Hi folks! Today, we have a rundown of 15 WWE ladder & TLC match injuries which highlight how dangerous they can be. With WWE’s Money in the Bank PPV creeping round the corner, I feel it’s the right time to remind us how our favorite Superstars put their bodies on the line to deliver carnage in a way we wouldn’t dare. I have not ordered the entries in any specific way, although the most disturbing one is at the end.
#1. Edge (1998-2011)
Cervical spinal stenosis is a severe bone disease Adam Copeland dealt with after having no choice but to move on from a career as the Rated R Superstar Edge, in 2011. While unconfirmed, it is generally accepted that his extreme bumps (especially in ladder & TLC matches) led to the condition which not only threatened permanent paralysis, but could cost him his life had he continued. Regarded as a veteran of the ladder match, Edge enjoyed much success in a tag team with his partner Christian, before moving on and proving he could stand on his own as one of WWE’s most accomplished stars. It took over a decade of rehab for him to finally be medically cleared to return to doing what he loves.
#2. Kyle O’Reilly – NXT TakeOver XXV (2019)
While wrestling as a tag team with Bobby Fish as part of The Undisputed ERA, they often held or challenged for the NXT Tag Team Championship. At the milestone 25th TakeOver event, the titles had been vacated after WWE moved The Viking Raiders up to Raw and relinquished them, so a ladder match would decide the new champions.
In a brutal ladder match featuring Undisputed ERA, The Forgotten Sons, Danny Burch & Oney Lorcan, and eventual winners The Street Profits, O’Reilly injured his back by falling on a few ladders. Sporting bruises and a laceration, Kyle posted an image to his Instagram before sharing the news he wouldn’t make it to the Download Festival in the UK. Ouch!
The medical man told me my back is still hurt so unfortunately I won’t be able to attend @DownloadFest this year. Im sorry to all the great UK fans, believe me I’m gutted to be missing @Tool but at least now @rikbugez has an actual chance of winning the air guitar contest.
— Kyle O'Reilly (@KORcombat) June 14, 2019
#3. Sheamus – Monday Night Raw (2017)
During a three-way tag team match with Cesaro against The Good Brothers & SAWFT, The Bar introduced ladders to the fray. In the video at the 1:04 mark, you can see Cesaro throwing Sheamus in Big Cass’ direction, who had just been placed in the corner with a ladder over him. As Sheamus runs in, Cass throws the ladder at his face and busts him open. The gash required 15 stitches to close it, but it didn’t dampen Sheamus’ spirits, as he called it a war scar and threatened to Brogue Kick anyone who compared him to Harry Potter.
#4. Randy Orton – Money in the Bank (2014)
In the main event of the show, a ladder match decided the new World Heavyweight Champion. Randy Orton aimed to claim the prize over John Cena (who later won), Alberto Del Rio, Sheamus, Roman Reigns, Bray Wyatt, Cesaro and Kane, but his momentum was halted by being struck in the head with a ladder. He later got 11 stitches, but it didn’t stop The Viper, as he was back in the ring the next night.
#5. Kairi Sane – TLC (2019)
Because women’s ladder matches weren’t a thing before the past few years, Kairi Sane is only one of two women on this list. Her & Asuka, otherwise known as The Kabuki Warriors and Women’s Tag Team Champions, wrestled in a TLC match in the main event against Charlotte Flair & Becky Lynch.
Near the end of the match, some fans shot video of Lynch talking to Sane on the outside, before encouraging her to slide under the ring. It was later reported she suffered a concussion and Becky was protecting Kairi from any further harm. In the video below, you can see the possible reason for her being concussed. While Flair & Lynch cleared the announce table, you can see them throwing the monitors away, but they get tangled midair and fall Kairi’s way, landing on the back of her head. Accidents happen.
#6. Chris Benoit – TLC III on SmackDown (2010)
One of the most damaging injuries came as Chris Benoit crashed through a table during TLC III. At first glance, it’s hard to see how he could have sustained such a grievous injury, but by slowing it down you can see that Matt Hardy doesn’t move quick enough. Because of this, Benoit’s head hits him awkwardly and tweaks his neck. It’s a strange one, because he initially shows pain, but then lies motionless with his eyes closed like he was knocked out by the fall. Tazz and the medical team get him on a stretcher and take him to the back.
Despite this, he returns later to finish the match by climbing up the ladder to retrieve the titles, and carries on wrestling til the King of the Ring PPV. After this, WWE forced him to take time off and get neck surgery by Dr. Lloyd Youngblood (the same guy who fixed Steve Austin and others), but ended up missing the next year and the entire Invasion angle. It’s this recklessness with his health which makes you wonder what would have happened had he retired in 2001.
#7. Mia Yim – NXT (2019)
WWE explains what happened to Mia Yim on an episode of NXT, when she faced off against Io Shirai in a ladder match to decide the WarGames advantage. She later became Reckoning of the Retribution stable, and hasn’t been seen since shortly after it disbanded. In case you don’t feel like watching the video, she suffered nasal fractures and broken ribs after some ugly landings.
#8. Jeff Hardy – Extreme Rules (2009)
During a ladder match for the World Heavyweight Championship against Edge, Jeff Hardy picked up two injuries. At the 21-minute mark, Jeff climbs the ladder on the outside while Edge is laying prone on the other placed between the ring and the guardrail.
