Editorial Columns

How Dangerous Is Too Dangerous?

Jack Irene looks at two notable in-ring incidents from recent weeks and ask if wrestling is getting too dangerous.

Much like the majority of wrestling fans in today’s world, I grew up watching the likes of John Cena surrounded by red ropes every monday night.

Time passed and people like CM Punk and Daniel Bryan rose up the ranks, representing a new style in the WWE. Both men had a unique style to the average WWE viewer, putting a spotlight on their independent wrestling career prior to signing with the company. Following their success, I decided to explore the wrestling world as a whole. As a result, I became an avid viewer of Impact Wrestling, being lured in by stars such as Sting and Kurt Angle.

While I found a new show to watch, it was nothing that I hadn’t seen before. The lights were bright, the show was weekly, and established superstars were battling for the top prize in the company. It wasn’t until I took things a step further, ordering Ring of Honor’s Best in the World 2014 on PPV. The whole experience was fresh and exciting. The show felt dark and gritty, with flashy, hard hitting action that couldn’t be found on TV at the time.

Watching Michael Elgin defy physics with his athleticism and deliver stiff blows to Adam Cole in the main event, would go on to change my wrestling taste forever. Nowadays, this action can be found in just about every wrestling event. The dangerous style was certainly exciting and fresh to me at the time, but it certainly didn’t replace my weekly television. While the high impact matches were a rush of adrenaline, nothing was going to replace a good old fashioned storyteller that I was used to. Obviously, this has become one of the more polarising discussions in the industry, with extreme takes left and right.

Regardless of your opinion on the subject, we must come to an agreement that a line must be drawn somewhere. There comes a point where watching someone land on their neck goes from exhilarating to frightening. At the end of the day, these potentially life altering bumps and spots are exciting, but so is a strut from Ric Flair.

Obviously these actions are different, one involving a little more physical exertion, however that taxing bump is unlikely to get the same reaction as a well developed taunt or gesture. Now I would be a liar if I said I didn’t enjoy a great, car crash style match such as TLC, but it’s not something that needs to be done as often as seen. It’s hard to think of a better example of this than Kota Ibushi. In my opinion, he’s undeniably one of the most exciting in-ring workers to walk the Earth.

This is my opinion and it’s hard to alter it.

Last week, Ibushi made some headlines for his match with Tetsuya Naito at Dominion. The bout featured a disturbing spot, involving Ibushi being planted on his neck on the apron of the ring. The move could’ve gone far worse, but it’s only a matter of time before moments like these do result in something very unfortunate. Of course, from a wrestler’s point of view, the idea of these dangerous spots could make sense. These are people that grew up watching guys like Sabu and/or Jeff Hardy, who would develop their characters based on their dare-devilish risks.

They got on the map by taking chances, and many wrestlers feel they should replicate that. As for Ibushi, he is to the point where none of this matters anymore. He’s a great worker that can put on a good match with anyone, even with the absence of a jaw dropping bump. We as fans, can’t tell wrestlers what to do, but we can agree that the frequency of these terrifying instances, is at an all time high, despite being completely unnecessary. As history has proved, fans are entertained by various different elements of wrestling. Some of these key elements include little to no risk. Obvious examples of this include Hulk Hogan’s slam of Andre The Giant, displaying minimal impact on one’s body. Of course this is a dated representation, but the formula remains the same, as actions based upon storytelling and character progression capture the audience far more effectively than stunts.

While Ibushi represents the newer generation of this dangerous style, some of the old timers can’t stray away from putting on stuntshows as well. Whether by choice or not, at Super Showdown, The Undertaker and Goldberg put on one of the most terrifying bouts in recent memory. Social media was overflowing with GIFs reflecting on the sickening botched Tombstone Piledriver as well as the attempted Jackhammer, which turned out to resemble a brainbuster.

Both legends took unnecessary bumps directly on their heads, putting viewers in shock. After initially cringing, I took a moment to think about what went wrong here. It doesn’t take long to figure out that booking two worn down legends in a match featuring power moves may have not been in the best idea. Undertaker has done nothing to prove that he still belongs in the ring, even going as far as delivering prior unsafe piledrivers in his recent matches.

As for Goldberg, he could be in much worse condition, however that doesn’t mean he’s required to hoist up The Deadman and toss him down with a Jackhammer like it’s 1998. These are two of the most prolific stars in wrestling history, with legacies that can’t be touched. This match was completely pointless and the frightening botches were even more unwarranted.

It’s a strange day when you’re comparing The Undertaker’s style to Kota Ibushi’s style but a line must be drawn somehow. Whether it’s a strong style war between two main eventers or a revival of wrestling’s peak years represented by two greats, the risks are too high for the much easier accomplished reward of a crowd pop.

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