The wrestling industry can take a perfectly healthy body and turn it into a bruised and battered bag of flesh and bone. The constant pounding on the mat can wear down a body quickly and the slightest mistake can result in a fractured bone. That’s why you shouldn’t hope anyone gets seriously injured while performing.
You may hate the character, but that person is putting their body on the line for your enjoyment. We’ve seen countless gruesome injuries in the ring. From Psycho Sid’s broken ankle to Stone Cold Steve Austin getting his neck broken, nasty injuries can occur live and on television.
What we don’t ever talk about is injuries that happen outside the ring. We’re not talking about a backstage segment where a wrestler hurts another dude, we’re talking about real life. Most of the injuries on this list not only could have ended the career of a wrestler but their life as well. Other injuries are here are just nasty accidents that you really don’t want to happen to you or a loved one. If you’re squeamish about these things, we warn you, some of these injuries are gruesome. For those that love this kind of content, you’re welcome.
16 Alberto Del Rio
After a scrumptious dinner in 2016, Alberto Del Rio would have to fight off a knife-wielding maniac that made advances towards his fiancée Paige. He would brawl with the criminal but couldn’t pin him down until police arrived. Del Rio would suffer multiple lacerations on his arm and a deep gash on his head. The individual who slashed Del Rio was never found.
Del Rio was fine after the incident but missed an appearance at the Lucha Libre AAA WorldWide event, Heroes Immortals X. The scuffle came just weeks after Del Rio was released by the WWE so all you conspiracy theorists out there can speculate if Vince McMahon put a hit out on the guy. We seriously doubt McMahon would but it’s always fun to ponder.
15 Mick Foley
The sound of a car screeching and crashing is the first thing you hear from Mick Foley’s entrance music. Not only was Foley in matches that seemed like the setting of a car crash but the legend was involved in a car accident early on in his career. He used to say Sting took out his two front teeth but eventually admitted in his autobiography “Have A Nice Day!” that it was a car accident that gave him the famous look.
From a missing ear to countless concussion and lacerations, missing two front teeth doesn’t seem that gruesome but we doubt anyone would want to go through with an ordeal like that. In the end, Foley became a God and married a model, so maybe losing your two front teeth is good luck.
If you think a staph infection is harmless then you need to read about staphylococcus. A staph infection can cause boils, cellulitis, toxic shock syndrome, and impetigo. If left untreated, the bacteria of the infection could even result in death. What’s worst is the infection can be spread by skin contact. That’s why it was no joke when Ryback had a staph infection in his knee.
The guy is a hulking mass of muscle and was quoted as saying that it was the worst pain he ever felt. If a staph infection could take out a human gorilla like Ryback, what do you think it could do to the average person if left untreated? It was also the worst timing for Ryback because he would be involved in a feud for the Intercontinental Championship at the time.
12 Perry Saturn
Perry Saturn would make his wrestling debut in 1990 and become a key member in the Tag Team Division for ECW before signing with WCW. He was never a top talent star but Saturn could hold his own as a mid-card wrestler. He would eventually sign with WWE but failed to stay there long term. After coming off a successful tour in New Japan Pro Wrestling in 2003, Saturn would stop two men from violating a woman in 2004.
He would be shot with a .25 caliber handgun in the neck and shoulder before scaring off the criminals. Saturn was a hero but his life would spin out of control due to being addicted to the painkillers for his injuries. After years of becoming somewhat of a hermit and homeless, Saturn would come back into the spotlight in 2010 and begin wrestling again.
11 Colt Cabana
A slice of skin on a finger may not look like a gruesome injury but for indie star Colt Cabana, it almost turned into a career-ending event. In 2012, Cabana had to be hospitalized for an infection that came out of nowhere like an RKO. A small cut on his finger would turn into a gaping hole that needed to be treated or otherwise he could have lost his finger or at worst, his hand.
Everything turned out okay for the comedic wrestler and the support he received was overwhelmingly positive. In a tongue-and-cheek response to his injuries, fans created #SaveColtsFinger. After several memes and posts, his injury would go viral and it would add to the aura of Cabana. It may have been just a hole in his finger, but it was one nasty looking hole.
10 Kerry Von Erich
Kerry Von Erich would be involved in a motorcycle accident in 1986. The result of the crash was a dislocated hip and the amputation of his right foot. Kerry knew a missing foot would hurt his career opportunities in the industry so he decided to keep the amputation hidden. He would perform at a high level for several years after his amputation but became hooked on pain killers.
Sadly, Kerry would take his own life in 1993 after years of depression and drug abuse. The Von Erich’s story may be the saddest real life tale ever in the wrestling industry. If you didn’t know, Kerry Von Erich was one of five brothers involved in wrestling because of their father, Fritz Von Erich. Today, the only brother that’s alive is Kevin Von Erich.
9 Arn Anderson
The original member of The Four Horsemen not only was as tough as he looked but also had the stones to go after one of the strongest and tallest wrestlers in the industry, Psycho Sid. There are no photos to document what took place, but eyewitness testimony of 2 Cold Scorpio tells us a tale of a fight that broke out in a hotel between Anderson and Sid in England in 1993.
Apparently, after being separated from a scuffle, Sid would track Anderson down to his hotel room and knock on the door. Anderson came out holding a pair of safety scissors and the two started to brawl. Sid eventually got hold of the scissors and stabbed him multiple times in the chest, thus, his career with WCW was over. Charges were never brought up and 2 Cold Scorpio was givien credit for saving Anderson’s life when he intervened.
