Pro wrestler Big E says he broke neck during WWE ‘SmackDown’ show

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — Pro wrestler Big E said he suffered a broken neck during a live broadcast of a WWE event on Friday.

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The 36-year-old wrestler, whose real name is Ettore Ewen, fell during WWE’s “SmackDown” show in Birmingham, Alabama, Sports Illustrated reported.

The former WWE heavyweight champion landed on his head outside the ring after receiving an overhead belly-to-belly suplex from Ridge Holland during the show’s opening match, the magazine reported.

Ewen was taken from Legacy Arena on a stretcher to an area hospital, a scene that was not shown on television, ESPN reported. WWE will generally cut to footage of medical personnel if the injury is part of the script, which is a common storytelling angle, CBS News reported.

There was no live footage this time but several Twitter users posted video of the injury online.

In a video he posted to Twitter, the wrestler said he has retained all feeling and movement in his limbs and extremities and his strength level “feels fine.” He added that doctors told him he had broken his neck.

“I can’t thank all of you beautiful people enough for all of your concern and messages,” Ewen said. “It’s very heartwarming. ... I’m gonna be all right. I’ll be good. Don’t worry. Go to sleep. Don’t worry about old me. But for real, thank you. I appreciate all of you.”

Ewen, who is 5 feet, 11 inches tall and weighs 285 pounds, won the WWE championship for the first time in September and held it until Jan. 1, ESPN reported. He lost the title to Brock Lesnar.

The Florida-born wrestler is a former University of Iowa football player and powerlifter, according to the sports network.

Several WWE tweeted support for Ewen, including The Miz, Bobby Lashley, Liv Morgan and Kayla Braxton.