It’s true, injuries can happen in professional wrestling, but if you’ve ever seen an Eva Marie, Sin Cara or Great Khali match, then you’d know that some wrestlers are more prone to botches than others. Most of the time, these botches aren’t serious and only cause embarrassment to the wrestler who botched. However, other times a botch can cause more than just a ribbing backstage and result in a severe injury.
Even as opponents in opposite corners, WWE Superstars trust each other with their safety in the ring. The superstars that botch are generally frowned upon because of the risk of injury to themselves and to others. Even worse are those superstars that are seemingly reckless in the ring. Many reckless superstars like Jack Swagger, Ryback and Mr. Kennedy have found themselves wrestling outside of the WWE because of the serious injuries they have inflicted on their opponents.
Wrestling is dangerous enough on its own, but thankfully most of the current roster is full of excellent wrestlers who are very safe to work with in the ring. Wrestlers of the past like Bret “The Hitman” Hart and “Beautiful” Bobby Eaton have the reputation of being some of the safest workers ever. In fact, wrestlers have referred to their matches with Eaton as a “night off” because of how safe and convincing his ring work was. Pride for ring safety is prevalent on the current roster as well, but unfortunately, WWE still has some wrestlers that need a little work in the safety department. Not to say that these superstars are bad wrestlers or completely dangerous to work with, but certain superstars have a higher track record for injuring superstars than others, even though they may not be 100% to blame for the injury. This article is all about these safe and unsafe superstars currently in WWE. Here are 8 of the most unsafe superstars to work with, and 8 of WWE’s safest.
17 Unsafe: Brock Lesnar
I don’t think there’s going to be too many superstars sad to see Brock Lesnar leave WWE. The Beast is a freak athlete and a tremendous wrestler, but no one on the current roster has legitimately injured more people than Brock. Randy Orton trusted Lesnar to safely bloody him the hard way, but what resulted was a concussion and 10 stitches. Kurt Angle has said that Lesnar broke his neck at least twice, although he said one time wasn’t Brock’s fault. How about Hardcore Holly who got his neck broken after Lesnar dropped him on his head? Let’s not forget about A-Train who got F-5ed onto his head as well.
Lesnar’s beating, victimizing and conquering becomes a little too real either from Brock’s clumsiness or carelessness, and that's not a good thing at all. No one else would have a job in the WWE had they been as reckless in the ring as Paul Heyman’s client.
16 Safe: John Cena
The Leader of the Cenation may be a polarizing figure in WWE, but John Cena’s work ethic is unquestionably superhuman. Cena’s ring work has come a long way since he first debuted in WWE, and while some of his moves may still look awkward, he’s still regarded as one of the safest workers in the WWE.
Unlike Lesnar, who throws his opponents around without a care in the world, Cena is a lot more aware of his opponents' well-being.
In fact, Cena may be a little too cautious considering how weak his STF always looks. Compare Cena’s STF to Jazz’s STF that turned Trish Stratus into a human pretzel. Still, despite his massive strength and power, Cena’s opponents are able to walk away from their matches and generally enjoy working with Cena, which is a sharp contrast to the opinions regarding Lesnar.
15 Unsafe: Ronda Rousey
Injuring someone in the octagon is one thing, but injuring someone in a WWE ring is a different story. Now, many may be wondering how “Rowdy” Ronda Rousey could be considered unsafe without having seen her wrestle yet, but that’s the problem. Rousey has had zero professional wrestling matches under her belt. While she may be training with the best, i.e. Kurt Angle, it doesn’t take an expert to see just how green Rousey looks just from her small sample size of physical activities in the ring.
Triple H is doing his best sell job for Rousey, taking a table spot and selling Rousey’s hip toss like he rolled onto thumb tacks. However, Ronda looked very sloppy when delivering a Samoan Drop on Stephanie McMahon, and when she threw Mandy Rose into Sonya Deville. We’re all rooting for Ronda, but she needs some major work in the ring before her poor ring work seriously injures someone.
14 Safe: Dolph Ziggler
Curt Hennig is widely considered one of the safest workers ever in professional wrestling. Today, many wrestlers have compared Dolph Ziggler’s ring safety to that of the late, great Mr. Perfect. That’s a pretty high compliment, and one that’s hard to argue against.
Ziggler can make any offense look amazing with his superior selling abilities.
Ziggler 's selling of striking blows look as if there are legitimately knocking him out. Even Ziggler’s own offensive looks clean, hitting a devastating super kick spot on, and yet both he and his opponents return to the locker room no worse for wear. It’s just a shame that one of the safer wrestlers in WWE is also the most underutilized.
13 Unsafe: Seth Rollins
Many fans absolutely love Seth Rollins and consider him a fantastic wrestler, and I agree with them. However, the fact cannot be ignored that during matches involving the Architect, two WWE superstars have been seriously injured and one legend's career came to an end.
