Wrestling is fake. It's scripted. It's not MMA or professional boxing. It's a male soap opera. These are all insults hurled by ignorant observers at the art of professional wrestling because it doesn't live up to our society's predefined definition of violence. If it's not spontaneous brutality and bloodshed, then why are we watching it?
Then you do a little more research and realize professional wrestling can actually be more dangerous than MMA. According to CM Punk, who interviewed with Rolling Stone, professional wrestling is more difficult because you have to finish the show if you're injured, whereas in MMA you can stop your match without hurting the overall quality of the product.
"If I step in the Octagon and I get knocked out, I don't gotta keep fighting. If that was pro wrestling, and I slipped and I fell and something happened to me and I got knocked out and I woke up three seconds later, guess what: I gotta finish this match."
It's an interesting take from a wrestler who has been brutally honest about his experience in the WWE since he walked away from the business. Some critics would disagree with Punk by arguing that in pro wrestling, the wrestlers can choreograph their moves, learn how to fall correctly, and avoid serious injury. The WWE also bans certain moves that fans are likely to see in other wrestling venues to try to avoid concussions and neck and spinal injuries.
Both sports come with their bumps and bruises, and it's fair to say any competitor who walks into the squared circle or the Octagon faces serious injury or death straight in the eyes. One wrong slip, one wrong drop or one wrong kick to the head and that athlete might be looking up to the lights of a hospital room rather than an arena.
We take a look at the top moves that are both too dangerous for, and banned from, the WWE. The one common thread among all of the moves is they involve exploiting the victim's head and neck area. Oh, and they also have a strict tag line that reads, "Don't try this at home."
20 Wings of Love
Performed by WWE's Michelle McCool, it was impressive to see someone of her size handle this move with as much discipline and poise as she did. She had the strength and balance to lift her opponent in the air, hold her there for a few moments and then slam her down face first. The move was similar to Awesome Kong's Implant Buster. According to McCool, the WWE deemed the move "too devastating" for the WWE girls; and thus, ordered her to stop using it.
19 Orton's Punt
Banning Orton's punt was somewhat surprising because we felt he had more control over his kick's impact than a lot of other wrestling moves, which targeted the head and neck. Nevertheless, the WWE banned Orton's punt because of concussion awareness. At the same time, it's not like Orton needed the move to succeed. It was part of a storyline, so the WWE let it slowly die without backlash.
18 Avalanche Bloody Sunday
This is a move that will drive your opponent's soul straight to hell. Literally. A variation of the once devastating, but now innocuous DDT, Avalanche Bloody Sunday is a freefalling maneuver that we'll never see in a WWE ring. The opponent climbs the rope with his victim, holds their victim's head in a DDT position and jumps off the top rope, slamming their head and chest into the mat. It's extremely difficult to readjust to safeguard the victim from suffering a concussion.
17 Chair Shots to the Head
As a wrestling fan who grew up during the Attitude Era, chair shots were a move that we saw on a weekly basis. We can't necessarily call them a wrestling move, but their banning signified a permanent shift away from its TV-14 rating to a PG-Rating, and that's why they're featured here. In fact, a chair shot is punishable by fine; although, that didn't stop Triple H and Undertaker from using chairs during their WrestleMania 27 match. For the most part, the WWE has even moved away from glorifying past chair shots because people are more aware of how dangerous concussions can be.
16 Double Underhook Powerbomb/Tiger Driver
While stars like Chris Jericho and even Cesaro have recently performed this maneuver, all variations of the move have now been outlawed by the WWE. If not performed correctly, the move can be dangerous. An opponent wraps his victim's arms up as if the former was performing a double underhook DDT. They then flip the victim around into a frontwards powerbomb and throw them down on their back or, in more vicious cases, their neck.
15 The Canadian Destroyer
The Canadian Destroyer will be the most impressive move you'll ever see. Created by Canadian Wrestler Petey Williams, it involves one too many back flips and pile drivers to be used within the WWE. To perform the move, Williams would place his victim in a power-bomb position. He would then flip over his opponent's back and powerbomb them backwards. The reason the move is banned is part of the general theme weaving its way through this list. The victim is unable to protect his head, neck or spine from serious damage.
14 450 Splash
Justin Gabriels' botched 450 splash is one way to get the move banned from the WWE. Go back and watch the clip and Gabriel actually perfectly executes the flip. The problem was, the less experienced wrestler landed on Randy Orton who was trying to roll out of the way. Clearly dazed, Orton got up and finished the match seconds later with an RKO; however, the damage had been done. Right before his RKO, you can see Orton berating Gabriel for his mistake in front of a live audience. None of this was staged.
13 Original Piledriver
The notorious move that broke Steve Austin's neck (though it was a slight variation of this) ushered in a new set of regulations to help protect wrestler's heads and necks. The original piledriver is when an opponent puts his victim's head in between his legs, lifts him up by the belt buckle and slams him head first into the mat. Because of the lack of control both wrestlers have to prevent serious injury, the WWE outlawed the move.
12 Kawada Driver (Ganso Bomb)
The move is disturbingly dangerous for one reason and one reason only. It was a total accident. It's originator, Toshiaki Kawada attempted to powerbomb his opponent, Misuharu Misawa, but failed. Misawa kept countering Kawada's powerbomb by not allowing himself to be lifted in the air. Eventually Misawa relented, but again tried to counter Kawada's power bomb while in the air with a Hurricarana. What happened next was sickening. Kawada, unaware of the counter, slammed Misawa on the back of neck. The audience appeared stunned, which obviously was good enough for Kawada to use it a few times more in the future and have it permanently banned from the WWE.
