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Big E discusses his thought process for whether or not he’ll return to the ring

Big E’s told us he’ll have his neck evaluated next March — one year after it was broken on SmackDown while he was taking a suplex fro Ridge Holland — to see if it’s healed sufficiently for doctors to give him the go ahead to wrestle again. He’s also said he’s “at peace” with the possibility he might not get that go ahead.

While chatting with Ariel Helwani on The MMA Hour today (July 27), E reiterated that he’ll cross that bridge when he gets to it in the spring of 2023. But he did go a little deeper into what and how he’s thinking about with regards to the decision he might have to make:

“That [whether he thinks he’ll ever wrestle again] I’m unsure of. I’ve also talked to a couple doctors who told me, ‘Hey, if you break this again, it could be even worse. It could be even more catastrophic,’ and these are spine specialists.

“I also think — I had this sobering moment where I was in the hospital, and I’ve been an athlete my whole life. And it’s all I’ve known, and it’s what I’ve loved, but when they asked me my medical history, the first 18 years of my life — completely fine. But since then, I tore my left ACL playing college football at Iowa, tore my right ACL almost a year to the day, I’ve torn my left pec, I’ve torn my right meniscus — sorry, left meniscus — broke my right patella. While wrestling, I’ve herniated discs in my lower back, had the herniated discs in my neck, and also now I have a broken neck in multiple places.

“So, I’ve just put my body through a lot. I got hired at 23. When I was 23, you know, you just have a different perspective on life. And also I just had a lot of struggles with my mental health as well. I think — not that I had a death wish per se, but I think there was a time in my life that if I died in the ring? Cool. I got to do what I loved and I went out in the ring.

“But now at 36, after working through a lot of those things, after being mentally healthier. Man, this job has allowed me to meet so many different people from so many walks of life and have so many different experiences, and now — I don’t know, man. I think of life after 36, and I see so many of the guys I grew up watching in wrestling. I think too of the athletes that I love who participated in MMA, or were boxers and you see them at 50, and you see their body ravaged. And that’s not the life that I want.

“My hope is — I feel great now. And I’m grateful for that. But to keep miles and damage on my body? That’s something I have to think about, and I feel like I have a lot more to live for now than I did years and years ago. Or at least now, I have a lot of things that I want to do in my life. So that’s something that I’ll have to think about.

“But again, I’m not gonna make any decisions any time soon. I have to weigh the damage that I’ve already done to my body.”

It’s a thoughtful answer to a huge decision. We’ll see where E is with it when he talks to the docs eight months from now. He’ll be working for WWE at the SummerSlam tryouts for college athletes in Nashville this week.

Check out his entire conversation with Helwani, where he also says that winning the WWE title five months before suffering the broken neck helps with being okay if his in-ring career is over, here.