7 unexpected hardcore combatants
The hardcore style of wrestling isn’t for everyone. While a twisted few have made barbed wire bats their forte, most Superstars prefer lockups and suplexes to chair shots and thumbtacks.
But sometimes, more traditional grapplers are forced to wage war with weapons. Sports-entertainment fans have been shocked to see competitors like Ric Flair and Bret Hart showing their extreme side. Really, though, they had no choice in the matter. In hardcore wrestling, it’s sink or swim.
How did these unexpected hardcore warriors fare? Click through and find out.
Ric Flair vs. Big Show - ECW, July 11, 2006
Ric Flair may have been known as The Dirtiest Player in the Game, but that was for his mastery of cheating in the ring. Barbed wire and thumbtacks didn’t really mesh with thousand-dollar suits.
The Nature Boy got a crash course in hardcore when he ventured into ECW in July 2006. Challenging ECW Champion Big Show in an Extreme Rules Match, Flair was busted open early, not by a weapon, but by the massive hands of The World’s Largest Athlete.
The WWE Universe was in shock as Flair got extreme, using a barbed wire bat to gain the upper hand. The Nature Boy turned the giant into a pincushion after dumping thumbtacks on the canvas, but that also spelled the end for Flair. The giant went into a rage, trapping Flair in the Colossal Clutch to retain his title. Big Show tossed Flair into the tacks like a ragdoll as the audience cringed, though they had gained even more respect for the 16-time World Champion.
Bret Hart vs. Terry Funk - WCW Thunder, Jan. 6, 2000
Terry Funk may have dubbed himself “middle-aged and crazy,” but the tough Texan was a lot smarter than he let on. He knew how to push the right buttons to get what he wanted. Taking nWo member Jeff Jarrett hostage, Funk leveraged Double J’s safe return into a Hardcore Match against WCW Champion Bret Hart.
Hart, known as The Excellence of Execution for his proficiency in technical wrestling, was out of his element against Funk. The former NWA Champion battered Hart with punches and chair shots before smashing his knee with a garbage can.
Eventually, though, the “Hit Man” was able to show how ruthless he could get. After Funk missed his trademark moonsault, Hart sprung back to his feet and grabbed a chair. He wrapped it around Funk’s knee and smashed it with his patented second rope elbow drop. Although Hart was on the rebound, the match never had a conclusion, as the “Hit Man’s” nWo cohorts ran in and demolished Funk.
Trish Stratus vs. Victoria - Survivor Series 2002
While WWE Divas can be quite vicious, they don’t often compete in hardcore battles. That’s why the WWE Universe was stunned to see WWE Women’s Champion Trish Stratus defend her title against Victoria in a Hardcore Match at Survivor Series 2002.
The rivalry between the two beauties dated back to their days as fitness models, when WWE’s scouting of Stratus sent Victoria over the edge. Both Divas were willing to do anything to get ahold of the title. Brooms, garbage cans, Kendo sticks and more all came into play. Victoria even tried to use a mirror on her foe, only to be thwarted by the champion.
Victoria was finally able to defeat Stratus and win the championship after blinding Trish with a fire extinguisher. Although Victoria was the winner, both women had won the respect of the WWE Universe for their extreme toughness.
Rey Mysterio vs. Psicosis - ECW November to Remember 1995
The luchadores that made their way to the United States from Mexico in the mid-1990s wowed American crowds with their lightning-quick speed and death-defying aerial maneuvers. For most wrestling fans, that would be enough. However, ECW fans weren’t most wrestling fans.
Rey Mysterio and Psicosis had thrilled the ECW Arena faithful for several months with their lucha libre skills. The rivalry between the two grew, leading the fans to wonder if they could get extreme. The two luchadores met one last time, answering the question with a resounding “¡Si!”
Clashing in a Mexican Death Match — a bout similar to a Last Man Standing Match — the luchadores traded holds in their usual style before they got hardcore. The two battled over a steel chair, taking turns clobbering each other. Weapons didn’t win the match, though, as Mysterio emerged victorious by leaping from the top of the ECW Arena into a hurricanrana on Psicosis, leaving him unable to answer the 10-count.
Kofi Kingston vs. Shelton Benjamin - ECW, June 24, 2008
Kofi Kingston made a big impression on the WWE Universe upon his arrival in ECW at the start of 2008. Going on an undefeated streak, The Dreadlocked Dynamo seemed to be destined for big things. After Shelton Benjamin gave him his first loss, however, Kingston knew he needed retribution.
The rookie took on Benjamin in an Extreme Rules Match. It looked as though the veteran Benjamin’s tenacity would pay off in the early goings, as he tossed Kingston into the steel ring steps and bashed him with a metal garbage can.
However, Kingston showed he could be hardcore if necessary. He brained The Gold Standard with the trash can’s lid, before sending Benjamin crashing into the can with a hurricanrana. He followed up with Trouble in Paradise to claim victory. Having survived one of WWE’s most brutal matches, Kofi Kingston showed he was more than ready for the ring’s toughest tests.
Dean Malenko vs. Crash Holly - SmackDown, May 4, 2000
Dean Malenko earned the nickname “The Man of 1,000 Holds” for the number of ways he could twist his opponents’ bodies into submission. He seemed to be the least likely Superstar to take part in a hardcore brawl. However, the allure of Hardcore Champion Crash Holly’s 24/7 rule was irresistible to the stoic Malenko.
Although he initially tried to take Crash out in a backstage bouncy castle, The Man of 1,000 Holds eventually found himself in the squared circle with The Houdini of Hardcore. He sent Crash hard into the cold steel steps. Malenko then tried to use his technical know-how to wrestle the title away from Holly.
The 24/7 rule was Malenko’s undoing, though. His Radicalz teammate Saturn interrupted the proceedings to take the title for himself. An argument broke out between the friends, giving Crash the opening to clock Malenko with a trash can, then pin him. Holly scurried away before The Radicalz even knew what hit them.
Eric Bischoff vs. Terry Funk - WCW Nitro, June 5, 2000
Eric Bischoff had a proclivity for getting in over his head. The WCW executive had a big mouth, which often got him in trouble with WCW’s toughest competitors. It was no different in summer 2000, when Bischoff put himself in a match for the WCW Hardcore Title against Terry Funk.
While Bischoff fancied himself a martial arts master, there was no way he could have taken out the “middle-aged and crazy” Funk with a roundhouse. Bischoff tried to have Ernest “The Cat” Miller aid him, but The Cat’s cartwheel kicks didn’t faze Funk.
Funk looked to be having fun bashing Bischoff with anything he could grab. After pushing him back to the ring in a wheelbarrow, things went south for Funk. Big Vito and Johnny the Bull ran down to the ring and brutally beat him down, then dragged a motionless Bischoff on top of him, giving the executive the WCW Hardcore Title.