Everyone has heard the phrase before that “accidents happen”, and the same is true in professional wrestling. Despite the fact that the men and women performing in the ring are trained professionals, there are often times where things to not go as planned, and legitimate injuries surface as a result. Whether these occur as a result of a miscommunication in the ring, or an ill-timed maneuver connecting with an opponent in an unintended way, it is a fact that needs to be accepted when watching professional athletes compete. Think about it in the same way when watching a soccer match – sometimes people accidentally get hit “where the sun doesn’t shine”, but the game still continues anyways because it was an accident.
However, there are also times when the realm of reality gets blurred and personal feelings begin to intersect with the professional wrestling show, and this is when things start to get a little bit too serious. While accidents are a fact of the business, sometimes performers can go too far and forget that they are supposed to be entertaining the audience, and instead begin to legitimately fight with their opponent. Sometimes there are deep-seeded feelings that make a performer lash out this way, such as someone upsetting them backstage prior to a match or having pervious “heat” with them for one reason or another, but no matter what the reason may be it doesn’t change the fact that the situation becomes serious very quickly.
15 On Purpose: Royal Rumble 2005 Participants Initiate Daniel Puder
In the wrestling business, one of the most detrimental things to a professional wrestler is to be labeled as disrespectful – once slapped with that label it is very difficult to shake, especially for someone new to the business. Just ask Daniel Puder, the “winner” of the $1,000,000 Tough Enough season, who after being perceived as disrespectful, received a beating with the intention to injure him during his one and only Royal Rumble appearance in WWE.
Following his entrance in the Royal Rumble, the wrestlers inside of the ring – ranging from Hardcore Holly, Chris Benoit and Eddie Guerrero – seemingly stopped what they were focused on and began to beat on Puder, continuously chopping and punching him very stiffly before disposing him from the ring. While the react reason for the beating has never been confirmed – it more than likely stemmed from Puder infamously locking a kimura lock on Kurt Angle during a Tough Enough segment - it was clear that the wrestlers in the ring were looking to send a message to Puder, essentially letting him know (very roughly) that he was not a welcome member of the WWE roster.
14 Accident: Seth Rollins
While there has been much written over the past couple of years about Seth Rollins' in ring style being deemed unsafe (especially if you ask Bret Hart), anyone that understands the mechanics of professional wrestling knows that Rollins is a safe worker who has been in some unfortunate circumstances. Rollins has been “credited” with accidentally injuring top WWE wrestlers such as John Cena and Finn Balor with ill-timed moves, but also infamously having Sting’s final wrestling match under his belt after he suffered a career-ending injury during their match together in 2015.
While each of these wrestlers have stated in separate interviews that they contributed to the injuries themselves and the blame does not solely fall on Rollins, he has begun to develop a reputation for injuring others in the ring, so much so that he dropped the “Buckle-Bomb” maneuver from his arsenal after wrestlers received injuries after taking the move improperly. Given his experience in the ring, surely this reputation will blow over eventually, as none of these injuries have been deliberate.
13 On Purpose: JBL Singles Out The Blue Meanie
I don’t think I will ever forget the memory of watching the first ECW One Night Stand event – not only is it one of my favorite wrestling events of all time, but there were some truly shocking moments throughout the event. Whether it was Sabu’s surprise appearance, Paul Heyman’s shoot promo on the WWE roster, or…wait a minute, why is The Blue Meanie bleeding like crazy? Well, it turns out that JBL took it upon himself for to exact revenge on Meanie for referring to him as a “bully” due to his backstage behavior (haven’t heard of those rumors before, check out another one of my articles here).
During the final brawl between ECW and WWE to close off the event, JBL attacked Meanie and began to punch him directly in the eye, opening up a wound from a previous event. Reviewing the tape it is clear that JBL makes a beeline directly for Meanie during the brawl, and Meanie hardly has time to defend himself. After the event, Meanie posted the following line to his online blog, “All this happened over was me calling him a bully. Well John……… you just proved me right.”.
12 Accident: Brock Lesnar Drops Bob Holly On His Neck
Accidents happen, but to determine who is at fault can sometimes be a difficult issue. When it comes down to a green Brock Lesnar injuring a difficult-to-work-with Hardcore Holly, I tend to side with the fact that Holly is to blame in this situation, which is easy to do given Holly’s reputation in the wrestling business. In 2002, during Lesnar’s meteoric rise as “The Next Big Thing”, he was booked to wrestle Hardcore Holly, who allegedly held a grudge against Lesnar for being hot-shot to the top of the WWE. In order to “teach him a lesson” he deliberately did not assist Lesnar while he attempted to powerbomb him, which would have made Lesnar look foolish in the ring.
However, his plan backfired and Lesnar ended up dropping Holly on his neck, effectively breaking his neck and causing him to experience a 13-month hiatus from wrestling. Perhaps he shouldn’t have tried to be so hard-headed in this situation as it would have saved him a lot of pain.
