There are people out there who, no matter what, will never watch professional wrestling, and will even criticize it by making the case that the entire industry is fake and not a real sport, but these people do not know what they are talking about. Yes, professional wrestling is not 100% real, and most of the time, the wrestlers portray a made-up character, but based on all the technical training, vigorous workouts, and strain that wrestlers put their bodies through, no one can say that they are not real athletes. Like all athletes, wrestlers have an extremely busy schedule and workload, and although their in-ring work provides them with a fairly comfortable lifestyle, they risk their livelihood, and even their lives each time they enter into a ring.
Those who follow a professional sports team know that from time to time, an accident occurs which results in a player getting injured on the field of play, and just like any other athlete, professional wrestlers do not want to get injured. Anyone who has seen professional wrestling knows that wrestlers perform some very acrobatic and high-flying maneuvers, which can carry a lot of risk, and there are also instances where wrestlers get sent through a table, or get hit with a steel chair or ladder, all of which can causes serious injury. There are times when wrestling cooks up a fake injury to make a match or feud more interesting, but in a job which requires a lot of proper execution and timing, there are sometimes serious injuries that occur which were completely unplanned and accidental.
Having said that, let's showcase 15 terrible wrestling accidents that were entirely unscripted.
15 Triple H Tearing His Quad
In 2001, on the May 5th edition of Raw, wrestling fans got to see a tag team match which saw Triple H and Stone Cold Steve Austin take on Chris Jericho and Chris Benoit, which was the kind of match wrestling fans would love to see in the WWE today. During the match, Triple H came into the ring to get Austin out of the Walls of Jericho, but in doing so, he ended up tearing his left quad right then and there, but instead of having the match ended, Triple H decided to finish it while hobbling on one leg, and he even told Jericho to put him in his submission move. The tear basically ran up the entirety of Triple H's leg, and forced him to undergo surgery and rehabilitation which kept him out of action for seven months, but that injury paid off in the end as he returned for the 2002 Royal Rumble to win the match and become the Undisputed Champion.
14 Jim Cornette Tearing His Knee Ligaments
When it comes to professional wrestling, the entire show does not just revolve around the wrestlers themselves, as referees, the crowd, the commentators, and even managers get involved in some way, and when manager Jim Cornette got involved in a match at WCW's Starrcade event in 1986, he paid the price. During the match, Cornette found himself atop a scaffold that was suspended 20 feet above the ground, and the plan was for him to fall down and get caught by his partner, Big Bubba Rogers, but Cornette got his positioning wrong and ended up falling onto his feet away from his partner. The fall resulted in Cornette tearing the ligaments in his knees, and based on his face at that moment, the injury was quite painful. Fortunately, he made a quick recovery after undergoing surgery.
13 X-Pac Tearing Himself A New One
X-Pac has been in wrestling since 1989, and over the course of his career, he has spent time in WWE, WCW, and TNA, where he won multiple championships, and became part of great stables such as the NWO and D-Generation X. He may have made a name for himself in major promotions, but X-Pac has also spent a fair bit of time wrestling on the independent circuit, and it was actually during an indie match, that he accidentally injured himself in a serious, yet funny way. During the match, which took place in 2013, X-Pac went in for a failed Bronco Buster, and when his opponent moved out of the way for him to run into the turnbuckle, X-Pac tore his anus, and remained on the ropes in visible pain. Yes, X-Pac literally tore himself a new one, but the injury could have really negatively impacted his life, because if a person's anus (which is a muscle) cannot work, then there is no real way to get all of the waste out of their body, which can cause serious health issues.
12 Mick Foley Falls Through The Cell
Mick Foley will forever be regarded as a legend within the wrestling community, primarily for his hardcore style, and for his willingness to put his own safety on the line to give the fans something entertaining to watch. Over the course of his career, Foley suffered a myriad of real and unplanned injuries, but none were as severe as the injuries he sustained at the 1998 King of the Ring pay-per-view when he battled The Undertaker in a Hell in a Cell match. Everyone knows that Taker went on to toss Foley (Mankind at the time) off the the top of the cell, but the hope was that the announce table underneath would cushion his fall. Foley's landing was not as soft as everyone hoped it would be, as he suffered a concussion from the fall, as well as a dislocated jaw and shoulder, and a bruised kidney. Despite all of that, he got up, and continued the match atop the demonic structure, which led to the unscripted disaster. The Undertaker chokeslammed Mankind on top of the Cell, which gave way and left Foley plummeting to the hard mat.
