TNA management just never learns, do they? No, I'm not talking about them producing yet another lacklustre pay-per-view event on Sunday, their never ending push of the green Crimson or signing yet another D-list celebrity from Jersey Shore. This time I'm talking about Jeff Hardy's unprotected chair shot to the head delivered by TNA minority owner Jeff Jarrett towards the end of their match at the aforementioned Turning Point PPV.
Wade Keller, the editor of the Pro Wrestling Torch Newsletter, struck the right note of outrage while live blogging about the event:
Unbelievable. How does a top exec in a company think it's okay to hit a guy with a pain pill addiction problem with a stiff chair shot to the head? How does that even enter his mind as acceptable? If he weren't an exec, and that was unscripted, he should be fired over it, no matter what Hardy agreed to ahead of time. How deep is your head buried in 2011 that you don't get that everything in the sports world in recent years has turned to top level concern for new information about the accumulated long-term effects of concussions? I don't care what the rationalisation is in terms of using "proper technique" or "knowing just how to make contact without doing damage," it's not something that should be part of the wrestling industry in 2011.
I share his disbelief, but think his condemnation was slightly misplaced, as it would be impossible for a spot that was so integral to the match finish not to have been scripted and approved ahead of time.
So why are TNA management recklessly endangering one of their highest paid stars with a needless stunt like that? No, just so you could have a creative match finish where Hardy upset Jarrett for the third time in one night is not a good enough excuse. A safer foreign object could have been used or at the very least Hardy could have been instructed to protect his head by putting his hands up to partially block the shot. I would ideally recommend cutting out the overbooked crap completely, but we all know that won't happen when Vince Russo is still the man responsible for writing the scripts for Bruce Prichard.
What makes it even more dumb is that TNA management should be all too aware of the dangers of blows to the head. Sharon Glencross chronicled the sad tale of Shannon "Daffney" Spruill's TNA career this April. In just over a one year period, Spruill suffered four documented concussions amongst other serious injuries and was forced to file a workers compensation claim against TNA after the company refused to pay her medical bills stemming from these in ring accidents. During the same time frame, Mr. Anderson suffered two concussions in quick succession after he was allowed to return too quickly to the ring from the first one. At the time, Anderson put over how caring TNA was, by forcing him to sit on the sidelines for over six weeks after suffering one concussion too many, making sure to point out how they had officially banned chair shots to the head. What an even bigger joke that was, with the benefit of hindsight!
Chair shots to the head were only belatedly banned by TNA after the universal disgust the company received when they scripted the musclebound Rob Terry to no sell a brutal blast to the noggin by Homicide on Impact, just three days after Chris Kanyon committed suicide, someone who very possibly could have been suffering from Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy at the time of his death due to the catalogue of concussions he likely suffered during his career. In her detailed breakdown of dire working conditions at the number two wrestling promotion in North America, Sharon Glencross revealed the callous thought process behind this appalling decision:
It had indeed been in the script, with Eric Bischoff (whose cynicism of fan and wrestler concern about chairshots is well-known by now) who had pushed for Terry, a wrestler he was extremely high on at the time, insisting on including the chairshot on the show, apparently feeling it would get Terry over huge (it didn't by the way). According to Dave [Meltzer], there were actually people in TNA management reluctant to do it, citing the studies on Chris Nowinski and how much the business had changed after the Benoit tragedy, and it was something heavily debated backstage. Ultimately, in the end, it was Dixie's call. And, according to this version of the story, what did she do after hearing the arguments amongst management about all the studies and colossal risks these head shots posed to wrestlers? Well, she told Bischoff he could do whatever he wanted.
Hmm, now remind me, who's pulling the strings again in TNA at the moment. It's hard to keep up, what with all the recent political turmoil within the company...
That's right, it's Hulk Hogan and Eric Bischoff! Funny that. Moreover, resuscitating Jeff Hardy's career after he almost pissed it all away by becoming intoxicated and not being able to perform at this year's Victory Road PPV event is one of their top priorities. Being tough enough to take a manly chair shot to the skull was obviously just what the doctor ordered, after all it did wonders for Rob Terry's career. It's good to see that these two aloof numbskulls that helped kill WCW still can't even grasp such a basic lesson about the benefits of protecting the health of your top workers by avoiding placing them in unnecessarily perilous situations. What hope then is there for them to achieve the much more complex task of turning around this slowly sinking ship?