Eight Moments Where Wrestling Props Backfired

There is plenty of unpredictability in the wild world of pro wrestling without the introduction of foreign objects; when tables, ladders, chairs, or any others props — usually to be used as weapons — are added to the mix, that extra variable increases the "oops" factor substantially. 

The entertainment side of wrestling leads creative minds to want to think way outside the box sometimes and with that comes all sorts of fun "toys" for the athletes to play with. The more complicated things get (see: exploding barbed wire death match), the higher the risk that things don't turn out exactly as planned. Then again, when a simple table refuses to break, things can go sideways as well. But what comes with the territory of being a professional wrestler is the ability to improvise and oftentimes when these objects throw a wrench into plans, they have no choice but to power through however they can (even if most of the time that's just, "Well, I guess we'll try that again.")

From stubborn tables to the wrong props being used, inadvertent ricochets from a ladder to prop fouls completely altering plans for a match, silly stunts that backfire, and yes, to a death match explosion that comes off like a fart, here are eight moments where wrestling props went awry.

When tables don't cooperate

The table spot has been a fan favorite in wrestling for decades now to the point where it's just about impossible to attend or watch a wrestling show and not hear a "We want tables!" chant at least once. In fact, the populace has become so obsessed with the idea of someone — anyone! — getting thrown through a table that the chant comes to life these days in some moments where it doesn't even make any sense.

What's annoying for the wrestlers is when tables, be they of the standard folding or fancier announce desk type, don't go along with the plan. There are several moments in wrestling history that stand out involving tables going rogue but a couple of notables come to mind specifically:

In 2010, Natalya and Beth Phoenix were feuding with LayCool that would culminate at the TLC Pay-Per-View in the first ever women's tables match. Naturally, in that era, there had to be a custom pink table for the ladies to use, and when Natalya attempted to push both Michelle McCool and Layla off the top rope and through said pink table, it didn't break. Since that's kind of a required element to finish a tables match, Nattie did what she had to do to improvise, which was to launch herself through her opponents and the table with a splash from the top rope. Mission: accomplished and all's well that ends well.

Another time a table just didn't play nice was during a contract signing on "SmackDown" between Batista and Booker T in 2006. As contract signings go, the table on which the contract lies is often used otherwise, and this time was no different, only one side of the table's legs gave out as Batista delivered a spinebuster forcing "The Animal" to simply do it again. Second time was the charm as he left the king laying to set up their upcoming title match.

Sugar glass, please

Wrestlers have been getting tossed through glass windows and car window shields, and hit over the head with glass picture frames forever. These instances would be great examples of when heeding WWE's "Don't try this at home" warning would be particularly prudent. But in most cases props are often "gimmicked" to soften the blow to the receiving performers and thus, the potential damage incurred. With glass, sugar glass has often been used to stand in the place of real glass for stunts not just in pro wrestling but also in movies and television.

At King of the Ring 2001, Kurt Angle and Shane McMahon were set to blow off a lengthy feud in a street fight that ultimately saw the combatants battling it out up the entry ramp and onto the stage, as street fights are wont to do. The TitanTron was adorned with glass columns underneath emblazoned with "KOR" logos for the event. As Angle tells the story, these were supposed to be fitted with sugar glass for a planned belly-to-belly suplex spot where Shane would get launched through but instead, they were constructed with Plexiglass, so when the Olympic champion hoisted McMahon the first time, he simply bounced off and landed awkwardly on the concrete floor. If at first you don't succeed, right? After McMahon seemed relatively okay, Angle got him back up, added to his leverage and cranked him through the glass after all

Done, right? No. Apparently, the spot called for him to do the same back through the other way on the adjacent pane but again, on the first try, Shane just bounced off. Angle didn't want to take any chances on that happening again so he simply rammed McMahon through head-first instead. This, according to Angle, irked Vince McMahon tremendously after the fact.

Tune it up

Folks like The Honky Tonk Man, Jeff Jarrett, Elias, and others have been entertaining wrestling fans for years with not just their wrestling acumen but also their favorite instrument, the trusty ol' guitar. Don't tell Elias but the interest in their guitar skills isn't exactly musically-oriented.

