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Nightmare Fuel / Professional Wrestling

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We should probably note that he has bled EVEN MORE than this at times!

Yes, even the so-called "soap opera for men" is capable of scaring the living daylights out of fans, as evidenced by these examples:

  • There are, of course, various wrestling characters intentionally designed to frighten people: The Undertaker, Kane, Sting. But that doesn't mean the squared circle does not offer up some more unexpected and even subtle menaces.
  • The 1989 match in CSP between Manny Fernandez and Invader #3. The Invaders of Puerto Rico were some of the most hardcore of wrestlers, pretty much defining the barbwire match before FMW got the idea to replace the ropes with it, but this was far more disturbing than any gimmick match, just Manny Fernandez trying to crush 3's stomach and chest with knee drops, which resulted in him sputtering out blood. Fernandez said he was trying to kill 3 in revenge to avenge the death of Bruiser Brody, but if that is true this was a case of Mistaken Identity, as 3 had nothing to with that incident.
  • Many wrestlers in history have experienced this in their own flesh inside the arena, but nobody knew then what the Real Life episode that Sgt. Slaughter and his family experienced during his time as "Iraqi sympathizer" would have as a consequence. He himself had to devise a way to tone down the heat as they began to receive real death threats.
  • During his first run in the WWF in 1992, Las Vegas native Charles Wright (best known as the Godfather) was packaged as voodoo practitioner Papa Shango. Although considered laughable today for Wright's exaggerated portrayal of the character, the gimmick had fans — particularly younger ones — shivvering and screaming in bed the times they saw this scary-looking monster hold up a flaming skull and, just by raising his hand, could make his opponents (almost always, jobbers, but sometimes the Ultimate Warrior and at least once "Mean" Gene Okerlund) writhe in extreme pain, hemorrhage blood without explanation and vomit violently ... and Papa Shango didn't even have to be anywhere near the ring to make his hapless victims suffer. (Wright, already heavily tattooed, had a large skull painted on his face and spoke with a scary growl to make the Papa Shango character realistic, which did not help matters.)
  • Jake Roberts was involved in at least two different nightmare-inducing moments, one as a face and the other a heel moment that remains legendary, just months apart in 1991:
    • The earlier moment came toward the end of his face run, when he began a feud with Earthquake (former Canadian sumo star John Tenta), with the trope kicking into effect when Earthquake tied Roberts in the ropes, placed Roberts' bag in the ring with Damien still inside, and squashed the snake repeatedly with his "Earthquake splash." Clips of several children — and at least one college-aged girl — are shown on camera, seen clearly upset by the events in the ring.
      • This one at least became Nightmare Retardant after the fact when Tenta revealed years later in an interview with RD Reynolds of WrestleCrap just what was in the bag that he squashed: Panty Hose stuffed with hamburger meat, plus a little electric motor to create the illusion of the snake moving (Roberts put the bag containing his snake underneath the ring at the beginning of the match so they were able to switch out the two bags). Tenta was a very sweet, shy, and self-effacing man outside of the ring, and the sheepishness in his voice when he explained how they did it was hilarious.
    • After turning heel and beginning his famous feud with Randy Savage, he once lured him into the ring, after which he beat him down, tied him into the ropes and allowed another snake – a king cobra – to bite Savage's arm. (The snake, which had been devenomed, really did bite Savage's arm, and Roberts – who was actually having trouble getting the snake to release its grip — had to quickly improvise to make the scene appear that he was trying to get the snake to increase its bite.) Like before, when Damien was "killed," several children were visibly shaken by what had just taken place. Ironically, the snake died soon afterward, possibly from a toxic reaction to Savage's blood - which led Savage to joke that he had poisoned the snake!
      • In this example (which occurred on WWF Superstars, at the time the WWF's flagship program), the initial airing was heavily censored, as at the time WWF programming was very kid friendly and there were genuine concerns about the appropriateness of the content. The segment ran in full, but nearly the entire screen (which showed an extreme closeup of the snake latched on to Savage's arm) was blocked by a giant red "X" censor graphic. A rerun of the show later that same night showed the segment without the censor graphic; without knowing that the snake was devenomed beforehand, it was a genuinely disturbing video. And even knowing about it after the fact, it still looks damn painful, as you can clearly see smears of blood from where the snake has latched on. Even more disturbing was how close the snake came to biting Miss Elizabeth (who ran to ringside to try to protect Randy).
