What does it say about us wrestling fans that we're often never entertained more than when something goes wrong? A fiery promo, an amazing aerial dive, or a well-executed match are all great, but nothing gets quite the reaction or goes viral like a "botch". A botch is when one or more wrestlers screw something up --like a move-- and botch it. It will fill the audience with devilish glee as they chant, "You f-d up! You f-d up!" and have them searching it out online to relive the disaster over and over again. Given the sheer number of matches that take place every week, and the fact that many of them are live, there have been innumerable botches in wrestling history. But what makes a botch truly memorable?
Even experienced and talented wrestlers screw up from time to time. But seasoned performers know how to get past it or incorporate it into the match and nobody ends up remembering the botch. Sometimes however, a botch is far too big to just brush off. Sometimes a botch can result in injury, even serious injury. And sometimes the wrestlers are okay, but the botch threatens to have a major effect on the story. Other times, the botch could be inconsequential, but the performers react to it very badly and let it rattle them. And then, sometimes, it's just really funny. This list will look at the top botches since the year 2000. So get ready to relive the most dangerous, cringe-worthy, shocking, potentially disrupting, and downright hilarious botches of the past 16 years.
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20 Undertaker's Disastrous Over-The-Top-Rope Dive
You could argue that this is the “best” botch ever. Why? For starters, it looked utterly spectacular. Undertaker’s topé con hilo (a running leap over the top rope) always looks amazing and is usually one of the highlights of his big annual WrestleMania match. But at WrestleMania XXV, ‘Taker’s graceful leap did not have a graceful landing. Perhaps he was slightly overzealous because of the auspicious occasion, or perhaps it was just one of those things, but 'Taker slightly overshot HBK and landed straight on his head. At the time, anybody watching probably presumed “The Deadman” was literally dead. But miraculously, Undertaker seemed unharmed by the almighty crash. In the end, it actually added to what turned out to be one of the greatest matches in WrestleMania history.
19 Alicia Fox Gets Boxy
Unlike many of the botches on this list, you can laugh at this one and not feel guilty at all. Earlier this year, Nia Jax was set to begin her first real feud on the main roster and her opponent was to be Alicia Fox. Yes, we all got that Alicia Fox - Nia Jax feud we’ve been clamoring for. Anyway, during a backstage confrontation, Ms. Foxy got animated and began her trademark erratic, limb-waiving. In doing so, she accidentally flipped a cardboard box right into Nia’s nose. A look of apologetic concern crossed Alicia’s face, but only momentarily, before she got back into character. For her part, Nia refused to “sell” the box, and just stood there stoically. One could argue that the right thing for Jax’s character to have done would have been to attack Fox as opposed to merely shoving her, but all-in-all the segment got across Fox’s unhinged character and Jax as an unflinching monster.
18 RVD Crushes Triple H's Throat
In the run-up to Survivor Series 2002, the big speculation was about what the Elimination Chamber would actually be. Nobody had seen an Elimination Chamber match before and had no idea what it would look like or how the wrestlers would use it. Rob Van Dam would use it to try to murder Triple H. To be fair to RVD, it really wasn’t his fault. Unlike later models of the chamber, there was very little space between the ceiling and the top of the pods. So when “Mr. Monday Night” scaled a pod and set up to deliver his patented 5-Star Frog Splash on “The Game”, he didn’t really have any room to jump up. He kind of just lurched forward and free-fell onto the defending World Champion.
Unfortunately, RVD’s knee fell right across Hunter’s throat, causing major swelling. Hunter, being the trooper that he is, would go on to wrestle the rest of the match. RVD, who despite his immense popularity with the fans, continued to not be pushed past the mid-card, a situation no doubt not helped by injuring Triple H, though Trips said publicly he didn't blame Van Dam.
17 "The Viper" Dislocates His Own Shoulder
So much can go wrong in a wrestling match. Two or more athletes are trying to execute high risk moves and coordinate with each other, so as much as slippery ropes can cause injuries. Rarely, though, has there been such a purely self-inflicted injury. In a match against Edge at Over the Limit 2010, Randy Orton was setting up for an RKO. At the time, Orton would often signal his intentions to the crowd by crouching down and slapping or punching the mat. On this night though, Orton punched the mat a little too hard and ended up dislocating his shoulder. He literally injured himself all on his own with his theatrics. At least Orton learned his lesson and now is much more gentle with his gestures.
