Column: Piledriven: BJ Whitmer & The Case Of Banning A Move

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During a match against Mike Bennett, BJ Whitmer was injured after taking a piledriver on the ring apron. The piledriver has been banned by many companies. Some companies make it an unwritten, locker room rule to never do it. Meanwhile other companies make it a rule the moment you walk in to wrestle.

At one point, World Wrestling Entertainment banned the basic piledriver all together.

The issue with Ring of Honor, where this match took place, is that it is an Indy company that does not “hold back” performers. This is both a good and horrible thing. It’s good because matches can be more impactful, fast-paced, and in-depth. But the problem with it is due to the fact that so much is allowed, there is a bit too much that can go wrong.

The piledriver is considered dangerous to wrestlers due to the fact that it has injured several in the past. But the way it hurts them is interesting. It’s not so much how hard a person hits, although it does play a factor. The main issue is how it is executed and how it’s landed.

In the case of Bennett/Whitmer, the move was done horribly wrong in a very bad area of the ring. Whitmer will probably have some issues from the move, and many believe he just had a stinger from it. But the problem was how the move was done and how Whitmer’s neck and head hit.

From the video taken, you can tell that Bennett did not go back far enough. But Whitmer did not have his shoulders high enough to have them take most of the blow. As a result, the move hurt Whitmer.

Whitmer is very lucky. According to reports, he tested negative for a broken vertebrae. But he did rupture a disc. While nothing may be broken, the disc is important to the neck as it’s part of the important areas of the neck, as all discs are.

The problem Whitmer will have is clearance to get back in the ring. It is possible doctors will want him to stay out a bit to make sure nothing is going to messed up in the neck region. It’s hard to give a timetable on that as well; it all depends on how fast healing happens.

But the question comes down to, why is the piledriver still allowed in wrestling? And will ROH ban it now as a result of the Whitmer scare?

The neck is quite precious to the human body. It is made up of several muscles that help to keep the neck strong. The muscles around the neck for wrestlers do tend to be a bit bigger as they tend to be in good shape. As a result of his, they can be helpful for them when landing moves like a piledriver. The issue is that the neck is sensitive.

The muscles within the neck can be strained, pulled, and torn. Those with bigger muscles in the neck are lucky, but the moment those muscles give, severe problems can happen.

Now do keep in mind that fat in the neck is just that, and having a bigger neck due to fat and not muscle will not be protective. In fact, it could lead to other issues.

A few muscles that tend to be the most help for the neck are the trapezius muscle and the sternocleidmastoid muscle. Once these are penetrated enough, you’ll land into an Accessory nerve that goes up through the neck into the Vagus Nerve that connects the Spinal and Cranial roots.

The Vagus Nerve is quite important, as it’s the longest cranial nerve, extending from the brain cell all the way to the viscera.

It helps to regulate the heart’s beating, as well as affect blood pressure.

Not only that, but it also controls muscle movement, keeps a person breathing, and basically transmits several chemicals through the body. It is also responsible for keeping the digestive system working, as it contracts the muscles of the stomach and intestines to help process food. It then throws back information about what is being digested and what the body is getting out of it. On top of all of this, speaking problems can occur if damage happens to this nerve.

So you can see why nerve trouble in the neck can be an extreme issue with just the Vagus Nerve. Beyond that, there are several glands and parts of the neck that can cause immediate paralysis and other long term issues.

Whitmer noted that he had problems with temporary paralysis on his right side after the piledriver. This is most likely due to the jarring of the spine or vertebrae, and then it wore off as everything got back to working order. Once he stood up or was moved up, this may have given his body time to get going right. It allowed blood to move, muscles to contract, etc.

When I had a neck issue a while back after landing a bad move in wrestling, my neck was in fire for a minute, and I then could not feel my finger-tips on one side. I felt flush and had tingling up and down my arm. And I didn’t land with near the force Whitmer did. Nor did I fall on my head. I just simply jarred the neck and that caused me to move a certain way, thus creating more issues. Eventually it went away, but it was very scary to go through, not knowing what to do.

All of that being said I feel for Whitmer and could not imagine if it happened to me. That little for me got me to thinking immediately about why I did what I was doing. Whitmer does this as a profession, and it’s just part of his life to get hurt. But it’s not part of it to possibly never be the same person again.

A lot of talk will happen on his treatment. But I cannot recommend Chiropractic enough for body issues. Several athletes love them as they are considered almost instant pain relievers. No pills needed.

Chiropractic is considered a safe and helpful. The neck is considered a major component of the science and how it works. Due to this, they are able to properly adjust it to just the right place to where bones, muscles, and more can be in proper working order. However, they cannot repair nerve damage after it just happened. They can help to make sure more is not caused and curve some symptoms however.

My guess is that Whitmer will see a Chiropractor while on the road or while in recovery as they will be an essential part to the recovery.

Again, Whitmer is very lucky. But as you have just been informed, there is so much that the neck does. It’s as important as the head itself. In fact, it’s one of the first places messages to the brain go in and out.

Whitmer’s story could have been a story of what would have been. A young man with a lot of room ahead of him to improve and make something of himself in the industry goes down to a neck problem? That’s tough to see.

It’s sad that a move may be banned, but there are reasons for it.

The issue comes down to safety. I have been one of the several people who have come out saying that safety is good, but you only want to go so far with it. So trust me when I say I do not want people to wrestle with kid gloves.

The issue I have is that when it comes to the head, we’re all over making sure it’s safe. Yet we allow the neck to be in areas to where it can be exposed to unimaginable pain. This causes issues for the entire body just like a hit to the head could.

And the scary part is that it does not even matter about impact at times, but how you land that makes all the difference. So because of this, if the piledriver is allowed, it will have to be done by people who have been able to perfect it. I trust Jerry Lawler with it, I trust The Undertaker with it. But do I trust Mike Bennett, a guy who’s good but still learning? No.

So I think that needs to be put out there if we allow it to be done.

Considered to be one of the most dangerous moves ever allowed into the wrestling scene, the piledriver has it’s time and place to be used. But should it have been used as it was last night? Hell no. It was done in a bad area of the ring to begin with, which was irresponsible of both men.

Bennett obviously did not know how to do the move properly. He at least did not know how to land it in the part of the ring he was in. The landing was not executed well by Whitmer either. So this should have never been put in the match.

If it wasn’t, we wouldn’t be talking about Whitmer’s miraculous luck today.

Again, as stated above, so much can go wrong with one slip-up. Just one wrong move to the neck can cause problems that can never been recovered from. Just ask Kurt Angle, ask Steve Austin, ask Edge. All will tell you that neck issues are no joke. Austin will even vouch for the piledrivers killer instinct.

So again, is the piledriver even needed in the wrestling world anymore? I am all for safety. But we almost saw a young man lose his entire life over it. Thank God he’s going to be okay. But, was it worth it? The answer will continuously be a flat out, no.

But what do you think? Was the piledriver spot a good idea? Should the piledriver be banned, period? Let me know your thoughts below.

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