I must admit that I find myself being negative about wrestling and the WWE a lot when it comes to putting pen to paper (or however you would describe it in this digital age) and offering up my thoughts for a wider audience. There are, however, we look at it, a great number of positive things going on throughout the wrestling world and this week came one really rather a good thing from a totally unexpected source. Not only was Dolph Ziggler being excused from Extreme Rules due to his concussion, but he is being allowed to keep the World Title that he waited so long to properly grab hold of.
Of course, the fact that Ziggler was injured is in no way the good news. It must have been especially galling for him that it came at a time when he had just been given the ball to run with. The immediate fear was that the WWE would surely either have him vacate the belt or drop it in a frivolous manner, thus jeopardising his whole push and possibly his future prospects with the company. (If you think that is melodramatic, look at the drop off Ken Anderson had when injury led to him dropping his Money In The Bank honour).
But yet, when it came down to it, the WWE did the right thing in a couple of different ways. First of all, they didn’t force him to compete when injured, even to the extent of a one minute match on RAW or something similar. They treated his injury with the respect it deserved.
Secondly, they didn’t make him vacate the title, or even apparently make the suggestion to him, this not “subtly” forcing him to “fight on” when all logical and medical reasoning implored him to stay out of the ring.
Now, this may just seem like the WWE protecting the Dolph Ziggler push but at its heart, it could have serious wide-ranging benefits for the entire roster of wrestlers. For decades, WWE performers have had it drilled into them to work through the pain, be it originally for the reasons that if they didn’t wrestle they didn’t get paid or in more modern times the fear that missing a high-profile match might mean that the push they have worked diligently for will be thrown aside through no fault of their own.
The message could now be that an unfortunate injury need not be the end of the world. A wrestler can take some time off if they really need it and not be worried that any big plans for them will be immediately dropped. No longer will wrestlers be forced to work through serious injuries merely to keep their place in the pecking order.
I know that wrestlers are a tough breed and will often work through injuries that would put most office workers off sick and I know that this dedication can often be a cause of respect and love for the business. If a wrestler wants to do it, then fair enough, but if this situation leads to the realisation that someone with an injury can take the proper time to recover and not jeopardise their immediate prospects, that can only be a good thing.
My only disappointment is that if it was me booking it, I would have had Big E. Langston substitutes for Dolph Ziggler at Extreme Rules and defends the belt on his behalf. He would have won and then handed the belt back to Ziggler, sowing the seeds for an eventual feud. But hey, we can’t have everything, can we?
– By Matthew Roberts