Russo is joined on today’s show by former WCW & WWE Superstar, Big Vito.
Russo points out that Vito’s concussion lawsuit with WWE was thrown out this past week. He points out that Vito’s wife has told him how much Vito struggles with headaches and other side effects as a result of multiple concussions that he suffered throughout the course of his wrestling career. He asked Vito when these side effects started to take a toll on his life.
Vito points out that coming up in the wrestling business in the early-mid 90s, most performers were very large and it was a physical affair having to get in the ring with those guys night after night. He admits that his understanding of a concussion at that time was in order to get concussed you had to get knocked out. There was a lack of understanding in terms of what a concussion was, and this led to a lot of performers suffering multiple concussions without ever really knowing.
Vito says that UFC fighters take some terrible blows during their fights, but they’re able to take multiple months off after each fight to recover. In the wrestling business performers don’t get time off, and these guys and girls are basically in a car crash every time they enter the wrestling ring. It’s only a matter of time before that physicality takes a toll on you.
Vito informs that over time he started suffering from terrible headaches and he knew something wasn’t right. He also noticed that he’d have random spurts of anger that he was unable to control. He went to the doctor and was told that he’s affected by CTE. He notes that while the constant headaches are terrible, the nightmares he has every night are nearly unbearable.
These nightmares are full of anger, aggression and physicality, and they often consist of people trying to kill him so he has to kill them in self-defence. He admits that some nights he wakes up in a pool of sweat because he’s actually kicking and punching in his sleep. He mentions that his doctor told him he could have had anywhere from hundreds to thousands of concussions throughout his wrestling career.
Russo says those dreams are terrifying. He points out that when he hears Vito describe those dreams, it’s impossible for him to not think about Chris Benoit. The disastrous actions of Benoit – which took the life of his wife and young son – were by all accounts completely out of character for Benoit, and it’s difficult to not think that the effects of CTE may have played a role in these aggressive actions.
Vito says that today’s performers really need to start take caring of themselves, and Russo agrees entirely. Russo points out that just this past weekend Cody Rhodes took a stiff kick to the head from Kenny Omega, busting him clean open. He notes that Rhodes usually works a safe style, but these types of shots to the head can have a lasting impact. He wonders what these guys are doing, noting, “This is a work. Take care of yourselves”.
Vito thinks he, and other people who stepped up to challenge WWE in this case have changed the industry, and have brought publicity to the negative effects that constant head trauma can have on the brain. He believes they’ve changed the course of the business in the sense that people are now clearly aware of the effects of CTE on the brain.
Speaking about Daniel Bryan’s return to the ring, Vito says he’s happy for Bryan and he hopes everything goes well, but he wonders if it’s worth it. He also wonders if brain injuries can ever really heal entirely, and he hopes that Bryan stays safe. He notes that Bryan has a great job with WWE regardless and a beautiful family at home as well, so he doesn’t want this return to the ring to result in more health issues.
That sums up today’s episode of Vince Russo’s The Brand. You can listen to the show yourself anytime here, and I’ll catch ya tomorrow for another recap!