11 Hardcore Holly Breaking His Neck
Brock Lesnar has been called "The Beast" for a few years now, and he certainly lived up to that name during his feud with Triple H when he broke the arm of more than one person, but neither of those incidents can really be considered accidents. During his first stint with the WWE, Lesnar unintentionally injured Hardcore Holly during a 2002 taping of SmackDown, and the injury occurred after Lesnar failed to properly execute a powerbomb in the middle of the ring. The whole move was completely off, as Lesnar awkwardly lifted Holly into the air, and quickly brought him down on his head instead of his back, which resulted in Holly breaking his neck. The injury looked as bad as it sounds, and it was incredibly serious, as it caused Holly to be out of action for more than a year.
10 Joe Thurman Breaking His Back
Vader was a big guy with a lot of brute strength, and based primarily on his time in WCW, where he became a three-time World Heavyweight Champion, wrestling fans have wanted him to be inducted into the Hall of Fame. Considering how strong and heavy Vader actually was, it is actually a bit surprising that he did not accidentally injure a lot more people in the ring than he did, but it is a pretty safe bet that Joe Thurman wished that that number was zero. During WCW's 1992 Halloween Havoc pay-per-view, Vader and Thurman faced off against each other in a tag team match, and Vader basically manhandled both his opponents on his own. When it came time for him to deliver a powerbomb to Thurman, the slam ended up breaking his back. Fortunately, Thurman was able to recover, but the injury still sidelined him for a lengthy amount of time, and it even caused him temporary paralysis.
9 Sabu's Broken Neck
Like Mick Foley, Sabu made a name for himself because of his extreme style of wrestling, and it was because of that style that he thrived in ECW. But it was while working for that promotion, that he suffered two terrible injuries. In November of 1994, at ECW's November to Remember live event, Sabu and Chris Benoit competed in a singles match, and although things started off well, the match quickly ended after Sabu accidentally landed on his neck after being flipped into the air by Benoit. After the bad landing, Sabu quickly rolled out of the ring and remained virtually motionless on the floor, and the reason for that was because the landing caused him to break his neck, which in turn caused him to be temporarily paralyzed.
8 Foley Loses An Ear
While serving as the General Manager of Raw, Mick Foley decided to finally give himself a haircut, and thanks to the shortened hair, viewers got to see that Foley was indeed missing his right ear. As a hardcore legend, you would think that Foley would have lost the ear as a result of his head being grated against a steel cage, or by having barbed wire used against him, but as it turns out, it was the previously mentioned Vader who ripped the ear off using just his hands. This took place over in Munich, Germany in 1994 during a WCW European tour, and during their match, Foley's head got caught up in the ropes, which were a lot tighter than normal, and in order to get free, he had to cut up his ear pretty badly. When Vader got a hold of him right after, he pulled the ear right off.
7 Buff Bagwell's Broken Neck
In April of 1998, Buff Bagwell faced Rick Steiner in a tag team match at WCW's Thunder event, and thanks to Steiner's brother Scott, Bagwell ended up winning the match despite suffering a pretty bad injury. Steiner attempted a diving bulldog off the turnbuckle, but Bagwell's head did not land the way it was supposed to, which resulted in him breaking several vertebrae in his neck, and causing him spinal shock syndrome, which can cause both motor paralysis and a loss of sensation in certain parts of the body. Following the match, Bagwell was forced to spend a lot of time confined to a wheelchair due to some paralysis, but thanks to proper rehabilitation, he was eventually able to get back into the ring and continue his career.
