Professional wrestling is never going to be considered 100 percent safe. There will always be a high risk of injury, even with the scripted nature where winners and losers are predetermined behind the scenes. The athletes who enter this stage of competition have to a perfect mix of strength, speed and agility. But pro wrestlers also have to be good at timing.
Not being in tune with an opponent can lead to a potentially life-threatening injury. Through the years, even the most talented wrestlers have suffered injuries through mistakes in the ring. Accidents are bound to happen and it’s hard to put blame on someone like Seth Rollins for injuries to Finn Balor and Sting.
At the same time, there are moments where wrestlers cannot keep things professional 100 percent of the time. Like any other kind of workplace environment, there will always be a few coworkers who want to tear each other apart. The reasons for this can vary from jealousy due to placement on the corporate totem pole to there being an issue about who’s dating one of the female talents outside of the ring.
Regardless, there are moments when wrestlers will actually attempt to intentionally injure another wrestler during a live match. Because of the basis of professional wrestling being scripted, it can sometimes be hard to defer what might be a work and what was the result of a shoot fight.
The following is a combination of wrestlers who were injured accidentally and those who were injured on purpose by another.
15 ACCIDENT – Jesse Sorensen’s Neck Injury in TNA
High risk moves are not only dangerous for all parties involved in the move. So many things can go wrong and it’s hard to do something that would intentionally injure another wrestler. A perfect example of this was during a TNA match between Jesse Sorensen and Zema Ion at Against All Odds in 2012. Ion was going for a moonsault to the outside of the ring. But his knee caught the back of Sorensen’s head.
14 ON PURPOSE – Daniel Puder Attempts Kimura Lock on Kurt Angle
Daniel Puder was certainly developing a little bit of popularity within the WWE Universe as a Tough Enough contestant in 2004. The former mixed martial arts competitor was hoping to make a major impact at the expense of professional wrestling’s only Olympic gold medalist in Kurt Angle. Puder volunteered to get into the ring with Angle and apparently did not want to lie down as the script indicated.
13 ACCIDENT – Wade Barrett Dislocates Elbow
Wade Barrett is certainly known for bad news. Not just for the silly gimmick where he was called Bad News Barrett. But because he was often injured at the worst possible time. It might explain why he was never given much of a main event push in the WWE during his final years with the company. Regardless, one of the worst injuries he suffered was back in February 2012 during an episode of Raw.
12 ON PURPOSE – JBL Beats Up the Blue Meanie
John “Bradshaw” Layfield has an infamous reputation as a bully through several accounts of backstage stories. It also seemed like he didn’t have much respect for the originals of Extreme Championship Wrestling. During the WWE pay-per-view One Night Stand in 2005, JBL was part of the WWE heels who went into an end-of-the-show brawl with the ECW roster. While it was a scripted part of the night, JBL would take actual shots against the Blue Meanie.
11 ACCIDENT – D'Lo Brown Power Bomb to Droz Goes Wrong
The power bomb seems like a simple move in professional wrestling. But it’s also one of the most complex with the different variations that go into the move. In a match back in 1999, Darren Drozdov was wrestling in an unaired match against D-Lo Brown where a power bomb went horribly wrong. Brown’s power bomb move went wrong and more than 500 pounds of weight between both men was on top of Droz’s head.
10 ON PURPOSE – Perry Saturn Attacks a WWE Jobber
Mike Bell is just another example of a previously unknown jobber in WWE history who was made famous for reasons he didn’t fully intend. During a 2001 match against Perry Saturn, Bell apparently made a mistake during an arm drag by Saturn. Saturn would not let this go without immediate punishment to be dealt in the WWE ring. Saturn then ran right at Bell with fists flying; as well as a kick that even brought him down.
9 ACCIDENT – Joey Mercury’s Broken Nose
Joey Mercury has certainly not been the most successful member of the MNM faction. Johnny Nitro has since become Johnny Mundo winning championship in several major promotions. But even during his time teaming up with Nitro, he still couldn’t catch a break in standing out. Except for the one time where he caught the wrong kind of break in the form of a broken nose. It is also considered one of the more memorable botches in recent memory.
8 ON PURPOSE – Bubba Ray Dudley Accused Of Injuring Others
7 ACCIDENT – Hardcore Holly’s Broken Neck Against Brock Lesnar
There are fans who believed that Brock Lesnar actually purposefully attempted to injure WWE veteran Hardcore Holly during a 2002 episode of SmackDown. Lesnar picked up Holly for a power bomb, which was stopped midway before Holly was dropped awkwardly on his head. Fans quickly thought it was on purpose, especially with how Lesnar seemed to smirk at Holly right away. Then again, Lesnar was just being a good heel and Holly said it was a complete accident.
6 ON PURPOSE – New Jack and His Multiple Offenses
New Jack probably isn’t on any wrestler’s wish list of future opponents. There’s a good reason. The ECW legend has left buckets of blood and broken bones through decades in professional wrestling. With his extensive track record, it’s not fair to put just one moment in this list. New Jack has had a number of incidents where he’s purposefully tried to, and often successfully, injured another wrestler.
5 ACCIDENT – Owen Hart Drops Steve Austin On His Head
Whether or not he was a face or a heel, “Stone Cold” Steve Austin was one of the most popular wrestlers during the WWE’s Attitude Era. Part of that was because he was one of the toughest men at the time. Whether he had crapped his pants, was severely bleeding or suffered a neck injury, he would still find a way to finish his match. The latter is exactly what happened in one of the more iconic moments at SummerSlam 1997.
4 ON PURPOSE – Akira Maeda Targets Andre the Giant’s Legs
Andre the Giant was certainly known as one of the greatest big men in professional wrestling history. However, his drinking was also very well recorded. It was believed that he could drink hundreds of beers before he would start to feel any kind of a buzz. But it was evident that he may have had too much to drink before a match with Akira Maeda during a match in Japan in 1986. It is still considered by many fans to be one of the worst matches for both men.
3 ACCIDENT – Samoa Joe’s Muscle Buster Injures Tyson Kidd
There have been some people who have commented publicly that they feel Samoa Joe’s Muscle Buster should not be allowed in a WWE ring. However, it has been one of Joe’s signature moves for several years in TNA and other major wrestling promotions. It’s not a move where his opponents are often injured. Unfortunately, it faced a lot of criticism when it injured Tyson Kidd during a dark match in 2015.
2 ON PURPOSE – Antonio Inoki Stings Muhammad Ali’s Legs
Yes, the same Muhammad Ali who talked about how he could float like a butterfly and sting like a bee. However, it was Japanese wrestling legend Antonio Inoki who would actually be the one to sting Ali several times with his kicks in 1976. The two were booked into a match that was touted as “the ultimate test of boxer versus wrestler,” according to the New York Times. Both men received big pay days, although Ali got $6 million compared to Inoki’s $3 million purse.
1 ACCIDENT – Sid Vicious Leg Injury
There’s a good chance you have seen the clip of Sid Vicious breaking his leg back at the WCW Sin pay-per-view in 2001. It’s often referred to as one of the most gruesome injuries not just in professional wrestling history, but in all of sports. The story behind the injury is that Sid was not too happy about being asked to do the big boot where he jumped from the middle rope. Considering that he’s a big man with a power-based style, this should come as no surprise.
Despite his hesitation, Sid went for the move and it obviously didn’t end well. As he came down, his leg landed awkwardly and snapped due to the weight of Sid’s body coming down on the leg. It wasn’t aired live by chance and it should have stayed that way except it was shown on Nitro the next night. The broken leg needed surgery and he spent three years in rehabilitation.
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