The field of wrestling is highly fatiguing for a pro wrestler, as the 24×7 travel and performing for almost every day of the week takes a toll on the wrestlers, who often succumb to nagging injuries and have to take some time off to recuperate and get back to full fitness. But while some take some time off with some strains or small injuries, the rough field of wrestling often reveals its ugly side when the wrestlers get legitimately injured while performing some move and have to undergo some form of surgery in order to fully recover.
The “Don’t Try This At Home” message from the WWE is something everyone should fully understand, as these professional athletes might be masters of their product but at times find themselves badly injured from a botched move or landing badly on a certain body part and having to undergo surgery to make a full recovery. While most wrestlers are lucky enough to not have any career-threatening injuries in their time, others have a share of bad luck when it comes to injuries that often force them to undergo multiple surgeries to survive in the wrestling field.
These wrestlers have put their body on the line various times to entertain the audiences and therefore have suffered some major injuries, resulting in them going through some gruesome surgeries in their career. Let’s take a look at the top 15 wrestlers who have undergone the most surgeries.
15. Wade Barrett
Wade Barrett was the guy with probably the most potential among the core members to come up from the Nexus, but a share of bad luck ruined him quickly after he gained momentum as the leader of the heel stable. After being buried by John Cena, Barrett was given a push as a singles competitor and was looking to be heading in the right direction in 2012, when he suffered a bad elbow injury. While this wasn’t feared at first, he had to undergo surgery and was on the shelf for months. Later he’d yet again get popular with a gimmick change as his “Bad News Barrett” got over with the crowd, but he’d get injured yet again and needed shoulder surgery a few years later. As the injuries piled up, Barrett fell down the pecking order and was forced to leave the WWE in a rather disappointing manner last year, as injuries ruined his potential to become a big star in the WWE.
14. Hardcore Holly
Hardcore Holly definitely earned his ring-name, as he was one of the toughest guys to ever set foot in a WWE ring and was renown for his stiff working which led many to not want to work with him. Holly would try that move against Brock Lesnar and it didn’t pay off too well, as Holly was the victim of a botched powerbomb which broke his neck, forcing him to go through neck surgery and thirteen months on the shelf. He returned later on and was picked for the ECW Brand, but he again had to get emergency surgery in 2006 for a horrible staph infection in his elbow as this really affected his wrestling. He’d not be the same wrestler after it, as he would only wrestle for a few more years before retiring. These surgeries destroyed the wrestler who had much potential even at an older age.
Raven was one of the ECW originals who helped bring the “extreme” nature of the promotion’s wrestling, as the mysterious, unique character was one of the top stars of ECW and his impressive work got him a job in WWE later on as well. Raven is a hardcore legend in his own right, as the pain and agony he has put his body through isn’t without its repercussions as he got surgery on a torn rotator cuff in 1999. He’d also had gone through various surgeries on his leg with one of his legs apparently shorter than the other, as the wild Raven might still be wrestling occasionally, but all these injuries and surgeries over the years have taken a toll on his body and will hurt him in the long run.
12. John Cena
John Cena has been “The Face That Runs The Place” for almost a decade now in the WWE, as he has put in work week in, week out in order to attain that status in the company and has never backed out of a fight. Cena has overworked his body in numerous occasions and has also been on the receiving end of some gruesome injuries in the past, as he has gone through three notable surgeries in his WWE career so far. The first one was on his neck after he injured it during his 2009 SummerSlam match against Batista which shelved him for a few months. Cena would injure his arm in 2012, needing a surgery again as he also had a bad shoulder problem which needed surgery last year. Even through all these surgeries, Cena has kept his resolve strong and has had early recoveries through all of them, as his amazing ability to recover from these is why he’s at the top of the WWE right now and known as “Super Cena”.
