Are you a wrestling fan? Have you had friends, family, and even random strangers condescendingly tell you that wrestling is fake? It’s an irritating comment us who enjoy professional wrestling need to stomach again and again, but what those people who shove it down our throats will never realize is how wrong they are. Sure, the matches we see in the ring have pre-decided outcomes and a lot of the time elements of the match were discussed and planned in the back. That said, the ladies and gentleman we watch in the middle of the ring are actually pulling off these feats and unfortunately far too often suffer injuries in the line of duty. Still, in most cases, this amounts in scrapes, bruises, pulls, or even strains but it shouldn’t result in long lasting injuries. Notice how we chose the word shouldn’t instead of doesn’t? That’s because far too often professional wrestlers get injuries way too serious.
When putting together this list of the wrestlers who’ve injured the most people, we looked at the folks who’ve been involved in the most incidents where their opponents came away from a match hurt. We aren’t necessarily laying blame at the feet of these performers as bad luck can certainly play a part. To be considered for placement on this list you need to be a prominent performer who was involved in well-documented incidents. That means that random folks trying their hands at the business at your local school gym won’t be listed here. This also isn’t a list that focuses only on things from a numbers point of view as perceptions and severity of injuries also play a part.
14. Ultimate Warrior
A WWE Hall of Famer, The Ultimate Warrior made a huge name for himself during his heyday. Known first and foremost for his intensity, he would sprint to the ring before each match and did his best to not slow down once the bell rung. As a result, it seems as though he caused a lot of bangs and bruises to those who were booked in matches with him. Greatly focused on in the WWE documentary, The Self-Destruction of The Ultimate Warrior, there was a great deal of discussion about the trials and tribulations Warrior’s in-ring enemies suffered. When he was even rough on WWE legend Andre the Giant, as Bobby the Brain Heenan claimed, you know that he didn’t take care of the body of anyone he wrestled.
13. Mr. Kennedy
It may seem difficult to believe now that the man known as Ken Anderson isn’t even being booked by TNA but there was a time where he seemed set to be a difference maker in the WWE. A man with a magnetic personality, a voice made to be heard, an amazing finisher and pretty decent matches at the time, he seemed to have it all. So, you may be wondering how he went from on top of the world to being released from the company in quick fashion. If the wrong people develop the opinion that getting in the ring with you is a danger to their bodies it can be deadly to your career. If Kennedy himself is to be believed, Randy Orton and John Cena pushed Vince McMahon to let him go because of the way he worked. After he dropped Orton on his shoulder which could have injured his recently repaired shoulder on top of hurting himself in the same match, his fate and reputation were sealed.
12. Rob Van Dam
When Rob Van Dam was brought into the WWE as part of the Invasion angle he was supposed to be a bad guy but he is so compelling that didn’t stick. The only member of the Alliance who was cheered like a hometown hero, it seemed like a no-brainer to turn him into a major spoke in the WWE wheel of good guys who call the main event home. Despite that fact, he was only very briefly involved in the top storylines when he cashed in the Money in the Bank to defeat John Cena for the world title. Why is that you may be asking, there are a lot of reasons, including his lackadaisical attitude but a major aspect seems to be his reckless reputation. Involved in incidents where Jeff Hardy broke his finger, Triple H suffered a serious injury to his throat, Sheamus took a very ugly bump off a ladder, to name just a few, it seems like he deserved the reputation.
11. Ahmed Johnson
If you are a wrestling fan who picked up the business after the mid-nineties we’d totally understand if you have no idea who Ahmed Johnson is. A massive man with a unique form of charisma we haven’t seen since there was a time where he was being built for huge things in the WWE. A former Intercontinental Champion who also became a short-term member of the Nation of Domination, it was clear by the caliber of people he worked with that he was an upward trajectory. After he injured himself prior to the 1996 SummerSlam event, people began to pay much more attention to just how clumsy he was in the ring. Is there anything worse than having poor control over your own body when you are in charge of keeping others safe? To the surprise of nobody, his many botches began to earn him the type of reputation for hurting guys that earn you a place on a list like this.
