WWE is a massive, worldwide, sports entertainment company. Years ago Vince McMahon would put his neck on the line time and time again in the name of what he thought was good for his company and what he believed would further the business. It's hard to argue with his methods when you take a look at how far WWE has come under his guidance. It's a multi million dollar machine that never stops and never sleeps. Vince put everything he had on the table for the first WrestleMania. He battled valiantly and took risks in order to outlast his rivals WCW. But believe it or not this isn't a Vince McMahon appreciation thread. With all the good and admirable things Vince has done in order for WWE to succeed, sometimes the more underhand and less favorable actions he's gone ahead with have been overshadowed.
While Vince's mantra of doing anything to survive has sometimes been admirable, there are other times where it's been down right baffling or even dangerous. He's used his family on screen to further story lines, sometimes even putting them at risk. He has effectively talked Superstars into performing injured because he and WWE need them to draw a crowd and make money. Plus a personal favorite of WWE, they have used a person's real life issues in order to improve their own product. All of these examples and more will be evident in these upcoming entries.
15 Mick Foley At WrestleMania 22
Mick Foley's body has been through more inside the ring than anybody in the history of professional wrestling. Needless to say this won't be the only time he makes an appearance on this list. This entry in particular will focus on his match with Edge at WrestleMania 22. Mick has commented on the match since, which was an incredible bout as most all out Foley matches are, saying that he had realized he hadn't really had his WrestleMania moment. The match was a brutal one, and the lasting image from it will forever be The Rated R Superstar spearing Mick from the apron through a flaming table. While Foley unquestionably got the WrestleMania moment he always wanted, WWE clearly saw dollar signs when he came to them with the idea when they really should have probably said no due to the damage Mick's body had already taken throughout his career.
14 Shane McMahon Leaps From Hell In A Cell
During the build to WrestleMania 32 in 2016, Shane McMahon made a landmark return to WWE. He was greeted by a tremendous ovation which began to wear off when fans started realizing why it was that Shane O Mac had been brought back into the fold, to be that year's WrestleMania opponent for The Undertaker. Then when we gave it a little more thought, we all remembered that Shane's gimmick was basically that of a stunt man and he would probably want to jump off of the Hell in a Cell structure that he and Undertaker were due to compete in at The Showcase of the Immortals. You would think since his father runs the company, such a ludicrous idea would be extinguished at the source. Those of you who have seen the show will know that it was not, and Shane leaped from the structure to the floor below. It's a WrestleMania moment that we'll never forget, but was it really worth the risk?
13 Samoa Joe's Muscle Buster
During the summer of 2015 Tyson Kidd suffered a devastating injury at the hands of Samoa Joe. It was during a dark match on Raw and was an incident that has wound up ending Kidd's career. Tyson can consider himself lucky that was all it did, as only 5% of people who suffer the injury survive and most of those survivors end up paralyzed from the neck down. The injury was caused by Samoa Joe's finishing move, the Muscle Buster. You would think even though it wasn't causing many injuries, a one off case as severe as that would warrant a blanket ban on the move going forward in WWE. That has not been the case. Joe continued to use the move throughout his tenure in NXT and while it looks great, that's hardly good enough reason to risk injuring somebody in the same way that Tyson was injured. Joe is yet to use it since his move to Raw so maybe WWE have finally seen sense.
12 The Rock At WrestleMania XXIX
John Cena and The Rock had blockbuster matches at back to back WrestleManias. Their first encounter, at WrestleMania XXVIII, was billed as being 'once in a lifetime'. It's frustrating enough that WWE decided to do it again a mere year after, but that frustration only multiplies when you discover the injuries The Rock suffered following part two of his WrestleMania showdown with Cena. When somebody wrestles as sporadically as The Rock does, they're going to be prone to injuries when they wrestle, especially with the physique Rocky has now compared to when he wrestled full time. They got off lucky during the first match but for monetary reasons WWE had to push it. Cena and Rock fought again a year later and The People's Champ ended up tearing his abdominal muscle, his adductor and also suffered a hernia.
