We are all fans of wrestling, and I believe that we look to our wrestlers as entertainers. At times we forget to look at them for what they truly are, people like you and I.
Even these performing deities have their share of physical difficulties, and I will categorize the most painful, most remembered injuries in sports entertainment history.
11. Brock Lesnar vs. Kurt Angle (WWE "Wrestlemania XIX" March 30th, 2003): This was a pretty embarrassing moment in Wrestlemania main event history, Brock Lesnar was having a very athletic match with Angle, they both elevated their game, but at some point in the match Lesnar decided to take his wrath to the top rope.
A big man like Lesnar had not seen too much time on the top rope during his career, in fact this is the first and only time I've ever witnessed him attempt a high risk top rope maneuver.
He attempted his version of "The Shooting Star Press" (made famous by Billy Kidman), I say attempted because what follows can only be described as an injury waiting to happen.
Lesnar totally miscalculated his mass and did not have the momentum, the altitude or the clearance to hit the move correctly, instead he viciously drove his forehead into the canvas entirely missing Angle, who rolled out of the way (although there was no need to because Lesnar wasn't even close).
Lesnar remained composed, regained himself, and finished the match, winning after three F-5's to Angle, but as soon as he made his way backstage it was a different story.
He was drifting in and out of consciousness, and he at some points was extremely distraught and in a rage, all the symptoms of a massive concussion.
10. Chris Benoit vs. Sabu (ECW "November To Remember 1994" Nov. 5, 1994): In a very painful match to see, Chris Benoit proved his moniker of "The Crippler," attempted a flapjack on Sabu (Terry Brunk).
Sabu landed weirdly and instead the botched move saw Sabu fall directly on top of his head, this led Sabu to yell out to Paul Heyman who was at ringside that there was something terribly wrong with his neck, he sustained temporary paralysis.
Benoit literally and accidentally broke Sabu's neck. While the move was in no way intentional, I actually think its Sabu's fault because he landed the move wrong, but it did go on to cement Benoit as "The Crippler".
Don't worry, as we all know Sabu recovered and went on to have a very storied career.
9. Brock Lesnar vs Hardcore Holly (WWE "Smackdown" 2002): Yes Brock Lesnar is one of four men to make it on the list twice, but in this scenario instead of harming himself, he harmed someone else.
On an episode of Smackdown, Lesnar (still a rising rookie) fought the veteran Hardcore Holly. Holly was a notorious "stiff" wrestler, and the match up to a point was a very stiff bout, but there came a moment in the match when Lesnar was supposed to execute a powerbomb on the veteran.
For whatever reason, Holly did not want Lesnar to hit the powerbomb on him, he went stiff halfway up and Brock dropped him right on his neck. The botch was most certainly Holly's fault in this case, he was the own cause of his broken neck, which sidelined him for 13 months till his eventual return at the 2003 Survivor Series.
8. Stone Cold and Triple H vs. Chris Benoit and Chris Jericho (WWE "Raw" May 21st, 2001): This injury was especially memorable, Triple H blew out his quadriceps in a match that pitted him and Stone Cold vs Benoit (another wrestler that made it to this list twice, but his involvement this time was less detrimental) and Jericho for the WWE Tag Team Titles.
The Two Man Power Trip took on Jericho and The Crippler in a back and forth contest, the injury to Triple H occurred when he tried to break a submission attempt on Stone Cold by Jericho, he misstepped and ripped his quad.
He somehow managed to gather enough strength to finish the match, even though he could barely stand. In an event that would forever define the career of Triple H, he would not be seen again till his return at the 2002 Royal Rumble return as a face.
But we all know how that would turn out, he won the Rumble, and beat the man who "injured" him at Wrestlemania to become the second WWE Undisputed Champion.
7. Hunter Hearst Helmsley vs. Marty Garner (WWE "Superstars" May 28th, 1996): Triple H is the only man on this list to go back to back and is the third man mentioned on this list twice. In a little-known fact of wrestling history, Triple H faced jobber Marty Garner on a taped episode of WWF "Superstars" early in Triple H's career.
