Mistakes happen in professional wrestling all the time. They're as much a part of the business as pyrotechnics and steel chair shots. The best performers roll with the punches so well that you hardly notice a mistake was made at all. But some botches are too just extravagant for even the most seasoned veterans to be able to cover up.
Botches come in all shapes and sizes, too. It could be a simple line flub, or a missed cue, or occasionally, a disastrous miscalculation that leads to a spectacularly horrible blunder inside the ring. Most of the time wrestling blunders are funny because they're relatively harmless to those involved, but sometimes they're so awkward and/or physically painful that it's impossible not to cringe when you watch them, regardless of how many times you've seen them before.
Fair warning: These mistakes will stick in your head and hold on for dear life, so be prepared to randomly wince for the rest of the day after one of them comes storming back into your memory banks later on.
15 The Undertaker Takes The Phrase "Suicide Dive" Far Too Literally
You really have to respect The Undertaker's athleticism. The types of aerial maneuvers he's able to pull off as a big man makes him an extremely rare performer in this business. Even at almost 45-years-old, the almost 7-footer was leaping over the top rope and putting himself in harm's way. But at WrestleMania XXV, he took the most direct route from the ring to the floor: Straight down, right on top of his damn skull.
Differing accounts posit that Shawn Michaels didn't pull the "cameraman" -- who was actually wrestler/plant Sim Snuka -- close enough to the ring, while others say it was Snuka who failed to hit his mark. But a close look at the tape suggests Taker simply didn't execute the move as smoothly as he's done in the past. Whatever the case, it's hard to believe The Dead Man was able to finish the match after landing directly on his dome like that. (Take notes, Sin Cara.)
14 The RKO Do-Over
You wouldn't think that someone with as much pride and experience as Randy Orton has would be capable of so many botches. But whether they're directly his fault or not, the dude's been involved in some high-profile doozies. The most embarrassing one, though, has to be this little gem from a tag match on a 2004 episode of Raw.
While Chris Jericho had his Evolution teammate, Batista, locked in the Walls of Jericho, Orton was supposed to bounce off the ropes, run up and give Y2J the ol' RKO. Instead, Orton overshot by a good distance, and fell to the ground while grasping for Jericho's head. Like the good little pre-programmed wrestler bot that he is, Orton simply got up and tried the whole spot over. Surely no one noticed that first AirKO, right? RIGHT?
13 Sin Cara Hurts His Poor Little Finger, Immediately Stops The Match
Professional wrestlers have a well-deserved reputation as some of the toughest SOBs on earth. They punish their bodies in ways that any non-wrestler could never truly appreciate, and occasionally have to find a way to finish a match even after sustaining a gruesome injury. Because, in the world of wrestling, that's just what a professional does.
Sadly, the original Sin Cara didn't get that memo. When he dislocated his finger during a suicide dive in a match against Alberto Del Rio, he promptly called the ref over to call the whole thing off. He stopped the match for a dislocated finger. Triple H finished a match with a torn quad and Stone Cold finished a match with a broken friggin' neck! The way Sin Cara delicately holds his injured hand while Del Rio attempts to finish the match is cringeworthy and sad. Sin Cara (when he was played by Mistico) is rightfully known as a one-man botch machine, but this one takes the cake for how pathetic it was. He should've had to apologize to Mick Foley once a day for the next year for making wrestlers look so damn fragile.
12 Mickie James And Gail Kim End A Terrific Match On A Huge Downer
Wrestlers don't get enough credit for being able to think on their feet. Not every move in a match is scripted, after all, and extenuating circumstances can force them to improvise their way out of some incredibly tricky situations. But not all performers have a knack for ad libbing, as Mickie James proved when she had to unexpectedly carry her concussed opponent across the finish line.
In the midst of an exceptional match, Gail Kim performed a spot that required her to miss a diving crossbody from the second rope. Unfortunately, Kim smacked the mat hard with her head, leaving her a dazed bag of dead weight from there on out. When James tried a DDT finish, Kim tried to keep her body upright, which resulted in both women awkwardly collapsing to the mat. In an attempt to salvage the finish, James throws a spin kick that breezes right by Kim's face and gets zero reaction. So as a last-ditch effort, she hits her with an incredibly weak forearm for the pin. James' inability to hide her irritation coupled with Jerry Lawler's highly unconvincing commentary ("woah...Gail Kim blocked that") make this tough to watch, especially since, up to that point, it was an excellent match.
