The more dangerous moves in “Professional Wrestling” a.k.a how is Mick Foley still alive?


I recently saw the Mankind vs Undertaker Hell in a Cell match. A match that has it’s own wikipedia article:

From a Biological POV How is Mick Foley still alive after being thrown two stories with just a table to break his fall? He suffered “a concussion, a dislocated jaw and shoulder, bruised ribs, internal bleeding, puncture wounds, and several teeth knocked out.” And this is all in one match.

How do these pros go through so much damage without dying and usually having long careers? Is the Human Body really capable of taking so much damage?

In: 331

Mick Foley is a unique case; he was, more or less, a stuntman. That said, wrestlers have frequent time off for injuries. [There’s even a tracker for their injuries, started 4 years ago by some fan or something.](

There have been few actual deaths in pro wrestling, to my knowledge, and usually the deaths are the result of accidents. The Hell In A Cell match between Taker and Foley, for example, was unintentional in how barbaric it was, as noted in the Wikipedia.

But onto your actual question: how do they survive and have long careers?

The survival bit is somewhat easy to answer. [There are ringside physicians, physical therapists, and personal trainers for *each and every WWE athlete*.](,time%20physical%20therapist%20while%20training) An injury in the WWE absolutely could set you back a long time. A large amount of superstars become addicted to pain killers. But they do have immediate care.

The second question, how do they have long careers: [the short is, they don’t. Here’s Hulk Hogan talking about how his body is completely destroyed.]( but the longer answer is: the big stars have less and less performance time, as they age. The Rock was still appearing in WWE matches while doing movies – extremely infrequently. John Cena was still doing WWE matches when he got his work in films – and he started becoming less active, as a result. By and large, pro wrestling goes on a case by case basis. If someone is injured, they’ll be given easy performances (or have a storied in excuse for their absence).

First of all, Foley in general and that match in particular are not good examples of the amount of damage a typical wrestler takes. Foley was a showman – to a fault – and that means that he did some crazy stuff in excess of what the average performer does, and that was one of the most, if not THE most, craziest matches of his career.

Wrestling is fake in that the winner of the match is (generally) known before the match starts – it’s a performance. It’s fake in that the moves they do are supposed to LOOK real but not actually be incredibly damaging – people are getting slammed to the mat in controlled ways which are supposed to land them safely, the holds they do aren’t actually causing significant stress to the body, and those chest slaps are more for noise than they are for breaking ribs. But it’s real in that they *are* still experiencing a lot of force.

For the two-stories-through-the-table bump, first, Foley had to really sell that spot in the planning phase of the match – the people he was pitching to were skeptical at first. Seconldy, that table is ESSENTIAL to the bump (all the force that breaks the table slows you down before you hit the ground), and Foley still got really, really hurt from it. You’ll also notice that, like many wrestling things, Undertaker doesn’t throw him off so much as Foley jumps and Taker has his hands gently on him. Foley is controlling his jump so he can fall at the right rate and rotation to land on the table in the way that dissipates the most force and protects him the most.

And the most dangerous thing from that match wasn’t the part where Foley went through the table from the top, it was the part where he fell through the cage. That was unplanned and that meant the fall was uncontrolled and much more dangerous. Foley was chokeslammed into the cage and it broke, causing him to fall to the mat below. In addition, a chair that was on top of the cage fell through after him and hit him in the head. According to Foley, he did the move improperly and it saved his life – for the chokeslam, the recipient is supposed to leap off the ground to make the move look better, but was too tired to do the move properly, and didn’t really get his weight too much off the cage. Had he done so, he goes through the cage with more force and dies. Foley WAS supposed to fall through the cage, but not at that time or in that way, and the top of the cage was supposed to sag first so that the height was reduced. What actually happened looked significantly cooler but was MUCH more dangerous.

TLDR: Wrestlers generally don’t take that much damage, they plan the dangerous spots and take them in safe ways, and nobody wrestles like that match anymore. Mick Foley himself is alive because of a combination of personal durability, planning, and a healthy dose of luck.

A couple of things to note-many professional wrestlers do not have long careers. Many die relatively young. The long hours, physical stress, and frequent painkiller use are typically not a recipe for a long life.

The human body is pretty durable, provided you don’t hit any of the real important parts. Take someone like Evel Knieval(famous motorcycle stuntman).He broke 443 bones during his lifetime. Not 43. Four-hundred and forty-three.

It also helps that they have access to what I assume is decent medical care, although a ton of wrestlers have taken pain killers they shouldn’t have, or wrestled in extreme discomfort to risk violating their contract. John Oliver had an interesting segment on it.

Along with what others have said, Mick didn’t end up having a long career. He was semi retired after 35.

I’ll pop in a comment and also shill for Mick’s books (cheap pop!) In his first book Mick Foley essentially credits his ability to take bumps in the ring and outside of it to his body being built for it, and his “sturdy pancake ass”. And yet, over his career, his wrote a litany of pain from his injuries and now has great difficulty moving about. In short, Michael Francis Foley should not have had the career he did, should not be mobile, save for some quirks of fate and a deep understanding of what, at the time, his body could endure.