The first injury occurred against WWE’s top babyface, John Cena, when an inadvertent knee from Seth legitimately broke the nose of WWE’s franchise. Many fans argue who was at fault for that injury, but superstars have received an earful for hurting Cena in the past regardless. Next, we have Finn Balor who took a running powerbomb into the outside barricade which caused a labrum tear, putting Finn on the shelf for nearly a year. Lest we forget Seth using the same running powerbomb to Sting which caused a neck injury that ended his career. Whether Seth is to blame, his opponents are to blame or whether it's just dumb luck, many Superstars find themselves injured when up against the Architect.
12 Unsafe: Nia Jax
Nia Jax is someone who has to be extra careful in the ring. She outweighs most of the women's roster, leaving little room for error in the execution of moves. Unfortunately, Nia has been partially responsible for some injuries on the main roster. In fairness, Nia is still relatively inexperienced in terms of how long she's been an active wrestler.
Some instances include last summer when Nia injured Bayley when she was set to challenge for the RAW Women's Championship at SummerSlam. Recently, Nia also mistimed a splash on Asuka that could have been disastrous if Asuka had been injured. She just isn't that polished of a worker and combined with the size difference between her and most of the women's roster, that increases the risk of a move going wrong.
11 Safe: Randy Orton
Despite Randy Orton being a “Legend Killer” and an “Apex Predator” and having put superstars on the shelf (in kayfabe) with a devastating punt to the head, The Viper is actually one of the safest wrestlers in WWE. Orton is an excellent worker and has been around for a while now. His offense is clean and crisp and, much like with Cena, other WWE superstars are eager to work with Randy.
Working with Orton isn’t a high risk assignment.
He has never injured any other Superstars, which is probably one of the reasons why he has remained on top for as long as he has. Not only is he safe for his opponents, but Orton, himself, barely needs time off for injury. Orton’s character may be getting stale, but his durability and reliability are definitely main event caliber.
10 Unsafe: Hideo Itami
Hideo Itami has spent almost twenty years in the professional wrestling business, but he has only been with the WWE since 2014. Hideo started in NXT before moving to the Cruiserweight Division. Throughout his career, Hideo has been known for his stiff kicks and strikes. While many fans consider Hideo Itami one of the greater professional wrestlers at the moment, The Brian Kendrick might not feel the same way.
During a Cruiserweight match between Itami and Kendrick, Hideo hit his Go to Sleep finisher on Kendrick. Hideo’s knee cracked Kendrick in the face and left him legitimately concussed. Mind you, this was after Hideo taunted CM Punk about his version of the move via Twitter. After that match, I’m pretty sure Kendrick would take Punk’s GTS any day over Hideo’s.
9 Safe: Cesaro
He may be pound for pound the strongest man in WWE, but he’s also one of the safest. Cesaro is gifted with raw power and yet his tosses, slams and vicious European uppercuts have left no superstars with any serious injuries. Because of this, Cesaro had been trusted to work with green Tough Enough contestants, indicating WWE officials' high opinion of his ring skills as well as his ring safety.
Cesaro has Dolph Ziggler’s endorsement as being a safe worker, and coming from Ziggler, that’s high praise.
His strength has even saved wrestlers from serious injury, from readjusting himself and balancing his opponents for a superplex, to catching Cody Rhodes from an insane top of a cage moonsault. Cesaro is without question one of the most trusted workers in WWE. If only they trusted him to wrestle in more high profile matches.
8 Unsafe: AJ Styles
SmackDown may be the house that AJ Styles built, and he may be the WWE Champion, and he may be considered by many wrestling fans as the greatest professional wrestler today. As true as all that may be, The Phenomenal One also has, without question, the most dangerous finisher in all of professional wrestling.
No, I don’t mean the Phenomenal Forearm or the Calf Crusher. I’m talking about the finisher that has broken or very nearly broken, the necks of multiple wrestlers, the Styles Clash. I know wrestling fans don’t want to remember these instances about Styles, but former, and even current, employees of WWE have suffered from the Styles Clash botch, namely Roderick Strong and Corey Graves. To be fair, these botches are almost always the fault of the opponent tucking their heads in, thus spiking themselves into the mat. Still, the fact that the risk of a serious neck injury is so high every time the Styles Clash is performed, regardless of whether or not the move is performed by the best wrestler or not, makes Styles a high risk opponent.
7 Safe: Heath Slater
As Heath Slater likes to point out, he has kids and “needs this job," yet many fans wonder how he's still employed in WWE. While "The One Man Band" hasn’t been much in WWE aside from a jobber with no end in sight, but one of the reasons WWE has kept him around is probably the fact that he’s one of the safest wrestlers in the company.
Not that Heath Slater gets much offense during his matches, but he has never injured anyone in the ring.
Not only that, but he’s able to make his opponents look fantastic and can take a squash match without suffering any serious injury to himself. Because he’s a jobber, Slater’s ring safety often gets overlooked, but WWE has put faith in him to work with a not-so-healthy Bret Hart as well as other “returning” legends.
