Most Cringeworthy Botches of WWE's Modern Era
Professional wrestling is a dangerous way of life.
It may be a cooperative business with men and women working together to protect each other, but botches can happen at any moment. Like every major sport, pro wrestling cannot escape human error. That human error can make the difference between a fun show and one scary night.
The most important aspect of pro wrestling is making it to the next event. That's what the stars are focused on, and it's just as vital to their careers as getting over. Physical pain is part of the game of course, but if a move is botched, then it's bad for everyone involved.
Serious injuries can come from botched moves, and fans know that.
Fans also know that while protecting the business seems like an archaic notion now, guys cannot botch or the product is exposed. Watching the Superstars botch moves in the ring hurts the overall viewing experience. Knowing how to work safely is the key. But that knowledge can't always prevent something bad from happening.
WWE is at the top of the industry, and fans have seen many frightening botches over the years. Sometimes the botches in question are due to inexperience. Sometimes they're due to miscalculation. But sometimes, they happen by sheer accident.
Keeping the roster safe is crucial to the success of WWE. Human error will always be part of it, but the talent in WWE must make smart decisions in order to keep themselves, and their opponents, safe.
Sasha Banks Is Dropped on Her Neck, August 21, 2016
Sasha Banks and Charlotte Flair had arguably the best rivalry that women's wrestling has ever seen.
They came along at just the right time, as WWE was ready to finally legitimize the women's division once again. Or perhaps the company took one look at both women and decided that the time was right because of them.
Either way, Banks and Flair had a feud for the ages.
They worked as hard as any two men booked on the same card with them. They brought intensity, toughness and style to WWE every time they stepped into the ring together. They had natural chemistry, and they told a great story.
Sasha and Charlotte made the best of every opportunity they had.
But when Charlotte dropped Sasha during their match at SummerSlam in 2016, fans recoiled in shock. Was Banks okay? Was she hurt? Was she even conscious? The match had not been one of the sharpest that Banks and Flair had to that point, but no one expected that moment to happen.
Charlotte received her fair share of criticism for that night and rightfully so. She's been positioned as the top women's wrestler in WWE, and a huge amount of responsibility goes along with that.
Improperly executing a spot in the ring cannot happen, and Charlotte obviously knew that going in.
Randy Orton Dumps Samir Singh on a Table, May 21, 2017
Fans are still buzzing over Jinder Mahal's WWE Championship win against Randy Orton at Backlash.
Mahal had no real main event experience when he was named the No. 1 Contender to Orton's title. There was little warning that the company was considering such a move until it happened. For many fans, Mahal's rapid ascension was nothing short of ridiculous.
Then he beat Orton, and fans had to start taking him seriously.
That is still a process of course, as some fans are indeed beginning to embrace change while others are very upset about the entire situation. WWE did the unthinkable with Mahal, and now he must start proving himself as the company's newest top star.
But the WWE faithful are not only talking about Mahal's win, they're also talking about Orton's actions during the match itself.
Orton attacked The Singh Brothers at ringside when they once again got involved on Mahal's behalf. Sunil and Samir had been working as Mahal's henchmen, and repeatedly interfered for him during the WWE Championship match at Backlash.
When Samir was turned upside down by Orton and dumped onto an announce table, fans feared the worst.
Singh popped up and kept right on going, but the spot could have been a disaster. Orton didn't bother replacing the table's cover before the spot and seemed extremely careless when he casually flipped Samir up in the air.
It was a moment that had the potential to be devastating, and that fact was evidenced by the expression on Orton's face.
Enzo Amore Hits the Ropes, May 1, 2016
Enzo Amore and Big Colin Cassady are two of the most entertaining Superstars in WWE.
Though they have great potential as singles stars, Enzo and Cass have amazing chemistry as a tag team. They just always seem to be on the same page, and they can bounce off of each other extremely well when cutting promos.
Enzo and Cass are the team of the future, and one of the most popular in WWE.
So when Enzo went down on May 1, 2016, fans were truly shocked and scared for him. Amore was being sent to the ropes by Simon Gotch when he somehow miscalculated the move and his head bounced off the middle rope.
Amore went down hard outside the ring, and fans immediately went into concern mode.
However, Enzo returned after 22 days and picked right back up where he let off. Cass had been working singles matches during his partner's absence, but Enzo's return set the team back on the right track. Fans were surely relieved when Enzo came back.
They were also certainly grateful that Enzo's injuries were not more serious.
Enzo is still continuing on of course, but fans will undoubtedly always remember the night he went down at Payback.
The Beast Goes Airborne, March 30, 2003
Brock Lesnar is The Beast Incarnate, but he was once known as The Next Big Thing.
That moniker suited him very well at the time, as he was indeed the newest sensation in WWE. He had everything: power, speed, agility and a great amateur background. Lesnar could work an entire match on a physical level with The Undertaker, or go move for move against Kurt Angle.
Lesnar had it all, and many believe he still does.