11. Bret Hart
Bret “The Hitman” Hart is a bonified legend and is arguably the Greatest of All Time for some, as the Hitman was one of the absolute best wrestlers throughout the 90s and found glory in WWE and WCW during his peak. Hart would be forced to retire after the turn of the century due to nagging injuries, but he was always fit during his wrestling career and all the pain he took its toll on his body after his retirement. Hart went through with his knee replacement surgery in 2009, as he would have to go through another knee surgery a few years later because of some complications. It was revealed that he was diagnosed with Prostate cancer last year, as he went through a surgery for that as well a few months back and has made a full recovery, as Hart is a fighter when it comes to fighting injuries and has recovered from his surgeries amazingly over the years and shown why he was regarded as one of the prime athletes of his time.
10. Randy Orton
Randy Orton has had many personas in the WWE over the years, as the Snake-Like character has been a massive hit with the fans and while Orton is quite the amazing performer, he has had his share of injuries since the beginning. It mostly is regarded to his frail shoulder, as he suffered his first injury in his first few matches on the main roster and had to go through with Shoulder Surgery because of it. Orton also had another problem with the shoulder after WrestleMania 21, as he suffered an injury during the match against the Undertaker and had to go through with shoulder surgery once again. He recently went through with his third shoulder surgery, as it’s feared that he might need neck surgery down the road as well and the Viper might be seeming in the best shape of his life, but his shoulder has been terrorizing him for years now and has required so many surgeries that someone else would’ve retired from wrestling altogether had they went through so many surgeries on the same body part but Randy has kept his resolve strong and has been reaping his rewards because of it.
The “Rated R Superstar” Edge has earned that name for a reason, as he was not someone to back down from a fight and his aggressive moves and ability to put his body on the line made him pay dearly in the end, as he was forced to succumb to his injuries and retire at a young age. Edge would get his first neck fusion surgery way back in 2003, as he would be sidelined for a year because of it. He injured his Achilles tendon in 2009 and had to go through surgery because of that as well, as he’d be shelved for a few months before making a shocking return in the 2010 Royal Rumble match. But persistent injuries would force him to retire in 2011 as he’d still make appearances on TV, but his neck problems forced him to give up his dream and he got another neck surgery after that, as he looks to be pretty good and healthy right now and that difficult choice has turned out to be the best one for the WWE Hall of Famer.
8. Triple H
Triple H might be “The King of Kings” who has now become a “Creator” and a “Destroyer”, but his amazing recovery from a career-threatening injury back in 2001 is something for which people have a lot of respect for him. Triple H tore both his quads in 2001 and had to go through with surgery because of it, as he was shelved for almost a year and came back much to delight of the WWE fans. That Quad Injury had a relapse of sorts some years later, as he had to undergo another surgery on his quad in 2007 after it got injured after wrestling, as Triple H’s amazing ability to wrestle through with the frail quads and perform so consistently and convincingly over the years is what makes him one of the greatest of his time.
7. Daniel Bryan
Daniel Bryan was probably the most over wrestler during his time as a wrestler in the WWE, as the “Yes Movement” was on full flow in the past few years but the entertaining, amazing athlete had to leave what he loved last year when he announced his retirement from wrestling. Although he’s still in WWE TV, not watching him wrestle anymore is rather heart-breaking as Bryan’s neck problems got only worse as the years went on and he had to get a surgery on his neck after pulling off the ultimate underdog story at WrestleMania XXX. Bryan would have to get another surgery on his arm after an elbow injury after recovering from neck injury, but his neck problems got so bad that he was forced to retire as Bryan’s persistence at putting his body on the line to entertain the fans cost him dear in the end and made for a heart-wrenching end to his career.
6. Mick Foley
Mick Foley is considered as the “Hardcore Legend” for nothing, as the stuff he went through in his wrestling career is something many would flinch at, as Foley’s daredevil ability to take on impossible spots in his career has taken a toll on his body as he’s aging. Foley wouldn’t go through many surgeries when he was still wrestling, as he only went through a knee surgery during his initial WWE run, but after retirement, he’d take better care of his body and went through with back and oral surgery a few years back and is planning on getting a hip replacement surgery soon enough as well. Foley’s ability to put his body through hell to entertain the fans has made him pay dearly in the long run, as the Hardcore Legend has already gone through various surgeries in the past few years and will definitely have to go through many more in the coming years because of all the pain he put his body through back in the day.
