We all know that wrestling’s scripted. Wresting shows, events, and matches are theatre, they’re performances, and if you’ve got a couple or more great athletes in a show, it can be very dramatic and look really realistic. It makes us forget about it being fake for a second, but sometimes things don’t always go according to plan, much to the annoyance of the wrestlers, the creative minds with the various promotions, and the fans too. We want to see realism, but sometimes, things get too real and end up just being downright cringe-worthy.
With the fast-paced environment and the athletic capabilities of wrestlers, it’s inevitable that there are going to be botches from time to time. In fact, they happen every week, during most matches, but these are minor and probably won’t be noticed, unless you’re an eagle-eyed wrestling aficionado. But there have been some major botches over the years, things that people can’t help but notice and know instantly is a break from the fake. Most of these moments are really cringe-worthy and make us feel embarrassed that we’re watching what we’re watching, and embarrassed for the wrestlers too. The botch could be a fluffed line, a missed cue, a move gone horribly wrong, and sometimes the botch could have serious consequences in terms of long-term injuries, as you’ll read in this list.
So, let’s get into some botchamania, some seriously cringe-worthy moments from the world of wrestling that have made us cringe in embarrassment, and horror too, moments where kayfabe (the fake) temporarily ceased to exist.
15 Shooting Star Press Gone Wrong
Brock Lesnar’s undoubtedly one of the greatest wrestlers to have ever graced the ring. The guy’s a beast, plain and simple, a freak of nature, but he’s certainly not muscle-bound – he can move around the ring just fine and destroy anyone in his path. But one thing Brock doesn’t tend to do, is get up on the top rope. He’s just so big, so muscular, that it just doesn’t suit him. So, when he decided to make his way onto the top rope at WrestleMania 19, it was nerve-racking stuff. He looked like a fish out of water, Bambi on ice – whatever you want to call it – balancing precariously on those top ropes, ready to dive and inflict some damage on Kurt Angle, who was lying out in the middle of the ring. But he wasn’t stable when he leapt off the ropes, and consequently that flying Shooting Star Press ended up being an epic flop. He didn’t find his target, and instead fell short of Angle, smacking his own head into the canvas. Fans grimaced and cringed as it was obviously a move gone bad, but thankfully for Brock, his fans, and WWE, there was no long-lasting damage.
14 Cena Gets A Nose Job…Of Sorts
Cena, being one of the best and most respected star in the industry at the moment, has had his fair share of injuries over the years. He’s had some pretty awful injuries, because he’s one superstar who’s willing to put his body on the line to reach the top. He’s had a herniated disk, elbow, tricep, pec, tendon injuries – you name it, John Cena’s probably had it. He’s also gotten a broken nose in the ring as a result of a knee to the face by Seth Rollins. The incident happened in July 2015, after an overzealous Rollins momentarily forgot about the location of his legs in relation to Cena’s face, and gave him an almighty thwack. Initially no one noticed the botch, but then everyone cringed when Cena finally rolled over and we got to see the damage. His nose was pointing in the wrong direction and was all bloodied up, and people instantly understood that something had gone horribly wrong.
13 Stone Cold Out Cold
Stone Cold Steve Austin is undoubtedly one of the toughest guys on the planet. He’s earned his corn living up to that persona – it is his real-life persona – in wrestling, in the movies, and as a media personality. But even Austin isn’t immune to succumbing to a botch – he didn’t really have any choice, Owen Hart made it for him.
This was one seriously cringe-worthy botch, because the instant it happened people knew that it was a botch and that something was seriously wrong. The result was so serious, it actually rendered Austin unconscious, and could have ended his life, let alone his career.
The botch happened in 1997, at SummerSlam of all places. Owen Hart reversed a piledriver, then gave Austin a taste of his own medicine. But Hart hadn’t gotten Austin’s head in the right position for the move, he went through with it anyway, and ended up breaking Austin’s neck. Austin was actually paralyzed – luckily for him, Hart, and the wrestling world, he wasn’t paralyzed for life.
12 The Undertaker Kills HBK’s Career
Shawn Michaels established himself as one of the greats in the industry. But his path to the top was anything but smooth sailing. He’s battled with a lot over the years, including substance abuse problems and plenty of other issues in his personal life, but there have been certain things that have happened in the ring that haven’t made things any easier.
At the 1998 Royal Rumble, HBK faced off against The Undertaker in one of those legendary casket matches. It was a much-anticipated match, and it didn’t fail to disappoint, but HBK ended up sustaining an injury that would affect the rest of his career. During the match, The Undertaker was meant to toss HBK over the ropes and into the casket. But The Taker’s aim was lacking that day, and Michaels’ instead connected with the edge of the casket. Fans winced as Michael’s back landed squarely on the corner of the casket – it was obviously a botch and it became clear just how serious it was when Michaels rolled away in agony. It sent him into early retirement, and although he made a return, he was never the same after that.
