At Extreme Rules, Brock Lesnar went flying—and only the hand of God saved him and the WWE from certain disaster. Looking a little like the world's clumsiest Rey Mysterio, Lesnar lept off the ring steps and attempted a flying crossbody on Jon Cena.
It looked like his intent was to bump Cena to the ground. To be polite, let's just note it didn't quite go as planned. Lesnar hurtled over the ropes, landing and immediately grabbing his knee. Fortunately, no permanent damage was done. It could have been much worse. Often, it is.
Lesnar got lucky. Some of these other guys didn't. Here's what happens when wrestling spots go wrong.
D Lo Brown had done his running power bomb a thousand times. The move, popularized by Japanese star Jushin "Thunder" Lyger, was a cool spot and a tough one to execute. But Brown was a pro, confident he was up to the task.
Against Droz, on a random episode of Smackdown, fans saw just how small the margin of error really was. Droz, wearing a t-shirt, slipped from Brown's grip as D Lo tried to slam him. Instead of a controlled drop, he landed on his head, leaving the rising star a quadriplegic.
In many ways, this bump gone wrong ended two careers. Distraught at injuring his friend, Brown was never the same wrestler again.
At more than 500 pounds, the Big Show is quite a load. Although slamming him isn't impossible, it's certainly a different level of challenge for most guys. Kevin Nash thought he was up to the task. He had done it before.
But at Souled Out in 1998, Nash didn't quite get the job done. Instead, he slammed "The Giant" right on his head and neck. Though he would return to wrestle again, if Nash had missed by even a fraction more, the Giant might have been finished wrestling forever.
Poor Stan Hansen. He had finally gotten his big break in the business, and he goes and drops Bruno Sammartino, the world's biggest wrestling star, right on his head. A routine spot gone wrong, it nearly costs the WWWF its biggest star.
Lucky Stan Hansen. The WWWF credits his clothesline finisher with the injury. When Bruno returns to action, they do big business as he gets his revenge. A star, and his finisher, are made by mistake.
Preliminary wrestler Chuck Austin got a tough welcome to the business when he bumped wrong on Marty Jannetty's "Rocker Dropper" finish. He took a forward flip instead of landing face first, with disastrous consequences:
Charles Austin, a pro wrestler left partially paralyzed from a supposedly safe stunt, sat in stunned silence yesterday when a jury in Tampa awarded him $26.7 million in his lawsuit against the Worldwide Wrestling Federation. Austin, who landed headfirst on the mat during a 1990 tag-team match against WWF stars the Rockers, had asked for about $3.8 million.
Austin, 37, a former linebacker at the University of North Carolina, walks unsteadily on crutches. He no longer can work and relies on painkillers.
At his best, Hayabusa was one of the most graceful high flyers of his era. His name means "Falcon" in Japanese, and he flew through the air with ease, even inventing moves like the Phoenix Splash.
Hayabusa did some crazy stunts in his day. But it was a simple "Lionsault" that cost him his career. Slipping on the second rope against Mammoth Sasaki in 2001, Hayabusa broke his neck. In slow motion, this is one of the most gruesome injuries I've ever seen.
Before he was known as "that wrestler who murdered his family," Chris Benoit was considered by many to be the best technical wrestler in the world. No one is perfect, though, and Benoit's accidental head drop on Sabu was a staple of ECW highlight packages for years.
In typical pro wrestling fashion, the extent of his injuries may have been overstated. Sabu, despite this "broken neck," was wrestling in Japan just two weeks later.
The pre-Stone Cold version of Austin was a wrestling technician, a wrestler known for his holds and suplexes more than his brawling. It was a style that meshed well with a new generation of wrestlers from New Japan Pro Wrestling.
Unfortunately for Masahiro Chono, a rising star in the promotion, Austin's technical proficiency went missing in their 1992 match. Instead of dropping to his knees for a Tombstone piledriver, Austin dropped to his butt, smashing Chono's head into the mat.
Although he went on to be a big star in Japan, Chono's neck never recovered, and he had to modify his ring style as a result, becoming more brawler than wrestler.
Do you believe in karma? You might after reading this. Austin, who had injured Chono, had his career shortened in almost the exact same sequence against Owen Hart. What are the chances?
The Steiner Brothers had a reputation in the business for being a little too rough. They would carelessly toss jobbers and stars alike with devastating suplexes. And what could anyone do about it? They were legitimate amateur wrestling stars and legitimate tough guys.
Buff Bagwell's injury didn't have anything to do with that stuff, though. He simply slipped out of Steiner's grip as the two attempted a top rope bulldog. Bagwell hit Steiner's hip instead of the mat, breaking his neck.
Kurt Angle's Wrestlemania XIX match with Brocke Lesnar was so remarkable I wrote about it at length in my new book, Shooters, in stores now. It's one of Lesnar's most amazing moments:
Suffice to say, Kurt Angle was in bad physical shape entering the match, in dire need of neck surgery. But by the end of the match, everyone watching worldwide was equally concerned about Lesnar.
The big man attempted a shooting star press, a reverse somersault from the top rope. It's a move even cruiserweights struggle to pull off. Lesnar tried—and failed miserably. He landed on his head and was in a daze, barely able to finish the match.
It was an epic fail. But at least it was epic.