10 Times WWE's Fake World Got Dangerously Real

WWE called itself sports entertainment. At times, it was more dangerous than wrestling ever was.

Kurt angle gammy neck

Bret Hart famously prided himself on the fact that, throughout his entire lengthy and legendary pro wrestling career, he never once injured one of his opponents. 

He was a master of sleight of hand. If you go back and watch his TV classic opposite the 123 Kid from 1994, you’ll wince as Bret, telling the story of a veteran embarrassed by his rookie opponent’s successful opening shine, blows the Kid away with a ferocious uppercut to the jaw. It looks vile. The second - where Bret, still pissed at losing the opening exchange, treats himself to another - looks even more disgusting. Kid sells it like he’s helpless, knocked loopy, in there with somebody who might take it much too far. 

This is one of the best ever “stiff veteran punks younger opponent” spots, and Bret wasn’t being a bully taking liberties. His timing was simply as immaculate as his body language and facial expressions. 

All of which is to state that there is a relatively safe means of conveying brutality and animosity within the context of predetermined pseudo-combat. Bret did it. Every single time. 

He himself would wince at the following entries on this list, in which WWE missed the point of itself…

10. Brock Lesnar Cuts Randy Orton Open The Hard Way

Kurt angle gammy neck

Imagine you’ve just watched a survival horror film in which a character is mutilated by a shark. The big attack scene looks all too real, and then you discover that it is. The actor’s leg was legitimately ripped apart. 

When you learn of this, you’re baffled. Wasn’t there some sort of cinematic technique the director could have used to create, safely, the exact same effect? 

Yes, but the thing is, the director wanted the shark to look incredibly dangerous. But hold on - isn’t the fact that a shark is a…shark already a rather large hint?

Also yes. 

This, incredibly, is almost precisely analogous to the finish of Brock Lesnar Vs.. Randy Orton at SummerSlam 2016. Brock, as instructed, used the sharp point of his elbow to draw blood from Orton’s head. The hard way. Brock is the toughest man to have ever walked into wrestling. He was a real-life great white shark who in storylines had ended the Undertaker’s WrestleMania streak. He needed no building up! 

This was as dangerous as it was utterly pointless, and it was unspeakably dangerous. 

Orton suffered a concussion. His career could have been severely affected - all because WWE thinks the blade is too intertwined with “wrasslin’”.


Michael Sidgwick is an editor, writer and podcaster for WhatCulture Wrestling. With over seven years of experience in wrestling analysis, Michael was published in the influential institution that was Power Slam magazine, and specialises in providing insights into All Elite Wrestling - so much so that he wrote a book about the subject. You can order Becoming All Elite: The Rise Of AEW on Amazon. Possessing a deep knowledge also of WWE, WCW, ECW and New Japan Pro Wrestling, Michael’s work has been publicly praised by former AEW World Champions Kenny Omega and MJF, and current Undisputed WWE Champion Cody Rhodes. When he isn’t putting your finger on why things are the way they are in the endlessly fascinating world of professional wrestling, Michael wraps his own around a hand grinder to explore the world of specialty coffee. Follow Michael on X (formerly known as Twitter) @MSidgwick for more!