WARNING: The following images and events are real and not for the faint hearted. They are ugly and nasty and some of them are hard to watch. I doubt you will be able to watch them over and over again without feeling it, and anyone who does is either a surgeon or a little sick.
Is wrestling fake? The answer is kinda- sorta. It is scripted and practiced. Many wrestlers know what's coming and plan accordingly to turn away, use slight of hand to block blows, pull back blows, and all the while act as if they are experiencing excruciating pain. Often times it can be completely obvious and also embarrassing when they react.
But things don't always turn out as planned and sometimes there is real animosity and contact. Tendons and ligaments tear, bones break, and ears get caught in the ropes and rip off. Landings go wrong, real punches land, and fights occur. There are ladders, cages, barbed wire, and other serious tools that can cause concussions and paralysis.
More than 10 wrestlers have died in the ring. Others often experience such physical abuse die at a younger age and that dramatically exceeds actuarial expectations. Approximately 20 percent of wrestlers will die before the age of 60, and compared to other sports, it is the most fatal. In the NBA, the number is 8%, the NFL is 6, MLB is 4, and then the rough and tough NHL is at 3%.
And for what? Over 90% of wrestlers make very little money. Fans praise their toughness in chat rooms, stand for a moment of silence, but do they really, really care? And Vince McMahon? The king of exploitation has made a fortune and just keeps getting richer while these men, women, and their families suffer. If any athlete should strike, it's wrestlers. Accidents are always going to happen in the ring, that's inevitable. But these are some botches that seriously made an impact on one's career and left us in shock. We should note this list will not include botches that resulted in death, as that's a whole other category altogether.
15 Goldberg Ends Bret Hart's Career
Starrcade 12 took place in Washington D.C and the Main Event was Hart vs Goldberg for the World Heavyweight Championship. Goldberg was laying a serious beat down on Hart and it seemed like a one sided script. Goldberg effortlessly rolled out of trouble and over acted every time Hart had his moments. The match would come to an abrupt end when Goldberg whipped Hart against the ropes. Hart rebounded off the ropes perfectly and when he sprung toward Goldberg, the big man shot a right legged sidekick with perfect precision, extension, and malice. It connected to Hart's chin and he dropped and gripped his ears in riveting pain.
Goldberg actually seemed to sense something was wrong and retreated to the opposite corner. But when Hart made it to his feet, the crowd was roaring and oblivious. The "show" went on and Goldberg leveled him again. It was so ferocious that Hart suffered a career ending concussion.
14 Stone Cold's Neck Is Broken
Austin and Hart clashed in the Intercontinental Championship Match on August 3, 1997. In a match more ridiculously scripted than the worst soap opera, a mistake happened. Hart reversed Austin into a pile-driver, but Hart struggled with Austin's weight and seemed off balanced and shaky. When Hart dropped, Austin's head wasn't between his thighs which is supposed to (they say) prevent the full shock by stabilizing the neck and head. However,
Austin's head was too deep so when it hit the mat, the gravity and weight was devastating. Hart's legs gyrated and Austin's head crashed and rolled. He was temporarily paralyzed with a broken neck but went on to continue the match. However, the injury proved to be the a career shortener, as Austin would undergo neck surgery a couple of years later, and had to retire from wrestling a lot earlier than he wanted to.
13 Mankind Falls Through The Cell
We're talking about REAL Hell In a Cell when Mankind and The Undertaker went at it in 1998. In the script, Foley prepared for a 22 foot fall into the announcer's table, but in this match the script was "flipped" and there was no way he could plan for what really happened. At the top of the cage, the Undertaker hurled Foley further into the air and he crashed into the table, on his back, and rolled through it and to the floor. Foley was knocked out, his shoulder separated, and he was taken out on a stretcher. But Foley woke up on the stretcher, the crowd went wild, and he pushed his way through the medics to climb back up the cage where he met the Undertaker.
Then, The Undertaker threw him on the top square of the cage and Foley fell another 20 feet into the middle of the ring. That WASN'T supposed to happen and Foley said that's the fall that really hurt him badly. He had a concussion, dislocated arm, jaw, bruised kidneys, and shattered teeth. Foley was bleeding everywhere and though referees and medics tried to stop it, the Undertaker continued the battle and Foley fought with a tooth up his nose.