16 Kane Plummets Straight To Hell
There are few botches more cringe-worthy than Kane’s at SummerSlam 2003. In a match against Rob Van Dam (this one actually wasn’t RVD’s fault) Kane, recently unmasked and portraying a more violent and sinister character, scaled the top rope, presumably to deliver his famous top-rope lariat. Instead of a top-rope lariat, though, Kane instead just fell. Not to the ring, but to the outside. And he fell hard. Kane, a seasoned performer, then did what is pretty much the worst thing you can possibly do after a botch. Instead of selling the fall or trying to incorporate it into the match somehow, he merely climbed back up to the top rope and acted as though nothing had happened. But it happened. And we all saw it.
15 R-Truth Crash Lands
This one was a nasty spill. On an episode of RAW in 2012 in a multi-man match, R-Truth was setting up for a big dive over the top rope to the outside where The Miz was standing on the floor. We see moves like this quite often nowadays, and usually they’re performed relatively safely, so we don’t think too much about them. But usually, the wrestler on the outside does a good job of catching and protecting the guy falling on to him. Not this time. For some reason, The Miz steps to the side and limply sticks out an arm to catch R-Truth. Truth lands, back first, on the floor with an almighty slap. He seems to land directly on his tailbone and turns over right away, visibly hurt. Truth would spend some time on the injured reserve and The Miz was not very popular backstage for a while.
14 Mickie James & Gail Kim Have a Botch Fest
Gail Kim and Mickie James were two of the best female wrestlers of the 2000s, so you’d think a match between them would be good. But, nope. The two just did not gel. They simply had no chemistry with each other. It happens. Unfortunately, the two didn’t react well to their challenges and the match simply deteriorated in front a bemused audience of millions on RAW. Mickie went to finish the match with a Mick Kick, but missed by a mile. She then went to do it again but Kim didn’t get the memo and just stumbled and Mickie threw a forearm in desperation and just pinned her and got out of there. Both James and Kim might be pretty, but this match was certainly not.
13 Sin Cara Hurts His Finger
Honestly, we could have put Sin Cara’s entire career up here. As Mistico, he was amazing and drew tons of money in Mexico. With the WWE, however, he donned a different mask and became Sin Cara. He also became a botch machine. He used several different finishing maneuvers, and would routinely screw them all up. But perhaps the last straw came in August of 2013. In a match against Alberto del Rio, Sin Cara executed a topé suicida (suicide dive). In doing so, he dislocated a finger...and called off the match. Now, far be it from us to question the pain threshold of any wrestler. Wrestling is clearly a painful and injurious career. But a dislocated finger? C’mon dude. Del Rio was clearly annoyed as was management, which leads us to...
12 Sin Cara 2, Return Of The Botches
Maybe it wasn’t Misitco’s fault. Maybe the Sin Cara gimmick is cursed. Or maybe it’s the mask; those mesh eye holes can’t be easy to see out of when wrestling. After the dislocated finger and a laundry list of other problems, the original Sin Cara, Mistico, was replaced with Hunico. Hunico has portrayed the character ever since but he got off to a rocky start. Again in a match with Alberto Del Rio, on an episode of RAW on December 9th, 2013, Sin Cara executed a sunset flip powerbomb. Problem is, he flung ADR to the mat with too much power and Del Rio ended up slamming the back of his head and suffering a concussion. After all this, you can understand why the WWE didn’t book any more Sin Cara vs Alberto Del Rio matches...just joking, there were like ten thousand more.
11 Chris Jericho vs. Charles Robinson
It’s funny how it often takes a mishap, for something to go wrong, for us to appreciate how intricate and complicated a process it is to pull off a pro wrestling match seamlessly. In March of 2016, Neville took on Chris Jericho in a match on Raw. Everything was going fine until Neville seemed to land on his ankle funny. The sequence looked innocuous enough as it didn’t involve a bump or slam of any kind. Nevertheless, Neville knew he was hurt and told Jericho he thought he had broken his ankle. Referee Charles Robinson however, never got the message. He figured something was wrong but couldn’t tell what. Jericho assumed Robinson knew and became frustrated when Robinson didn’t notice his attempts to end the match early. Jericho became legitimately angry and shoved Robinson. This angered Robinson. The two yelled at each other and then Robinson called for the DQ. The two quickly got over it and discussed the incident on Jericho’s podcast. Neville has recovered from his injury and is back on the roster doing absolutely nothing.