11 Hulk Hogan Receives The Weakest Chokeslam Of All Time
Even at his physical peak, Hulk Hogan moved like his legs were made from rotted tree trunks. When he returned to WWE for another run in 2002, the Hulkster was now pushing 50, had undergone several recent knee surgeries, and was dealing with lingering back injuries.
Despite everyone's best attempts to hide the legend's limitations, it became excruciatingly apparent in his match against The Undertaker at Judgment Day 2002 that Hogan couldn't (or wouldn't) take even simple bumps. After overacting his way through a Half Boston Crab that wouldn't hurt someone whose bones were literally made of jagged glass, the Hulkster went up for a chokeslam. Sort of. Actually, he wobbled around for a few seconds and then jumped 8 inches off the ground while Taker basically shoved him onto the mat. To make matters worse, this was the finish of the match. A match for the Undisputed Championship.
10 Triple H Brains Marty Garner With A Pedigree
Boy, talk about getting in over your head. (Hey-ooooooooohh!)
As an employee, Triple H apparently has nine lives. Not only did he keep his job after the infamous Curtain Call incident and return to the company stronger than ever after his quad tear in 2002, but he suffered very little blowback after nearly paralyzing Marty Garner with a savage Pedigree during just his second year with the company.
Then again, maybe Hunter got off scot-free because it was actually Garner's unfamiliarity with the move that caused the incident. With his arms hooked, he apparently believed Triple H was setting him up for a double underhook suplex. Garner jumped a little higher than is typically required for The Pedigree and ended up flipping his body in mid-air, essentially setting himself up for an unexpected piledriver. Garner ended up suing WWE for the neck damage he suffered, eventually settling out of court.
9 Booker T Drops The N-Bomb On Hulk Hogan
It was the N-word heard 'round the world. And it's without a doubt the most infamous mic miscue of all time. This was in the early days of Harlem Heat, so Booker T was still inexperienced enough on the mic to make a mistake like this and lacked the ability to hide it. In fact, his immediate, painful recognition of what he'd just said is what ultimately makes this such a cringeworthy moment to watch.
He doesn't just wince, or smirk, or get wide-eyed. No, Booker practically melts into the nearest wall from sheer mortification. You can't watch this and not feel that embarrassment deep in your soul. Give everyone else a lot of credit for not breaking character, especially Mean Gene Okerlund, who doesn't even flinch as he continues the interview with Stevie Ray. What a pro.
8 8. Lita Almost Re-Breaks Her Neck In A Suicide Dive
If there's one thing we should all take away from this list, it's that wrestlers should probably just stop performing suicide dives. Seriously. As exciting as they can be when performed properly, there have just been too many botched executions of the move over the years. It's too dangerous.
Lita and Trish Stratus were in the midst of one of the best WWE Women's Championship matches of all time when Lita -- who'd already broken her neck a couple of years earlier while filming on the TV show Dark Angel -- went for the dive between the ropes. She over-rotated a bit, sending her forehead first onto the floor. Stratus was too light to break her fall in any way, making the impact that much more devastating. Lita somehow avoided serious injury here, which is amazing considering that it looks like she should've died right there.
7 Hulk Hogan Flubs A Promo 3 Different Ways
Attempt #1: "If you actually think I was just the right guy, at the right place, at the wrong...at the right time..."
Attempt #2: "Let me say it one more time so you completely understand, McMahon. If you actually believe in your mind, if you actually think that I was just the right gay...GUY...at the right place..."
And then, just to make sure everyone watching at home was actively worrying about Hulk Hogan's potential bout of dementia, he also forgets which iconic superstar he had a match with a couple of weeks earlier. It's so, so, very uncomfortable to watch, and you can see Vince trying to will him to get through the lines every time the camera cuts back to him.
6 La Resistance Fails To Properly Lawn Dart Spike Dudley Through A Table
Here's a general rule of thumb all wrestlers should follow: When slamming your opponent through a wooden table, try not to murder them in the process. It seems like that memo didn't quite reach Rene Dupree and Sylvain Grenier, who came a literal hair away from decapitating the littlest Dudley when they tried (and failed) to chokeslam him through a table.
