The WWE may be called fake by many who aren’t really fans of professional wrestling, but the things which go on inside the squared circle are anything but fake. WWE wrestlers have to go through rigorous training before they are allowed to compete on a daily basis in the company as they have to practice their moves perfectly so that they don’t hurt themselves or anyone else in the ring. The company may have moved from the violence of the Attitude Era to a more “PG-Friendly” sport (entertainment) nowadays, but there is still the risk of injury every time these superstars step inside the ring.
There have actually been many incidents where a pro wrestler had gotten injured while wrestling a match, but their dedication to the product and passion inspired them to go all the way and finish the match despite undergoing gruelling pain.
They earned the respect of many fans who discovered the extent of their injuries only after the match ended, because of how well these warriors carried on even after suffering the injuries.
15. Kurt Angle – SummerSlam 2000
Kurt Angle may have returned in a non-wrestling role in the WWE as the General Manager of Monday Night RAW, but everyone will always remember the amazing work he did for the company during his initial run. Angle was an Olympic Gold Medalist and definitely knew his in-ring duties, but even he got badly injured during a major match. During his match for the WWE Championship against The Rock & Triple H, Angle suffered a major concussion after receiving a botched Pedigree on the announcer’s table. Kurt states that he remembers nothing from the night and absolutely blacked out during the match, with Stephanie McMahon and Triple H helping him finish it properly. It was an absolute nightmare for Angle at a grand stage like SummerSlam, but his presence of mind and the help of Triple H and Steph helped him put on a memorable bout despite being badly hurt.
14. John Cena (RAW 2015)
John Cena is quite the polarizing figure in wrestling right now because of how he is pushed by the WWE all the time and “buries” talent to gain fame. But the reality is that Cena is an incredibly dedicated worker for the company and his passion is the reason WWE made him the “Face of the Company” as he literally proved of never backing down from a fight in 2015. During a match against Seth Rollins on an episode of RAW, Cena suffered a broken nose after being hit with Rollins’ knee. It was quite the gruesome picture of Cena trying to hang in there despite being in an incredible amount of pain because of his nose being dislocated, but he actually managed to finish the match by making Rollins tap out! His incredible wherewithal to finish the match proved why WWE has relied on him as their top guy.
13. The Rock (WrestleMania 29)
When The Rock returned to the WWE after a long hiatus in 2011, many were excited when they learned that a feud with John Cena would take place. The Rock won their first match at WrestleMania XXVIII but a rematch also took place the next WrestleMania, this time for The Rock’s WWE Championship. The match itself was going really well but The Rock suffered a grueling injury during the match when he suffered a hernia, torn adductor and torn abdominal muscle after receiving an AA from Cena. He continued to wrestle after suffering the terrible injuries and that only continued to tear the muscle from the pelvis. He ended up putting on a great show in an entertaining match, but the damage had been done by the end but it proved just how dedicated The Rock is at putting on a great show for the fans.
12. Hardcore Holly (Smackdown 2002)
Hardcore Holly was quite the stiff wrestler in the WWE back in the days, as he was notorious for working stiff with wrestlers and was quite scary in the locker room too. He loved to push around the kids in the back until he tried to do the same with a certain Beast in Brock Lesnar, who was receiving a push of his own. Holly had some kind of an altercation with Lesnar before their match on Smackdown in 2002, with The Beast Incarnate deciding that he’d teach Holly a lesson. During the match, Lesnar picked up Holly for a powerbomb but sandbagged him, snapping his neck. Holly suffered a broken neck but miraculously managed to carry on with the match, even putting in some offense before getting nailed with the F-5 but he proved why he was one of the toughest guys around at the time.
