WWE is scripted. WWE is predetermined. But what WWE is not, is fake. Being fake would imply that everything we see on Raw, SmackDown! or any WWE event is merely CGI and special effects instead of real-life, professionally trained athletes putting their bodies on the line just to entertain the masses.
The moves that you see on a WWE show are real. The impact may be absorbed, the fall may be padded, and the punches may be pulled, but gravity cannot be faked, taking a fall will always hurt, and mistakes can (and do) happen. That is why there are some moves deemed too risky for WWE, even though WWE superstars are considered to be the best in the world. In a nutshell, a safe move is when both wrestlers are able to properly protect themselves from being badly hurt when taking the fall. Unlike the cruder 90s, WWE’s current policies on the health of their athletes are more refined and well-rounded. Their strict stance on maneuvers that could cause concussions has probably averted many injuries over the years and, better still, kept many wrestlers away from career-shortening accidents.
These 10 moves may look incredible, but it’s a good thing we’ll never see them in a WWE ring, for the sake of the wrestlers. One wrong step during these extremely risky routines could spell the end of a career… or worse.
10 Burning Hammer
The Burning Hammer has become a legend of sorts in extended wrestling circles; a move so dangerous that it is reserved for only the most special of occasions, against the most talented of opponents.
Created by none other than Japanese wrestling legend Kenta Kobashi, the Burning Hammer is an Inverted Death Valley Driver sans the safety net. The recipient is thrown backwards in a position that will inevitably drive his head into the mat, with the worst part being that he has no way to mitigate the force of impact. Used on only a selected few who are within Kenta’s trusted circle of peers, the Burning Hammer is something we’ll never see in WWE due to the sheer hazard it puts superstars in, and rightfully so.
9 Vertebreaker (Double Underhook Back To Back Piledriver)
There are some moves that have incredible visual aesthetic, and the Vertebreaker is definitely one of them. Made popular by Shane Helms in WCW (and later The Hurricane in WWE), the Double Underhook Back-To-Back Piledriver is a sight to behold, but a nightmare to endure.
Helms would basically hook both his opponent's arms, leaving them unable to protect themselves from the impact and with their ribcage exposed before slamming them head-first onto the mat. It was a move reserved for bigger wrestlers, but Shane Helms made it work each and every time. Due to the high-risk nature of the move, WWE decided to ban it from their arsenal for good.
So simple yet so dangerous, the classic Piledriver is known as the move that temporarily put Stone Cold Steve Austin out of commission, but with permanent repercussions. Owen Hart’s (botched) piledriver would render Austin’s neck extremely fragile for the rest of his career, forcing the Texas Rattlesnake to change his fighting style from technical to more roughneck.
WWE’s strict stance on concussion-causing maneuvers is what ultimately placed the Piledriver on the company’s blacklist, which is why it was shocking to see CM Punk belt one out during a match against John Cena. No one is sure if Punk was exempted because of his incredible in-ring awareness, but it’s doubtful anyone will ever be allowed to use the Piledriver again considering top stars like Daniel Bryan have been forced to retire due to concussions and neck injuries.
7 Kawada Driver
The infamous Kawada Driver is a true freak of nature; born entirely by accident to the roar of a shocked, bewildered audience. It all happened one fateful evening when Toshiaki Kawada tried to powerbomb Mitsuharu Misawa, only to have Misawa try to counter the move with a huracarrana… without telling Kawada first! The non-counter made for an awkward sandbag on Misawa’s part, leaving him hanging midair, until Kawada decided to simply drop Misawa on his head.
The brutal exclamation to the botched maneuver turned out to have incredible shock value and the fans were both horrified and brimming with excitement. Kawada would own the mistake and utilize the Kawada Driver on a few occasions just to get the crowd going. Deemed an unprotected variation of the popular Tombstone Piledriver, the Kawada Driver is arguably one of the most dangerous moves out there and will never see the light of day in a WWE ring.
