One of the most aggravating things for wrestlers is how so much of the non-wrestling fans assume that any “injuries” are all fake. True, there’s a history of that over the years as in the old kayfabe days, guys were often pressed to work through injuries to avoid messing up stories and also to continue faking some out of the ring to keep up appearances. That’s changed in the last several years and in fact, WWE has been altering their style to avoid such injuries and thus not hurt guys as badly. After all, a key injury at the wrong time can throw off so many storylines and effect things so no wonder promoters try to avoid that.
However, some guys just appear far unluckier than others when it comes to injuries. In many cases, a worker can get hit by injuries numerous times and hurting his push. Some guys are able to rise above it but others are badly hampered and it shows. So many promising careers have been cut short by injuries and guys taken out at key times, forcing some major changes. And the stigma of being injury prone can follow a guy around and even overwhelm the good he has done. The WWE has also gotten a lot more careful with rushing guys back too soon, as the world is now far more aware of the effects and consequences of concussions.
Here are fifteen workers who just seem to have the injury bug circling them constantly and hitting at the wrong times.
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15 Mark Biscoe
It’s not as often now but a few years ago, Mark Briscoe appeared to be one of the unluckiest guys with injuries around. As one half of the Briscoe Brothers, he would go out of his way to take part in some fantastic battles that took their toll with some concussions and cuts that would pile up. The first major one was in 2007 as he hit a Shooting Star press on the floor that tore out his knee. He actually had a seizure and had to be kept in the ICU for two days.
Mark was just getting it back together when a motorcycle crash aggravated it more and later on broke his wrist after being attacked with a spike. It’s not as bad today but Briscoe can still get hit hard thanks to his wild style and proving why ROH can be so dangerous.
14 Bob Holly
On a WWE Network special, guys talk about how Holly was a guy always on the verge of a push but then getting a nasty injury to ruin it. He had to take time out in the mid-90s for some injuries before being repackaged as “Hardcore Holly” and lived up to that with some wild battles that took their toll. He broke his arm in 2000 and nearly had his neck broken by a Brock Lesnar powerbomb in 2002. He had a staph infection after a bad wound that was so terrible the doctors worried they might have to amputate his arm.
Holly would bounce back from that and then came the infamous match in ECW where he suffered a horrific gash across his back but continued to wrestle despite it. He would require surgery for another staph infection the next year that had more surgery. Holly is a fun guy who has put up with terrible character stuff but you have to admit that he lives up the “hardcore” nickname well.
13 Sin Cara (Mistico)
The masked man had high expectations when he entered WWE in 2011 but never got to live up to them thanks to a slew of nasty hits. Luis Urive had a history in Mexico of some injuries that would follow him in his jump to the big leagues. He was forced out for six months after tearing his tendon and when he returned in 2012, hurt his knee, coming back two months later only to hurt it again and when he came back dislocated his finger in a match with Alberto Del Rio. Given all that, it’s no wonder WWE decided to just let someone else have the mask as it was a hell of a lot safer than putting up with a guy who couldn’t go more than two months before taken out.
12 Daniel Bryan
The American Dragon’s first major injuries occurred in ROH as a match with Colt Cabana had him separating his shoulder and tearing three tendons, including one in his chest. He later detached his retina and needed time off for surgery with his eye bothering him afterward. He was mostly okay in WWE until a stinging pain in 2012 pushed him down for a bit. Of course, Bryan would soon rise to superstardom and achieve the top level to win the WWE title at WrestleMania…only to shatter the fans’ hearts by having to vacate it due to a serious neck injury with surgery far more difficult than anticipated and his absence throwing everything in WWE off. He needed a special treatment to help his limp arm before he could finally come back.
Just as he seemed back on track as IC champion, he had to give that up and now faces the real possibility of retirement due to neck and eye issues. It’s truly sad to see a guy who gave his all in this business having his big shot ruined by fate and hurting so many fans in the process.
11 Randy Orton
Orton was always a risk as he was born with hypermobile shoulders, his joints stretching further than a normal person and thus more prone to injuries. That’s been shown well over the years as his first push in 2002 was marred by a shoulder injury. This would lead to his fun “updates” that quickly got him over and soon onto Evolution and he showed himself with the battle against Mick Foley where he landed on a pile of tacks stuck to his back. He broke his foot and then had to have surgery in 2005 while 2008 was a banner year with breaking his clavicle and then injured in a motorcycle accident just months later.