10 "Green Bay, Wisconsin"
This one has gone down in infamy. One of the nicer botches in that this one doesn’t involve any injuries or crashes, just words. Nonetheless, it’s unlikely a botch that R-Truth will ever live down. On an episode of RAW in 2011, Truth did his usual song and dance towards the ring, and he gets inside and yells, “Green Bay, Wisconsin!...What’s up?!” Great, right? Except they weren’t in Green Bay, they were in Milwaukee. What’s worse is that this was during Michael Cole’s heel run, so Cole spent the whole match relentlessly mocking Truth. There was an upside, however. This could be seen as the beginning of Truth’s crazy character that he would innovate later that year. Truth would say increasingly bizarre things, leading to a surprisingly entertaining title feud with John Cena that spring and even main evented Survivor Series with The Miz against Cena and The Rock.
9 The Invasion Begins With A Botch
This was the beginning of the “Invasion” angle and considering how awful and poorly booked that angle was, it’s only fitting that it should begin so clumsily. In the main event of King of the Ring 2001, a heel “Stone Cold” Steve Austin defended his WWE Title against two babyfaces: Chris Jericho and Chris Benoit. Near the end of the match, Booker T appeared on WWF TV for the first time ever, having come through the crowd. Identified as the WCW Champion by the announcers, Booker (presumably also a heel) attacked Steve Austin and slammed him through a table. Booker, perhaps excited by the moment, got too excited and threw Austin a little too far and ended up injuring the Texas Rattlesnake.
This didn’t help Booker or any of the new WCW guys backstage. What’s worse is that the run-in was entirely pointless. Austin still won the match and ended up joining “the Alliance” a month later.
8 Royal Fumble
In one sense, this botch wasn’t bad at all, because nobody at the time recognized it as a botch. The trouble was that the botch was at the worst possible time and threatened to derail the WWE’s WrestleMania main event. Batista was scheduled to win the 2005 Royal Rumble and challenge Triple H for the World Heavyweight Championship in the main event of WrestleMania 21. His last opponent in the Rumble was John Cena (who himself would challenge JBL for the WWE Title at WrestleMania).
When it came time for Batista to eliminate Cena and win the match, he ran at the ropes with a little too much momentum. Both men sailed over the top rope and hit the ground; at the exact same time. Honestly, if they had planned this spot, they couldn’t have executed it any better. But they didn’t plan it and now everybody was confused as to what to do. Which brings us to...
7 Vince McMahon Blows Out Both Quads
After Cena and Batista and a cadre of referees were arguing over whose feet touched first and what they should do next, the Chairman of the Board, Vince McMahon, strutted his way out to the ring. He stepped into the ring and immediately fell down. He appeared to be in pain. He tried to stand up and again fell over. He then sat in the ring, leaning against the ropes, and barked out orders to restart the match with just Cena and Batista. It was quite the sight to behold, especially as, at the time, the audience had no idea that Vince McMahon had just torn both his quadriceps muscles. He must have been in great pain, so kudos to him for getting through it, but maybe he should be taking it easier on leg day.
6 The Streak Ends With A Concussion
The match between Brock Lesnar and The Undertaker at the Superdome in New Orleans at WrestleMania XXX will be forever known as one of the most shocking moments in wrestling history. The Undertaker’s fabled undefeated streak at WrestleMania finally ended. That reaction covers up something, though; while the ending was memorable, the match was not. It was clunky, plodding, and not particularly engaging. One reason for this is, as we would later find out, Undertaker was knocked out at some point in the match. It’s still disputed when he actually suffered the knockout. ‘Taker took a few nasty bumps in the match, particularly one to the outside.
The knockout didn’t change the outcome of the match, as they still performed it as planned, but The Deadman’s poor health hurt the match. So concerned was Vince McMahon that after the match he actually left WrestleMania to go to the hospital with ‘Taker.
5 RVD Gets Nothing But Air
Rob Van Dam was definitely an exciting performer, but he was hardly “crisp”. The Whole F’n Show was known for “potatoing” guys (legitimately hitting them hard by mistake). But perhaps his most sensational botch wasn’t to do with hitting anybody too hard, but rather missing entirely. At SummerSlam 2001, Rob Van Dam took on Jeff Hardy in a ladder match for the hardcore title. Unfortunately, it is perhaps best remembered for a truly audacious attempted overhead kick by Van Dam.
