Most of us have probably faked an injury at some point in our lives. Maybe we wanted to get out of running the mile in gym class or wanted to get a favorable call after a foul in soccer. In the case of professional wrestling, injuries are one of the few aspects of the business that are not fake. The storylines are almost always pre-determined, as are most of the moves, grapples, and finishers. However, whether or not a wrestler gets hurt during one of these matches is the one wild card.
Injuries are real and can be very, very serious. That is not to say there haven’t some embarrassing ways that wrestlers have gotten hurt. Sometimes they don’t even get hurt while doing a move, but can suffer an injury performing mundane tasks in their day-to-day lives.
Again, injuries are nothing to joke about. They can jeopardize careers and permanently affect the health of many of our favorite wrestlers. However, this list looks more at how these wrestlers got injured. In most cases, the circumstances that surrounded these incidents are a bit embarrassing. Most occurred during botched finishers, overhyped entrances, or otherwise unnecessary actions, both inside and outside the ring.
Here are some of the most embarrassing ways wrestlers got injured.
15. Kevin Nash Tears His Quad Walking Across the Ring
Nothing quite epitomized the failure of the resurrected New World Order than Kevin Nash’s quadriceps injury during a 10-man tag team match on RAW in July 2002. Vince McMahon originally revived the popular stable after WCW folded in 2001. He signed Nash, Hulk Hogan, and Scott Hall to WWE and hoped the trio could capture some of its past glory.
It was not to be.
In the heat of the match, Nash landed a vicious kick on Booker T and proceeded to walk to the corner of the ring to attack Bubba Dudley. You would think Nash would’ve suffered the injury delivering his kick to Booker, but no. Instead, he tore his quad walking over to attack Bubba Dudley.
Nash immediately fell to the mat, grabbing his leg, and writhing in pain.
McMahon declared the end of the revived nWo just a week later. Nash returned to RAW in April 2003 after a nine-month rehab period.
14. Undertaker Burned During Elimination Chamber Entrance
The Undertaker’s reputation relies heavily on his intimidating menace and fearless attitude in the ring. His highly dramatized entrances are marked ominous music, flashing lights, and fiery pyrotechnics. However, The Undertaker suffered a “burn” to his ego after the pyrotechnics malfunctioned during his entrance to an Elimination Chamber per-pay-view match in 2010.
The Undertaker was burned three times during his entrance, and quickly discarded his leather coat and hat on the way to the enclosed ring to face off against Chris Jericho. He reportedly doused himself with cold water before the match and periodically during the match, albeit off-camera.
Even though the water treatments were necessary, it was strange to imagine how The Undertaker stayed in character while repeatedly having to douse himself in water during the match. Thankfully, he wasn’t seriously injured. The Undertaker rarely shows weakness of any kind, but he had to do what was needed to make the best out of an embarrassing situation.
13. JBL Unscripted Attack on Blue Meanie
In the wrestling world, nearly every in-ring brawl is scripted, or at least planned to some degree beforehand. Both parties may not know what exactly may happen once fisticuffs break out, but most know that a fight is forthcoming.
Apparently, John Layfield (JBL) didn’t get that message when he sucker punched Blue Meanie at the ECW “One Night Stand” event in June 2005. Quick backstory: Blue Meanie requested a release from WWE five years prior after he complained of bullying from JBL. By the time Meanie returned to WWE in 2005, JBL had gotten wind of the animosity Meanie held for him and made his feelings known. At least that is one of many possible explanations for the fight.
As embarrassing as it was to have a real spat at a staged event, WWE felt no shame in turning it into a short-lived storyline that culminated in a televised match between JBL and Meanie on “SmackDown!” the following month. The two have reconciled in the years since.
12. Sid Vicious’ Botched “Powerbomb” on Brian Pillman
The “Powerbomb” move in wrestling is always a dangerous bet. If executed perfectly, it can enthrall the crowd and result in an instant pinfall and victory. However, if done improperly, the powerbomb can lead to serious injury and possible paralysis for the victim.
Sid Vicious embarrassingly “power botched” Brian Pillman in a steel cage match during a War Games match at WCW’s “WrestleWar” pay-per-view in 1991. Rather than drop Pillman on his back and go for the pin, Vicious inexplicably dropped Pillman right on his head and neck. Luckily, Pillman wasn’t seriously hurt, and Vicious eventually power bombed him again, this time safely.
The true embarrassment lied in the fact that WCW made those cages just eight feet high, allowing minimal overhead space to properly execute the finishing move.
11. Sid Vicious Breaks Leg Trying to Land Jumping Big Boot
Speaking of Sid Vicious, it would be wrong not to mention the horrific leg injury he suffered in a Four Corners Match for the WCW Heavyweight Championship in January 2001.