12 Joey Mercury's Face Gets Busted
Joey Mercury teamed up with Melina and Nitro for the WWE's "Armageddon" in 2006. They entered the ring in a four-team match and the titles were displayed above the ring. There were a few ladders to be used by the winners to claim the belts. Of course, the ladders could be used in the fight, and they were. Mercury's team arranged the ladders like a see saw, and when a teammate ran from one end to the other, the back end swung up and smashed Mercury's face. He broke his nose, orbital bone, and was so sliced up blood flowed everywhere. He rolled out of the ring, dazed, dizzy, and shocked. Mercury waved his arms as he couldn't maintain his balance and stand. He tried to make a comeback but he was never the same after having his face broken and bloodied.
11 Roxxi Gets Hit Too Hard With The Mic
The ladies are not immune to serious or gory accidents either, witnessed at Slammiversary in June of 2010. Roxxi fought Madison Rayne in a Title vs. Career match. Madison took the mic before the bell and the two started trash talking with each of them having a hand on the microphone. Then, Rayne smashed Roxxi in the head with the mic and Roxxi rolled out of the ring in pain. Now, think the movie "Carrie." As Roxxi gathered herself outside of the ring, blood was spilling out of her head and raining down her face. Roxxi's blonde hair turned red as she walked around the ring, a bloody mess of shock and confusion. The look of anger and fear emanated from her eyes and body.
10 Sabu Gets His Bicep Torn On Barbed Wire
Sabu and Funk clashed in a Born to be Wired, World Heavyweight Championship, barbed wire match in 1997. At about the 4 minute mark, Sabu hurled Funk into the turnbuckles and Funk was hung up and played dead. Sabu then set up a chair in front of Funk, charged, stepped on the chair and launched himself with the "Air Sabu." However, Funk dodged the kick and Sabu flew into and got tangled up in the wire. He crashed to the mat and the wire ripped open his bicep. There was an eleven, count it, 11 inch slice and his bicep muscle was hanging out of his skin. But it gets worse. Sabu is kicking and writhing in pain and pulls tape off his body to tape his wound closed when Funk starts pounding on him with the chair. The entire match was a blood bath.
9 Droz Suffers Paralysis
On October 5, 1999, Darren "Droz" Drozdov marched toward the ring with his chin up and his long hair hanging. But it wasn't long before D'Lo had him in his clutches and over his head, almost running and holding Droz upside down. D'Lo ran him toward the ropes for his finishing move, the running power bomb, and the crowd was alive and crazed with blood lust. But D'Lo's grip was lose, and Droz started to fall too early. When Droz slammed into the mat, his head and neck bounced off and he was immediately paralyzed from the neck down. Medics and refs rushed to the ring and the crowd, now silent and still, stood in shock. Droz was carried out of the ring on a stretcher with two shattered disks in his neck. Today, he is confined to a wheelchair and is a quadriplegic.
8 Brock Lesnar Misses Shooting Star Press
The script was written, so that Brock would finish Kurt Angle with the shooting star press. He had done it before while in OVW, propelling his massive frame as high as the stars and nearly across the full length of the mat. It was supposed to be extraordinarily athletic, powerful, and graceful. Angle scheduled neck surgery the next day so Lesnar agreed to take it easy, which actually made him tentative. He under rotated, and despite knowing he had really injured himself, he eventually got up and delivered another F5 to Angle and pinned him to finish the match.
In the ring and on the way back stage he was in and out of consciousness and was diagnosed with a concussion. Doctors later said that if it wasn't for dumb luck and his dedication to building his neck muscles through "bridges," he would have never walked out of the ring.
7 Roxxi Gets Hit Too Hard With A Ladder
Yep, that's gorgeous Roxxi after her Ladder Match with Gail Kim in 2008. Gail waited for Roxxi to walk into the falling distance of the ladder, and when Roxxi did, Kim pushed it over. The ladder smashed her in the head and Roxxi crumbled. She was screaming in pain but again, we can't be sure until she sits down to get her head shaved. That's when gashes appear across her forehead and the side of her skull. As the razor slices her blood soaked hair and scalp, she keeps reaching for her head and cringing in pain. It was ugly to watch, and though ladders seem to be a nasty weapon, the crowds love it and it fills Vince's wallet. Roxxi proved to be one tough woman.
