Unlike other combat sports such as boxing, kickboxing, and mixed martial-arts, professional wrestling is scripted entertainment. Fans of real combat sports are quick to throw that in the face of fans of professional wrestling. Pro wrestling fans usually respond with the rebuttal that wrestlers still get hurt. That statement is very much true. Professional wrestlers are more banged up and in constant pain more than most sports. Constantly slamming your body on the canvas has taken a toll on many wrestlers. With the professional wrestling business also comes concussions and many wrestlers have had concussions throughout the years. With the pain that comes from the professional wrestling business comes an addiction to pain medicine. Professional wrestling injuries happen unfortunately more times than us fans would like. Freak injuries in wrestling are some of the hardest to watch as they are unexpected. Concussions are some of the more frequent injuries that wrestlers have and those have a long-lasting effect. There have also been rare instance where a wrestle contracted a serious disease that forced them to end their career.
Here are 15 serious injuries that caused wrestlers to retire.
Droz was a former NFL football player. He had to quit playing after an issue he had that would see him vomit frequently. In the odd mind of Vince McMahon, he saw Droz as a perfect character for WWE at the time. He joined The Road Warriors as the legendary tag team's career began to spin out of control. The highlight of his WWE run saw him feud with fellow Road Warrior member Hawk. The team saw Hawk's personal problems showcased on week-by-week basis. The feud climaxed with Droz pushing Hawk of the titantron. Droz's WWE career came to an end in 1999 after a freak accident occurred in the ring against D'Lo Brown. Brown slipped while performing a Powerbomb, leaving Droz paralyzed.
Christian is almost universally loved by most wrestling fans. His antics with his real-life friend Edge during the Attitude Era are some of the best comedy that WWE has ever done. The two were massively successful while competing as a team until the eventual split. Edge won many World Championships during his time. Meanwhile, Christian experimented in TNA until WWE was interested in re-signing him. He won his first World title in 2011 and lost two days later at a SmackDown taping. He feuded with Randy Orton and won the title once more and after losing it back to Orton, the injuries started piling up. He suffered many concussions and WWE released him from his contract in 2016. He is unlikely to wrestle again.
13 Chris Nowinski
Chris Nowinski was featured on the first season of Tough Enough and would come up short to the eventual winner Maven. WWE as they normally do, hired him anyways. After a short time in developmental, WWE brought him up to the main roster. WWE used the fact that he was an actual Harvard graduate to it's fullest effect. At 2003 Royal Rumble, an infamous both occurred when Rey Mysterio and Edge went for a Double Dropkick on Nowinski. Edge was late going for the move and land on Nowinski's face after he was down giving him a concussion. Nowinski attempted to battle his concussion symptoms all the way to June but was forced to retire at a young age. Nowinski has since been very vocal about the dangers of concussions.
Sid is one of many wrestlers to perform for the three major American promotions in the late '90s. Those companies being WWE, ECW, and WCW. In the WWE, Sid would achieve the highest honor twice and was in the main event of WrestleMania 13. A main event universally considered as one of the worst in WrestleMania history. After WWE, Sid went to ECW and was pushed as an absolute monster. He stretchered his opponents out after he would be finished with them. After not getting paid in ECW, he left for WCW and won the World Championship on multiple occasions. Unfortunately, his injury came during one of WCW's final pay-per-views. WCW wanted him to do a top rope move and he went for a big boot and snapped his leg. Sid's injuries is one of the hardest to watch by far.
11 Nigel McGuinness
Nigel McGuinness was ROH's poster boy for the late 2000s. He would hold the ROH World Championship for over 500 days after beating Takeshi Morishima. McGuinness would move on to what few would consider better things and joined TNA. He was renamed Desmond Wolfe and was immediately put in a feud with Kurt Angle. In true TNA fashion, Wolfe would go on to lose the feud. He would become a rejected member of one of the many stables TNA would create Fortune. He formed a short-lived tandem with Magnus and then he was forced to retire after being diagnosed with Hepatitis C. He did some commentary with ROH for a few years until being picked up by the WWE in 2017 as a commentator for NXT.
Hayabusa was a Japanese wrestler who wrestled mainly for the FMW promotion. Hayabusa's in-ring style was similar to that of a lucha libre style wrestler. Hayabusa was close friends with fellow Japanese wrestler Jushin Thunder Liger. Hayabusa had a few matches in America. One of his more memorable matches came at the ECW Heat Wave pay-per-view in 1998. He and Jinsei Shinzaki (the former Hakushi) took on the tandem of Rob Van Dam and Sabu. They lost and Hayabusa returned to Japan. Hayabusa's career came to a painful end in 2001 when he went for a springboard moonsault and landed on his head. He lost the ability to use his legs for 14 years where he was able to walk with the use of a cane. A year later he died from a brain hemorrhage
9 Corey Graves
Corey Graves is now loved by many fans because of his commentating ability. As a former wrestler, Graves provides valuable insight that very few WWE commentators are able to give. Sadly, the way we got Graves to be a commentator comes from a concussion. Corey Graves developed an interesting character where he was seemingly depressed. He won the NXT Tag Team Championship with Neville before he turned on him. The two took part in WWE's infamous "50/50 booking." Neville was responsible giving him his first concussion. He returned and was quickly given his second concussion and Graves retired. WWE were nice enough to give Graves a job on commentary where he was proven that he is the best color commentary guy that WWE has to offer.
