Newsflash: Professional wrestling isn’t real. We know, we know. We’ll give it a moment for that to sink in. The moves in a professional wrestling match are expertly choreographed to maximize an audience’s emotional investment in the match while minimizing the risk of injury to the performers. However, as quaint and relatively safe as an airplane spin or an abdominal stretch may be, there are other wrestling moves that stretch believability to the absolute breaking point. Moves so preposterous that they could only occur in a pro wrestling match. Moves that would also absolutely kill you if you somehow found yourself on the wrong end of them. Moves like…
10 The Canadian Destroyer
The piledriver is a dangerous staple of the pro-wrestling diet where a wrestler appears to be dropped right on his head. The move is so dangerous, it’s actually listed as illegal in the Unified Rules for Mixed Martial Arts. That’s right. Regulators who barely know the difference between a fake wrestling match and a real martial arts fight decreed that Anderson Silva or Ronda Rousey cannot pick an opponent up in the Octagon and spike him or her right into oblivion.
Wrestlers as famous as “Stone Cold” Steve Austin have legitimately broken their necks when the piledriver has been applied incorrectly, which is one of the reasons Petey Williams’ “Canadian Destroyer” was so ludicrously terrifying. (Williams retired in 2014.)
Petey decided that spiking someone on his head was not enough. Instead, that person should have to do a backflip first while Williams holds onto his back for dear life. The move is ridiculous because the opponent has to do ALL the work for the move to work. Of course, if someone could actually do this to you without your assistance, you would end up six inches shorter and missing a soul afterward…
9 The Moonsault Side Slam
A moonsault is wrestling-speak for “backflip.” For example, “that guy had to moonsault himself over for Petey Williams’s finisher to work.” It requires tremendous athleticism and agility to pull one off in a wrestling match without hurting yourself. However, this is doubly so when your finishing move requires your opponent to do a somersault at the same time. The moonsault side slam is what results when someone tries to implement video game physics into real life.
If someone could do this to you WITHOUT your assistance? (Assume no wrestling ring.) You’d be dead as a doornail as you cracked the back of your head open, and you’d also get motion sickness on the way down as an added bonus. There’s a reason wrestling announcers always say “don’t try this at home.”
8 Torture Rack
The torture rack was the finishing move for “The Total Package” Lex Luger, whose entire gimmick can be summed up with “He’s really, really strong.” Luger was not exactly smooth in the ring, and his finisher was equally ugly looking. However, he was one of the only people strong enough to do it, so fans reacted pretty well to it throughout his career. It’s ridiculous because there is no leverage involved, and any resistance from an opponent would cause them to fall off Luger’s shoulders. When a sneeze is an acceptable way of escaping a wrestling move, that move is stupid.
However, as easy as it would be to escape, if LEX sneezed at the wrong time, you’d end up two inches taller and about 100% deader with a spine as sturdy as a shoelace. If you value your neck and back, it’d be good to stay on Lex’s good side…
7 Muscular Bomb
The Muscular Bomb has several names. It is also called the “Half-nelson wheelbarrow driver” and the “are you kidding? You want me to do WHAT?” It’s another move that requires absolute cooperation from an opponent to even remotely pull it off, and also a suicidal tendency from that opponent to risk taking it.
An opponent has to be in a completely convoluted position to set up the move, but it’s all downhill from there. If the Muscular Bomb were a drug, possible side-effects would include a mildly crushed skull and slight case of decapitation. It has been used as a finishing move by Japanese wrestler Naruki Doi since 2007. If that move DIDN’T finish an opponent, run away in terror because that opponent isn’t human…
You’ll never see the move performed in a WWE ring. They’ve greatly limited the use of the regular piledriver in recent years to help prevent injuries to their athletes, so there’s no way you’ll be seeing the Muscular Bomb at Wrestlemania anytime soon.
6 The Styles Clash
At face value, the Styles Clash doesn’t appear that bad. Kind of goofy, actually. Like a kiddie ride at an amusement park. Sure, you’re upside down, but Styles falls forward, not down. You have a relatively soft landing flat on your face instead of on the top of your head.
Oh, did we mention that three wrestlers had their necks broken or badly injured with the move in 2014 alone?
