Ricky Starks: Doctors said that I was so close to being paralyzed after my neck injury in 2021

Ricky Starks looks back on the neck fracture he suffered in 2021 and recounts conversations he had with doctors about the injury

Photo Courtesy: All Elite Wrestling

The FTW Champion reflects on the neck injury he suffered last year.

In April 2021, during a singles match with Hangman Adam Page, Ricky Starks suffered a fractured neck when he landed on the back of his head after attempting to land on his feet from a ‘German suplex’. Months after the injury occurred, Starks shared that he thought he would not be able to recover from it.

He dove further into the injury during his conversation with Z100’s Josh Martinez. Ricky recalled being told by doctors that he was close to being paralyzed and that was difficult for him to come to grips with because Ricky would not want his family to witness something like that. He said it’s scary to think that he could have lost it all.

So I think there’s a lot of misconceptions and misinformation about actually what happened and you know, the stuff thereafter. Basically, I got dumped on my head and I’ve been able — I’m flexible because I do yoga but that was interesting to me because when I landed, I thought I just had — I was trying to land on my feet basically and I thought — I was like, ‘Ah, I didn’t get all of that’ but when I stood up, I feel like I really — like a tightness in my neck and I was like, ‘Hm, okay. That feels different.’ Finished the match, then I get to the back and everything was fine. A lot of people thought I had broke my ankle in that match or I was concussed and I wasn’t. I did not break my ankle and I was not concussed and I was just telling the doc like, ‘Yeah, that was a rough landing’ and I remember going back to the hotel and doing this [leaning his head side-to-side] a bit and I was like twisting my head. I was like, ‘Huh, something doesn’t feel right’ and I know my body pretty well at this point and that’s when I had requested to go and get an MRI done because I wanted to be sure and you know, make sure that things was okay because the next day, I couldn’t turn my neck. It stiffened up, which that’s normal when it comes to a situation where you land on your neck or you strain a muscle. It’s just gonna tighten up. That’s the natural reflex. But, something in my gut was like just get double checked and I went to three different doctors. Went to three different doctors. The first two saw it and was like, ‘Well, you know, there isn’t — you seem fine’ but it was the third one that was like, ‘Yeah, this is actually fractured’ and they all kind of said the same thing in terms of, you know, ‘You have a bit of a bulge’ and thankfully, no big herniation or anything like that. But definitely a fracture and you know, maybe, these are the steps you have to take so I was super, super gutted to hear that and I’ll be straight up with you man, I — they played this clip on ‘Rhodes to the Top’ and I could not watch that episode. I’ve yet to go back and watch the match fully. Every time I see that clip that someone shares online, I can’t watch it and I don’t want to relive it. It’s such a — it’s a very traumatic thing for me and I don’t think people really get it to the level of it does still bother me to this day in terms of the mental where it’s like I could have lost everything. Doctors said that I was so close to being paralyzed and I couldn’t — man, I couldn’t even fathom that and it’s not even for my own reason but it’s for the fact that I knew my mom and my family were watching and I don’t think I could ever live with them having to witness that on national television to see so, yeah man, I’m glad that things worked out a lot better afterwards. I did tell people that a broken anything, it takes much longer to heal and that’s with anything. You can still wrestle and all that but, the bone is still gonna need to heal one hundred percent. Almost like when you have to set some type of concrete that you just poured or whatever the case may be. But yeah, that was insane and scary to think about because I could have lost it all.

Starks was in action at AEW Revolution as a part of the Face of The Revolution Ladder match. The final sequence of the bout saw Wardlow powerbomb Ricky onto a ladder before ultimately winning the match.

Wardlow is next in line for a TNT Title match and he’ll be taking on the newly crowned champion Scorpio Sky.

If the quote in this article is used, please credit Josh Martinez with an H/T to POST Wrestling for the transcription. 

About Andrew Thompson 7809 Articles
A Washington D.C. native and graduate of Norfolk State University, Andrew Thompson has been covering wrestling since 2017.