Wrestling is defined as a combat sport involving grappling type techniques such as clinch fighting, throws and takedowns, joint locks, pins and other grappling holds. Wrestling can either be competitive or theatrical (for entertainment purposes). Under this definition, wrestling is a sport in which two wrestlers struggle hand in hand trying to hold or throw them down on the ground. You may not agree that wrestling is a sport, but it does require skill along with a physical prowess, which can lead to downsides such as bruises, cuts, and injuries.
The majority of wrestling fans are a loyal group of people who might choose to watch at least one match per week. They have their favorite wrestlers, purchase wrestling related merchandise and show up to wrestling events. Wrestling fans range from casual and fairweather to diehard and exuberant. And, of course, there are some shocking moments that occur during wrestling events that leave a long-lasting impression on fans as they’ll talk about them for years to come. These are the times of moments that we’ll be discussing in this list because there are some things that you simply can’t unsee, no matter how hard you try.
All of the disturbing images we’ll discuss in this list have been taken at wrestling events. They may include notable wrestlers in the WWE. That being said, you won’t find any run of the mill images in the 15 entries that follow. Keep in mind that the images may not sit well with you. Now, let’s get to the list.
15. Vader Passes Out During A Match In Japan
About a year ago, Vader gave a very grim diagnosis that he got from a doctor. He was apparently told that due to the stress his heart had been under for so many years of playing football and wrestling that he only had two years to live. Despite this scary diagnosis, Vader has continued wrestling claiming he’d rather pass away doing what he loves rather than pass on while sitting bored at home. Well, this past April while wrestling in Japan, Vader collapsed during a match and fans in attendance feared that it was Vader’s initial diagnosis becoming a reality. It had nothing to do with his heart though, as Vader clarified the reason why on Twitter shortly after.
It had absolutely nothing to do with my heart but rather my head&Yes i did collapse in fact I was out cold thank uforld jap Wrest i love it
— Big Van Vader (@itsvadertime) April 20, 2017
14. The Undertaker Gets Burned
The Undertaker currently holds an unparalleled run of 21 straight wins at WWE’s leading pay-per-view event WrestleMania. He definitely seems to be all about the business, but even the toughest wrestlers in the wrestling industry get let down by the people and props surrounding them.
The Undertaker’s gimmick about no-selling his opponents’ offenses and fending off the pain, but things doesn’t always go as planned because they might just be gimmicks and nothing more. And then there’s a moment where a gimmick got out of hand. In 2010, the Undertaker suffered first and second degree burns from poorly-timed pyrotechnics that burst below him during his entrance at the Elimination Chamber PPV. Some fans shot footage of The Undertaker walking into flames, which looked like a movie scene.
13. Mick Foley Loses His Ear
Dutch Post-Impressionist painter Vincent van Gogh wasn’t the only notable man who lost one of his ears. van Gogh reportedly suffered from severe depression, which caused him to chop off one of his ears. WWE color commentator and former wrestler Mick Foley didn’t cut off his ear, but got his ear ripped off in an infamous match against Vader in Munich, Germany, in 1994.
Foley had two options: to reattach his ear, or wrestle in the pay-per-view event in order to win the titles. He chose to continue wrestling and won his only championship in WCW. As time went by, Foley grew frustrated by WCW’s reluctance to work a storyline around losing his ear.
It has been over 20 years since Foley came within minutes of dying and lost his ear in a match. While it has been reported as an accident, it must be a traumatized experience for Foley, who retired from wrestling but still appears on television programs sometimes.
12. Jerry Lawler’s Heart Attack
Jerry Lawler has been in the business for such a long time and has wrestled in so many matches. When he was asked to perform double duty back on an episode of RAW in 2012, it seemed routine. However shortly after Lawler wrestled his match and returned to commentary, the live crowd noticed that Lawler had collapsed in his chair and noticed paramedics rushing frantically to an unconscious Lawler. Michael Cole, on play by play, did his best to try and carry the show on, with viewers at home not sure what was going on.
Fans in attendance captured Lawler being carried to the back on a gurney and it was soon announced by Cole that his broadcast partner had suffered a heart attack. Thankfully paramedics were able to act quickly and get Lawler to a hospital and saved his life. However, being in the live crowd must have been a very unsettling time.