  • Eddie Guerrero vs. JBL, Judgment Day 2004, a match that many wrestlers and critics alike say redefined the "Muta Scale." During the match, Bradshaw waylays Eddie with a stiff chair shot. This, and Eddie's deep blade job(in which he accidentally hit a artery) caused rivulets of blood to run down Eddie's face and body and made for one of the most surreal, horrifying spectacles in WWE history.
    JBL: "The chair shot was very stiff... Eddie went deep. Very deep. I had no idea until I watched that tape back how much blood there was, I have seen some bloodbaths in Japan, Europe, Mexico and Texas-I had been in several-I have never seen anything like that."
  • Eddie's "descent into madness" while having a seemingly friendly feud with Rey Mysterio Jr. was something to behold. The fact that he just couldn't beat or even outwit Rey like he could most wrestlers drove Eddie to the breaking point where he would snap and turn on Rey and beat him down in the most gruesome, bloody way you could think. Believe it or not, people had been expecting Eddie to turn heel with his frustrations at the time, but as you can tell from the audience reaction, not like this.
  • WWE's Hell in a Cell. Imagine being trapped inside a 16 ft. high, 2 ton cage with your opponent and the referee. Since you can only win through pinfall or submission, you or your opponent are bound to get legitimate and severe injuries that could potentially end your career and ruin your life. That's assuming it doesn't ruin your career and end your life.
  • Mankind and Undertaker's infamous match. Mankind took two hideous bumps; one (intentional) from the roof to the announcer table, and another (accidental) through the roof to the ring below. Undertaker later admitted he thought he'd killed him.
  • WWE's Elimination Chamber and TNA's Steel Asylum, both of which add more opponents, more steel and chain, and more opportunity for bloodshed and injury. Remember, kids, Professional Wrestling is fake, but the odds of getting hurt are real. Just ask Mick Foley.
  • A few other dangerous match types are listed here.
  • In pro wrestli- I (beat) AM THE BOOGEYMAN! AND I'M COMING TO GET JOO! Just look at this. And don't turn the volume all the way up.
  • Mick Foley is the Nightmare Fetishist of professional wrestling. Watch this and this. Look at that demented, gap-tooth smile with his own blood running down his face and tell me he doesn't enjoy it. And you know what's scary, those are during his "post-retirement" years.
    • The infamous match at the Royal Rumble 1999 where The Rock absolutely brutalizes a completely defenseless Mankind with a chair. 11 unprotected shots to the head when it already gets deeply unsettling by the third one. It very much blurs the line between kayfabe and reality and it gets downright scary after awhile (it's essentially a public beating witnessed by thousands of live attendees, there's no way to sugarcoat it). To date it is often cited as the most violent thing WWE has ever allowed on television and it showed up in the documentary Beyond the Mat, where it was revealed that the event horrified Foley's children, who were in attendance.
  • Any match involving the proficient use of barbed wire. Want an example? Sabu vs. Terry Funk in a No-Rope Barbed Wire match at ECW's Born to Be Wired show. Sabu misses a splash on Funk and goes crashing into a barbed-wire board, tearing a 10-inch gash in his freakin' biceps and had someone go get duct tape to wrap it up so he could finish the match Paul Heyman and company felt that one "was too extreme, even for ECW."
  • A non-wrestling fan's first thought on seeing a hardcore match is something like "Oh my God, that guy's got tacks in his arm, how the hell are they faking this?". Then you realise they aren't.
  • Se7en, the gimmick that never was. When Dustin Rhodes came back to WCW after his run as Goldust, he was presented as a mysterious white-faced figure who lurked outside a child's window, watching him. The suits at Turner immediately nixed the gimmick, finding him too scary, and finding him uncomfortably similar to a child abductor. Can't say anyone blames 'em.
