When you make your living feigning injury — regularly using stretchers and ambulances in the process — you can’t expect people to figure out on their own when the show ends and real trauma begins. Sunday night proved how much work both TNA and WWE have to do to create an acceptable protocol when a legitimate injury takes place during a show.
During Sunday’s TNA Against All Odds pay-per-view, Jesse Sorensen suffered a fractured vertebrae after taking a moonsault from Zema Ion while standing outside the ring. I’ve now looked at the footage of the incident more than once, and there was no way to immediately tell that Sorensen was really hurt. After checking on Sorensen, the referee went back into the ring and took about a minute and a half to count Sorensen out. He then went to check on him again, and only then crossed his wrists into an “X” to let the medical staff know that they needed to come out.
In the crazy wrestling world of worked shoots, we’ve seen refs cross their arms to make fans think someone got hurt. We’ve seen web reports and tweets talking of guys being hospitalized for further observation, when the only thing hurting were their shelved pushes. And backstage sources aren’t always reliable.
At a time like Sunday night, there is one, count them, one way to 100 percent confirm that what is going on is a real injury. An independent source needs to be able to contact the hospital the wrestler was taken to and have a member of the staff acknowledge that said wrestler was admitted.
I know this because of the other area I write about regularly — motorsports. During the final laps of the 2009 ARCA opener at Daytona, Patrick Sheltra was drilled in the driver’s side door and airlifted from the track. We were told on TV that Sheltra was being taken to nearby Halifax Medical Center.
Within an hour, I was talking to a member of the hospital staff, who confirmed both that he was there, and that he was going to be OK.
When I found out Sunday that Sorensen was headed to the hospital, all I wanted to do was find out the name of the hospital he was being taken to so that I could do the same thing I did in Sheltra’s case. There were folks online talking about how this could be a work, so obviously Dixie Carter’s tweets were not doing the trick.
I tweeted at Carter, e-mailed a TNA PR rep and called nearby Orlando hospitals. Nothing. Later in the night I texted a top TNA executive, with no success.
Unacceptable. TNA, like in the Sheltra case, needed to announce which medical facility Sorensen was in. And the company needs to have its talent sign off on a waiver permitting the company to give hospitals the OK to confirm the wrestler’s admittance.
Nobody needs a play-by-play of what tests Sorensen was undergoing. Unlike the Sheltra case, there wasn’t any information to give because nobody knew exactly what Sorensen’s condition was. But one independent report that Sorensen was admitted to a hospital would have put to rest any speculation that TNA was doing some kind of worked shoot.
This is a non-negotiable — unless you want to put away the neck braces and gurneys to tell a story and come up with something original.
Josh Stewart’s coverage of professional wrestling has appeared in several publications, including ESPN.com, Newsday and the Long Island Press. Follow him on Twitter @JoshNASCARWWE.