10 Most Devastating Knockout Blows In WWE History

Liv Morgan and Brie Bella's incident on Raw isn't the first and won't be the last...

Much discussion of late has revolved around the incident on Monday Night Raw in which Liv Morgan was concussed when an errant kick from Brie Bella caught her flush in the face. This won't be another turn at raking Brie over the coals for what was clearly an accident, but instead this list makes note of the aftermath. Morgan, apparently running on autopilot following the hard strike, took part in an elaborate Suplex spot moments later. Some, rightly, placed blame at the feet of the official and on-site medics for not stopping the action in order to get Morgan checked out.

Certainly, it's not the first time somebody has sustained a disconcerting blow to the head during the course of a match. In WWE alone, especially before concussion awareness became an absolute priority, there have been a number of instances in which a wrestler has been rendered disoriented, or even unconscious, from a strike or move gone awry.

The following list will look at those cases where a wrestler was KO'ed, or at least noticeably staggered, at the hands of an opponent. For those who criticize any perceived carelessness or inexperience on Brie's part, consider in some of these instances the skill level of those performing the moves here. Remember - accidents happen.

10. Ricky Steamboat (1986)


One of WWE's top rivalries in the mid-eighties was between Ricky "The Dragon" Steamboat and Jake "The Snake" Roberts. The angle kicked into high gear via an angle on Saturday Night's Main Event, in which heel Roberts attacked Steamboat at ringside prior to a match, and DDT'd his nemesis on the bare concrete floor. Steamboat earned a stretcher ride, which he legitimately needed.

Steamboat sustained an actual concussion from the blow. Before running with the angle, Roberts was apprehensive about doing the move on the floor, worried that Steamboat wouldn't be able to keep his skull from hitting the surface. Steamboat convinced Roberts that he could handle it, but was unable to do so in the moment. Roberts went to lift Steamboat up afterward to continue the attack, only to discover that The Dragon was unconscious. Roberts later described Steamboat in that moment: "The heaviest thing I've ever picked up in my life," and compared the sound of Steamboat's head hitting to "a watermelon bursting."

9. Mankind (1998)


Yes, this website has made much mention lately of Mick Foley's infamous performance in, on and around the Hell in a Cell cage at the 1998 King of the Ring, with September being the month that the cage starred in its annual titular pay-per-view. But this list also warrants Foley's inclusion, due to the one spot that wasn't supposed to happen.

Foley's backward bump on top of the cell, off of Undertaker's Chokeslam, wasn't supposed to cause the partition to give way, but that's exactly what happened. The unexpected free fall, coupled with a chair falling onto Foley's head on impact, knocked the future best-selling author unconscious for a brief duration. Foley noted in his autobiography that if he had jumped up high to take the Chokeslam, he likely would have died from the eventual landing.

8. Stone Cold Steve Austin (1998)


Just two months later, another Undertaker opponent would be knocked silly in the midst of a high-profile pay-per-view match, though thankfully Steve Austin was spared some stuntman leaps. And unlike Mankind's falls, Austin's injury came after a very innocuous moment. When the then-WWE Champion charged off the ropes at a hunched over Undertaker, he kicked the challenger in the gut, which caused Taker to suddenly stand straight up.

So what happened? The back of Undertaker's head, on the elevation, caught Austin in the chin, which left Austin concussed and in a cloudy state for the match's duration. The match ended up being pretty good in spite of Austin's compromised condition, and very few fans if any noticed that something was amiss from the accident. It is, however, a good example of how in the blink of eye, even a reaction to a move can throw the match awry.

7. William Regal (2003)


This list has visited the vast extremes of things that could knock a wrestler out during the course of a match, be it a story-and-a-half drop, or a miscue whilst standing in place. For this example, we go to No Way Out 2003, when Lance Storm and William Regal were defending the Raw Tag Team titles against Kane and Rob Van Dam.

Kane took Regal up at one point for a routine slam, but something didn't go right, and Regal ended up on dream street as a result. Regal and Storm were due to win the match, and Storm noticed that Regal in a bad way when Kane went for the pin, so it was fortunate when Storm jumped in to break up the pin when he did. Later in the match, Storm noticeably nudges Regal away when Van Dam dives at the two, not wanting a foggy Regal to hurt himself further trying to catch a flying heavyweight wrestler.

6. Candice Michelle (2007)


Going back about a decade, you may have seen Candice Michelle strapped to a gurney in some of those "Don't Try This At Home" PSAs that lead off WWE DVDs. What led to her ending up in that position was one of the truly scarier moments in the history of Monday Night Raw, and it looked utterly bad from the moment she smacked the canvas.

