Being a WWE Superstar has got to be one of the most physically demanding jobs in the world. From performing all around the world for over 250+ days a year to the hectic travel that comes with it, it is only natural for them to succumb to some form of injury given the high athletic nature of the business.
Superstars like Nia Jax, Akam and Fandango have had to step away from the ring due to injuries and it is being reported that former WWE Champion Sheamus might just be retiring from wrestling altogether due to his neck issues. Injuries are unfortunately part and parcel of wrestling today and it is very hard to find a wrestler who hasn't suffered one during the course of his/her career.
In addition to putting an end to an ongoing storyline/feud, injuries can halt a superstar's momentum whilst he/she is red hot and it is even more devastating when the said superstar is holding a championship. There have numerous instances of superstars having to relinquish their championship due to injury. Here are the top five that stick out the most in the recent times.
#5 Daniel Bryan
The American Dragon was at the height of his popularity during the build-up to WrestleMania 30 where he defeated Triple H in the night's first match and would then go on to capture the WWE World Heavyweight Championship in the main event, which also had Batista and Randy Orton.
After successfully defending his championship against Kane at Extreme Rules, Bryan would suffer a neck injury which meant that he had to relinquish the WWE World Heavyweight Championship mere months after winning it.
Another instance of Bryan having to relinquish a championship would come the very next year where he had to relinquish the Intercontinental Championship which he won at WrestleMania 31 due to series of concussions, which then led to him stepping away from the ring for more than 2 years.
Bryan's injury came at a time when he was the height of his popularity and the top superstar in the company. But, given the nature of his injuries and how his career has panned out, one wouldn't be seeing Bryan inside the squared circle had he kept working through those injuries.
#4 Jeff Hardy
It is crazy to think despite pulling off some of the death-defying spots in WWE history, Jeff Hardy is still able to walk on his own feet. The Charismatic Enigma has made a career out of performing insane high-flying moves but never got injured during the initial phase of his WWE career. It is only in the past few years that the younger Hardy has succumbed to various injuries which have kept him out of action for an extended period of time.
Since returning to the company at WrestleMania 33 in 2017, Hardy has had to take time off due to injury on two occasions. Hardy suffered a shoulder injury which kept him out of action for more than 6 months. Hardy also recently vacated the SmackDown Tag Team Championship, which he alongside his brother Matt, following a leg injury.
It seems like years and years of having a high-octane style of wrestling is finally taking its toll on the former WWE Champion. As of this writing, there hasn't been any clarity on when fans can expect to see The Rainbow Haired Warrior back inside the squared circle.
#3 Finn Balor
If there was ever an example of a gruesome injury putting an abrupt halt to a superstar's push, it has got be Finn Balor following his Universal Championship. The leader of the Balor Club defeated Seth Rollins at SummerSlam 2016 to become the inaugural Universal Champion.
But as fate would have it, Balor suffered a torn labrum during the match which led to him relinquishing the Universal Championship a day after winning it. Balor would be sidelined for the rest of 2016 due to the said injury before returning on the RAW after WrestleMania 33.
Balor's main roster run since returning from injury has been a mixed bag. For the majority of 2017 and 2018, Balor was put in pointless feuds and storylines which did nothing to propel the Irishman's career.
It wasn't until early 2019 that Balor would once again taste championship gold by winning the Intercontinental Championship. One could only imagine what would have been if Balor had not got injured during his match at SummerSlam 2016.
#2 Seth Rollins
Before becoming The Beast Slayer, Seth Rollins was The Man (yes he was The Man before Becky Lynch). After successfully cashing in his Money in the Bank contract in the main event of WrestleMania 31, Rollins would go on to have a great run as the WWE World Heavyweight Champion. With the Authority and J&J Security by his side, he would become the top heel in the company.
Rollins successfully defended his title against the likes of Dean Ambrose, Kane, Sting and John Cena before injuring his ACL & MCL at a live event in Dublin, Ireland in November 2015, which would sideline him for the next seven months.
Rollins would return to WWE in May 2016 at Extreme Rules where he would attack the then WWE World Heavyweight Champion, Roman Reigns. Rollins has stated on numerous occasions that his biggest dream is to main-event WrestleMania one day. Had it not been for that untimely injury, the Kingslayer might have accomplished his lifelong dream.
#1 Tomasso Ciampa
Arguably the best heel the industry has since in the past decade, the BlackHeart re-defined what it meant to be a bad guy in the era of social media. From being a massive troll on twitter to keeping kayfabe alive in this day and age, Tommaso Ciampa's journey's from being an absolute nobody to capturing the NXT Championship and becoming the MVP of the yellow brand was something extraordinary.
After being away from in-ring action for over a year due to a leg injury, Ciampa would make the life of his friend-turned-foe, Johnny Gargano, a living hell in what would become one of the best WWE feuds in years. His trilogy with Gargano would go down in history as some of the best WWE matches of all time. Ciampa would shock the world by capturing the NXT Championship from Aleister Black on an episode of NXT.
He would successfully defend his championship against Black and Velveteen Dream before once again coming face-to-face with Gargano in what was possibly going to the final chapter in their storied rivalry. But as luck would have it, Ciampa suffered a neck injury which required surgery and meant that he would be out of action for the foreseeable future. Ciampa relinquishing the NXT Championship put an end to one of the greatest runs in NXT history.