The problem is that a wrestler’s instinct is to tuck his head during a fall, and this is the worst possible thing to do when taking a Styles Clash because it causes your skull to compress into your shoulders. This resulted in wrestlers Roderick Strong, “Lionheart” Adrian McCallum and Yoshi Tatsu all suffering neck injuries that ranged from a mild sprain (Strong) to multiple fractures (McCallum and Tatsu.) Let’s say that again- this maneuver broke the necks of two people specifically trained to take that move without hurting themselves.
The Vertebreaker gained notoriety when “Sugar” Shane Helms used is as his finisher in the dying days of WCW before becoming a joke character “The Hurricane” in the WWE. WWE officials took one look at the back to back double underhook piledriver (the boring technical name for the move) and saw lawsuits dancing in front of their eyes, saying “No WAY are you doing that here…” (Though there is video of him doing the move in a WWE ring at least once.)
The setup is incredibly convoluted, as Helms had to lock arms with the opponent, turn him around, lock arms again and then lift him up so the opponent was back-to-back with him in an upside-down position, resembling more of a dance partner than a hated adversary. Then he sits down.
Another move that requires absolutely no resistance from the opponent to get into position properly, but if you find yourself in that position against your will, you have about half a second to update your will…
4 Last Ride
The name of this move could not be more accurate. (Pro-wrestling is not always known for its subtlety.) The powerbomb has caused many real injuries in professional wrestling, including an infamous incident in the 90s when wrestler Vader legitimately broke the back of opponent Joe Thurman with the move. And that was a regular powerbomb. This extreme version of one involves a nearly seven foot tall man named the Undertaker lifting an opponent arm’s length over his head before executing it.
Needless to say, it’s not going to end well. If a man was able to lift you up like that and throw you to the ground in “real life,” you might want to reconsider your life choices on the way down. Unfortunately, the move resulted in real tragedy in 2015 when a 20-year-old man performed the move on his girlfriend’s infant son, resulting in his death.
3 Dragonscrew Neck Whip
This is a move that just sounds nasty. And indeed, it lives up to the hype. It was perfected in Japan by stars like Keiji Mutoh, otherwise known as “The Great Muta,” and Yugi Nagata. The attacker puts the opponent’s feet on the ropes with his body facing down towards the mat. The attacker wraps and arm around the head and neck of the opponent and then twists violently while falling to the mat. The opponent gets his neck adjusted in a most unpleasant way whilst also getting his head run into the mat in a two-for-one special. Obviously, this move takes a lot of skill from both wrestlers to pull it off effectively and safely. It is fortunate that there typically aren’t horizontal ropes laying around in daily life with which to find yourself suddenly caught in this maneuver, and for that we are eternally grateful.
2 Curb Stomp
In real-life, a curb stomp is a vicious maneuver where someone places a victim’s open mouth over a curb before stomping down on the back of the neck. It was perhaps best-known for its appearance in the beginning of the film “American History X” when Edward Norton’s character gets arrested. In the wrestling world, the opponent is bent over in a standing or all-fours position while the attacker jumps in the air, places a foot on the back of the opponent’s head and drives him face-first into the mat. WWE star Seth Rollins popularized the move in the United States before a company concern over copycat injuries happening outside the ring (a la the “Last Ride”) prompted the move to be banned in an attempt to prevent future lawsuits. In the ring, the move is ridiculous because it requires the opponent to wait in a prone position for an inordinate amount of time for the move to be executed (since Rollins usually got a running start.) If someone attempts this is in real life, simply run away as quickly as possible…
1 Burning Hammer
Take Lex Luger’s Torture Rack and combine it with dropping someone on their head like a Muscular Bomb or a Vertebreaker and you have one of the most dangerous moves in professional wrestling history. Kenta Kobashi is the wrestler who popularized the maneuver, and even he has only used it a handful of times throughout his career, which makes any occasion when the move is used special. The Burning Hammer is therefore worshipped in Japan (where Kobashi performs,) and it is not used much in the United States because of the inherent danger in pulling it off correctly. Wrestlers in the WWE have used a modified version of the move where the opponent gets flipped to their stomach on the way down to prevent landing on the head and neck, but that is a Burning Hammer in name only. If someone did this move in reality, the recipient would likely have a broken back, broken neck and fractured skull in the very least.
Luckily, it’s all part of the show…