WWE Hardcore Truths: The Cost of a Brutal Reality

Jon FisherCorrespondent IIMay 18, 2012

Adam Copeland – Broken Neck and cervical spinal stenosis.

Mick Foley – Multiple concussions

Sabu – Serious back injury.

Barbed wire, thumbtacks, flaming tables, ladders, chairs, tables.

The aforementioned accoutrements once used normally by the WWE are relative to the type of match we “marks” like to call hardcore matches. This is when red is a more natural color than white and often times men are putting their lives at risk.

It dates back earlier than Extreme Championship Wrestling—Funk and Foley were a part of “I Quit” matches in the late 1980s with the WWF and NWA. Through the next 12-15 years, the fans have grown a strong connection with the hardcore style of wrestling. What the fans didn’t know however, is how dangerous and barbaric it was.

Vince McMahon sided with the hardcore style just about six to seven years ago for obvious reasons, yet fans claim they want more Attitude Era aspects. It is all about the Attitude Era.

The Attitude Era brought excitement and characters, but the safety for the wrestlers was not at its peak.


When safety is not a top priority, injuries and long-term complications start to arise. In the research I have compiled, it is placed in three categories: cosmetic, psychological and internal (hernia, torn ligaments, broken bones, etc.).


Razor blades, blood and all of the items used above were used to entertain the masses. The more blood, the better the action. Fans don’t realize however that with blood loss comes a lot of complications.

If too much blood is lost, according to the American College of Surgeons’ Advanced Trauma Life Support (ATLS), it is broken down into four categories.

  • Class 1 Hemorrhage: Up to 15% blood volume. No actions necessary.
  • Class 2 Hemorrhage: Up to 15-30% blood volume. Skin may start to look pale and be cool to the touch. The patient may exhibit slight changes in behavior. A patient is often tachycardic (rapid heart beat).
  • Class 3 Hemorrhage: Loss of 30%-40% blood volume. Patient’s blood pressure drops, heart rate increases, mental status fluctuates and blood transfusion is necessary.
  • Class 4 Hemorrhage: Loss of >40% blood volume. The limit of the body’s compensation is reached and aggressive resuscitation is required to prevent death.

Fans don’t take into account the long-term problems of bleeding and cosmetic injuries. For example, the Cena/Lesnar match could have gotten out of hand. Even backstage, people were worried about the blood loss of John’s head.



Concussions rule this portion of hardcore wrestling effects. Granted however, this injury could happen occur in any standard wrestling match. I will focus on the hitting to the head with chairs, ladders and tables.

Concussions occur when the head is violently struck with another object such as a steel chair. It is defined as a head injury with temporary loss of brain function and it can cause physiological, cognitive and emotional symptoms.

They occur in all sports, just ask Sidney Crosby and former NFL players who ended up committing suicide (Junior Seau, Dave Duerson) possibly due to the effects of Post-Concussion Syndrome.

Often worse than the actual concussion, PCS is a set of symptoms people experience days, weeks, months and even years after their initial concussion. They range from headaches, to not being able to drive and even fatality. Mick Foley tweeted a couple of weeks ago that he can’t look at his phone at a good rate any more due to his concussions.


This is the most broad and general set of injuries in professional wrestling. Broken bones, torn ligaments, sprained muscles and many more can occur in hardcore matches. Ladders, tables, steel cages and about anything can happen in a wrestling match.

Edge broke his neck in a ladder match. This injury alone eventually led to his condition that put him out of action forever. He now has cervical spinal stenosis.


According to Louie Babcock's article on Edge’s injury, “CSS is an abnormal narrowing of the spinal canal, at the cervical level. Long-term complications can range from constant pain, tingling sensations almost daily and even paralysis. ”

“With CSS, the spinal cord is essentially being pinched by the narrowing of the openings of the vertebra in the neck. This is a very serious condition that will alter the way a person lives the rest of their life,” said Babcock.


Hardcore wrestling has a laundry list of problems stemming from a fallacy of excitement. It is a harsh reality that will never be understood by some people. Danger is not fun. The hardcore title should never be brought back. Matches like Cena/Lesnar is okay very rarely. Even though it was mild, Cena lost a lot of blood.

It costs too much to ruin some human’s reality. Brutal, but true.