Wrestling fans everywhere are thrilled that Jerry "The King" Lawler is expected to make a full recovery from the heart attack he suffered last week on RAW, but the incident left many wondering whether or not it is a good idea for WWE to allow older wrestlers to compete.
Lawler suffered the heart attack last week while commentating during a match between The Prime Time Players and Kane and Daniel Bryan, but he also wrestled earlier in the night as he teamed with Randy Orton to defeat CM Punk and Dolph Ziggler.
It's unclear whether wrestling had anything to do with Lawler having a heart attack, but he is 62 years old and strenuous physical activity tends to catch up with people of that age. At the same time, though, Lawler has been wrestling since 1970 and should know better than anyone what his body is capable of handling.
According to Dave Stubbs of the National Post, Lawler underwent surgery to clear several blocked arteries, so it's hard to say if the wrestling had anything to do with his heart attack. Perhaps Lawler stepping into the ring exacerbated things and sped up the process, but if his arteries were clogged it was only a matter of time before he had a heart attack anyway.
With that said, I don't feel like WWE should necessarily put an age limit on its wrestlers or anything to that effect. Prior to the discovery of the clogged arteries, Lawler was considered to be exceedingly healthy for a man his age and his athleticism is evident as he executed a dropkick on the night of the incident.
Nobody could have expected that Lawler was actually in severe danger, so you can't really blame the WWE or Lawler in this situation. Rather than overreacting to King's misfortune and banning older wrestlers from competing, WWE can use it as a reason for improving the safety of its performers.
If someone like Lawler is scheduled to compete, then perhaps they should have to undergo a thorough physical examination beforehand. Had that been the case with Lawler, then the clogged arteries likely would have been discovered ahead of time, so he could have had preemptive surgery rather than what became life-saving surgery.
Not only should older wrestlers have to get a clean bill of health before competing, but every superstar and diva would probably benefit from more frequent and in-depth physicals. These men and women put their bodies on the line every day, so you never know what types of ailments they may be suffering from.
Semi-regular physical examinations could help treat those problems and prevent them from getting worse as well. Anyone Lawler's age could have had a heart attack that night whether they were competing or not, so being cautious is the answer rather than being reactionary.
It's not as if 62-year-olds are wrestling for the WWE all the time, so I don't really consider this to be much of an issue. Lawler had been wrestling much more than usual due to his mini-feud with Punk, but the WWE isn't going to have to flip things upside down in order to carry on.
There are times when having an older wrestler compete is needed and it adds to the product, so WWE should continue to utilize veteran performers in such situations. Lawler's heart attack has definitely brought the health of older wrestlers to WWE's attention and, because of that, we're likely to see an even safer work environment moving forward.
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