The most iconic weapon used in professional wrestling is the steel chair.
The simple, yet effective, weapon has been a key fixture of companies like the WWE for decades, dating back to the 1940s during the early days of the sport.
“Wild” Bill Curry was the first man recorded to have used a steel chair in a match, wielding it as a weapon against his opponent in an effort to cheat to win his matches.
The use of the steel chair was popularized by Dory Funk Sr. – father of both Dory Funk Jr and Terry Funk – who used the weapon during the ultra-violent death matches in the 1960s in Amarillo, Texas.
The chairs have been in use in the WWE ever since, but became synonymous with the sport in the 1990s, during the Attitude Era.
During this time, they became a weekly occurrence on Raw and Smackdown. Matches regularly involved interferences with chair attacks, opponents happy to lay heavy shots in the head of other wrestlers without restraint.
Of course, this was doing untold damage to their brains, with multiple concussions causing brain damage that lead to CTE on an incredible amount of wrestlers.
Steel chair shots to the head did not stop being part of the WWE until the Chris Benoit tragedy in 2007, when a brain damage-riddled Benoit murdered his wife and son, before killing himself.
Were the steel chairs to blame? Not by themselves, but their usage certainly had an effect on the damage done to his brain – doctors claimed his brain was like that of a 90-year-old dementia patient.
Do WWE Use Real Steel Chairs?
WWE no longer use real steel chairs in their matches, instead opting for lighter metal chairs for use during wrestling matches.
These new chairs are much easier to handle, and cause far less pain when being hit with.
However, even with these lighter chairs, headshots with a chair are still banned – outside very, very limited circumstances.
The last instance of a planned headshot with a steel chair was when Shawn Spears smashed a chair over the head of Cody Rhodes at AEW Fyter Fest 2019.
Spears was supposed to use a fake chair, gimmicked to hit Rhodes with a much softer and breakable material than the metal they are made of.
However, they mistimed the hit, and he caught Cody with the edge of the chair, busting him open and causing blood to flow down his head at an alarming rate.
The last known headshot in WWE was during the WeeLC match, when El Torito hit Hornswoggle over the head with a tiny chair.
Ricochet mistimed a chair shot onto the skull of Gunther earlier this year, but that was a complete accident and was not planned.
Chairshots are not banned altogether in the WWE, but they are not allowed to the head. They must hit in safer areas, like the back, or only give the illusion of hitting the head like with the Con-Chair-To move used by Edge & Christian.
When Did WWE Ban Steel Chair Shots To The Head?
WWE banned chair shots to the head in January 2010, two and a half years after Chris Benoit’s controversial death.
The company brought in a new concussion policy the year after his death, hoping to avoid any more CTE being suffered by their WWE Superstars.
However, the policy did not include anything about chair shots to the head, which were not banned until a revision made in January 2010.
In an official press release, the WWE said this about the amendment to their concussion policy.
“In January 2010, WWE amended its Talent Wellness Program, specifically regarding the Impact Concussion Management Program originally instituted in 2008, eliminating the use of folding chairs or props to “strike” an opponent in the head.
Prior to this policy change, The Tables, Ladders and Chairs event in question took place on December 13, 2009. “Incidentally, no performer suffered a concussion during the TLC event.”
“*The WWE has eliminated using folding metal chairs to “strike” an opponent in the head.
*The WWE penalizes through fine and/or suspension the following:
-The intentional use of a folding metal chair to “strike” an opponent in the head.
-Any blow to the head that is deemed an INTENTIONAL act.
*The fine and/or suspension will be directed by the EVP of Talent Relations.“
Since then, there have been a handful of chair shots to the head in the WWE, but they usually result in a fine for all parties involved.
This occurred most notably at WrestleMania 27, when Triple H landed a chair shot straight to the skull of The Undertaker.
Both men were fined multiple thousands of dollars, although neither man regretted it due to how it helped better tell the story in the ring.
Hamish is a writer and podcaster and wrestling fan who is a key part of the Atletifo team.
After playing countless hours of WrestleMania X8 on the Gamecube, he discovered Rey Mysterio getting his head crushed by The Great Khali, and thus a love for professional wrestling was born.
He is also a Media Graduate, as well as writing for multiple sites about Premier League football and the culture of Wales – his home country.