Chances are, when you see a wrestler come out with a guitar in hand, he or she is not all that interested in playing you a tune as much as they are cracking into over the skull of a foe. And with guitars in wrestling, much like glass, there's supposed to be a trick for it, more often than not with balsa wood standing in as a suitable replacement for the traditional backing

With a feud with Jake "The Snake" Roberts ramping up toward a match at WrestleMania III, Honky Tonk man appeared as a guest on Roberts' "Snake Pit" talk show, guitar in hand. After Jake teased him a bit with his snake, things turned sour, and with Roberts' back turned, Honky prepped for a guitar shot to put an exclamation point on the segment. Unfortunately, somehow, this guitar was real and not at all gimmicked, and when Honky clocked Roberts, he suffered a serious neck injury that he would describe in great detail years later. "[The shot] obliterated two discs in my neck," Roberts said. "[The] doctor said he had guys fall off 10-story buildings and the discs had not done that. The discs had actually exploded in my neck." Roberts says that Honky Tonk Man never apologized for what he called "a chicken s*** shot."

Ladders gone wild

If you've ever climbed a ladder, someone in your life has told you to be careful — and let's get serious, you've probably at least almost fallen off once or twice. With that in mind, and multiplying things by, say, 4,000, wrestlers take all kinds of risks when ladders are brought into the picture and over the years, they've certainly taken their toll. From falls from on high, ladder shots from one person to the other, missing the mark on a high spot, or unintentional ladder recoil (we'll get to it), the danger level once a ladder or ladders come into the picture goes well past 10.

If we're to hone down on one incident that epitomizes the danger of such a match, an injury suffered by Joey Mercury is the poster boy. At Armageddon in 2006, Mercury and MNM partner Johnny Nitro were one of three teams challenging Paul London and Brian Kendrick for the WWE Tag Team Championships in a Fatal 4-Way ladder match, with William Regal and Dave Taylor and The Hardy Boyz as the other challengers.

Roughly halfway through the match MNM and The Hardys were engaged in the corner where two ladders were placed on top of one another perpendicularly. As Matt Hardy delivered a double noggin knocker to MNM, Jeff launched himself over the trio and onto one of the ladders below, with the intent of catapulting the other end of the ladder back up into the faces of Mercury and Nitro, as Matt held them in position. Unfortunately for Mercury, the ladder shot up much more quickly than they anticipated and he took the impact directly to his face, resulting in a bloody mess, four fractures to his nose, 20 stitches inside and out, and his eyes swollen shut. Mercury told WWE.com, "I'd have to say it felt like a hundred pound steel ladder connecting with my face at 100 miles per hour or going headfirst through a windshield of a car without a seatbelt on [or] maybe getting hit in the face with a baseball bat swung by Sammy Sosa."

Prop failures alter match flow

The Elimination Chamber match, first introduced in WWE in 2002 and now a Premium Live Event unto itself, was a novel concept credited as an Eric Bischoff idea in storyline and from Triple H in real life. The complexities of the chamber, six participants (or tag teams) with two starting the match, while others are locked in pods, to be released randomly, all inside a fully-enclosed steel chamber, complete with an elevated steel floor for extra carnage, lend themselves to inherent chaos and, when things don't go as originally planned, well, someone's gotta figure out what the hell to do. In 2015, the semi-main event was a match for the vacant Intercontinental Championship featuring "King" Wade Barrett, Mark Henry, R-Truth, Ryback, Sheamus, and Dolph Ziggler, and after a pod spot gone wrong, it was up to Ziggler as the seasoned ring general of the match, to reorchestrate pretty much everything on the fly.

In control of Ziggler on the outside, Barrett launched him toward the pod containing Henry, who according to Ziggler, wasn't supposed to enter the match for another 20 minutes. But when Ziggler hit the pod, the side plexiglass simply came out of its groove. A perplexed Henry just sort of stood there for a second as Ziggler, from the ground below, says he told him repeatedly not to come in. Henry either didn't hear him or made his own decision, which was probably the best move since otherwise, he would have just stood there with a wide open pod — not a great look.

From there, the participants simply had to improvise and Ziggler led the way. As he told "Busted Open Radio" earlier this year, "It got to the point where I'm trying to call a match on the fly for six different people," he explained before detailing instructions he barked out to everyone involved. "There's no way this is gonna be great, but I think we can improv. That was some of the most exciting 12 minutes of my life in a terrible, terrible match."

Poof! Hogan/Warrior 2 goes up in flames (sort of)

As we get to the tail end of our props backfiring, we'll delve outside the WWE bubble just a little bit because the rest of these are just to good bad to leave out and we'll start with one from the beginning of the end for WCW.