  • Sheamus vs. Jamie Noble. While Jamie Noble did win a few titles with WCW and Ring of Honor, his appearance on Raw was supposed to be a run-of-the-mill jobbing match. Before it, Sheamus said (in kayfabe) that this match would end Noble's career. It did in real-life.
  • Let us not forget, the night Kane took his mask off and shows his face to the public for the first time.
  • Some of Dean Ambrose's promos, in particular the stuff he did in the indies as Jon Moxley, is nightmareish... his style is often compared to Heath Ledger's Joker, but arguably scarier, if only because the Moxley persona displays a vulnerability that the Joker never had. The bipolar, twitchy, unpredictablely violent Moxley is all the more frightening because you can clearly see the traumatized, neglected child beneath the persona.
    • In this regard, Ambrose/Moxley is scary precisely because he isn't like Kane, or other over the top wrestling monsters, he instead comes off as a very realistic strung out psychopath, the kind of aimless madman you'd find wandering the alleys of some slum ranting and raving at the air, who you'd fear might attack you on sight.
    • Moxley/Ambrose is even scarier, and a lot sadder, when you realize that all of his promos come from a place of truth. That's right, nothing he says in his promos is fabricated. All of those things actually happened to him.
    • Moxley's partner in the Switchblade Conspiracy, Sami Callihan, is arguably worse. When you make Jon Moxley look sane...
  • Bray Wyatt, from WWE's NXT, is a megalomaniacal, pseudo-religious cult preacher from the swamps of Florida, delivering mad sermons as promos, and flanked by his "sons", two massive Deliverance-esque rednecks that obey his commands and seem to worship him. His introductory vignettes feature unsettling shots of decrepit and decaying places in a swamp, with his mad ranting as a voiceover, with Wyatt preaching his insane message to his followers in the woods. The man believes he is a god, and has a cult of people believing it.
  • Barry Windham's very, very short stint in the WWF as The Stalker. Prior to his debut, he would appear in vignettes hiding camoflauged in the woods as eerie music played. The specifics on the gimmick are unclear, but based on the promos it seems as if he was to be a deranged, psychotic ex-soldier. The gimmick would have gotten MUCH worse, as Word of God states he was allegedly planned to feud with Marc Mero in an angle that would see him stalking Mero's real life wife and onscreen manager Sable, eventually kidnapping her and slitting her throat. As you'd expect, Mero was absolutely 100% against this, so the angle was dropped and the gimmick was reduced to a nickname as Windham otherwise appeared as his traditional self in a babyface role as opposed to the psychotic heel he was planned to be. This is not necessarily a bad thing, as committing onscreen murder would have possibly ruined his reputation forever.
  • Payback 2013: Dolph Ziggler vs Alberto Del Rio. The match mostly consists of Del Rio kicking Ziggler in the head. What makes it so terrifying was that Ziggler suffered from a serious concussion a month prior.
  • Jeff Hardy appearing backstage in corpse paint on an episode of Friday Night SmackDown, which was the beginning of his "painted" gimmick that he would eventually carry into TNA. The very dim lighting, and our complete inability to see Hardy's eyes underneath the black swaths of paint across them, make it even worse.
    • Courtesy of 4.7.14 to Big E: BRAY IS GONNA KILL YOU, and this is said by the New Orleans crowd.
  • In early 2014, TNA had a feud between Mr. Anderson and Bully Ray. At the time, Bully Ray was being portrayed as completely unhinged with an arsonist vibe after Anderson caused the Aces & Eights to be disbanded. The two had a confrontation promo that took place in a funeral parlor. The camera work was a very strange (for wrestling) cinematic style with multiple cuts but was nonetheless effective. Bully threatened to burn down everything that Anderson cared about and directed his attention to an open coffin. Mr. Anderson reached inside and pulled out... a set of children's pajamas. Anderson turned around but Bully had vanished without a trace. It's one thing to beat up an opponent in the ring, or jump them in the back, or ram their car with a semi, but this is the first time a wrestler has threatened to burn down an opponent's home with his children still inside.
