But, WWE doesn’t likely make themselves happy by thinking such thoughts. And why should they? In less than a calendar year since the last WrestleMania, all major singles titleholders have changed. Every singles champion at the close of ‘Mania? Injured. Daniel Bryan hasn’t been seen in action since June. Nikki Bella just had neck surgery, and it’s likely too soon to say what her future holds. And Seth Rollins? He destroyed his knee in a match on the European tour, and isn’t expected back until the Summer. If you expand things a bit more, it gets even uglier. Bad News Barrett is on again/off again with the injuries, having lost his Intercontinental title due to one. John Cena, love him or hate him, took some time off and just returned, and is now off again due to an injury suffered as soon as he came back to active wrestling. Sheamus is having his issues, not long after a brief WWE title run. Sin Cara is on the shelf. The list goes on.
I’ve written before, and I am writing again, that perhaps WWE does need an off-season. Let’s be frank here. Every other major sport has an off-season. If you choose to argue that MMA and Boxing don’t, that is fine, I will grant you that. But, at the same time, neither of those combat sports have the same athletes putting on a show 5 and 6 days a week. Call wresting fake all you’d like, but unless you’ve gotten in the ring and taken bumps (I have) you can’t appreciate just how not fake it really is. Scripted? Yes. But even the simplest thing like running the ropes can leave marks, and if done wrong, can hurt. So, wrestling does need to consider some changes.
Option 1: Off Season for all.
This one, to me, seems unlikely. McMahon won’t want to shut his shows down for a month or two, and who can blame him. Where I think this SHOULD gain traction? Down periods, of a week or more, sprinkled into their calendar. Case in point would be between Christmas and New Years. It’s the major holiday season. Everyone is running “best of the year” type shows.¬† For that week or so, depending on how things fall, the entire crew should be off. But that’s just me.
Option 2: Rotating time off.
To an extent, this is in play already. Guys like Undertaker only work (for the most part) one season a year. Brock, Jericho and others are all on so-called “part time” deals. While that works for them, it means that other guys are full time and are subjecting themselves to the same wear and tear that has the grizzled vets wanting part time deals. With NXT doing well, and with roster depth in a really good spot, why can’t more guys be rotated in and out, but in a more structured fashion? Right now, we get those storyline injury write-offs, so that Orton or Ambrose or Kane can go off and film a movie or work on a side project. And it works, and I get it. But I believe that some time off should be factored in, regardless of whether that guy is working on a side project, or just wants to sit at home and play Dad for a month. Mind you, there’s no assurance that the time off will equate to healthier wrestlers; the case of John Cena shoots this down, as Cena was out for a few months before coming back and almost immediately getting injured. Regardless, I think a more structured time off plan would be great for business, and would help some guys who have talent but lack opportunity, get those opportunities.
Option 3: Make better use of roster depth
This is somewhat tied to Option 2, but I push it further here by saying that WWE should be aggressive in signing and using new talents. They took a long time to bring AJ Styles to WWE, and there was a noted reluctance by some to bring in TNA talents in general. That thinking is clearly no longer an issue, as WWE has Styles, Samoa Joe, Austin Aries and other alums working in both NXT and WWE. If you don’t want to give guys a month or two off per year, I get it. But with the guys you do have, you can have them work fewer matches. Sure, they’d still get the road trips and all, but they’d be taking fewer bumps. And that’s a good thing.
WNZ readers, do you think WWE can do anything to help reduce chances for injuries? Or are they basically a necessary evil that cannot be avoided?