It’s a pretty well-known and common complaint: wrestling isn’t real! While it should be noted that the matches are always predetermined for entertainment purposes. the risks that the men and women face in the ring are very real, and they can have life-altering effects both physically and mentally. Some injuries have led to early retirement for those in love with getting in the ring, and some have led to paralysis and even death.
We’re taking a look at some of the most gruesome injuries to have ever occurred in professional wrestling around the world. Number 14 is so completely brutal, it’s hard to believe the victim bounced back and number 11 is just completely tragic. Number 1 will make everyone who reads it cringe in their seat!
Sid Vicious’ Broken Leg
At the 2001 WCW PPV “Sin,” Sid Vicious was a part of the Four Corners match for the WCW Championship. During this match, the wrestler took a dive from the second turnbuckle to deliver a big boot on Scott Steiner. Unfortunately, he landed in the worst way possible and broke his leg in the ring. Breaking your leg can be an extremely serious injury and surely this experience was even worse due to in being in front of a crowd. Due to the graphic nature, footage of this injury was never re-aired. The worst thing about this injury is that management asked him to deliver an aerial attack during the match. Sid would be in rehab for three years.
Stone Cold’s Broken Neck
“Summerslam 1997” found Stone Cold Steve Austin facing Owen Hart for the Intercontinental Championship. During the match, Hart botched a piledriver, which left Austin with a broken neck. As is always arranged in professional wrestling, Austin was supposed to win the match. Somehow, he was able to pull it off, but on the next night on Raw, he was forced to drop both the Intercontinental and Tag Team Championships due to injury. His broken neck even caused him to experience temporary paralysis. Austin is very lucky that it wasn’t more serious. However, he would be out until “Survivor Series 1997.” Unfortunately, this was the first of many neck problems for Stone Cold.
Triple H’s Torn Quad
On the May 21, 2001 episode of “Raw Is War,” Triple H would completely tear his quad during a tag team match against Chris Jericho and Chris Benoit. The quadricep is one of the biggest muscles of the body so having such an injury can be extremely painful and leave one nearly unable to move. Because of this injury, Triple H was out of action for over eight months. He would make his wrestling return at the 2002 “Royal Rumble” PPV, which led to him winning the Royal Rumble match. Triple H tore his quad again at the 2007 “New Year’s Revolution” PPV.
Undertaker’s Orbital Bone
During a match with Mabel in 1995, The Undertaker broke his orbital bone. For anyone unaware what an orbital bone is, it is basically the eye socket. Such a fracture can be extremely serious and could even threaten your vision. The Undertaker, was lucky to escape unscathed. He returned to in-ring action at the 1995 “Survivor Series,” but this time, he wore a Phantom of the Opera-style face mask. He would injure his orbital bone again during a match with Rey Mysterio at a “Smackdown” taping on May 25, 2010. Perhaps it’s time for the Undertaker to get a stronger face mask!
Droz Paralyzed For Life
October 5, 1999 will go down as one of the worst moments in professional wrestling. During a match against D’Lo Brown, Droz would fracture two disks in his neck and become a quadriplegic. The match, which was taped for an episode of “Smackdown,” was never aired to the public. Since, the injury he was able to regain some use of his upper body including his arms but still remains paralyzed from the waist down. After the incident, he wrote articles and essays for the WWE’s website and magazines. Mick Foley recounted that Droz told D’Lo Brown not to blame himself and that it was just an accident.
Joey Mercury’s Broken Nose
During a ladder match at the 2006 “Armageddon” PPV, Joey Mercury was the unfortunate victim of a ladder to the head. Blood poured from his face, and he found himself in the hospital with a broken nose and orbital bone. He also apparently had to endure 30 stitches afterwards. What could anyone really expect after getting hit in the face with a ladder?! Yikes! After a few weeks away, he returned to the ring with a face mask and can you blame him? Most normal people would be terrified there stitches would be ripped open again. Clearly, Joey Mercury is super dedicated to the craft of wrestling.
Mick Foley At The 1998 King Of The Ring
Mick Foley managed to destroy every part of his body during his iconic Hell in a Cell match with The Undertaker at the 1998 “King of the Ring” PPV. Mick Foley fell from a steel cage after being pushed by The Undertaker and the results were not pretty. Foley received multiple puncture wounds, a hole in his lip, a dislocated shoulder, a concussion, and a dislocated jaw. Even with all of that, Foley smiled at the end of the match with one of his teeth in his nose. They say wrestling is fake, but it’s certainly not fake the amount of pain and injuries these guys go through!
Hardcore Holly’s Broken Neck
During a 2002 match with Brock Lesnar, Hardcore Holly would be the victim of a broken neck due to a botched powerbomb. This put him on the shelf for 13 months, but he returned to face Lesnar, who was already WWE Champion at that time, to a championship match at the 2004 “Royal Rumble” PPV. Neck injuries are no joke! This is yet another event that could have turned out far worse than it did and Holly is no doubt extremely lucky he didn’t end up paralyzed or even dead. These days, Hardcore Holly is mostly retired with the exception of a few performances here and there.