  • Ring of Honor had the debut of The Age Of The Fall: Jimmy Jacobs recruits Tyler Black, Lacey and Necro Butcher to his cause, and then after the Briscoe Brothers conclude a ladder match, the four of them proceed to beat the shit out of the Briscoe Brothers... and then they suspend Jay Briscoe by his legs from the rafters. And it got better: Jimmy proceeded to stand directly under Jay (who barely moved and actually did look like he was dead or unconscious) and started giving a speech about how he, Tyler and Necro were done with being shunned and had decided to start making their own way up the ranks instead of waiting for invitations that would never come... while Jay's blood was falling on him. ROH deemed it to be too disturbing to show, until the fans managed to convince them to show it. Hell, the crowd were even chanting 'You sick fuck!' at the beginning.
  • Kane Vs The Undertaker at WrestleMania 20 had some pretty disturbing aspects. The build-up to the match began after Survivor Series 2003, when Kane stabbed the then mortal Undertaker in the back, and helped Mr McMahon bury him alive. Then, at the following Royal Rumble, one entrant goes missing, and all that is Heard is a solemn Church bell. This was the start of two months of headgames as Kane saw his brother taunt him with hints and supernatural threats of his resurrection. Finally, at WrestleMania 20, the backdrop to the arena entrance had a video screen made to look like New York. When Kane comes out... it looks like the entire city is engulfed in fire. And when its Undertakers turn to come out, all is silent... until the disturbing high pitched voice of Paul Bearer echoes.
  • As if the Wyatt Family wasn't already disturbing enough, they pretty much outdid themselves during the 4/28/14 broadcast of RAW when Bray interrupted John Cena's promo by leading an entire choir of children dressed in black and singing "He's Got the Whole World in His Hands" as Bray directs the choir to sing along with him and replacing "Whole World" with other phrases, most notably Cenation. The segment then ends with the choir putting on sheep masks as Bray mounts one child on his lap, laughing maniacally as the camera focuses on the child's masked face. The image alone is unsettling but it also puts Bray's words to Cena into perspective: The fans have abandoned him.
  • From the unscripted side of things: any time at all that someone suffers a horrible injury in an event not catered around it. Yes, you expect to see such things in matches with names like "Hell in a Cell" or "No ropes barb-wire match", but even plain-Jane bouts have gruesome consequences sometimes. Some of the more famous "highlights" through the years include Bob Holly getting suplexed through a table and ending up with a SIXTEEN INCH gash across his back, Owen Hart visibly crushing Steve Austin's neck at SummerSlam 1997 with a botched piledrivernote , any time Sabu pulls a botch more severe than a flat crash landing...
  • Triple H's not-so-veiled threats to The Shield on the 5/12/2014 episode of Raw. He starts by saying that they'll 'humble' Dean Ambrose, and then things get darker: he compares Seth Rollins to a hummingbird and says he'll rip Seth's wings off, and then he actually outright threatens to kill Roman Reigns at Payback.
    • And then at Payback, Evolution went out of their way to torture Reigns by working him over with kendo sticks. As the announcers pointed out, they could have eliminated him at any time, but they wanted to hurt him.
  • There's something very unnerving about how much control Lana has over Alexander Rusev. He barely does anything without her telling him to do it, to the point that he doesn't break his submission holds until she tells him to. The fact that she does most of the talking for him makes it worse, because then he's just standing there like a puppet, waiting for Lana to pull a string.
  • You've been trading wrestling tapes, were convinced this series revolving around some "ChickFight" of Cheerleader Melissa was worth something you parted with despite your doubts of it being something silly in the vein of GLOW. Sure enough there is some of that but not as much as feared, then you get to a Real Quality bit where Melissa renders an opponent unable to continue by severing one of the ligaments in her leg with a pop can...ouch.
  • If this page hasn't illustrated the point already, Garbage Wrestling can be this for some people. And few varieties of garbage are more disturbing than the "Death Match". Fun fact, most falls over 30 imperial feet are lethal. Having already survived a 25+ foot fall off the back of a semi trailer at a prior CZW event, "Sick" Nick Mondo decided to top himself by going off the roof of a building with company owner John Zandig. Now a table was there to "break" their fall but Mondo overshot it and almost died by rupturing an artery in his back. Think that's the end of his career? Not quite, see this was only his second match at "tournament of death" that day and he won despite that injury, meaning he still had one more match of splinters and glass to go. Oh, and he would later state that fall which nearly killed him and the match coming afterward did not produce his most painful CZW injuries, they were just the warning signs that it was maybe time to take a break before he got broken.