11 Burning Hammer
Japanese wrestlers have a reputation of performing moves American wrestlers wouldn't dare or be allowed to try. However, we forget only the most legendary athletes perform these high-risk moves on wrestlers they trust the most. Take for example the move called the Burning Hammer, which Kenta Kobashi created. He performed it only several times on a select number of wrestlers he knew could handle such a tricky maneuver. Why was it so dangerous? The opponent would lift their victims so they rested parallel on their shoulders. They would then flip the helpless victim straight onto the back of their head or neck.
10 The Brainbuster
Its name discloses how dangerous the move is. Unlike other entries like "Wings of Love" or a "piledriver," the brainbuster sounds as bad as it hurts. Japanese wrestlers use this move a lot, but it is rarely seen in the United States and almost never in the WWE. The move starts off as a vertical suplex, but the opponent holds his victim in the air vertically and then drops them on the back of his neck. It's a move that likely costs the victim a few brain cells and dollars at the Tylenol counter.
9 Victory Star Drop
A vicious move used by Japan's Manami Toyota, the Victory Star Drop is a deadly maneuver that you'll never see in a WWE ring. First the opponent places his victim on the top rope facing forward. The opponent then crawls up their victim's back, hooks their legs under the latter's arms and performs a reverse frankensteiner off the top rope forcing their victim to land directly on the back of the neck. Trust me, it sounds as bad as it probably hurts.
8 Back Drop Driver
The Back Drop Driver is similar to the back suplex where an opponent put his victim head under their arm, grabs their leg and tosses them backwards on their lower back. The difference is here: while performing the Back Drop Driver, the opponent tosses the victim backwards in a similar fashion, but forces them to land on their neck and head instead of their lower back. The danger in performing the move is obvious.
7 Double Underhook Back-to-Back Piledriver
Known informally as the vertebreaker, this move was way above the head of the WWE's Hurricane both literally and figuratively when he performed it during a live broadcast. For a company who usually leaves such moves to stronger wrestlers who can pick up and stabilize their opponent, it's shocking a mid-carder like The Hurricane would be given such responsibility. The Hurricane maneuvered behind his opponent, bend forward, wraped his opponents arms around their back and then lift them up in the air. He'd then drop the wrestler onto the back of their shoulders and neck. I'm not sure what was scarier, watching The Hurricane perform the move or witnessing his opponent land gracelessly on the mat.
6 Poisoned Frankensteiner
Originally invented by Scott Steiner, the Japanese took the latter's version and made it much more lethal. With Steiner's version, the opponent would be able to control how his victim landed when he flipped them frontwards off the top rope. The victim could roll forward and out of harm's way. However, an opponent performs the poisoned frankensteiner backwards and the victim lands directly on their head, unable to control how they hit mat.
5 Shooting Star Press
It's easy for you to understand why the WWE banned this move after seeing Brock Lesnar botch it during a match with Kurt Angle. The former UFC fighter surprisingly climbed to the top rope, awkwardly steadied himself a couple times, leaped high into the air and then tried to back flip onto Angle. Instead of hitting his opponent, however, Lesnar completely missed and landed dangerously on his head. The entire arena went into a quick panic as Lesnar laid helplessly on the mat for a few moments. Even Angle, in a post-match interview, said he thought Lesnar would be out of action for quite some time.
4 Dragon Screw Neck Whip
The dragon screw neck whip was perfected--if, that's possible--by legendary wrestler Keiji Mutoh. It's a sudden, vicious move that has the opponent eventually landing directly on the top of their head. The chance for whip lash or permanent vertebrae damage is extremely high. In short, the victim stands on the outside of the ring and the opponent grapples them as if they are about to perform a back suplex into the squared circle. Instead, the opponent pulls the victim a bit into the ring, rests their feet onto the top rope and then falls violently to the ring, whipping their victim's neck in a downward motion.
3 The Apron Brainbuster
Take a brainbuster, add in a turnbuckle and some ropes and you have yourself the apron brainbuster. Interestingly enough, the wrestler who often performed the move in Japan was Sami Zayn who is now the residing NXT Champion. It's hard to believe the WWE would allow Zayn to bring the move to RAW or SmackDown because the brainbuster is banned, but we've seen the WWE bend the rules for experienced performers before.
2 The Kinniku Buster
I'm not sure if I'd rather face a chair shot to the head or the Kinniku nuster. Similar to, but more extreme than Samoa Joe's Muscle Buster, the Kinnku Buster forces the opponent to land directly on their neck rather than their upper back. An opponent lifts their victim as if performing a Perfect Plex (Mr. Perfect's finishing maneuver), holds them high in the air and then drops to his backside, driving their victim's neck right into the former's shoulders.
1 The Original Pedigree
It's not surprising the most dangerous move ever performed was created in the confines of a growing WWE. After all, the WWE brand of professional wrestling mainstreamed the sport to millions of people worldwide. And you don't have that kind of audience without daredevil innovation.
The original Pedigree was a funeral waiting to happen. Triple H's victim's were helpless as they landed awkwardly on the top of their head. Worse, he held his victims' hands behind their back throughout the duration of the move, which forced them to take the full impact of his finisher to their head rather than their hands, chest or face like today. We haven't seen this type of Pedigree since Triple entered WWE's squared circle in the early 1990s, and we're confident the company wouldn't allow its variation to make a comeback any time soon.