Shawn Michaels’ Back Injury
At the 1998 “Royal Rumble”, Shawn Michaels faced The Undertaker in a casket match. Due to a back body drop that forced his back to hit the casket, he herniated two discs and completely destroyed one. While he retained the WWE Championship, he was forced to drop the title at “WrestleMania XIV.” In 1999, he went through surgery to repair the ruptured disks. Shawn Michaels was inducted into the hall of fame in 2011. He is still currently signed to the WWE and makes sporadic appearances and works as a trainer. He has also crossed over into acting and can most recently be seen in a film calledThe Resurrection of Gavin Stone.
Owen Hart’s Fatal Plunge
At the 1999 “Over The Edge” PPV, Owen Hart, who was competing under the name The Blue Blazer, was set to face The Godfather for the Intercontinental Championship. For his entrance, he wanted to descend into the ring from the arena rafters. Unfortunately, the cable snapped, and he fell more than 70 feet to his death. It was supposed to be a parody of how Sting enters the ring, but it turned into a tragedy. Hooked up to a harness, Hart descended from the ceiling, but something went very wrong with his cord and he went crashing into the ring from a height too high to be safe. Owen Hart was thirty-four years old at the time of his death. He came from a wrestling family with 10 other siblings. The most well-known among them is his brother Bret Hart who also ultimately had to retire due to an injury sustained while wrestling.
Joe Thurman’s Broken Back
You’ve probably never heard of Joe Thurman before, but you have heard of one of his opponents. At the 1992 “Halloween Havoc” PPV, Vader had a handicap match between Thurman and TA McCoy. During the match, Vader broke Thurman’s back with a powerbomb. Is it any surprise that Vader was clearly on the dark side? Thurman amazingly recovered in a couple hours, but there’s no word if he returned to the squared circle again after that encounter. Again, how this guy was able to get up and walk away after literally breaking his back is totally insane. He is one lucky man.
Buff Bagwell’s Broken Back
Oh look, yet another broken back. On the April 22, 1998 episode of “WCW Thunder,” Buff Bagwell broke several vertebrae from a botched diving bulldog from his opponent Rick Steiner. He used a wheelchair for several months. On July 6 of that year, Bagwell returned to the ring to assault Steiner along with help from Scott Steiner. Although fairly popular, Buff Bagwell has been on the independent circuit since 2001. In 2014 he had a horrible car accident after he had a seizure while driving. He ended up in intensive care and had broken bones in his neck, face and jaw. He also had to be put on breathing and feeding tubes. He has since recovered, and has been able to walk again although he still apparently feels tingling sensations in his extremities.
Randy Orton’s Broken Collarbone
At the 2008 “One Night Stand” PPV, Randy Orton faced Triple H for the WWE Championship. During the match, Triple H threw Orton over the top rope, which resulted in a broken collarbone. Unfortunately, once you break your collar bone there is essentially nothing that can be done but wait until it heals. Orton would sit on the sideline for five months until his in-ring return on the November 3, 2008 episode of “Monday Night Raw.” At his return, Randy Orton was able to get his payback and beat Triple H during the famous Royal Rumble, this time he didn’t break any bones.
Jim Cornette’s Torn Knee Ligaments
Jim Cornette is probably one of the last people you’d expect to get injured in the ring, but the booker/manager somehow did the unthinkable by tearing both knee ligaments at “Starcade ’86” from falling from the high scaffold. Of course, with professional wrestling you should always expect every player from manger, to wrestler, to owner of the company, and hey, even the future president of the United States Donald Trump had his go in the ring. Tearing your knee ligaments is no joke that had to hurt. Luckily for Jim, his injury wasn’t severe, so he recovered rather quickly. He is still managing as of today!
Jesse Sorensen’s Fractured Vertebrae
During a match against Zema Ion at the 2012 “Against All Odds” PPV, Jesse Sorensen gained a fractured vertebra with spinal cord edema. The doctors stated that he would need a year to recover from his injury, but he was cleared to compete nine months later. Unfortunately, he had to make his in-ring return elsewhere because TNA released him on July 23, 2013. He went on to wrestle in the independent circuit and is still touring across the country. If you take a look at his twitter bio, he lists himself as a professional wrestler and survivor of full body paralysis.
Masahiro Chono’s Injured Neck
On September 23, 1992, Masahiro Chono defended his NWA World Heavyweight Championship against Stone Cold Steve Austin. This was also back when Stone Cold had hair and was totally ruthless. While he won the match, he walked away with a serious neck injury from a Tombstone Piledriver. The move made a direct impact on Chono’s head and was definitely a horrifying sight to behold. Fortunately, he didn’t need much time off from the ring. Remarkably, Stone Cold would end up in the very same position nearly seven years later. Chono is doing just fine and you can find him wrestling in Japan.