    • This is the same Mondo who at the previous year's Tournament of Death got electric-weedwhacked.
  • Jana's assault on the five foot nothing Luscious Latasha at WSU included several splashes after Latasha stated she couldn't afford to get in the ring because she was pregnant. Less so later, when it was revealed Latasha was mistaken and Jana, (who by now wasn't just sick of Latasha's constant blunders but also violently insane) was giving her a "good" reason to go the hospital but was to many who saw the event before the reveal.
  • Veda Scott's match with Cherry Bomb at Absolute Intense Wrestling: Girls Night Out 4, which proceeded normally until the end, when Cherry Bomb set Scott up for a dropkick into the turnbuckle... and Scott's head went straight over the turnbuckle and into the ring post, knocking her unconscious.
  • Layla vs Beth Phoenix at Over The Limit 2012, the moment where Beth locks Layla in the half-crab and Layla is crying "please stop!" is a little frightening considering Layla is selling it realistically as opposed to the theatrical way most wrestling injuries get sold. Plus Beth was working Layla's surgically repaired leg (it's Layla's right leg that is damaged and in wrestling it's always the left limbs that get worked).
  • Brock Lesnar's absolutely vicious beatdown of John Cena at Summerslam 2014 for the WWE World Heavyweight championship. To wit, Cena was essentially put into a fifteen minute Squash Match, taking an F5 from Lesnar barely a minute into the match before Lesnar took him to town, hitting sixteen German suplexes as he practically threw Cena around the ring like a rag doll. It got to the point that JBL, who normally acts as the pro-heel announcer, was begging Lesnar to stop. Even when Cena managed to hit the Attitude Adjustment midway through the match, Lesnar was barely even fazed as he kicked out. Cena then managed to knock Lesnar down and tried to regroup, only for Lesnar to sit straight up, emulating (and likely mocking) the Undertaker's famous sit-up taunt, laughing maniacally as he sported one of the most creepy Slasher Smiles in pro wrestling history. Finally, a desperate Cena tries to make Lesnar tap out to the STF only for Lesnar to throw him off like it was nothing, before mercifully bringing the match to an end with an F5. In short, Lesnar not only won, he absolutely destroyed the WWE's top babyface in one of the most one-sided main events in pro wrestling history.
    • Just as frighting; his savage beatdown on Randy Orton two years later at Summerslam 2016. It was a very hard match to watch especially the finish. From the crowd going silent to the fact that Orton had a piece of his forehead flapping around after the beating it was perhaps the most visceral images in the modern era of the WWE.
  • On the last episode of Raw for 2014, Seth Rollins along with J&J Security and Big Show interrupts Edge and Christian's segment and calls out John Cena to the ring before proceeding to attack Edge and Christian, with The Big Show placing Edge's head on Rollins' Money in the Bank briefcase in position for a Curbstomp. This prompts Cena to come out, whereupon Rollins demands that Cena reinstate The Authority or else watch Edge get curbstomped. Keep in mind that Edge, non-kayfabe, had to retire due to lingering neck issues. Cena tries to talk Rollins down as the latter practically snarls at Cena, reminding him that Edge is a father, and goes into detail about how Cena would be responsible for whatever became of Edge and his family. Cena finally stands down and agrees to bring back the Authority, only for Rollins to state nonchalantly that Cena should have known better and he's "gonna kill him anyway," and was only stopped by Cena's quick intervention. Rollins is known for being a backstabbing opportunist willing to do anything to gain an advantage. The fact that he quite literally attempted to paralyze/murder Edge in the ring vaults him way beyond that into one of the company's most downright vicious heels since the start of the PG-era.
  • In the Feb. 22, 2015 edition of World Wonder Ring Stardom in Kōrakuen Hall, Yoshiko inexplicably broke from the script and attacked Act Yasukawa for real, beating her to a bloody pulp, complete with broken orbital bone, broken nose, and concussion. She also repeatedly attacked her eyes, even though Yasukawa had been struggling with Graves' disease which weakens the eyes and threatens blindness. As the security guards drag her away and Yasukawa is taken to the hospital, Yoshiko gives a smug smile.
