WWE’s Holiday Gift: ‘Tables, Ladders, and Chairs’

World Wrestling Entertainment – company of once-and-future Senate candidate Linda McMahon – closes out 2010 with the charming annual pay-per-view event “Tables, Ladders, and Chairs.”

Let’s focus on chairs. Last year’s promotional video for the event featured wrestler Chris Jericho taking a chair shot to the skull, which released animated cuckoo birds encircling his head. But that was then – this is now. The promo for TLC ’10 shows cartoon stick figures going at it, but the chair shots are thoughtfully delivered below the neck.

WWE announced in January 2010, a convenient month after TLC ’09, that chair shots to the head were banned. This “evolving” standard was in tune with Linda McMahon’s flop of a Senate campaign.

Funny, but most of us had read Vince McMahon’s 2007 interview with CNN’s investigative documentary unit to mean that chair shots to the head were banned then. But I guess it depends on what the meaning of “is” is. (The same year, Vince and Linda’s daughter Stephanie, a WWE executive and the wife of wrestler Triple H, told Congressional investigators that she had never seen a WWE performer suffer a concussion in the ring.)

Meanwhile, in October 2008 another wrestler, Lance Cade, got nailed with a beautifully squared-up chair to the head on live television. Cade would die in August 2010 from “heart failure,” at age 29.

In Connecticut, Public Act 10-62, “An Act Concerning Student Athletes and Concussions,” passed earlier this year, has taken effect. The law requires coaches applying for certification by the state Board of Education (a body on which you may have noticed Linda McMahon serving in 2009-10, unless you blinked) to demonstrate that they have been trained in recognizing head injuries, and establishes protocols for the return to action of athletes so injured.

There were hearings for a similar federal bill before the House Committee on Education and Labor. I am trying to find out how that legislation’s prospects might be affected by the Republican majority in the House of Representatives in the 112th  Congress.

A September 23 news release by outgoing committee chair George Miller listed the National Football League among the supporters of the proposed law. World Wrestling Entertainment was not listed. WWE’s medical director, Dr. Joseph Maroon, works for both the NFL and WWE, but he told Pittsburgh City Paper last week that he thinks it’s still too early to say what the consequences are from the syndrome being called Chronic Traumatic Encephelopathy.

Irv Muchnick

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