Wrestlers need to count on each other in the ring. They have to know how to work together, to handle a major match and know they’re in good hands. Wrestlers have to know they can count on each other to rise up and be able to work a good match. Sure, some are more daring than others but for the most part, wrestlers are on the same page when it comes to their matches and handle it well. But in other cases, they can find themselves on opposite sides in more than one way. Guys can be rough as hell in the ring, often to the detriment of their opponents as they can be very dangerous to work with.
Often, it’s the “stiff” guys, the ones who take it far more seriously and aren’t above hitting guys for real. While WWE does a “main event style” today that’s far safer, far too many wrestlers are known for being quite harsh in the ring to work with. They could be rough as hell, often sloppy with their work and often cause far too many accidents to happen. It’s worth noting that through wrestling history, guys have been so brutal and nasty that it’s hard to imagine they lasted so long in the ring. Here are 15 of the most dangerous guys to get into a ring with and proved how a match with them was truly rough as hell.
15 Andre the Giant
When you’re over seven feet tall and 500 pounds, you can pretty much do whatever you damn well please and no one can stop you. Andre was huge business as a fantastic attraction but he was also damn hard to work with in the ring due to his attitude and few could stop him. Stories abound of Andre showing up drunk in matches and being stiff as hell, just shoving guys around without realizing how strong he was hitting them. He famously defecated right in the middle of a match and his no-selling of guys could be annoying.
13 Jack Swagger
Swagger is a clear example of a guy who was elevated far beyond what he should have been. He was a decent mid-card talent but trying to turn him into a main eventer never worked out. A reason is his attitude but also how he can be damn sloppy in the ring. He separated Bad News Barrett’s shoulder tossing him into a ring barrier when it was known Barrett was having shoulder issues. This led to Barrett being forced out for a time and having to vacate the Intercontinental title, a blow to his career that Barrett never recovered from.
12 Stan Hansen
The genius with Hansen was that he was exactly who he appeared to be on TV; a wild uncouth Texan with a short fuse who was stiff as hell in the ring. Hansen was a monster hit in Japan, the country loving his stiff style and brutal battles that often led to bloodbaths. Hansen never had a major run at a time in the U.S. as he was just too wild and as such it made it hard for promoters to trust him. His run as AWA World Champion had him hurting Rick Martel’s back for real and wild in his ring work so guys were worried about having to face him.
Likewise, a run with WCW as U.S. champion was short-lived as he could smash guys up for real. Perhaps the most famous story is a 1990 match with Vader where Hansen actually ripped Vader’s eye out of the socket and Vader had to pop it back in.
Even before his big main event turn, John Bradshaw Layfield was known for a rough style in the ring, exceptionally stiff and often going a bit too far hitting guys. It got worse when he transformed into JBL, the main event guy and his run as champion leading to hard hitting battle with Big Show and Undertaker. JBL was also known for his rough “hazing” of rookies and not above using a match to teach a guy a lesson by going off script for a real beatdown. The biggest example was in 2005 where, during a big brawl at One Night Stand, JBL hit The Blue Meanie for real, busting the Meanie open and leading to some shoot matches.
Nelson Frazier was a decent guy behind the scenes but sadly known better for very bad characters and for being pushed way too much because of his size. After doing little of note as half of rappers Men on a Mission, Mabel was elevated in 1995 as Vince McMahon thought he was a great choice as a main event level heel. The fact was, the guy barely had any moveset and understanding of how to move for someone pushing 500 pounds. Kevin Nash (a guy hardly known for good ring work himself) complained of being really worried of getting hurt facing Nelson who didn’t know how to work a decent match. His big splash finish injured guys for real, most notably breaking The Undertaker’s orbital bone, leading to 'Taker’s famous “masked” period.
9 New Jack
The man is quite possibly a complete lunatic. A member of the Gangstas, New Jack helped put ECW on the map with his wild style, bringing a cart of weapons to the ring for matches. He also was known for brutalizing his opponents for real. That would include the infamous Mass Transit incident where he sliced a 17-year-old worker’s head in a bloodbath that nearly destroyed ECW. The litany of wild antics has been notable: stabbing a Florida wrestler 14 times; smashing Gypsy Joe with a baseball bat to give him a skull fracture; claiming he intended to kill Grimes by throwing him off a scaffold; and most of this was BEFORE he gave himself brain damage falling onto concrete.
