Why do we watch pro wrestling? For entertainment, obviously, but why is it so entertaining for us? Is it the male soap opera storylines? The incredible athleticism on display by athletes who have spent years honing their craft? Or is it those hilarious but also sometimes horrifying accidents that we call botches?
Botches in pro wrestling have always been the source of laughter, horror and awe. Botches can happen anywhere at any time, whether it be during an entrance, in the middle of a match or when a wrestler grabs the microphone to cut a promo. Heck, even announcers have been prone to make a few botches here and there. An entire YouTube series called BotchaMania has been made about these mistakes that you should totally check out, after reading this list of course.
With the following fifteen botches, every wrestling fan’s suspicion of disbelief was absolutely shattered by reality. We realize that the performers aren’t these untouchable beings who are without flaws. They stumble, they trip up on their words and they aren’t indestructible. It reminds us just how human they are and in a weird way makes them more sympathetic than ever. That, and also a lot of these botches are just damn hilarious.
As a little side note, I will not be including Owen Hart’s death on the countdown. While it is technically a botch because someone horribly screwed up, it would be in tremendously bad taste to include it here. Without further ado, here are the top 15 botches in pro wrestling history.
15. Mark Henry Has Telekinesis
We all know how strong Mark Henry is. He’s shown that he’s strong enough to crush frying pans in his bare hands, pull two tractor trailers, and most impressively of all, survive more than two decades in WWE.
In fact, he’s so strong that he might possess superpowers. Not super strength, no no no, I’m talking about feats of the supernatural. I believe Mark Henry possesses the power of telekinesis.
You laugh at me, right? You don’t believe me? Well here is my exhibit A to the matter. As you can clearly see, Mark Henry pushes Batista, and while Batista doesn’t fall right away, he does once Henry isn’t touching him any longer. Clearly Mark Henry is using the Force. Or you know, Batista just screwed up.
14. Bret Hart’s WCW Run Gets Worse
For all intents and purposes, Michael Buffer is a boxing announcer. His classic voice and iconic “Let’s Get Ready To Rumble” line have always been and will continue to be associated with boxing until the end of time. It appears however that the elder of the Buffer brothers could not bring that same poise and grace to his brief stint as WCW ring announcer.
In 1998, Buffer was hired by WCW in order to give their matches a more epic feel, since by that time, another nWo run-in needed something different to make it seem fresh I suppose. Buffer ran into some problems though when he was announcing a number one contender’s match for the United States Championship on an episode of Nitro. Rather than Buffer announcing the legend known as Bret “The Hitman” Hart, he instead claimed that some guy named Bret Clark was the WCW United States Champion.
13. A RKO Outta Reach!
Before it became an internet phenomenon, Randy Orton‘s finishing move the RKO was just a cool move that Orton would end his matches with. While it didn’t have the rep it does now, a big reason for that might be this embarrassing botch.
On an episode of Raw in January 2004, Orton teamed up with his Evolution partners Ric Flair and Batista to take on Rob Van Dam and Chris Jericho. While Batista was trapped in the Walls of Jericho, it looked like the Legend Killer was going to make the save but something went wrong. Instead of getting a good grip of Jericho’s neck, Orton seemingly slipped on a banana peel, flew into the air and his fingertips merely grazed Y2J. Not one to take a no for answer, Orton got up and ran the ropes again to nail Jericho with the RKO after his first botch.
12. Billy Kidman’s Leg Foils His Finish
Along with the 450 splash, the shooting star press was banned by WWE for a number of years and it’s easy to see why. The move is spectacularly dangerous and a botch of the move can lead to critical injury. There is another botch involving the move that we’ll get to later, but this one is pretty bad as well.
On an episode of Monday Nitro, cruiserweight Billy Kidman took on William Regal (going by the name of Steven at this time) and had the Englishman set up near the top rope for Kidman’s finishing maneuver the shooting star press. Problems come in though as soon as Kidman jumps off the top rope. Instead of propelling himself forward, Kidman only goes straight up and as a result his knee smashes the top rope. Kidman fell to the mat screaming in pain but he got off pretty easy as he’s injured Vampiro, Chavo Guerrero and others with the move.
