Concussion lawsuit should be slammed, says former professional wrestler
Lance Storm taking part in long-term study through Concussion Legacy Foundation
When done properly, professional wrestling should look violent, but actually be safe for the performers getting punched, kicked, body slammed and suplexed in the ring.
That's why former professional wrestler Lance Storm says a lawsuit filed against World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) by more than 50 former wrestlers is "frivolous" and "unfounded."
"At the end of the day, pro wrestling is designed to be a non-contact sport in a way," he told the Calgary Eyeopener.
"It's not a true competitive sport, it's a performance art and when you do the job properly, you don't actually hit people very hard."
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As well, many of those named as plaintiffs in the class-action suit — including former superstars like King Kong Bundy, Road Warrior Animal, Mr. Wonderful Paul Orndorff and Jimmy Superfly Snuka — only spent a portion of their careers with the WWE, said Storm.
"I've looked at the list and there's a few people that it wouldn't surprise me if they are suffering because they did a very reckless, dangerous style," he said.
"There's people on this list that are third generation, their grandfather did it, their father did it and they wrestled for upwards of a decade before they got to the WWE, I don't know how you can dump that on the company."
The NFL recently settled a similar suit for $1 billion and a group of more than 100 former NHL players are suing the league.
A pro wrestler for 25 years, Storm spent four years in the WWE and now runs Storm Wrestling Academy in Calgary, training the next generations of superstars. His latest class graduated Friday and Storm's school is fully booked until the spring of 2017.
During his career, Storm was never diagnosed with a concussion and he teaches his students to work the same way.
"I can think of one time that I banged my head really hard, that I'm like, that was probably a concussion," he said.
"I didn't suffer side effects from it, I guess I'm lucky I've got a hard head."
Even though he's never been diagnosed with one, Storm has been part of a long-term study on the effects of chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE, for the last eight years, run by the Concussion Legacy Foundation.
"I've donated my brain and my brain stem to them and I'm part of a legends study where each year I fill out an online survey then do a phone interview where they basically give me an impact test, which is what they do to determine concussion, whether you've recovered from one or not. It's an ongoing study to see if my mood changes, my memory, my cognitive function."
One reason he wanted to take part, said Storm, is because he's never abused alcohol or drugs, so will be a good baseline of sorts.
"There's a lot of drugs and alcohol involved in sport and we don't know what role that plays in addition to concussions," he said.
"They've got football players, they've got basketball players, they've got wrestlers. I was someone that never drank and never did drugs of any kind, so when they're doing this study, if my results are different than other athletes that suffered the similar physical symptoms, then perhaps the results could be compounded or due more to the drugs and alcohol and lifestyle of professional athletes."
With files from the Calgary Eyeopener