11 On Purpose: Brawl for All Participants
Yes, we are about to discuss one of the biggest blunders in WWE history – the Brawl for All tournament. For those that were lucky enough to not be wrestling fans during this period, the Brawl for All tournament was a legitimate shoot-fighting tournament which featured wrestlers such as Bart Gunn, Bob Holly, The Godfather and Ken Shamrock in legitimate boxing fights against each other. Now, for the purposes of professional wrestling, the goal is to try and put on an entertaining athletic spectacle for the audience without legitimately hurting your opponent.
This concept is very different from a legitimate fight, which the goal is to intentionally incapacitate your opponent enough that you win the fight – this is exactly what occurred as several participants were plagued with serious injuries as a result of being legitimately hurt during the event, such as Savio Vega who never wrestled in WWE again after the tournament after tearing ligaments in his shoulder. The worst part about it is that the fans didn’t event enjoy the tournament, so it was all useless.
10 Accident: Edge
Many would have thought Edge is one of the few wrestlers from WWE that does not have a record of accidentally injuring an opponent, but unfortunately Edge’s first appearance in WWE didn't go smoothly. During Edge’s first televised match with WWE, he was paired with Mexican wrestler Jose Estrada Jr. who had been wrestling for close to 10 years, so he was considered a good person to pair the new wrestler with. Unfortunately for Estrada, luck was not in his favor for this match as Edge performed a somersault plancha outside the ring, which ended up legitimately injuring his neck after Edge landed on him in an unorthodox way.
Upon reflecting on the incident Edge stated, “It was one of those things where..man...you feel horrible but at the same time, it's really no one's fault. When I got back everyone stressed that. They said...Get over this because it wasn't your fault. That made me feel a lot better. It just one of those moves and one of those risks we take nowadays.”. Very unfortunate circumstances for someone’s first match, but we all know that accidents can happen.
9 On Purpose: The Acolytes Obliterate Public Enemy
Hello again, JBL – I’m starting to sense a trend here. Not only is this Bradshaw’s second appearance on this list, but it is the second time he is doing it to “teach someone a lesson”. As I mentioned earlier in regards to Dainel Puder, being disrespectful in the wrestling industry is considered a big sin, particularly when it is from those who have not earned the respect of others in the business. Unfortunately for the tag team Public Enemy, who after a long stint in ECW as a premiere tag team transferred to WWE, they never bothered to learn this lesson.
In order to test out the tag team to ensure that they “belonged” in WWE, both Bradshaw and his partner Ron Simmons took it upon themselves to test out The Public Enemy by legitimately beating them up during a televised match on Sunday Night Heat – and believe me when I say they did not hold anything back! Public Enemy were given very little offense, and The Acolytes were much more hard-hitting than usual (and that is saying something).
8 Accident: Triple H Badly Botches A Pedigree
While respect is very important both in and out of the ring in professional wrestling, communication between opponents is just as integral to a good match. If two wrestlers are not communicating about how a match is intended to play out, there could be big consequences – the crowd may not be as in to the match as they should, or there could be a miscommunication while executing a move that could make the wrestlers look bad while performing. Or even worse, you could be Marty Garner and not know exactly how to take your opponent’s finishing maneuver, almost leaving you paralyzed.
During a 1996 match on WWF Superstars, Triple H went to execute his Pedigree maneuver on Garner, but instead of Garner executing the move flat on his face, he miscommunicated with Triple H and moved as if it were an underhook piledriver, essentially spiking his own head into the mat very hard. Since Garner was not aware of how to execute the maneuver, this was determined to be one big mistake, which he paid for by way of a neck injury which he thankfully recovered from.
7 On Purpose: Perry Saturn Loses It On Mike Bell
While botching a move ultimately turned out to be what Marty Garner above is most famous for, it did not turn out similarly for the late wrestler Mike Bell, who was on the receiving end of a beating by Perry Saturn after botching a series of moves during a match in 2001. During a match on Metal, Saturn was attempting to execute an armdrag on Bell, who did not perform it properly causing Saturn to almost hurt himself – this caused Saturn to lash out and attack Bell profusely, eventually throwing him out of the ring very roughly where he landed on his neck, where he proceeded to continue to kick him very strongly. Saturn just snapped, which is actually very scary to relive as he could have seriously injured Bell during his attack.
Thankfully, no one was injured too much during the ordeal, but Saturn was clearly attempting to hurt Bell during the exchange. While Bell did not achieve any further notoriety in WWE, Saturn was punished on-screen for this incident in the form of falling in love with a mop, which you may remember as Moppy.
6 Accident: Joey Mercury's Face Eats A Ladder
Okay, I think it goes without saying that even though all of these accidents and injuries are very sad to see as they involve real human beings being hurt, that this one still looks insane to this day. Everyone certainly has to feel for Joey Mercury every time they watch it because it was such a freak accident, and looks incredibly brutal during each replay of the incident. During an often forgotten ladder match at Armageddon 2006, Jeff Hardy performed one of his signature ladder match maneuvers where he utilized a ladder as a weapon in the form of a “see-saw”, springing up one side of the ladder into his opponent’s faces after jumping on another side of it.
