Despite being choreographed performance, professional wrestling is without a doubt a dangerous sport. The athletes constantly put their lives on the line each and every night to entertain fans all over the world. The risks wrestlers take every time they lace up their boots are insane, but they do it because they love it. They know that the chances they take every time they walk through the curtain before a match.
We’ve seen just about every injury known to man while watching the product. Necks have been broken, ribs have been bruised, people have been concussed, burned, cut, and everything in between. Some folks have been unfortunate enough to suffer all of these. Certain wrestlers can’t seem to stay healthy and are seemingly always on the shelf. Despite the constant ailments, a lot of wrestlers don’t let a few minor (or major) scratches keep them down. Sometimes a wrestler’s tenacity is beneficial to them. They are able to rebound and come back better than ever. However, sometimes they come back one too many times and are forced out of the business thanks to accumulating way too many injuries.
Here are 15 wrestlers who are constantly getting injured, reminders as to why WWE consistently reminds fans to not try this at home.
15 Randy Orton
When Randy Orton suffered his first shoulder injury in 2002, it was actually a godsend. The second generation superstar was having a difficult time getting over as a babyface and a series of vignettes were able to successfully repackage him as a cocky heel. Unfortunately, shoulder injuries would plague The Viper’s career. Due to hypermobility in his shoulder joints, Orton would suffer the same injury in 2005, 2010, 2012, and 2015. The 2010 injury is particularly notorious for occurring while the Apex Predator was performing his patented mat-pounding taunt. Orton also received a broken collarbone during a match against Triple H after the Game tossed Randy over the top rope while countering an RKO. Orton’s most recent injury was at the hands of Brock Lesnar when the two met at the 2016 SummerSlam pay-per-view. Lesnar delivered a series of elbow strikes to Randy’s forehead, busting him wide open and spilling blood all over the mat.
14 Triple H
For a guy who spent so much of his career at the top of the card, Triple H sure spent a lot of time on the bench. Early in his career, he had European and Intercontinental Championship reigns come to an end due to leg injuries. In 2001, as part of the Two Man Power Trip along with Steve Austin, Triple H’s career nearly came to an end when he tore his left quadriceps muscle. This cost him eight months of action. Five years later, the Game would tear the other quad. Thankfully, both of these tears were able to be surgically repaired. Years later, while in a heated rivalry with Sheamus, a biceps injury would keep the Cerebral Assassin out of the ring for almost a year. Throw some elbow, back, and throat issues, and it’s no surprise the King of King’s in-ring appearances are sporadic at best.
13 Rey Mysterio
As he famously stated in a 2009 “Don’t Try This At Home” PSA, Rey Mysterio had surgery five times in his left knee. That was nine years ago. The first knee surgery was to repair his torn ACL in 1998. He would injure his knee again while filming a scene for Ready to Rumble over and over again. Knee problems struck again a few months after he started wrestling for WWE, and again in both and 2006 and 2013. Since then, Mysterio received stem cell injections that he claims have made his knees feel better than ever. It’s not just knees though, Mysterio missed six months in 2008 due to a biceps injury and hasn’t been seen on WWE television since he took time off to heal a wrist injury in 2014. Most recently, in 2017, the perennial underdog broke his ankle while wrestling in a tournament in Europe.
Despite never being as well-respected as his tag team partner and lifelong best friend Edge, Christian was able to carve himself his own incredible career. Known for being a part of some of the most intense ladder matches in wrestling history, it’s a wonder he didn’t suffer more injuries early on. It was the tail-end of his time as a performer that was wrought with bad luck. 2010, 2011, and 2012 would all be terrible years for the Grand Slam Champion as he spent a total of 19 months on the shelf due to pectoral, ankle, and shoulder injuries. The straw that broke the camel’s back ended up being a series of undiagnosed concussions that lead to his retirement. Unfortunately, unlike Edge, Captain Charisma’s career ended with a whimper and not a bang. In 2015, as a result of his mounting injuries, WWE.com moved Christian’s profile to the alumni section, quietly putting an end to his in-ring career.