11. Finn Balor (SummerSlam 2016)
Finn Balor made quite the impact when he made his main-roster debut last season, as he defeated many wrestlers (including Roman Reigns CLEAN) to get an opportunity to wrestle Seth Rollins for the Universal Championship at SummerSlam. The feud was pretty well built as Balor brought out his demon persona in the event and the two had quite the stellar match which went back and forth. But Balor actually suffered a terrible injury after he was power-bombed by Rollins onto the barricade where he dislocated his right shoulder but popped it back on. He continued wrestling and finished the match by becoming the first ever Universal Championship, but sadly had to relinquish the title the next night after it was revealed he’d be out for many months. But the fact that Balor could actually finish the match with a dislocated match is something which proves how strong the Irishman really is.
10. Shawn Michaels (Royal Rumble 1998)
Shawn Michaels was the face of the WWE during the early Attitude Era when he was at the top of the company as WWE Champion and also had his buddies in D-Generation X helping him all the time. The cocky Michaels faced off against The Undertaker at Royal Rumble 1998 in a casket match and while the match itself was splendid, it almost ended Michaels’ wrestling career for good. In a high octane situation, Michaels took a back body drop on top of the casket and seriously injured himself breaking a disc in his back and herniating two others. But despite being legitimately hurt and barely being able to cope with the pain, Michaels continued wrestling the match and put on a spectacle. He’d have to retire from wrestling because of this injury after WrestleMania, but The Showstopper showed his incredible passion by finishing the match with a crushed back.
9. Vader (AJPW Vs NJPW 1990)
Big Van Vader has to be one be regarded as one of the most terrifying wrestlers of all time because of his size and athleticism. But before he attained fame in WCW or WWE, Vader was a big star in Japan along with his friend Stan Hansen and the two had one of the most brutal matches in 1990. In an AJPW vs NJPW supercard show, Vader had his nose accidentally broken by Hansen early on during their match. As if things couldn’t get any worse, Hansen poked Vader’s right eye with his thumb so hard that it caused the eye to pop out of its socket. Vader had to take his mask off to put it back, as he held onto it with his eyelid and wrestled the entirety of the match before it was declared a no-contest, showing just how tough and incredible he really is.
8. Bret Hart (Starrcade 1999)
Bret “The Hitman” Hart was still among the best wrestlers in the industry after moving to WCW from WWE and he was one of the top guys in WCW when the infamous Goldberg started to become a sensation. The two had quite the rivalry which culminated in a match in Starrcade in 1999 which turned out to be the match where Hart’s career “ended”. In a hard-hitting match, Goldberg hit Bret with a mule kick to the head which gave Hart a severe concussion. Hart would fight the injury and ended up wrestling and finishing the match which he won in the end, but the repercussions would be felt later on and that concussion gave him post-concussion syndrome and later forced him to retire. One could question whether stopping the match could’ve made him wrestled longer, but Hart’s dedication to putting on the best matches was shown that night.
7. Sabu (Born To Be Wired 1997)
Sabu has to be one of the most “extreme” wrestlers of all time, with his stint in ECW making many memories. But the most memorable match of his (for all the wrong reasons) was that against Terry Funk at the Born To Be Wired PPV in 1997. In what was a “No Rope Barbed Wire Match”, the two almost made for their own demise but the most shocking part came when Sabu attempted an “Air Sabu” splash and collided violently into the barbed wire ropes. The impact completely tore his biceps as he asked manager Bill Alfonso to bring him some tape to cover up the approximately 10-inch gash. Sabu miraculously managed to go through with the match despite his terrifying injury, as the match ended as a no-contest after both men got entangled into the barbed wire and had to be cut out as this incident shows just how crazy and devoted Sabu really is.
6. The Undertaker (Elimination Chamber 2010)
The Undertaker may have retired from wrestling after a 20+ year career in the WWE, but his legacy will always be remembered. Something else which will never be forgotten is how tough Taker really was and that was proved in the Elimination Chamber event in 2010. The Undertaker was making his way to the ring to defend his World Heavyweight Championship in the Elimination Chamber match, but he was temporarily engulfed in flames during a pyrotechnic accident. His jacket briefly caught fire and he had suffered first and second-degree burns, but decided to go onto wrestle the match. He was doused with water throughout the match before coming out of his pod and never showed signs of being in any pain despite his body being partially burned. He finished the match with ease and proved just why he’s so highly respected in the industry.
