Lissa Druss Christman, a public relations representative for the promotion, says they usually have two doctors on staff for each show. According to Christman, R-Pro has not used stars that are over the age of 60 and has no plans on doing so.
“Veteran stars are still extremely valuable to the business, but not necessarily on an in-ring basis,” she said. “They are far more valuable in mentor, agent or managerial roles where their experience can be put to far greater use.”
Longtime Florida indy manager Fabulous Frank Munguia, also a promoter with (South Florida) FOW, believes having any kind of medical presence at indy shows is rare.
“It is something you would love to have as a promoter, but the cost makes it difficult,” he said. “Most independent promoters are struggling to just try to break even, so a large added expense like that isn’t economically feasible. It would certainly be great to have medical crews at every single little league or youth sport event, but the costs make it impossible to do so. We put ourselves at risk every time we get behind the wheel of a car. While it would be nice to have an ambulance following you on I-95 every day, obviously that can’t be done.
“Certainly, WWE has the means to provide outstanding medical crews, and it is great that they do so. Just like the NFL, where players are bigger, stronger and moving faster than players at lower levels, the WWE superstars are pushing their bodies to much higher limits than the independent wrestler who has a couple of matches a month. It is wonderful that the NFL and WWE are able to have the resources in place to protect their athletes.”
With the added risk, Munguia doesn’t think setting an arbitrary age limit for wrestlers to compete is required.
“The unique thing about pro wrestling is that the participants are engaging in sports entertainment, and the level of physical involvement can be controlled for each participant,” he said.
“Most of the veteran wrestlers have the experience and knowledge needed to entertain a crowd with a minimum of physical exertion. When fans come to see an aging legend at a show, they are mostly going for nostalgic reasons and have limited expectations as to what they will see in the ring.”
Munguia makes a valid point concerning Lawler.
“Given that Jerry Lawler’s heart attack seemed to be something that he was genetically predisposed to, it most likely would have occurred sooner or later, regardless of whether or not he was an active wrestler,” Munguia said. “The fact that it was probably expedited by him wrestling that night would have ended up saving his life most likely. Had he been anywhere other than the arena, he most likely would not have survived. The fact that he maintains excellent health and physical conditioning due to his ongoing wrestling career seems to be the prime factor behind what seems to be a very quick recovery he is making.”
Thanks to the medical expertise at Raw, especially Dr. Michael J. Sampson, who is WWE’s ringside physician, Jerry The King Lawler is alive.
“How many times in life are you sitting five feet from your doctor, from a doctor, when something like that happens? I think in any other place at any other time in the world, Jerry Lawler’s no longer with us,” Triple H said. “Dr. Sampson, our [WWE] doctor, to me is a hero, a lifesaver. He saved Jerry Lawler’s life. To see, at this point, the remarkable recovery that Jerry has made; and to see him at home; and to see him walking around like nothing happened is mind-boggling to me, because it was not what I was witnessing that night [at Raw in Montreal].