestlers, we do have some observational thoughts on just why it seems like the common trend these days is to see your favorite wrestlers ending up on the shelf for extended periods of time on an increasingly regular basis.

10. Bigger, Stronger, Faster

Simply put, wrestlers are constantly evolving. The big guys are bigger than they were in years past. The small wrestlers are faster. Everyone is stronger. The sheer data that professional athletes have available on how to increase their size, strength, and athleticism has risen exponentially on a yearly basis. The side effect of bigger, stronger, and faster wrestlers translates into everything they do having a higher impact, both on their opponents and themselves. Sure, they’re protecting each other as much as they can, but they’re still running into each other on a regular basis, and even pulled punches make some sort of impact on your body. The fact of the matter is, even in a so-called “fake” sport, wrestlers are just plain hitting each other harder than they used to, and that has to have an effect. Source:

9. No Painkiller Addictions

Don’t get us wrong, it is a great thing that pro wrestling is working to prevent painkiller addiction, and we heartily endorse that position. However, this is a list of reasons why wrestlers are seemingly getting injured more than they used to, and the fact that they can’t just tape it up, take a handful of painkillers, and go back on the road, is a huge factor in the rise of wrestlers taking time off for injuries. In the era before things like the Wellness Policy became a thing, you didn’t just work hurt, you worked injured, because you were protecting your spot, and also because wrestlers (and all athletes) were and are held to a nearly superhuman standard of toughness. We expect professional athletes to shrug off things that would cripple a normal person, and as a result, many of them do whatever it takes to preserve that image. And down that road leads, inevitably, to some sort of addiction to substances that will let them work through severe pain. With that sort of thing being at least somewhat monitored these days, the trade-off is that wrestlers are being forced to actually deal with their injuries, rather than power through them. Source:

8. More TV Time = More Wrestling

Televised WWE content keeps expanding. At this point, we’ve got three hours of Raw, two hours of Smackdown, an hour of Main Event, three hour Pay Per Views (four hours for WrestleMania and, in 2015, SummerSlam), and whatever extra content might be needed for Network specials. And that’s not even counting the non-televised live events, which run at least three shows every week unless there’s a PPV. That’s a lot of time to fill, and WWE’s answer to the increased available time has been to simply have Superstars wrestle longer matches. It’s definitely increased the in-ring quality of the product (it helps that WWE has one of the most talented rosters in a long time), but the increase in in-ring time gives more opportunities for injuries, either from something happening during a match, or just through constant wear on the wrestlers. Source:

7. Days Off That Aren’t

Okay, so we’ve already covered Raw, Smackdown, monthly PPVs, and two or three live events, so that’s five days out of seven that wrestlers have to work. That’s already pretty insane, but don’t forget that when they aren’t wrestling in the ring, or training in the gym, they’ve got public appearances to do for WWE. There’s media appearances like John Cena’s hosting duties on TODAY, radio interviews, podcasts, autograph signings, film premieres, conventions, personal appearances, the list literally goes on and on, and have been expanding at an incredible rate as technology becomes more available to everyone. And that doesn’t even begin to include the charity work, from Make-a-Wish and Be a STAR to things like Titus O’Neil’s personal crusade against homelessness and entire months devoted to things like breast cancer awareness (again, don’t get us wrong, doing charity work is a good thing, but it is time-consuming). Oh, and many wrestlers maintain a social media presence as part of their job, too, which requires dedicated time to promoting yourself and the company. Does any of that sound like there’s time to rest and recuperate from a nagging injury? Or does the story of Roman Reigns not getting a hernia dealt with until it literally exploded out of his abdominal cavity sound like something more likely to occur on that sort of schedule? Because that actually happened back in 2014. Source:

6. The Steroid Problem

Listen, steroid have incredibly damaging long-term effects on a person’s well-being and we have no problem with saying that people should not take them unless prescribed by a legitimate medical professional. But they do a few things really, really well: they help you recover from injuries quicker, they let you work out harder and longer, and they make it easier to maintain the sculpted physique people expect to see when looking at professional athletes, especially bodybuilders and pro wrestlers. However, that’s not (legally) an option anymore, but the public perception hasn’t changed, so wrestlers have to work even harder to maintain things like chiseled abs and bulging biceps, potentially doing more damage to their bodies, which also won’t heal as fast as they used to. It’s a cascading series of events that could, ultimately, lead to a serious injury from excessive wear and tear. Source:

5. Increased Public Scrutiny

We can’t ignore the fact that, due to several significant events over the past decade or so, WWE is under a microscope when it comes to things like drug use and serious injuries, especially things like concussions. As a result, they’ve been forced to be responsible and not say things like “you’ll be fine, tape it up and work through it”, and instead do things like institute a Wellness Policy, constantly monitor their wrestlers for health issues, offer things like rehab and financial assistance, and most importantly, force wrestlers to take time off to heal injuries and get needed surgeries. We’re not saying that’s a bad thing, in fact, if WWE is doing everything they can to ensure the health and well-being of their performers (granted, there have occasionally been questions about the totality of their dedication), that’s a laudable effort which should be celebrated. But the reality of the situation is that if there’s a chance that it could reflect badly on them as a company, they’re going to take the safer option, and if that means pulling a wrestler off of active duty so they can deal with whatever their issue is, then that’s what they’ll do. Source:

4.Longer Full Time Careers Leads To Older Wrestlers

Just as an example, John Cena has been on the main WWE roster full-time for over a decade now, and a main event talent for most of that time. That doesn’t count the time he spent in the indies and WWE’s developmental system before he got called up, but the decade of main roster dominance is significant enough. He’s nearly forty, and a couple of years ago, before the injuries began to mount, you probably would have suspected he could potentially remain a full-time Superstar for another decade if he wanted (and even with this sudden rash of injuries and vacations, he still could). And it’s not just him. Think of how many of the WWE roster have over ten years experience just on the main stage, discounting however many years before they made it there. The list is actually incredibly long. The point is, wrestlers are sticking around longer than they used to, and doing it until much later in life. Sure, Hulk Hogan and Ric Flair kept wrestling until they were old enough to collect social security, but a lot of other wrestlers from that time period didn’t, at least not in big, full-time roles. These days, a lot of people in WWE, from the guys on top to the very bottom of the pile, are all working this insane schedule, have been doing it for years, and probably intend to keep doing it for a very long time. On a long enough timeline, you’re practically guaranteed to suffer a serious injury at some point, and the timelines for wrestlers keeps getting longer. Source:

3. Using The Same Wrestlers All The Time

Recently, WWE created a stable out of four wrestlers who were angry that they never got used on TV, and the biggest surprise from fans was that there weren’t more people in it. The very fact that this group only got TV time because so many other wrestlers are injured is pretty much the best example of how WWE is complicit in the rise of injuries. At a time when they have the deepest roster of wrestlers in the world, with access to a developmental program with another full roster and the ability to pretty much go out and sign anyone they want as long as they’re willing to pay for them, WWE seems to insist on using only a small subset of the roster as regular performers, working every show, every week, while a good portion of the roster is lucky to appear on TV a single time a week, maximum. There’s probably a good reason why the majority of the wrestlers getting injured are those who are in the main event and have mostly been cornerstones of it for a long time, and it’s because they’re the ones getting the lion’s share of the attention, which means the opportunity for them to get injured is far higher than someone who might wrestle only at live events and the occasional appearance on Main Event. Source:

2. Raising The Bar Too High

Even though WWE had toned down the more extreme parts of wrestling, outside of special occasions, the way the business has developed has trained fans to expect more and more. No longer are TV shows (and even Pay Per Views in the early days) full of three minutes squash matches where wrestlers barely leave their feat, or long main events full of rest holds to slow down the action. Every match on the card now needs to be high quality, with everyone firing off big moves and back-and-forth action and huge finisher spots. And then the Pay Per View matches have to be even better, because people are theoretically paying to see them. And don’t forget, because even wrestlers who lose need to look strong, matches now end with multiple high-impact finishers being delivered and getting kicked out of. Not to mention, the impact of finishers have escalated over the years as everyone tries to find a unique one, and older ones get devalued through repeated use. Does anyone remember when the DDT, the spinebuster, or the powerslam, all of which involved landing on your head, neck, and/or back, were deadly finishers? Now they’re transition moves at best and get used multiple times a match! Source:

1. We Know Too Much Now

Access to information is great, and even the kayfabe-clouded world of pro wrestling has not been immune to the curtain getting pulled back farther and farther as time marches on. In years past, it’s entirely possible that just as many injuries were happening, but we just didn’t know about it, and the lack of regular televised shows, the Internet not being a thing yet, and the existence of only four Pay Per Views a year meant that it was possible for a wrestler to disappear for a few months without anyone noticing (and thanks to syndication and lengthy taping sessions, possibly without actually missing any TV time). These days, when Seth Rollins blew out his knee in a non-televised house show in Ireland, there was video of it happening on the Internet within hours. WWE itself is forced to address injuries as part of their programming, rather than just quietly taking someone off TV through a carefully constructed injury angle, making up title changes at non-existent house shows to justify missing champions, or just by not putting them on TV at all and moving in a new direction. These were all possible solutions, but in this era, WWE doesn’t even pretend that fans don’t know who’s hurt and who’s not going to be at shows, so we’ve become more and more informed as a result.

Stephen Randle

Stephen Randle

Stephen Randle is an avid wrestling and film fan. He's been writing about WWE, movies, and video games for Goliath since 2015.