Top 15 WWE Matches That Were As Painful As They Looked

When you tell somebody you watch wrestling... "but wrestling is fake..." tends to be the response. Oh really? So the winner is really predetermined before the match even begins?Congratulations! 

When you tell somebody you watch wrestling...

"but wrestling is fake..." tends to be the response.

Oh really? So the winner is really predetermined before the match even begins?Congratulations!  Kudos to you for figuring that out! We don't want to hear it though.

Just because wrestling is a performance, it doesn't mean wrestling a match with somebody is a cake walk. Professional wrestling isn't Hollywood, as these performers are their own stuntman and for that, you have to give them a lot of credit. Bruises and scratches come with the territory and unfortunately injuries can happen right before our very desensitized eyes. Each and every time a man or woman steps inside the squared circle, be it a televised match or a live event, they risk their bodies merely to entertain us crazy fans.

Every wrestler who was a champion at the 31st annual WrestleMania event last year were unable to compete the following WrestleMania due to injuries. Seth Rollins, John Cena, Daniel Bryan, Nikki Bella, Cesaro, Tyson Kidd, all individuals who were at the top of their game eventually dropped down for more than just a three count for upwards to a year, one of which had to retire from professional wrestling altogether due to the severity of the damage already done to his body. Professional wrestling, like any sport, has its risks.

We will be checking out 15 WWE matches or instances where the action was just as painful as it looked. We will not only be looking at specific matches, but also will be be looking at certain spots wrestlers can perform that always pose a risk. Which spots you may ask? As you'll see from this list, we will provide many examples. Many many painful examples.

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15 The Ladder Match


For a professional wrestler, it is an honor to be given an opportunity to wrestle in a Ladder Match. And if you stop and think about it, it's kind of a strange honor seeing as participating in one of these matches will leave a participant sore for weeks. It's all worth it though as they're some of the most creative and entertaining matches for the fans.

For this entry, every single Ladder Match represents on the pain threshold, because like good ol' Jim Ross would say, "how do you learn to fall of a 15 foot ladder?" Or how do you learn to crash your body against its unrelenting steal? Quite simply, you don't.

One of the most brutal moments to come from a Ladder Match was in December of 2006, a Four Way Tag Team Ladder Match at Armageddon saw Joey Mercury shatter his nose after a ladder shot directly up into his face like a seesaw half way into the match. The amount of blood to erupt from Mercury's face was hard to watch and a cold reminder of the dangers of being involved in this sort of match.

But a wrestler's gotta do what a wrestler's gotta do.

14 Enzo Amore & Big Cass vs. The Vaudevillains


Number 14 is the most recent occurrence to appear on the list, happening only in May of this year. In what was the opening match of the night at the Payback PPV event, a Tag Team Match saw Enzo Amore & Big Cass vs. The Vaudevillains face off to determine which team would become the Number One Contenders for New Day's Tag Team Championships. Sadly, the match had to be cut short once Simon Gotch tossed Enzo Amore to the ropes and Amore's head whiplashed against the mat.

What looked like a sick bump turned out to be much worse when we realized Amore wasn't getting up. The WWE Universe had no idea if what we were witnessing was real or an act. When the referee eventually rang the bell, we came to realize it wasn't a rouse.

Watching Enzo Amore unable to move at home, our collective hearts dropped as we had fears he may have paralyzed himself. Luckily however (if you can call it luck), it was JUST a concussion. Although it isn't the best result, it's much better than what we feared.

Enzo Amore is already back in the ring and kicking ass like the bonafide stud that he is!

13 Candice Michelle vs. Beth Phoenix


Candice Michelle went from being a model with no experience, to a worker who would do just about anything to put on as good of a match as she could. But sometimes, Candice had a bit too much heart and too many injuries led to her eventual release from the company.

In a Women's Title Match with Beth Phoenix on Monday Night Raw, Candice climbed up to the top rope in what we believe was supposed to be an attempt at a cross body. Beth Phoenix would strike the ropes to stop Candice, prompting her to fall off, resulting in Candice falling forcefully onto her head, shoulders, and neck. After realizing Candice wasn't okay, Beth Phoenix quickly pinned the Godaddy Diva to retain the Championship.

It turned out Candice Michelle cracked her clavicle, taking her out of action for 14 weeks. It was her first and scariest injury in her career with World Wrestling Entertainment.

12 Any Match With Those Damn Thumbtacks


This is a spot that doesn't happen too often, but when it does, we can't help but cringe every time we witness the barbaric act. First popularized in the WWE by Mick Foley, a wrestler will dump a pile of thumbtacks into the ring with the aim of slamming their opponent into them. And yes, the the thumbtacks are real and it's obviously as painful as it looks. Randy Orton and Edge are two individuals who also performed this stunt in the 2000s, helping to solidify themselves as two of the toughest men on the roster. Ironic then they eventually formed a Tag Team together - Rated RKO. Thumbtack brothers.