The most bizarre may be Over the Edge 2010 where he separated his right shoulder while performing his standard ring taunt. He’s taking better care now with stretching but Orton is a man with plenty of miles on his body already and from the start, his risks have been high to hurt him a lot.
One has to wonder if Adam Copeland might still be wrestling if not for the brutality of those TLC matches. In 2000, he knocked out a couple of teeth and started the series of neck issues that would haunt him for the rest of his career. He needed a long time off for surgery in 2003, coming back in ’04 to win the IC title but had to relinquish it after suffering a legitimate groin injury. He suffered a shoulder injury and tore his pec twice, the latter forcing him to give up the World title in 2007.
The neck was always the big one, however, needing numerous surgeries and absences such as late 2009 although Edge was determined to come back quickly such as his surprise return at the 2010 Royal Rumble. However, by 2011, they were racking up and a doctor’s visit had Edge told he had spinal stenosis and one more bad bump could render him in a wheelchair for life. Thus, a fantastic career had to be ended early, Edge obviously hating it and unlikely for one more battle. A sad shame but shows the price some guys pay for success.
9 Rey Mysterio
The danger of Rey’s fantastic high-flying style is that it took a serious toll on his body. It began in the late 1990s with the first of several ACL tears that required him to take most of 1998 off after knee surgery. He injured it again filming “Ready to Rumble” and had to take a long break after WCW ended to make his WWE debut although he’d need knee surgery right after. You can’t even count how many times Rey has needed work on those knees as he had to take nearly a year off in 2006-07 and even put off some needed surgery in 2010 to help the company out more.
He would come back in 2013, claiming stem cell injections were helping but would soon require more time off for surgery and contributed to his final release from WWE. We can all admire the man’s fantastic in-ring skills but it’s come with a terrible price that Mysterio has had to endure and could get even worse as time goes on.
Given how old he was when he started in wrestling, perhaps it’s no surprise Big Dave has been hit by numerous injuries over his tenure. Most of them involve muscle tears as well as back injuries, tearing his triceps in a 2003 match that also hurt Randy Orton. He re-injured them while training for his comeback and managed to do well for a couple of years. In late 2005, he hurt his back and was to drop the World title to Eddie Guerrero but after Eddie’s death, continued on, knowing WWE had to fill the void. It was too much as he had to relinquish the belt in early ’06 and require some surgery and continued onward, needing to drop out of shows at the last moment and relinquish the world title due to time off which lowered his standing with the fans.
It culminated in 2010 against John Cena where Batista took an AA off the stage onto an ambulance and suffered a legitimate spine compression. He would soon do his famous “I quit!” speech in a wheelchair from the ring and seemed to take it for real. He’s come back but that was interrupted by his age and old injuries mounting. It’s no wonder the guy has moved on to movie stardom as facing stuntmen and aliens is a lot safer than being in the ring anymore.
7 Mark Henry
Henry made a big splash in WWE in 1996 having signed a big 10-year contract. But it took only months for a back injury from his weightlifting days to kick in and begin a long run of injuries over time. He had to have time off for a long while, coming back in 2002 only to suffer a knee injury. He came back and was gaining momentum in 2004 when he tore his quadriceps.
In 2006, he was given a real push as a great monster heel but that was ruined when he broke his patella tendon right off the bone in a tag team match. He’s needed time off constantly for further surgeries yet keeps coming back and putting up with often dumb storylines despite the pain. Whatever else, Henry does love wrestling to keep returning to it despite the wear and tear of his body and never giving up.
6 Kurt Angle
In his regular wrestling days, Angle proved himself by winning a gold medal at the 1996 Olympics despite having suffered a broken neck. That amazing ability to handle injury would carry over to pro wrestling as Angle has astounded fans by coming back from injuries that should have retired anyone else. He’d suffered several hits to the legs and back in battles but the big one was in 2003 as his neck was hurting so badly that he was told not to compete at WrestleMania against Brock Lesnar. Angle did so then took part in an experimental surgery that allowed him back in the ring in just a few months. He would soon be feeling the pain again with injuries to his back and neck requiring more time off and played a major part in WWE releasing him in 2006.
Jumping to TNA, Angle has been hit by more injuries, marring title reigns and perhaps contributing to his numerous DUI arrests as well. He’s still able to surprise at times with some good matches but Angle has clearly paid the price for his in-ring brilliance while proving himself a true Olympian.
