Usually, injuries in professional wrestling are fairly straightforward, ranging from the normal aches and pains that come from living the life of a traveling wrestler, to bone breaks and muscle tears that are an unfortunate occurrence for the majority of athletes. But we all know that professional wrestling can't ever just relegate itself strictly to the shallow end of the pool - there, of course, have been injuries among those in the squared circle realm that skid past bizarre, and slam head-on into surreal. Canine bites? Mere child's play.
The following list will examine some of the strangest, freakiest injuries sustained by noted wrestling personalities. Some took place inside the ring, and are so unusual that they bear mention. Others occurred off the clock, and are just as bizarre. Some entries are a bit darkly comical, others not so much. But as a collection, it's an interesting look at a more twisted side of the world of wrestling.
10. Andre The Giant Breaks Ankle While Getting Out Of Bed (1981)
There exists plenty of mythological majesty in Andre the Giant, a living, breathing Paul Bunyan in tights. The gargantuan Andre turned heads everywhere he went, easily one of the most recognizable wrestlers that has ever lived. But with such a massive frame came its share of drawbacks. Aside from the acromegaly that would likely shorten his life, being so gigantic created other problems as well.
On 2 May 1981, Andre was set to wrestle Killer Khan at Boston Garden, but the match would not take place. Earlier that morning, Andre had broken his ankle, sidelining him for more than six weeks. How did he break his ankle, you may be asking? The answer is quite eye-opening: by simply getting out of bed. Andre's girth, as well as the same weakened legs and feet that larger athletes tend to endure, combined for a substantial injury.
9. Bobby Heenan Smashes His Nose With A Microphone (1985)
The painful moment in this entry isn't as severe as that of a broken ankle, but is definitely more wounding to a man's dignity. In this instance, Bobby "The Brain" Heenan's assertiveness only resulted in a minor injury, but it was borne of a rather unusual moment. At a live event in Pittsburgh, Heenan accompanied Big John Studd to the ring for a match, and the local ring announcer introduced Studd, but absent-mindedly snubbed Heenan.
Somewhat irate, Heenan was more than happy to introduce himself, and went to snatch the hanging microphone (similar to those old Madison Square Garden cabled-mics, and like the ones used for Mr. Kennedy's gimmick). But the staffer who was in charge of pulling the mic up wasn't letting Heenan have it, and a tug of war ensued. During the struggle, the cable broke, and Heenan smashed his own face with the microphone, causing a rather nasty nosebleed in front of thousands of fans. Whilst seeing stars, Heenan (per his memoirs) growled to a bewildered Studd, "You know, I don't care if they ever know who I am. I want to get out of here. I just beat the hell out of myself with a microphone."
8. Sami Zayn Puts His Shoulder Out During His Own Entrance (2015)
The crowd at the Montreal Raw in May 2015 was ecstatic to see national hero Bret Hart appear at the onset of the John Cena US Title Open Challenge, and were even more elated when Hart introduced their fellow Quebecer Sami Zayn as Cena's challenger. Zayn was just as happy as the fans on hand were, exuberantly swinging and flailing his arms during his entrance.
And that was where the trouble occurred: Zayn sustained a shoulder injury during his animated arrival, and worked the match with Cena while noticeably favoring his arm at points. After working with Kevin Owens at an NXT Takeover a few weeks later, Zayn would be sidelined for nearly seven months whilst recovering from the rather unusual injury.
7. Goldberg Severs A Tendon In His Arm Doing Something He Was Told Not To Do (1999)
NO aminals were harmed in the making of this entry...
The uptick in general lawlessness of professional wrestling during the Attitude Era extended beyond just WWE. When Vince Russo and Ed Ferrara jumped to WCW in the fall of 1999, they attempted to bring the startling visual shocks and vehicular mayhem of their former Stamford home with them. Such an attempt at a stunt nearly ruined future WWE World and Universal Champion Bill Goldberg's life on an episode of WCW Thunder.
The particulars of the segment were to see Goldberg smash the windows of a limousine, using a concealed piece of pipe. Goldberg insists that because he taped his fists so much previously, the pipe wasn't able to be properly used, so he took to using his hands, and elbow, to break the glass panes. The cuts caused Goldberg to sever a tendon in his arm, as well as lose several litres of blood. According to Goldberg, he came within one centimetre of losing the use of his arm for the rest of his life. He would miss close to six months of action.
6. Kevin Nash Tears Quad (2002)
Kevin Nash and debilitating leg injuries would become a potent meme in wrestling circles. In 2005, Chris Jericho cracked that Kevin Nash couldn't possibly be a mystery partner selection of Shawn Michaels, because he'd probably tear his quadriceps just answering the phone. Those having a laugh at Nash's expense very well remembered the events of three years earlier.
