WWE’s annual crash carnival, Money in the Bank, is in the books. After a solid night of action that included two ladder matches and several nerve-racking spots, no one was injured, sort of, according to Chief Content Officer Triple H (Paul Levesque):
“Happy to say that the only injury tonight was, and I’m not even going to say who it was because I don’t want to embarrass them, but the only injury tonight was somebody on their way back from the ring after having done basically nothing, rolled their ankle on the walk back. So a wonderfully successful night. And more importantly than that, everybody’s healthy.”
Before this event, I caused a slight uproar when I took All Elite Wrestling to task for allowing wrestling icon and senior citizen Sting to take a death-defying leap on Dynamite. Some readers mistook my words as part of some WWE versus AEW rant, which wasn’t my intention.
In 2015 Mexican wrestler Perro Aguayo Jr. died after a routine spot went wrong. It was a tragedy and a risk that comes with the territory.
But that risk isn’t exclusive to professional wrestling; it extends to all sports.
Over the years, whether for good publicity, to protect their investments, or both, sports leagues have made great strides in making athlete safety a top priority. That includes upgrading player equipment, improving medical personnel, and updating the rules to make games safer.
Yet, in pro wrestling, it’s still very much the Wild West. And I don’t get that. I’m not calling for wrestling to return to a bygone era where ten-minute chin locks are the norm.
At the same time, is it necessary to have tables, ladders, kendo sticks, and God knows what else involved in every show for nearly every match? What’s wrong with dialing it back or eliminating some of the outlandish hazards associated with today’s product?
According to some, that would make wrestling boring. Well, if that’s true, explain to me how the main event of Money in the Bank was a standard tag team match as opposed to the gimmick bout the event is named after.
Never mind, I’ll answer that myself.
That’s because compelling stories and characters in exciting matches with good pacing still sell. A lack of stunts won’t kill anyone’s enjoyment. What it will do, however, is decrease the chance of injury, like the injury we almost saw when Ricochet and Logan Paul attempted an off-balance Spanish Fly through a table.
Again, thankfully no one was injured. But WWE would have deserved every bit of bad press it would have received had things gone worse for Paul. And the tone of this article would be drastically different than what you’re reading now and have read from me in the past.
Despite being a young, phenomenal athlete, Logan Paul has wrestled less than ten times. And yet he’s allowed to take crazy bumps that take many wrestlers years to master. That’s gross mismanagement.
And while I’m sure Paul is okay with it, that’s not the point. Sometimes, performers need protection from themselves. It’s why referees in MMA call fights off when the fighter’s health is questionable. So yes, all wrestling promotions should be reining in their horses.
In closing, I want to respond to Triple H’s comment about the risks associated with a match like a Money in the Bank ladder match:
“We hold our breath on events like this for everybody. You know, there’s, there’s the risk-reward ratio of what you’re doing, and you hold your breath as the Money in the Bank ladder matches take place and the high-risk moments and things that you know are going to happen.”
Wow. Hold their breath. That’s a fantastic company policy. Sure, it’s not quite as good as the old hope in one hand and spit in another and see which gets filled faster guideline, but hey, it’s better than nothing.
There is no reward worth the risk. Again, the most mundane aspects of wrestling can be life-changing, if not life-ending. Because of that, it’s unnecessary to continue doing spots and matches that are glorified stunt shows without a net.
And it’s why the so-called industry leader should do a lot more than its executives holding their breath.