5 Ken Anderson
Rarely can you find a guy who had “superstar” written over him whose career path was wrecked by constant injuries. When Kennedy arrived in 2005 WWE, he was pushed hard and seemed ready for the big time. The first big one came in December of 2005 when he suffered a serious lat tear that put him on the shelf for six months. No sooner was he back then he took a hard hit that needed 20 stitches to close. In 2007, he was set to rise with the Money in the Bank briefcase and planned to be named “Vince’s son” in that angle but then he tore his triceps so he had to relinquish both.
When he returned in 2008, he separated his shoulder against Shelton Benjamin and when he made a bad suplex against Randy Orton, he was finally released in 2009. He moved to TNA where again, injuries of back and concussions have hit him hard to mar his pushes and his brief run as World champion. It’s amazing to consider just how Anderson/Kennedy’s career might have been if not for some horribly bad luck in injuries.
4 Triple H
For all his stardom and amazing skill, Hunter has been hit by a lot of nasty injuries over the years. He handled himself well in the early stages of his career but the first big blow came in 1998 when he blew his knee out while winning the IC title in a ladder match with the Rock and had to give up the title. In 2001, he tore his quadriceps right off the bone, taking him out for the remainder of the year and the entire Invasion storyline. In 2002 and ’03, he’d be hit with numerous small injuries that forced him to adjust his style and had to take time off in 2003 to handle them all despite his championship reign. He took more time off in 2005 with neck problems, coming back well in 2006 but then in ’07, tore his other quad in a match, shifting his knee right off and ruining a planned Mania match against Cena. That’s not to mention numerous injuries to his bicep, knees, elbows and throat that’s forced him to become only an occasional performer.
Many may slam The Game for his selfishness but he’s more than proven he’s willing to bear the brunt of the business and in style.
3 Kevin Nash
In a 2005 bit, Chris Jericho talked about a possible mystery partner for Shawn Michaels in a tag team match and when Kevin Nash was mentioned, cracked “Nash would tear out his knee answering the phone.” For all the flack he gets as a terrible worker, Nash has been more prone to major injuries than most could guess, a result of his size and lack of training. It would take way too long to count them all off but it was best summarized by how he tore out his quads simply walking across the ring in a tag match in 2002. It’s led to long mocking, not helped by how Nash has often seemed to use that history to back out of matches.
In 2005, he had to bow out of a match at “Lockdown” and TNA actually showed his staph infected leg to prove to fans he was really hurt. He later bowed out the day of Bound for Glory with further leg injuries. Most of the injuries are his legs but there’s also neck and back and even shoulder stuff not to mention a couple more staph infections and an irregular heartbeat that caused him to pass out at a fan event.
Given how slow and plodding his ring work was even in his prime, it’s amazing how Nash has become so battered and how much toll can be taken by even a “lazy” worker.
2 The Undertaker
Many have noted that The Undertaker’s on-screen persona of feeling no pain isn’t that far off from the real guy. He almost never complains about injuries, just goes out to do his job and thus winning respect. His absence in early 1994 was due to a back injury and when he sustained a face injury in 1995, it was written into the storyline of him attacked by Mabel and wearing a mask to the ring. He famously had a broken ankle in the 1998 Hell in the Cell match with Mankind that he worked through, not to mention a torn groin, tearing a pectoral muscle (which delayed his 2000 comeback), a sliced ear, busted arm (worked into the 2002 feud with Brock Lesnar), cracking his orbital bone in 2010 against Rey Mysterio, hip surgery, accidentally set on fire by a botched pyro and too many concussions to count.
It’s no wonder he’s cut down to just a couple of matches a year and the fact the guy is still capable of producing as well as he can is remarkable and adds to his status as an icon of the entire business.
1 Mick Foley
The back of Foley’s very first book has a full photograph of him with arrows pointing to the injuries he’s suffered over the years, which include a dozen concussions, four teeth knocked out, broken cheekbone and jaw, separated shoulder, two herniated discs, chips in his elbow, torn abdominal and meniscus, bruised kidney, five broken ribs, his right ear ripped off, over 325 stitches…and that was in 1999.
Since then, Foley has taken even more punishment with chair shots, burning, barbed wire, tacks and more. Foley has never backed down from giving the fans a wild show and that spirit has made his battles a spectacle. They’ve also taken their toll, Foley himself admitting the wear and tear and how he regrets a few of the moves he’s pulled off over the years. He's an icon for his ability to take punishment and remarkable he's still moving after it all but Foley is the picture of "don't try this at home."
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