10. Hardcore Holly
Most of the people on this list earned their place here because their ring skills weren’t up to snuff or because they suffered a lot of bad luck but that isn’t the case with this man. Someone who has been dogged by rumours of being a bully through most of his career and the years since he was involved in several instances where he brutalized his opponents. Three such of his brutality come to mind above the rest. When he beat up Rene Dupree in the ring because the Frenchman had apparently messed up Holly’s rental car and when he hit Daniel Puder with a brutal Alabama Slams at the Rumble are two of them. The worse of them though was when he beat the crap out of Matt Capotelli, who was only a wrestling trainee at the time on an episode of Tough Enough.
9. The Steiner Brothers
One of the most decorated tag teams of all time, The Steiners, Rick and Scott, were known for their technical prowess and take no prisoners style. Famed for taking advantages with some of the people they worked with, it seems to be an accepted fact that if they didn’t like you a match with them would be hellish for those unfortunate enough to be put in there. In fact, legend has it that in some cases enhancement wrestlers were known to quit rather than work against them. Known to hurt men like Buff Bagwell and even Perry Saturn, who was famed as a tough guy, 2015’s Hall of Fame was perfect evidence of how feared at least one of them remains. After Scott allegedly threatened the life of Hulk Hogan if he saw him at the event he was banned from attending, security was beefed up, and fans saw pictures of him at entrances.
8. Seth Rollins
There are a lot of opinions out there about whether or not Seth Rollins is reckless in the ring. Bret Hart, a WWE Hall of Famer and respected veteran has been at the vanguard of those that feel he is reckless in the ring, even going so far as to say he may be deadly if he doesn’t improve. While that seems like a rather harsh depiction of Seth’s record in the ring, one thing is very clear; Seth’s had a bad run where his opponents in the ring have suffered major injuries. Excluding the two recent instances in which Seth himself was hurt bad enough that he needed to take time off, he has been involved in three other instances in the last two years. In matches with Seth, John Cena had his nose severely broken, Finn Balor tore his labrum, and Sting hurt his neck to the point that he was forced to retire. In short, his record isn’t looking good and whether you term these instances as bad luck or bad planning, Seth is listed here for a reason.
Goldberg is a wrestler who appears on this list in large part due to his reputation and a single injury that he was involved in that will never be forgotten. A physical wrestler whose experience level was lower than a lot of his peers when he joined the WCW roster, his presence seemed like a horrible recipe for the men he faced. Someone who was said to be very stiff by many of the people who stood across the ring from him, it seems like agreed upon fact that he caused a lot of men to walk away exceptionally sore. Still, as far as serious injuries go, he is only associated with one but it is a doozy. At Starrcade in 1999, Goldberg faced Bret Hart for the WCW World Heavyweight Championship and hit him with a thrust kick to the head. A blow that was hard enough that it gave Bret a severe concussion, which may have been worsened when Goldberg let Bret’s head hit the cement during a figure-four leg lock, Bret was forced to retire from the ring as a result.
The only person who we chose for this list due to his tenure in TNA, Hernandez is included strictly because of a single move that became one of his signatures, the Border Toss. A move with a fitting name, it involves the massive man picking up his opponent, holding them over his back and then literally tossing them across the ring. As a result, there is little opportunity for the people in the move to protect themselves and it falls on Hernandez’s shoulders to keep them safe. Clearly, since he is included in this list his record of doing so is spotty. Doug Williams landed directly on his neck, Gail Kim’s landing was far from soft, and those are but two examples. A move so dangerous that some fans have called for him to stop using it, an indie worker has said these incidents are far too regular and he doesn’t apologize. Don’t believe us? Ask Kirby Mack, a different worker who suffered a collapsed lung after taking the finisher.
