SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
Former WWE World Hvt. champion Seth Rollins introduced the term “complex accident” into the discussion of why WWE wrestlers get injured. Now, the injury rate has picked up even more since Rollins went down in November.
Enter “Stone Cold” Steve Austin to explain what’s going on. Austin, the former top star in the industry, offered his perspective on the injury bug in an interview with Fox News promoting his CMT reality/competition shows.
“When you look at the game of professional football, it’s sped up so much more than it used to be. The guys are bigger, stronger, faster,” Austin said. “And I think the same kind of goes with WWE. I think the guys and gals are working harder and faster, and they’re more athletic than they ever were. So, the athletic sequences are so risky. People think, ‘Oh, it’s pro wrestling.’ Well, the law of gravity and physics are real. When you get two human beings in there at 250 pounds running those ropes, there are lot of opportunities for accidents to happen.”
Austin went to the next layer of the issue: “Due to the faster paced work style, them trying to put on a show for the crowd, some of the psychology has been lost, some of the character development has been lost, where you can slow down and because people are so invested in those characters, you don’t have to do as much. You’re out there to manipulate that audience and to elicit a response. Based on that response, you proceed accordingly. It’s a chess game out there. It’s just moving so fast right now that the guys and gals are a little bit more in harm’s way because it’s sped up so much.”
Austin touched on some of WWE’s role in the “complex accidents” plaguing the roster, such as the lack of character development forcing wrestlers to try even harder to get a reaction. A longer conversation probably would have included a look at the schedule, where wrestlers are more susceptible to injury just because of the sheer number of dates they’re working per year without an off-season/rotation system. It’s why the NFL Player’s union has resisted a proposal to expand the NFL regular season from 16 to 18 games. Two more games that count (replacing two pre-season games) might not seem like much, but these games would lead to about 100-150 more full-contact, full-speed plays per season, increasing the number of opportunities for injury to occur.
Going back to Seth Rollins’s injury, the “complex accident” was described as a combination of a freak accident going for a sunset flip powerbomb, where Rollins’s knee buckled and gave out, plus it was the first day of a European Tour requiring an adjustment period, plus weariness from being the top champion in the promotion trying to keep up with the schedule.
Where Austin’s Philosophy Class comes into play is Rollins was not injured doing a basic armbar and his knee gave out when he planted his foot. Rollins was going for a sunset flip powerbomb through a table on a very tall and large man, Kane. It looks routine because of repetition and desensitization, but it’s a complex move that requires the proper balance, footwork, and execution. One false step ended Rollins’s WWE Title run. And, because the industry has become “bigger, stronger, faster” in its own right coming out of the Monday Night Wars, there is a greater need to do the spectacular to elicit a response and engage the crowd, as opposed to simplifying the in-ring storytelling, as Austin described. The result is creating more opportunities for injury.
It is a “complex accident,” and more of these situations will likely occur down the road as the current group of wrestlers try to generate a response and present strong in-ring action when the audience is becoming less and less engaged. It’s a concerning combination with WWE’s less-than-ideal storytelling environment and schedule structure.
[ Watch: Austin’s seven-minute interview with an impressive interviewer Ashley Dvorkin guiding the conversation can be seen at FoxNews.com ]