6 Savage Gets Snake-Bitten
I could really care less that King Cobra was de-venomed. I could also care less that Randy only suffered a "puncture" wound. You'd have to pay me six digits to even get in a ring with a snake, let a lone get bit by one. But that's what happened when Savage wrestled Jake "The Snake" Roberts and Jake unleashed his King Cobra on him. Savage was down and his arms were trapped in the middle rope. Jake waved and rubbed the 6 foot plus serpent over Savage until it opened its mouth and struck. For almost 45 seconds of complete chaos, the snake can be seen gnawing on Savage's arm. It's twisting it's head and trying to find the teeth and fangs to get a grip. Terror!
5 Roxxi (Again)
Gees, poor Roxxi, what did she do to deserve all this? Roxxi had her head busted open in 2008 when she and Awesome Kong wrestled in a Bimbo Brawl (yup, that's actually what it was called. Roxxi was making her case to the referee as Kong quietly got to her feet. She then picked up a chair and when Roxxi turned, Kong hurled the chair into her face. The angle between the back rest and seat opened and trapped Roxxi's head and she went down. Roxxi laid on the mat and stared upward with a gash in her forehead and blood pooling on the mat. Kong then pinned her as she's laying in blood, struggling to breath, and her eyes rolling back into her head. Sure, the head bleeds, but the fear and confusion in her dead eyes is freaky.
4 Mick Foley Takes More Than Twice The Chair Shots He Was Supposed To
Mick Foley fought The Rock in the infamous "I quit" match. With Foley's hands cuffed behind his back, The Rock smashed him over the head 11 times with a chair. These weren't the average chair blows where wrestlers don't follow through or block the it, but this was a brutal, loud, and real assault.
The chair was smashing his bones, cutting him, and he was covered in blood. Eleven chair shots seems excessive, and that's because it was in fact more than was supposed to happen. Foley wrote in his book Foley Is Good that the number was supposed to be five, but due to a miscommunication, he and The Rock weren't on their spot for the finish, so chair shots kept getting added.
The multiple chair shots got a lot of heat, but Mick's wife and children were screaming and crying with terror. Foley lost the championship that night, and his family broke past security to get him out of there. Sure it was gruesome, but it was also kind of pitiful. Children and wives should never see that.
3 Bob Holly Gets Cut On His Back
Bob' neck had already been broken by Brock Lessnar, so in comparison this was nothing. The crowd and Vince also didn't mind as afterward they applauded Holly's toughness. When Bob fought Rob Van Dam in the Extreme Rules Match, it was an accident that caused this massive cut. Holly super-plexed Van Dam over the 3rd rope and out of the ring. But the whole sequence was awkward and they crashed through a table. At first it looked like Van Dam took the worst of it, but then Holly stood up and revealed a massive, deep cut that would take 24 stitches to close. He writhed in pain, bled like crazy, and though woozy he fought through it. It was used in countles "Don't Try This At Home" messages by WWE.
On December 12, 1990, in the NJPW versus AJPW Supercard Event, there were issues between Vader and Stan Hansen before the bell even rang. Behind the scenes, Hansen broke Vader's nose with a prop which would only foreshadow the heinous accident to come. The two clinched, and as Hansen threw punches at close range his thumb hooked and caught Vader's right eye. Vader immediately turned, ripped off his mask, stumbled away, and turned with his mouth aghast. Vader's eye was pulled out of its socket, and though mortified he pressed it back into his head. Hansen even retreated into the far corner, watched, and sat on the turnbuckle. Vader wrestled the match with his eyelid holding his eye ball in. Who said Vader wasn't tough?
1 Sid Vicious
In the Four Corners Match for The WCW World Heavyweight Championship on January 14, 2001, Sid Vicious broke his leg so severely it blew away the infamous break of Joe Theismann. Sid Vicious was on the 2nd rope and went for a Big Boot. The right kick connected but his left leg couldn't support his weight and snapped in two. We're talking clean break below the knee like a stick.
Sid rolled on his back. clutched his leg, and cried in pain as the foot attached to the lower leg flailed and waved. If he wasn't wearing high boots the bone would have torn through his skin, and you can see the bone push against the leather. NOT FAKE! That injury took years to heal, but thankfully Sid is up and walking around now.