Sabu’s Broken Neck
Sabu has a history of injuries in his career, including breaking his neck twice. The first time he broke his neck was during a match with Chris Benoit at the 1994 “November to Remember” PPV. While Benoit did a particular move and Sabu mistakenly turned in the wrong direction while taking a bump and accidentally broke his neck. He ended up temporarily paralyzed. Four years later, he would break his neck for the second time against Taz. This time Taz was performing his signature move, the Taz-Plex and Sabu ended up hurting his neck again after get his head slammed against a table. Yikes!
Bret Hart’s Career-Ending Kick
At “Starcade ’99,” Bret Hart defended his WCW World Heavyweight Championship against Goldberg, who gave the Canadian a thrust kick to the head. The impact caused Hart to have post-concussion syndrome. Post-concussion syndrome is a disorder resulting from a previous concussion, resulting in a variety of symptoms that can include headaches and dizziness for weeks or months after the initial blow. In Bret’s case, his symptoms were serious enough to force him to retire from in-ring competition immediately after the match. That doesn’t mean the Hitman gave up on wrestling however. You can still find him around today, making appearances at various wrestling promotions.
Marty Garner’s Neck Injury
Marty Garner was primarily used as a jobber during his time in the WWE. During a taping of “WWF Superstars” on May 28, 1996, Garner was on the receiving end of one of the most vicious Pedigrees done by Triple H. The move nearly broke his neck. Apparently, the entire thing went wrong when Garner thought they were actually going to do a different maneuver. He went on to sue the WWE because of his pain and injuries. The bright side is that Garner landed appearances on “Sally Jessy Raphael,” “Jenny Jones,” and “Montel Williams” to discuss the situation. Garner and the WWE allegedly settled out of court.
Cactus Jack Leaves Without An Ear!
Before there was Mick Foley, there was Cactus Jack. Cactus Jack was the moniker Mick went by back in the early 1990s. There were apparently quite a few other names he used as well. In his matchup with Vader, he got caught up in between some ropes and it looked like he was going to choke! It was then that he suffered one of the craziest injuries ever witnessed in professional wrestling. As he managed to get himself out from between the ropes, he somehow got twisted up and a horrific way. As he got out, his ear didn’t come out with him. Luckily, he was able to save the ear and get it reattached.
Chavo Guerrero Concussed
This move just seems to put people in harmful positions. The Shooting Star was performed by Billy Kidman against Chavo Guerrero but Kidman did it all wrong. When he landed on Guerrero, he hit Guerrero right on his head. A direct connect caused him to have a concussion and he was taken out the arena on a stretcher. Horrifying! Chavo Guerrero is yet another wrestler to come from a line of wrestling. His father, Chavo Guerrero Sr., was also a professional wrestler and he passed away in 2017 at the age of sixty-eight. Chavo’s grandfather, Gory Guerrero, was also a professional wrestler and got his start all the way back in 1937. Chavo’s uncle, the late Eddie Guerrero, was also a famous wrestler.
Floyd Breaks Big Show’s Nose!
The Money Team was in town to catch some wrestling action as Floyd Mayweather felt the urge to intervene against Big Show. Big Show was handling Rey Mysterio, a much smaller opponent, so naturally, Mayweather wanted to help the smaller opponent. When Mayweather slid into the ring, Big Show was too cocky and got on his knees to allow Mayweather to hit him. The boxer capitalized and ended up breaking his nose! By the way, The Big Show is 7 feet tall, and Floyd Mayweather is 5’8”. Apparently, The Big Show actually wanted Mayweather to break his nose, in order to get the crowd “emotionally invested”.
Hardcore Holly Gets Gashed
RVD got the card to battle Hardcore Holly. Would you want to fight someone named Hardcore? Well, Holly set up a table and smashed RVD on it but Holly was the one that took the nasty damage. As you can see in the picture, he was cut really bad as it went across almost his whole back. Hardcore Holly is still active in the wrestling circuit, he’s also still active on Twitter and regularly talks with his fans. He also recently co-authored a book called The Hardcore Truth about his early life before the days of Hardcore Holly and even how he views the current wrestling world.
John Cena Tears His Pec Muscle
Mr. Kennedy was in a fight with WWE’s golden child. It was not long into the match before this happened… John Cena went for a hip toss, and when he performed the move, his pec tore and hung on his chest. Being a tough guy, Cena finished the match but went on to miss months after that match. John Cena, is arguably the most popular wrestler of the current generation. He has also crossed over into the mainstream and has appeared in movies, TV shows, various talk show programs, and even commercials and PSA’s. Cena has also been dating fellow wrestler The Nikki Bella since 2012.
