Just as we have become familiar with shoot interviews where wrestlers sound off on each other and reveal the industry's dirty secrets, there is also a thing known as a shoot match. We are all aware that wrestling is scripted, but that doesn't mean that tension doesn't build up inside the ring from time to time. Over the years, several matches have turned into real fights with wrestlers deliberately hurting each other. It usually stems from a botch or a backstage incident which carries on into the ring, but the attacker is not always held accountable for his actions.
Many Superstars have a strong backstage pull allowing them to act like bullies, as evident by numerous entries on this list. And while wrestling may be scripted, every wrestler has been on the receiving end of an unfortunate injury, often due to an accident. Botches happen very often as we are likely to witness a couple on any show, but only a few lead to serious injuries - some of which turn out to be career threatening.
It takes plenty of training to learn how to deliver as well as receive different moves, but even the best wrestlers have their off days. Bret Hart once said that his proudest career accomplishment is never injuring anyone, as wrestlers should take great pride in protecting their opponent at all times.
With today's list, we will go through 15 wrestlers who hurt an opponent on purpose and 5 terrible accidents.
20 Hurt On Purpose: Stevie Richards Delivers A Brutal Chair Shot To JBL
We mentioned earlier the infamous match between JBL and The Blue Meanie at ECW's One Night Stand. The two wrestlers had a rematch on SmackDown in which The Blue Meanie got revenge with a shocking win thanks to outside interference from Stevie Richards and then, later on, Batista.
Richards was booked to interfere as part of the ongoing storyline, but it was the chair shot which he improvised by hitting JBL as hard as possible and from a different kind of angle. Some believed that he was avenging The Blue Meanie which turned out to be later on. It was one of the rare times where someone retaliated against JBL's bullying, and the chair shot probably humbled him for a while.
Richards was far from being a star at the time but he probably felt the need to stand up to JBL who had previously lashed out on The Blue Meanie for no apparent reason.
19 Hurt On Purpose: Beth Phoenix Gives Michelle McCool A Concussion
This injury is one of the least talked about incidents despite involving two of the top Divas from the mid to late 2000s. During a match between them, McCool had a concussion from a move that went wrong, which she accused Phoenix of having deliberately pulled off.
When Phoenix deliver the Grand Slam, she was supposed to unhook her arms for a safe landing but didn't do so. Phoenix would go on to talk about it in a WWE magazine interview, as told by McCool who chose to not escalate matters any further. She was confused as to why Beth Phoenix would want to hurt her especially since it led to a concussion, but McCool has opted to move on. McCool did note that she felt Phoenix may have hurt her on purpose from the moment it happened, although she wasn't sure until Phoenix had later on admitted it.
18 Accident: Seth Rollins Ends Sting's Career
When Sting finally signed to WWE, it was a dream come true for wrestling fans who had been waiting for decades. Some thought they would never see him in a WWE ring but they turned out to be wrong as Sting finally made his debut in 2015 in a losing effort against Triple H.
He went on to feud with Seth Rollins, challenging him for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship at the 2015 edition of Night of Champions. Not only did Sting lose the match but it turned out to be the last time we saw him compete in the ring after he was injured by Rollins during the match. Rollins had delivered a powerbomb through the turnbuckle, which severely hurt Sting's neck and eventually forced him to retire.
Rollins was criticized by some fans and Superstars alike by claiming that he was careless, especially when you consider that it wasn't his first time hurting his opponent. Despite having his career ended, Sting didn't hold any grudge towards Rollins.
17 Hurt On Purpose: Perry Saturn Teaches Mike Bell A Lesson
Perry Saturn is one of the few Superstars who wrestled for WWE, WCW, and ECW during the Monday Night Wars. With a career spanning more than 15 years, Saturn has won several titles across different companies. During a dark match in the early 2000s, he took on Mike Bell who had been working as a jobber for WWE.
After Bell botched a couple of moves including a dangerous takedown, Saturn was visibly upset which turned the contest into a real fight with Bell taking some major hits. Both wrestlers were punished by WWE for the incident with Bell leaving the company soon afterward while Saturn was terribly booked before being released in 2002.