11 Cameraman Gets Wiped Out
Some of those watching this cringed, others couldn’t help laughing. It was pretty serious – everyone could tell that as soon as it happened – but kind of comical all the same. This is also one botch that was not only cringe-worthy, but also controversial, because it wasn’t a wrestler who got injured, it was a cameraman.
The cameraman was actually pretty stupid getting himself in that position. He knew what The Undertaker was going to do, that he was going to fly over the rope, and he decided to put himself in the line of fire, all for the sake of getting a good shot. There isn’t really anything The Undertaker could have done to pull out, but he and WWE still got a lot of heat for it, because it was an innocent party who ended up getting wiped out. It’s actually thought that the cameraman was part of the script, but if he was, it certainly didn’t go according to plan. Fans cringed when The Undertaker took him out, smashing him to the floor, his camera was smashed to bits, and smashing his own head in the process too. The cameraman in question was let go shortly after the botch – it was obviously deemed that he was the one at fault.
10 Poor Old Vince
This is another botch that initially had people cringing in embarrassment for Vince, but then in stitches. Don’t mean to sound evil, but this was a botch that was Vince’s fault and Vince’s fault alone. It was kind of a freak accident, but hilarious for all of us watching.
It happened at the 2005 Royal Rumble event. There was some commotion and misunderstanding in the ring as to who won the Royal Rumble between the final two, John Cena and Batista. The referee was trying to sort things out, but Vince was far from happy with the outcome. He emerged from nowhere and strode purposefully into the ring, but as he entered, he collapsed to the ground in utter agony. Everyone knew something was wrong, but what exactly that was we didn’t find out until later. Vince had somehow managed to tear both his hamstrings, so while both wrestlers were celebrating, thinking they’d won, Vince was sprawled out on the ropes and looked rather nonplussed.
9 Mickie Botches Stratusfaction
Here’s a blast from the past, two divas who had some epic encounters and memorable storylines. Mickie James and Trish Stratus had one of the best relationships in female wrestling history. There were many ups and downs, with Mickie being the obsessed fan turned stalker, wanting to be with Trish, and Trish turning her down. But aside from all of this, they’re actually really close, but when they get together today and remise about the good old times, this is one incident that won’t be bringing back any fond memories. It wasn’t disastrous, it was just one of those “what the hell happened” moments, embarrassing and cringe-worthy for the two biggest names in female wrestling at the time.
Mickie basically botched a Stratusfaction. Her legs got tangled in the ropes, Trish just kind of flopped to the ground, and Mickie walked away with a kind of sheepish look on her face. The commentators too knew that it was a botch, but it was hilarious the way they tried to act like it was scripted, like Trish had managed to foil the move.
8 A Shelton Benjamin Oops Moment
Both Shelton Benjamin and Jeff Hardy are pretty athletic guys and have years of experience under their belts, so when a botch like this happens, all you can do is cringe and cover your face in embarrassment. Shelton must have been wanting the canvas to open up and swallow him whole, because it was a pretty embarrassing botch on his part. Hardy, to be fair to him, took it in his stride and handled it pretty smoothly, but it certainly wasn’t one of Shelton’s finest moments. It just goes to show, even after all that training and experience, slip ups do happen, quite literally. Hardy tried to toss Benjamin out of the ring, but he managed to hang on to the ropes, and then when Hardy’s back was turned, he attempted to take him out with a springboard move but tripped and landed head first onto the canvas enabling Hardy to go for the pin.
7 Bucket Kick Botch
Two things were cringe-worthy about this: the fact that Alberto Del Rio missed the kick on the first attempt, and the fact that Big Show was standing holding a bucket for some unknown reason for so long. It was cringe-worthy because it was just so bad – all of it.
This just has to be one of Alberto Del Rio’s most embarrassing moments. While Big Show was standing brandishing a bucket to someone outside the ring, Del Rio, from behind, attempted to kick the bucket onto Big Show’s head. He missed and some of the crowd in the background were actually cringing because it was so bad, just so embarrassing. Big Show obviously knew he had missed the kick but couldn’t show it, so he had to continue standing there holding that bucket so that Del Rio could try again. He tried again and just about connected with the bucket kick and it just clipped Big Show’s head. From that little contact, Big Show was dazed, which in itself was ridiculous, but they had to proceed with the script. It was a major botch at the Elimination Chamber 2013, one that screwed up the moments that followed.
