10 WWE Superstars Who Were Knocked Out For Real
At AEW's Fyter Fest on June 29, Shawn Spears (former WWE superstar Tye Dillinger) hit Cody Rhodes with an unprotected chair shot to the head. Cody had to get 12 stitches after, and it was immediately criticized by both fans and people in the wrestling world for being unsafe and irresponsible. AEW later stated that the spot went badly, and the chair was supposed to be gimmicked.
It's kind of incredible that we're even having this conversation to begin with. A decade ago, chair shots were given in professional wrestling. It's only after the Chris Benoit tragedy and extensive studies into the long-term effects of concussions that the culture has undergone such a drastic change in attitude.
Because even the safest, most carefully worked match has the potential for head injury; most recently, Goldberg accidentally slammed head first into a ringpost at Super Showdown and got knocked out cold. There's no need to willfully add more danger to professional wrestling, when it already exists in such abundance.
In addition to Goldberg, here are 10 more WWE Superstars who were knocked out for real, in what were supposed to be scripted moments. If you like this gallery, check out this article about WWE wrestlers who were punished backstage, and this article about when WWE turned real life tragedies into scripted storylines.
10. Daniel Bryan
Event: SmackDown (August 19, 2011)
Alberto del Rio recalled in a shoot interview that during an early match he had with Daniel Bryan, he accidentally punched Daniel Bryan and knocked him out cold. Del Rio wanted to stop the match, but the referee told him to continue. And eventually, Bryan regained consciousness and managed to wrap things up.
It's difficult to find the exact spot that Del Rio is discussing. He mentions a commercial break in the match, which means it could be their Raw match on November 29, 2010. But there's no obvious botched punch or knockout in the rerun (although WWE may have edited it out on the WWE Network).
But there is a strange moment during the August 19, 2011 episode of SmackDown, when Del Rio kicked Bryan in the head, and afterward, Bryan appears to go limp. Del Rio puts him in a hold, and it appears that the referee is checking in on him.
Watch it on the WWE Network. Could this be the match that Del Rio is referring to? Or maybe not. SmackDown matches were not aired live at the time, so maybe this was edited as well.
9. Liv Morgan
Event: Raw (September 24, 2018)
Brie Bella returned after a multi-month layoff to team with Nikki Bella on Raw. And almost immediately, the ring rust began to show. She made several mistakes where she could have injured herself, such as a couple of botched suicide dives. But when she delivered her husband's signature Yes Kicks during a tag match with the Riott Squad, Brie mixed up her timing. She caught Liv Morgan with two kicks to the head, and Morgan collapsed in the ring.
You can see Brie realize what happens and drag Liv over to her partners' corner by her head (which isn't a good idea). Liv comes to a little later, and even takes part in a suplex spot, But the doctor keeps her out of the ring for the rest of the match (the commentary looks foolish when they claim that Liv was taken to the back at the exact same time that you see her being tended to at ringside.
Brie felt terrible about it. You could see the backstage fallout from the KO on an episode of Total Bellas several months later.
8. Shane McMahon
Event: Survivor Series (2016)
Shane McMahon is a daredevil more than he is a wrestler. He's very good at jumping off of tall things, even though his ring work is somewhat lacking. And his comparative lack of preparedness cost him at the 2016 Survivor Series, when he went for a top-rope Coast 2 Coast, and Roman Reigns speared him, midair, right onto the back of his head.
Shane was out cold, and his family was sitting by ringside. Some eagle-eyed fans noticed that Randy Orton went over to Shane's son to reassure him that his father was okay.
7. Chavo Guerrero, Jr.
Event: Smackdown (August 26, 2004)
The WWE refers to high-flying moves, like elbow drops and missile dropkicks, as "high-risk maneuvers." And Chavo Guerrero, unfortunately was on the receiving end of a botched one in 2004.
His opponent, Billy Kidman, landed a Shooting Star Press. Done properly, he would have landed flat on Chavo in the crossbody position. Instead, he misjudged and under-rotated, and drove his knee directly into Chavo's head. You can see Chavo's stiff legs when Kidman goes for the pin.
6. William Regal
Event: No Way Out (2003)
Even routine moves can go wrong. In 2003 at No Way Out, Kane scoop slammed William Regal during a tag match. But perhaps Regal catches to much of the slam on the back of his head; he immediately goes limp. Kane and Lance Storm stall for time, and the referee subtly crosses his arms in an "X" formation, which is the non-verbal signal WWE uses when a wrestler is hurt for real.
Regal eventually comes and staggers to his corner, where Storm tags himself in.
5. Candice Michelle
Event: Raw (October 22, 2007)
Injuries can happen at the worst possible time. In Candice Michelle's case, she was starting to improve her ring work; she was known for years as the GoDaddy girl, but in 2007, she captured the WWE Women's Championship.
Unfortunately, in an October 2007 episode of Raw, Beth Phoenix bumped into the ropes while Candice Michelle was getting ready to jump off of them. She landed horribly on the mat, headfirst, and was diagnosed with a broken clavicle. The referee directed Beth Phoenix pin her; she dragged her to the center of the ring and did so.
4. Drew McIntyre
Event: Wrestlemania XXVI (2010)
On Drew's first run with WWE, he was booked as a midcard attraction, and as such, competed in the company's annual Money in the Bank Ladder match, which at that time took place at WrestleMania instead of main eventing its own pay-per-view.
These ladder matches are infamous for their dangerous high spots, and when Kofi Kingston jumped off a ladder to hit a flying leg drop on Drew McIntyre, he made contact with Drew's head. He remembers waking up a short while later, wondering why there was a cheering crowd in his bedroom.
3. Enzo Amore
Event: Payback (2016)
Enzo Amore was a loud guy with a lot of charisma. But before WWE fired him, he was notorious amongst wrestling fans for botching simple moves. And during a match against the Vaudevillains, he ran a little too fast and executed a baseball slide a little too late. He caught on the bottom rope and fell headfirst on the floor.
Amore, to his credit, blames Gotch for whipping him towards the ropes too hard.
Event: King of the Ring (1998)
Mankind's Hell in a Cell match against the Undertaker is a brutal classic. Its most famous spot is when Undertaker tosses Mankind off the top of the cage into the Spanish announce table. But the worst spot took place several minutes later, when Foley climbed to the top of the cell again, and Undertaker chokeslammed him through the roof.
The roof wasn't supposed to give way, but it did, and Mankind fell into the ring along with a metal folding chair, which landed on his head. He got knocked out and aspirated a tooth. All things considered, it could have been worse; Undertaker thought that Mankind was surely dead.
1. The Miz
Event: Wrestlemania XXVII (2011)
It's tough to get knocked out under any circumstance. It's even worse if you get knocked out at Wrestlemania, in the main event of the biggest show of the year.
Miz was on the outside of the ring, behind the barrier, and John Cena tackled him by spearing himself over the barrier. The angle was too sharp, and when Miz dropped, his head bounced on the concrete floor.
To this day, Miz doesn't remember huge chunks of the match, even though he retained the WWE Championship.