Three pro wrestlers are adding on to the lawsuits currently being leveraged against WWE for head injuries and long-term physical damage. Ryan Sakoda, Luther Reigns, and Big Russ McCullough are suing on behalf of all current and former employees, asking for damages, and an injunction against “brutality:”
The lawsuit — obtained by TMZ — claims the WWE, “under the guise of providing ‘entertainment’ …. has for decades subjected its wrestlers to extreme physical brutality.”
The suit acknowledges wrestling is scripted but nonetheless unrelentingly brutal, claiming “WWE is in the business of selling violence.”
The legal docs chronicle various matches in which wrestlers were destroyed. It mentions the 2014 Royal Rumble, in which one wrestler “demolished another with a series of brutal steel chair attacks,” and the docs refer to “the carnage created by the match’s victor.”
The lawsuit gives an interesting inside look into wrestling, saying the goal of the WWE is to elicit “heat,” meaning heightened violence with the use of various props, including chairs, ladders and tables. The suit singles out various moves, including the Brain Buster, Bulldog, Cobra Clutch Slam, Facebreaker, Jawbreaker and Powerslam. It singles out the chair shots to the head, which was banned in 2010.
The suit claims, “The WWE coerces its wrestlers to work while they are injured by, among other methods, threatening to strip them of their position within the organization if they refuse.” It says they are “universally encouraged to ‘wrestle through the pain.'” – TMZ
These three aren’t the only ones currently involved in legal battles against WWE. Former pro wrestler Billy Jack Haynes filed a 30-page lawsuit against WWE, claiming that he now suffers from depression and symptoms of dementia as a result of WWE failing to protect their workers from risk of head injury, as well as not properly educating them on the long-term consequences.
WWE issued the following statement in response to Haynes, and will no doubt be issuing a similar statement on this new lawsuit soon:
“Billy Jack Haynes performed for WWE from 1986-1988. His filed lawsuit alleges that WWE concealed medical information and evidence on concussions during that time, which is impossible since the condition now called chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) had not even been discovered.
WWE was well ahead of sports organizations in implementing concussion management procedures and policies as a precautionary measure as the science and research on this issue emerged.
Current WWE procedures include ImPACT testing for brain function, annual educational seminars and the strict prohibition of deliberate and direct shots to the head.
Additionally, WWE has committed significant funding for concussion research conducted by the Sports Legacy Institute (SLI), leaders in concussion research, and WWE Executive Vice President Paul Levesque sits on SLI’s board.” – WWE
It’s important to note that the effects of Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (the progressive, degenerative brain disease seen in athletes with repeated concussions) are widely documented, but until recently, it wasn’t thought possible to diagnose in living patients.
Haynes also claimed that he contracted Hepatitis C from his opponents during bloodied matches, and he demands more than $5 million.