Wrestling is supposed to be safe, in that the wrestlers aren't meant to actually injure each other. No one said it wasn't allowed to hurt, though, and it does. Every wrestling match is a punishing experience, and the competitors rely on training, conditioning and the skills of their opponent to ensure none of it is permanent.
Some matches are more punishing than others. On some occasions a wrestler is injured and continues anyway, toughing it out until they can reach an ending, or a competitor is infected with the bloodlust of the crowd and goes way too far.
Other matches involve one wrestler deliberately battering the other. Wrestling's old-school (some would say petty and macho) culture involves a lot of hazing and 'paying one's dues', which means new wrestlers having the bejeesus smacked out of them at the hands of higher-status members of the roster.
WWE's in-ring style is on the safer end of things, because so many of their wrestlers work hundreds of nights a year. Even so, WWE's history is littered with notably painful matches when things went wrong, hazings were enacted, or old-fashioned punishment were meted out.
10. The Acolytes Vs. The Public Enemy (Sunday Night Heat, 7 March 1999)
Thanks to the booking prowess of Paul Heyman in ECW, tag team The Public Enemy were a huge deal when they became free agents in 1999. WWE acquired them, but the locker room were not immediately enamoured by two men who had previously chosen competitors over WWE and acted like a bigger deal than they arguably were.
In the face of such provocation, the vengeful roster of 1999 had only one recourse. Send in The Acolytes.
Farooq and Bradshaw got their crack at The Public Enemy on an episode of Sunday Night Heat and didn't let the chance go to waste. The unofficial executioners of the company's disgruntled wrestlers launched a full-out assault on the unsuspecting newcomers.
Bradshaw's murderous chair shots to their backs and shoulders and Farooq's criminal stomps to a downed opponent left no doubt as to the purpose of the match. A final unprotected chair to the head head added an exclamation point.
It was a punishment beating and because it was in front of a live audience, The Public Enemy were obliged to sit and take it.