Edge recovers and climbs the same ladder, and they fall towards the other ladder shortly after. If you watch closely, you can see Jeff cushioning his fall with his arm, but he lands on his shoulder and picks up an injury. He apparently picked up a broken finger elsewhere, but it isn’t clear where. Hardy won the match and the title, but CM Punk cashed in his Money in the Bank and ensured his hard work was all for nothing.
#9. Tommaso Ciampa – NXT TakeOver: Chicago (2017)
Johnny Gargano & Tommaso Ciampa’s tag team of DIY was one of the hottest acts in wrestling. Together, they worked some of the highest rated matches against The Revival. Not long after, the upcoming Authors Of Pain targeted them. During their ladder match, Ciampa ruptured the ACL in his right knee. Immediately after losing the tag team titles in the same match, Ciampa shocked the world by turning on Gargano. I still regard this as one of the greatest turns in wrestling history, and it’s kinda sad that so many didn’t watch NXT to experience the shock value.
Anyway, because of Ciampa’s injury, it robbed us of the feud. Gargano couldn’t focus for months because he was waiting for Ciampa to return. In 2018, he finally did by ruthlessly attacking his former friend with his crutch. This same crutch which helped Ciampa through his injury became a recurring weapon and plot device between them. In the coming months, the NXT fans loved Gargano and loathed Ciampa like I’ve never seen before. And a big part of it was having the extra months to build anticipation so the fans investment in the storyline could shoot through the roof. NXT turned a negative injury in to the single, greatest NXT feud ever.
#10. Bubba Ray Dudley – TLC IV on Monday Night Raw (2002)
At the 12:15 mark, Bubba Ray Dudley and Chris Jericho climb the ladder. After some jockeying for position, Jericho throws Bubba to the ground with a bulldog, but Bubba lands on his head. This gave him a concussion so severe he couldn’t remember the match. He would later say:
“Even watching it back, I dont remember anything. I pride myself as someone who can perform in a condition like that. You go on autopilot, I just hope the fans enjoyed the TLC Match, and I just hope they truly appreciate what it takes to put on a match like that. I hope they appreciate what we put our bodies through for their entertainment.”
#11, 12, 13 & 14. Sheamus, CM Punk, Rob Van Dam & Christian – Money in the Bank (2013)
The Money in the Bank match in 2013 was so dangerous it takes up a whole four entries in the list. You can see images of CM Punk and Rob Van Dam being treated here.
- Sheamus suffered a torn labrum in his left shoulder, which left him sidelined for several months.
- CM Punk picked up a gash on the top of his head which took 13 staples to treat. He would later share it on his social media.
- Rob Van Dam appeared joyful while being treated for the gash in his forehead, which took 14 staples to close.
- Christian chipped one of his front teeth after being struck in the face.
- WWE reports that Cody Rhodes suffered a laceration under his eye in the other MITB match on the same night, which makes 2013 the most injure friendly PPV in the events history.
I’ll leave you to find out where these injuries occurred in the video. I could only find it on Facebook and WWE might have clipped it: Money in the Bank 2013
#15. Joey Mercury – Armageddon (2006)
In a Fatal 4-Way ladder for the tag team titles, Brian Kendrick & Paul London defended against The Hardy Boyz, William Regal & Dave Taylor, along with the team of Johnny Nitro & Joey Mercury, otherwise known as MNM. I remember the day. What happened to Joey Mercury is one of the most graphic and disturbing things I have ever seen in wrestling. The way his face swelled up will never leave my mind. If you’ve never seen this before, I warn you right now, it’s difficult to watch.
At the 16:25 mark in the first video, you can see Matt Hardy holding the heads of MNM while Jeff Hardy leaps over him to land on the ladder. Because of both Hardy’s bad timing, neither Nitro nor Mercury could protect themselves from the incredible force generated by Jeff’s seesaw catapult. Luckily for Nitro, he wasn’t close enough to the edge of the ladder and was only struck lightly near the throat. But for Mercury, it’s a moment which changed his life. He struggled with his confidence while wearing a face mask upon his return, and was released by WWE only 3 months after he suffered the horrific injury. He returned a few years later and joined CM Punk’s Straight Edge Society stable.
Mercury later admitted he had been addicted to taking hard drugs with alcohol since he was 15. In 2006, he entered rehab and missed six months of work. After returning, he suffered the injury at Armageddon and quickly turned to painkillers. Vince McMahon intervened and had no choice but to release him, which Mercury says helped him to address his addictions once and for all.
After losing his job, CM Punk helped to pay for his house, otherwise he wouldn’t have had anywhere to live. While the injury was one of the most gruesome things to happen in wrestling, it eventually helped Mercury to turn his life around by getting clean. It somehow put things in to perspective, and he could enjoy many more years working for the industry in some capacity.
John Morrison: “I happened to be looking up, so it hit me in the throat. But Mercury was looking straight at it and it hit him square in the nose and the orbital bone. It really could have been any one of us. I was just lucky that the ladder hit him first.”
Matt Hardy: “I’ll always remember [the match] for what we did to Joey Mercury’s face. After the seesaw, I remember hearing him yell, “I’m bleeding,” and it was like someone went to a sink and turned the faucet on. It was gruesome.”
This article has highlighted how dangerous ladder match types can be, but they can also be character building inside and outside the ring. The overall message here is, you can point anyone here if they naively label wrestling fake. Wrestlers get hurt, lives are changed, and when the dust settles, injuries can make or break careers. We’re lucky that ladder match injuries have never led to anything more, like paralysis or even death, but we must always be aware that it could happen someday. As we know, all it takes is one moment of madness. Thanks for reading!