Professional wrestlers put their bodies on the line day in and day out. It's the only business in the world where people are expected to show up to work the next day after getting thrown off scaffolding, falling off ladders, or being slammed through tables. Miraculously, these people take some gruesome spills but are able to walk away from them no worse for wear. Sure, there have been times where people have been seriously injured to the point where they can no longer walk, but that's extremely rare; the vast majority of wrestlers cheat death on such a regular basis that they are almost superhuman.
This list is going to focus on some crazy spots in wrestling history where a wrestler is lucky to have escaped major, significantly extensive injuries. Some wrestlers spent a considerable amount of time in the hospital recovering from their injuries, while others were somehow perfectly fine immediately afterward and continued on with the match as if nothing ever happened.
You'll notice that we're going to feature a few moves on this list that have since been banned from WWE television, and for damn good reason. Head and neck injuries are serious business and it's no surprise that Vince McMahon never wants to see another wrestler being confined to a wheelchair after getting their head spiked into the mat by accident.
That being said, we would like to show you our 15 crazy moments in wrestling history where wrestlers got pretty lucky and didn't suffer the worst fate of all… Enjoy!
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15 The Kawada Driver
This move was invented purely by accident and probably should have ended up much worse for the person on the receiving end. The Kawada Driver (as it was eventually dubbed) was supposed to be a regular powerbomb but for some reason Kawada stalled his opponent at the top of the spot, so the opponent improvised and probably figured that maybe Kawada was actually going for a routine piledriver instead. The devastating result was a combination "pow-ile-drive-omb-er," where his head dangled dangerously just below Kawada's knees before Kawada kneeled down and slammed his opponent's head and neck into the mat. Ouch.
14 Pick Any "Steiner Screwdriver"
Well, we think it's safe to say that Scott Steiner would no longer be able to perform this move in a WWE ring today, considering how dangerous each and every one of his Steiner Screwdrivers looked on his opponents. For this maneuver, Steiner would hold his opponents up for a stalling suplex in a slightly contorted manner so that their bodies are in more of a body slam position rather than a normal suplex, but then he'd drop them straight down into an inverted piledriver, which should have killed every opponent he's ever performed this move on. It seriously is quite unbelievable that nobody was seriously injured...
13 Mark Haskins Pulls a Lesnar
The Shooting Star Press is a tricky move, even for the most confident of high-flyers. The maneuver requires a back flip that moves forward from a front-facing position, which can get a little scary when you immediately notice that the wrestler is never going to make it through the entire flip while in mid-air. The results can be very painful to watch, especially considering that the timing of the move leaves the head and neck in a very vulnerable spot up until the very last second. This differs from a regular moonsault where your head has plenty of time to clear through the motion of the maneuver (since it begins the entire sequence), whereas everything is reversed for the Shooting Star Press. Mark Haskins is one of those guys who is lucky to not be in a wheelchair, especially when you see what Austin Aries put him through after he almost broke his neck.
12 Benoit Gets Lucky
Chris Benoit was being held high above A-Train's head in a press slam position when he slipped off and fell straight onto his head. To make matters worse, there was a chair in the ring at the time and his forehead made direct contact with one of the steel legs, as if landing head-first on the mat wasn't bad enough. Benoit was lucky he wasn't more seriously injured because the impact of his head hitting the mat crumpled his head into his shoulders and the slow motion replay looks like he was within mere inches of potentially breaking his neck.
11 Kevin Nash Drops The Giant on His Head
Two of the biggest big men in professional wrestling history were facing one another at WCW's Pay Per View "Souled Out" in 1998 when a very scary situation unfolded. Kevin Nash was attempting his Jackknife Powerbomb on The Giant, but something went horribly wrong and The Giant was unable to flip all the way up into the maneuver and he was dropped directly on his head by Nash. The Giant is a 500 pound behemoth and it would have been perfectly understandable if they nixed the idea altogether, but Nash had successfully powerbombed The Giant a couple of months prior to this botch, which is probably why they both figured that it would be harmless to do once again.
10 Marty Garner Oversells a Pedigree
In one of the worst looking botches in wrestling history, WWE talent enhancer (or jobber) Marty Garner was about to take Hunter Hearst Helmsley's finisher, The Pedigree, at a time when the move wasn't very well known. Garner claims that he figured that he was taking a double underhook powerbomb or suplex and mistakenly over-flipped into the maneuver and was accidentally spiked into the mat by Triple H. He suffered neck damage from the incident and supposedly settled out of court, and the move lives on as one of the scariest versions of The Pedigree that has ever been executed.
9 Mike Awesome Crushes J.T. Smith
Mike Awesome was a huge athlete that was also incredibly agile and one of his favorite moves was a suicide dive over the top rope to an opponent on the outside. In one of those instances, his opponent's spine took the full force of his near 300 pound body directly against a metal guard railing and the result was terrifying. Luckily J.T. Smith appeared to suffer no injuries from the spot, but the way he bent backward like a contortionist who can touch the back of their head with their foot could have easily resulted in something much worse.
