Despite reports to the contrary elsewhere on the internet, the WWE hierarchy did not ban Seth Rollins' "Curb Stomp" finisher as revealed here on Wrestling News World. But even if it was an unofficial request rather than an official demand that Rollins choose a new regular finishing manoeuvre, I firmly believe they have made the right decision in asking him to change it up. Semi-retiring the move is only going to be of benefit for Rollins and the WWE in the long run.
This is not the first time a move has caused controversy. Some wrestlers refused to take a Scott Steiner "FrankenSteiner" in the early 1990s for reasons that seem obvious here. When a young Paul Wight wanted to add a moonsault to his in-ring arsenal (yes that's Paul "Big Show" Wight) Kevin Nash predictably refused to be on the receiving end. The Undertaker, Bret "The Hitman" Hart and Sid Vicious all had a problem with being on the receiving end of Ric Flair's chops. Kurt Angle and Tazz have both refused to take piledrivers after injuries sustained. But this time it is different as there are more factors that have inevitably led to this decision and not, as far as we know, wrestlers being concerned about the safety of the move.
The "Curb Stomp" first received mainstream media attention after it was used in an unforgettable and controversial scene in the critically acclaimed 1998 film "American History X". Due to the association with the movie and the connotations it has as a result I would assume that I was not alone in feeling a little uncomfortable when I first saw Rollins using the move and thought it to be a in quite bad taste, even for WWE.
Looking past that, one problem I have with the move is that it is very dependent on the ability of the recipient to sell it. If Rollins' opponent is overly concerned about their looks it makes for an awkward and sometimes cringe-worthy manoeuvre. If the opponent is less vain and more dedicated to the cause, Brock Lesnar being a recent example of someone fully committing to receiving it, there is a potential for real injury and I am left cringing for other reasons.
This is not a criticism of Rollins and in no way do I think he is reckless, it is just you cannot stamp someone's head into the ground in a way that is both realistic and painless, you have to choose one. In the wake of Daniel Bryan's latest injury concerns I can see why WWE would be reluctant to have such a move being performed on its top stars on a regular basis.
I understand that this could seem hypocritical with plenty of moves carrying a risk of injury but I think with this it is a combination of the risk, the connotations it has and just the way it looks that has brought on this re-think. Attitude-era it probably wouldn't be an issue but things have changed and there are other factors to consider.
This is WWE post-Benoit and Chris Benoit along with Andrew "Test" Martin were found to have a brain condition known as CTE after their deaths. This degenerative brain disease found in people with a history of repeated head trauma was no doubt caused by wrestling and it would be a little foolish to promote a move that could be seen to glamorise severe head trauma. Harley Race was quoted as saying he wished he had never invented the diving head-butt after The Dynamite Kid ended up paralysed, Benoit ignored this crystal clear warning and it is thought the move contributed to his decline.
On the back of CM Punk accusing WWE medical staff of incompetence in December two other former wrestlers filed a potential class-action lawsuit against the company, accusing WWE of ignoring concussions and leaving people with serious brain injuries. Vito LoGrasso and Evan Singleton made headline news in January and it is thought that more will follow their lead as the case has been in the NFL where there are thousands of pending lawsuits. In addition Triple H is on the Board of Directors for Christopher Nowinski’s Sports Legacy Institute and therefore endorsing the "Curb Stomp" could be deemed as inappropriate for someone in his position.
On the flip side it could be argued that the move encompasses Seth Rollins' whole character and personality and that removing it could weaken him. I can see that it is perfect for his persona, a dirty, sneaky move for the cowardly opportunist heel who preys on his enemies at their weakest moment with ruthlessness. So that is why I am glad the move hasn't been completely banned and it seems likely it will just work a part-time schedule. By taking this move out of his regular set and instead only using it sparingly will actually increase the impact of the move when it does happen (and in turn decrease any potential risk to others and keep the move out of the spotlight). Whether Rollins continues with the single under-hook DDT or chooses something different, he has the talent to make it his own and continue to be the top heel in the company.