Don't blame Samoa Joe or his Muscle Buster for Tyson Kidd's injury; blame the dangerous way that both men make their living.
Every pro wrestling contest requires great risks and puts the men and women in the ring in line for possible injury. That's the real reason for Kidd being out of action, leaving his future uncertain. To start pointing fingers at Joe and his finishing move is misguided.
After recent comments from Bret Hart, though, the NXT and WWE newcomer finds himself inserted more firmly into the discussion of why Kidd got hurt.
In Joe's first action on the main roster, he took on Kidd in a dark match during the Superstars taping on June 1. SuperLealBros posted a shot of the action on Instagram:
Joe hit his signature move, got the three-count and celebrated the win. Kidd, meanwhile, suffered on the mat as a result of a serious injury.
WWE was quiet about the incident, offering only a vague report on its official website. Writing for F4WOnline.com, Dave Meltzer reported that sources told him that Kidd had suffered "a spinal cord injury."
The incident came up in a recent interview with The Hitman. Hart told Sports Illustrated, "I don't know whose fault it is or why an injury like that happened, but someone is accountable."
Hart clearly places some blame on the move itself. He said later in the interview, when asked about Joe's Muscle Buster, "It's extremely dangerous." Hart then added, "The move that Samoa Joe did was reckless."
The Hall of Famer then compared it to Owen Hart breaking Steve Austin's neck with a reverse piledriver at SummerSlam 1997.
This is just emotion talking. Kidd is married to Hart's niece, Natalya, and has long been close to the Hart family. Kidd trained at the famed Hart Family Dungeon, and Bret has appeared on WWE programming alongside him.
Being that close to Kidd, it's understandable that Hart is so emotional about this.
Joe's Muscle Buster, however, is not especially dangerous. It is not on par with the piledriver that left Austin temporarily unable to feel his extremities.
That move has the attacker drop his opponent's head straight down. A slip-up in protection means a nasty collision between the crown of one's head with the mat. The Muscle Buster actually has more built-in safety measures.
Joe's arm protects his foe's neck. And he drops his victim more on their back than their head.
Besides, piledrivers have a long history of wrestlers needing medical attention afterward. That's not true for Joe's move.
As seen on Joe's CageMatch.net profile, he has 629 wins on his resume. He earned a good number of those victories with the Muscle Buster, and this is the first time a wrestler has come away from it with a spinal injury.
AJ Styles' finisher, the Styles Clash, on the other hand, has resulted in several neck injuries. Yoshi Tatsu was the latest wrestler to follow taking the move with a trip to the hospital, his neck breaking in two places. As Mike Johnson of PWInsider noted, "The injury is believed to have occurred after Tatsu took a Styles Clash wrong."
The Muscle Buster doesn't have that history. It doesn't need to be lumped into the same group as the Styles Clash or the piledriver.
And unlike the piledriver, it's not a move wrestling promotions have banned.
WWE itself reportedly don't believe that it was Joe's finisher or a mistake from Joe that led to Kidd's injury. According to the Wrestling Observer Newsletter (h/t Wrestling Inc), the injury is viewed as a fluke—not the result of a poorly executed move—and there is "reportedly no heat on Joe for the incident."
That's the way it should be. Joe doesn't have a reputation for being reckless. He doesn't have a track record of hurting his opponents.
To react to the incident with Kidd as Hart did is discounting the inherent danger that comes with action inside the squared circle.
It was a simple dropkick, a move done in virtually every wrestling match, that ended up taking Perro Aguayo Jr.'s life. As the Los Angeles Times reported, the last move the late luchador took before dying in the ring was a dropkick from Rey Mysterio.
That tragic moment was not Mysterio's fault, just as Kidd's serious injury is not Joe's doing.
With powerful men flying around the ring initiating collision after collision, misfortune is bound to happen. That's the case with Kidd. He is the victim of a fluke, not a treacherous move.