While Hardy has performed similar maneuvers like this in the past, this is the first time that it had catastrophic results. While Mercury had intended for his hands to absorb some of the blow from the ladder, he did not make it in time and the ladder smashed directly into his nose, instantly shattering it in front of our eyes. Audiences watched in horror as Mercury rolled to the outside of the ring and his face quickly turned into a crimson mask.
5 On Purpose: Bubba Ray Dudley Targets Rene Dupree's Injured Areas
Bubba Ray Dudley is not known as a very nice man outside of the squared circle. He himself has admitted he generally hates interacting with people. However, Bubba has had a very successful career in the business for his ability to connect with fans, as a face or heel, and having the selfish attitude you sometimes need in wrestling. However, Rene Dupree's allegations of Bubba concussing him sure don't paint the former WWE Tag Team Champion in a positive light. During a 2015 interview, Dupree claimed that back when he was a young pup in WWE, Bubba concussed him several times. Dupree even alleged that Bubba intentionally tore his hamstring during a match in Chicago, and kept targeting the injured area after Dupree told Bubba he was hurt. It's unclear what Bubba's intentions may have been in injuring Dupree.
4 Accident: D’Lo Brown And Droz Mistime A Powerbomb
While I have approached some of these entries with a comical tone, there is nothing funny about the incident that occurred with Darren “Droz” Drozdov in 1999, as there were serious ramifications to this freak accident. During a match on SmackDown in 1999 versus D’Lo Brown, Droz was given a running powerbomb in the ring, but due to Brown not being able to grab him properly due to his baggy clothing (which is the most widely accepted story about this incident) Droz was dropped improperly from the maneuver which resulted in him becoming paralyzed from the neck down.
Droz was instantly transferred to the closest hospital following the incident, but needless to say his in-ring career was over in an instant. As a testament to his character, Droz has never blamed Brown for the incident, and has maintained for close to 20 years that it was a freak accident that could not have been avoided. Thankfully, WWE has never released the footage they have of this incident, and I hope they never do.
3 On Purpose: Bob Holly Trying To Teach Another Lesson
Well, just like JBL it appears that Bob Holly will also be a repeat offender on this list for his treatment of young wrestlers while he was a member of the WWE roster. It seems as though there is a trend here about people taking advantage of new wrestlers in the wrestling business when they are considered disrespectful, but this not one of those cases. During an episode of WWE’s Tough Enough reality show, the participants were training and were put inside of a wrestling match with Bob Holly, including eventual winner Matt Cappotelli.
While entering the ring with a WWE wrestler should be a great learning experience, Holly took his style of teaching too far and began to beat Cappotelli much harder than expected, eventually bloodying his face during the match. Holly mentioned in a televised segment afterwards that he was using this moment to teach Cappotelli that succeeding in the wrestling business is not easy, but I think this type of lesson has an easier (and much less painful) way of being taught. And we wonder why Holly has been called a bully in the past?
2 Accident: Billy Kidman's Shooting Star Press Misses Its Target
I have always been a fan of high-flying wrestling maneuvers – perhaps it is because I am not athletic enough myself to perform them, so have always enjoyed the spectacle of watching someone else fly through the air onto their opponent. My favorite high-flying move to enjoy is without a doubt the Shooting Star Press, as it seems to take much more athletic ability to perform than some of the others, which made it all the more special when I saw it performed. Unfortunately, there are some wrestlers who perform it much better than others, and Billy Kidman has never really been the best, especially when it comes to the accuracy of where he lands.
Don’t believe me? Just as Chavo Guerrero, who suffered from an unfortunate concussion as a result of Kidman accidentally missing his landing. Instead of landing on Chavo’s midsection as the move is designed, Kidman missed slightly, and his knee ended up striking Chavo's head. Kidman certainly didn't mean to injure Chavo this way, but he certainly did need to work on his aim as he had a record of missing the mark several times throughout his career.
1 On Purpose? : Brock Lesnar Pummels Randy Orton
And Brock also joins the two-timers club by being featured twice on this list as a repeat offender! Now, this entry may be considered controversial considering that we do not know for sure if the events at SummerSlam 2016 were truly planned to be this way or not, and may never truly know the truth. All we do know is that Randy Orton ended up a bloody mess at the hands of Brock Lesnar’s legitimate punches, which turned out to be one of the most shocking endings of a wrestling event in recent memory. It was a legitimately scary moment where it looked like someone was being beaten up in front of our eyes, but no one was doing anything to really stop it.
Allegedly, Chris Jericho felt the same way backstage after the event and confronted Lesnar about it, as he thought that Lesnar had intentionally injured and attacked Orton during the match. While others have said that this was “part of the plan”, it seems difficult to believe that things were supposed to go this far on live television.