If you have performed any kind of sport, you’ll know that even the smallest thing can get you injured. A wrong catch of the ball, a wrong turn of the foot while running, a bad tackle. All of which could at best, delay the game and at worst, kill you. It’s a very real consequence we have to deal with when enjoying our favorite activity.
If you’ve performed any kind of dramatic or entertainment production, you’ll know that, even though people know you’re playing a role, you’re putting a lot of mental and physical energy into your role and everything has to be perfect or the story collapses. If you’re performing a concert, everything has to be done right or people get hurt. As they say in entertainment…the show must go on, or does it?
So what of wrestling? It’s both an amalgam of sports and entertainment. The potential for error increased just on the fact that it’s physical activity and dramatic performing put together. Add to the fact that it’s a LIVE show, on TV, and is on a constant weekly schedule. Even though all the physical activity are stunts, it takes all parties involved to make sure the performer or its victim are safe from permanent injury.
But in the wrestling world, sometimes real injuries are covered by conveniently giving a character a “vacation”, a sudden title loss, or just by telling the truth and blatantly saying it to the live crowd. It’s a fine weave of truth and fiction…a lot of times the general public may not know the difference.
The most obvious example is Owen Hart’s infamous death drop during the Over The Edge PPV event in 1999. After Shawn Michaels’s dramatic entrance at Wrestlemania XII in 1996, producers wanted to up the ante and try something a little more…dramatic. Enter Owen Hart. While Shawn Michaels used tons of safety gear and (what appears like) a lot of training, Owen had little safety gear while standing on a platform no bigger than a large pizza 3 years later. While being lowered, he triggered the safety release too early, plummeting him 78 feet to his death onto the top rope a few feet from the turnbuckle.
With these guys performing under high physical pressure year round with little to no rest, it takes a huge toll on their bodies physically and mentally. Daniel Bryan, who has been working indie wrestling promotions for over 10 years before moving onto WWE, had recent surgery over a nagging arm injury that has been bothering him for months. Former superstar Edge (who now acts as his real name Adam Copeland in the SyFy show Haven) was forcibly retired from active wrestling by doctors insisting on in-ring activity due to massive injuries and spinal stress. Recently, Roman Reigns had to be taken out of story lines because of an emergency hernia surgery. Unfortunately, this completely booted him from his match at the recent PPV Night of Champions and his 3-4 month recovery might take him out of his recent push.
There are many others…Wade Barrett, Rey Mysterio, John Cena, Randy Orton…even the Undertaker (there’s rumors he’s done with wrestling for good after this year’s Wrestlemania due to injuries over the years) and nearly every superstar on the WWE roster have been off the spotlight due to injuries, but it only serves as a wake up call to people that still think wrestling is fake. It’s a bunch of people that want to entertain, plain and simple.
And with that, I’ll leave you with a funny (but still painful) injury. From the Royal Rumble 2005, Vince McMahon storms into the ring after learning that there might be another Royal Rumble tie. Hoping to enter the ring in a dramatic fashion, he nails his upper right knee on the ring, ACTUALLY tearing both his quads. You can see in the video below that it completely cripples him going into the ring.
It’s real. It happens.