  • Leva Bates' promos from SHINE 25 onwards have her murdering unknown people with the camera having the viewpoint of the victim, juxtaposed with dreamy love songs and Leva's passionate words about how she's fighting evil. It's like a horror movie.
  • Lucha Underground has Matanza, an unseen monster who wiped out Black Lotus' village, has committed God knows how many other atrocities, and straight up murdered Bael by eating his fucking head. The poor bastard didn't even get time to scream.
  • That time one of The Young Bucks gave Candice LeRae a superkick while he was wearing a shoe with thumbtacks glued to the sole. There was blood everywhere. In the same match, the Young Bucks shoved thumbtacks into Joey Ryan's mouth and then kicked him in the face. Not to be outdone, Candice at one point ballsplexed one of the Bucks into the turnbuckle, dropped a handful of thumbtacks down his pants, and then ballsplexed him again…into the remaining thumbtacks.
  • Stone Cold Steve Austin breaking into Brian Pillman's house apparently to kill him. Pullman pulls a gun on him. The feed cuts to black. Live, this was absolutely terrifying.
  • When Randy Orton was the Legend Killer, he faced Mick Foley in a hardcore match at Backlash 2004. With Mick reeling, Randy dumped a bag of thumbtacks onto the mat and prepared to RKO Mick into them...only for Foley to counter by throwing him off and ONTO THE TACKS BACK FIRST. The shock and pain on Randy's face, King and JR losing their minds on commentary (especially Lawler's spine-chilling Big "OMG!"), the grisly image of his back covered in thumbtacks, and Orton's breathless, pained moaning combined to make this one of the most chilling sights in WWE history.
  • Sasha Banks once put Becky Lynch in an armbar and then stepped on her arm. For a few seconds, it legitimately looked like Becky's arm was going to break in half or be ripped out of its socket.
  • Jimmy Havoc did this promo for a match against Will Ospreay, where he seemingly kills someone to show he is not going to hold back during his match
  • The 2003 feud between The Undertaker (during the end of his Badass Biker phase) and Vince McMahon, especially the Adult Fear of Vince abusing his own family as well as threatening to more or less put a hit out on 'Taker's. And 'Taker's ultimate response? To invoke Cold-Blooded Torture on Vince in a Buried Alive match at that year's Survivor Series note . Also, the Exorcist-esque promos throughout the whole thing were just the cherry on top.
  • Sid Vicious' truly horrifying career ending injury at WCW Sin in 2001. He attempted a flying dropkick on Scott Steiner, but Sid botching the move lead to him landing right on his foot and snapped his ankle in half! Watch it here. WARNING: Graphic.
  • On the April 10, 2017 episode of Raw, Braun Strowman beat up Roman Reigns to the point of the latter being put onto a stretcher. However, Strowman wasn't finished as he then followed Reigns and threw his stretcher away and then as Reigns was being put into an ambulance, Strowman jumped and continued to beat on him. To top it all off, after he was finished, he got out and flipped over the ambulance with Roman Reigns inside!
    • Then on April 24, Braun Strowman fought against Kalisto with the the latter sneakily winning against the big man. Unfortunately, that infuriated Strowman and after toying with Kalisto, he ended up throwing his potentially unconscious body into the dumpster, locking it and then pushing up to the stage to push it off the stage, majorly harming Kalisto.
    • How did Roman respond to Braun's attack? He shoved him into an ambulance, then backs it up into a semi-truck with Braun still inside. The truck shreds the ambulance, and Braun stumbles out bleeding and looking more wounded than he ever had before.
  • Tommasso Ciampa, during his feud with Johnny Gargano, was downright frightening at points, reaching unparalleled Yandere levels towards his former partner.
  • Aleister Black's entrance is incredibly eerie, especially with the riff that plays in the background while he rises.
  • The build-up promo for The Rock vs Chris Benoit at Fully Loaded 2000. So Harsher in Hindsight considering what Benoit would do in the future.