Pro wrestler Lance Evers (“Lance Storm”) is now mostly retired and training wannabes at home in Calgary. The Wrestling Observer Newsletter reports that Evers was enraged when, just days after the death of Chris Kanyon, the wrestling promotion TNA – World Wrestling Entertainment’s main, though very weak, national rival – had one of its performers, Rob Terry, take an unprotected chair shot to the head on television.
Evers’ commentary (which I am reproducing in full below) bears reflection on several levels. A couple of commenters at this blog have made the point that WWE is not the only, and certainly is not the worst, offender when it comes to certain occupational health and safety standards, and they wonder why I don’t dwell on that.
The main reason I don’t choose that type of focus has nothing to do with whether I have any sympathy for the practices of WWE’s competitors. The co-founder and CEO of WWE is the one running for the U.S. Senate, and I don’t think Linda McMahon should be graded on the curve. In some respects she is somewhat more honorable than your average carny. In other respects she is the least honorable of them all.
The other fundamental reason for ignoring TNA is that few in the mainstream have heard of it. For the general public, WWE = pro wrestling. WWE owns a 90+ percent market share in North America and is the one brand with substantial global penetration.
And with power comes responsibility. Wrestling is “worked” or choreographed. Therefore, promoters have the ability to set standards, even more so than in legitimate sports. The No. 1 promoter does not successfully duck accountability for a drug-and-death culture it has fostered and stoked by arguing that others are as bad or worse.
Or is Linda McMahon’s argument for a Senate seat simply a political extension of Gresham’s law of economics: “bad money drives out good”?
Here is the full text of Lance Evers’ post about the chair shot to the head he witnessed Monday on TNA’s show on the Spike cable network.
Yes, they have done chair shots to the head before, and they bothered me then too, but this one was different. This unprotected chair shot to the head came just two days after Chris Kanyon’s suicide death and I just couldn’t stomach it. I know there will be defenders out there that will want to argue that Chris Kanyon’s depression that led to his suicide has not been determined to be as a result of concussions he suffered due to chair shots to the head, but that is just a cop out, in my opinion.
Sure, you could argue that one chair shot to the head does not necessarily result in a concussion, and one concussion does not necessarily result in brain damage or depression, and not everyone with depression commits suicide, but let’s be real. Anyone who tries to deny that concussions aren’t very bad are idiots and they need to go have a talk with Chris Nowinski and the Sports Legacy Institute. I’ve spoken at length with Chris and a couple of the doctors doing research into concussions and there is not a whole lot of doubt that concussions cause bran damage and depression, and instances of suicide increase dramatically as a result of this brain trauma.
The wrestling industry has suffered an incredible number of deaths due to drug use, steroid use, and suicide over the last several years, and in a post- Benoit tragedy world, seeing a wrestling company put no effort forth to protect its talent roster offends me to no end.
Let’s just look at this one incident, and this is not meant to be a burial of Rob Terry. I don’t even know the guy, and I wish him all the success in the world, but I think this really needs to be said. I’m genuinely concerned for the well being of people in this business, and after the incredible number of deaths this industry has suffered over the years, someone has to say something. I’m not looking to place blame for past events. I’m looking for action now to improve the future.
Rob Terry took a stiff unprotected chair shot to the head last night on Impact. The chair shot to the head was intended to help get him over as a monster. Why is Rob Terry getting this push? Rob Terry is getting this push because of his body. TNA likes his look. Unless you have your head completely buried in the sand, you know one of the main contributing components to a body like Rob Terry’s, and we know the health risks involved with it. Steroid use, while likely not lethal on its down, does greatly increase one’s chances of a heart attack at a young age. Far too many wrestler deaths are due to a heart attack, and while steroid use is usually only a contributing factor, not the sole cause, it can not be argued that steroids played a significant role in many early heart attack deaths in this business.
We also know that getting off steroids after years of use/abuse can lead to depression. We also know that concussions lead to brain drama which can result in depression. Depression in athletes often leads to suicide, which it unfortunately did in the case of Chris Kanyon.
What a horrible tribute this was to the death of Chris Kanyon. How the people in charge of TNA can either be this insensitive or this oblivious is beyond me — When is this industry and the people in it going to wake up and learn from the death toll this business has experienced? Thankfully WWE is taking steps forward with their Wellness policy and the banning of chair shots to the head, but TNA seems content to seek short term shock value ratings and ignore the horrific long term writing on the well.
I am beyond sympathy and to the point of rage when I have to add a new name to the list (of wrestlers worked with that died young), and while steroid use and concussions are not the only cause of these deaths, denying they play a significant role in many of them is ludicrous and we have to start taking every step possible to protect the health and well being of the people in this industry. The people on the list are not without blame. Almost all went down their road willingly, so it’s time for the industry to step up and start protecting its own (like WWE is trying to do with Wellness), and maybe it’s time for fans to demand it too.