11. Triple H’s Pedigree From Hell
Way back in the darkest days of the WWE (also known as the mid 1990s), a young superstar known as Hunter Hearst Helmsley was trying to make a name for himself in the WWE. Since Stephanie McMahon wasn’t quite ready for marriage, Triple H had to work hard for his keep and came up with a new finisher; a double underhook facebuster known as the pedigree.
In one of the earliest instances of HHH using the move though, the move looked incredibly more vicious than the one we know and love. This would be because the recipient of the move, Marty Garner, assumed that the move was going to be a powerbomb or suplex variant and tried to flip with move. The misunderstanding caused Garner to land on the top of his head and caused neck damage. While the move looked awesome, it’s probably a good thing that this never happened again.
10. Undertaker Almost Becomes A True Deadman
If you were to say which professional wrestler has kept kayfabe alive the most, you would have to put Undertaker near the top of that list. When in his Deadman persona, you’ll very rarely see him out of character or giving any sort of interview. He may have tried to hard to stay true to his “Deadman” nickname though at WrestleMania 25.
With his WrestleMania undefeated streak on the line versus Shawn Michaels, Undertaker put out all stops to squash the one man he could never defeat. Instead of splatting the Heart Break Kid all over the mat though, Michaels pulled a “cameraman” (in reality it was Sim Snuka, son of Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka) in front of Undertaker. Snuka was supposed to catch Taker but he didn’t react fast enough. Combine that with Undertaker overshooting his jump and we have a colossal botch. Thankfully everyone was ok, but it was a scary sight.
9. Bret Hart Is Kicked Out Of Wrestling
With how grumpy the Hitman seems nowadays, I’m surprised that he hasn’t gone on a rant about the overuse of the superkick in today’s pro wrestling landscape. It’s used by nearly every wrestler, it was the finisher of his most hated rival Shawn Michaels and it was also the move that ended his wrestling career.
At Starrcade 1999, WCW finally decided to give fans a match that they had waited for over a year and booked Bret Hart vs WCW’s finest home grown star of the Monday Night Wars Bill Goldberg. While Hart has a reputation for being stiff in the ring, Goldberg has been known for being merciless with nearly murdering everyone with his spear. Amazingly, it wasn’t his signature spear that injured Bret in this match but a superkick.
According to Bret’s autobiography, Goldberg told Bret to “watch the kick” but he had no idea what kind of kick he meant. Goldberg threw up the superkick and Bret received a severe concussion. It was so bad that it ended his 20+ year wrestling career.
8. Somebody Give Kevin Nash A Dictionary
While we don’t expect pro wrestlers to be amazingly gifted scholars (although some of them may surprise you), we at least expect them to have a basic understanding of how the English language works. After all, you wouldn’t want to cut a promo claiming that the word “play” is an adjective right? Woops.
In his first appearance on WCW television no less, Kevin Nash told a lie that an elementary school student would have caught as being full of crap while trying to intimidate WCW figurehead Eric Bischoff by mocking a slogan of WCW that said “Where the Big Boys Play.” The problem is that Nash said this next; “Look at the adjective, PLAY.” Play, as I hope you all know, isn’t an adjective and is in fact a verb. Props to Bischoff here though, as I would have burst out laughing even if Nash is nearly seven feet tall.
7. Good Guy Sid Is Honest
You know, we live in a world full of liars, miscreants and deceitful people who will climb up a tree and tell a lie rather than stand on the ground and tell the truth. Thankfully though we have guys like Sid Vicious who will just flat out say the truth with no qualms.
Our shining beacon of honesty took center stage on this episode of Monday Nitro when he confronted Kevin Nash and Scott Hall, two men who were mocking his stupidity just moments earlier. Not one to take this abuse lying down, Sid countered back by saying that Nash was only half the man that he was. Next Sid claimed that he only had half the brain that “Big Sexy” had. While Vicious has gotten mocked endlessly for this, I for one find it very brave that he admitted this embarrassing info about his own intelligence to hundreds of thousands of viewers.
