In pro wrestling, matches are roughly scripted out with various moves, or spots, being put into place to get the best reaction from the crowd, with everything connecting those moments usually being done on the fly while the match is going using a combination of signals from the referee and the wrestlers themselves. If the spot is different from the usual in-ring affair or it is particularly dangerous, the performers will practice the spot a few times prior to actually performing it in front of a crowd. Yet there are also moments that happen at the spur of the moment and prove to be almost as or even more dangerous than anything the wrestlers can do in the ring. These are the moments where the danger is the highest for the performers and many times will lead to hospital visits and various cell video clips being put up online to the dismay of fans around the world.
With that in mind, this list is designed to look at the moments that were the most dangerous in pro wrestling. Including both planned and unplanned spots, this list will look at the moments and the stories behind them, along with how they could have or in some cases did go wrong for the performers involved. The moments will be ranked on the actual event of the moment and the danger of the moment. Other things considered for the ranking include how shocking the moments were and the believably of danger for fans watching the moment unfold out in front of them.
So please read, enjoy, and let us know what you think down in the comments section. How would you have ranked these differently? Are there other moments that you felt should have made the list or that one of the entries should be ranked differently?
14 Rikishi Falling Off Hell in a Cell (Armageddon 2000)
In the lead up to the main event match six-man Hell in a Cell match for the WWE Title at Armageddon, Vince McMahon made it known that he felt the match should not happen as the match is dangerous enough when only two competitors are involved, let alone six. Early on in the match McMahon, Gerald Brisco, and Pat Patterson came down to the ring with a truck in an attempt to dismantle the cell and stop the match. Commissioner Mick Foley came down to the ring after the door of the cell had been torn off and had the three escorted away by police in order to allow the match to continue, though now all the competitors had left through the open door and were fighting on top of the cell.
13 Kurt Angle Moonsault off Steel Cage (Raw, 6/11/2001)
12 Junkyard Invitational (Bash at the Beach ’99)
At the second-to-last edition of the Bash at the Beach pay-per-view, there was a match created to include some of the wrestlers on the lower end of the card. Titled, the Junkyard Invitational, the battle royal featured such wrestlers as Public Enemy, Mikey Whipwreck, Finlay, Steven Regal, and Ciclope, among others. The object of the match was to escape the junkyard by climbing over the chain link fence at the front of the property. The match was a tornado of crazy as wrestlers pummeled each other with various objects from around the junkyard, while cars were being tipped over and a helicopter flew overhead to get footage.
11 Public Enemy Covered in Chairs (Hardcore Heaven ’94)
There are numerous moments throughout the history of ECW that could have made this list, but some stick out way more than others, one such moment involved The Public Enemy when they attempted to attack Cactus Jack and Terry Funk at Hardcore Heaven. At one point when both members of Public Enemy were down, Funk asked an audience member to toss him a chair to use on the duo. Unfortunately, once the first chair came into the ring, dozens more chairs were tossed into the ring as well. Funk was eventually hit by a chair himself and left the ring with Cactus while The Public Enemy would be literally covered in steel chairs, much to the chagrin of ECW, who had a PA announcer begin to yell at the crowd to stop throwing chairs.
Cactus Jack and Terry Funk have become synonymous with hardcore battles, usually against one another. One such moment involved Cactus swinging a flaming chair around the ring which also had Funk in it. This effect was created by wrapping the chair in a towel, dousing it with lighter fluid, and lighting the towel. Unfortunately, during the course of one of Cactus’s backswings the towel came off of the chair and landed on Funk, burning him before he threw the towel off himself towards the crowd.
10 Jeff Hardy Falling Off of Cage Onto Stairs (Lockdown 2015)
At this year’s taping of the annual Lockdown event, Jeff Hardy was to be written off TV for a while with a storyline injury as a way to not have him on the European tour for which he could not travel on. Yet rather than make the injury appear to be a broken limb TNA decided to have it look more shocking. In a steel cage match against James Storm and Abyss, Hardy at one point finds himself on top of the cage door while attempting to perform a move. Unfortunately the door would be moved and Hardy would crotch himself on the top of the door. Then with his opponent immobilized, James Storm would push Hardy off the top of the door onto the floor. Yet as he fell Hardy would hit the steel steps at the base of the ring and appear to be unconscious.
9 Shane Falling Off Titantron (SummerSlam 2000)
Shane McMahon has long been considered the daredevil of the McMahon family, which is clear when watching any of his matches. This is even more impressive considering that he did not receive much in the way of formal pro wrestling training before stepping inside the ring against men with far more experience than him.
