CM Punk’s recent podcast with Colt Cabana has naturally drawn a lot of attention and thought. He talked about his departure from WWE, battling injuries and the company’s policies. The industry took notice, including Rene Dupre, the second-generation star who broke into WWE as a teenager and is now a regular in Japan. Dupre recalled his own health scare, where his head exploded.
To tell the story, you have to go back in time, to the fall of 2005, when Dupre was on the WWE roster, a singles competitor on the Smackdown roster.
Beaten up and aching from the grueling schedule WWE imposed on its workers, he was heading home, which was Louisville, Kentucky, at the time, then the site of the WWE’s Ohio Valley Wrestling developmental system.
He had a hematoma on his right temple, a deep bruise that looked worse than it felt.
At the Smackdown taping, he was given the night off — he was supposed to wrestle The Big Show.
“They were going to put me in the ring, but then Michael Hayes came around and said, ‘Hey man, can you actually work?’ I said, ‘I don’t know.’ I wasn’t going to go in the ring, regardless. I had this massive thing on my head. I went in and talked to Stephanie [McMahon], and Stephanie said, ‘No, take the night off.'”
After the show, Dupre boarded a flight to Cincinnati. He went to the restroom on the plane and a sudden change in cabin pressure changed everything.
“The pressure in the cabin changes when you touch down, and the f—ing thing just exploded in the lavatory. It looked like I got shot in the head there was so much blood. I was wearing a white Gold’s Gym t-shirt and it was covered in blood,” Dupre recalled for SLAM! Wrestling.
Triple H was on the same flight.
“To his credit, he stayed with me the whole time, made sure that I was okay and got off the plane,” said Dupre.
“But when the paramedics and EMTs and said, ‘Listen, you’ve got to go to the hospital now, because … you could die.’ Chris Candido had died a few months earlier from a blood clot in his leg — I had one in my f—ing temple,” recalled Dupre.
“But I could see the trainer, when the EMTs were talking, our trainer was looking at me, shaking his head ‘no’ because it would have cost the company too much money. Basically, that’s what I got [from the trainer].”
Instead, Dupre boarded the connecting flight from Cincinnati to Louisville, like a good company soldier.
Back in Louisville, he did have surgery under WWE-approved doctors, which the WWE did pay for.
A scar remains from the incident and surgery to this day.
“The way I look at it, I risked my life to save the company a few extra bucks.”
It also went against lessons taught by his father, wrestler and promoter Emile Dupre.
“One time, Johnny Stamboli, he got berated in front of the locker room because he was icing his shoulder — and that’s when I thought, ‘Holy f—.’ That’s one thing my dad always told me too, ‘If you’re hurt, don’t let any of the office see it.’ And that’s coming from a guy from the ’50s. That’s a long tradition in wrestling; if you’re hurt, don’t let the office see it because then they’ll think, ‘Aw, this guy’s not strong enough, he’s not tough enough to hack it.'”