Vince McMahon may like to market the WWE as sports entertainment, but at its core, we all know that it is professional wrestling, and with that comes enough risks, even in a normal match. But being the most famous and popular promotion in the entire world means that the company need to take extra chances sometimes, and while the majority of them paid off, they were without risk. From idiotic ladder spots to ridiculous hardcore matches to falls from unimaginable heights, these performers put their lives on the line just to entertain fans, but sometimes, these are just beyond belief.
Unfortunately, some of these spots are just too dangerous, and have resulted in serious injury, sometimes even worse, but the company feels the need to continually top themselves. That means Vince McMahon and the rest of the creative team need to sign off on some very dangerous ideas. While some of these may seem modest (due to them paying off in such great fashion), there was still a serious element of danger, so the following are 15 dangerous spots in WWE history that we can’t believe management allowed.
15. Lesnar And Show Collapse The Ring
At the time, this spot was incredible, and very hard to believe how the WWE thought letting Big Show take a superplex through the ring was a good idea. Thankfully, it worked out perfectly, and it worked that well that the company decided to go back to it twice since, with several different performers (Mark Henry and Braun Strowman). Sure, looking back on it, it can be a spot done very safely, while also looking incredibly dangerous, but at the time, I’m sure “hey, let’s put Big Show and Brock Lesnar on the top rope, have them hit a superplex and break the ring” wasn’t received 100% seriously. Thankfully, the risk paid off, and both men went on to have great careers, with this being one of the most famous spots each man has experienced during their WWE tenure.
14. Shelton Benjamin Takes A Gigantic Fall From The Ladder
The Money in the Bank ladder match is a fantastic concept, and has been one of the highlights of the WWE calendar since its inception at WrestleMania 21, and the star of the earlier matches was without a doubt The Gold Standard, Shelton Benjamin, as he would constantly take risks with feats of athleticism that no one could believe. But this one stands out above the rest. After seeing amazing moments at WrestleMania 22 & 23, Benjamin looked to top himself at WrestleMania 24, but instead of it being an offensive, jaw-dropping moment, it came during his downfall in the match, which was eventually won by CM Punk. With the ladder being tipped by John Morrison & Carlito, Benjamin took a front flip from the top of a ladder, all the way to a perched ladder on the outside, which broke upon impact. As it looked like he was finally going to get a push as a significant performer in the WWE (it didn’t end up happening), it’s crazy to think the company would let him take such a bump, with so much devastating risk involved.
13. Big Boss Man Gets Hung
The Hell in a Cell is one of the most memorable match types in WWE history, so it’s rare to see one so unmemorable (at least before it became a gimmick PPV), but this bout that took place at WrestleMania was anything but exciting, and is really only remembered for the closing moments, which saw the cell structure raised, while The Big Boss Man was hanging from a noose. Considering the WWE’s stance on violence today, this is something they would dearly love you to forget, but even outside of the PG realm that we see today, who in the hell thought this would be a good idea? Not only was it quite a dangerous spot (that no one really cared about), but it was incredibly stupid, and you have to imagine that Vince Russo was behind this somehow.
12. Brock’s Shooting Star Press
Brock Lesnar is one of the most athletically gifted and intimidating wresters in the history of the industry, and when he was matched up against his best friend, and equally impressive physical specimen Kurt Angle at WrestleMania 19, we expected a hard hitting collision of epic proportions. We definitely got that (although it wasn’t as good as their 60-minute Iron Man match on SmackDown), but the biggest talking point to come out of the match at the end was the botched Shooting Star Press from the almost 300-pound Beast. He had hit it several times before in his time with OVW, but in such a marquee match with someone known as the “Next Big Thing,” it’s incredible that WWE would think this a good idea, and as he botched it, landing on his neck, almost paralyzing himself. It’s no surprise that they never let him use the move again.
