Sometimes independent wrestling can be one of the greatest things in the world. Sometimes it can offer some of the best matches, some of the most amazing finishes, some of the just plain most entertaining moments you can ever imagine. And sometimes it all comes with a darker side.
In early 2013, long time independent star Allison Danger announced her retirement during Shimmer’s Wrestlemania weekend show. She would compete in just a few more tag matches for the company during their April tapings in Berwyn, Illinois before ending her career forever. She walked away not because of a desire to move on, but instead because, as she discussed on the Ringbelles podcast, she suffered a minor stroke. Lesions on her brain mean more strokes in her future, most likely a result of far too many concussions in front of far too few fans.
On August 3, BJ Whitmer faced off with “The Prodigy” Mike Bennett in a first round Ring of Honor World championship tournament match. During the match, a planned bump on the ring apron was botched by both men. Whitmer’s head went straight into the solid edge of the apron and he was left unable to move. Whitmer suffered a potentially career ending injury. He continues to make public appearances, but his wrestling future remains in question for the foreseeable future.
These are just two examples of long time independent stalwarts with careers in danger because of shady spots and dangerous moves. They are far from the only ones.
Independent wrestlers tend to start young. Young men and women often come to the sport with a feeling of invincibility and the idea they can do anything. They put their bodies in the line of spots they shouldn’t, often with little or no pay as a reward. Some might hope it will get them noticed by WWE and TNA, but far more just do it to get the recognition of the few hundred fans in attendance.
Independent wrestling is often times amazing, but independent wrestling also needs to be smart. It doesn’t matter if it is local Iowa feds like Impact Pro Wrestling or Scott County Wrestling, or feds with national ownership like Ring of Honor, big spots should always be tempered with a loss/reward mentality. If not, these small companies invite the attention of local athletic committees and higher regulation, moves that would probably put many out of business. More over, dangerous moves ultimately could result in shortened careers or lives for young wrestlers entering independent wrestling & looking to top those that came before them.
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