“The Animal” Batista might be rocking in Hollywood right now as a superstar, but he was one of the more hard-hitting and powerful wrestlers in the last decade and was one of WWE’s top stars as well. While he had this stiff, hard-hitting style, he was also quite injury prone as he tore his both his biceps and triceps in his WWE career and when he also got a torn hamstring in 2008, he finally went ahead with a surgery which put him in the shelf for a few months. He would again injure his biceps after returning in 2009 and would have to undergo surgery because of it, as Batista apparently also had to get back surgery after breaking it in 2010. It’s no surprise as to why he doesn’t want to return to wrestling anytime soon, as he has gone through multiple risky surgeries in his career and all these injuries convinced him to take retirement from wrestling for the better.
4. Stone Cold Steve Austin
Stone Cold Steve Austin is the guy who won the Monday Night Wars for the WWE, as his amazing work as the rebellious rattlesnake during the Attitude Era made for millions of fans and also made him one of the greatest of all time. Austin was a solid worker, but he suffered his share of injuries, the topmost being THAT neck injury to a botched piledriver during the SummerSlam 1997 match against Owen Hart which almost paralyzed him and he had to undergo immediate surgery after the match. Those neck problems haunted him throughout his career, as he had to retire because of it in 2002 but has still remained as one of the most recognized faces in wrestling. Austin has had his share of surgeries over the years to try and fully repair his neck, as his latest surgery was last year after his WrestleMania 32 appearance as he tore his rotator cuff while training and had to undergo surgery to fix it. The Texas Rattlesnake is one of the toughest SOBs in wrestling and won’t let any injury or surgery put him down in his life.
3. Rey Mysterio
Rey Mysterio might be one of the most exciting superstars of his time and an inspiration for high-flying wrestlers all over, but he has a fragile body which he works over the limit all the time and this inversely results in him getting injured. Not only does he get injured, but also has to go through surgeries as his first notable surgery was when he had to undergo a knee surgery in 2006 which put him on the shelf for almost a year. He returned only to injure his biceps which needs surgery and puts him out of action for a few months, during which he had more surgeries on his injured knee. He suffered an arm injury in 2011 which required surgery and put him out of action for almost a year, as he’d again get injured two years later in which he tore his ACL and required surgery again for it. Although he is undoubtedly one of the more entertaining wrestlers around, his body can’t handle all the pressure and his constant injuries is what made the fans forget about him during the end of his WWE career and disabled him from being at the top for a long time.
2. The Undertaker
The Undertaker has been ruling over the WWE for almost two decades now, but his time seems to be coming to an end as the Phenom’s dedication for the product and putting his body through hell all these years is coming back to haunt him. The Undertaker has suffered various types of injuries in his career, and while he’s a very tough guy who can shake many injuries off, he has had to go through many hip surgeries in his career, first in 2009 and most recently last year where the aftermath saw him having to use crutches to walk. Besides this, he has also had surgery on his broken orbital bone, and in 2010 also had to surgically repaired his damage shoulder. The Deadman might be “dead” only in kayfabe, as he’s had to go through much pain to entertain the audiences and has found himself going through various forms of surgeries in the past few years, as old age is creeping up to the evergreen Phenom, who is likely to ride into the sunset sooner rather than later because of his broken body.
1. Kevin Nash
Kevin Nash might have been a big star during the 90s, but he saw his stock fall with the turn of the century and that’s mostly because of the amount of injuries he began to suffer as the years rolled on. Nash is a big guy and while often trying to do something extravagant, he ends up injuring something in his body and because of the injuries, he has had to go through A LOT of surgeries in his career. Nash himself wrote on social media recently on how he’s about to get surgery on his torn rotator cuff, bicep and labrum which will be his 31ST surgery in his career. While the tearing of his quad has been the butt of many jokes on the internet, it’s rather amazing to discover him to be healthy even after undergoing 31 surgeries in his life which comprised of surgeries on his knee, quad and neck and the way on how he still maintains a presentable outlook to himself is absolutely astounding as the Big Guy is something who won’t let an injury keep him down and gets back up after every single terrorizing surgery.
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