One of the most difficult concepts of pro wrestling you could describe to someone that isn’t necessarily a fan is that wrestling is a form of entertainment in which two performers are trying very hard to make it look like they are hurting each other when, in fact, that is the absolute worst thing they can do. Although accidents and injuries are unavoidable when you are a professional wrestler, the one thing that nobody can ever accept is a performer that consistently hurts their fellow wrestlers through either a lack of skills or a frightening desire to willingly do so.
Anyone who fits that description is immediately labeled as dangerous, and anyone that is dangerous doesn’t tend to stick around that long in the professional wrestling business. Sadly, however, that is not always the case. Some people are able to overcome their dangerous tag and stick around long enough to cause real harm to the people that they are supposed to be protecting. There are plenty of professional wrestlers you wouldn’t want to meet in a dark alley one night, but these are the wrestlers that managed to instill an equal amount of fear in their coworkers simply because they never bothered to consider the professional part of their job title...
15 The Road Warriors
The Road Warriors are rightfully remembered as one of the greatest tag teams that ever stepped into a wrestling ring. They had a perfect gimmick, fantastic looks, and one of the deadliest looking finishers ever devised. Given that The Road Warriors were supposed to be presented as unbeatable, they were usually booked in matches against local jobbers in order to show just how powerful they were. The problem was that Hawk and Animal usually had a little too much fun with these wrestlers and had no qualms about absolutely manhandling them in the ring.
You just hope that these poor souls got paid extra for working against The Road Warriors because the team never really seemed to care about actually protecting their opponents. Even against established tag teams, The Road Warriors were always more interested in looking as mean as possible even if it meant their opponents had to eat a bad move or two.
Ryback is, apparently, not a bad guy. Actually, he’s regularly cited as a pretty nice guy by just about everyone that has traveled with him. But just because you’re a nice guy in the wrestling business doesn’t mean that you’re necessarily a safe wrestler. Ryback’s problem in the ring has always been that he doesn’t seem to really understand his own strength and speed. He tries to work at way too fast a pace, and this has often lead to him turning in some rather sloppy performances. The most infamous story of Ryback’s carelessness comes from CM Punk who spoke about Ryback on Colt Cabana’s podcast following Punk's WWE release.
According to him, Ryback’s reckless nature was partially responsible for his recent back injuries and may have taken “20 years off of his life.” Anyone who has ever watched Ryback awkwardly drop opponents after missing a simple spot probably wouldn’t argue.
13 Mr. Kennedy
Mr. Kennedy (or Ken Anderson to you TNA fans out there) isn’t a really flashy guy. He mostly gets by with hip tosses, punches, kicks, and, occasionally, a pretty uneventful strike from the top rope. There’s absolutely nothing about Mr. Kennedy’s ring style that would suggest that he is dangerous to work with and yet that is Mr. Kennedy’s reputation. While reputations aren’t always based in fact, Mr. Kennedy’s is actually based on a few incidents of recklessness that have haunted his career. The most famous of which is certainly a back suplex he gave to Randy Orton during that awful Denver Nuggets/Los Angeles Lakers match which was so bad that Orton almost broke character in an attempt to punch him, but Kennedy also has some trouble properly receiving moves as evidenced by his numerous career injuries. When you can’t trust a guy to not injure you or not get injured, that’s a problem.
12 Scott Steiner
When people talk about Scott Steiner being a bad wrestler, the conversation is almost always about Steiner’s later years when he decided to abandon all logic and attempt to look like a comic book supervillain’s top thug by taking as many steroids as possible. Although Steiner couldn’t do much in the ring during this time because of his severely limited mobility, he still managed to hurt some opponents in the ring and outside of it due to his infamously violent temper. The thing about Steiner, though, is that he may have been even more dangerous in the ring during his early days when he was considered to be one of the most talented wrestlers in the world. Scott was physically a perfect combination of size and speed during his time, but that combination often led to him not really appreciating his own skills and being reckless with his opponents. Of course, the less said about the numerous “Steiner Screwdriver” head drops, the better.
