Why chair shots to the head in the WWE will probably never happen again
If you’ve been a long-time fan of professional wrestling then you know that the WWE has made some drastic changes to how they protect superstars under their employ. Ever since the dawn of the PG Era, gone are the days of extreme violence and scantily clad women.
Along with the implementation of the WWE Wellness Policy in order to ensure the physical, mental, and emotional safety of WWE superstars, there have been some major rule changes regarding the use of props such as Tables, Ladders, and especially Chairs.
What are the changes?
Well, if you look at the official changes that the WWE implemented way back in 2010, this is what it says:
“In January 2010, WWE amended its Talent Wellness Program, specifically regarding the Impact Concussion Management Program originally instituted in 2008, eliminating the use of folding chairs or props to "strike" an opponent in the head.
Prior to this policy change, The Tables, Ladders and Chairs event in question took place on December 13, 2009. Incidentally, no performer suffered a concussion during the TLC event.”
And, this is what they had to say about chairs shots, specifically:
“The WWE has eliminated using folding metal chairs to "strike" an opponent in the head. The WWE penalizes through fine and/or suspension the following: The intentional use of a folding metal chair to "strike" an opponent in the head. Any blow to the head that is deemed an INTENTIONAL act. The fine and/or suspension will be directed by the EVP of Talent Relations.”
Just from the above, it is clear that chair shots to the head have been basically outlawed for the past seven years. But, what brought on these changes, exactly?
During The Attitude Era and The Ruthless Aggression Era, the WWE was very much into the massive levels of violence that today’s indie promotions are known for. Who can forget The Rock destroying Mankind with countless shots to his unprotected head? That incident drew the ire of the entire wrestling community against The People’s Champ.
And, who can forget the crazy hardcore matches involving thumbtacks, flaming tables, ladder shots and chair shots to the head? It seemed like you needed to have an insane match in order to get over with the crowd. But, all that changed one day in 2007.
If you look at the exact incident that sparked such a large-scale revolution in WWE superstar safety, you will find yourself arriving at The Chris Benoit Doubt Murder-Suicide. For those of you not in the know, Chris Benoit tragically killed his wife and son before taking his own life back in 2007.
During the autopsy, it was revealed that Benoit had the brain of an old man with Alzheimer's due to the recurring concussions he suffered over the course of his career. This is what made the WWE sit up and take notice of the concussion problem in WWE and is what directly led to the company embracing a new PG image.
The impact of the changes
Ever since the changes were implemented, chair shots to the head have become a rare occurrence indeed. Triple H and The Undertaker engaged in a few during their epic back-to-back Wrestlemania encounters at Wrestlemania 28 and 29 and they were both fined heavily for it.
This gives you an idea as to how strictly the WWE takes its stance on chair shots to the head. If the heir to the company and the greatest performer in the history of the company can be heavily fined, everyone else can at the very least expect a lengthy suspension and possibly even termination.
While some fans who look back onto the Attitude Era with fondness still howl for a return to the old days, one has to give credit to the WWE for taking its stance on superstar safety seriously. The change over to PG has helped improve the health of all the wrestlers across the board.
Why we don’t need chair shots to the head anymore
Something a lot of people seem to forget is that wrestling is about storytelling and not about violence. There is a reason the whole thing is scripted. A return to the days of immensely painful and concussion-causing chair shots will do nothing more than endanger the lives of performers.
The quality of wrestling today in the WWE is much better than what it used to be back in the days when stupid violence ruled the roost. The reason why fans pine for the days of The Attitude Era is because of the storytelling of that era.
It was much better than what is on offer today and if the WWE takes an active interest in improving the quality of their storylines as well as the quality of the promos, they can deliver a great product without the need for dangerous wrestling tactics.
We have already seen NXT do the exact same thing, after all. For all the trash we fling at the WWE, there is one area where they cannot be faulted and that is in the implementation of new and improved safety methods for in-ring performers.