11. Jeff Hardy Takes Out The Legend Killer
Jeff Hardy has attempted and successfully landed some of the most dangerous stunts in the history of the WWE, so it’s not totally surprising to see the company allow the stunt itself that took place on RAW. What’s really surprising is the timing of it all. It was the Monday Night RAW before the 2008 Royal Rumble, and the Intercontinental Champion Jeff Hardy was set to defend his belt against WWE Champion Randy Orton, the man he was challenging at the Rumble event just six days later, looking to win his first ever World title. After Orton threw the match out by low-blowing Hardy, a fight broke out, and it eventually saw Jeff ascend the scaffolding, looking to leap off with his patented Swanton Bomb to take out the Champion before the PPV. It was done well and Jeff avoided any injuries, but to do this to your main event just six days out from a PPV, it was a risky move for WWE. Still, it definitely paid off in the end.
10. CM Punk And John Cena Break Out The Forbidden Piledriver
With two performers as talented as John Cena and CM Punk (arguably two of the greatest of this generation, if not all time), this probably wasn’t too dangerous of a spot, but after incidents like Owen Hart’s botched piledriver on “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, the WWE deemed it too dangerous and banned it from all of their programming.
After their classic encounter at Money in the Bank 2011, it would be another two years until Cena and Punk met in a high-profile singles match, and it took place on Monday Night RAW with a main event spot at WrestleMania on the line. That pushed the two to pull out all the stops. Ultimately, Punk hit Cena with a piledriver, and thankfully the two showed that the move can be used with complete safety. But it’s still incredibly surprising as the move hadn’t been seen for years, and was still one that would maybe result in termination if it didn’t come from two such high-profile stars.
9. Edge Spears A Hanging Jeff Hardy
The three-way tag team matches from the early 2000s that included the Dudleyz, Edge and Christian and The Hardy Boys were incredibly dangerous and innovative, and will be remembered fondly as the golden age for tag teams within the WWE. But it was their bouts that involved Tables, Ladders and Chairs that will always be remembered most.
This moment comes to us from WrestleMania, and is easily one of the most replayed in wrestling history, as Jeff Hardy was hanging from the tag team titles above the ring, only for Edge to leap from a ladder to spear him, falling 15 feet to the mat below. It’s not 100% crazy to see why WWE allowed this, as the teams always had to find ways to top their car crash TLC battles, but this one stands out as being just a bit more dangerous than the rest. That’s because if the duo had shifted their weight just a little too much, it could have resulted in both men landing on their heads. Thankfully instead of that, we got one of the best moments in WWE history.
8. Bubba Ray Gives Mae Young The Ride Of Her Life
After their rivalry with Edge & Christian and the Hardy Boyz was over, The Dudleyz had an interesting run with the WWE, and one thing that Bubba Ray began to do was have an obsession with putting women through tables (something that didn’t end with time, as he put Dixie Carter and other women through tables during his time with TNA). We all know that Mae Young is one of the most legendary performers in the wrestling industry, but boy, did she have some crazy moments during the Attitude Era. The most notable of these is the birthing a hand segment, but this one put her in genuine danger. Bubba took Young on the entrance ramp, and with a table set up below, he hit her with his Bubba Bomb. Fortunately, both of them walked out unharmed, but it’s just ridiculous that the WWE would put an elderly woman in such a predicament.
7. Kurt Puts The Billion Dollar Boy Through Glass
Many people questioned why Shane McMahon would constantly step foot in the ring, as he wasn’t a true, trained wrestler, but over time, he has put together some memorable matches, the most recent being the opening bout at WrestleMania 33 with AJ Styles. Still, that will never be his best encounter, as that honor will forever go to his brutal clash with Kurt Angle in a street fight at King of the Ring 2001. The bout was a fantastic back and forth, and even made the non-wrestler McMahon seem like a true threat to the Wrestling Machine, but it was one spot in particular that stands out, and that was the suplex that Angle gave McMahon through a glass pane. Unfortunately, the wrong glass was used, so it didn’t break, landing Shane on his head. With his guts, McMahon made Kurt do it again, this time breaking right through. Afterwards, Vince McMahon was understandably furious that the wrong glass had been used, and it was just an unnecessary risk the company didn’t need to take.