What is remarkable about this particular match was that the jobber had never seen Triple H's Finisher, The Pedigree before, so when Triple H hooked Garner's hands, he expected it to be a underhook suplex or a tiger bomb, so he jumped up a little father then he needed to which led for the Pedigree to hit it's mark directly on top of Garner's head instead of face down.
Garner suffered a severe but not debilitating neck injury; he even got to appear on a few daytime talk shows like Montel and Sally Jesse Raphael were he would explain his injury and show the clip.
Garner eventually filed suit with the WWE and the matter was settled out of court, but it could have been much worse.
6. MNM vs. The Hardy Boyz vs. Paul London & Brian Kendrick vs. William Regal & Dave Taylor in a Fatal 4-Way Ladder Match (WWE "Armageddon 2006" December 17th, 2006): As being a fan of the new millennium, I am very fond of ladder matches or TLC matches, but this one ranks on this list for all the wrong reasons.
The match was a non-stop action paced match but the turning point was a gruesome injury sustained by Joey Mercury when a ladder struck him in the face after a see-saw slingshot on-to the ladder by Jeff Hardy, this caused Mercury's face to be sliced open.
The injury Mercury sustained caused him to leave the match, prematurely, a bloody mess, while his partner Johnny Nitro continued the match alone.
The extent of his wounds caused him to have 5 stitches inside his nose and 15 stitches outside his nose, prompting him to wear a face mask upon his short lived return to the ring following the injury.
The reason I put this injury on the list, although being bloodied in wrestling is commonplace, is because this was a legitimate wound, Mercury was temporarily blinded as his eye and nose swelled, and blood was everywhere, a very real reminder that while a ladder match can catapult rookies to success, it can just as easily end your career.
5. Bret Hart vs. Bill Goldberg (WCW "Starcade 1999" December 19th, 1999): In a saddening turn of events I refer to as "the kick heard around the world", Bret Hart's career ended.
This event pitted The Hitman vs Goldberg in a No Disqualification Match for the WCW World Heavyweight Title, during the match Bret hart received a devastating mule kick that would unquestionably end the career of Bret Hart.
Hart continued the match seemingly unaffected, and managed to win (with some controversy). Due to this kick, Bret suffered post-concussion syndrome, unbeknown to him at the time, it wasn't till nearly a month later that he was diagnosed and forced into early retirement.
Hart relinquished his title, and said goodbye to his fans in January 2000 on an episode of Monday Night Nitro.
4. Stone Cold Steve Austin vs. Owen Hart (WWE "Summerslam 1997" Aug. 3, 1997): This is probably the most historic life-changing injury in all of sports entertainment.
The new Stone Cold persona was catching the attention of the nation at a very critical time in the Monday Night Wars, the success of the company depended on characters like Stone Cold.
Owen Hart and Austin had been engaged in a bitter feud due to the whole Hart Foundation Anti-American campaign, this led to a match for Owen's Intercontinental title at Summerslam, the match was going fine until Owen inadvertently botched an inverted piledriver (Hart Driver) and spiked Austin directly upon his head, smashing the plates in his neck together.
The Original plan was for a Tombstone piledriver which is why many speculate Austin positioned his head so, instead Own turned the move into his Hart Driver. Austin sustained temporary paralysis, but was able to finish the match with a lackluster roll-up pin after the referee distracted Owen.
This changed wrestling history, had Stone Cold not received that injury he would probably still be wrestling today. Side-note, this is the second time Stone Cold is listed on this list, and he is the last of the four men listed on this list twice.
This mention on this list is an ironic one, 10 years prior to this match Stone Cold was in Owen's proverbial shoes when the exact sequence of events that caused Austin's injury, caused Austin to break another wrestler's (Masahiro Chono) neck using the same inverted piledriver sequence. Tragic yet ironic, is it not?