8 Mike Von Erich
Mike Von Erich is another example of the tragic tale of the Von Erichs. As we mentioned in the Kerry Von Erich post, the Von Erichs were made up of five brothers but only one is alive today. Mike would make his debut in 1983 and quickly teamed up with Kerry to battle The Fabulous Freebirds. In 1985, he suffered a shoulder injury while on tour in Israel.
He seemed okay but four days later his body would shut down with a 107-degree fever. He would be diagnosed with toxic shock syndrome and suffer brain damage and weight loss. You may not think it was an injury, but let’s see how you do with toxic shock syndrome. Some symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea, kidney failure, liver inflammation, and a shutdown of the central nervous system.
Lita debuted in the industry in 1999 and it didn’t take long before she became one of the greatest female wrestlers of our time. Her high-flying and daredevil maneuvers were a fresh breath of air in the Women’s Division. You would think her incautious style would result in a serious injury in the ring, however, her worst injury would come on the set of a television program called Dark Angel in 2002.
She would perform a Hurricanrana on a stunt double but would be dropped and she landed on her neck. The accident would result in three cracks in her vertebrae. Lita would undergo extensive rehab until she returned seventeen months after the accident. Although her C-5 and C-6 vertebrae were fused together, she didn’t miss a beat on her return.
6 Johnny Valentine
The father of Greg “The Hammer” Valentine is known as one of the pioneers of wrestling in the golden era (1940s – 1960s) before his career ending accident. Valentine was part of the infamous 1975 airplane crash that involved Ric Flair, Mr. Wrestling, David Crockett, and Bob Bruggers. The pilot decided to reduce the amount of fuel the plane had to compensate for the weight.
The drastic move would alter the life of each individual on the plane, including the pilot. Valentine would suffer a broken back and have to retire from wrestling. A bone fragment would make its way into Valentine’s spinal column causing him to become paralyzed. Although his career was coming to an end, Valentine was still robbed from going out the way he wanted to.
5 Harley Race
Harley Race would make his wrestling debut in 1960 and would go on to have a storied three-decade career, however, it almost wasn’t meant to be when he was involved in a car accident early on in his profession. After becoming a successful tag team with his kayfabe brother John Long, Harley was making a name for himself as a rising star in the business.
Sadly, Race would be involved in a car accident that instantly killed his pregnant wife Vivian Louise Jones. As he gripped with the reality of losing his family, Race almost lost his wrestling career when doctors wanted to amputate his leg. If it wasn’t for his boss and promoter, Gust Karras, convincing doctors to not amputate his leg, then Race would never have become a wrestling legend.
4 Brutus Beefcake
The fashionable barber may have only made it to the big leagues of wrestling because of his best friend Hulk Hogan, however, Beefcake would make the most of his opportunity and become a household name when his career was over with. He almost had his career shortened in the summer of 1990 when the scissor-wielding star was involved in a parasailing accident.
While helping a friend prepare for takeoff, the driver of the boat mistook a sign and started speeding off. This resulted in Beefcake getting nailed right in the face by his friend’s feet. The accident shattered Beefcake’s facial skeleton and he would need over 100 metal plates to fix his face. Beefcake would rehab for several years and wouldn’t become an active participant in the ring until 1993.
3 Bob Bruggers
Bruggers was a former NFL player that quickly grew in the wrestling industry. He would make his debut in 1972 and had a bright future ahead of him. As we mentioned with Johnny Valentine, in October of 1975, a group of wrestlers had been involved in a plane crash. The pilot decided to reduce the amount of fuel in the plane to compensate for the weight and the action would take his life. Ric Flair, Mr. Wrestling, David Crockett, Valentine, and Bruggers would all suffer horrendous injuries.
As a result of the crash, Bruggers would endure spinal fractures and a broken ankle. He would leave the hospital three weeks later but for some reason, he would never return to the ring. Flair and Mr. Wrestling (Tim Woods) would be the only ones to continue their wrestling careers, even though they also sustained brutal injuries to their spines and necks.
2 Buddy Colt
Most wrestling historians and fans are familiar with the infamous plane crash involving Ric Flair, Mr. Wrestling, and a few others in 1975, however, there is another plane crash that happened that year. In 1975, Tampa Bay didn’t have any professional sports teams but they did have professional wrestling. Buddy Colt, manager Gary Hart, Bobby Shane (Robert Schoenberger), and Dennis McCord were all involved in the Tampa Bay territory and went down with the plane that day.
The plane crashed into the water and quickly was submerged. Colt, Hart, and McCord managed to escape but Shane drowned. McCord would have his foot crushed but continued his career. Hart suffered from an injured back and Colt would have both his ankles crushed. Colt, real name Ronald Reed, would never be able to wrestle again.
1 Magnum T.A.
The sky was the limit for Magnum in the early 1980s. He would make his wrestling debut in 1980 and became a quick study of the industry. Before you knew it, he was in the ring with the top guys in the different promotions at the time. He would join Jim Crockett Promotions in 1984 and his career was seriously heading to stardom and fame. His wrestling skills in the ring were top notch and he could gain heat with a crowd.
Magnum had all the potential to be a long-term contender in the business but sadly in 1986, he would be involved in a car accident. His car would spin out of control and wrap around a telephone pole. His C-4 and C-5 vertebrae evaporated in the accident causing him to be paralyzed for months on the right side of his body. The injury would end his career and will never know how great he could have been.