In what is truly a testament to the elite level of execution it takes to be a WWE Superstar, there is an astoundingly low number of career-ending injuries that happen in Vince McMahon's ring. But in June of 2015, Tyson Kidd was one of the unlucky few.
In a dark match with Samoa Joe, Kidd suffered a severe spinal injury that needed staples, screws, and a metal rod to fix. In most cases, Kidd's injury leads to paralysis and even death. In an interview with the Kingston-Whig Standard, the 38-year-old detailed the night that ended his career.
"The night of the injury, it was just one of those days where the show was being changed — up to the last minute — but the show was being changed and the next thing I know it's me against Joe in a dark match," he said.
Kidd had recently bottled some momentum as he and Cesaro had just finished a brief run as Tag Team Champions. Joe was a wrestling journeyman who had been freshly promoted from NXT.
"I'd never worked Joe before. I'd of course seen him. I'm a student of the game, I've seen everybody. But I'd never physically worked him. When we landed on the Muscle Buster, I saw the whitest light I've ever seen. I thought it was a concussion for a second. I remember thinking, 'Man, I did this whole match, completely on the fly, I pulled it off and then I get rocked at the end.'" he said.
The move that did the damage was Joe's "Muscle Buster," a slam that didn't have much precedent in WWE and has yet to be used since Kidd's injury. For whatever reason, Kidd was out of place at impact, and the mistake was instantly magnified.
"I have a picture and I think my hands are in the wrong position compared to other ones I've seen. I wasn't able to run through it with him.
I drop, bang, and at first I saw this light and I was like, 'Ah, man.' And then my whole body went limp. It felt like it weighed a million pounds. I was completely paralyzed. I was paralyzed from the neck down," he said.
Despite being severely injured, the match was still not over until Kidd was pinned.
"We hit, however long it takes him to pin me 1, 2, 3, give it a beat and then I could move my fingers and toes. It was probably five or six seconds. But time stands still. I knew because I was being pinned, but in terms of sense of time, it was out the window. If it had just happened and I'm just laying there, I would have had no clue, but since I was being pinned, I know it was only a matter of several seconds," he said.
Kidd's partner, Cesaro, went to carry out his scripted duties.
"Cesaro goes to pull me out of the ring and I said, 'Don't touch me. I started to regain feeling," Kidd said. "It was kind of like if you've ever been hit in the chin and you kind of feel fuzzy, that's how I felt after. Finally, the feeling came back. Then I had the worst pain ever in my neck."
Kidd was transported to a local hospital but had trouble convincing medical staff that his injury was very serious.
"That might just have been me being sensitive because I was the one hurt," Kidd said. "I had a neck brace on, but I was otherwise in pretty good shape and I came walking in on my own. I didn't fracture my neck, I didn't break it, but technically it's actually worse. The ligament holding the C2 ruptured, so my disc hit my spinal cord," Kidd said. "That's what caused the temporary paralysis. You don't have to sever your spinal cord to be paralyzed for life. You could just touch it and be paralyzed for life. There are different situations obviously."
Kidd was joined by his wife WWE Superstar, Natalya along with Cesaro and an emotional Samoa Joe.
"There's an unwritten protocol when you hurt somebody," Kidd explained. "And when I say you hurt somebody, obviously it's not on purpose, but it still happens. I know I've rocked guys before where I checked on them after to make sure everything's cool."
"Joe did come to the hospital that night," he said."We spoke that night. We would text throughout the time I was hurt, but I only saw him face to face when I got hurt and when I did see him that night, things were still up in the air with the severity of my injury. He was definitely remorseful and I think we all are when we hurt somebody and when somebody gets hurt under our watch. Stuff happens. We perform at such a high level so many days a week that things are going to happen. We just have to do the best we can to take care of each other and to let a person know that we're there for them when they do get hurt."
While Kidd could never wrestle again, he has rejoined WWE as a backstage producer.
"My first day back as a producer after two years, once I was out of meetings, he was the first guy who I Terminator-style sought out and found. And we had a very good talk and we're friends. We get along great," he said.1comments