5. Triple H (RAW 2001)
Triple H was at the prime of his career in the early 2000s as “The Game” was a top guy for the WWE and was even out-performing the likes of The Rock and Stone Cold as the years went on. He was doing amazingly in 2001 along with Stone Cold Steve Austin as the “Two Man Power Trip”, but then tragedy struck on an episode of RAW where the two were scheduled to lose their tag titles to Chris Benoit and Chris Jericho. After much of the thrilling match had undergone, HHH tried to save Austin from getting pinned but as he attempted to enter the ring, he tore his quadriceps muscle right off the bone. Despite being in excessive pain, HHH actually went with the match and took a Walls of Jericho on top of the announcer’s table and showed just how dedicated he is at entertaining fans.
4. Stone Cold Steve Austin (SummerSlam 1997)
Stone Cold Steve Austin was the man who won the Monday Night Wars for the WWE against WCW, as his antics during the Attitude Era was the reason everyone watched the WWE. But before he could go into full-fledged “menace’ mode, Austin was still a mid-carder in 1997 when he faced Owen Hart for the Intercontinental Championship at SummerSlam. The match was pretty good but then tragedy struck when Owen Hart hit a botched piledriver which landed Austin straight on his head and broke his neck. Austin was temporarily paralyzed and couldn’t move for some time, but he later regained his presence and had the wherewithal to roll Hart up for the win. His heroic display after suffering the injury showed how tough he is and ironically this injury would help build up his rivalry with Vince McMahon and make for the beginning of the “Austin Era” which is extremely memorable.
3. Brock Lesnar (WrestleMania XIX)
“The Beast Incarnate” Brock Lesnar is somebody who might not be liked by many wrestling fans nowadays because of his lazy attitude and part-time schedule, but nobody can deny that he’s quite the specimen. Lesnar was one of the most agile big men in the company during his initial stint with WWE and he had his first high-profile WrestleMania match against Kurt Angle at Mania XIX. In what was an amazing match, Brock wanted to finish with a bang as he went to the top rope and attempted a Shooting Star Press. But it was horribly botched as he landed on his neck, which caused a severe concussion and nearly broke his neck. Lesnar was blank for a long time but had the wherewithal to finish the match with an F-5 which showed just how legitimately tough he was as he finished with a bang while completely senseless.
2. Bruno Sammartino (1976)
Bruno Sammartino is one of the greatest of all time in the WWE as he was the wrestler who helped get WWE famous in the United States with his amazing work in the 70s. He held the WWE for a record time and was their top guy throughout the decade and was also a legitimately dedicated individual as well. During a match against Stan Hansen at Madison Square Garden in 1976, Sammartino suffered a legitimate neck fracture when Hansen botched a body slam and dropped Bruno on his head. Despite being in terrible pain, Sammartino never showed it as he wrestled 15 more minutes after suffering a neck fracture before doing the planned finish of stoppage due to blood. What was even more astonishing is that he didn’t even take time off to heal and Sammartino kept on wrestling after suffering that injury which shows just how tough he is.
1. Mick Foley (King of the Ring 1998)
Mick Foley is not known as the “Hardcore Legend” for nothing, as he has earned that name after doing the most extreme things in wrestling history. What made his legacy was the Hell in a Cell match against The Undertaker at King of the Ring 1998. It all started when Taker threw Foley from top of the cell to the announcers table, but he miraculously recovered from that. But he later took a chokeslam on top of the cell, which broke the cell and Foley came crashing down to the ring. Many thought he had died and while he was alright, Foley suffered bruised ribs, internal bleeding, a severe concussion and also dislocated his left shoulder and jaw. He also broke some of his teeth but was insistent on wrestling and finish the match, becoming an instant fan-favorite and proving himself to be a literally unbreakable man in the ring.
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