5. Stan Hansen
The second WWE Hall of Famer to make our list, and not the last, Stan Hansen made the majority of his name due to his time working in Japan where he was known for a brutal style. Remembered for his redneck garb, chewing tobacco, and nasty demeanour, whenever you saw him in the ring it really looked like you were watching a real fight and that is because it could get pretty close to that. Evidently such a rough and tumble man due to having very poor eyesight, it seems as though he chose to lay in his blows since he couldn’t ensure he stopped short because he didn’t see his opponents clearly. The worst case in which his work resulted in a misfortunate situation for the other man in the ring coincidentally involves an eye too. If you haven’t heard the story yet, Vader and Stan were having a particularly violent match when Stan accidentally thumbed Vader’s eye causing it to pop out of the socket.
As bad as you likely felt for Vader picturing his eye popping out in a match, which he still finished, by the way, he was far from an innocent man when it came to hurting people. Someone who broke the rib of Sting, it is crazy to realize that injury pales in comparison to others his opponents suffered. First off, he was involved in another of the most notorious ring injuries wrestling has ever seen, but this time, he wasn’t on the receiving end. Wrestling Mick Foley in 1994, Foley’s head was wrapped up in the ring ropes when Mick had his earlobe ripped right off. If anyone didn’t blame Vader for that incident there is also the case of Joe Thurman. A workman wrestler who was mostly used as a jobber, Vader power bombed him on a concrete floor which resulted in Joe being paralyzed from the waist down.
3. Jack Swagger
Signed by the WWE ten years ago, Jack Swagger’s career has had some real highlights, including runs as ECW Champion, United States Champion, and World Heavyweight Champion. Despite these facts, he has spent the majority of his time in the company as a perennial midcard wrestler who is used to make larger stars out of those on the rise. Perhaps, that is why his history of hurting people hasn’t followed him as it has others. There was the time that Bad News Barrett, as he was called at the time, was forced to take an extended leave of absence after suffering a shoulder injury at Jack’s hands. Sin Cara is also a part of his hurt wrestler history as a match he had with Swagger likely resulted in a concussion. Worst of all, remember that glorious moment that Dolph Ziggler cashed in Money in the Bank the night after WrestleMania? Of course, you do, it was awesome. That momentum was ruined after he too suffered a concussion during a match against Swagger.
2. Abdullah the Butcher
The final member of the WWE Hall of Fame to make our list, there are some performers who have claimed that his inclusion is a disgrace. Known for an extremely hardcore style, his forehead has been cut up enough that his scars run so deep that he is known to put gambling chips in the slots. However, he was equally, if not more so, vicious to the people he wrestled who he often cut open with forks and pencils. All of that may not have earned his place here, as in most cases the moves were agreed upon, but after an indie wrestler known as Hannibal sued him the world began to look at Abdullah differently. Losing the suit, Hannibal claimed that he was cut without his consent and Abdullah did so knowing full well he had Hepatitis C which he spread to the younger man. A selfish and dangerous move, we find it hard to believe that it was the only incident where Abdullah took similar liberties.
1. New Jack
If you have ever seen the documentary Beyond the Mat, you will likely walk away from it thinking that New Jack is a pretty decent dude. That may be the case for those he likes but if you cross him and end up wrestling him, you’re most likely screwed.
Someone who was involved in several horrific incidents, including one in which he cut an underage wrestling rookie, Mass Transit, so deeply it started a lawsuit, his career is checkered with violence. There was also the time he literally stabbed another inexperienced wrestler in a match because he put his trust in him saying he could “do whatever you wanna do”. Not enough for you? Another rookie missed a spot that was supposed to end the match. New Jack’s response, he hit him with a chair so hard and with the side that had no give, that he actually cracked his skull. We’re not through; he wrestled Gypsy Joe, a sixty-nine-year-old at the time, and legitimately beat him up so much that an old woman in the audience tried to help Joe by hitting Jack with her purse. Finally, and most notoriously, Vic Grimes had angered him, later during a scaffold match where they stood high above the ring, Jack was supposed to throw him onto some tables but tried his best to overshoot them. Had he succeeded, Vic would have fallen directly on the concrete which easily could have killed him.
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