Thursday, September 13, 2012

It's Time For Wrestlers To Retire At 55

Going back and watching Jerry Lawler’s match on Raw was painful.

Knowing what was going to happen just a short time later makes you look for signs that something was wrong.

He actually seemed fine during the match.

In hindsight though, it makes you cringe. Lawler threw a dropkick, took some flat back bumps and received a jumping elbow drop to the chest from a 230-pound man half his age.

Should a 62-year-old man really be asked to do this?

Yes, Jerry Lawler agreed to be in the match. It was his decision. But he shouldn’t have been put in that position.

It’s not just the match itself. It’s the travel, it’s the stress and it’s the adrenaline being pumped through the body from the rush of being watched by millions of people on live TV.

That is taxing on anyone’s body, let alone a senior citizen's.

This also isn’t the first occurrence of an older wrestler having a health scare after recently wrestling.

Ric Flair at 62 tore his triceps in his last television match in TNA against Sting. Ricky Steamboat at 57 was sent to the hospital a day after taking a Nexus beatdown. Roddy Piper at 57 broke his neck in a charity match.

As the body ages, it becomes more susceptible to injury.

There has to come a point where it’s not worth the risk.

It's time for WWE to not let anyone older than 55 wrestle a match. Maybe that seems too old to some, maybe too young, but as a general rule that should be it for a wrestler's career.

Flair, Lawler and Terry Funk all wrestled decent matches in WWE in their 50s. They were still contributing to storylines and didn't embarrass themselves in the ring.

Around 55 though, the speed of a wrestler really becomes noticeable. After years of injuries, sometimes they struggle just to move. You can tell that their opponent has to handle them in an increasingly protective way.

It wouldn't be the first time that WWE stepped in for the well-being of their talent.

After years, WWE finally reacted to the insane number of wrestler deaths from drugs by instituting the Wellness Policy. It was long past due, but has probably saved a few lives along the way.

Since then, moves that are damaging to the head or neck have been pulled back. Chair shots have been banned, piledrivers are banned and on Saturday Morning Slam a wrestler can’t even throw a punch.

These are rules that stand to benefit the company's image and the well-being of wrestlers.

On Monday, WWE nearly had a beloved announcer/wrestler die on a live TV show.

An age limit inside the ring could help prevent future near tragedies from occurring.

Also, let's be realistic.

Besides the much more important health reasons for an age limit, from an entertainment standpoint, wrestling is based upon suspension of disbelief. It makes it harder to believe that the WWE Champion couldn’t beat a 60-year-old man within a minute.

This year in baseball, Jamie Moyer was the oldest pitcher to ever win a game. He was 49. He was released because time finally caught up to him.

NFL players rarely make it into their 40s, same with MMA fighters.

With wrestling predetermined, companies can mask a wrestler’s declining skills.

There comes a point though where it's best for everyone to just let a talent retire.

Yes, everyone ages differently. Jerry Lawler looks phenomenal for his early 60s, and no one expected him to have a heart attack during Raw.

But time will get everyone. It's inevitable.

It's time for WWE to realize that and institute an in-ring retirement age for their employees.

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