With Jeff Hardy hanging from the title above the ring without a ladder, RVD scaled the top rope with his back to Hardy. It became evident at once there was no way Van Dam could get even close to Hardy, but he tried anyway. RVD executed a back-flip and stuck out his leg in a miserable attempt to kick Hardy. Instead, he just fell on his back. You could have flown a plane in the distance between the two. Jeff, with no other option, had to just fall to the ground for no reason.
4 Mickie Gets No Stratusfaction
Mickie James is a great wrestler, so it’s odd that she’s on this list twice. But there’s no denying that she’s been responsible for a couple of the worst botches in wrestling history. Perhaps this one can be blamed on her being a bit green. She had recently entered the company and immediately entered into a program with the Women’s Champion, Trish Stratus. Their feud was set to peak at WrestleMania 22 with Mickie winning the title in what was easily the biggest match of her nascent career. Mickie was meant to win the match with Trish’s own move, the Stratusfaction. But Mickie either slipped on the ropes or just misjudged her jump and she just kind of fell down with Trish. She then tried to improvise with an looking ugly kick and ended up winning the match in front of a disappointed audience.
3 Kidd Gets Injured
This is a sad one that is still fresh in our memory. Shortly after signing with WWE, Samoa Joe faced off against Tyson Kidd in a dark match in June 2015. Although a dark match, it was Joe’s first match on the main roster, but sadly, it had a terrible ending. Joe defeated Kidd with his traditional finishing move, the Muscle Buster. Everything looked to go as planned, but as Joe exited the ring, the audience began to realize that Kidd was injured. There is no official footage of the incident so we only have a few cell phone videos to go by. Kidd has a history of being plagued by injuries.
After this match, he underwent major neck surgery, and is still injured today and many think his in-ring career might well be over. Some blamed Joe and his Muscle Buster --most notably Bret Hart-- but most feel that it’s nobody’s fault. It's just an unfortunate event that reminds us that these wrestlers put their bodies on the line on a daily basis for our entertainment.
2 Angle Gets His Bell Rung
SummerSlam 2000 was Kurt’s first main event Pay-Per-View, challenging the for the Rock's WWE Title in a triple threat match that also involved Triple H. But the Olympic gold medalist didn’t do much. Before the match even started, Angle and Hunter began brawling outside the ring. Hunter set up Angle for a Pedigree on an announce table. But as Hunter pushed down to jump up for the Pedigree, the table unexpectedly broke. Hunter was still holding Angle’s arms, so Kurt couldn’t protect himself and got knocked out. Angle was stretchered to the back while Hunter and The Rock had to improvise a brand new match. Angle would return for the end of the match, looking glazed over and disoriented. He would later claim to not have any memory of the match.
1 Shooting Star Crash
This was it. The botch the end all botches. This was meant to cap off a phenomenal debut year for Brock Lesnar, the WWE’s hottest prospect in years. Lesnar would win the WWE Title in the main event of WrestleMania XIX from Kurt Angle. A dream match on paper; an Olympic gold medalist versus an NCAA Division 1 Heavyweight champion. But Lesnar was still quite green, and Angle was badly hurt. He needed neck surgery and had lost a lot of strength in his left arm. Nevertheless, he insisted on wrestling this match and it was pretty good...until the end. There were rumors that in WWE’s developmental territory, Ohio Valley Wrestling, Brock Lesnar -the near 300 pound monster-- could execute a shooting star press.
At WrestleMania, Lesnar, exhausted after a long match, ascended to the top rope. He leaped spectacularly into the air, did a back-flip and...landed right on his head. Lesnar smashed his head right into Kurt’s ribs and knocked himself out. Angle, not knowing what to do, covered Lesnar for a pin. For the sake of the storyline, thank goodness Lesnar had the wherewithal to kick out. Angle then picked him up and basically jumped onto Lesnar’s shoulders so Brock could deliver an F-5 and pin him.
What was to be the glory shot of Lesnar ending WrestleMania by posing with the belt was instead a camera shot of a dazed man stumbling around the ring, clearly unaware where he was. As he entered the backstage area he was swarmed by medical staff, who failed to notice Angle himself convulsing as his adrenaline wore off. Only in wrestling.
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