WWE fines Undertaker and Triple H for chairshot, but does that matter?

Last night, WWE announced on their corporate website that Triple H and The Undertaker were being fined for the chairshot to the head that the former gave the latter at Wrestlemania 27 on Sunday night:

April 5, 2011

Superstars Fined for Chair Shot

Pursuant to WWE's Concussion policy, the stunt of using a folded metal chair shot to the head is prohibited. Triple H and The Undertaker have both been fined for violating this policy at WrestleMania XXVII. WWE penalizes through fine and/or suspension for violation of this policy, which is unchanged and still in effect.

It's a nice attempt at public relations, but realistically, what does it mean?  Triple H and The Undertaker are two of the highest paid wrestlers in the company and will probably be getting paydays for their match in the high six figure to low seven figure range.  Triple H also happens have a separate job in WWE in an executive creative role, and is married to Stephanie McMahon, head writer, official head of the talent relations department, and daughter of the company heads/owners.

So many questions...

  • How much are they being fined for such an egregious violation of safety standards that WWE claims to have in place?
  • Does it come close to what their Wrestlemania payoffs will be or is it a small token amount?
  • Why isn't the size of the potential fine or suspension a wrestler is subject to for a violation disclosed in the official written policy (PDF) when the written drug testing policy is much more specific, disclosing the length of all suspensions and the amounts of all fines?
  • Why hasn't WWE fined Sheamus and Daniel Bryan for using a chairshot to the head as the finish of their recent house show much in Champaign, Illinois?  (Irv Muchnick emailed WWE for an answer but has not receieved one back as of yet.)

Wrestling Observer Newsletter editor Dave Meltzer posted this about the fine announcement on his subscribers-only message board:

They were afraid of a media s---storm.

Inquiries were already coming. Act first. Have your answer ready.

He also chimed in on the situation in the latest edition of the newsletter, basically echoing my thoughts here minus the reference to Sheamus and Daniel Bryan.

If the rule has been enforced evenly, with Sheamus, Bryan, and possibly the agent/producer in charge of their match being fined, just without a public announcement because it was lower profile, then I can understand that.  That said, again: How much are the fines?  Unless it's anything close to a substantial portion of Undertaker and Triple H's Wrestlemania payoffs, then it doesn't really mean anything.  Top guys routinely spend thousands of dollars in one night paying for the whole crew to eat dinner together at local restaurants.

Meanwile, over at his Wrestling Babylon Blog, Irv has a good timeline of WWE's post-Benoit history with chairshots and concussion research.  There's something I'd like to add to it:

As you may recall, WWE suspended a bunch of wrestlers in the Summer of 2007 after they turned up on the customer list of Signature Compounding Pharmacy, which was selling them various forms of anabolic steroids, human growth hormone, and anti-estrogen drugs.  Some were high profile enough that they had to be written out in angles to explain their suspensions.  One was the late Eddie "Umaga" Fatu, who was laid out by Triple H with numerous chairshots to the head.  You can see a fan-shot video of some of the chairshots here.  The full match is also on YouTube in two parts here and here.

To play off the angle, they published a "Chair Classic Moments" story on the website the following Sunday, which featured accounts, photos, and videos of numerous memorable chairshots in WWE history.  What they didn't think about was that in between the show and the article being published, the findings of the Sports Legacy Institute's examination of Chris Benoit's brain had been released.  WWE pulled the article pretty quickly, but you can check out an archived copy of it here (PDF).

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