11 Mike Awesome
If you were asked to construct the perfect professional wrestler from a physical standpoint, the final result might look like Mike Awesome in his youth. Awesome was a towering human being that certainly fulfilled the “physical specimen” requirements that most main event wrestlers require these days. So why is it that Mike Awesome never got a bigger push outside of ECW? Well, politics and bad booking certainly have something to do with it, but the biggest issue was that Mike Awesome refuse to adapt his ECW move set into something a little less risky. This meant that most Awesome matches consisted of full-force suicide dives, straight to the head weapon shots, and some of the most devastating powerbombs that you’ll ever witness. ECW was able to hide some of Awesome’s dangerous tendencies by pairing him with equally fearless wrestlers but Awesome and his opponents suffered from his inability to slow things down.
10 Big Van Vader
Much like Ryback, Big Van Vader is infamous for being a really nice guy outside of the ring. If you ever met the man and didn't know him from his wrestling career, you would probably think that he’s just an accountant who maybe just played some football back in his day. The thing about Vader, though, is that he was so good at playing the world’s most feared monster heel that he often got a bit carried away in the ring. Blame it on his time in Japan where crushing blows and devastating maneuvers are expected, perhaps, but Vader’s left a trail of injured wrestlers in his considerable wake. While moments like Cactus Jack losing his ear in a match with Vader weren’t really the big man’s fault, incidents of opponents suffering concussions and similar injuries as a result of Vader’s unflinching stiff shots are uncomfortably numerous. Or, as Bret Hart once put it, wrestling Vader was like wrestling “a cement truck filled with barf.”
In the mid-90s, Nelson Frazier came out nowhere to rise to the top of the WWE card as Mabel. Despite the fact that he had less than a year of wrestling experience under his belt prior to joining WWE, Vince McMahon apparently felt that this monster of a man was primed to become the next big thing in wrestling (no pun intended). Not only was he very much wrong about that, but McMahon’s fascination with main event big guys like The Undertaker, Yokozuna, and Diesel during this time meant that Mabel had to have a lot of “bull vs. bull” type matches.
According to Kevin Nash, this was a bad combination as Mabel was an incredibly inexperienced wrestler with little ability to control his actions and even less concern for his opponents. He apparently injured quite a few wrestlers with his big splash move and certainly broke The Undertaker’s face one time following a horrible in-ring botch.
8 Sid Vicious
In defense of Sid Vicious, the man was just as dangerous to himself as he was to his fellow wrestlers. Vicious had a tendency to overextend himself in the ring a bit and would sometimes try to pull off moves that a guy of his build and skills shouldn’t be attempting. The most notorious instance of this is Sid’s jump from the ropes in WCW which resulted in one of the worst injuries to ever occur in a wrestling ring. Even though his sloppiness tended to backfire on him more than it did his opponents, Sid was still reportedly a dangerous guy to work with.
The fact that he was, apparently, a short-tempered beast that once tried to stab Arn Anderson with a pair of scissors certainly was part of the problem, but he also had general issues with consistently pulling off his rotation of big man moves without someone ending up with a bad back in the process.
Some wrestlers are dangerous because they aren’t able to control their own mass or just never bothered to really learn the fundamentals of wrestling. John Bradshaw Layfield is dangerous in the ring because he often chooses to be. Although it would not be fair to say that JBL starts every match in the hopes that he will be injuring a fellow performer, his career is littered with instances involving the man roughing around other wrestlers for the simple pleasure of it. Putting aside the many stories of JBL “hazing” fellow wrestlers in the showers (which are, admittedly, hard to get past) in the ring, JBL liked to brutalize his opponents with neck breaking clotheslines and brutal punches. After all, this is the man who decided to bloody up The Blue Meanie one night at the end of a show just because Meanie was fat and JBL was drunk.
6 Ahmed Johnson
If you looked at Ahmed Johnson in the 90s, you’d probably say “Wow man, you should really learn to be a professional wrestler.” It would have been good advice, too, as Ahmed Johnson is still one of the most physically gifted wrestlers the world had ever seen. The problem is that Ahmed Johnson never really learned to become a professional wrestler and instead just started to professionally wrestle for a living following some minimal training and a stint as a Dallas Cowboys linebacker. Without a doubt, Ahmed Johnson has to be one of the most careless wrestlers in the history of the business. His only mission in life seemed to be to make sure that he looked like a big deal, and this philosophy resulted in a number of wrestlers (including Ahmed) succumbing to injury as a result of his seeming disinterest in mastering the basics.
