It was reported on WWE.com on 14th April that top superstar, Bray Wyatt, had injured his right calf at a house show in Milan during the first leg of the company’s massive tour of Europe.
Whilst it is unclear at this moment what the implications of the injury will be for Wyatt, it is the latest in a long, long line of talent injuries for WWE over the past year or so.
Every single wrestler who was champion coming out of WrestleMania 31 (except Cesaro) is on the bench right now, as well as other top talents such as Randy Orton, Neville and Luke Harper.
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Two prominent wrestlers, Sting and Daniel Bryan, were forced to declare their retirement from wrestling this year due to injury and worryingly for WWE, injuries are becoming more and more common.
But why there has been a spike in injuries recently?
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Some say that the new WWE performance centre is to blame, with its new type of training leading to strain on wrestlers' bodies, particularly in their shoulders. Others have claimed it is WWE’s rigorous touring regime.
Whilst the performance centre may have something to do with it, WWE’s heavy workload is most likely the primary reason for the recent rise in injuries.
Compare the main roster to NXT. Yes, the developmental brand does do touring, but it’s rarely ever outside of the US (for now) and is on nowhere near the same scale as the main roster. As a result, the NXT roster has been barely touched by injuries over the past year and a half, the same time frame which has seen the main roster decimated.
This is a clear indication that WWE’s touring regime is too much for its talent, even to the point where it is now dangerous to their health and wellbeing.
WWE’s method of operating is non-stop – it has no “off-season” like other sports like football – and, whilst this does allow for a better development of storylines over a longer period of time and a chance for WWE to make more money, it's apparent now that this relentless business strategy is costing them.
If superstars continue to get injured at the rate they currently do, it won’t matter that WWE operates for 12 months of the year, because all their top guys, the guys around whom their major, money-making storylines revolve, will be inactive.
WWE taking a break in the year may not be the best solution to its problem – ultimately, WWE is a business and needs to be run in the most efficient way – but it’s crystal clear that something needs to be done. Maybe split the roster in a number of different groups and give those groups a few months off each year in turn. Maybe even going as far as to re-split the brands so that wrestlers are working one show a week as opposed to two and touring duties could be split evenly between RAW and Smackdown.
Yes, some fans may lose out on seeing some of their favourite wrestlers on tour because of the split, but in the end, the health and safety of the wrestlers are the most important thing and fans know that it’s better to miss out on one tour than push a wrestler to their limits, resulting in them getting hurt and missing even more tour and TV time.
Wrestling is a dangerous enough business as it is and WWE’s current business model is only making things worse. While fans may not like the idea of having an “off-season”, and whilst the logistics of it may take some time to figure out, it is abundantly clear that WWE needs to do something to reduce the number of injuries their roster is sustaining. WWE prides itself on safety, but, intense tour schedules and an over-worked roster seem to bear the marks of a company more focused on profit than employee safety.
But WWE are smart enough to know that those two go hand in hand – no wrestlers, no money, it’s simple – and so hopefully they will begin to take steps to make WWE a safer, less injury-prone environment.
How many more big names will get hurt before they figure that out, however, is still a concern.
Does WWE need an off-season? Have YOUR say on the discussion in the comments section below!