First, the not-up-for-debate good news. Kairi Sane is cleared for action. She wrestled last night in Lafayette, Louisiana for the first time since suffering an undisclosed injury or injuries in the main event of TLC last month.
Kairi teamed with her regular partner Asuka & Sarah Logan in a losing effort against Becky Lynch, Natalya & Charlotte Flair.
Related, and much more open to interpretation and discussion, are comments Flair made recently about their Dec. 15 bout in Minneapolis.
It was in that Tables, Ladders, and Chairs match between Asuka & Kairi and Becky & Charlotte for the Women’s Tag titles that Sane suffered what most believe was a concussion. The exact spot where the injury occurred isn’t clear, but Sane definitely appeared to be out of it when she was working with Flair on the floor. During that sequence Kairi was unable to do her part in taking a spear and powerbomb, and pretty much everyone watching knew something was wrong. After those spots - in between which Charlotte also slapped Sane - Lynch worked overtime to direct traffic and keep Kairi out of harm’s way.
While in the United Kingdom doing promotional work for WWE, The Queen was interviewed by talkSPORT’s Alex McCarthy. He asked Flair about the injury and its effect on the match. Here’s what she said:
“It didn’t in the moment. I guess, everyone, how they felt afterwards is what made them feel different. In the moment, it was more it’s a tough spot. It’s the main event of a brutal pay-per-view and everyone has already seen Tables, Ladders and Chairs.
It’s feeding off the crowd, going with the crowd and feeding off their reactions. So I didn’t really think anything until after. Obviously Kairi was hurt, but in the match I’m just thinking ‘how do we keep people invested?’ with them already seeing so many different TLC, brutal matches. You’ve already seen a kendo stick, you’ve already seen a chair, you’ve seen a ladder, a table.
And the pressure of us delivering that, with a weird dynamic seeing me and Becky tag? To me, me and Becky tagging is more what I was thinking about. How does that come across and how our characters should be interacting on television. How do you go from this [indicates high level] to all of a sudden, they’re tagging? We had the let’s fight the enemy because we have a common enemy [mentality].”
All fans can certainly appreciate Charlotte’s commitment to and focus on the story that match was a part of. But one of the key parts of any wrestler’s job is the safety of the person they’re working with. To say her opponent demonstrating clear signs of injury didn’t change her approach at all is... odd. And that’s without trying to parse “how they felt afterwards is what made them feel different”.
There were certainly others who could and probably should have taken action to protect Kairi in that match. Lynch and Asuka appeared to do their part. The referees, medical staff and whoever was in their ears from gorilla position did not.
As someone who’s never been a pro wrestler, I can’t say what exactly Charlotte should have done. But not altering her approach in the match, and then with time to reflect on it talking about how your opponent’s concussion made your job harder? That’s not a great look.
Still, Kairi’s back. And that’s very good.