Song for Whoever (Bonus Track): Daffney edition

I have something else in mind for my Song for Whoever this week, but I wanted to make quick mention of something that I read yesterday and this seems as good a place as any.

Other than the odd rant, we’re not generally a “serious” blog here at Wrestlegasm, but some things need to be said. We also try to refrain from swearing when possible, but I’m afraid this will be an exception: TNA are fucking awful. I know… I know… preaching to the converted. Big suprise, Andrew hates TNA! But rather than my general deep-seated loathing of a company that wastes amazing talent in favour of overpaying and overexposing ancient has-beens like some kind of Wrestling Antiques Roadshow, there is something specific that’s, frankly, appalled me this time.

Over at cagesideseats.com, a report has turned up describing some of the details behind the recent TNA release of Daffney and her treatment by the company prior to that.

“Yesterday my picture was taken down off of the TNA roster page. My contract expires today and TNA did not renew it. I do not know if it has anything to do with it, but I’ve filed a Workers Comp claim against them for injuries I’ve sustained in the ring and my lawyers said to not go into anymore details.”

This quote from Daffney’s Facebook and Twitter accounts is only the tip of the iceberg. The catch-all term of “injuries” covers a list that is pretty substantial (to quote from the article):

1. a serious concussion at Bound For Glory 2009 after she was chokeslammed from the ring apron by Abyss onto a barb-wire board
2. a deeply bruised sternum, a severe stinger and yet another concussion in the now infamous try-out, dark match for indie wrestler Miss Betsy
3. another concussion in her program with Tara after she got clobbered on the head with a toolbox

Concussions are scary enough, but in pro-wrestling today you would hope that the supposed Number Two company in the world would be especially aware of their consequences after the added media attention following the Benoit murders and the work done by ex-WWE wrestler Chris Nowinski at the Sports Legacy Institute but apparently not.

The first injury on the list, after being chokeslammed from the second rope to the floor through a barbed wire table, is probably the most shocking on first glance. Certainly it was a move that was arguably unnecessary at best, and positively manipulative at worse. According to the article (via a “long term employee” of TNA) Daffney was unsurprisingly hesitant to take the move, but was persuaded by Director of Talent Relations Terry Taylor that she would be taken care of and it was important for the storyline. Of course, the move happened and she was injured and taken to hopsital and billed for it. TNA then neglected to pay the bill, despite months of emails between the two parties, in the end denying they had any reponsibility to pay.

To literally add insult to injury; all this was for a spot that didn’t lead anywhere storyline-wise, was never allowed to be shown on TNA Impact as it breached the networks policy on violence towards women, and wasn’t even caught on camera live and was only shown on replay!

As for the second injury on that list, it’s probably pretty well know by now, but just in case: Miss Betsy was a very inexperienced trainee of Team 3D. In her tryout match she landed on Daffney’s chest, leading to sternum bruising – a move followed by a powerbomb which left Daffney with another concussion. As the article mentions, anybody else who injured a full time member of the roster in their tryout match would have been rightly run out of the building. But this is TNA, who have shown time and time again that they couldn’t care less about the welfare of their roster (especially, it seems, the Knockouts.) So of course they signed Miss Betsy (as Rosie Lottalove) to a contract, and actually showed the footage of the injury on Impact in an attempt to get her over.

I should point out that I (and I believe Daffney) aren’t about to start criticising Betsy/Rosie for the injury. It was another unfortunate example of ageing wrestlers politicking behind the scenes, in this case Bubba Ray Dudley. In fact, when TNA realised that even they couldn’t justify having her on the roster, Bubba Ray allegedly blamed Daffney and gave her the cold shoulder backstage. Oh, and it should probably go without saying that TNA didn’t pay Daffney’s medical bills for this one either.

The third injury, although it sounds almost innocuous up there in the list, is certainly the one which shows TNA at their most petty and heartless. TNA tape their shows in advance: rather than filming each week like WWE, they will film a block of episodes over a number of days to fill the upcoming month. In this case, it was Day 1 of a five day taping schedule when Daffney received yet another concussion. Daffney was told again by Terry Taylor that she should work the next two days (with a concussion remember) and she’ll be fine. After consideration Daffney quite rightly decided against wrestling and risking worsening her condition. This is where TNA’s petty side comes out, as they announced she would be unable to take part in a photoshoot that would have been useful income for her (given TNA’s notoriously low pay for female wrestlers) if she wasn’t prepared to wrestle.

Not only were TNA asking Daffney to wrestle with a concussion for a further two days (all while still refusing to pay her medical bills from the Rosie incident; this was all while they were happily running a concussion angle with Ken Anderson – to the point of going on air and singing the praises of the Sports Legacy Institute and constantly reminding the viewers that “Dixie Carter has always looked out for the welfare of her performers.” Hey kids! Can you spell “HYPOCRISY”?

So, Daffney, quite understandably, has had enough and contacted her lawyers. Shortly after TNA remove her from their website and allow her contract to expire. Reports are circling that she is not the only wrestler considering legal action against TNA for unpaid medical bills, and hopefully this is true. Strangely, I don’t want TNA to fail – I want another large wrestling company giving wrestlers international TV exposure. I want competition – without it the industry will stagnate and mainstream pro-wrestling will slowly become unwatchable. I hate TNA as it stands, but I genuinely hope they can turn things around and become a company that appreciates and respects some of the amazing talent they have, while ending their seeming obsession with re-enacting the final years of WCW.

As for Daffney, if even if only a third of the claims in that article are correct, that’s enough to justify my support. This songs for you, good luck!

The original article can be read at: http://www.cagesideseats.com/2011/4/21/2125160/the-sad-story-of-shannon-daffney-spruill and is well worth a read if you care about the wellbeing of wrestlers in anyway

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