Randy Orton has had a somewhat lackluster return to WWE. After missing a significant amount of time due to a shoulder injury, The Viper squared off against Brock Lesnar in a bloody battle at SummerSlam. Since then, he’s, uhh, talked … a bunch? According to Dave Meltzer, the reason behind his absence from in-ring competition is incredibly concerning.
WWE was aware Orton had a concussion, and covered it up. Orton, likely to protect the company, also downplayed his injuries, even to friends and co-workers who were not aware of this. He was pulled from house shows, but was at television and kept from anything physical.
He goes on to explain that Orton’s head injury was caused by the repeated elbow strikes from Lesnar that ultimately led to the match being stopped. Orton wasn’t cleared to compete in time for Backlash, where he was set to wrestle Bray Wyatt. He’s still been doling out RKOs left and right, however, which to some is just as inadvisable as a full-scale wrestling match:
According to one doctor who is a concussion expert and some wrestlers who know the bump, they questioned allowing a wrestler not cleared to deliver an RKO.
Bret Hart, whose career for all real purposes ended due to a concussion, said, “Absolutely, he shouldn’t take any falls. The impact of any bump will pose problems. The brain is usually swollen and can’t be banged about.”
If your brain is still in the acute phase of a concussion, or you’re still recovering from the physical effects it’s had on your brain, any amount of bodily impact can worsen your symptoms, and put you at a high risk of second-impact syndrome. If you’re not even supposed to go jogging because it’s too much impact, then we’re gonna go ahead and say that jumping and slamming yourself down on your back is such a bad idea.
Orton is still scheduled for his WWE Live rematch against Brock Lesnar at the end of September. Given that recovery from a concussion is non-linear, and he’s clearly been less than careful during his recovery, it remains to be seen whether or not that will still go down. Given WWE’s recent focus on concussion strategies and awareness, if this is true it’s a horrifying indictment of an already broken system. But hey, it’s not like WWE has a terrible track record of career and/or life-ending brain injuries, right?