It was during a 10-man main event of an infamously-bad Raw (the night of "THAT Jackie Gayda match"), with Nash teaming alongside his fellow nWo-ites, as well as Chris Benoit and Eddie Guerrero. During a portion of the bout in which Nash dropped Booker T with a big boot, he took an awkward step toward the babyface corner, fell to the mat, and cried out in pain. Jim Ross had just gotten done saying that Nash had just come back from a bicep injury after three months, and now Nash would be out for an additional nine.
5. Sean Waltman's Troublesome Anus (2013)
When Sean Waltman re-emerged in WWE in 1998, he promised that DX was going to "rip ass" on the promotion, and it's safe to assume that this is not what X-Pac meant. At Jerry Lynn's retirement show in March 2013, Waltman went to perform his trademark Bronco Buster on a wrestler named Horace the Psychopath. Horace moved away, and instead of Waltman's lower body hitting the turnbuckle's padding, he caught the turnbuckle itself.
The diagnosis: torn anus. Rarely would a feature on Cultaholic ever invoke the word "sphincteroplasty", but that's precisely the procedure Waltman needed to fix his sudden rippage below the belt. Waltman would ultimately find humour in the bizarre scenario (you kinda almost have to, right?), but does note that the blood loss was quite severe. But Waltman would add: "My concern was Jerry getting the proper send off, not my butthole," which is a sentence you don't see every day.
4. Cactus Jack Loses An Ear (1994)
Ahh, you know this one, right? Three years before Mike Tyson infamously chewed the tip off of Evander Holyfield's ear in a Heavyweight title fight, Cactus Jack was losing an even bigger chunk of ear during a match in Germany. The gruesome tearing of appendage came in a match with the monstrous Vader, and it's actually disputed as to what the official cause was.
Per Foley's recollection, the nasty bit came during his patented "hangman" spot in the ropes, and these particular ring ropes were tighter than leather pants. Foley feared passing out and suffering brain damage as a result of the deep squeeze and forcibly slid out from between the strands, causing his ear to be ripped off during the escape. Vader's version of the story is that while the ropes did cause a rip in Foley's ear, it was one of his ensuing strikes that severed the chunk from Foley's head. Either way, it's not too often that a piece of the human ear is separated from the host head during a worked wrestling match.
3. Barry Windham Gets Shot In The Leg (1980s)
The exact date of this incident is not clear, but its particular blend of unbelievability, insanity, and grittiness more than qualifies it for this last. As the story goes, Barry Windham was travelling through Florida with fellow wrestler Steve Keirn (the future Skinner in WWE) and referee Bill Alfonso. The long, tiring stretch of road gave way to boredom, and the three decided to occasionally stop in desolate areas so that they could fire Windham's brand new pistol at inanimate objects.
Long story short: Windham accidentally got shot in the leg. His account was that Keirn dropped the gun after firing it, and it went off again, plugging Windham. Alfonso's version is that one bullet ricocheted off of a pole, and bounced back, getting Windham in the limb. But both stories confirm that Windham dug the bullet out himself with a pocket knife, tied a bandana around the wound, and the three continued onward, where Windham wrestled Harley Race that night without any further treatment.
2. Beefcake's Eyes Knocked Out Of His Head By Woman's Knees (1990)
While many of the previous entries have something of a farcical tone to them, there's absolutely nothing funny about the time Ed "Brutus Beefcake" Leslie was nearly killed in a horrific accident. The incident took place on Independence Day in 1990, when Beefcake, fellow wrestler Brian Blair, and a few other friends were enjoying the holiday with a parasailing excursion.
Beefcake was in the process of assisting a female participant, who stood approximately 30 yards away, with her parasailing attempt, when due to an apparent miscue, the boat took off prematurely. As a result, Beefcake turned toward the woman, whose knees slammed into his face at a potentially-lethal speed. Details of the accident are incredibly gory - Beefcake's eyes reportedly dangled from their sockets, and The Wrestling Observer noted that one paramedic had to physically hold up the roof of Beefcake's mouth to keep him from swallowing his own skull fragments. Doctors had to reconstruct Beefcake's facial skeleton using a piece of his hip bone, in what amounted to a ten-hour procedure.
1. Mr McMahon Tears Both Quads While Power Walking (2005)
We'll end this list on a much lighter note, in particular, a moment that still causes gales of laughter in the 13 ensuing years even if it did result in an injury. You know the deal: John Cena and Batista apparently blow the end of the 2005 Rumble match, and as confusion abounds, a furious Vince McMahon storms the ring while turning several shades of maddened purple.
And then Vince slid into the ring, bashing his knee into the apron (the hardest part of the ring, I hear), tearing his quadriceps in the process. The visual of Vince trying to stand up, only to quickly slink back down as though he'd just been shot is just as surreal as everyone else trying to awkwardly carry on the angle while pretending that their wounded boss isn't plainly sitting on his ass. To Vince's credit, he almost completely no-sold the pain in front of all watchful eyes. To make matters worse, he tore his second quad backstage while trying to walk on one leg. And because Vince is a freak, within three months, he was walking normally again. I mean, how?