Earlier this year after a major hiatus (due to the WWE's PG Era for the better part of five years), the thumbtacks were brought back at the Extreme Rules event. Dean Ambrose reversed Chris Jericho's Codebreaker during the first ever Asylum Match before dropping Jericho directly into the thin spikes! Seeing how Chris Jericho's been wrestling for over 20 years, I don't think anybody expected Jericho to be the one to perform the dangerous stunt. It goes to show that Jericho still has it in him to reinvent himself.

11 Elimination Chamber 2010


The Elimination Chamber match in general, first introduced in at the Survivor Series event in 2002, could easily make this list due to the extreme brutality a wrestler's body withstands within the structure. However, we're narrowing this down to the Elimination Chamber that occurred in 2010 featuring Chris Jericho, Rey Mysterio, CM Punk, John Morrison, R-Truth, and the The Undertaker.

During the Phenom's entrance before the match would even begin, the pyro was mistimed and The Undertaker was legitimately scorched by the flames. Although it was brief, Undertaker suffered first and second degree burns on his neck and his chest, and even had to wrestler the entire match in this condition! Talk about a painful match to endure. The pyro technician was fired after the event when 'Taker told Vince he didn't want to see him around anymore.

10 Naomi vs. Aksana


In what would have been just an average night on Monday Night Raw for the WWE Divas division in 2014, would actually turn out to be the match that would take Naomi out of action for 4-6 weeks. In singles competition, the Funkadactyl's opponent Aksana (who has since been released) came down on Naomi's face with her knee for real, resulting in a violent fracture of the eye socket. Being the trooper she is, Naomi was still able to complete the match, even nailing an impressive moonsault before scoring the pin on Aksana, but not without holding her eye for the remainder of the fight.

The most unfortunate thing about this injury was that Naomi was next in line to possibly capture the Divas Championship from AJ Lee, but being out for over a month put a halt to Naomi's push and has since failed to win any title during her stay with the company.

9 Vince McMahon vs. Stone Cold Steve Austin


After Commissioner Shawn Michaels awarded Stone Cold Steve Austin a title match against The Rock at WrestleMania XV, it enraged Chairman Vince McMahon. Stone Cold offered to put his title shot on the line if Vince were to beat him in a Steal Cage Match at the St. Valentine's Day Massacre event in February of 1999 just one month prior to the biggest event of the year. Seeing how Vince didn't want the Rattlesnake in the main event of his grand spectacle, he accepted. What resulted was a fantastic cage match mostly remembered for the amazing bump Vince McMahon would take during the match.

The bump that broke his tailbone!

At one point, both competitors clung to the side of the cage when Stone Cold smashed Vince's head against its steel, prompting Vince to fall ten feet onto the announce table - which failed to break right away - and Vince McMahon's tailbone broke instead. It looked as painful as it sounds, and it's even more amazing that Vince McMahon was able to finish the match. Stephanie McMahon has said on record that as a daughter, it was one of the toughest matches for her to watch knowing how much pain her father must have been in.

8 The Undertaker vs. Shawn Michaels - WrestleMania XXV


Your opponent is outside the ring and you're inside the ring. What do you do? Well, if you're a high risk Superstar, you dive out into your opponent for maximum damage!

In the 90s and even through most of the 2000s, this wasn't as prominent as it is today. At least in the WWE. Now it seems as if every Superstar is diving out of the ring. The Undertaker, Reigns, Rollins, Ambrose, Owens, Zayn, Lynch, The Usos, Banks, Amore, the Bellas, Bryan, etc etc. The list goes on. Everybody's doing it. But just because everybody is doing it, it doesn't mean it isn't without its risks.

The Undertaker, in his match against Shawn Michaels at WrestleMania 25, almost killed himself when he landed awkwardly onto his head. If he hadn't of recovered from the fall, chances are his undefeated streak could have been beat by the Heartbreak Kid! Both 'Taker and HBK took several months off to recuperate after this incredibly taxing match.

7 Shane McMahon vs. Kurt Angle


At the King of The Ring PPV in 2001, the tournament took a break to focus on a grudge match between the Chairman of the Board's son Shane McMahon and Olympic Gold Medalist Kurt Angle in what has to be one of the most memorable Street Fights to happen in the WWE. If being struck with kendo sticks, street signs, and garbage bins wasn't enough, Kurt Angle would eventually suplex Shane McMahon through the plate glass windows of the stage. However, with each failed attempt, McMahon awkwardly landed on the back of his neck. And with each failed attempt, Kurt would do it again and again until Shane McMahon's body eventually crashed through the glass.

Talk about painful.

Here's a fact: Also to happen at this event in the Triple Threat Main Event, Chris Benoit would legitimately injure his neck requiring him to be out of action for a year.

So... wrestling's fake?

6 Seth Rollins vs. Kane


It doesn't matter whether you're wrestling on television, or at a live event, injuries can happen at any moment, proving to the be the case for Seth Rollins in a match he had at a non televised event in Dublin, Ireland. Attempting a sunset flip powerbomb on the Big Red Machine Kane,  Rollins happened to land wrong, tearing his ACL, MCL, and medial meniscus in his knee. All it took was one split second and one wrong move.

It doesn't matter how good of a performer you are, sometimes your body just gives. Although this wasn't on television, there is fan footage of the incident in which you can see his knee bend in all the wrong ways. Unfortunately for Rollins, he had to vacate his WWE Championship as surgery was required which took him out of action for six months.