6 Jesse Sorensen's Fractured Vertebrae
Impact Wrestling, or TNA as it was once called, may be considered a B-tier product and promotion by some, but the wrestlers there are just as passionate about wrestling as the ones in WWE, which means that they too put their bodies at risk during every single match. At TNA's 2012 Against All Odds pay-per-view, Jesse Sorensen fought Zema Ion in a number one contender's match for the X-Division Championship, and during the match, Sorensen was seriously injured when Ion landed awkwardly onto his neck following a back flip off the turnbuckle. The match was stopped instantly, as Sorensen suffered a fracture to his C-1 vertebrae, as well as spinal cord edema which caused serious swelling. Though he eventually came back to continue his career, Sorensen needed a full year to fully recover.
5 Sabu's Second Broken Neck
When you are a professional wrestler, there is only one part of your body that you really do not want to injure, and that would be your neck, because one mistimed or botched move around the neck area could leave you paralyzed for life. Earlier, it was mentioned that Sabu suffered two serious injuries while in ECW, and as it turns out, both those injuries happened to involve him getting his neck broken. His second broken neck occurred in 1998 in a singles match with Taz, which saw Taz send Sabu through a table with his patented Taz-Plex, and just like the Benoit incident, Sabu landed on his neck instead of his back. The match was called off immediately, and Sabu was rushed to the hospital. Although he recovered, he is incredibly lucky that he did not suffer any permanent damage from either accident.
4 Sid Vicious' Broken Leg
Of all the accidents on this list that took place during an actual match, this entry will probably make you cringe the most, because it involves a person's leg literally bending the wrong way. In the main event of WCW's Sin pay-per-view in 2001, Sid Vicious was part of a Four Corners match for the World Heavyweight Championship, and prior to the match, WCW's management told Vicious that he needed to expand his set of moves to include some aerial techniques, which Vicious opposed, as his body was too big to perform such moves. He ended up agreeing to it though, and during the match, he jumped off the second turnbuckle for an aerial kick, and when he landed, he did so in such a way that his leg broke from all the weight placed on it during the landing. A human leg is not supposed to bend that way, and Vicious nearly had to retire because of it,. Although he did wrestle again, he was never able to perform full-time for a major promotion again.
3 The Danbury Fall
All of the accidents up to this point have involved only one individual getting hurt, but with this entry, we have an accident which actually caused both parties to come out of a match severely injured. This accident took place in 2000, at ECW's Living Dangerously pay-per-view, and it took place during a singles match between New Jack and Vic Grimes, and is known within the wrestling community as "The Danbury Fall." The match saw both men get to the top of a scaffold, and the idea was that while they were fighting, they would both fall off the scaffold and onto a bunch of tables placed below them, but New Jack pulled Grimes earlier than he was supposed to, causing them to miss the tables and land on the concrete floor instead. The fall left lasting impressions on both men, as New Jack became blind in his right eye, while Grimes suffered permanent nerve damage.
2 Bret Hart's Career-Ending Injury
Bret "The Hitman" Hart was an incredibly talented and beloved wrestler, so much so, that he definitely deserves being in the Hall of Fame, as well as his moniker of being, "the best there is, the best there was, and the best there ever will be." In 1997, Hart decided to leave the WWE and join their biggest competitor, WCW, a move which he believed would help his career, but which ultimately ended up costing him his career after he suffered an accidental, yet major injury in a match with Goldberg. The match was a part of WCW's 1999 Starrcade, and the injury in question occurred after Goldberg delivered a devastating mule kick to Hart's head, which gave The Hitman a serious concussion. Hart (and his bosses at WCW) thought he could overcome the injury, but the post-concussion syndrome proved to be too much for him to handle, which forced him into retirement.
1 Owen Hart's Death
As stated at the beginning of this list, wrestlers do indeed put their lives on the line every time they go to the ring, and in the case of Owen Hart (the brother of Bret Hart), he actually lost his life as a result of his job. In 1999, Owen had a superhero gimmick going on which saw him go by The Blue Blazer, and going into that year's Over the Edge pay-per-view, he was set to face The Godfather for the Intercontinental Championship, and the plan was for him to make a dramatic entrance by being lowered to the ring via a harness and grapple line. While Owen was descending, something went wrong, and the harness released early, causing him to fall 78 feet to the ring below, with his chest hitting the top rope, which flung him into the ring. He died shortly after as a result of blunt force trauma and internal bleeding, and the sight of him falling is still seared into the memory of all those who were in attendance.