The “vicious” injury itself wasn’t embarrassing. In fact, it was quite serious, as Vicious needed more than three years of rehab to fully heal from it. However, the embarrassment came in how Vicious suffered the injury. He broke his leg executing a “jumping big boot” finisher on Scott Steiner. Finishers make for great spectacles for fans, so to botch one in a championship match will certainly bruise a wrestler’s ego.
Towards the end of the match, Vicious leaped from the second turnbuckle and attempted the jumping big boot to Steiner’s face. He hit his target but landed awkwardly on his left leg. It snapped, resulting in a compound fracture of his tibia and fibula. The injury required two hours of surgery to repair.
Apparently, Vicious was reluctant to even attempt the move in the first place but did so at the behest of WCW management.
10. Hulk Hogan Tears MCL Getting Up From His Couch
Have you ever had a moment where you got up from the couch a bit too quickly, and felt a touch of vertigo, or worse, collapsed because of a dead leg?
Well, WWE legend Hulk Hogan gave a whole new meaning to “dead leg” when he partially tore the meniscus in his right knee upon standing up from his couch.
Hogan was preparing to face Randy Orton in a “Legend vs. Legend Killer” match at SummerSlam 2006, and had been complaining of pain in his right knee for some time. Hogan returned home from the gym after doing a few light leg exercises. He was sitting on his couch when he stood up and felt a snap, which Hogan described as “an explosion in the kneecap.”
Hogan was well enough to walk but struggled to get up and down flights of stairs. Hogan decided against having surgery, and instead received a cortisone shot that numbed the pain in his knee enough for him to face, and defeat, Orton a few weeks later. The SummerSlam victory was Hogan’s last in WWE.
9. Vince McMahon Tears Both His Quads Rushing the Ring at the 2005 Royal Rumble
In a similar vein to Kevin Nash, Vince McMahon suffered a leg injury just by stepping into the ring. The incident occurred during the 2005 Royal Rumble, where Batista and John Cena battled it out as the final two contenders. Both wrestlers tumbled over the ropes after a failed “Bautista Bomb,” and the referees weren’t sure who won. SmackDown officials claimed Cena won, but RAW officials raised Batista’s arm in victory.
McMahon stormed out from backstage, eager to settle the matter and declare a winner. The only problem was, when he rushed into the ring, he tore both of his quadriceps. He awkwardly fell to his knees and assumed an uncomfortably seated position against the ropes while the refs explained the situation. It was a strangely comical image to see Vince sitting there with his hands on his hips, unable to stand up.
The match was eventually restarted, and Batista defeated Cena. Meanwhile McMahon would spend the next six months rehabbing his injury. In true McMahon fashion, he never missed a day of work.
8. Mick Foley Refuses to Say “I Quit” At 1999 Royal Rumble
Another classic Royal Rumble match that featured an embarrassing injury was the 1999 Royal Rumble faceoff between The Rock and Mankind. Known, as “The ‘I Quit’ Match,” the 1999 Royal Rumble was as intense as any in WWE history. The climax of the match came when The Rock hit Foley with a chair an incredible 11 times! Now, Foley was always known to go the full nine yards in sacrificing his body to excite the fans, but this level of punishment was simply embarrassing for him.
Foley’s wife and kids were so uncomfortable with the beating he took, they actually left the arena. Foley suffered a gash on his head and lost his championship title. The Rock went on to further superstardom.
In the classic wrestling documentary “Beyond The Mat,” Foley expressed disdain that The Rock never came to see if he was okay after the match, a gesture that Foley held against The People’s Champ for a long time.
7. Mike Awesome’s Face Plant at ECW’s “The Night The Line Was Crossed” in 1994
It’s never a good optic to slip and fall on one’s face when delivering a finisher. Someone should’ve told that to Michael Alfonso, better known by his ring name “Mike Awesome.” Awesome spent more than 15 years wrestling in ECW, WWE, and WCW. It was during a February 1994 match in ECW, dubbed “The Night The Line Was Crossed” that Awesome suffered an “awesome” face plant.
Earlier in the match, Awesome nearly injured his opponent, J.T. Smith, when he dove on Smith outside the ring and folded his back into the guardrail. Smith eventually fought back and pinned Awesome for the win. Awesome went ballistic and power bombed the referee. While preparing to leap from the turnbuckle to deliver the finishing blow, the top rope snapped, and Awesome fell flat on his face.
Awesome recovered, threw the snapped turnbuckle on the referee, and stormed out of the ring.
