Wrestling injuries happen. That's something that's easy to forget in an industry known for creative writers, bookers and backstage politics. But these are real people, and they put their bodies and lives on the line just to entertain the fans.
This short slideshow shows the five worst injuries in wrestling over the past 15 years and is a reminder of what these performers sacrifice for our viewing pleasure.
On the May 21, 2001, episode of RAW, HHH and Stone Cold Steve Austin teamed up against Chris Jericho and Chris Benoit. As Jericho had the Texas Rattlesnake in the Walls of Jericho, HHH ran in to break up the submission.
As he did, he tore his Achilles quadriceps clean off the bone.
The injury was career-threatening, and Dr. James Andrews performed the operation to repair HHH's leg. After nearly eight months, HHH returned to Raw on January 7, 2002, in Madison Square Garden. He would go on to win the Royal Rumble and defeat Chris Jericho for the WWE Undisputed Championship at WrestleMania X-8.
In 2002, Brock Lesnar was the hottest commodity in the WWE. Bob Holly, a heel at the time, was placed in a match with Brock Lesnar. During the match, Lesnar attempted to powerbomb Holly. The move was botched, however, which led Holly to suffer a broken neck. After 13 months, Holly would finally return to the WWE, this time as a face, to feud with Lesnar.
At WrestleMania XIX, Brock Lesnar's feud with Kurt Angle came to a head.
Lesnar was fresh off a Royal Rumble victory and was due his WrestleMania main event title match. During the match, Lesnar had knocked Angle to the ground and climbed the top rope. Lesnar attempted to hit Angle with a Shooting Star Press, but failed to rotate fast enough.
He crashed head first into the ground and Angles's ribs. Many feared Lesnar had broken his neck. He hadn't, but he suffered a severe concussion. Even so, Lesnar finished the match, pinning Angle after an F-5 and winning the WWE Championship.
At SummerSlam on August 3, 1997, Stone Cold Steve Austin faced Owen Hart for the Intercontinental Championship. As Hart reversed an attempted piledriver by Austin, he attempted and executed his own.
Austin's head, however, was too far down, and as Hart dropped down, Austin's neck was broken by the impact. Austin was able to regain movement in his arms and legs during the match, and after Hart stalled for time, Austin pinned Hart for the win. Austin was forced to vacate his IC and Tag Team Championships and did not return until November 9, 1997, at Survivor Series.
Before I begin, I want to inform you that the video above does not depict Hart's death. To my knowledge, a video does not exist outside WWE, and I would not post it here if one did.
On May 23, 1999, Owen Hart, the brother of WWE Hall of Fame member Bret Hart, died in a tragic accident. Playing the Blue Blazer, a self-professed superhero, Hart was to face the Godfather for the WWF Intercontinental Championship.
Hart was scheduled to have a "super" entrance, which would have him descend from the rafters and into the ring. Despite a successful test run, the harness failed that night, and Hart plummeted over 70 feet, landing chest-first on a turnbuckle.
CPR was performed, but to no response. Hart was transported to a Kansas City hospital for treatment, but sadly he had died from his injuries. This video is about an hour after the fall, when JR had the unenviable task of informing the viewing audience about this terrible tragedy.
Wrestling fans everywhere should remember that wrestlers put their bodies on the line for us each and every week. So while we argue about storylines and booking and pushes, remember those who have lost so much.