11 Daniel Bryan's Multiple Injuries
When Daniel Bryan announced that he had to retire from in ring competition in 2016, it broke wrestling fans' hearts across the world. Many of us long for the day that someone will go back on their decision but it really shouldn't happen. In fact if we the fans, WWE, and in particular Daniel Bryan are honest with themselves the decision to have Bryan retire probably should have come at least a year before it actually did. Daniel had been being sidelined through various injuries on and off for almost two years prior to his eventual retirement but kept coming back. I'm under no illusion that it was largely down to Bryan's desire to keep wrestling that fueled those returns, but you can't ignore how much money the former WWE World Heavyweight Champion would have been making WWE at the time.
10 The Undertaker's Second Degree Burns
Everything I've heard and seen of The Undertaker leads me to believe that he is not the kind of guy you want to upset. Not only is he a big, intimidating guy but he's also had a tenure in WWE like no other. Well the angriest The Deadman has ever been, at least in front of a live audience, came at Elimination Chamber back in 2010. While Undertaker was on his way to the ring he got caught up in the pyrotechnics and his coat actually caught fire. Despite The Phenom throwing his coat off immediately it didn't stop Taker from suffering some second degree burns. You would think an incident like this one would have led WWE to scale back on the fireworks a little but those of you who watch on a regular basis will know that's not the case.
9 Vince's Valentine's Day Massacre
This article is outlining a lot of instances where Vince McMahon had Superstars perform when they perhaps shouldn't have done. In the interest of fairness I have to point out that any number of wrestlers have said that Vince would never expect his performers to do something that he wouldn't do himself. That was never more evident than his steel cage match against Stone Cold Steve Austin in 1999 at St Valentine's Day Massacre when Vince truly put his body and health on the line in the name of making money for himself and his company. While scaling the side of the cage his opponent rattled him enough to knock him from it and through the announcer's table, except he didn't go through it. Vince landed on the edge of it back first and bounced off of it in a pretty horrible looking bump. Apparently it left some pretty severe bruising but if you've seen it you know that it could have been so much worse.
8 Brock Lesnar's Shooting Star Press
Most of you reading this will have seen footage of Brock Lesnar's infamous attempt at a Shooting Star Press on Kurt Angle at WrestleMania XIX. Those of you that haven't seen it I direct you to the photo above. Basically he didn't rotate much more than he did in the picture and hence landed right on the top of his head. How The Beast Incarnate did not break his neck is a minor miracle. Any veteran big man in the business of professional wrestling will tell their present day equivalents that men of their size have no business being on the top rope. That they don't need high flying moves as a part of their repertoire. Clearly Brock told somebody backstage before this match with Kurt that he could do a Shooting Star Press and he was given the wrong advice. Someone was blinded by the fact he could perform this impressive move and thought it would make a great WrestleMania moment. In fairness it did, but for all the wrong reasons.
7 Shane McMahon at King Of The Ring 2001
Shane McMahon leaping from a cell at WrestleMania 32 is not the first time WWE has taken advantage of his stunt man nature to make money, not by a long shot. All the way back in 2001 the current SmackDown Live Commissioner went one on one with Kurt Angle in a street fight. To this day fans are split over whether this match was an instant classic or a violent mess. For this one I hope, at the very least, that Vince McMahon was cringing and almost couldn't watch as his son was suplexed into a real pane of glass that didn't break as it was mistakenly not replaced with stunt glass. That was the worst moment in a match that saw Shane and Kurt beat each other half to death. Again, a classic or a stunt show that has no place in wrestling? You decide.
6 CM Punk's Alleged Injuries
When CM Punk took to Colt Cabana's Art of Wrestling podcast following his departure from WWE, he had a lot to get off his chest. Turns out the Second City Saint had bags and bags of reasons for wanting to get out of the company. One of the main ones was the countless times Punk would get a call from a higher up at WWE effectively begging him to work despite the fact he was at home recovering from an injury. He spoke of times he worked with Ryback, who he claims is extremely clumsy and both caused and exacerbated his injuries, and also a specific time where WWE forced him to work when he had a lump the size of a tennis ball on his back. Turns out that tennis ball was a staph infection and had it ruptured it could have caused Punk a lot of problems.