11 Enzo Amore
Right now, Enzo Amore is one of the best talkers the WWE has. His mic skills are unparalleled, especially amongst the competition on 205 Live where he rules with a leopard print fist. His in-ring skills, however, well, they leave a lot to be desired. His lack of wrestling acumen also seems to be the cause of the majority of his injuries. The first came back in NXT when he broke his own leg countering a wrist lock while training. Once he was on the main roster, ‘Zo suffered a match-ending concussion after there was some miscommunication with Simon Gotch. Most recently, Amore suffered a double whammy of injuries in a match against Cedric Alexander on the January 8, 2018 episode of Raw. Not only was his face bloodied after taking a boot to the mush, but he took a count out loss after landing awkwardly on his leg. It’s been two weeks and Muscles Marinara has yet to return to in-ring action.
10 Kevin Nash
The internet seems to revel in Kevin Nash’s injuries. Most notably when he tore his quads in 2002 after nailing Booker T with a beautiful phoenix splash. What? That’s not what happened? Oh. He tore his quads…walking across the ring? Wow. The sheer pain in Big Daddy Cool’s face showed just how painful this proved to be. This also happened to be only a few weeks after Nash suffered a biceps injury that took him out of action. He would then undergo neck surgery. After WWE didn’t re-sign Big Sexy, he would soon take his talent to TNA, where he didn’t fare much better. Not only did he contract a staph infection that took him off of pay-per-views in April of 2005 and January of 2009, but he was missed more time in between after he was hospitalized for a mild cardiac episode.
9 Hideo Itami
Before Triple H was scooping up just about every big name on the independent scene to wrestler for NXT, the signing of Hideo Itami was a huge deal. It seemed like WWE was finally going to have a big name Asian star to add to their ranks. Fans of the Japanese promotion NOAH were well aware of Itami’s history injuries thought the first decade of his time as a wrestler, most notably a variety of knee problems. He was in NXT for less than a year before he underwent shoulder surgery. Originally, it was thought the operation would only keep out of the ring for six months, but it would be over a year before his return. He was once again be sidelined, this time due to a neck injury, a mere four months after he made his comeback. Currently, he is resigned to 205 Live which is a moral injury from which he may never recover.
8 Mark Henry
When the World’s Strongest Man signed an unprecedented 10-year contract in 1996, it wouldn’t be long before he needed time off. Mark was still training for weightlifting competitions at the time and hurt his back, taking him out of both sports for a time. A knee injury in 2002, a quadriceps tear in 2004, and a broken patella in 2006 kept Henry from reaching his potential. After winning the World Heavyweight Championship in 2011, it was a hyperextended knee kept him from returning to the title picture. Add 2013 and 2014 to the list of year’s Sexual Chocolate spent time on the shelf, and it’s hard to find a long stint where he was healthy. Henry’s retirement was recently quietly announced, partially due to his past injuries adding up and partially due to age getting the best of him. As he told me when I ran into him on a Manhattan street in August, “Father Time is undefeated.”
It’s no surprise that one of the biggest risk takers in all of professional wrestling has also suffered an astounding amount of injuries including broken ribs and a broken jaw. Impressively, Sabu is infamous for continuing the matches in which he gets injured. While wrestling Terry Funk in a No-Rope Barbed-Wire match, Sabu sliced his biceps open, only for him to ask his manager, Bill Alfonso, for some tape and proceeded to wrestle with his arm wrapped up. The Homicidal, Suicidal, Genocidal Maniac also broke his neck twice while working for ECW. The first was an attempt to correct a flapjack bump in mid-air. The second, a botched suplex at the hands of Taz, resulted in the insane Sabu only sitting out two weeks before returning to action. Years later, while wrestling for TNA, Sabu injured his back and contracted a serious virus. In 2016, a GoFundMe campaign was able to raise over $27,000 to help Sabu afford a hip replacement.
Despite being only 25-years-old, Paige has already spent 13 years as a professional wrestler. With both her parents and siblings in the business, a career in sports entertainment was bound to happen. Paige made a splash in both developmental and the main roster. Not only was she the first NXT Women’s Champion, but she was the first person to simultaneously hold gold in NXT and WWE. Unfortunately, Paige has seen a string of bad luck the past few years. In 2016, she suffered a neck injury which, combined with two Wellness Policy suspensions, kept her off TV for a year. After returning to action in late 2017 with screws in her surgically repaired neck, she was again hurt. This time suffering a seemingly career-ending injury. Ironically, as a child, Paige never intended on joining the family business as she witnessed all of the injuries her family had suffered throughout the years.
