When you think of the phrase “Don’t try this at home” as it relates to professional wrestling, you probably think about piledrivers, brain busters, 20-foot leaps, and barbed wire bats. Those “Don’t try this at home” messages became particularly popular during a wrestling ear that was highlighted by an increase in extreme violence and high-risk maneuvers. Because those messages rarely work, most fans ended up doing exactly what they were told not to do at some point. That’s how we ended up with so many backyard wrestling federations and news reports about someone going to the hospital after their friend hit them with a chair.
However, the truth of the matter is that WWE should probably air that message before every single match. Wrestling may be scripted, but the average professional wrestling match is loaded with incredibly dangerous moments that could easily result in serious injury or even death. We see these moves performed so often, though, that we usually think of them as simple - even boring - parts of the average wrestling match. Of course, those simple moves have a history of leading to some shocking injuries. These are the 15 times a simple wrestling move went horribly wrong.
15 John Cena’s Hip Toss Ends His Historic Title Reign
You may have heard that top guys like John Cena and Randy Orton really hated working with Mr. Kennedy. While there are many reasons that was the case, top guys tended to hate working with Kennedy because he had a tendency to cause the people he worked with to get injured whether or not it was actually his fault or not. By far the most famous example of Kennedy’s sloppiness is the time that he participated in the end of John Cena’s historic title run. During a match with Kennedy, John Cena performed a seemingly simple hip toss that he had done a hundred times before. For whatever reason, this particular hip toss went very wrong and Cena ended up tearing his pectoral muscle. This hip toss ended the longest WWE title reign in 19 years.
14 Rey Mysterio Breaks Undertaker’s Face With A Body Splash
This move is slightly more complex than some other maneuvers, but it’s still seemingly simple enough. As many of you may remember, Rey Mysterio loved to jump off the top rope and perform a seated senton on his opponent. The move was designed to convince viewers that the light Mysterio could take down a bigger foe using momentum. It seemed to be a fail safe move that just required the recipient to fall back. However, when Mysterio performed the move against The Undertaker on an episode of SmackDown, everything went very wrong really fast. Mysterio failed to hit Taker’s chest and instead landed on his face. The force of this impact was great enough to break Taker’s orbital bone and put him out of commission for quite some time.
13 Hardcore Holly Breaks His Neck After Brock Lesnar Can’t Lift Him Up
Hardcore Holly’s list of career injuries is a tome of trouble. Holly’s rough in-ring style means that he has been put in several situations over the years that have resulted in him suffering some pretty nasty injuries. Many of you will no doubt remember the time that Holly almost bled out after a chunk of table got lodged into his back, but Holly’s worst injury came during a far simpler maneuver. During a huge match with Brock Lesnar, Lesnar lifted Holly up for a powerbomb. Lesnar just wasn’t able to get a good grip on Holly and ended up dropping him right on his head. The move resulted in Holly essentially breaking his neck and being out of action for months. The good news is that he did get a return match against Lesnar for the title.
12 Davey Boy Smith’s Career Almost Ends Because of an Elaborate Ultimate Warrior Entrance
You know, given how often it appears on this list, maybe the backdrop really is a dangerous maneuver after all. Of course, given how many times the backdrop has been performed without anyone getting hurt, it’s still incredibly rare to see someone succumb to injury as a result of one. It’s even more unusual for someone’s career to be forever hindered as a result of a backdrop. Yet, that’s exactly what happened to Davey Boy Smith. During the 1998 Fall Brawl PPV, Smith took a backdrop that left him writhing in pain. Nobody was quite sure what happened at first, but it was later revealed that Smith had landed directly on a trap door that had been installed as part of an elaborate Ultimate Warrior entrance WCW had planned. This injury only worsened Smith’s reliance on painkillers and other substances.
11 Buff Bagwell Almost Paralyzes Himself By Forgetting How to Take a Bulldog
Scott Steiner had more of a reputation for being the Steiner Brother with the devastating arsenal of high risk moves during the Steiner’s early days, but Rick was no slouch in that department. However, the one move that was most closely associated with Rick was the bulldog. Rick Steiner had one of the best bulldogs in the game. He had done the move a thousand times and it never injured anyone because all the opponent had to do was fall forward. So, when Rick took to the top rope to deliver a bulldog to Buff Bagwell during a Nitro match, Bagwell should have been in no real harm. Unfortunately, Bagwell just completely botched his end of the move by compressing his body while falling and smacking straight into Rick Steiner’s body. He almost paralyzed himself as a result of the botch.
10 Seth Rollins Shatters His Knee During a Powerbomb Attempt
Some fans will tell you that Seth Rollins just hasn’t been the same since he turned face. While some fans are always complaining about some wrestlers not being heels, there is something to be said for how much Rollins has struggled to rediscover his form after a devastating injury ended his promising heel run. The injury occurred early during an overseas house match which saw Rollins face Kane. Rollins was supposed to jump over Kane while they were on the top rope and give him a powerbomb. Of course, the trick here is that Rollins is supposed to use Kane’s weight to steady himself for the flip. Unfortunately, Rollins overcommitted to the move and basically landed on his ankle. This caused his knee to shatter.
9 X-Pac Rips Himself a New One During a Bronco Buster
Before we get into the details about how painful this injury was, let’s talk about how stupid the bronco buster move is. X-Pac didn’t invent the buster, but he certainly made it his own. The thing about the move is that it’s really more humiliating than it is painful. All X-Pac has to do is bounce up and down on the ropes a few time and the audience pops. During a 2013 indie show, however, the bronco buster became a very serious move for X-Pac. In the process of performing the move, he...err...gave himself a sunroof where the sun don’t shine. The pain of this injury was supposedly excruciating and required immediate surgery. X-Pac still does the move, but you can bet that this injury is always in the back of his mind.