Bill Goldberg spent most of his young life without any thought of becoming a professional wrestler. There’s nothing wrong with that, necessarily. After all, not every great wrestler needs to have devoted their life to the business in order to succeed. The problem with Bill Goldberg, however, is that he rose through the ranks of professional wrestling far too fast for his own good. Someone immediately discovered that Bill Goldberg could become one of the most intimidating forces in professional wrestling history, and he was allowed to become just that despite minimal experience.
Goldberg was told to just go 100 miles per hour against everyone he faced, and he obliged this request with such intensity that his opponents’ succumbed to numerous injuries trying to simply work with him. Of course, the highlight of Goldberg’s dangerous style will always be the career ending superkick he gave to Bret Hart which was delivered with all the force you expect from someone that doesn’t appreciate the cooperative elements of wrestling.
4 Brock Lesnar
To be fair, it must be said that Brock Lesnar is not nearly as dangerous now as he was once upon a time. Chalk that up to a combination of experience, a limited move set, a better attitude (well, towards some things), and an overall greater understanding of how to properly put together a professional wrestling match where nobody needs to get hurt. That’s a far cry from the Brock Lesnar of old who, quite simply, should not have been allowed to compete until he demonstrated that he was able to consistently perform his moves safely.
Hacksaw Jim Duggan once suggested in a podcast interview that the problem with Lesnar as a professional wrestler is that he doesn’t really have an appreciation for the guy he’s in the ring with and isn’t above taking advantage of them as a result. As Hardcore Holly’s broken neck at the hands of Lesnar’s botched power bomb will attest to, however, there are other time when Lesnar was simply sloppy.
3 Steve “Mongo” McMichael
Steve “Mongo” McMichael should have never tried to be a professional wrestler. If that sounds harsh, then it’s likely because you’ve never tried to watch any of Mongo’s matches and therefore have never seen just how truly awful this man is in the ring. While not all awful wrestlers are inherently dangerous, what makes the incredibly awful McMichael earn that unfortunate label is the fact that he seemed so intent on becoming the next notoriously stiff power wrestler and seemingly had absolutely no idea how to do so shy of actually injuring his opponents. Here is a man whose offense once consisted entirely of a clothesline and a shoulder tackle, and he still couldn’t get through a match without ruining a sequence that ended up with his opponent getting hurt. It’s easy enough to laugh at the many, many botches of Mongo McMichael, but they are all really just evidence of how dangerous this man was.
2 The Ultimate Warrior
Bobby Heenan once told a story about a series of matches that The Ultimate Warrior and Andre The Giant had around the time that WWE was trying to build up The Ultimate Warrior as the next big thing. Apparently, The Ultimate Warrior had been warned to not give Andre really stiff clotheslines and proceeded to do so night after night anyway. In order to teach him a lesson, Andre The Giant stuck his fist out one night and let The Ultimate Warrior run into it at full speed. This is not the last time that someone would need to physically manhandle The Ultimate Warrior just to get him to slow down a bit in the ring. A combination of limited skills, freakish strength, and a poor attitude are to blame for the carelessness that defined The Ultimate Warrior’s early wrestling days. The man may be a legend, but there was a time when he was simply dangerous.
1 New Jack
It’s almost not fair to put New Jack on the same list with other dangerous wrestlers. After all, most dangerous wrestlers weren’t necessarily trying to inflict career ending pain on their opponents whereas New Jack has almost killed people in the ring before and has never seemed to be bothered by it. ECW made a name for itself off their brand of hardcore, violent wrestling, but New Jack took that concept to extremes that nobody should have ever allowed. Supposedly unable to put on even a decent basic wrestling match, New Jack instead relied on bloodying himself and his opponents nearly every night. There’s really no argument against him being the most dangerous wrestler to work with when you consider that this is the man who once forced a kid to get 50 stitches after blading him too deep during a match and the man who nearly killed himself and wrestler Vic Grimes after attempting an ill-advised 30 foot fall.