Randy Orton (L) congratulates Daniel Bryan (R) after tapping out to "The Viper" during their "Street Fight" main event on Monday Night Raw. Both wrestlers have been fined by the WWE for smashing chairs across each others head - violating the company's rules against such blows that could cause head injuries. (Photo : Youtube.com)
The WWE has fined both Daniel Bryan and Randy Orton smashing each other with chair shots to the head during last Monday Night Raw's Street Fight main event.
"We don't allow chair shots to the head in WWE," said COO Triple H in statement. "We understand it was in the heat of the moment but we take this very seriously and as a result, [Orton and Bryan] were fined."
The chair shot ban and the fines are all a part of the company's evolving stance on concussion prevention and treatment. Since May, Dolph Ziggler, Fandango, and Tamina have each suffered legitimate concussions during wrestling matches forcing them out of action.
As part of their new policy, no wrestler can come back to competition until they pass an imPACT test - which checks for a competitor's reaction time, memory, and brain processing in order to see if they are suffering from lingering effects of a concussion. WWE physician Dr. Chris Amann notes that the ImPACT Test is an effective tool to figure out if an athlete's brain functioning has returned to its normal, baseline state.
"It's a test that was developed several years ago by Dr. Joseph Maroon. It measures brain function such as memory, speed and recall," said WWE physician Dr. Chris Amann. "We use it as an extension of our physical exam when we're trying to determine if someone's brain function has been affected by a concussion, which is a trauma-induced changed in neurological status. In WWE, that is usually a result of some sort of head trauma."
The WWE also made a $1.2 million gift to the Sports Legacy Institute, a Boston non-profit developing treatment for Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) - a brain disease associated with repeated concussions that is linked to depression and dementia.
CTE has come under scrutiny as a result of lawsuits by more than 4,000 former National Football League players sued the league.
"I think it's such a huge concern for everybody right now in sports and in the military," Triple H said - in his real-life corporate role as executive vice president of Talent and Live Events - to USA TODAY. "As we learn more and more about concussions and what can become of it, I think it's a problem for everybody."
The Sports Legacy Institute was founded after former WWE wrestler and Harvard football player Chris Nowinski teamed up with Dr. Robert Cantu in an attempt to advance the study, treatment and prevention of the effects of CTE in athletes as well as the men and women who serve in the military.
The WWE's donation will be used by researchers at Boston University's Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy to investigate potential treatments for CTE.
Triple H notes that these changes in policy, such as banning chair shots and fining talent like Orton and Bryan for disobeying the ban, are what is best for the business and for the wrestler's long-term health. In 2011, the WWE roster went through 25 concussions out of 150 wrestlers. In 2012, that number dropped to 11.
"With us, we're making brands and we're making stars, and those stars are the most important thing we have," said Triple H to USA TODAY. "We can't just go buy a second-string John Cena and have them be on the show."