8 The British Bulldogs
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Everyone cites Davey Boy Smith and the Dynamite Kid as fantastic and brilliant workers. However, they were also two of the absolute biggest jerks to ever get into a ring. Their “pranks” would involve drugging the drinks of wrestlers before they were set to drive on icy Canadian roads. In the ring, they were brutal and not above dishing out serious beatings on guys. Mick Foley talks in his book of taking a savage Smith clothesline that busted his lip and then a nasty suplex from Dynamite. Both men had nasty tempers, leading to clashes, such as an epic feud with the Rougeau Brothers where, according to reports, the Rougeaus actually tried to get a hit put on Dynamite from the Canadian mob.
7 Brock Lesnar
6 Seth Rollins
When Seth Rollins tore his MCL recently, most were less upset and more thinking this was karma calling. Rollins has been popular for his fantastic work in ROH and then WWE, riding high as a fantastic heel and champion. However, his ring work has also led to several injuries. WWE eventually had to ban the Curb Stomp simply because it was way too risky but Rollins has continued his brutal style that's led to guys getting injured. Many believe that he is the reason Sting had to hang it up after suffering two turnbuckle power bombs from Rollins, leading to major heat on Seth.
5 The Steiners
Rick and Scott Steiner were fantastic athletes and when they broke out in 1989 as a tag team, they were stunning fans. The duo were putting on moves no one else could dream of and were soon hailed as one of the best teams around. But that belied their danger as the two could often do moves without their opponents ready for it and that led to injuries. The Frankensteiner was something truly dangerous before hurricanranas became commonplace and many of the duo’s moves could be rough if you weren’t prepared. Buff Bagwell found that out the hard way, breaking his neck off a Rick flying bulldog. It got worse when Scott transformed into “Big Poppa Pump”. He was much stronger but without the same care in the ring so he really did injure guys during matches.
4 The Road Warriors
The DVD WWE put out about them mentions how much Hawk and Animal changed wrestling when they debuted. Fans adored them coming out in the leather and makeup and smashing anyone in their path. The key was they really were that brutal and vicious inside the ring and didn’t care if they hurt guys for real. Jim Cornette says that the jobbers lived in fear of having to be up against the Warriors as they really could crush guys down. They were smash mouth and often sloppy in their rookie years so guys really were hurt going against them (including a young Arn Anderson).
Meng (known as Haku in WWE) was actually a good worker and not known for really injuring guys. A former high-flying type, he shifted to a tough heel with martial arts moves. As time went on, he became a more muscular strong man to be an enforcer in WCW. What makes Meng notable is that many cite him as possibly the toughest guy wrestling has ever known. Stories are legendary such as when he started a bar brawl, laughed at being maced and broke the handcuffs a dozen cops were using to subdue him. Or when some fans mocked wrestling as fake and Meng bit off a guy’s nose. He once ripped Jesse Barr’s eye out of the socket and then popped it back in and wrestlers talked of being in fear of having to face him as you never knew if he would overreact to a hit and suddenly smash you apart for real.
Big Van Vader was a fantastic sight when he debuted in the early 1990s. Big and imposing, he was tough as hell but managed to back it up with a great style, even able to come off the top rope for splashes. He was sold wonderfully as a monster, helping make the powerbomb an effective finisher and getting over well as WCW Champion. But Vader was also known as stiff as hell in many of his battles. That powerbomb broke the back of a jobber for real, making Vader a hated man. Much bigger was the famous match with Mick Foley where Foley got his ear torn off trying to escape the ring ropes and a follow-up getting a powerbomb on the concrete. He and Bret Hart were supposed to lock up in WWE but Bret refused as he knew how harsh a single match with Vader could be. Throw in his incredibly harsh attitude and it’s no wonder Vader had a bad rep as a terrible guy to work with in the ring.
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