You or I, normal idiots by most measurable metrics, rarely suffer the kind of stomach-churning injury that can befall your average professional wrestler. It’s an industry fraught with danger at every conceivable turn, and while those that absorb the training best do so with a view to avoid getting seriously hurt, injury in pro-wrestling is as inevitable as a headlock.
Those who have ascended to the lofty heights of the WWE are by no means immune either; at any given point the company sports an injury list that puts most professional sporting organisations to shame.
Whether through in-ring mishap or other misadventure, WWE’s roster of contracted performers carry their battle scars almost as proudly as their championships. And while I, an enfeebled baby, whinge about the twinged back I’m currently carrying like I just caught frag in ‘Nam, some of World Wrestling Entertainment’s highest-profile stars have stories of injuries that’ll pull your sphincter so far back up into your own body that mouth and ass will become forever entwined.
Over the recent SummerSlam weekend in New York, PEDESTRIAN.TV got the chance to sit down with some of the WWE’s finest and asked them about their most absurdly painful injuries. The answers we got started out at utterly horrific and only managed to get worse.
Grab your sick bag and prepare to do some heaving, weak-stomached friends. This stuff is cooked.
“The neck injuries weren’t only physically painful, they were psychologically painful. I went through a lot of turmoil with that. I broke my neck in the (1996 Atlanta) Olympics. But after that, in 2003 I broke my neck again. I came back from that, two months later I broke it again. I came back from that, and then six months later I broke it again. And then again a year after that; four times in WWE. I believe the reason why that occurred is because I rushed back too early. That also spiralled into painkillers.”
“I had a very short career (in WWE); six and a half years. And it all stemmed from the injuries that I had with my neck. Did I have other injuries? Yeah, I had four knee surgeries, broke my shoulder, broke my wrist, dislocated my fingers, broke my nose three times. But nothing compares to the injury of the neck. That pretty much put me in the coffin.”
“Ribs. Ribs by far. Knees and other stuff are bad, but with ribs you can’t stand up, you can’t sit down, you can’t breathe, you can’t *not* breathe. It’s this horrible case of being suspended in purgatory where everything you do sucks and nothing you do makes it feel better.”
“I’ve had a bum shoulder for years. I actually ended up tearing my rotator cuff out on the independent scene; I took a bad German Suplex, accidents happen. I didn’t require surgery because at that time I was not in place to afford surgery. The rotator cuff tear was the most painful thing that I have experienced in this world. I have torn leg muscles, I played football (soccer) for years, tore my AC joints. I’ve never had anything as painful [as the rotator cuff tear]. It was crippling pain. It was so much pain I wanted to throw up and I’ve never had that before, I’ve never experienced that before.”
“In NXT I broke my tibia. I got cracked in half. It was a real freak occurrance. Me and (fellow star) Andrade “Cien” Almas were wrestling, he came off the ropes with two feet right down on the bone. It snapped it in half. Took me out for a couple of months there.”
“I felt it, but I didn’t realise how severe it was until I stood up and tried to take a step and went down right away.”
“In 2015 I broke my tibia (in a dirt bike accident). I couldn’t get up, I thought I broke both my legs. I was out of wrestling for almost a year before I was good to go again. That pain when you get a rod in your tibia, those first few weeks the throbbing was intense. It was no fun.”
“That first month was terrible because I’m such an active person, when I can’t mow my own grass or get up and work out every day… you’ll drive yourself crazy. But hey, you broke it you gotta heal it.”
“The knee injuries weren’t that painful; they were quick pops and they were gone. I broke my jaw when I first started wrestling and that was excruciating. That was really, really painful. And then I tore some cartilage in between my ribs. It wasn’t much, I thought I had punctured my lung, that’s how painful it was.”
“I couldn’t move or breathe. Kevin Owens gave me a gutbuster from the top rope and I landed funky and it just stretched out some of that cartilage between my ribs. That was pretty excruciating for a few weeks.”
“As far as just pain is concerned, just straight-up pain that I’ll remember for the rest of my life, it’s nothing like those falls from high places or anything like that. I wrestled (now-WWE announcer) Nigel McGuinness in (independent promotion) Ring of Honor – it might’ve been 2011, 2010 – he just kinda slammed me off a guard rail onto the ring apron and that I will literally remember forever.”
“I think we hit a part of the ring apron that had no mat or had no apron it was just all steel, and we didn’t know that obviously. Everything that could go wrong did. And we still had a 20-25 minute match after that. That was pretty brutal.”
“I’ve torn cartilage in my ribs, I’ve broken a hundred fingers. Those are the little ones that just nag you and nag you and nag you. I tore the ligament in my thumb so it kinda goes in a different way. You don’t realise how many things you hit your thumb on [until you’ve hurt it]. It’s the little things that are the worst to me, but I’m lucky and I’ve never had anything too serious.”
“It was about five months, six months in [to my career]. I actually fractured my jaw in five places. I ate an elbow to the chin. I had my jaw wired shut for six weeks, eight weeks. I lost a lot of weight on that.”
“Last year I hurt my knee pretty bad. I tore, but I didn’t completely detach [ligaments]. It was off the silliest little thing. Everything was holding on by a thread.”
“I tore my meniscus. It was on something very random. I remember being in a match and at some point I stomped on the mat very hard, and I felt my knee just kinda pop and it shot down my knee to my ankle. It was excruciating pain for about 30 seconds and then it stopped. I had no clue what happened.”
“I wrestled like that for about three more months before I realised that I tore it.”
“It wasn’t even a wrestling-related incident. I went to an open gym/gymnastics place, and I was playing around and came down and landed wrong on one of my ankles. I may have broken it. I didn’t have insurance at the time so I couldn’t go to the hospital. I never went and got it checked, I just wrapped it up real tight and used some of my brother’s old crutches.”
“It was swollen from the toes past the ankle. Black and blue, really bad. I couldn’t wrestle for like… two or three weeks. If we didn’t wrestle, we didn’t get paid. I started wrestling, I just wrapped it real tight, but it hurt so bad.”
“Mexican wrestlers, they are good at chops. When I wrestled with Andrade “Cien” Almas in Mexico, he chopped my chest. The chop is the most painful move, I think. Especially Mexican wrestlers chops, they’re brutal.”
Nakamura, it should be said, winked and joked that he “should say the dog bite” in response to the question, referring to the wild incident in which a very real police dog attacked and bit his leg backstage at a WWE live event in June, which put the current United States Champion on the shelf for several weeks. Y’know, extremely normal things to have happen to you at your place of work.
All the superstars we spoke to, and more, are slated to appear in Australia at the massive WWE Super Show-Down event at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on Saturday, October 6th. Tickets available now.