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AEW roster beset by rash of injuries: Just coincidence, or disturbing trend?

Chris Graham
Jon Moxley Hiroshi Tanahashi
Jon Moxley works a headlock on Hiroshi Tanahashi. Photo courtesy All Elite Wrestling.

AEW is in the midst of what you see happen to your favorite sports team from time to time: an injury bug.

Name the sport, the team, and it’s been hit by the bug. The wear and tear that comes with playing, practicing, training, traveling, living, manifests itself in injuries, and sometimes, just by the math, they can accumulate.

That said, man, AEW is dealing with more than its fair share right now.

World champ CM Punk was injured four days after winning the title, apparently from a stagedive into the crowd to celebrate with a group of fans.

Top contender Bryan Danielson is out with an undisclosed injury, presumed to have been a concussion, a scary prospect considering Danielson’s history with concussions that forced him to the sidelines for four years before his return in 2018.

Another top contender, Adam Cole, suffered an apparent concussion in last night’s IWGP four-way world title match at “Forbidden Door,” leading to an awkward rushed conclusion.

Then there’s “Jungle Boy” Jack Perry, out with a shoulder injury that appears to have been the reason that AEW decided to take the tag belts off the Jurassic Express.

Tag title contenders Matt and Jeff Hardy are out with injuries (and Jeff’s stint in rehab for substance abuse issues).

Former world champ Kenny Omega has been out since last November to heal up from myriad injuries.

Also on the IL: TNT champ Scorpio Sky, Buddy Matthews, Kyle O’Reilly, Anthony Bowens, Leyla Hirsch, Red Velvet, The Bunny.

FTR’s Dax Harwood left last night’s Ring of Honor-IWGP tag title unification match midway through to get taped up for a shoulder injury before returning. His status is unknown.

Jon Moxley, who won the interim world title last night at “Forbidden Door,” told the live crowd after the show that he had been “probably concussed” in his match with Hiroshi Tanahashi.

The less rigorous AEW schedule is a selling point, giving wrestlers the chance to make a good living at pro wrestling without having to travel five, six or seven nights a week like is asked of performers in WWE and the indies.

The balance to that is the Americanized high-flying “strong style” adapted from the company’s sister promotions, New Japan and Mexico’s AAA, which exposes wrestlers to hard blows and bumps and falls from great heights onto the mat and onto the floor (and the occasional table or set of ringside steps).

As exciting as it is to watch, it’s obviously taking a toll on the roster, and unlike with your favorite sports team, there’s no offseason in pro wrestling, with TV shows on 52 weeks a year.

At the least, AEW needs to figure out strategies for giving talents time out of the ring and off the road to let them rest up and heal up without having to wait for an injury to give them that excuse.

More to the point, maybe also dialing back on having every match featuring multiple dives to the floor, throws and suplexes from the ropes and potatoes would make some sense as well.

Chris Graham

Chris Graham

Chris Graham, the king of "fringe media," is the founder and editor of Augusta Free Press. A 1994 alum of the University of Virginia, Chris is the author and co-author of seven books, including Poverty of Imagination, a memoir published in 2019, and Team of Destiny: Inside Virginia Basketball’s Run to the 2019 National Championship, and The Worst Wrestling Pay-Per-View Ever, published in 2018. For his commentaries on news, sports and politics, go to his YouTube page, or subscribe to his Street Knowledge podcast. Email Chris at [email protected].