Somehow, the two musclebound French-Canadians weren't able to fully throw a 150-pound man the required 10 feet over the top rope and down to the floor below to make sure he hit the table squarely. Which is weird. Because they're huge. And he's definitely not. That's like you or me not being able to toss a grapefruit through an open window on the other side of the room. After practicing it 7 or 8 times. It's almost like those two wanted to see what the inside of Spike's skull looked like.
5 Brock Lesnar So Nearly Hits A Shooting Star Press
Oh it would've been so majestic. If Brock Lesnar had just been able to rotate his body a few extra degrees in mid-air... If Kurt Angle had been just a few inches closer to that turnbuckle... But then it's easy to play the What-If game. The fact is, Lesnar still deserves plenty of adoration for even having the beanbags to try something as ludicrous as a Shooting Star Press in the first place.
Remember, the guy was almost 300 pounds at the time. Which means that's almost 300 pounds coming down on his neck. It's honestly astounding he only suffered a concussion from it. The crazy thing is, Lesnar actually executed (and landed) the aerial maneuver several times when he was still in OVW. It just so happens the one time he tried it on a grander stage, gravity suddenly decided it was done playing games and needed to be taken seriously again.
4 Shane McMahon Simply Will Not Go Through The Glass
Does it still count as a botch if it's mostly the fault of an inanimate object? You know what, in the case of Shane McMahon vs. The Unbreakable Pane of Glass, we're going to say yes. Because holy hell, if a man bouncing off a wall of glass and then falling onto his head on concrete, on multiple occasions doesn't qualify, then what are we even doing here?
At King of the Ring 2001, Kurt Angle was supposed to suplex Shane-O-Mac through a sheet of sugar glass. Unfortunately, the prop guy messed up, and used much tougher plexiglass, which made it nearly impossible for Shane to break through it. This blunder resulted in a series of unpredictably hardcore moments, and remains one of the most spine-tingling spots in WWE history.
3 Owen Hart Breaks Stone Cold's Neck With A Piledriver
Why aren't WWE wrestlers allowed to perform sitout Tombstone piledrivers anymore? Exhibit A: Owen Hart breaking Stone Cold's neck and nearly paralyzing the guy for life. And all it took was Austin's head being an inch or so too low.
Even knowing there was a silver lining to this accident -- Austin couldn't wrestle for months afterward, so he cut more promos and used the time to build up his feud with Vince McMahon, which would turn him into a full-fledged icon -- it's still tough to watch the very reason Stone Cold had to retire so early play out in the ring like that. And although you have to give Austin props for finishing the match, it's even harder to watch that terrible roll-up without wincing.
2 Joey Mercury's Face Gets Obliterated By A Ladder
By the time Armageddon 2006 rolled around, The Hardy Boyz knew their way around a ladder better than any other team on the active roster. Joey Mercury, on the other hand, probably could've used a little more practice before he was thrust into the event's 4-way tag team ladder match.
As he'd done many times before, Jeff Hardy used his body to essentially slingshot a ladder into the face's of his opponents. Unfortunately, Mercury wasn't quite in sync with the timing of the hit, and was unable to get his hands up before the ladder smashed into his face, breaking several bones in and around his nose and spilling pints of blood in the process. The camera didn't shy away from the aftermath, showing his face immediately after the incident, which looked like a raw rump roast that had been attacked by a junkyard dog. It's impossible not to shudder every time I hear the sound of the ladder rearranging his bone structure.
1 Sid Vicious Tries To Be A High Flyer, Fails In The Most Painful Way Imaginable
WCW's final years as a company were mired in innumerable bad decisions and the complete mismanagement of talent. Why not let a B-list actor win your promotion's most esteemed championship? Why not suspend Buff Bagwell's mother over the ring on a forklift and use her as a means to end the match? And why not tell a lumbering, nearly 7-foot, 300-plus-pound wrestler that he needs to do more high-flying aerial maneuvers?
That last question was answered, emphatically, at Starrcade 2000 by the sound of Sid's leg snapping in half as he came down off the second rope with a simple boot to Scott Steiner's face. It was a sickening moment made worse by the fact that you can actually see the bone snap. And despite what WCW thought, it did not get more palatable to watch when they re-ran the injury over and over again on the next night's episode of Nitro. How many times can you watch a man's foot break away from his leg in slow motion? Oh, believe me, once is plenty.