I am Fanbyte’s EIC, but a couple of days (or nights) each month, I put on my little EMS uniform, jump on my ambulance, and go on 911 calls in the boroughs of Queens and Brooklyn as a volunteer EMT. This experience has given me a truly unique and fascinating view of the practice of Pro Wrestling (I’ve even been medical staff at a House of Glory event). And my word, do I have thoughts and feelings about Cody Rhodes’ injury — a truly grotesque pectoral tear he obtained as he wrestled with Seth Rollins last night at the WWE Hell in a Cell event.
I know I’m making an obvious joke here — so, forgive me — but taking any kind of impact whatsoever, or feeling any kind of stretching action on that area, must’ve honestly felt like hell (in a cell) for my dude here.
As EMTs, we have a lot of fun acronyms we use to care for patients in the field. When we first encounter our patients, we always check their ABCs (airway, breathing, circulation) and look for life threats. We then often (as appropriate) look for signs of obvious trauma, and that’s where one of our most fun acronyms comes from — get ready! — DCAP-BTLS. That stands for deformities, contusions, abrasions/avulsions, punctures/penetrating trauma, burns, tenderness, lacerations, and swelling.
Rhodes’ injury has a lot of C (contusions) going on here, with bruising/a massive hematoma that they clearly worked the match around (I mean, they zoom in on it pretty quickly, and Rollins reacts… appropriately… to seeing his opponent so fucked up), but not so much that Rhodes doesn’t take a couple of gnarly hits.
Now, if I rolled up on a patient and they had this, I would actually first think it was a combat sports injury (like an armbar or omoplata gone horribly wrong), or other mechanical injury (car accident, factory/construction accident). I would basically splint anything that looked out of place, cover my buddy here in ice packs, and take them to the ER immediately. It’s generally not great when something that internal (muscle fascia) appears to be… very, very unhappy externally. I’m glad to see there doesn’t appear to be any obvious sign of bone damage here (he appears to have a decent range of motion, though it’s clearly painful), but that is not the sort of thing you should be doing a lot of contact on.
I will say: When he lands on the shoulder, he is landing hard, but the way it should hurt less. I can make an educated guess that he tore that muscle in such a way that it was flexed distal to the body: take your right arm, do a little muscle pose, and shift your elbow as far behind you as you can go for an example here of what got hurt. So, landing on the front part of the shoulder probably hurt, but it didn’t do further damage to the tear.
I’m not a doctor, nor do I train with Rhodes, so, take that with a grain of salt! He’s obviously in a lot of pain and I would absolutely not recommend any patient do this (pro wrestling! Or any combat sports!) on this type of injury. Or most types of injury, to be clear.
My professional medical advice for a pectoral tear, especially one this bad, is to rest. Get thee to a doctor first for immediate treatment advice, a surgeon if needed, and then a physical therapist once the worst of the damage has been repaired and the muscles are ready to rebuild.