Glad­i­a­tors shouldn’t be taken for granted

The Compass - - SPORTS - Ni­cholas Mercer Ni­cholas Mercer is a reporter and pho­tog­ra­pher with The Com­pass. He lives in Bay Roberts and can be reached at nmercer@cb­n­com­

World Wrestling En­ter­tain­ment’s Shane McMa­hon stood atop a mess of steel the busi­ness calls “Hell in a Cell.”

A 20-foot full en­closed steel cage that rep­re­sents pain and suf­fer­ing in the world of pro­fes­sional wrestling, the cell was in­te­gral in the match be­tween McMa­hon and the Un­der­taker at Wrestlema­nia 32 in Dal­las, Texas on April 3.

Cross­ing him­self, McMa­hon took one last look down be­fore putting his en­tire body on the line. In front of a hushed crowd of 100,000 peo­ple and change, he hurled him­self through the air to­wards a prone Un­der­taker, who was ly­ing on an an­nouncer’s ta­ble be­low.

Taker moved out of the way as McMa­hon crashed through the ta­ble and the crowd went ab­so­lutely in­sane. McMa­hon had fig­u­ra­tively killed him­self for their amuse­ment.

Pro­fes­sional wrestling lives off of stunts like this. Fans can’t get enough of men and women hurl­ing them­selves into sit­u­a­tions that can cause them im­mense suf­fer­ing.

They reg­u­larly break bones, tear mus­cles and bleed for the en­joy­ment of the fans. That in­cludes my­self. I’ve been a fan since the days when my dad would rent WWE tapes on the week­end and we’d watch them over and over when I was a child.

A fall like the one McMa­hon took changes a man. Pre­sum­ably, it rat­tles ev­ery bone in your body and has the po­ten­tial to re­sult in a pretty not-great con­cus­sion.

Your back feels bad for the rest of your life and the fall may have taken years off you. If they say tak­ing a sim­ple bump in a ring is sim­i­lar to your body go­ing through a car crash, what does fall­ing 20-feet or more mean for the body?

Now, the McMa­hon stunt doesn’t hap­pen ev­ery day in the WWE. In the last num­ber of years, they’ve out­lawed a num­ber of moves that they deem dan­ger­ous to tal­ents. Gone are the days where wrestlers would cut them­selves – a prac­tice called ‘blad­ing’ — to bleed as a piece of the story they try to tell in the ring.

They do ev­ery­thing in their power to en­sure the safety of the ath­lete. The ath­letes pro­tect each other in the ring.

But, ac­ci­dents hap­pen. So do in­juries. Most of us shrug our shoul­ders and laugh when some­one men­tions pro wrestling. It’s fake and a set-up are com­mon ex­cuses for the throw away at­ti­tude to­wards it.

The punches and kicks might be fake, but ev­ery leap from the top rope means a part of the body is go­ing go through hell in the near fu­ture.

Pro wrestlers are on the road the ma­jor­ity of the year. Ev­ery night is a new show in a new city.

Each show is another chance to in­jure them­selves. Even if they in­jure them­selves, chances are they’re work­ing through it. Why? If they don’t work, they don’t get paid. If they don’t get paid, they can’t pro­vide for their fam­i­lies. Re­spect them for that. Don’t cheapen what they do be­cause ev­ery­thing is show. Crash­ing to the mat isn’t a show. It does dam­age.

Why do we take for granted what they put them­selves through for our en­ter­tain­ment?

Ev­ery night pro wrestlers put their bod­ies on the line for us. You have to re­spect that.

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