15 July 2024

Five times wrestlers narrowly avoided death

If you are a professional wrestler, you hold your fellow performers’ safety and well-being in the palm of your hand. Anything can go wrong at any time and it can have a variety of consequences. Odds are you tweak your shoulder or something and barely miss any in-ring time. On the contrary, one botched move can drastically alter or END your life.

In addition to this, if you are on the road every night, popping pills and shooting steroids into your ass, you are causing a significant impact on your well-being. The amount of wrestlers that have died due to the consequences of drug abuse is frightening, for example: Axl Rotten, Chyna, Eddie Guerrero, British Bulldog, Randy Savage. The list goes on and on and gets sadder and sadder.

There are a few wrestlers, who have had stared Death in the face and sent his ass on the retreat, however. I mean, if you were Death would you want to deal with pro wrestlers? Odds are they’ll Superkick you or put you in a chinlock!

Without further ado, here are five instances of wrestlers staring death in the face.


5 – Ric Flair

Ric Flair is notorious for being one of the wildest, craziest wrestlers in the wrestling business. Flair is the definition of a party animal and has some seriously crazy and  stories. Although Naitch has some cool stories under his belt, Flair is a known alcoholic and in an interview recently, Flair revealed he was drinking somewhere between 3700 and 4000 calories worth of booze a day.

Last month Ric Flair almost died. The Nature Boy was hospitalised on August 11th after suffering severe stomach pain. By the 14th Ric was on life support, with the doctors telling Flair’s family that he suffered kidney failure and congestive heart failure. Flair was quoted in an interview recently saying “My daughters told me that the doctor told them to go in and say goodbye to your daddy, he’s not going to make it.” After spending 10 days on life support and a month in the hospital, Flair returned home last Thursday.

Flair was recently interviewed by People Magazine, where the Nature Boy vowed to never drink again. Ric has been struck by lightning and involved in an air plane crash and said that they were nothing compared to his recent hospital visit. It is by some miracle that the Nature Boy is still stylin’ and profilin’ with us today.


4 – Tyson Kidd

Back in 2015, Tyson Kidd was considered one of the most under-utilised and under-appreciated workers on the WWE roster. Kidd was paired together in a tag team with a fellow overlooked and under-appreciated worker by the name of Cesaro. Tyson and Cesaro instantly “clicked”, and constantly put on amazing performances every single night. Kidd and Cesaro’s chemistry and great wrestling quickly resonated with the Internet Wrestling Community. After chasing the gold for around three months, the duo won the WWE Tag Team Championships from The Usos at FastLane, and also successfully defended the titles at the Grand Daddy of Them All, Wrestlemania.

It seemed like the sky was the limit for Cesaro and Tyson, but a severe injury interjected. On June 7th 2015, Tyson Kidd faced Samoa Joe in a dark match. Joe, who just signed with NXT delivered his patented Muscle Buster and got the three count. Nothing seemed out of the ordinary to the audience, but in reality Tyson had just suffered a severe neck / spinal injury.

Some people will say that the injury is to blame on the Muscle Buster, but in reality, Samoa Joe has been doing that move for 10+ years, winning hundreds of matches with it and it never caused a problem. Nothing seemed wrong with the delivery of the Muscle Buster to Tyson either, it looked normal. The general consensus was that the injury was a freak accident, neither man was to blame, it just happened. Kidd got a C1-C2 spinal fusion surgery, which only a shocking 5% of people survive.

As of now – over two years later, Tyson Kidd is working full-time for WWE as a producer. It’s a shame we’ll never see him wrestle again, but if his life is on the line, it’s necessary.


3 – Katsuyori Shibata

Katsuyori Shibata is one of the best wrestlers to ever work for New Japan Pro Wrestling. Shibata is notorious for his “Strong Style” which consisted of vicious headbutts, brutal kicks and brain-damaging forearms. At New Japan Pro Wrestling’s event Sakura Genesis, Shibata wrestled Kazuchika Okada for the Heavyweight Championship. In what would turn out to be a Dave Meltzer 5* rated match, Shibata delivered an earth shattering headbutt. Backstage after the match, Shibata collapsed and was rushed to the hospital to have emergency surgery after suffering a subdural hematoma.

The injury caused Katsuyori to suffer paralysis on the right side of his body as well as impaired vision. Shibata underwent multiple surgeries and is currently undergoing strenuous physiotherapy. On the G1 Climax Final show back in August, Shibata made a return appearance, taking a back bump and simply stating “I’m alive”.

It is unknown if he will ever return to the ring. Despite this, it has been heavily rumoured NJPW want to sign Shibata as a trainer for the NJPW dojo. If Katsuyori does return to the ring, I would hope for the benefit of his health he stops doing headbutts.


2 – Droz

Never to view, duplicate or destroy. Those are the instructions for the tape containing Droz’s injury in WWE’s archives. Droz debuted in the WWF under the ring name Puke. In the documentary “Beyond the Mat” you can witness Droz’s first meeting with Vince McMahon, where Vince orders him to puke into a trash can on demand. Droz gained the nickname “Puke” as an NFL footballer, where he infamous vomited on the football on television.

On October 5th, 1999, Droz wrestled D-Lo Brown at a Smackdown taping. D-Lo went for his signature running powerbomb, setting up this horrible incident. Droz was unable to boost himself up for the powerbomb correctly. Along with this, D-Lo didn’t have a proper grip on Droz. These two factors led to Droz getting spiked directly on his skull. This unfortunate botch left Droz as a quadriplegic.

Droz wrote for WWE.com for many years after the incident, often predicting PPV results. Since the incident, Droz has regained movement of his upper body and arms.


1 – Jerry “The King” Lawler

Boy oh boy, was this one scary. On September 10th, 2012, RAW was live in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. After wrestling in a tag match including CM Punk and Dolph Ziggler, Jerry Lawler collapsed at the announce table. According to Michael Cole, Jerry had started snoring, which Cole believed to be King satirically letting people know he was bored. In reality, Jerry Lawler had just suffered a heart attack, live, on global television.

Lawler was soon moved backstage, where the medics and EMTs desperately tried to revive him. I don’t really know if this one contradicts the title, as he lived, but Jerry Lawler was clinically dead for almost half an hour. The day after, Lawler underwent an angioplasty, which improved the blood flow to his heart. By September 17th, Lawler had already returned home to Memphis, Tennessee.

Jerry Lawler returned to WWE Television three months later, where he resumed his role as commentator. King was cleared by doctors to wrestle, although WWE has never let him wrestle for them again, in fear that this might occur again. Despite WWE’s fears, Lawler still wrestles on independents and today, almost five years later he is fine.

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