According to a recently amended lawsuit against WWE, three more pro wrestlers have been posthumously diagnosed with CTE. In an updated complaint filed by lawyer Konstantine Kyros, former WWE wrestlers Jimmy Snuka, Harry “Mr. Fuji” Fujiwara, and Axl Rotten are named as suffering from CTE as a result of long-term neurological damage during their careers. Unlike the first two, Rotten’s diagnosis has been known since 2016.
WWE has responded by focusing on the integrity of Kyros, stating:
[Kyros] has been repeatedly admonished by the court for presenting false and misleading information, and no medical report was included in this filing. We will review the medical reports when they are made available to us and respond appropriately via the judicial system.
The civil suit alleges that “WWE has failed to warn, fraudulently misrepresented, and concealed from the Plaintiffs the nature and extent of the occupational long-term neurological injuries.” In the past, WWE has stated that they have not concealed medical information or evidence, because it “is impossible since the condition now called chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) had not even been discovered” during the career of previous plaintiffs.
With these latest additions, the total of former pro wrestlers diagnosed with CTE after their deaths rises to six, including Andrew “Test” Martin, Balls Mahoney, and, most infamously, Chris Benoit.
CTE is a neurodegenerative disease that develops from repeated instances of concussive and sub-concussive head trauma. CTE is a growing concern amongst athletes, with recent studies done by Boston University revealing that 96% of deceased NFL players examined suffered from CTE. Prior to their death, sufferers of CTE exhibited early indicators such as dementia, depression, anxiety, violent mood swings, physically aggressive outbursts, and in the case of a handful of NHL and NFL players, suicide.
The high-profile murder/suicide committed by Benoit in 2007 and his subsequent CTE diagnosis has had a lasting effect on WWE; they’ve since implemented much stricter policies and concussion management procedures. WWE now uses the ImPACT Test method for diagnosing concussions, and contributes funding to the Concussion Legacy Institute’s ongoing research. Triple H is also a CLI board member.
Pro wrestlers like Mick Foley, Kevin Nash, and Jeff Hardy have committed to donating their brains to the CLF for research after their deaths. Recently deceased wrestler Chyna has also reportedly donated her brain, which is important for studying both the long-term effects of pro wrestling, as well as trauma resulting from domestic violence.
You can read details of the lawsuit against WWE, as well as the full list of plaintiffs here.