Kurt Angle Gets Wrecked
In the 2000 Summerslam, Kurt Angle was destroyed by Triple H. When Triple H got Kurt Angle in his signature move, The Pedigree, it looked like it was all over for Kurt Angle. And as a matter of fact, it was because he did it on top of the announcer’s table making it snap. Kurt Angle hit his head on a piece of the table and went unconscious. He had to be taken backstage. Kurt Angle is now 48 years old but is still active in the wrestling world. He is now working on the independent circuit where he has face opponents like Rey Mysterio. In January 2017 it was announced that he would be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame.
Lesnar Almost Kills himself
The monster of the ring, Brock Lesnar, put himself in a scary position with this move. Poor Kurt Angle was his victim for this match as Lesnar was giving him the business. Already winning the fight easily, Lesnar tried the Shooting Star from the turnbuckle but landed on his head and neck. Dazed afterward, he made the pin but it’s safe to say anyone else would have been seriously injured. The Shooting Star Press has been the cause of multiple massive injuries in wrestling and is now considered a banned move (with good reason). Somehow, Lesnar seemed fine but he allegedly suffered a massive concussion from the insane incident.
The Rock Gives Mick Foley The Chair
In an “I quit” match with The Rock, Mick Foley got a pummeling he won’t ever forget. Foley has always been known to do strange things when wrestling but this one might take the cake. He allowed The Rock to hit him in the head with a chair 11 times! The wife and kids had to leave the arena because they could not watch that anymore. He had a huge gash on his head. The Rock has gone on to be a superstar, and the kids of today might not even know that The Rock got his start as a professional wrestler. These days, The Rock, or Duane Johnson, is better known as an actor. Up next, you can catch him in a remake of the classic filmJumanji.
New Jack and Vic Grimes Hit Rock Bottom
In 2000, two people felt a painful injury at the Living Dangerously Event. New Jack and Vic Grimes have a known beef but this stunt made sure you knew there was a beef. They were fighting on top of a scaffold and both of them fell down at the same time missing the tables and landing right on the concrete! Again, even though wrestling is “fake news”, this is just a bad idea for anyone. It’s no wonder that many retired wrestlers suffer from so many longstanding injuries after they put their bodies on the line every single time they’re in the ring. More on them to come.
Sting Tears his Knee
Sting was always a super mysterious character, that was vaguely reminiscent of the comic book and film character “The Crow”. His knee injury was particularly terrible because it could have been avoided. Sting was not even in the match, but he rushed from backstage to intervene. It was a cage match so he had to make a climb to get in. As he started to climb, security tried to pull him back and it when they pulled on him he tore a ligament in his knee. Many consider Sting to be one of the best wrestling personalities of all time, and in 2016 he was inducted in to the WWE Hall of Fame.
Taz Gets Rushed to the Hospital
This happened back in 1995! Taz was the king of the suplex, but he was the receiver of the neck pain in this fight. Scorpio put Taz in a piledriver, but he ended up messing up the maneuver causing Taz to be unable to properly prepare for it. He finished off the match but afterward had to be rushed to the hospital! Allegedly, when he arrived at the hospital they couldn’t even believe he was able to walk in on his own. Taz suffered tremendously from a neck injury but later returned to wrestling. He was recently with the TNA federation however as of 2015 he departed and has recently made an appearance in a WWE documentary special.
Vince and His Quads
This one was really embarrassing for the wrestler in question. Vince McMahon can be called a fool after this one. He tried to slide in the ring to help decide the winner but when he got up after his slide, he quickly fell and stayed in a seated position. He continued to act although if you watch the clip, clearly was something wrong. It runs out, Vince actually tore both of his quad muscles. Ouch! Jumping in to the ring like that might not be the best thing to do when you are starting to get older. After donating millions to Donald Trump, Vince’s wife Linda was named as the Administrator of the Small Business Administration under the Trump Administration. It’s also noteworthy to mention that Vince and Linda McMahon are billionaires that own a very large corporation.
Wade Barrett Injures His Elbow
When he was just coming up, Wade Barrett was caught in an unfortunate predicament. Big Show was doing his normal shtick which includes holding people in the air and tossing them around like rag dolls when he decided to throw someone out of the ring. Well, Barrett was Big Show’s target and unfortunately for him, he ended up dislocating his elbow after the incident. Wade left wrestling for good in 2016, in order to focus on his acting career.
John Cena’s Fluid…
John Cena thought he had a shoulder injury in a fight and thought it was fine to keep going so he gritted his teeth and finished that fight. As it turned out, he had a torn triceps. If you look at the image and compare his elbows, one had fluid buildup in it and it looked pretty gross. The fluid buildup wasn’t even in what you would think of when one imagines the triceps area. Rather, all of the buildup looked like a huge ball under the skin on his elbow. Horrifying! Apparently, he ultimately had to have surgery to fix the issue and was back in the ring in a short period of time.
