By it’s very nature pro wrestling is an incredibly dangerous past-time, but here are five moves that take the danger factor to the next level.
Although pretty much any wrestling move is or can be dangerous, there are some which thrive on the very notion, that one slight mistake could end in serious injury. From high-flying dives, to deadly Piledriver’s and moves rarely seen on TV, we’ve got you covered.
Here are five of the most insanely dangerous moves in pro wrestling.
5. Ganso Bomb
When Rick Rude gave The Ultimate Warrior a Ganso Bomb pic.twitter.com/sDl6eyzayd
— forever botchamania (@Maffewgregg) August 16, 2016
If you’re looking for a way to maximise the chances of legitimately ending your opponent’s career, this move is a solid choice. The Ganso Bomb literally translates from Japanese to the ‘Originator Bomb’, but is also known as the ‘Original Bomb’.
The story goes that the move was stumbled upon by Kawada who whilst being countered with a Head-Scissors from Misawa, decided to just drop to the mat, effectively Powerbombing and Piledriving him at the same time. How kind.
However, the Ganso Bomb, wasn’t exclusive to hard hitting heavyweight Japanese wrestling. In fact, whilst Kawada gets the credit for inventing the move that would go on to be called the Kawada Driver, it was in fact Rick Rude who hit The Ultimate Warrior with the first-ever Ganso Bomb on WWF television a decade earlier.
This horrifically dangerous move was immortalised in both Virtual Pro Wrestling and No Mercy for the N64. The head drop was known in the AKI releases as the hangman’s DDT, which when you consider the mechanics of the move, makes a lot of sense. Perhaps it’s best this wasn’t the common terminology used as it would have left a confusing situation where a cross between a Powerbomb and a Piledriver is now known as a DDT.
The move is rarely seen in it’s original form, but has been since modified into a safer version, by AEW heavyweight contender Brody King, who refers to his sit-out variation as the ‘Gonzo Bomb’.
4. Burning Hammer
Kenta Kobashi hits his Super Finisher “Burning Hammer” on Akiyama – NOAH (07.10.2004) pic.twitter.com/zECKTLeHeO
— Dark Puroresu Flowsion (@PuroresuFlow) March 12, 2022
The Ganso Bomb isn’t the only classic All Japan move that will result in a visit to the hospital. How could one forget about the devastating Burning Hammer.
As the finisher of the legendary Kenta Kobashi, the Burning Hammer starts with the opponent in the torture rack position before throwing the opponents legs from one side over to the other. If you haven’t seen this beauty in action, it’s effectively an inverted Attitude Adjustment or inverted standing Death Valley Driver for all you pro wrestling purists out there. So not only was Kobashi going to drop you on your head, but he’s kind enough to do it from a shoulder height position.
The move was first executed by Kotetsu Yamamoto all the way back in the 70’s, before it was popularised by Kobashi. The move was used only seven times by Kobashi across his career, with no one ever kicking out, making it one of the most protected moves in the history of pro wrestling. In later years the move has been borrowed by the likes of Brian Kendrick who used it in the WWE Cruiserweight Classic against Kota Ibushi and also more recently by AJ Styles hitting it on Matt Riddle.
3. Shooting Star Press
This still makes us shake our heads in disbelief 😳
Brock Lesnar attempted the Shooting Star Press at WrestleMania XIX…
It didn't quite go to plan 😱#WrestleManiapic.twitter.com/X8l9SmrVL2
— WWE on BT Sport (@btsportwwe) March 25, 2022
What’s unique about this entry is that the danger for this move lies more so with the one delivering it. The daring Shooting Star Press was invented by the legendary Jushin Thunder Liger before it was further popularised in the west by Billy Kidman and Paul London before finding its way to a near 300 pound Brock Lesnar.
That’s right, if you go back and watch Lesnar’s old OVW and dark matches, you will see him execute the manoeuvre with absolute ease. Lesnar stopped hitting the move when he made it to the main roster, most probably to stop exactly what you’re about to read about from happening.
Lesanr had one of the fastest ascensions to the top in history, going from dark matches to the main event of WrestleMania in just one calendar year. An even faster ascension than his Mania 19 opponent, the Olympic Gold Medallist Kurt Angle.
In the quest for a finish worthy of a Wrestlemania Main Event, Brock confirmed that he was convinced backstage to bring back the move and etch his big win into the history books. Well, this would be one of the defining moments of his career and a true Wrestlemania moment, but most probably not for the reason he originally expected.
A slight hesitation on the initial jump meant that Lesnar couldn’t quite get the full rotation on the move, causing him to come crashing down head first, instantly concussing him and leaving onlookers concerned this might be the end of his career.
Thankfully Lesnar was able to finish the match and emerged relatively unscathed beyond the initial concussion.
2. The Psycho Driver
Super Dragon, Cage of Death 7
-Beats Rukus via Psycho Driver.
-Wins title, then chucks it out of the ring.
-Goes for round 2 vs Fans.
-Kings of Wrestling appear.
-Round 3 vs Fans. pic.twitter.com/mLFS1m7jD8
— cozy superkick ♻️ (@cozysuperkick) November 28, 2020
This move was created by Super Dragon all the way back in the year 2000 and has four key variations, including Torture Rack, Fisherman Driver and Pump-Handle setups into this devastating drop.
Whilst some of these setups are safer than others, unfortunately for those on the receiving end, it’s basically just Super Dragon dropping you down onto your head, sharply into the piledriver position from a variety of sheer drops.
On YouTube you will find a 12 minute highlight of Super Dragon hitting the move, that spans 150 occurrences over 15 years and even has names like Samoa Joe and Kevin Steen on the receiving end.
Whilst the move looks terrifying to take, most of the recipients have lived to tell the tale relatively unscathed, which is more than we can say about our final entry…
1. Sit-out Piledriver
22 years ago today, SummerSlam 1997 took place
Bret Hart def. The Undertaker to win WWF World Heavyweight Title with Shawn Michaels as the special guest referee
Also, Owen Hart botched a Tombstone Piledriver on Stone Cold Steve Austin, breaking his neck pic.twitter.com/QmuD23rzwe
— GiveMeSport WWE (@GiveMeSportWWE) August 3, 2019
Not only is this one of the most insanely dangerous moves in professional wrestling, it’s also without a shadow of a doubt, the most costly.
That’s because this is the very move that broke the neck of Stone Cold Steve Austin at SummerSlam 1997, right in the middle of his white-hot ascension to the very top of the business.
Whilst The Undertaker’s Tombstone Piledriver looks just as dangerous, the positioning of Taker’s knees at least allows room between the opponent’s head and the canvas, so neck’s weren’t broken on a nightly basis. The reason the sit-out variation is more dangerous is because there is now little to no gap between the opponent’s head and the mat, meaning that even the slightest error will crush the vertebrate of the opponent.
Whilst Steve Austin went on to become one the biggest stars ever and enjoy the hottest run of all-time, it’s impossible to escape the fact that Stone Cold’s career would have been far longer had this move not taken place.
Others argue that in fact, the limitations, focused Stone Cold’s offence to even more closely link to his no nonsense beat-up-your-boss attitude, but there is no doubt the Rattlesnakes career slowed down and eventually came to a halt at the hands of the sit-out piledriver.
What may shock you is that 5 years earlier, Steve Austin broke Masahiro Chono’s neck with, that’s right, you guessed it, the exact same variation of this piledriver!