6. Foley Forces Edge To Take It To The Extreme
In 2006, the WWE was beginning their re-launch of ECW, after the incredible success that ECW: One Night Stand 2005 had, but were also looking to tone down the product, so when Edge and Mick Foley collided at WrestleMania 22, not many fans expected to see the absolute war that the two men put on. Edge was knocking on the door of a permanent main event spot, and Foley was nearing the end of his career, so the match was brutal enough, but the finish was something that no one expected to see at WrestleMania. With a table perched precariously on the outside, Lita lit it on fire, and with Foley on the apron, the Rated-R Superstar speared him through it, both of them briefly catching fire. Although it was a logical ending to their bout, it was a surprising one nonetheless, especially when you consider the amount of horrendous bumps Foley had taken throughout his career.
5. Shane And The Lethal Weapon Battle To All Heights
Being the son of the boss, Vince McMahon can’t be easy, especially in an industry with so many alpha males and larger than life personalities, so when he aimed to live up to the expectations of the McMahon name, Shane would go out into the ring and risk life and limb to prove himself. This is just one of many such examples. During a battle with “The Lethal Weapon” Steve Blackman, neither man could gain an advantage, so they took it to the extreme.
With a kendo stick in hand, Blackman chased McMahon up the scaffolding near the entrance ramp, and if we know Shane O’Mac, he was going to follow that with a huge fall. That’s exactly what happened, as McMahon fell 20 feet all the way to the ground below. Like we’ve said so many times on this list, thankfully no one was hurt, as a free fall from that height could do irreversible damage, but it goes to show that a McMahon will go to any length to entertain.
4. Kurt Flies From The Top Of The Cage
Kurt Angle is without a doubt one of the greatest performers to ever step inside a wrestling ring, and had potentially the most diverse skill set of anyone ever seen in the WWE, and although he didn’t take to the air often, when he did, he took it to ridiculous heights. But for a man with a history of serious neck injuries (he won a gold medal with a broken freakin’ neck, don’t you know?), this should have never been allowed. In a steel cage match pitted against Chris Benoit, Angle ascended the cage and attempted to hit his patented moonsault, only to come up empty and crash to the canvas below. These types of falls may have been a contributing factor to the deteriorating health of Kurt’s neck, so it’s nothing you’ll ever see again. Still, these types of risks were why the fans loved Kurt so much.
3. Shane Soars From Unimaginable Heights Vs. Big Show
Yet another Shane McMahon death defying stunt, and this one may be the most dangerous of them all, as that’s what it took to keep the Big Show down during their epic Last Man Standing encounter at Backlash 2001. Like in his battle with Steve Blackman, Shane climbed the scaffolding above the entrance ramp, but this time, the 7-foot giant lay prone on the floor below, so like he always does, Shane put it all on the line, and took a gigantic leap in order to keep Show down for the 10-count. Like always, the stunt paid off, and it added to the legend that is Shane McMahon. While neither man could answer the 10 count, but this was perhaps Shane’s most insane idea of all, and it would have no doubt taken some backstage convincing to be allowed to take such a leap.
2. Shane Gives It His All Against The Deadman
As we’ve outlined on this list a few times already, Shane McMahon is one of, if not the biggest risk taker in WWE history, and while the majority of these spots took place during his younger years, in the time of the Attitude Era, Shane proved that he can still put his life at risk when entering his 40s, as he proved at WrestleMania 32. The storyline coming into the match was incredibly illogical, as was the follow-up, but going in, most fans just expected a car crash match inside the Hell in a Cell, and Shane to give the fans one gigantic spot, and that’s exactly what happened. With ‘Taker laying prone on the announce table, Shane ascended the Cell structure and leaped off,. Although he missed and went on to lose the match, it was good to see that he left unharmed. It is still quite unbelievable that the WWE allowed this, especially in front of Shane’s sons.
1. Foley Takes A Dive From The Top Of A Cell
This is perhaps the most famous spot in hardcore wrestling history (at least in the WWE), and although Mick Foley (portraying Mankind at the time) had been risking his body all over the world for many years, it’s amazing that WWE let him take such a risk, especially after the beating his body had already taken throughout his long, illustrious career. Still, Foley convinced the company to let him take this massive bump in the second-ever Hell in a Cell match, and as always, he did it for the entertainment of the fans, which is what led him to becoming one of the biggest babyfaces in the history of the company. He took many other massive spots in the HIAC match, including another in this match, but this is the most amazing one of the lot.
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