8 Sabu Breaks His Neck During a Body Drop
Sabu may just be the craziest wrestler that the business has ever seen. It’s not so much about the crazy moves that Sabu performed - although those certainly have contributed to his career reputation - but rather about how Sabu operated with zero fear. He was always looking to push the envelope and didn’t back down from any challenge. During a match with Chris Benoit, Sabu’s tendency to go over-the-top bit him hard. Benoit performed a back body drop on Sabu, but modified it slightly so that Benoit grabbed Sabu’s foot and tossed him higher than usual. Sabu tried to do this so he could get a little extra height on the move, but he ended up failing to rotate enough to land on his back. Instead, he was deposited straight on his head and broke his neck.
7 Triple H Tears His Quad Breaking Up a Submission
The thing you have to understand about some of these injuries is that it’s not always the move that causes them. More often than not, the injury can be traced back to the fact that these wrestlers perform for weeks in a row and suffer a lot of little wear and tear in the process. As a result, sometimes simple moves can have devastating consequences. There’s no better example of this than what happened with Triple H during a 2001 episode of Raw. All Triple H had to do was run into the ring, break up a submission, and get back to the apron. However, while running into the ring, Triple H tore his quad. The injury put Triple H on the shelf for almost a year and ended the incredible run he was on.
6 Vince McMahon Tears Both his Quads Sliding Into The Ring
As you probably know, Vince McMahon is a very competitive individual. While we’d never suggest that he’s so competitive that he would do something like try to one-up his son-in-law’s quad injury, that’s just about the best explanation we have for what happened during the 2005 Royal Rumble. After an already botched finish, Vince McMahon ran down to the ring to settle whether Batista or Cena had won the Rumble. While sliding into the ring, Vince McMahon tore both of his quads. He realized this as soon as he tried to stand up and immediately fell back to the ground in pain. How do you tear both of your quads by just sliding into the ring? We’re guessing Vince’s intense workout regime has something to do with it.
5 Goldberg’s Superkick Ends Bret Hart’s Career
In any other context, getting kicked in face would be anything but simple. However, in the weird world of pro wrestling, a super kick is about as simple as it gets. Because the person who is taking the kick knows it’s coming, they can just move out of the way right in time while the person delivering the kick slaps their thigh to simulate a high impact sound. Bret Hart surely had little reason to fear taking a superkick during his match with Goldberg given that he had taken so many of them during his career. Unfortunately, Goldberg was not nearly as experienced as Hart. As a result, Goldberg’s kick was a little too late, a little too fast, and a little too on the nose. Put it all together, and you have the superkick that led to the concussion which ended Hart’s career.
4 Dynamite Kid is Almost Left Paralyzed After Jumping Over a Wrestler
The Dynamite Kid might be a well-known jerk who rubbed nearly everyone the wrong way, but he was also one of the best in-ring performers in history. Kid did things in the ring that fans of that era couldn’t imagine a performer being capable of and he did them with ease. While you would expect something like a top rope dropkick to be the move that severely injures a guy like Dynamite Kid, it was actually a jump that almost ended his career. During a tag match in WWE, Kid jumped over one of his opponents and was greeted with a knee to the back by his opponent’s teammate. Somewhere between the leap and the knee, Kid broke a few discs in his back and was almost left paralyzed. When it happened, nobody even realized that such a simple move had legitimately caused such a serious injury.
3 The Top Rope Tears Mick Foley’s Ear Off
Every wrestler has their favorite spots. They’re the moves, or series of moves, that a wrestler almost always breaks out sometime during a match. When Mick Foley was touring the world as Cactus Jack, he loved to get “hung” on the top rope so that his opponent could get a few “cheap shots” in. The move looked dangerous, but it was always executed safely as a result of Foley or one of the members of the ring crew loosening up the top rope just enough as to ensure that it cannot cause too much damage. On one very memorable night in 1994, someone forgot to loosen that top rope. As a result, it did very real damage. Specifically, the rope tore off most of Foley’s ear when he got caught up in it. This injury would go on to become synonymous with Foley’s career.
2 Shawn Michaels Misses Out On the Attitude Era Because of a Casket
Shawn Michaels wasn’t exactly beloved by all during his legendary ‘90s run, but Michaels was undoubtedly a top-tier performer who some had identified as the best in-ring worker in the wrestling world. He may have had attitude problems, but Michael's’ attitude and style helped kick off the fabled Attitude Era. Of course, there’s a reason why you never really think of Michaels when you think back on the Attitude Era’s best moments. During a casket match with The Undertaker at the 1998 Royal Rumble Michael took a back body drop over the top rope. Usually, the worst thing that can happen as a result of this maneuver is a twisted ankle suffered during the landing or maybe a blown knee. However, Michaels so happened to misjudge his landing and hit his back on the nearby casket. The casket hit just the wrong spot and forced Michaels to miss four years of in-ring action.
1 A Second Rope Jump Results in the Worst Wrestling Injury Ever
If you’re an untrained amateur, every wrestling move can be dangerous. Even a simple fall that you’ve seen wrestlers perform a million times can lead to you being in a wheelchair the rest of your life. Even wrestlers who have traveled the world and performed in countless matches can sometimes get in over their heads by trying to pull off a move that they haven’t sufficiently trained for. This is exactly what happened to Sid Justice when he tried to do a jumping kick from the second rope. For a smaller, more agile athlete, the move would have posed little risk. For Sid, however, it resulted in the most gruesome wrestling injury ever captured on camera. Sid snapped his tibia, fibula, and was left with a bone poking out of his skin.