3. New Jack vs. Vic Grimes (ECW "Living Dangerously 2000" March 12th, 2000): Affectionately referred to as "The Danbury Fall," Vic Grimes and New Jack had one of the most bone-crunching accidents in wrestling history.
I've never held either wrestler with high regards, in fact I found nothing about their matches to be actual wrestling, its more similar to watching reckless teenager's pretend to be wrestlers in a backyard hardcore match.
With no surprise this match had one of the most horrifying botches in wrestling history, the plain fact is both men could have died.
New Jack and Grimes were fighting atop a scaffold, with table set up below them, they were both suppose to fall through the tables but New Jack prematurely pulled Grimes too early missing the tables, and instead hitting the concrete below, Grimes landing on New Jack's head.
Both men suffered major injuries, New Jack suffered brain damage, short term memory loss, nerve damage, nagging headaches and lost all vision in his right eye. This was a horrific fall and by all accounts both men should have died, but somehow the show must go on.
New Jack went on to recover and exacted his measure of revenge on Grimes at an XPW event in 2001 when he threw Grimes off a 35-foot scaffold onto 12 stacked tables which he almost missed (in an interview New Jack admitted he wanted Grimes to miss the tables and hit the turnbuckle, possibly hoping for Grimes' injury or death) in which Grimes broke his right ankle when it hit the top rope.
2. Darren "Droz" Drozdov vs. D'Lo Brown (WWF "Smackdown" Oct. 5, 1999): This was a very tragic incident. The budding career of Darren Drozdov or Droz as he was known came to a screeching halt on an episode of Smackdown when D'Lo Brown botched a running powerbomb on Droz.
The problem was that Droz was wearing a loose fitting t-shirt, and when D'Lo went to pick Droz up he could not get a firm grip on Droz, and Droz did not jump high enough to make up for the fact D'Lo didn't pick him up far enough.
Basically D'Lo hands slipped, and he was trying his hardest to correct the mistake but did not have any leverage and could not get Droz up in the 90-degree angle needed to absorb the impact, instead dropping Droz directly on the back of his neck.
The Droz although alive, was paralyzed for life, and is now a quadriplegic due to the failed move.
Droz remains on the WWE's payroll as a journalist on the website most notably WWE Byte This, mostly doing pre-PPV predictions. It was truly neither man's fault that this happened, but it stands as a grim reminder that things can go wrong in the blink of the eye.
1. Sid Vicious vs Scott Steiner (WCW "Sin" January 14th, 2001): The final injury to make it to our list is the none other spectacular leg snap of Sid Vicious in his match with Scott Steiner at the WCW PPV event, "Sin."
Sid and Steiner both have limited wrestling ability, and a very limited pool of maneuvers to pull from, so the trainers at WCW suggested Sid try some new moves in his match with Scott Steiner to increase the quality of the match and broaden his wrestling arsenal.
One of those moves discussed was a big boot from the middle rope in which Vicious would stand on the middle rope, fly down and deliver a big boot to Steiner while balancing himself on his other foot.
Sid was unwilling to do the high risk maneuver and rightfully so, but despite that management convinced him to go through with it. That move might be better suited for a smaller wrestler, considering the mass of Vicious, and his momentum coming down from the top rope, there was no way he could've avoided snapping his leg in half like he did.
This was Sid's last performance on WCW and any major promotion, he had to have a steel rod inserted to heal his compound fracture, he sued WCW claiming he was forced to perform the dangerous stunt and he has since wrestled on the independent circuit.
Although this injury was not the most severe on the list, I placed it as No. 1 due to the fact that its just so stomach-turning watching Sid's leg hang off its bone, it's definitely the most gruesome injury to behold.
So that is my list, please respond with your comment or your personal picks.
P.S. The most gruesome moment in wrestling history was the in-ring death of beloved Owen Hart as the Blue Blazer at WWE's PPV "Over The Edge" on May 23, 1999. But I do not consider this to be an injury due to the fatal nature of the wound.