X-Pac Tears Himself a New One
This might possibly the craziest injury on the list. It is undoubtedly an interesting and painful injury to say the least. Wrestler, X-Pac tore the hole where the sun doesn’t shine in an independent match back in 2013. In the image, you can see the moment when fans speculated the accident occurred but were not entirely sure. Later, X-Pac’s girlfriend revealed to fans that not only did the injury happen, but it was not the first time that injury had happened to him. Unfortunately for him, this horrible accident made headlines around the world for mistakenly tearing his anus. He apparently had to have some kind of surgery but seems to be doing fine since the debacle.
New Jack And Vic At It Again
You usually only hear of people in danger using a Taser. Never have you heard of it being used in a wrestling ring. These two thought it was a great idea to get back on the scaffold and brawl again. Instead of both of them crashing down, New Jack pulled out a Taser and bolted Grimes and made him fall 40 feet below. Again, how are these people still alive?! They tempted fate once when they both fell and survived and then they tried it again. Perhaps they have hit their heads a few too many times in the ring or perhaps they are dead set on going out in a blaze of televised glory.
Hideo Itami’s Bad Neck
Hideo Itami of WWE NXT was at an NXT live event when he was in a tag team match with Shinsuke Nakamura taking on Riddick Moss and Tino Sabbatelli. Itami and Moss were going at it when Moss performed a powerslam move on Itami, who didn’t land well after that. Many people who watched the match say that Itami injured his neck because Moss botched the move and failed to protect Itami’s neck when he delivered the powerslam. Hideo got his start in Japan and later was able to make into American wrestling. Hideo is still currently wrestling for the WWE NXT, which considered a “developmental division” of the WWE.
Nikki Bella’s Neck Surgery
Total Divas star Nikki Bella is scheduled to undergo neck surgery after discovering her neck is broken from a herniated disk right behind her vertebrae. An MRI scan proved that the neck injury was a result of Nikki’s roughhousing in the ring, her famous “Rack Attack” move being a major contributor to her injury. Nikki Bella is one half of “The Bella Twins” with her twin sister Brie Bella. Nikki has been dating WWE superstar John Cena since 2012. Her sister Brie is married to Daniel Bryan and the two are currently expecting their first child together, a baby girl.
CM Punk’s Vomit-Inducing Injury
WWE Champion CM Punk had a herniated disc that was pushing on a nerve. Despite cryotherapy, massages, and other methods, his pain would never go away, although he would still continue to fight. His long-term injury was so bad, that after his wife AJ Lee saw it, she almost vomited. He ended up having back surgery and was out for several months before he could get back in the ring. CM Punk has since retired from professional wrestling and is now a professional MMA fighter. He made his UFC debut in September of 2016, where sadly for him he lost his first match.
Sasha Banks’s Bloody Nose
During Roadblock: End of the Line, Sasha Banks was going against Charlotte, with whom she has an ongoing feud. Banks was delivering her backstabber move and while Charlotte was trying to kick herself out of it, the back of her leg hit Banks’s face which caused Banks to start bleeding profusely. While most wrestling matched are staged, many people knew that Banks’s bleeding was unexpected since the announcers didn’t comment on her bloody face for a while. In other interesting Sasha news, she is also the first cousin of rapper Snoop Dogg who apparently helped her come up with her stage persona.
Larry Booker, or Moondog Spot, was a wrestler who had started back in 1979. He was active through the WWF in the 1980s. In 2003, Moondog was attending and performing at fellow wrestler Jerry Lawler’s birthday bash when he suffered a fatal heart attack while in the ring. Larry was only fifty-one years old at the time of his death. Jerry Lawler is still a wrestler and commentator. He currently works for the WWE and was inducted into the hall of fame in 2003. Although, in 2016 sixty-seven-year-old Jerry and his girlfriend were arrested for domestic abuse charges. The WWE suspended him for a time but the suspension has since been lifted.
The Real Deal
Whether you think wrestling is fake or not, these injuries you just read were real as the light of day. Typically, the “fake” part of wrestling is simply referring to the fact that the matches are scripted and a winner is already chosen based on the storyline. However, all of the physical stunts and blood are truly endured by these men and women. So often wrestlers have been forced into retirement at a young age and some even wound up dying. As you watch wrestling for entertainment, be sure to stay aware that they are humans too and things can go south in a moment.
Steroids, Drugs And Brain Injuries
Wrestlers also seem to fall victim, in a disproportionate amount, to dying at a young age. Quite often wrestlers get involved with steroids in order to achieve the big hulking look that is popular. Also frequently wrestlers sustain injury in the ring, at which point they turn to prescriptions medications. All too often they become addicted to these medications and end up turning to other harder street drugs. Many wrestlers have also succumbed to addiction and overdose. And lastly, it has recently been discovered that wrestlers often suffer from CTE or Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy, the same ailment from which many professional football players suffer. CTE is a progressive and degenerative disease of the brain that is caused by repeated brain trauma. Often those afflicted suffer from a host of issues such as memory loss, confusion, impaired judgment, impulse control problems, aggression, depression, progressive dementia, and even contemplate or attempt suicide.
