This past Monday Night’s RAW had one of the most depressing openings to a RAW I can remember in a long time. Finn Balor, who had paid his dues for years and finally been given a top spot in the industry’s biggest company, had to relinquish his WWE Universal Championship after holding it for less than 24 hours. It was careless and unnecessary risk taking that caused such a senseless injury, and put yet another wrestler’s career at risk. When is enough, enough?
This is now the third time Seth Rollins has injured a wrestler. The first time he almost crippled Sting with that stupid bucklebomb, then he breaks Cena’s nose and now he puts Balor on the shelf with the bucklebomb again. I remember the first time I saw him do that move I said to myself that someone could get killed by that move. Watch the move in slow motion. A human being is being flung though the air at high speed, with his back heading towards the turnbuckle, basically in a sitting position with their head, neck, spine, spleen, kidney and other crucial body parts completely exposed with nothing protecting them. Is Seth Rollins a guy who possibly takes too many chances in the ring? Seems that way to me, but is he really any more risky than most of today’s wrestlers?
I think the real problem lies with the way current wrestling is presented, and some fans desire for constant high spot after high spot. Who can blame most wrestlers on the roster for trying to keep themselves “on top” by using moves that try to outdo their competition? Wrestling matches can be great without taking too many chances. Matches can be stiff, with strong style moves with occasional high spot without putting someone else’s career or lives in jeopardy. Since the incident with Balor occurred, as well as Randy Orton being busted up the “hard way” many people, including Bret Hart, Chris Jericho (as indicated by his reaction backstage) have gone on the offensive about how things are being done in the ring. On the latest Ross Report Jim Ross and Bryan Alvarez were discussing the amount of unnecessary risks Charlotte and Sasha Banks took in their WWE Women’s Championship match. It was cringing to watch. At one point you thought Sasha may have been concussed after she fell short of the turnbuckle. Matches do not need to be spot feasts. As far as the Lesnar’s match is concerned this busting open the “hard way” is crazy. Not that I am promoting people to blade themselves, but I’d rather do that, than take multiple elbows to the head from a 290 pound former UFC champion just to draw blood.
You need to look no further than this past week’s NXT Takeover Brooklyn II show to see excellent matches where everyone walked away from injury free. The art of selling a move properly to make it look like the wrestler experienced the impact that it was intended to have is lost. Look at how Samoa Joe sold that his jaw may have been broken after his match with Shinsuke Nakamura. Johnny Gargano made us believe that his left knee was blown out, yet both Joe and Johnny were fine. No injuries, not out for 6 months, nothing. Stiff, ground attack wrestling, with a sprinkling of safe high spots is wrestling gold when done correctly. If you look at the three title matches from the NXT Takeover show, that’s exactly what you got.
There are a couple of more issues that I see with this problem that I think go a little deeper as well. The first problem is moves, specifically the overuse of the same moves and the low impact of finishers. When Randy Savage gave someone the flying elbow, 99% of the time he only needed to do it once, not 20 times. The same can be said for Ric Flair’s figure four and Bret Hart’s sharpshooter. Now we routinely see wrestlers kick out of each other’s finishers time after time. Why bother calling it a finishing move if the move doesn’t actually FINISH your opponent, and the more you keep having to try an put a guy away the more risk the wrestlers are taking. The same can be said for moves that used to be special but are now overused to the point where their impact has been diminished. A perfect example of this is the super kick. When Gentleman Chris Adams of Shawn Michaels delivered one of these, the game, set and match was over more often than not. Now it seems like everybody is using them to the point where the impact is so miniscule that the opponent who again, doesn’t sell well, pops right up or kicks out of it. It’s getting to the point that I am seeing so many people using super kicks that I’m waiting for my cat to deliver one to me one day when I least expect it.
My second deeper issue is the NXT factor. Now trust me when I tell you I absolutely LOVE NXT. It’s the best wrestling product out there, but what does NXT stand for? I believe that it’s supposed to mean the next generation of superstars. If that is the case, why are we having established international starts sitting in NXT for months or years at a time trying to help young talent out who doesn’t know what they are doing in the ring at times. Shinsuke Nakamura, Samoa Joe, Finn Balor, Bobby Roode, Asuka, and Austin Aries all came to NXT with YEARS of experience under their belt. Hopefully Kota Ibushi will be added as a permanent employee as well. They have fought on national or international TV and in front of sold out arenas around the world. They are all also in their mid to upper 30’s, which means their prime years are either behind them or coming close to passing them by. What are they really going to learn at the performance center? All of these wrestlers know how to wrestle and do it safely. Any worries of any of these established, older wrestlers not knowing how to cut a promo has gone by the wayside thanks to A.J. Styles. For those whose English isn’t their first language, these stars do their talking in the ring, and it would give you a nice little stable that somebody like a Paul Heyman can manage and do their mic work for them.
My point here is that instead of making these performers waste more of their precious time not on the main roster you are making their bodies add wear and tear at an advanced age in the business in front of small crowds, when they can be helping your main roster. Finn Balor (35) spent two years in NXT and now he is out for 4-6 months after taking an unnecessary bump from a risky move. We also remember the freak injury that Sami Zayn sustained on his first RAW appearance that put him on the shelf for an extended amount of time after he was on the NXT roster for two years. NXT needs to be what the name implies the next generation of young wrestlers coming up through the ranks. They shouldn’t be cutting their teeth on an established star. Let them learn from the staff in Orlando.
I am begging the stars of today to please stop taking these unnecessary risks. You are putting your career and lives, as well as those you are wrestling, at a tremendous risk. Slow it up a bit, tell a story and give us amazing matches that aren’t followed with the news that a wrestler is out 6-8 months. Do it for the fans, but do it for yourselves more than anything.