5 Sin Cara
It’s hard to remember a time when Sin Cara was taken seriously as a wrestler and not just a meme used when snarky wrestling fans want to talk about botches. Rightfully so too, as the highflying Mexican’s WWE career was filled with injury after injury. He seemingly couldn’t go a few months without having to take time off to deal with health issues. He missed six months in 2011 after rupturing his patellar tendon during a Survivor Series match. A little over a year later, Cara would injure his knee two days after becoming number one contender for the Tag Team Championships with Rey Mysterio. He would return once more before dislocating his finger in his last match on WWE television. After all of these problems, it’s not surprising WWE simply recast the role. However, Sin Cara II hasn’t proven to be much more successful. The replacement has seen his share of wounds including a dislocated shoulder, and a recent leg injury.
4 Mick Foley
The next time some snarky coworker comes up to you and says the four words wrestler fans hate the most, “You know it’s fake.” regale them with tales of Mick Foley. The Hardcore Legend has had more documented injuries just about any other wrestler to step between the ropes (or barbed wire). Back in 1999, his injuries were not only documented on the back of his book, but also on one of my favorite t-shirts of all time. Mrs. Foley’s Baby boy has been concussed, lost teeth, dislocated his shoulder and jaw, and these are just the ones that happened when he took on the Undertaker inside Hell in a Cell. In addition to losing part of his ear in a match against Vader, Foley has broken his ribs, toes, fingers, and wrists. I bet there are doctors out there who have been able to retire after multiple visits from Mick Foley.
The Rated-R Superstar was fresh off of a WrestleMania victory over Alberto Del Rio at the 2011 event when his in-ring career came to an abrupt end. After suffering from numbness in his arms and hands, he sought a medical treatment. Upon investigation, Edge was diagnosed with cervical spinal stenosis and if he were to have taken another bump he could have been paralyzed or even died. This came eight years after he underwent spinal surgery to fuse multiple discs in his next together. Edge’s injuries forced him to vacate multiple titles throughout his career. A groin injury would cost him his Intercontinental Championship in 2005 and a torn Achilles tendon forced him to relinquish his Tag Team title a few years later. Most notably, he vacated the World Heavyweight Championship twice, once due to a torn pectoral muscle, and the other due to the aforementioned stenosis.
2 The Undertaker
When you’ve been wrestling as long as The Undertaker has, more likely than not, you’re going to suffer a fair share of injuries. He was written off television in 1994 to allow a serious back injury to heal. He wouldn’t remain healthy for long, as Mabel would break ‘Taker’s orbital bone in 1995. Then, there’s the legendary Hell in a Cell match, that Undertaker went into with a broken foot. A 2010 match with Rey Mysterio left the Prince of Darkness with a triad of injuries including a broken nose, broken orbital bone, and concussion. After each of his last WrestleMania matches, Undertaker seemed to suffer injury after injury following each match. His bout against Brock Lesnar in 2014 resulted in him getting concussed at the hands of the Beast. His latest surgery came after 2017’s ‘Mania when he had his hip replaced. With his career seemingly finished, let’s hope there isn’t anything else to add to this list.
1 Daniel Bryan
When Daniel Bryan won the WWE Championship at WrestleMania 30 in 2014, it was a big deal for those of us who supported him since his time on the independent scene. However, our celebration was short lived. On June 9th, two months after winning the big one, D-Bry was forced the relinquish the belt that he worked 15 years to win. He mounted a comeback the following year, winning the Intercontinental Championship, but history repeated itself and the leader of the Yes Movement once again vacated his belt. Both of these injuries were related to concussions. Bryan revealed to ESPN that he had suffered ten concussions, and those were just the ones that were documented. These concussions were so debilitating that they resulted in multiple seizures. Daniel Bryan has been working on getting himself cleared to get back in the ring, but WWE is unwilling to let this happen.
I didn’t even mention the time the American Dragon suffered a detached retina in Ring of Honor and continued to wrestle in an eye patch.