Chris Benoit Murder Suicide
Chris Benoit was a very popular professional wrestler. In 2004 he was even the winner of the Royal Rumble, the premiere event for professional wrestlers. Only three short years later, an event took place that no one could have seen coming. Over a three-day period in June of that year, Chris killed his wife and fellow wrestler Nancy Benoit. He then murdered their young son Daniel. Chris then went on to hang himself. After the murder suicide a federal investigation was launched into steroid usage which Chris apparently took part. Apparently, Chavo Guerrero, fellow wrestler and friend of Chris at received a voicemail and became alarmed at how he sounded on the phone.
Traumatic Brain Injury
Chavo was also later the recipient of a text message, among others, notifying where the family dogs would be. After the text messages were received the bodies of the family were discovered not long after. Chris’ brain was later examined and it was determined that he suffered from CTE, he had damage to all four lobes of the brain and brain stem. The doctor who performed the examination said his brain was as damaged as an eighty-five-year-old dementia patient. While it is unknown if steroid usage contributed to his death, it is likely that CTE had an influence over his actions that day.
Jake The Snake
Jake the Snake is a semi-retired professional wrestler. Jake’s father was also a wrestler who went by Grizzly Smith. Jake is known for bringing snakes into the ring including a python he named Damien. In 1999, he was featured in the documentary film Beyond the Mat. The movie showed much of his tragic life including his addiction issues and he brazenly smoked crack in a hotel room. Jake struggled for many years with his drug addiction and alcoholism. Fellow wrestler Diamond Dallas Page later had Jake move in with him and helped him get his life back on track. Jake was finally able to get inducted in the WWE Hall of Fame in 2014. In 2015, another documentary was released about his life called The Resurrection of Jake the Snake which showed him face his addiction demons head on.
DDP Helping Fellow Wrestlers
Diamond Dallas Page was an extremely popular professional wrestler, particularly in the 1990s. In the late 1990s he was recuperating from back problems after he had several discs rupture. He began to study and practice various yoga techniques. He eventually created some workout videos called DDP Yoga. Later, a video that featured his yoga style and showed veteran Arthur Boorman who was told he would never walk again but with the help of DDP was able to run. The video soon went viral across the internet and was even featured on Good Morning America. DDP has also dedicated himself to helping former wrestlers, many of whom who have fallen victim to physical injury and drug addiction including his mentor Jake the Snake. In 2017, it was announced he would be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame.
Mr. Perfect or Curt Henning was a very popular wrestler throughout the 1990s. His father was also a wrestler under the name “The Axe”, his son is also currently a wrestler – Curtis Axel. In 2003, Curt was found dead in his hotel room in Tampa, Florida. It was later found that his death was caused by a cocaine overdose. However, his own father later stated that steroids and painkillers were also contributors to his death. The combination is an all too common way for professional wrestlers to die. Curt Henning was only 44 years old at the time of his death.
Crash Holly Suicide
Crash Holly was a wrester in the 1990s and early 2000s in the WWE and WWF. In 2003, he was released from WWE and joined TNA where he was wrestling under the moniker Mad Mikey. His release no doubt came as a blow to the wrestler and the same year his wife served him divorce papers. Shortly after, Crash was found in a pool of his own vomit at his friend and fellow wrestler Steve Richard’s home. The prescription drug Soma, a muscle relaxant, and alcohol were found nearby. His death was ruled a suicide. Crash was only thirty-two at the time of his death.
Joanie Lauer, aka Chyna, was arguably the most famous female wrestler of all time. Chyna also famously struggled with drugs which she discussed publicly, even appearing on the Dr. Drew Vh1 show Celebrity Rehab. Chyna also fell in to porn which she later discussed on Celebrity Rehab. In 2016, Chyna was found dead in her apartment. Chyna died due to alcohol, painkillers, and anti-anxiety medications. Her brain was also donated to science to study the effects of CTE. Celebrities from different worlds attended her funeral including rapper Coolio, Brady Bunch star Barry Williams, and other fellow wrestlers like Superstar Melina.
Eddie Guerrero was an extremely famous professional wrestler of the Guerrero family of wrestlers. The WWE and many fellow wrestlers consider Eddie to be one of the best wrestlers of all time. He also faced alcoholism and an addiction to painkillers, which was also famously written into his storyline on air. In 2005, he was found dead by his nephew Chavo. Eddie was unknowingly suffering from cardiovascular disease. In 2007, a Sports Illustrated article suggested several wrestlers including Guerrero were using HCG and the steroid stanozolol in early 2005. Since then, the WWE enacted a new policy which tests their athletes for steroid usage.