8 Daniel Bryan
Daniel Bryan is by far the most genuinely loved wrestler that WWE has seen in years. Fans wanted him to succeed so badly and wouldn't have it any other way than the way it happened at WrestleMania XXX. Daniel should be considered the best wrestler of the 2000s. His path to getting the WWE World Heavyweight Championship is the best WWE had a face in years. No one has been able to match Daniel Bryan in terms of getting over. Sadly in 2016, WWE forced Daniel Bryan to call it quits. Although doing it was probably for the best for Bryan as he's had multiple concussions, Bryan still plans on getting back in the squared-circle. He has options such as New Japan and ROH available to him and wherever he goes, his fans will flock.
7 CM Punk
CM Punk is one of the few wrestlers that WWE didn't want to succeed but succeeded to amounts that nobody imagined. Sadly, it is unlikely that we will ever see Punk back with the WWE. He left because of creative differences mainly and unhappiness with the current direction of the company. He is also being sued by the WWE and their head doctor. CM Punk being sued by the doctor comes from his shoot interview on the Colt Cabana Podcast. Punk broke his silence for the first time since leaving in January. He explained his issue with the doctor and the doctor not doing anything to treat a growth on his side. After the Royal Rumble in 2014 he claims he got a concussion during the match but Punk said the doctor passed him through the concussion protocol. Punk has obviously not wrestled since.
Edge was the best heel of the Ruthless Aggression Era. His character as the Rated-R Superstar is genuinely one of the most unique in history. His live sex celebration with Lita is one of the highest rated segments in recent Raw history. Prior to becoming a singles star, Edge won numerous amounts of Tag titles. His partner for most of those reigns was his best friend Christian. When Edge began to pick up some steam on SmackDown, he was hit with serious neck injury that sidelined him for a a year. He was moved to Raw and after not being wanted as a face, they turned him heel and we began to see him at his best. After defeating Alberto Del Rio he suffered a neck injury on Smackdown and retired on Raw. In 2012 he was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame.
5 Rick Rude
How Rick Rude is not in the WWE Hall of Fame by now is completely mind-boggling. He is the best wrestler ever to pull off the sleazy and narcissistic gimmick. Everything down to his ring gear was perfect for him. Rude achieved success everywhere he went. In the WWE he won the Intercontinental Championship from The Ultimate Warrior. His highest profile match came at SummerSlam 1990 where he lost to the Warrior in a Steel Cage match for WWE Championship. Rude had great success in WCW as well as Japan. He won the WCW Championship before having a career-ending back injury against Sting. In 1997 he was involved in all three major US promotions. In 1999, Rude was preparing for an in-ring return but passed that same year because of drug use.
4 Dynamite Kid
The Dynamite Kid was one-half of the '80s tag team , The British Bulldogs. He and Davey Boy Smith made waves throughout the tag team scene in the 1980s including in the WWE. They would win the Tag Team Championship in WWE, as well as in Stampede Wrestling. His partner passed away in 2002 because of steroid abuse. Dynamite Kid was known at the time for being one wrestling early small Superstars. He would make waves for the smaller wrestlers like Chris Benoit, Bret Hart, Dean Malenko, Shawn Michaels, and many more. That style as we all know is not good for your health but Kid continued to wrestle way longer than he should have. He lost usage of his leg and he's paralyzed. He's forced to use a wheelchair.
3 Bret Hart
Bret Hart is regarded by some as the best WWE wrestler of all-time. He was the first wrestler who was nowhere near being a bodybuilder to win the WWE Championship. Not only did he do it, he would win it five times. After the infamous Montreal Screwjob, Hart would leave for WCW. To say Hart was misused by WCW is an understatement. He was made to look like a dummy multiple times. His success included winning the United States Championship, the Tag Team Championship, and the World Heavyweight Championship. Hart competed in the main event of Starrcade 1999. He faced Bill Goldberg and took a stiff superkick flush to the head. This kick concussed Hart and forced him into retirement.
Sting's two-match WWE run is easily one of the worst runs in WWE history. First he faced Triple H in his debut match at WrestleMania 31. In his debut, a match where everyone universally thought Sting should win, he lost in the most contrived and confusing way possible. From there, Sting should have seen the writing on the wall and bounced. But unfortunately, he chose to come back for another match. He faced then WWE and United States Champion Seth Rollins. Sting in natural babyface style would take on Seth Rollins after he already had a match. Sting got injured after turnbuckle powerbomb went array and injured Sting's neck. At the Hall of Fame he announced his retirement.
1 Stone Cold Steve Austin
Stone Cold Steve Austin continued to work through on of the scariest injuries in wrestling history. At SummerSlam 1997 he faced Owen Hart for the Intercontinental Championship. Owen Hart reversed Steve Austin's piledriver attempt to one of his own and Austin's head was positioned incorrectly. Austin's head spiked off the canvas and he was left without feeling in his limbs. In a surreal moment, Austin managed to use the strength left in his body to roll-up Hart from behind and win the match and the Intercontinental title. Austin would go on to continue his rise to stardom and become the man at the forefront of the Attitude Era. Injuries derailed Austin's career in years 2000 and 2002. In 2003 he called it a career and retired after years of injuries.