Saturn has defended his actions by claiming that Bell was a dangerous worker and could have severely hurt him, although it doesn't exactly justify his aggressive moves towards him.
16 Hurt On Purpose: The Acolytes Assault The Public Enemy
It is one of the most famous matches from the now defunct WWE show Heat. The Public Enemy was one of the best teams in ECW where they enjoyed a great run for years before signing with WCW. They couldn't achieve nearly the same level of success as they wasted two years before moving to the WWE where they had a couple of matches.
Among them was a challenge against APA in which they completely destroyed The Public Enemy like fans hadn't seen before. It was possibly the most one-sided match of its era with APA being in full control throughout the match and went out of their way to hurt their opponents.
According to JBL, one half of APA, they had agreed on a finish but The Public Enemy was being difficult to work with and even asked to go over them, which WWE officials rejected. They didn't last long in the company after this match as it became their only memorable WWE appearance.
15 Accident: Brock Lesnar Injures Hardcore Holly's Neck
During an episode of SmackDown in 2002, Brock Lesnar took on Hardcore Holly in a match where things went south quickly towards the end. When Lesnar picked him up for a powerbomb, Holly was dropped on his head and ended up breaking his neck. Although he did manage to get up and finish the match, fans were quick to speculate whether Lesnar had done it on purpose. Holly has taken responsibility for the match by claiming he messed up the reverse, and denied that Lesnar was trying to hurt him.
He was out for a significant time while recovering from his injury, but it did help his career in a way. Once he returned to in-ring action, the WWE turned the accident into a storyline in which Holly was seeking revenge. Holly challenged him for the WWE title although he failed to capture it with Brock Lesnar coming out on top once again.
14 Hurt On Purpose: New Jack Stabs William Jason Lane
We could probably craft an entire list of New Jack injuring his opponents due to his history of being an unsafe worker. Although he has wrestled for many top companies, he's never been hired by the WWE due to his reckless style and behavior.
We have seen some unfortunate examples on this list but none can top New Jack stabbing his opponent William Jason Lane during a match. Using a metal blade, Jack stabbed him nine times which got him in trouble with the law as one would expect.
It was a horrifying video that is certainly difficult to watch as New Jack took matters to a whole different level. Prior to the match, they had agreed to do a hardcore spot but apparently, New Jack decided to take it a step further by stabbing his opponent. To make matters worse, New Jack claimed that he only did it to get the crowd hyped, yet he still manages to be booked by promotions as of today.
13 Hurt On Purpose: Eva Marie Kicks Carmella
In October 2015, Carmella and Eva Marie clashed in an NXT match that ended abruptly after the former sustained an injury. Since then, many have debated whether Marie hurt her on purpose as she was clearly reckless with the kick. Others have come to her defense by saying that it was simply an accident and she didn't mean any harm. Then you have fans who are convinced that Marie was just a bad, dangerous worker who wasn't qualified to compete in the ring.
Since then, Carmella has moved on to the main roster to immediate impact on SmackDown, while Eva Marie was given several chances but failed to find a place on the roster. After having been off TV for a while, Marie was released from the company and she's unlikely to be back anytime soon despite her good looks.
12 Accident: Goldberg Kicks Bret Hart And Ends His Career
Goldberg and Bret Hart was one of the most memorable and hyped WCW matches in its later stages before the company eventually folded. The main event of Starrcade 1999 is now remembered for the wrong reasons as it ultimately resulted in the end of Bret Hart's career after Goldberg botched a superkick to the head.
Hart suffered a concussion and it only got worse as the match carried on with things not going very smoothly. He was forced to retire shortly afterward which has made some fans turn on Goldberg since then for ending Hart's career, who is one of the most beloved and respected wrestlers of all-time.
Hart admired Goldberg as a person, stating that he was one of the nicest wrestlers around although he did blame him for the botch. As for Goldberg, he stated that the kick remains his biggest regret to this date.
11 Hurt On Purpose: JBL Beats Up The Blue Meanie
For years, JBL had held a reputation as one of the biggest bullies in the industry following various incidents with fellow wrestlers, commentators, and even fans. During the 2005 pay-per-view ECW One Night Stand, JBL lived up to his reputation when he brutally attacked The Blue Meanie in the ring. Although he was scripted to get a few shots in, JBL went out of his way to hurt him to the point it turned into a real fight.
