Why did Nikki Bella’s neck injury force her to retire?

Hamish Woodward


Nikki Bella will go down as one of the greatest women wrestlers in WWE history. In her two separate runs in WWE she dominated the competition along with her sister Brie Bella, and the Bella Twins are two of the most recognisable wrestlers to this day.

Nikke Bella was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2020 along with her sister Brie Bella, and you can see well. As well as the Bella Twins being one of the most recognisable faces in television due to their multiple TV shows, Nikki Bella also had great success as a singles wrestler in WWE.

Nikki Bella became the longest reigning Divas Champion of all time in WWE in 2015. She won the title from previous record holder AJ Lee at Survivor Series 2014, with the help of her sister Brie. The pair dominated the Women’s division for over 300 days, with Nikki cementing her legacy as one of the greatest women’s champions in WWE history.

However, her legendary reign came to an end when she lost her Championship to Charlotte Flair at Night of Champions 2015. Charlotte was one of the biggest up-and-comers in WWE and was a fitting rival for her to drop the Championship to.

Nikki Bella would soon go on a hiatus due to a recurring neck injury, and would be her last great run in the company until injuries overtook her and forced her to retire from the ring.

Why did Nikki Bella Retire?

Neck injuries forced Nikki Bella to retire in the ring in 2019. While she continued wrestling up to that point, she was wrought with niggling injuries for years prior to that day. Her neck was a constant bugbear, with her finishing move The Rack Attack causing extreme stress to her neck, and partially causing her career ending injuries.

The move had her lifting her opponent onto her shoulders, before dropping down to her knees with lightning speed. This caused her opponent to drop onto her shoulders and cause intense pain, but Nikki did not come out of it scot-free.

With all her opponents weight dropping onto her neck, it caused immense strain. Performing the move night-in and night-out caused horrific injuries to Nikki Bella, and even forced her to stop using the move entirely when she returned from injury after Wrestlemania 32.

Nikki Bella hits the “Rack Attack” on Paige, the move that would eventually force him to retire.

Her last big match before her retirement was a tag team match with then-boyfriend John Cena. The couple took on husband and wife duo The Miz and Maryse at Wrestlemania 33, with Cena proposing the Bella Twin after match.

It was a shocking moment that would ultimately be meaningless. John Cena and Nikki Bell would split up months later before they were even married. Nikki Bella took some time off after the match due to a number of injuries.

Nikki Bella even claimed that the proposal was a complete shock to her in the moment. This was despite the proposal being planned for many months in the WWE, and the match was created just so Cena could pop the question. It was reported for months by journalists, so her addition of surprise was disingenuous at best.

It wasn’t just neck injuries that caused Nikki to call it a day in the ring. She revealed that doctors discovered a cyst on her brain, which doctors told her meant that she couldn’t wrestle again. Luckily, it was benign and caused no issues to her in her life.

Nikki Bella also revealed that all the neck injuries, and accompanying surgery, had caused a herniated disk that meant she had to retire. The neck injuries and the cysts meant that the doctors had no choice but to tell her to call it a day, albeit against her wishes.

“I have all this inflammation around the metal, and then I have a cyst on my brain. So they were like, ‘You’re done, no more, you’re out,’ so I didn’t get a choice, which sucks” Nikki said on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon.

Nikki Bella’s Royal Rumble Return

Nikki Bella, along with her sister Brie, have not stayed completely retired. The pair returned for the first WWE Women’s Royal Rumble in 2018, with them both giving a great showing. Brie finished third in the match, whilst Nikki Bella was the runner-up, being eliminated right at the end by the winner Asuka.

She had one more singles match in WWE in 2019, taking on the Raw Women’s Champion Ronda Rousey. They faced off at the first ever all-women’s pay per view in WWE history, named Evolution. Nikki Bella main evented the show, losing to Rousey in the main event with a great showing.

Soon after the match, a doctor’s check-up revealed the cyst on her brain and forced her to retire from the ring.

Nikki Bella made one more Royal Rumble return in 2022, but did not fare nearly as well as in 2018. She didn’t last long in the match, lasting just four minutes in the match. Nikki did eliminate two other wrestlers (Alicia Fox and Sara Logan), but soon thrown out of the match by her sister, Brie Bella.

The former WWE Divas Champion and WWE Hall of Famer has not wrestled since.

Nikki Bella Is Planning A WWE Return, Despite Retiring Due To Injuries

nikki bella return

In her Q&A for America’s Got Talent: Extreme, Nikki Bella talked about a potential WWE return. In the interview, the longest-reigning WWE Divas Champion said:

“So I get this question quite a bit – if I will go and wrestle in the near future. As long as the doctors say yes. Especially with my sister. When we left is when they brought in the tag titles. I kinda would like it more when my son is like three or four.”

“A dream of mine, especially as a woman, is to have one of the best matches of my career with my son sitting ringside and being like, ‘that’s my mom.’ I really would love to go back one day with my sister, fight for the tag titles, win them in front of our kids. That would be amazing.” – Source


Nikki Bella would add some star power to an already great Women’s division in WWE, should she return, and her and her sister Brie could help shine a much-needed spotlight onto the WWE women’s tag team division.

With the state of her neck, however, it is unknown whether or not Nikki Bella would ever be able to return to the ring in a full-time capacity.

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