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WWE News: Charlie Haas tells his story on WWE release, describes WWE's handling of a serious neck injury

Aug 19, 2010 - 12:27:08 PM
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By James Caldwell, Torch assistant editor

haascharlie_1.jpg
Wrestling author Irv Muchnick published an important report on how WWE's medical team handled an injury to former WWE wrestler Charlie Haas earlier this year.

Haas, who was released in February, described WWE's handling of a neck injury he reportedly suffered during a match in January. An MRI revealed a "mild to moderate" herniation of two disks. According to Muchnick, Haas was told to "undergo physical therapy" or "consider major spinal fusion surgery."

The key passage in Muchnick's report reads:

Haas shipped the MRI images from his Dallas home to the Pittsburgh clinic of Dr. Joseph Maroon, WWE’s resident neurologist and medical director (who also works for the Pittsburgh Steelers and serves on the National Football League's now-discredited concussion policy committee).

In his only remark to me that could be termed directly critical of WWE, Haas said, “Maroon told me, ‘You had a stinger [a common and casual neck nerve irritation]. You’re good to go.’ And I’m thinking, ‘How can he make that diagnosis from Pittsburgh?’”

Haas had physical therapy but it didn’t take. On February 26, 2010, WWE cut him. He is a realist: he knows that he was always typecast as a “utility wrestler,’”technically skilled and able to make the top guys look good and to teach the younger guys how to work. As a non-main eventer, he was prone to release.


Considering Haas reportedly suffered the neck injury inside WWE's ring, WWE would be expected to foot the bill for medical costs, which former WWE CEO Linda McMahon has pointed out during her U.S. Senate campaign.

The New York Times reported in July: "While the company does not provide health coverage to its wrestlers, she said that it did pay for treatment of injuries that they sustained in the ring."

Caldwell's Analysis: Dr. Maroon's medical diagnosis that Haas simply suffered a "stinger" could be completely accurate. However, the fact that WWE would be required to pay for potential major neck fusion surgery for Haas when the "physical therapy did not take" brings up pertinent questions on Dr. Maroon's determination.

More questions arise when Dr. Maroon did not evaluate Haas in-person. Muchnick points out in his blog: "WWE over the years, depending on the whim of the moment, has been known to underwrite spinal fusion surgery for stars large and small, from Chris Benoit to Hardcore Holly to Steve Austin to Andrew 'Test' Martin." The over-riding question is whether Dr. Maroon's determination was an indirect cost-saving measure for WWE in this case. If anything, the story brings up questions on WWE's Wellness Policy and how they look after the health of their wrestlers.


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