Big E suffered a fractured C1 and C6 vertebrae on the March 11 episode of Friday Night SmackDown and has been gradually recovering ever since. He didn't require surgery thanks to a lack of damage to his spinal cord and no longer requires a neck brace, but the future of his pro wrestling career remains uncertain. He spoke with Ariel Helwani this week and further mulled over the possibility of hanging up his boots. With a WWE Championship reign and eight tag team championship reigns with The New Day, E could retire right now and already be one of the most decorated stars of his era.
"I also think — I had this sobering moment where I was in the hospital, and I've been an athlete my whole life. And it's all I've known, and it's what I've loved, but when they asked me my medical history, the first 18 years of my life — completely fine. But since then, I tore my left ACL playing college football at Iowa, tore my right ACL almost a year to the day, I've torn my left pec, I've torn my right meniscus — sorry, left meniscus — broke my right patella. While wrestling, I've herniated discs in my lower back, had the herniated discs in my neck, and also now I have a broken neck in multiple places," E said. "So, I've just put my body through a lot. I got hired at 23. When I was 23, you know, you just have a different perspective on life. And also I just had a lot of struggles with my mental health as well. I think — not that I had a death wish per se, but I think there was a time in my life that if I died in the ring? Cool. I got to do what I loved and I went out in the ring.
"But now at 36, after working through a lot of those things, after being mentally healthier. Man, this job has allowed me to meet so many different people from so many walks of life and have so many different experiences, and now — I don't know, man. I think of life after 36, and I see so many of the guys I grew up watching in wrestling. I think too of the athletes that I love who participated in MMA, or were boxers and you see them at 50, and you see their body ravaged. And that's not the life that I want," he continued. "My hope is — I feel great now. And I'm grateful for that. But to keep miles and damage on my body? That's something I have to think about, and I feel like I have a lot more to live for now than I did years and years ago. Or at least now, I have a lot of things that I want to do in my life. So that's something that I'll have to think about. But again, I'm not gonna make any decisions any time soon. I have to weigh the damage that I've already done to my body."
E will be involved in the WWE Tryouts taking place this week in Nashville ahead of Saturday's SummerSlam pay-per-view. Stay tuned for full coverage of the event from Nissan Stadium this weekend!