6. Lesnar’s Shooting Star Fail at WrestleMania XXIX
Mike Awesome wasn’t the only one to botch a finishing move. Look at what happened to Brock Lesnar at WrestleMania XXIX in 2003. To his credit, fans don’t call him “The Beast Incarnate” for nothing. Lesnar is truly a beast and has proven as much ever since his WWE debut in 2002. He became the youngest champion in WWE history at age 25. He wanted to continue his hot start at his first WrestleMania main event against Kurt Angle.
He dazzled fans by delivering two F-5 finishers on Angle. However, this wasn’t enough for Lesnar. He wanted to give the fans the show of a lifetime. So he attempted a Shooting Star Press from the turnbuckle. Unfortunately, rather than landing on Angle, Lesnar landed on his head and neck. He still won the match but was clearly in pain afterward. He injured his neck and suffered a concussion.
5. Sin Cara Injures His Finger vs Alberto Del Rio
WWE doesn’t pretend that its brand is tougher than more hardcore combat products like the UFC, but wrestlers still pride themselves on toughness. Many suffer injuries during bouts, yet battle through the pain and finish the matches.
So, you would think that when Sin Cara injured his finger after diving on Alberto Del Rio during a 2013 RAW match, he would soldier on. It’s just a finger, right?
Sin Cara delivered a nice arm drag that threw Del Rio out of the ring. Sin Cara then hit Del Rio with a dive, but immediately fell to the mat, and waved the referee over. He made no attempt to hide his pain as he began kicking his legs. Del Rio threw Sin Cara back into the ring, but Sin Cara couldn’t stand up. Del Rio attacked Sin Cara at the end of the match, trying to make it seem as though Sin Cara’s pain was just an act, and save him some embarrassment. The referee called the match and named Del Rio the victor.
Sin Cara was released by WWE the following year.
4. Bart Gunn Knocked out By Butterbean at WrestleMania XV in 1999
A wrestler getting knocked out by a boxer? It’s almost more predictable than it is embarrassing. The injury itself wasn’t embarrassing, but the circumstances surrounding it certainly were. WWE made the decision to have Bart Gunn fight boxing heavyweight Eric “Butterbean” Esch at WrestleMania XV in 1999. It turned out to be one of the most ill-advised ideas in brand history, as Butterbean knocked out Gunn with a vicious right hook 35 seconds into the first round.
Seriously, what did WWE think was going to happen? The fight initially came together after Gunn won the 1998 “Brawl for All” event, which involved wrestlers fighting real-life bouts in the ring, injuries and all. Gunn won the event, and WWE scheduled his match with Butterbean shortly after.
3. Sami Zayn Injures Shoulder While Hyping Up Crowd
It’s never easy going up against John Cena in the ring. Cena is as intimidating as any wrestler in the business and is almost always favored in his matches.
Perhaps Sami Zayn knew the odds were against him before his May 2015 match against Cena for the United States Championship, and purposely injured himself during his walkout so as to have an excuse for a quick defeat.
All kidding aside, this embarrassing injury occurred when Zayn stepped to the ropes and threw up his arms to hype up his hometown crowd in Montreal. He immediately grabbed his left arm, and it went limp as he climbed through the ropes.
Cena made short work of Zayn with a back suplex but quickly backed off. He sensed Zayn was hurt and had the referee check on him. Cena won the match and continued his reign, but Zayn suffered a shoulder injury that sidelined him for the rest of 2015.
2. Randy Orton Injures His Shoulder Pounding the Mat Before RKO
We all know how Randy Orton’s classic “RKO” finisher plays out. He grabs his opponent’s face and slams it to the mat in a jumping cutter.
Well, Orton’s pre-RKO antics backfired during a match against Edge at WWE’s “Over the Limit” pay-per-view in 2010. Edge attempted to spear Orton, but Orton countered with a devastating kick to Edge’s face. Orton prepared for the RKO and pounded the mat in anticipation. He immediately began favoring his right arm as the referee went to check on him.
Edge got a few shots in as Orton continued to retreat. The referee eventually called for the bell, and Edge won the match. Orton’s separated shoulder was just one of several shoulder injuries Orton suffered during his career.
It may have also been the most embarrassing….if not for this awkward mishap…
1. Randy Orton Dislocates His Shoulder Taking out the Trash
Fragile athletes always seem to injure themselves in the most benign of situations. With the litany of shoulder ailments that Randy Orton has dealt with over the years, it came as no surprise when he suffered yet another shoulder injury in 2015. The only shock came in how he did it.
Orton was taking out the trash outside his home and dislocated his shoulder when he set the garbage bags down on the curb. Yes, I’m serious.
It took three hours to pop the shoulder back into place. The injury was serious enough that Orton had to be pulled from several events later that year, including WWE’s Hell in a Cell pay-per-view. Did he violently throw the trash to the curb, or did he “RKO” the trash into the bin? All joking aside, the injury required surgery, which sidelined Orton for several months.
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