The long-awaited rematch of WrestleMania VI between Hulk Hogan and The Ultimate Warrior (now Hollywood Hogan and The Warrior, of course) is generally remembered as one of the worst matches of all time. Even former WCW President Eric Bischoff has admitted, "it pretty much stunk up the joint." And making things worse, though the following main event match between Goldberg and Diamond Dallas Page for the WCW World Heavyweight Championship is looked upon as one of WCW's greatest matches ever, the fact that the event ran over on time and the match cut off for most pay-per-view subscribers basically sums up the company's downfall. Plus, folks were left to remember Hogan/Warrior as the last thing they saw and ... it wasn't good.

The end of the match featured Warrior in deep conversation with the referee, while a downed Hogan crawled to the corner, fiddling with, well, something he pulled out from his tights. He fumbled through a plastic bag that clearly contained a lighter and what was then revealed to be flash paper. Unfortunately, and maybe because he was sweating and bleeding all over it, it didn't quite light like he intended. He thought it did, though, gesturing it toward Warrior, who sold the whole-lotta-nothing, before it all flared right there in Hogan's hands instead. Presumably, this was supposed to be part of the match's finish, but these two were now left to improvise. Ultimately, Hogan won after interference from Bischoff and a chair-wielding Horace Hogan but yeah, this was essentially a steaming pile of dung, for lack of a better term.

Enter: The Shockmaster

Years before the Hogan flash paper incident, in 1993 at WCW'S Clash of the Champions XXIV, the mystery partner in an upcoming WarGames match at Fall Brawl for the team of The British Bulldog, Sting, and Dustin Rhodes was to be revealed on Ric Flair's "Flair for the Gold" talk show. After a whole bunch of largely unintelligible yelling back and forth from Bulldog and Sid Vicious, Sting was given the honors of introducing the man of the hour. "All I have to say is our partner is going to shock the world because he is none other than The Shockmaster!"

Warning: If you've never seen this clip, please prepare yourself, because it's genuinely ridiculous.

Following Sting's intro and some weird pyro and smoke that shielded a bright yellow wall, a large man in a furry vest and a bedazzled Star Wars Storm Trooper helmet came barreling through, tumbling to the floor, with his helmet falling off of his head. If you freeze the clip, accounting for the body type and some close attention to a familiar face, you'll recognize Fred Ottman, the former Tugboat and Typhoon in WWE. Hilarity continues as "The Shockmaster" begins hand gestures that are at first accompanied by no audio, and then what may have been a pre-recorded ultra-gravely voice starts talking about Vicious no longer ruling the world and ... who cares? This guy just fell through a wall in a star wars helmet!

Ottman later explained to WWE.com, "The wall itself was kind of like you'd build a normal wall in your house. And there was a board just below my knee that was there for support. [I was told,] 'You're going to have to hit this wall really hard to bust out,' because it wasn't a gimmick wall. So I put my hands above my head, double-axe handle, and when I got the cue, I was going to blast through the wall. Well, I blew the top out, but didn't take that bottom board out, so I basically was a human teeter-totter."

And so goes the legend of The Shockmaster.

AEW's Exploding Barbed Wire Death Match fizzles out

At "AEW Revolution" in 2021, the main event was the culmination of a feud between AEW World Champion Kenny Omega and former champ Jon Moxley — a rematch of their collision at "Winter Is Coming" in which Omega turned heel and took the belt off Moxley with help from Don Callis. It was reasoned that the only way to settle this would be in an exploding barbed wire death match for the title, where, after a 30-minute timer ran out, the ring would detonate.

Fans and pundits alike speculated as to how that might go and with such buildup and anticipation, some may have even been concerned for the safety of all involved. After all, rings don't detonate often and therefore, the expectation was something at least visually spectacular.

At the end of what was otherwise a fantastic match on a solid card, Eddie Kingston ran to the ring, to aid a downed and handcuffed Moxley, who had just lost the match after taking a One-Winged Angel from Omega through a steel chair. Unable to free Moxley, Kingston appeared to "sacrifice himself" laying on top of him in preparation for the big boom. This description will do the end result no justice but basically, four large sparklers went off from each corner of the ring, followed by what can only be described as mediocre Independence Day fireworks and a grand finale of, say, 1/10 of a step up in intensity thereafter. Smoke was everywhere, Excalibur lightly exclaimed, "Oh my God!" in an effort to save things a bit, and that was that. A fizzle of an explosion to say the least.

After the match, and with the event now off the air, Moxley told the live crowd, "Kenny Omega may be a tough son of a b**** but he can't make an exploding ring worth a s***." AEW President and CEO Tony Khan followed in the post-show scrum, saying, "I think we're all lucky that the bomb going off at the end didn't really hurt anybody. Kenny's big master plan, he built a dud."

Lucky indeed. Or something like that.

Comments