8 Goldberg Punching Out a Limo Window (WCW Thunder)
In the course of trying to regain the WCW World Heavyweight Championship, Goldberg was faced with the task of now fighting the newly reformed nWo, led by World Champion Jeff Jarrett. After the initial reformation, Goldberg went on a rampage and attempted to attack the group in their limo, breaking some of the windows with the aid of a concealed piece of pipe in his hand to create the illusion that he was breaking windows with his bare hands.
7 Edge vs. Mick Foley (WrestleMania 22)
Leading up to WrestleMania 22, Edge and Mick Foley had been feuding after Foley reffed a match between Edge and John Cena, where Cena ended up winning. Many wondered how Edge would fare against the hardcore legend in his namesake match, but those worries were soon put to rest as both men and Lita put on a hardcore clinic. From Lita hitting Foley in the groin with a barbwire baseball bat to Foley wrapping Mr. Socko in barbwire and hitting the Mandible Claw on Edge.
6 Jim Cornette’s Fall in the Midnight Express vs. Road Warriors Scaffold Match (Starrcade ’86)
Pro wrestling is dangerous when just having a normal match, let alone a match with any kind of special stipulation. Scaffold matches are particularly dangerous as the overall goal is usually to toss your opponent over the edge onto the ring below. During the course of a heated feud between the Road Warriors and the Midnight Express and their manager Jim Cornette, the two teams would eventually meet in a scaffold match at Starrcade.
5 Shane McMahon Tossed Through Glass (King of the Ring 2001)
Another moment featuring Shane McMahon is next from when Shane faced off against Kurt Angle in a street fight at King of the Ring in 2001, but instead of the moment being dangerous because a stunt could go wrong, it is a dangerous moment because the stunt DID go wrong. During the match both men eventually made it to the stage where they continued to brawl, but Angle would get the upper hand against Shane. Then while he had Shane wrapped up for a belly-to-belly suplex, Kurt went to slam Shane through the plate glass that was a part of the entrance design. While this would mean that the glass was breakaway stunt glass, something did not go right and Shane simply slammed against the glass and the glass did not break and Shane fell head first onto the concrete floor. Angle would attempt the move again, this time sending Shane through the glass. Angle would then repeat the move to send Shane through another glass pane, but would again fail on the first couple attempts, basically slamming Shane’s body against the unforgiving surface.
4 New Jack Tries to Kill Vic Grimes (XPW)
The following event stems from a prior incident between New Jack and Vic Grimes at ECW Living Dangerously in 2000 where the two took part in a scaffold match and they were injured after missing the tables that they were supposed to land on, which left New Jack permanently blind in his right eye and with brain damage.
3 Terry Funk/Sabu Barbwire Match (ECW Born To Be Wired)
At the ECW event Sabu was set to take on wrestling icon Terry Funk in a no-rope barbwire match, which is as nasty as it sounds with ring ropes replaced with barbwire. Sabu would slice open his bicep on the barbwire after a failed move from the top rope, causing Sabu to ask Bill Alfonso for tape so that he could seal up the cut and continue the match. Eventually the two would get entangled in the barbwire so badly that a group of ring technicians had to rush to the ring and carefully cut the two men free, while making sure the barbwire did not get into either guy’s eyes or mouths during the untangling.
2 Mankind Thrown Off and Through Hell in a Cell (King of the Ring ’98)
In the history of the Hell in a Cell match, there is no more famous a match than the third match of that kind, which was between the Undertaker and Mankind at King of the Ring in 1998. The match would start on top of the cell, and Mankind would shortly be tossed off the top of the cell onto the Spanish announce table sixteen feet below, which was apparently a suggestion from Terry Funk when Foley asked how he could top the first Cell match between the Undertaker and Shawn Michaels. Medical crews came to the ring to aid Mankind and put him on a stretcher, but he would come back to the ring moments later. Unfortunately, the weight of both men fighting on top of the cage caused the fasteners on the cell to loosen, so when the Undertaker chokeslammed Mankind on top of the cell, Mankind unexpectedly fell through the roof and landed flat onto the ring below, knocking him unconscious temporarily.
1 Owen Hart Falling To His Death (Over the Edge)
At the Over the Edge PPV, Owen Hart was scheduled to face the Godfather for the Intercontinental Championship under his gimmick, the Blue Blazer. Unfortunately, a stunt involving Hart descending from the rafters in a harness malfunctioned and Hart fell 70 feet into the ring and off the turnbuckles. He was rushed to the hospital and pronounced dead only an hour later. The incident itself was incredibly shocking and went to prove how dangerous pro wrestling and the sometimes stunt work the performer had to do can be.
The way the situation was handled told fans at home that something was definitely wrong when the camera cut away to a vignette for the match and then Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler looking somber and horrified only emphasized that this was not part of the program.
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