Seth Rollins: Not Dangerous Just Unfairly Maligned
The WWE and an elementary school recess yard have more in common than you would think.
Both are exercises in controlled chaos; moments in time where anarchy and pure energy turn into something constructive. The best spots are often decided through a mix of bizarre social hierarchy and favoritism from those in power. The class favorite getting the best, newest ball or toy shares far too many similarities to Roman Reigns and his anointed spot as heir apparent.
The largest similarity of all is that mistakes happen, people get hurt, and accountability must come from somewhere. Summerslam saw yet another moment in the career of Seth Rollins where his propensity for in-ring recklessness resulted in an avoidable bump and a gruesome injury that didn’t need to occur.
In this instance, Seth Rollins is like that kid everyone knew who ran around the school yard, screaming and jumping off benches as teachers stare with bated breath, waiting for something bad to happen.
In a year that has seen numerous shoulder separations and meniscus tears, Finn Balor is yet another victim of a dangerous move that has the potential for real damage. As aesthetically pleasing as the buckle bomb -- Rollins’ running toss powerbomb, traditionally done into the turnbuckle -- is, the move has a wide array of variables and largely takes control of the point of impact out of the hands of the wrestler on the receiving end.
The odds for injury are even higher, given that the buckle bomb is a rare move that requires impact from multiple critical body regions, including the back, neck, shoulders, and spine.
I knew Balor was hurt as soon as he hit the barricade during the Universal Title match at Summerslam. His shoulder took too much of the impact, and no amount of padding was going to keep the Demon King from injury.
As reported by Balor himself this week, the injuries sustained were far worse than imagined. On the August 31 edition of Jim Ross’ podcast ‘The Ross Report’, Balor reported the change to his original diagnosis, saying that the prospective 3-6 month recovery time was now looking like potentially six months or more.
As far as difficult recovery times go, torn labrums rank up there, with typically a nine-month minimum.
This is another moment where fans, reporters, and armchair bookers are all debating on whether Rollins is at fault for the injury. On one side, we are talking about paid professionals who all too well know the risks of their vocation; Rollins especially, thanks to his freak knee injury last year.
The other side of the argument compels that Rollins should know better, and that yet again he used a reckless move that was more about looking cool than protecting his co-worker. Comparisons to a similar situation with Sting from last year’s Night of Champions event are hard to avoid.
There’s a third side to all this that I argue for, and it’s one that takes the blame away from Rollins, Balor, the buckle bomb, and any other variable. WWE as a corporate entity is at fault, and a lack of accountability is to blame.
When children get hurt or cause damage in a schoolyard, it usually isn’t the child at blame, but the adults who were supposed to be in a supervisory position. While the metaphor is simplistic, the same logic applies. WWE failed, yet again, to take the best interest of its performers to heart and Finn Balor paid a heavy, emotionally draining price.
WWE should hold its road agent staff, talent, and writers accountable for placing a performer in such a dangerous situation. In a week where we’ve seen a worked shoot from The Miz in regards to working a safe style and witnessed Brian Kendrick plant Japanese sensation Kota Ibushi with an absolutely brutal burning hammer, this is as good a time as any to talk about the company’s role in performer safety.
In the case of The Miz, he’s correct in pointing out that the style he works is specifically because he wishes to avoid injury. In many ways, his style is a throwback to the 80s WCW style that Steve Austin waxed poetic about each week on his podcast; work smarter, not harder.
On the flip side, Kendrick using the famed burning hammer was a case of two experienced performers using the safest possible version of a notably dangerous maneuver, using the spot as a crescendo of violence and playing a part in the story of Ibushi’s neck damage.
The buckle bomb was neither of these things and done for the sake of having a big, shocking moment. WWE is excellent at creating memorable moments for the sake of memorable moments. Look no further than Lesnar breaking the streak or Zack Ryder winning the Intercontinental Title at WrestleMania.
Most fans won’t remember that Ryder lost the title the very next night or that Undertaker was peeled off of the wrestling mat and taken to a local hospital. Yet, WWE got their memorable moments that never led to anything more.
The buckle bomb and Balor’s injury already fall into that category. Teary-eyed video of Balor giving up the belt play on RAW, focusing on a moment for the sake of the moment, all with no real point or purpose.
If WWE is going risk the wellbeing of their performers, then it should mean something. Mick Foley’s fall off the Hell in a Cell had purpose. Steve Austin’s crimson mask at WrestleMania against Bret Hart had meaning. The buckle bomb was just another moment that WWE wants to shout out to social media, all in the hopes of garnering attention from an audience segment that either doesn’t care or cares little about wrestling.
Yet, this won’t be the last time. The energetic kid will inevitably jump and fall again and we’ll be right back here, having the argument about who is responsible for injuries in professional wrestling. My hope is that when that time comes, WWE has learned that these risks don’t have to occur at every event, and that shock value can have a purpose outside of a hashtag.