Good news, he is back and kicking a**.

5 Tyson Kidd vs. Samoa Joe


Another injury that didn't happen on television, this live event injury made Seth Rollins' injury look like a walk in the park. And that's a saying a lot.

Samoa Joe, who had just been signed with WWE, took on Tyson Kidd at a live event and picked up the victory by pinning Kidd 1, 2, 3, after executing the 'Muscle Buster'. Tyson most likely wouldn't have kicked out of the pin either way even if it had been a real fight as the move legitimately injured his neck and spine, leaving him with an injury in which only 5% of people actually survive. With stats like that, we are thankful Kidd can say he's in that same percentile.

Samoa Joe is now NXT Champion and didn't receive any disciplinary action by causing the injury because if you look back at the fan footage of the incident, Samoa Joe nailed the 'Muscle Buster' signature the same way he always does. Nothing actually went wrong. And that's the scary part. Like Seth Rollins, sometimes your body can finally just give out. Sometimes, there's only so many bumps a wrestler can take and we aren't sure yet whether or not Tyson will able to compete again in the squared circle.

4 Hardcore Holly vs. Brock Lesner


This is an injury that has had one half of the the internet wrestling community blaming Brock Lesner, and the other half blaming Hardcore Holly.

During a match they were having together, Brock Lesner went for a powerbomb on Holly but ended up dropping Holly onto his neck as opposed to his back. You can blame Brock Lesner because he should have known not to slam him down on the mat as Holly wasn't in proper position to take the move. However, people blame Holly because they believe he tried to "sandbag" Lesner, meaning he tried to make it so Lesner would not be able to deliver the move to him, thus making Lesner look bad. None the less, mistakes happen and it was a frightening thing to watch. Seeing how this match was on an pretaped episode of SmackDown, it makes it all the more surprising this injury made it on television.

3 Mick Foley vs... So Many People...


When Mick Foley was put into a match with an extreme stipulation, it didn't matter who he was wrestling, he put his body on the line each and every time for the sole purpose of entertaining his fans. Mix in the fact that he's probably the most likeable face the WWE has ever had, it's no surprise why Mick Foley is one of the most well respected wrestlers to ever step foot in a ring.

Who can forget the time The Deadman threw Mick Foley off and through the Hell in a Cell. Or the time he landed on a bed of thumbtacks for the first time in WWE. Or the time his ear got caught in the ropes and literally tore off his head like some bloody Saw movie.

Doing an internet search, we have discovered that throughout his wrestling career, Mick Foley has suffered from six broken ribs, a torn abdominal, a chip in his elbow, a broken wrist, second degree burns, a dislocated and fractured shoulder, two broken noses, a broken cheek bone, four lost teeth, a broken jaw, thousands of thumbtack holes, and a total of over 300 stitches in his arms, head, eyebrows, hands, ears, skin, cheek, and lip.

Isn't that insanity?

2 Shawn Michaels vs. The Undertaker - Royal Rumble '98


In the first quarter of 1998, Shawn Michaels was at the top of his game. Not only was he putting on fantastic matches every single week, he cut promos like no other and for many many reasons had become the top Superstar in the WWE at the height of the Attitude Era. But all good things tend to come to and end. At least, a momentary end.

If you watch the amazing Casket Match with The Undertaker at the 1998 Royal Rumble event, you'll be surprised to find out that this is the match where Shawn Michaels would have his career threatening back injury. It's even more surprising to find out it happened in the opening minutes of the match when Michaels took a back drop outside the ring, striking his lower back against the casket. After the injury, Michaels was back up soon after to perform at the highest level for the remainder of the 22 minute contest. And when I say highest level, I mean it. Whether it be nipping up after getting knocked down, or back flipping off the top rope, Shawn Michaels performed like a Superstar.

He would hold onto the title until WrestleMania XIV, and after losing to Stone Cold Steve Austin would have to leave the business for surgery. He wouldn't return to the ring for over four years.

1 Stone Cold Steve Austin vs. Owen Hart


Our beloved Stone Cold Steve Austin crushed his neck before our eyes and left audiences worldwide scared for our hero. It's a match we wish Stone Cold Steve Austin didn't participate in as we aren't sure where his career could have went otherwise.

The beer drinking SOB and the late great Owen Hart had been in the middle of a heated rivalry in 1997 when eventually the two met in a match for the Intercontinental Championship at the 1997 SummerSlam. This battle would turn out to be one of the main reasons Austin would have to retire from wrestling in 2003 due to nagging neck issues from the incident.

About 15 minutes into their match, Owen Hart botched a piledriver which temporarily paralyzed Austin and if you're a fan of professional wrestling, you've seen the incident. If you're not, it's all over the internet and trust me, it's not easy to watch.

Although the incident definitely put a shelf life on Stone Cold's career, we're just thankful that the Texas Rattlesnake wasn't paralyzed from the incident and was still able to come back to become a legend in not only the WWE, but a legend in everybody's hearts.

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Top 15 WWE Matches That Were As Painful As They Looked