Reid Flair was an up and coming wrestler and also the son of wrestling icon Rick Flair. As is common in wrestling, Reid struggled with drug addiction. He was arrested on felony charges of heroin possession and once went to rehab. Sadly, that was not enough for him to get sober. He was found dead in a hotel room in 2013 of a heroin overdose. Reid was only twenty-five years old. Two years later, his sister under the name Charlotte signed a contract to face fellow WWE Diva Paige at an event. Her reason for entering the wrestling world was to do so as a tribute to her brother Reid. At the event, Paige made snide remarks to Charlotte saying, “your little baby brother, he didn’t have much fight in him did he?” People immediately lashed out that the statement was too low of a blow. It was also said that the Flair family did not give permission to speak about Reid’s death in such a context and the WWE immediately abandoned the storyline.
Doink The Clown
While multiple wrestlers have played the role of Doink the Clown, Matt Osborne was the first and the longest running wrestler to do so. Matthew was found dead in 2013 at the age of fifty-five years old. Matthew had died of an accidental overdose. A wrongful death lawsuit was later filed against the WWE. Parts of the suit alleged, the “WWE created a culture of violence and sacrificed Matthew Osborne’s brain for its own profit” and “led to further illnesses and injuries, including depression and drug abuse, which ultimately resulted in his untimely death.” It was later dismissed for failing to show that his death was directly connected to chronic traumatic encephalitis.
Balls Mahoney, or Jon Rechner, was known for his appearance in the late 1990s and early 2000s. From 2008 to 2016 Jon was still appearing on the independent circuit in the wrestling world. In April of 2016, Jon died suddenly while at home watching Jeopardy! While the cause of death was a heart attack it was later discovered that he was also suffering from CTE chronic traumatic encephalitis. Four months previous to his death, Jon was last in the ring and was still expected to be active in the wrestling world. Jon died one day after his forty-fourth birthday.
Miss Elizabeth was a very famous former wrestling manager and occasional wrestler. She is one of the first major notable women in the wrestling world. Miss Elizabeth was in a relationship with fellow iconic wrestler Lex Luger. The two had a famously tumultuous relationship. Lex was once arrested for domestic abuse against Miss Elizabeth. Later, she was let go from the WCW in 2000. Three years later she was found unconscious by Lex Luger. Lex was also likely suffering from drug addiction as he was arrested for driving under the influence a few weeks before her untimely death. Miss Elizabeth was pronounced dead shortly after being found unconscious and her death was said to be the result of alcohol intoxication and painkillers. She was forty-two years old.
Sensational Sherri Martel was a famous professional wrestler and also acted as a manager to fame wrestlers like Randy Savage and Shawn Michaels. She is another iconic woman from the early days of women wrestlers. In 2006 she was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame. Only one year later, Sherri was found dead at her mother’s home of an apparent overdose which included high levels of Oxycontin, a super addictive painkiller. While she was married several times in her life, at one wedding fellow famed wrestler Booker T walked her down the aisle. Sherri was forty-nine years old when she died and she left behind one son.
The wrestler Test first got into wrestling after meeting Bret Hart at a restaurant and he offered to teach him the ropes. Soon Test gained notriesty in the WWE/WWF particularly for his work as a tag team champion. He had an on-screen and off-screen romance with wrestler Stacy Keibler who famously went on to have a relationship with actor George Clooney. Test later begin to grapple with his own sobriety. In 2007 he said he would retire from wrestling and in February of 2009 he had his last match. One month later he was found dead in his home in Florida. A neighbor had noticed seeing him through a window and was alarmed that he hadn’t moved an inch for hours. It was found that he died of an overdose of oxycodone. A pathologist also found that he suffered from severe chronic traumatic encephalopathy.
Kerry Von Erich
Kerry Von Erich was known by several names including the Modern Warrior and The Texas Tornado. He also came from the very well-known family of wrestlers. He was known for his work in the 1980s and early 1990s. Kerry had a motorcycle accident and subsequently had to have his foot amputated which effected his wrestling tremendously although he attempted to hide it well. Because of his accident, he became addicted to painkillers and later other drugs as well. He later faced multiple drug arrests because of his issues. His last arrest was likely to land him drug time and he ended up shooting himself once in the heart, ending his life. Two of his brothers also committed suicide. Bret Hart recalled that Kerry told him of his plans several months before following through and that his brothers were “calling to him”.
The Renegade Suicide
The wrestler “The Renegade” was known for his work with the WCW in the 1990s. He was even a one-time world champion. In December of 1998 he was released from the WCW. The WCW felt as though there was a lack of interest in the wrestler and his storyline. He was extremely saddened by the release and fell into a deep depression. In February of 1999 the Renegade died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound. His depression over his contract was likely the motive. Although, his lack of popularity was the reason from his loss of contract, he has since been remembered in masses across the internet and through various wrestling fandoms.