8 Henry Godwinn's Doomsday Device Sell
What happens when you get a 300 pound man on top of your shoulders and he has to perform a backflip in order to land properly? Not surprisingly, a broken neck is the right answer, because that's what happened to Henry O. Godwinn when he attempted to sell the Legion of Doom's finisher, The Doomsday Device. Many people have sold it properly in the past, but Godwinn wasn't so lucky. He landed directly on the top of his head and the weight of the impact crushed his C7 vertebra. He fully recovered, but was forced into early retirement due to the spot.
7 Undertaker's Nose Dive
WrestleMania XXV saw Shawn Michaels take on The Undertaker in one of the best matches in WWE history, but one spot in particular will forever haunt the memories of all those who witnessed the show. Shawn Michaels was on the outside of the ring when The Undertaker attempted a routine dive over the top rope, but Shawn pulled the cameraman into harm's way at the very last second. The cameraman backed away ever so slightly, but that was the worst possible scenario: The Undertaker was already in mid-air and had no time to adjust his flight path. Taker ended up landing awkwardly on the top of his head because the cameraman wasn't able to absorb the impact properly and he's lucky that he didn't break his neck in the process.
6 Sabu's Head Breaks a Table
ECW rose to popularity with their usage of table spots and it'd be hard to think of a wrestler who went through more tables than Sabu. In a match where he was up against The Human Suplex Machine, Tazz, a table was propped up against a corner of the ring as Tazz held Sabu in a full nelson. What happens next is probably not surprising: Sabu took the full nelson suplex through the table and broke his neck. This wasn't the first time Sabu broke his neck, either - Chris Benoit had dropped him on his head earlier in his career. Bad luck.
5 New Jack Brings Vic Grimes With Him
If there's one universal truth in professional wrestling, it's that New Jack is a scary, scary opponent. He and Vic Grimes had vicious battles throughout their careers in several different companies and this spot defines their feud. New Jack and Grimes were on a scaffolding rig high above a lone table that was supposedly going to break their fall. Grimes had reservations about the spot but New Jack went along with it anyway, dragging the reluctant Grimes down to the concrete floor. New Jack hit the table first and Grimes came crashing down later but he landed directly on New Jack's head, fracturing his skull and blinding him in one eye. Here's the craziest part: this might not even be their craziest spot, but we can't just have a list of New Jack spots...
4 Lita's Suicide Dive
Lita was attempting a suicide dive between the ropes to the outside when she very nearly broke her neck in one of the most sickening bumps in WWE history. We're not exactly sure how she avoided getting seriously injured because she folded up like an accordion after slamming face-first on the outside mat. What makes this botch even more amazing is that Lita had already received neck surgery after she cracked three vertebrae in her neck while filming an episode of Dark Angel, so this botch on top of her fragile neck and NOT being paralyzed is practically a miracle.
3 Austin/Owen Tombstone
I think it's safe to say that everyone knows about this spot, but it remains important nonetheless. Owen Hart reversed a side slam attempt by Stone Cold Steve Austin into a tombstone piledriver when the scariest moment in Austin's life occurred. Austin's head was far too low between Owen's legs to avoid making contact with the mat, and that's precisely what happened. Immediately after being spiked into the mat, Austin temporarily lost the feeling in his legs and he described the moment as "instantly thinking Christopher Reeve," where he'd be confined to a wheelchair for the rest of his life. Fortunately for him and all of us, Austin recovered and The Attitude Era would be just around the corner...
2 Lesnar's Shooting Star Press
What's a good way to end the main event of a WrestleMania? A perfectly executed, total surprise finisher from Brock Lesnar off the top rope would have been an excellent way to go out, but unfortunately for Brock things didn't exactly work out quite that way. When people saw Brock make his way to the top rope, flash bulbs started to go off like crazy and you could see Lesnar shaking a little bit as he waited atop the ropes. No one will ever know what he was thinking at the time, but our guesses are something like, "Kurt is way too far away" or "I've done this before in the past, what could possibly go wrong?" Well, Kurt Angle was definitely too far away and Lesnar wasn't able to fully flip his legs through the maneuver due to the distance and the audience witnessed one of the scariest botches in WrestleMania history. Lesnar landed directly on his head, momentarily knocking him out but he somehow continued on with the rest of the match out of sheer will alone.
1 The "Charade" Botch
This is probably the single most painful video to watch on the entire wrestling internet. Independent wrestler Charade was attempting a double moonsault from the top rope when he under-rotated enough to land so sickeningly on the top of his head that the entire crowd went silent after witnessing his botch. The only people not fazed? Somehow his opponent and the referee didn't seem too worried about it, considering that his opponent hooked the leg for the victory and the ref -- for reasons unbeknownst to me -- didn't automatically count to three. It was obvious that Charade was severely injured and was in no shape to continue, so it's the ref's job to know when to step in and stop the match.
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