6 Unsafe: Sheamus
Despite suffering from a debilitating condition himself, Sheamus has had a full career at putting “fellas” on the disabled list, as well as retiring a couple of current WWE employees from in-ring action. Sheamus injured Jamie Noble in his debut match on Raw with a sick powerbomb to the outside padding. Noble would retire following the powerbomb and other nagging injuries as a result. In Sheamus’ defense he was still green, and Noble had been wrestling for many years with mounting injuries, but still, The Celtic Warrior hasn’t refrained from injuring others even as a supposed seasoned veteran.
Daniel Bryan received his career ending (at the time) concussion in a Sheamus match in which Bryan was busted up.
Even recently, Sheamus kicked a tooth out of Jeff Hardy's mouth with a stiff kick to the face and even busted open Jeff’s brother Matt. When it comes to being reckless in the ring, Sheamus doesn't just set the bar, "HE IS THE BAR!"
5 Safe: Kane
To Kane’s credit, The Devil’s Favorite Demon only enjoys torturing and injuring superstars in storylines. For the tall and powerful monster that Kane is, superstars don’t have any problem getting into the ring with him. Unlike other big men, like Vader and Viscera, The Big Red Machine is completely safe to work with.
Kane has safely dropped the dangerous Tombstone piledriver on just about every major Superstar in WWE, and even on non-wrestlers like Linda McMahon and Pete Rose. Vince must have good faith in Kane to drop his wife safely on her head with a dangerous piledriver, and even more trust to allow Kane to use it on his money-making main eventers. Ask any superstar and they’ll vouch for Kane as one of the safest, if not the safest worker in WWE.
4 Unsafe: Daniel Bryan
Oh, I know what you’re thinking; Daniel Bryan has been wrestling for a long time, and he hasn’t injured anyone aside from hitting some stiff kicks. However, Bryan being labeled as unsafe isn’t because of his danger to opponents, but rather the danger to himself. Daniel Bryan has just unretired, but his safety is still a huge concern for WWE and for his fans.
Bryan goes all out when he’s in the ring, and that’s why fans love him.
However, his wrestling style of diving headbutts, suicide dives and top rope dropkicks may not be a good idea for someone who has suffered multiple concussions and neck injuries. Bryan had to relinquish the WWE World Heavyweight Title due to injury, and when he returned, he continued with the same 0-to-60 wrestling style. Of course, Bryan would get injured again and was forced to relinquish the Intercontinental Title.
Unless, Daniel Bryan changes his ring style and tones down his high risk maneuvers, he’s going to end up once again injured or retired, to say nothing about the long term effects. We all are screaming “YES!” at Bryan’s return, but we all hope he takes better care of himself in the ring.
3 Safe: Goldust
Much like Kane, Goldust is a wily veteran of the WWE. He’s been in the ring for many years and can still go in the ring today. In fact, Goldust may be better in the ring now, than he ever was. Goldust’s body has held up well over the years and much of that durability in the ring is due to his ring style, which is not only safe to himself but to his opponents as well.
Goldust’s smooth in-ring work is being passed down to a younger generation of superstars, with Goldy giving instructions and advice during seminars for wrestling schools.
Goldust was even used as a road agent for the WWE Divas to teach them how to work in the ring safely and effectively. Goldust is a ring general, and no one is more trusted with opponents or trainees than the so-called Bizarre One.
2 Unsafe: Shinsuke Nakamura
No one ever even remotely considered Shinsuke Nakamura a dangerous wrestler until his WWE arrival. His epic match with John Cena resulted in a huge clean win, but at the cost of an earful from Vince McMahon who was reportedly furious over Nakamura dumping Cena on his head and neck. Cena was fine and can argument can be made that it was actually Cena’s fault for taking the suplex wrong. Regardless, Nakamura got the blame from Vince McMahon and his is the only opinion that matters.
However, Cena isn’t the only WWE superstar that suffered a botch from Nakamura during his WWE tenure. Nakamura would cause an injury to Austin Aries as well. Nakamura is known for his stiff kicks, but Aries would suffer from an orbital bone fracture after running into one. Aries doesn’t blame Nakamura for the injury and thankfully neither does WWE, apparently. Nakamura’s push seems to be continuing without a hitch. Let’s just hope Nakamura takes better care of those kicks and suplexes before WWE gets a reason to nix his push completely.
1 Curtis Axel (Safe)
Dolph Ziggler may mirror Mr. Perfect’s ring safety, but so does Mr. Perfect’s son, Curtis Axel. Axel looked pretty green when he wrestled under the name Michael McGillicutty. However, never has Axel injured anyone. As it turns out, Axel has turned into not only one of the better wrestlers in WWE, but currently one of the company’s safest as well.
Curtis Axel trained The Rock, who had high praise for Axel, as well as Brock Lesnar, who had encouraged Axel to give him everything he had during their training sessions. WWE wouldn’t trust just anyone to train the company’s top draws. WWE officials obviously trust Axel, and his peers can vouch for him too. Axel’s safety and work rate in the ring is just one of the many reasons he’s so well liked backstage.