According to the Pro Wrestling Torch, this might be the reason why London Brawling (Desmond Wolfe's tag team with Brutus Magnus) was strangely pulled at the last minute from the tag title match at TNA's No Surrender PPV on Sunday night and replaced by Generation Me, despite London Brawling having been involved in an angle with the Motor City Machine Guns to set the title match up on the go home edition of Impact. James Caldwell first broke this story in his report on the Impact spoilers for Thursday September 16th from Monday night's TV tapings:
-- Regarding the Tag Title match change at No Surrender, the popular belief backstage among many of the TNA wrestlers was that Desmond Wolfe failed a physical due to head trauma/concussion history.
Wade Keller confirmed this story in the latest edition of the Torch newsletter:
TNA has not released any official statement, but multiple sources indicate that Desmond Wolfe was pulled from Sunday's PPV due to concerns with concussion side effects.
Lots of context to the Torch story, how they drop the ball on it and a sketchy alternative theory from Dave Meltzer after the jump.
As Caldwell and Keller point out this story fits for three reasons:
1. Wolfe worked for Ring Of Honor from August 2003 - September 2009 with his push and overness increasing, as his in ring style became less technical and more hard hitting and bump heavy. To show the insane lengths he went to get over with the notoriously difficult to please ROH fanbase, it should be noted that in his first ever bona fide match of the year contender with Bryan Danielson on August 12th 2006, in a planned spot he juiced hardway by splitting his head on the steel ring post. Feeling the pressure to live up to expectations, in their rematch on June 9th 2007 taped for PPV they built to a sick finish where they traded running ram style headbutts, busting Danielson open hardway and knocking them both silly. The worst was yet to come though. In another big singles main event taped for PPV on December 29th 2007, this time against Austin Aries, Wolfe suffered a cut that needed 14 stitches to close, a broken nose and a scary concussion when Aries drove Wolfe's head into the guard rail with a tope in the opening minutes of the match. Of course, once he had shaken off the cobwebs, Wolfe finished the match exactly as planned, working another 15-20 minutes with him recklessly taking brainbuster style suplexes and a series of elbows and knees to the head. By the way, Dave Meltzer gave this realistic MMA style match ****3/4 and Wolfe was back to work for a Japanese tour with Pro Wrestling NOAH just over a week later. Thankfully, Wolfe toned down his style a bit after that scary situation. Only a bit though.
2. Wolfe only signed with TNA after he failed a WWE physical, which was widely believed at the time to be due to all the past brain trauma that he had suffered working for ROH and Pro Wrestling NOAH. Someone failing a WWE physical and being refused employment is practically unheard of, which suggests that he must have had some really serious neurological issues for WWE not to want to touch him with a bargepole. In an interview with the Daily Star on October 22nd 2009, Wolfe gave an unconvincing denial of these troubling rumours:
I had a clean bill of health from my orthopaedic guy and my local doctor, so it's not about that. I don’t hold against anything against them, it was a business decision, and they were only doing what they think is best for them.
Doubly unconvincing given what he told Alex Marvez in January that year in a telephone interview:
I'm not making fun of it, but I do forget a lot of times. I remember sometimes earlier in my career where I would get into a car at night and see bright lights in the sky. After one match with Aries, I had to take the next night off and for a good week or so I couldn’t walk without stumbling. ... The weird thing is you don't know how many you can take before you suffer serious, permanent damage. ...
It's something I need to worry about. Unfortunately in this business, there's only so much you can do.
3. As Jason Powell reported in the Pro Wrestling Torch newsletter last week, TNA, for the first time in what seemed like ages, recently wellness tested some of their roster, which may have included Desmond Wolfe:
Random drug testing was held at the Aug. 24 Impact taping. There was said to be at least one major name tested. The testing includes physicals, blood tests, and drug screening.
I think the Torch should be praised for breaking this controversial story, but they failed to raise the obvious difficult questions that TNA management has to answer in this disturbing story. If Desmond Wolfe failed a WWE physical in October 2009, surely he would have failed a similar physical by TNA at the same time, so does this mean that Wolfe was signed by TNA and wrestled for them for ten months without one wellness test done on him? So what's the answer TNA? And no, Dixie Carter marking out for signing a wrestler from under Vince McMahon's nose, is not a good answer. Nor is Vince Russo marking out for Wolfe's interviews after finally getting round to watching some tapes of one of the hottest indy talents in the country and wanting to push him to the moon immediately. I'm pretty stunned at the clear negligence that was on display here by TNA, if this story is true, as it wasn't like it was a big industry secret why Wolfe wasn't signed by WWE.
The Torch also should have made clear that another plausible, though less convincing, theory is making the rounds. According to Dave Meltzer (of www.f4wonline.com) in the September 13th 2010 Wrestling Observer Newsletter, this wasn't a wellness issue, but a disciplinary issue, though he doesn't know who or what it involves:
After TV was taped, but before it aired, there was a disciplinary issue that still hasn’t come out involving either Wolfe or Magnus.
That sounds like a suspicious cover story for TNA's negligence regarding Wolfe, but to be fair to Meltzer, TNA management did recently suspend Samoa Joe for a disciplinary issue, namely shouting at Vince Russo in front of bleeding heart Dixie Carter. It should also be noted that Meltzer reported in the July 26th 2010 Wrestling Observer Newsletter that Wolfe had been in the TNA doghouse:
The description to me regarding Desmond Wolfe is that he was in the doghouse, as you could tell by how he’s been used in recent weeks, but is digging his way out.
Though he didn't divulge the reasons for being in the doghouse in print, on a radio show around that time he mentioned that it was due to being difficult to work with (think Drew McIntyre's first stint in the WWE doghouse) and that was why Kazarian was chosen to be in Ric Flair's Fortune stable over the more charismatic Wolfe.