6 Briefcase Battle
This Money In The Bank match in 2011 was just utter chaos. The eight – yes eight! – wrestlers all brought ladders with them into the ring, and it was just a car crash waiting to happen. After a whole load of mayhem, it ended up being down to Rey Mysterio and Alberto Del Rio who were battling on top of the ladders to try and unhook the briefcase. There were probably tons of botches in that match that went unnoticed because it was just so chaotic, but this was a major botch, and because it was the last two and it happened on top of a ladder, everyone set eyes on the botch and cringed when it happened. The two were on top of the ladder, and Del Rio resorted to dirty tactics by unmasking Mysterio. Mysterio, who was visibly distressed, was then pushed onto another ladder, which bounced off the ropes, crashed into Del Rio’s ladder, and they both fell to the canvas, crashing into the metal ladders.
5 Vladimir Just Won’t Go Over
We all know what Vladimir Kozlov was trying to do; he was trying to do a pretty simple move in wrestling – roll over the top ropes – but for some unknown reason it just wasn’t happening in that match up. It was cringeworthy for the fans and embarrassing for Kozlov, because it was a pretty simple move that he was trying to execute – basics in wrestling – but he did his best to screw it up which he ultimately did.
We cringed the first time when Kozlov botched the move and just couldn’t muster enough energy to get himself over the top ropes, but then when he kept on trying and kept on failing, it was just downright embarrassing. Don’t know what it was – perhaps he was too tuckered out and couldn’t shift himself over the ropes – but when he got tied up in the ropes, he had to have some assistance which wasn’t in the script.
4 Spike Dudley’s Sickening Head Crack
It’s great when wrestlers use "props" during their matches, but it can also be mightily dangerous if they’re not used correctly. A table outside the ring, a pretty big one at that, all set up and ready to be smashed, so you’d think it’d be pretty easy to smash someone through it, but Spike ended up being tossed from inside the ring, and on this occasion, the two members of La Résistance got it horribly wrong. Their botch could have very well ruined Spike Dudley’s career, or had even worse consequences.
The two guys just didn’t toss Spike high enough. They got him out of the ring, but tossed him too close to the ropes, and Spike’s legs ended up clipping the top rope, breaking his momentum, and so his body fell short of the table, but his head didn’t. His head ended up clipping the side of the table; everyone cringed as they heard that loud crack, and knew it was serious. Spike did sustain a very serious injury which was enough to keep him out of action for some time.
3 Batista’s Embarrassing Backflip
Batista and John Cena have had some epic encounters over the years, but this certainly wasn’t one of his finest moments. There was nothing horrific about this in terms of injuries or anything like that – it was horrific in terms of Batista’s acting, which was diabolical.
One reason a lot of people can’t stand wrestling is because it’s scripted. You and I and the other wrestling fans know that these guys are superb athletes, and undergo tons of training to make everything seem as realistic as possible. But then something like this happens, is shown all over the internet, and we have a hard time convincing the naysayers that wrestling’s worth watching. Just what the hell was Batista doing?! He was in the process of giving Cena a Batista Bomb, when Mark Henry runs to the ring and headbutts Batista, sending him backwards. But whether it was a lapse in concentration or some brainwave activity was delayed, he waited a few seconds too long before doing a very forced backflip, which he also botched.
2 Charlotte Just Can’t Hold On
It’s amazing to think that Charlotte Flair has only been in the industry for four years. She’s already accomplished so much with WWE, has played her part in some memorable matches, had some awesome moments, but this just shows that she still has a long way to go. She had established herself as one of the top pros in wrestling, and along with that comes responsibility, which Charlotte didn’t show that night. What it also shows is that Charlotte needs to spend some extra sessions in the weights room, because holding Sasha Banks in her arms just proved to be too much of a difficult task.
This botch happened at SummerSlam in 2016. Charlotte and Banks had been feuding for ages at this point, and it was set to be an epic encounter between the two. It was – they’re just two awesome competitors, brilliant wrestlers – but the fans will remember that match for one moment only, one botch. Charlotte got on the second rope and picked Sasha up from the top rope, but couldn’t hold on and just dropped her. It sounds pretty innocuous, but Sasha’s legs hit the ropes and she did a sort of flip, landing on her head in a horribly awkward position. Fans cringed and recoiled; was she injured, or even conscious? That moment wasn’t on anyone’s cards.
1 Joey Mercury’s Face Gets Smashed
A lot of botches tend to happen when there are props around. Whether it’s a table, chairs, ladders, or even a bucket, there’s something about props, the use of equipment, that causes havoc. Ladders have to be up there in terms of the equipment that results in the most chaos. You can imagine why too; multiple ladders in the ring with multiple wrestlers all trying to do their thing – it’s a manic situation.
In 2006 during a team ladder match at WWE Armageddon, Joey Mercury’s face suffered some serious damage. Jeff Hardy jumped onto a ladder on the canvas from the top rope, causing the other end of the ladder to come up and take everyone out. Joey bared the brunt of it though; he was the one in the firing line. Fans cringed when it happened, and even more so when they saw Joey’s face, which was a bloody mess. It was seriously gruesome to witness, and he ended up breaking his orbital bone and nose, and was injured for quite some time.