11. Sid’s Broken Leg
Injuries are bound to happen in wrestling and just about any sport, but you can never unsee the injury that former wrestler Sid Vicious suffered during the World Heavyweight Championship’s Four Corners match against Scott Steiner, Jeff Jarrett and Animal at the Sin pay-per-view back on January 14, 2001. During the match, Vicious made a giant leap off the turnbuckle in an attempt to land a jumping big boot to Steiner’s face. Sadly, things didn’t go as planned and Vicious landed on his leg and subsequently broke it.
Vicious was severely affected by the mishap. He underwent surgery and had to utilize a cane for several months after his rehabilitation, which lasted for more than three years. The footage of Sid’s leg has since been removed on the WWE Network but old footage and fan photos captured the gruesome moment.
10. Mick Foley’s Kids Are Left Scarred
Mick Foley has said at times that he regrets certain things he did in his career, such as taking a few too many bumps when he didn’t have to. One thing he also regretted was letting his kids watch his I Quit Match with The Rock at the 1999 Royal Rumble from the front row. Foley had anticipated that his match with The Rock would be violent but not quite as violent as it wound up being. Due to a miscommunication prior to the match, The Rock hit Foley 11 times with a steel chair to the head, rather than the five they were supposed to.
Foley’s wife Collette and his two kids Dewey and Noelle (you may know all about her now), were seen in full tears. Even though they knew the nature of wrestling, seeing their father take that kind of beating was tough for the children to see. Their reactions were all documented in the Beyond The Mat documentary.
9. Hayabusa Gets Paralyzed
Hayabusa was a legend in Japan, but even the greatest in the business aren’t exempt from tragedy striking. During a match with Mammoth Sasaki back in 2001, Hayabusa grew impatient with the match, as the wrestlers weren’t getting the response. In an effort to pick up the pace in the match, Hayabusa went for his patented Asai Moonsault from a springboard position. However, disaster struck as Hayabusa slipped on the middle rope and during the flip, he fell directly on his head.
Hayabusa was able to relay the message to the referee that he couldn’t move and the match was stopped. Hayabusa would be paralyzed for over a decade but by 2015, he was able to walk using a cane. Unfortunately, his recovery was cut short, as he passed away in 2016 at the age of 47 due to a cerebral hemorrhage.
8. Droz Lands Horribly On Powerbomb
Accidents happen all the time in wrestling but sometimes a true disaster strikes. Darren Drozdov seemed to be on the way to a solid career having briefly teamed up with the Legion of Doom, but by 1999, Droz was on his own. In a matcha against D’Lo Brown on a pre-taping of SmackDown, Brown went for his signature running powerbomb, but due to Droz wearing a loose shirt, Brown was unable to get the proper grip and deliver the move safely. Droz sustained a serious neck injury on the fall and Droz was initially left a quadriplegic. He’s since regained movement in his upper body and arms, but obviously, his life has never been the same.
7. Seth Rollins’ Knee Injury
Two-time WWE World Heavyweight Champion Seth Rollins suffered multiple torn knee ligaments during a match against Kane in Dublin, Ireland. This caused Rollins to miss a large amount of time. During the match, Rollins flipped off the turnbuckle to prepare for a powerbomb, but his right knee buckled as he landed. Rollins proved the audience wrong as he managed to get back up, complete the move and win the match.
At the time, Rollins was then scheduled to defend his title at the Survivor Series against Roman Reigns. Instead, a tournament was held prior to and during the pay-per-view to determine a new champion.
6. Cena’s Broken Nose
Nobody is perfect, not even WWE wrestler John Cena. While Cena proved that the show must always go on, he still broke his nose on Monday Night Raw. The crook was fellow wrestler Seth Rollins, who kneed Cena in his face.
Cena’s girlfriend Nikki Bella was left terrified after watching her boyfriend go through that traumatic experience in the ring. In an episode of Total Divas, Nikki reportedly got into a huge argument with her twin sister Brie Bella and it got so heated between the sisters that Nikki yelled ‘I hate you!’ at Brie. We’re not really sure why, but Brie allegedly felt disrespected by Nikki in that episode.
