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There was a time, during the appropriately named Attitude Era, when you could barely get through an episode of Raw or Smackdown without seeing some poor, unfortunate superstar getting smacked in the head with a steel chair.
Fast forward twenty or so years, and the WWE's approach to its more 'violent' content is very different - and rightly so. Thanks to various studies into the effect of repetitive blows to the head, with specific concerns surrounding CTE, it's understandble that WWE seemingly walked away from chair shots to the head for good. However, recent WWE programming might indicate a change back to their old ways.
You think you knew them
Upon Edge's welcome homecoming to Monday Night Raw a couple of weeks ago - following his stunning return at the Royal Rumble - he was blindsided by an uncoiled Randy Orton, who proceeded to hit the Rated R Superstar with a 'Con-Chair-To' - a move we haven't seen in WWE in years:
Fast forward to the next week, as well as this past Monday's episode of Raw, and Matt Hardy found himself falling victim to the Viper's chair assaults two weeks in a row - the second attack proving particularly gruesome. It actually produced faces of horror with the audience in attendence:
Setting kayfabe aside for the moment, we're all well aware that Edge's or Matt's heads were not literally crushed between two solid objects. The move is designed to appear as violent and impactful as possible whilst protecting the 'victim' in question.
But still, given WWE's apparent desire to move away from chair shots to the head, presumably including the illusion of such assaults, is this a sign that WWE is beginning to re-introduce more violent elements into its weekly content?
For some, the above examples may seem a weak point. As I pointed out, it's clear there was never any direct impact to these two WWE superstars. But that doesn't mean the tides aren't changing on the issue.
One superstar who has experienced direct chair impact to the head on WWE programming in recent weeks is none other than Tegan Nox.
Nox, who has fought her way back through multiple injuries, recently competed in a stellar Street Fight match against Dakota Kai at NXT Takeover: Portland, which saw the two superstars inflict significant damage upon one another, including the following chair shot to Nox:
Again, the shot is not flush, but there's a definite connection between steel and skull. Given the rapid nature with which these instances have appeared and the lack of such instances over the past decade, is it fair to assume WWE are starting to take more risks when it comes to head shots?
Time will tell, but it might not be insane to assume WWE is attempting to bring back edgier content in order to out-perform their competitors - specifically AEW. Several months ago, the new wrestling promotion drew some criticism after Shawn Spears hit Cody Rhodes with a clean chair shot, legitimately splitting his head open:
AEW President Tony Khan quickly went on record saying the move was "a mistake".
While WWE may not be reaching this level of violence anytime soon, they may be beginning to move back in that direction.
What do you think? Are WWE becoming more lenient towards violent content? Or are the recent actions during some stories just a coincidence? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.