While wrestling Beth Phoenix for the Women's title, Candice ascended the corner turnbuckles, only for Beth to plow into the ropes as a counteractive measure. Candice attempted what was apparently a flipping bump to the mat off of the counter, but didn't get the proper spring for the ropes, and plummeted like a heavy branch to the mat below. To compound the issue, Beth made the error of dragging Candice away from the buckles, which was a major risk. Not only was Candice concussed (and knocked out) from the landing, but she also suffered a broken collarbone.

5. Ted Dibiase (2010)


Just to hammer home the point that it doesn't take a complex or elaborate stunt to give somebody a head injury, check out the Over the Limit 2010 match in which Ted Dibiase, Jr. matches up with R-Truth. It wasn't anything like a DDT onto the concrete floor, nor a wonky fall from the top ropes. It was literally a single strike to the noggin that did it.

Specifically, it was an open-handed slap. Truth drilled Dibiase across the side of the head with what's ordinarily a wake-up call, only to buckle Dibiase's knees with the blow. Dibiase was temporarily KO'ed by the shot, and is clearly in a daze throughout the remainder of the thankfully-brief match. He would miss about two weeks of action after the fact.

4. Daniel Bryan (2011)


Bryan's documented history of head injuries came was the catalyst for his two-year forced retirement, when he was unable to gain medical clearance to return to the WWE ring. Among the troubling injuries he would sustain in his time with WWE, one occurred shortly after SummerSlam 2011, when he wrestled new WWE Champion Alberto Del Rio on an episode of SmackDown.

Early on in the match, Del Rio tagged Bryan a little snugly with a kick to the face, and even had to forcibly manoeuvre Bryan out of a pinfall attempt so that the match wouldn't end prematurely. Del Rio then quickly grabbed an Armbar while Bryan lay there totally motionless. According to Del Rio in a 2014 interview, Bryan came to shortly after, but had no clue where they were at. Bryan insisted on finishing the match, while Del Rio had to call the spots, which The Aristocrat notes included a point where Bryan "receipted" him with some especially stiff kicks of his own (which he concedes he deserved).

3. Enzo Amore (2016)


The Payback 2016 match pitting Enzo Amore and Big Cass against The Vaudevillains was only a few minutes old when it abruptly ended. Simon Gotch sent Amore into the ropes for an intricate Irish whip spot that would see Amore slide, hit the ropes, then slink to the floor to sell the impact.

Selling wouldn't be required, as Amore's head whiplashed into the canvas on the slide, legitimately knocking him out. The match ended moments later after the official threw up the injury "X", and Amore would end up taking the stretcher ride. Compounding the head injury was the manner in which Amore hit the floor outside the ring, since he could not brace his fall in his compromised state. In all, Amore would miss close to four weeks of action.

2. Shane McMahon (2016)


Timing is everything, and while that adage can apply to millions of instances in our lives, it's especially true in wrestling. The men and women work to protect each other as much as possible, and in cases where a risky move is being attempted, two or more performers have to be on the same page. That's the hope, anyway. Sometimes, being off just slightly can be hazardous.

The 2016 Survivor Series would see Shane O'Mac attempt his trademark Coast-To-Coast Dropkick on Roman Reigns, only for Reigns to get up and Spear him out of the air. It would be a difficult-enough for two workers of any skill level to coordinate perfectly, but Reigns and McMahon weren't on the same page, and Reigns ended up catching McMahon far too high on his descent. McMahon didn't even have the wherewithal to lay out on the would-be pin, rolling to his side with his eyes looking fish-like and blank. He was quickly removed from the match, despite there being no fall rendered.

1. Finn Balor (2017)


Another case where it was just a simple strike, one that could occur at any point of a match, putting somebody down for real. Balor, who had just made his return after an eight-month injury layoff, was working with Jinder Mahal on an episode of Raw, in a match that didn't even last three minutes. But it doesn't take long to rattle somebody's brain.

Mahal administered a basic forearm strike just as Balor was turning his face away, and appeared to catch Balor in the back of the head with his elbow. Balor brutally face-planted off of the shot, looking like a UFC fighter that's been knocked out from the stand-up. Balor was out of it momentarily, but soon regained his bearings and finished the match. He would, however, miss the following weekend slate of house shows before finally passing concussion protocol.

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Justin Henry

Written by Justin Henry

In addition to writing lists and commentaries for Cultaholic, Justin is also a features writer and interviewer for Fighting Spirit Magazine, and is co-author of the WWE-related book Titan Screwed: Lost Smiles, Stunners, and Screwjobs.