But when Lesnar decided to try the Shooting Star Press against Angle at WrestleMania 19, he appeared to be flying out of his comfort zone.
Though Lesnar had used the move before, he tried it when Angle was too far away from him. Lesnar fell short and hit his head, causing fans to pop with surprise. It was surely a scary moment for WWE, as its newest prospect could have been seriously hurt.
Thankfully he wasn't, and the match continued.
Luckily for the company, Lesnar is as tough as advertised. Now he's arguably the top draw in WWE but he surely remembers the night when a spectacular move went wrong and how he barely avoided disaster in the ring.
John Cena's Relocated Nose, July 27, 2015
John Cena is perhaps the toughest Superstar WWE has ever known.
He proves it every time he gets in the ring, and he's been doing it for 12 years strong. Even Cena's critics are hard pressed to deny his toughness between the ropes and his resiliency outside the ring. Cena has battled back from injuries that perhaps would have been the end for any other Superstar.
He gets up and gets right back to action every time.
However, one well-placed knee would surely put Cena's resiliency to the test, and that's exactly what happened on July 27, 2015.
He was working Seth Rollins, and The Architect lifted a quick knee to smash Cena's nose. The moment happened so fast that fans may have missed it the first time. But when WWE's cameras caught the image of Cena's nose move to the other side, they cringed.
Once again WWE's top guy had sustained an injury and once again he fought through the pain of it all to finish his match.
It stands out as another defining moment for Cena, one that further illustrates just how tough he really is. Fans knew it before the broken nose, but it gave them much more reason to respect Cena long after the match was over.
Owen Hart Piledrives Stone Cold Steve Austin, August 3, 1997
Stone Cold Steve Austin was the hottest property in WWE back in 1997.
He captivated the crowds with his blue-collar character. He shocked them with his brazen attitude. He made them smile just by being himself. When fans saw Austin, they saw a real guy that really loved his job.
They played along with him, and they loved every minute of it.
But just as Austin was beginning to truly connect to the crowd, the unexpected happened. While working a match with Owen Hart, Austin was dropped on his head when Hart used a sitdown Tombstone piledriver on him.
Austin's head was too low and Hart didn't know it.
The Texas Rattlesnake found himself on the mat, unable to move and wondering if his career was over. Thankfully he managed to get back on his feet and finish the match, but Austin would eventually need neck surgery to repair the damage.
That surgery put Austin out of commission and slowed down his growth process. Of course he did realize his maximum potential eventually, as fans just couldn't get enough of him. Stone Cold was the biggest star in the industry, but he definitely took his bumps along the way.
Spike Dudley Gets Too Extreme, September 8, 2003
Spike Dudley made a career of getting destroyed in the ring.
He was the runt of the Dudley clan, the smallest guy in the fight. He had no business being in the ring because he oftentimes could barely mount enough offense to keep going. Nearly everyone he faced dominated him, and it was obvious he was a glutton for punishment.
But that was his character. Dudley was the hardcore underdog, the guy who should have stayed home but instead chose to bring the fight. He never backed down and never gave up because he had more heart than anyone around him.
He was used for target practice because that was his role. He took the big bumps, and he absorbed the big beatings.
But the bump he took on September 3, 2003, was much more than just another day at the office. This was on another level of violence, even for him. The tag team of La Resistance grabbed Dudley and set him up for a powerbomb through a table outside the ring.
However, they underestimated the distance and dropped Spike's head on the outside edge of the table.
Dudley went crashing down to the floor below, and fans expected the worst. They had seen him thrown around before, but this was much different. They were very concerned, and they should have been. It was a botch that should not have happened and a spot that should not have happened, either.
Joey Mercury vs. the Ladder, December 17, 2006
Joey Mercury was a bumbling stooge in his most recent incarnation. He was one half of J&J Security along with Jamie Noble, as the two men ran interference for Seth Rollins and The Authority. But that was not the character who put Mercury on the map.
Mercury was part of MNM, along with Johnny Nitro and Melina. The team stayed together just over a year and became WWE tag team champions on three separate occasions. But that was not Mercury's claim to fame either.
That distinction came on December 17, 2006, during a tag team ladder match at WWE Armageddon. Mercury's face was smashed into a ladder, after Jeff Hardy came off the top rope onto the other end. Mercury's orbital bone and nose were broken. He was a bloody mess outside the ring, and was rushed to a local hospital to be treated.
Mercury did eventually return to the ring but was perhaps not the same after that. MNM broke up and all three went their separate ways. A lot can go wrong in a match of that nature, and whatever spot the guys had in mind for that ladder bump obviously did not go as planned.
Mercury's injuries were perhaps the most horrific that WWE fans had ever seen to that point, and it remains one of the most gruesome moments in company history.
Tom Clark can regularly be seen on Bleacher Report. His podcast, Tom Clark's Main Event, is available on iTunes, Google Play, Amazon Android, Windows Phone and online at boinkstudios.com