On camera, Rollins exploited the incident to make himself look like a bigger threat. Moreover, Cena added this injury to their storyline. Off camera, Rollins likely apologized to Cena for breaking his nose, and they probably moved on from the incident.
5. Orton Is Attacked By A Fan From Behind
When you attend a wrestling event, you’re within your right to cheer or boo whoever you want. But the one rule you should never break as a fan is cross that guardrail and get physical with the wrestlers. Randy Orton was a victim of this back at a live event in South Africa in 2013. A fan snuck in from the crowd and delivered a low blow to Orton as he was perched on the second rope striking his signature pose.
The WWE released a statement shortly after the incident and provided an update on the consequences the fan was dealt:
“The accused party pleaded guilty in court yesterday, August 1, 2013, and was charged and ordered to either pay a fine of 500 Rand or, alternatively, serve 30 days in jail. After acknowledging his wrongfulness, the accused individual was given a three-year suspended sentence, and is not permitted to attend WWE’s Live Events in Johannesburg, South Africa, this week.”
4. CM Punk Strikes A Fan
CM Punk has never been afraid to speak his mind or to fire back at fans he feels are disrespectful. It’s understandable when a wrestler is mixed in with a crowd that they could get defensive if they are touched. However, Punk may have went a little too far here. As RAW was set to go off the air back in early 2012, Punk was being shoved several times by a few fans. He then turned around and struck someone in the head. Unfortunately, he hit the wrong person. Punk explained the incident to WWE.com afterwards:
“I think the whole situation sucks. It’s an unfortunate and isolated incident. I was up in the stands, surrounded. Somebody said, ‘let’s push him down the stairs.’ I got hit in the ribs three times. I was getting shoved and I was getting punched…Then I started getting tagged in the back of the head. Unfortunately, I lashed out in the heat of the moment and I apologize. I’m really just glad nobody was hurt.”
3. Triple H Breaks Character To Save His Co-Worker
Our last two entries will reach a whole new level of disturbing, so let’s go with something you might not have seen before. Back in the mid 90s, Triple H was still Hunter Hearst Helmsley and during a match with a white hot Stone Cold Steve Austin, a fan decided to get involved in the action and attacked Stone Cold. Despite Austin being his opponent, Triple H made sure that his co-worker left the ring safe. Austin explained the incident on his podcast in further detail a few years ago:
“Triple H, stand-up cat, he picked that dude up, slammed him and started punching his lights out,” Austin said. “I couldn’t do anything. I couldn’t help beat the guy up. I’m the babyface (the hero or “good guy” in the match). But Triple H was watching my back, and he beat the snot out of that guy…”
2. Perro Aguayo Suffers Cardiac Arrest
Perro Aguayo passed away a couple of years ago in action. He was in the ring with Rey Mysterio at the time and Mysterio is as a reliable a veteran as you could get so no one expected anything to go wrong when Mysterio was getting set for his signature 619 move. However after taking a dropkick to his back, Aguayo fell awkwardly into the second rope, hitting his neck. What resulted was three of his vertebrae fracturing, which caused cardiac arrest.
There weren’t too many cameras around, but some photographers were able to capture some gruesome images of Aguayo being taken onto a stretcher, but it was too late to save the 35-year-old. The Aguayo said following his passing that they held no ill will to Mysterio, who was said to be distraught over the incident.
1. Owen Hart’s Accident
Perhaps no crowd was left more scarred than when fans in attendance at WWE’s Over The Edge PPV in 1999 witnessed Owen Hart fall 75 feet to his death from the rafters. Owen was set to do a superhero like entrance in which he’d descend from the ceiling, much like Sting’s signature entrance in WCW, before unlocking his harness prior to hitting the ring and falling in a comedic like fashion. However the harness was not built to carry a 230-pound man and it snapped prematurely, leading to the horrific accident.
Cameras quickly turned away from the horror in the ring, but fans in attendance captured paramedics doing their best to revive Hart, to no avail. Jim Ross would announce later on in the show that Hart passed away on his way to the hospital.
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