6. Owen Hart Does The Inexplicable
There are some questions in wrestling history that we’ll never know the answer to. What would have happened if Sting came to WWE in 2002 rather than 2014? What would happen if John Cena had turned heel with the Nexus in 2010? The biggest question for me is why the hell Owen Hart botched this piledriver on Stone Cold Steve Austin.
At Summerslam 1997, Owen Hart took on the Rattlesnake for the Intercontinental Championship and if Austin lost he would have to kiss Hart’s butt. Near the end of the match Owen lifts up Austin up for what looks like a tombstone piledriver but instead of falling to his knees like the Undertaker Hart slams his butt down to the mat. The most worrying part comes in when you notice that Austin’s head is under Hart’s thighs, ensuring that the top of Austin is absorbing the impact and not “The Rocket”.
Austin was dealt a terrifying neck injury which put him on the shelf for months and would ultimately end his career years later. There’s still no answer as to why such a gifted wrestler like Owen Hart could botch so badly, and we will never know why it happened.
5. Sid Vicious’s Leg Gets Obliterated
We had a lot of fun with the Vicious (or the Psycho One, depending on what he ate that day) earlier on the list, but this botch here is no laughing matter.
In the dying days of WCW, Sid Vicious took on Scott Steiner, Jeff Jarrett and Road Warrior Animal with the WCW World Title on the line. Looking to add a new move to his limited repertoire, Sid came off the top rope with a big boot. This would have been fine if Sid were to land on his back afterwards and let his back absorb the shock, but that didn’t happen. Instead Sid tried to land on his left foot and it goes about as horribly as it could. Sid snapped both his tibia and fibula and would not wrestle for more than three years.
4. Brock Lesnar Sticks The Landing… On His Head
If you weren’t terrified of Brock Lesnar already, then this botch should definitely put the fear of the beast into you.
Less than one year into his WWE career, Brock Lesnar found himself in the main event of WrestleMania XIX standing opposite one of the company’s biggest stars Kurt Angle for the WWE Championship. Lesnar wanted to end the match in dramatic fashion and execute the Shooting Star Press to win the match. The Shooting Star Press is dangerous enough when a cruiserweight is doing, a super heavyweight pulling it off is insanity but Lesnar had done before in Ohio Valley Wrestling.
The problem though is that Angle was way too far from Lesnar and Brock tried the move from the far post. Lesnar’s near 300 pound frame came crashing on top of skull and he was concussed beyond belief. The scariest thing is that Lesnar got up, delivered an F5 and finished the match. Brock Lesnar is a scary, scary man.
3. Joey Mercury Has The Worst Nose Job Ever
The Hardy Boys are known for inflicting ludicrous amounts of harm to themselves, but they actually have rarely injured any of their opponents with their daredevil antics. Except that one time where they smashed Joey Mercury’s face to smithereens.
2. A Shocking Fall
This is it, the botch that took a go-nowhere gimmick and propelled it to legendary mockery status. This is the botch that other botches laugh about at the meeting of the botches. Get ready for the SHOCKMASTER!
On the 14th edition of Clash of The Champions, Davey Boy Smith and Sting needed a third man to help them defeat the trio of Sid Vicious and tag team Harlem Heat. Surely they would need one hell of a great talent to help achieve victory, too bad what they got was a fat guy in a stormtrooper helmet sprinkled with glitter.
The look was bad enough, but it only got worse as Shockmaster burst through only to trip causing his horrendous helmet to fall off. The moment lives on in infamy as one of the funniest moments in wrestling history.
1. Wrestling Gets Too Real
There are few moments in wrestling that are more tragic than this one. While us wrestling fans go on and on about the terrible things happening in wrestling, at least there hasn’t been another wrestler who had to go through this.
On the October 5th, 1999 episode of Smackdown, Droz took on D’Lo Brown in a routine match. It went horrendously wrong though when Brown hoisted up Droz for a powerbomb but because of an awkward grip, Brown lost his control of Droz and dropped him right on his head. The move left Droz paralyzed and rendered him a quadriplegic.
This hasn’t stopped Droz from being happy as he enjoys hunting despite his condition. The move shows how dangerous, cruel and difficult pro wrestling can be and is the top botch in wrestling history.
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