Bruiser Brody Locker Room Murder
Bruiser Brody was a hulking figure at 6’8” and popularized the “brawling” style in wrestling that is still popular today. He was even the first opponent of the now iconic “The Undertaker”. In 1988, Brody was performing at a match in Puerto Rico. While in the locker room before the match José Huertas González, a fellow wrestler, summoned Brody to the locker room with the premise of discussing business. After he entered the shower stall, the entire locker room heard two horrifying screams and noises of a scuffle. Wrestler Tony Atlas quickly entered the scene and found Brody bent over and grasping his stomach. He also witnessed Gonzalez holding a knife. It took paramedics over an hour to reach the stadium as there was a massive crowd outside. The paramedics couldn’t lift his massive body, so Tony Atlas helped carry him downstairs. He later succumbed to his injuries.
Gino Hernandez was a well-known wrestler in the late 1970s and early 1980s. However, it is his death that has become even more legendary. He was found dead in his apartment in 1986. His death was ruled a homicide but later it was found that he actually overdosed on cocaine. Others have been more skeptical about whether his death was actually a murder. Some reasons are because Gino’s deadbolt was unlocked, he had cocaine in his stomach, and there was three times the amount of cocaine in his body than would have caused a death. Several fellow wrestlers including rival Michael Hayes said in 2016 “I have a real, real hard time believing that Gino Hernandez OD’d… he was most definitely hanging with the wrong crowd, and either ran his mouth too much, or knew too much, or all of the above.” Whatever the cause of his death, the wrestling crowd certainly seems susceptible to early death.
Trish Stratus’ Terrible Shoulder Injury
Former women’s champion Trish Stratus suffered a dislocated shoulder at Backlash 2006 in a fight against her rival Mickie James. As anyone who has dislocated a shoulder knows, it happens quickly and they are not fun. After falling in the ring, Trish felt excruciating pain as her arm hung lifeless. The cameras continued to roll as medics helped Trish place her shoulder back in its socket. Unfortunately, it was towards the end of her career, as she was planning to retire, and was not able to go out strong. The WWE Diva was able to go back into the ring for her final appearance, and defeat Lita.
Ashley Massaro’s Broken Fibula
The year 2006 proved to be a tough one for the WWE Divas. Ashley Massaro, who won the Diva Search contest was matched up in a Divas Battle Royal during Monday Night Raw when she suffered the worst injury of her career. Massaro broke her fibula, which led to surgery and sitting on the sidelines. The surgery required a steel plate and screws, and plenty of months to heal. She did make appearances to supplement the storylines, and yes, she was healthy enough to pose for Playboy the following year.
Naomi’s Fractured Eye Socket
In 2014, during a WWE Raw match with Aksana, Naomi would catch a knee to the face, and it wasn’t pretty. The WWE Diva took her rest but a day later, her eye appeared drastically swollen. She went in for an MRI where it showed that she had a fracture in her eye socket, near her nose. Luckily, the Diva didn’t need surgery, and Naomi was able to recover after a few weeks, but the injury offset the momentum she had built for her wrestling career.
A Broken Jaw Doesn’t Stop Beth Phoenix
Beth Phoenix was perceived as one of the Divas with the most potential for a dominating career. But in 2006, during a WWE Raw match against Victoria, she broke her jaw. She was still declared the winner of the match but would have to sit out for over a year healing her injury. When she came back, however, she proved to have more fire than ever, earning the title in both WWE Divas and the Women’s Championship. She would carry on to be a top name in the sport.
Candice Totally Shatters Her Clavicle
In a 2008 WWE Raw match against Women’s World Champion Beth Phoenix, Candice Michelle climbed up on the top rope but lost her balance when Beth bounced off the rope and fell awkwardly on her shoulder and neck. While Beth was named the champion, medical staff rushed to Candice, laying on her back, not moving, and visibly in a lot of pain. She ended up shattering her clavicle, breaking it in four places, and tearing open the scar tissue she had from breaking it once before. Her career was essentially over, and she was released from her WWE contract in June of 2009.
Lita Breaks Her Neck Out Of The Ring
Lita (Amy Christine Dumas) had made quite a career for herself in 2002, both in the WWE and her other ventures. More people recognized the wrestler as she took on acting parts, including the TV series Dark Angel, with top actress Jessica Alba. During a stunt on the set, Lita threw a hurricanrana and dangerously fell on her head. In extreme pain, Lita was diagnosed with a broken neck, and she was sent into surgery. After rehabbing her neck, Lita amazingly returned to the WWE and won the Women’s World Championship four times.
AJ Lee Thrown Off Stage, Knocked Out
In 2014, WWE Wrestler AJ Lee was named the Women’s World Champion after defeating Rosa Mendes in SmackDown. She was given her belt and skipped to the stage to show it off. Outside the frame of the camera, Paige runs up from behind and unexpectantly shoves AJ off the stage. AJ falls and was unresponsive to medical staff, who rush to see if she’s OK. Paige calls out to her from the stage, claiming they’re best friends as AJ is taken away on a stretcher, fitted with a neck brace.