Written by Guest Contributor and podcaster extraordinaire, The Duke from Duke Loves Rasslin.
Billionaire Businessman Shahid Khan shocked the world when he announced he is the lead investor for the new Pro Wrestling Company All Elite Wrestling (AEW). The man who built a multi-billion dollar auto parts empire, owner of Soccer Team Fulham F.C. and owner of the Jacksonville Jaguars of the National Football League was now funding a Pro Wrestling company who many speculate will rival Vince McMahon’s World Wrestling Entertainment brand. With such high profile success in various businesses surely, Mr. Khan would apply lessons learned from them to All Elite Wrestling; right? Judging by the events of the past week, maybe not.
AEW held its first official Pay Per View (PPV) Event, Double or Nothing, Saturday, May 25th. The event was built as an official statement to the entire wrestling world that an alternative to the WWE was here and ready for the world to know it. During the very first match on the card, a Battle Royal, the most glaring statement made was that of eight unprotected shots to the heads of various wrestlers. In an era where major wrestling promotions are mandating unprotected headshots are prohibited, All Elite Wrestling separated themselves from the pack by giving off the impression headshots are not only acceptable but welcome. You get a headshot, you get a headshot; everyone line up for a headshot! What’s the big deal?
Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) is defined as a progressive degenerative disease of the brain found in people with a history of repetitive brain trauma (often athletes), including symptomatic concussions as well as asymptomatic subconcussive hits to the head that does not cause symptoms. Discussed most often in relation to NFL Players, CTE is considered responsible for increased rates of violence and suicide among athletes that experience repetitive brain trauma. For a guy that owns both a Soccer team and an NFL team, CTE isn’t a topic Shahid Khan is unfamiliar with, yet it appears to be a topic he doesn’t discuss often in public.
According to the Times-Union Editorial Board, Khan stated: “he was confident the league would do the right thing in regard to the mounting evidence that concussions were causing life-threatening injuries to NFL players.” Short and sweet right? That is literally the only quote on record and ever written regarding Khan’s take on Concussions and CTE. If Mr. Khan is so confident the league will do the right thing, where is his confidence in his own company, AEW, doing the right thing? Mr. Khan displayed an expectation the NFL will do something a company that he owns and that his son, Tony Khan, is President and CEO of, appear to have not maintained during the AEW Double Or Nothing Pay Per View. Is that responsible?
Is the desire to compete with WWE so strong Mr. Khan and his Son Tony are willing to allow the dangerous consequences that go along with repetitive brain trauma, especially from unprotected headshots? Getting bashed in the head with a trash can lid, a trash can or any other foreign object can and will cause a concussion. Ask a wrestler like Big Vito LoGrasso; someone who would take shots to the head on a routine basis during the height of his career. He and many others have been vocal about the difficulties they’ve faced as a result of the aftereffects of the countless concussions they’ve experienced from unprotected headshots. We can’t ask Chris Benoit, the wrestler that murdered his family and committed suicide, but we do know the trauma found from studying his brain showed he had CTE. That was from over 20 years of unprotected shots to the head. Is the potential for such tragedy worth flirting with for AEW Ownership?
One can hope the unprotected headshots during the Battle Royal at AEW Double Or Nothing were a one time mistake. When they debut their weekly TNT Network Television program, Tuesday Night Dynamite, hopefully, unprotected headshots will not be what they lead with. If they do? We will all have a front row seat to a company with so much promise and owners with so much capital being forced to pay for their lack of responsibility. Whatever happens, watch this space because you can bet there will be plenty to say about it.
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