5 Brock Going Into Business For Himself
WWE currently has a strict no blood policy. Well unless you're Brock Lesnar. Or in a match with Brock Lesnar. WWE has gone from allowing wrestlers to intentionally bleed to not and back again multiple times over the last 30 years. During times when blading and bleeding has not been allowed the instigators have been subject to pretty hefty fines. In the present day the only man who dares break that rule on purpose is The Beast, and there don't appear to be any consequences when he does do it. He's done it in his battles with The Undertaker and appeared to go into business for himself at SummerSlam 2016 when he left Randy Orton needing a head full of staples. Lesnar clearly makes a lot of money for Vince McMahon and the chairman will do anything to keep him happy and keep him under contract with WWE.
4 Mick Foley Is Thrown From The Cell
There are few moments more iconic in WWE history than Mankind being thrown from the top of Hell in a Cell by The Undertaker. That moment is the most famous in the incredible match up between the two legends but in all fairness it was just the tip of the iceberg. What Mick went through that night really should have killed him, and although by some miracle it did not it certainly left him with some of the permanent damage and injuries that Foley exhibits to this day. From going off the cell and through the top of it, due to its poor construction, Mick was left a bloody mess with a tooth in his nose that got there via his upper lip. It's unclear as to how much of that match WWE actually knew about and what aspects of it were Mick and Undertaker booking it on the fly, either way WWE is still making money from that match to this day at the expense of Mick Foley's health.
3 Shawn Michaels' Back
The Undertaker and Shawn Michaels will today unquestionably cite each other as being among one another's greatest rivals. The pairs' history goes back a lot further than their two historic WrestleMania matches. At the Royal Rumble in 1998 HBK and The Deadman did battle in a casket match for the WWE Championship. During the match Shawn received a back body drop from Undertaker out of the ring and over the casket except he didn't quite make it over the casket and caught the base of his back on the edge of it. The slight miscalculation caused Michaels to herniate two discs in his back and completely crush another. Despite that the champ went on to finish the match and defend his title. You'd have thought an injury as severe as that would see Shawn sidelined immediately but no, WWE kept him around until WrestleMania XIV so that they could have their money making moment where Stone Cold defeated the injured party for the belt. Michaels retired for the first time after that night, not returning to in ring competition for over four years.
2 Stone Cold At King Of The Ring '96
You can't really tell from the photo above, but it wasn't all sunshine and rainbows for Stone Cold the night that Austin 3:16 was born when he won King of the Ring 1996. During the semi final match Austin suffered a kick to the face from his opponent Marc Mero which busted The Texas Rattlesnake open pretty badly. In fact the cut required an impressive sixteen stitches to close it up. WWE told the audience and viewers at home that Steve had gone to a nearby medical facility to receive treatment but somehow he still emerged, patched up and ready to go for the final of the tournament against Jake Roberts. Turns out he hadn't been sent to a hospital but had just been stitched up back stage so that he was present to wrestle again. Clearly a poor decision as the wound inevitably opened up again during his match with Roberts and further, unnecessary damage was done.
1 Hawk's Drug Problems
The Road Warriors were one of the biggest and best tag teams in wrestling history. While Animal lives on sadly his iconic partner Hawk passed away almost fifteen years ago now. Throughout his career Hawk was plagued with drug and alcohol problems and when the legendary tag team returned to WWE in the late '90s, the company saw a money making opportunity in Hawk's addiction. The company placed the team in an angle where Hawk's real life problems were affecting his in ring performances, even throwing the extremely touchy subject of suicide into the equation. WWE never shy away from attempting to blur the lines between story line and reality but this time in particular was in extremely poor taste and did nothing for the Road Warriors whatsoever.