6 Poisoned Frankensteiner
Leave it to wrestlers in Japan to take an already popular move and inject it with an extra serving of awesomeness. While the original Frankensteiner was invented by Scott Steiner as a variation of the top-rope huracarrana, this rare gem was first performed by Koji Kanemoto on El Samurai during the finals of the acclaimed Super Jrs Tournament.
In what looks like an absolute marvel to wrestling enthusiasts, the Poisoned Frankensteiner takes its predecessor to new and extremely dangerous heights by eliminating the recipient’s ability to shield his head, which when done would allow the shoulders to absorb most of the impact. Instead, once you’re midway through a Poisoned Frankensteiner, it’s all the way down until you come crashing on your head. It’s no wonder WWE will never allow this to happen in their ring.
But wait, they did allow it... technically. Neville would bust out a ground version of the Poisoned Frankensteiner during his match with Kevin Owens on Raw. While it isn't as devastating as if done from the top-rope, it still presents a very real risk, which is why I'm guessing WWE only allowed this safer variation to be done by two people as skilled as Owens and Neville.
5 Shooting Star Press
The visual of Brock Lesnar doing a Shooting Star Press from the top-rope at WrestleMania 19 is horrifying, and it’s a miracle The Beast walked away without serious injuries. No, it really is a miracle, because landing wrongly after a move like that is what leaves one with a broken neck and a shortened career.
Arguably one of the most breathtaking aerial maneuvers of all time, the Shooting Star Press was made famous by Billy Kidman back in WCW. But Lesnar’s mishap exposed the dangers of the Shooting Star as an accident waiting to happen. The person performing it has no view of the mat after the first flip off the top-rope, and the tiniest miscalculation could end in catastrophe.
4 Victory Star Drop
What it is, is a top rope bodyscissors backflip into a back-to-back kneeling piledriver. How’s that for technical terms? In fact, it’s such a high-risk maneuver that only a handful of its inventor’s opponents would allow her to use it on them.
The Victory Star Drop was designed by none other than Manami Toyota, a prominent female figure in the Japanese wrestling circuit who made her debut back in the 80s. Basically, the move disables her opponents’ ability to protect themselves by landing on their shoulders, which is where most wrestlers want to land to absorb most of the impact, yet one small miscalculation could end with them landing square on their heads. Ouch!
3 Curb Stomp / Blackout
It’s a shame that we’ll never see this work of art in a WWE setting again. Made famous by none other than WWE’s prodigal son, Seth Rollins, the Curb Stomp is basically the meeting of face and mat with force and momentum provided by the base of Seth’s boot. While it isn’t a high-risk move per se as long as the opponent can absorb the impact and Seth is in full control of his leg, WWE’s stance on concussions painted them into a corner, and the move was banned in all manner of speaking after WrestleMania 31.
You’ll also notice that all visuals of the move have been removed from WWE’s video packages and vignettes. Seth Rollins would be awarded the Pedigree by Triple H soon after, which in my opinion is an equally devastating albeit safer alternative.
2 Wings Of Love
Often compared to Awesome Kong’s "Implant Buster" (gee, I wonder why she called it that), "Wings Of Love" was the finisher of Michelle McCool that was later deemed too rough for the women of WWE. It was a well-designed maneuver and a highly believable finisher, but because hooking her opponents’ arms and then slamming them face-first took away their ability to protect themselves or at least take the move on the side instead of the chest, WWE decided to remove it from her arsenal for good.
Although chances are slim to none, it’ll be interesting to see if the move makes a comeback now that the women’s division has undergone an overhaul and is more wrestling-oriented than ever.
1 The Canadian Destroyer
The Canadian Destroyer is probably the most polarizing move in wrestling, and for good reason. While its execution is awe-inspiring and it looks like a masterpiece when done right, the move clearly requires the work of both wrestlers to such a degree that it takes away much of the allure.
Yes, all moves demand effort from both parties, but Petey Williams’ famous finisher is way too obvious about it, as some would complain. But that’s not why it’s banned in WWE. The fact that it involves way too many backflips, way too much momentum, and not enough assurance that the person taking it can land safely on their shoulders (if at all) instead of breaking their neck, was enough to get it blacklisted by WWE.