As any close follower of WWE history knows, Vince McMahon has a habit of taking real life worries and turning them into storyline fodder. The latest example of this trait is Triple H becoming woozy and almost passing out in the main event of the May 20th episode of Monday Night Raw against the newly repackaged Michael McGillicutty, Curtis Axel. Indeed, this was clearly an angle to kickstart a storyline where Hunter is out of action with post concussion syndrome due to Brock Lesnar's sledgehammer shot to the jaw at the Extreme Rules pay-per-view on Sunday.
Head trauma has suddenly become a major concern to WWE management after Dolph Ziggler suffered the worst concussion of his career and retrograde amnesia from an errant kick by Jack Swagger at the Smackdown tapings on May 7th, 2013.
WWE has already responded by giving a $1.2 million donation over three years to Chris Nowinski's Sports Legacy Institute to help fund their research into Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE), a progressive degenerative brain disease that both the late Chris Benoit and Andrew "Test" Martin were diagnosed with postmortem.
The performers at Extreme Rules were also told to keep the risks to a minimum and avoid blows to the head because they don't want a repeat of what happened to Ziggler.
Thus, this concussion angle could be an attempt to educate the WWE audience about the dangers of head trauma and prepare them for a toned down, safer, in ring style.
As Dave Meltzer revealed in this week's subscriber only Wrestling Observer Newsletter, it's also a way to reintroduce the McMahon family soap opera to our screens, a favourite old chestnut of the WWE creative team when they are running low on new, innovative ideas:
"Regarding the HHH angle, apparently the working idea is to lead to Stephanie, Vince (and perhaps even the kids) going on television and begging HHH to stop wrestling for fear of the damage it has already caused him. As of right now, one story we were told is that several family members will be on television when it comes time for his return. However, another source said there are several different ideas and nothing is certain on where the angle is going."
It's unsurprising that they haven't mapped out a finish to the angle that they've just shot. The obvious idea would be to build to yet another rematch with Brock Lesnar, but that feud has been done to death already by now. So who knows where this will go, other than this storyline will obviously lead to a much hyped in ring return and possibly his retirement match at WrestleMania 30.
I don't have high hopes for this serious concussion storyline, as whenever similar ideas have been done in the past, they've always fallen flat, partly because fans want feel good entertainment from invincible superheroes, not to be constantly reminded of the stark dangers that the performers face when they step into the squared circle.
We've been here with TNA before when their creative team had concussions on the brain after Mr. Anderson suffered a serious one from a reckless chair shot to the back of the head by Jeff Hardy. That genuine injury was sewn into the company's main plot, but babyfaces Matt Morgan and Mick Foley telling Ken about the Sports Legacy Institute's work and encouraging him to take time off whilst heel Eric Bischoff tried to force him back into the ring ASAP, only managed to bore and confuse their viewers. It was also hypocritical, as TNA mishandled Anderson's concussion leading to a longer layoff than he should have required and the promotion was simultaneously refusing to pay the medical bills of performers who had sustained serious concussion issues while working for them, like Shannon "Daffney" Spruill.
More recently, fans at Ring Of Honor's May 5th television tapings booed when Nigel McGuinness announced that Paul London wouldn't wrestle on the show due to suffering a genuine concussion the prior night from a misplaced top rope double foot stomp to the head by Davey Richards. If the smarter ROH fanbase haven't learnt that wrestling with a concussion is a complete no-no, then what hope does WWE have in their attempt to recondition their own viewership, Cagesiders?