The Blue Meanie was bleeding by the end, which wasn't supposed to happen. People weren't exactly surprised since JBL had been known for his unpleasant antics, and he went unpunished as usual. Years later, The Blue Meanie said that they had settled matters since then and have become friends today. While that may be true, most fans will never forget their scuffle inside the ring.
10 Hurt On Purpose: Brock Lesnar Elbows Randy Orton
In 2016, a long-awaited matchup between Brock Lesnar and Randy Orton took place at SummerSlam 2016. What was supposed to be one of the best matches of the summer turned into a snoozefest with Lesnar manhandling Orton throughout the match. It's only remembered for the injury that occurred during the match when Lesnar delivered a vicious elbow to Orton, which left him hurt as he lost a significant amount of blood.
Fans have debated whether the move was scripted or intentional, but Orton believes that Lesnar deliberately hurt him. After the match ended, Chris Jericho got in Lesnar's face for being reckless in the ring with Orton. Some fans were surprised to see WWE completely ignore the incident, but others understood that Lesnar is one of their untouchable Superstars and the same rules don't apply to the big names.
9 Hurt On Purpose: Sexy Star Pops Rosemary's Arm
A few months ago, GWF star Rosemary was injured during a match at AAA TripleMania. Sexy Star went out of her way to deliberately injure her by popping her arm out while performing an armbar. A major backlash followed from fellow wrestlers and fans alike, who called her out for being unprofessional by claiming that she doesn't represent the wrestling industry.
Rosemary also put out a statement blaming her for the incident but Sexy Star has refused to apologize. She claims that when the match was over Rosemary didn't carry any injury as she walked out of the ring just fine without complaining. Sexy Star added that it's been exaggerated and defended herself as well as her reputation, but not many were buying it as plenty continued to criticize her even more after the statement she released on social media.
8 Accident: Owen Hart's Piledriver On Steve Austin Goes Wrong
One of the most unfortunate accidents that most fans wish they could take back. During a match between Owen Hart and Stone Cold Steve Austin, the latter was dropped on his head while Hart was performing a piledriver. Austin broke his neck and was practically unconscious on the mat, but he did manage to somehow roll him up from behind for a pin.
Although Austin picked up the victory, it was a career-threatening injury that put him out of action during his prime years. Wrestling history could have been entirely different if Austin wasn't there to kick off the Attitude Era as he is considered to be the WWE savior during the Monday Night Wars. Austin never fully recovered from the neck injury as he was forced to retire in 2003 as advised by doctors who worried that it could get much worse if he were to continue wrestling.
7 Hurt On Purpose: Daniel Puder Nearly Snaps Kurt Angle's Arm
Daniel Puder was quick to make an impact in the wrestling business after winning the 2004 Tough Enough contest. During a SmackDown episode, Kurt Angle had issued an open challenge to contestants where he quickly took care of business after beating one after the other.
Puder was next in line to challenge Angle but it turned into a real shoot with Puder locking him in a dangerous lock known as Kimura, which could have broken his arm in seconds. The referee realized what was happening and went for a quick pin to save Kurt Angle from a real injury.
It backfired on Puder who's career declined rather quickly as the company gave up on him while veterans had united to punish him as seen during the 2005 Royal Rumble. Puder left the wrestling industry soon after being released from the WWE and he's mostly remembered for the incident involving Angle.
6 Hurt On Purpose: Akira Maeda Kicks The Hell Out Of Andre The Giant
In 1986, Akira Maeda squared against Andre The Giant at New Japan Pro Wrestling in one of the most memorable matches for all the wrong reasons. Andre was declining as a wrestler at the time, but what he pulled had made him even worse that night as was drunk and couldn't move at all.
With trouble brewing backstage between them as well as between Maeda and the promoter, it appears that they couldn't agree on the match ending. Andre basically spent the entire match just standing around with Maeda doing a couple of takedowns although Andre refused to sell and was quick to get back up.
Maeda grew frustrated and went off script as he repeatedly kicked Andre all over his body, spending minutes of just kicking him as hard as possible. Towards the end, Andrea laid down on the floor asking Maeda to pin him, but he refused and opted to leave the match instead.
5 Hurt On Purpose: Guerrero, Benoit, And Hardcore Holly Attack Daniel Puder
The 2005 Royal Rumble match got off to a great start with two of the best in the business: Eddie Guerrero and Chris Benoit. They were soon joined by veteran Hardcore Holly and rookie Daniel Puder, who had won the WWE Tough Enough contest a few months earlier. While the match is supposed to every man for himself, a union consisting of Benoit, Guerrero, and Holly was formed to teach Puder a lesson.
They delivered some brutal chops to the chest and took turns beating him up before they threw him over the top ropes. By the time they were done, his chest had turned red and he appeared to be hurt. It was a punishment for Puder's actions towards Kurt Angle when he nearly injured the veteran a few months before the Rumble match, as well as his attitude in the WWE locker room. Puder didn't last long before being released.
4 Accident: Jeff Hardy Breaks Joey Mercury's Nose
When MNM came into the scene in 2005, they rose to the top at a fast rate by defeating Eddie Guerrero and Rey Mysterio for the WWE Tag Team Championship. They would remain in the tag scene by feuding with some of the top teams including the Hardy Boyz.
At Armageddon 2006, they competed in a fatal-four way ladder match which ended in disaster as Joey Mercury from MNM broke his nose during the match. The Hardyz were going for a spot with the ladder and accidentally hit his face with the ladder, Mercury was losing plenty of blood and left the match for treatment.
Mercury received more than 30 stitches at the hospital and missed out some time while recovering from the injury. His career would never recover since then, while his tag team partner John Morrison went on to have a memorable solo run before leaving the company.
3 Hurt On Purpose: Bubba Ray Dudley Punches Sylvain Grenier
It's a known fact that Bubba Ray Dudley isn't exactly the nicest guy in the industry as plenty of talents have complained about him. From his time in ECW to WWE and later on TNA, he has gotten in trouble for mistreating some of the younger talents and acting like a bully.
While his tag team partner Devon is usually praised for his behavior, Bubba Ray is the exact opposite. During a tag team match featuring The Dudley Boyz and La Resistance, Sylvain Grenier botched a spot which upset Bubba Ray who punched him as hard as possible to the point his nose was bleeding.
According to Grenier's tag team partner Rene Dupree, when Bubba was approached backstage by Grenier about his in-ring antics, he responded by punching him once again. He also complained about Bubba Ray being difficult to work and also deliberately hurting him in the ring.
2 Hurt On Purpose: Hardcore Holly Delivers Hard Chair Shots To Rene Dupree
Although he has never been a top star in the company, Hardcore Holly was in the company for a relatively long time before he was released. He was noted for being tough on rookies and younger Superstars, but he went too far at times such as when he brutally beat up Rene Dupree in a tag team match.
During a house show, Holly took a chair and delivered some unsafe shots towards Dupree's head, leaving him with bumps and a swollen eye. He continued assaulting him with some punches to the head throughout the match, as a punishment for a backstage incident which left Holly with a car ticket.
Most agree that Holly clearly overreacted to a minor mistake from Dupree, who had been mistreated by many veterans on the SmackDown roster, including JBL and Bubba Ray Dudley.
1 Hurt On Purpose: Cody Hall Breaks Vinnie Massaro's Arm
Vinnie Massaro competed in a match against Cody Hall that didn't end as booked. If you aren't familiar with the latter, he is the son of WWE legend Scott Hall and a young wrestler on the come up, but he recently got in trouble for breaking Massaro's arm during the match.
Massaro blasted him on Twitter for being a dirty wrestler, while Hall simply called him the uncensored version of a coward as they continued to exchange words. Massaro claims that Hall should be blackballed from the industry for deliberately injuring him but he understands that being the son of Scott Hall will give him a pass.
It could have certainly been career ending for young Hall as he is still trying to establish himself and his actions are clearly unacceptable in the wrestling business. But as Massaro mentioned, there's a reason why you won't hear much about what happened and Hall will likely have a chance to jump to WWE in the future.