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How to Hit Your Opponent in the Nuts

With Shinsuke Nakamura repopularizing the low blow, a self-defense expert helps us assess WWE superstars’ techniques

WWE/Ringer illustration

It’s the eternal question: If baseball players wear jockstraps, and football players, and UFC fighters too, wouldn’t they be common-sense protection for a professional wrestler? For one thing, there’s the protective shield of the rule book: Hitting your opponent in his baby maker is typically prohibited in the ring, and even when it’s not—say, during a no-disqualification match—sportsmanship dictates that area’s off-limits. But in a sport as hairy as pro wrestling, inevitably there will be some grapplers who don’t get the memo. Take Shinsuke Nakamura, the Japanese legend who’s been leaving his mark on WWE the last year. Maybe that’s because, as the newly villainous thorn in the WWE Champion AJ Styles’s side is fond of saying, he “no speak English.” (He does, actually, but that’s beside the point: He has no time for such honorability.)

Since WrestleMania, Nakamura has been leaving an impression on Styles’s nether regions with three low blows, favoring the classic uppercut approach perfected in years past by—who else?—the dirtiest player, Ric Flair. However, there is more than one way to skin a cat, or in this case, more than one way to assail one’s nemesis’s groin. So in an effort to better measure the efficacy of Nakamura’s assaults to the nether regions, we contacted Krav Maga expert and Hollywood stunt trainer A.J. Draven and asked him to watch clips of several archetypal WWE low blows. Over a lengthy phone call from Los Angeles, Draven dutifully broke down each assailant’s execution, as well as how believably their victims took a strike to be balls, allowing us to conclude who busted them best.

Low-Blower: Shinsuke Nakamura
Victim and Venue: AJ Styles, WrestleMania 34, April 8, 2018
Draven on Nakamura’s Technique: “Here’s my issue with this. It caught him with the crook of his elbow a little bit, so it kind of bends and is fleshy and wouldn’t be as solid if he had used his forearm. From a technical perspective, he probably didn’t inflict as much pain as he could have by using that particular strike. But he still would have hurt him, especially with the way he took him by surprise. Just a little flick can hurt you. In Krav Maga, one of the things we teach is that element of surprise can level the playing field almost immediately.”
Draven on Styles’s Sell: “That was pretty accurate. I liked the double-over. That would have been like, ‘What just happened to me down there?’”
Overall Ball-Buster Rating: 6

Low-Blower: Chyna
Victim and Venue: Triple H, Raw, January 25, 1999
Draven on Chyna’s Technique: “I actually like her technique better than [Nakamura’s], because she used more of the back of her arm and her forearm than the crook of her elbow, so it’s more solid strike that would have penetrated through and it hurt him a little bit more. It’s a little dangerous, because striking that way puts a lot of pressure on your tendons, but she pulled it off. Also, element of surprise through the roof.”
Draven on Triple H’s Sell: “I thought he crushed the reaction. That was perfect. Not knowing it was coming, that dude would be toast.”
Overall Ball-Buster Rating: 8

Low-Blower: Goldust
Victim and Venue: Val Venis, Raw, October 12, 1998
Draven on Goldust’s Technique: “Dude, that’s devastation. You’re just lining it up and taking the dude out. I would have given him a 10, but I’m giving him a 9, only because he fell afterward. And I also recommend kicking him a little more with his shin than his foot. So if he wants to evolve this into the most devastating move that ever happened—because he’s already pretty close—if he starts using his shin a little more and going a little deeper kicking through, keeping his balance, he’s 10 out of 10 all the way.”
Draven on Venis’s Sell: “If I saw anything other than fetal position, I would think this is wrong. You got that move put on you, you’re going fetal all the way.”
Overall Ball-Buster Rating: 9

Low-Blower(s): Dudley Boyz
Victim and Venue: Heath Slater, Raw 25, January 22, 2018
Draven on the Dudleys’ Technique: “From my perspective, this is a big no-no. Doing a headbutt to the balls from jumping off something doesn’t seem like anything I would want to do. But, if you caught him, it still might hurt. The surface of the head’s a little wide to do much damage. It kind of caught him on top. It hurts more if you hit him from underneath, so I don’t think the effectiveness of the strike would be there, and you’re putting your own head in danger. And you’re also putting your head that close to someone’s junk.”
Draven on Slater’s Sell: “I think that’s probably about right, because I think that would have some impact on the ground, and he might just come up. My guess is he wouldn’t quite be sitting up so straight. He might come up off the mat a little bit. I’m thinking he’d be a little bit more curled up in a ball, but it wasn’t bad.”
Overall Ball-Buster Rating: 1

Low-Blower: Triple H
Victim and Venue: Umaga, Cyber Sunday, October 28, 2007
Draven on Triple H’s Technique: “I like the idea. My problem is, the steel chair’s a little bit narrow. What we’re trying to do is hit them in the balls, if we’re being serious here. So especially from the side there, I don’t think [the chair] is going to catch both of them. It might catch one or the other. It’s still going to cause pain, but it’s gotta be a perfect shot, and you might end up missing with that strike. I don’t advise it. You have some better options there.”
Draven on Umaga’s Sell: “If he really got hit, I would have liked to see him go straight down. He’s a big guy, but you get hit right there, walking’s not what you’re feeling like doing. You’re crumbling. He sold it with his face, but the body could have been at least squatting and writing in a little more pain. It’s less dazing and more, “Oh my God, my world just ended.”
Overall Ball-Buster Rating: 5

Low-Blower: Stone Cold Steve Austin
Victim and Venue: Eddie Guerrero, SmackDown, November 16, 2000
Draven on Austin’s Technique: “The dude’s got a proper nickname, ’cause that’s straight-up stone cold, especially when he went for the second round. I’ll tell you what: That looked painful. Just being in that position, Guerrero has to know he’s toast. It’s not something I recommend people try and do in self-defense, but when you’re big and strong like Stone Cold, you can just whip people around like a doll. That would be ultra-painful.”
Draven on Guerrero’s Sell: “It’s the opposite of surprise. I love the facial expressions. But the talking and the pleading—to me I think it’d be a little more on the groaning side, and maybe a muster of a plea.”
Overall Ball-Buster Rating: 9

Low-Blower: Randy Orton
Victim and Venue: Shawn Michaels, Cyber Sunday, October 28, 2007
Draven on Orton’s Technique: “To me, it came out of nowhere, and this is the one I’m giving a 10 out of 10. I rarely would recommend an elbow strike to the balls like that. It’s weird to get into that situation. But from that angle, with this dude jumping at you with his leg out like that—perfect. He nailed him. Not only was the strike strong, it was the right part of his arm to catch him in the right area. And one of the best ways you can inflict damage is when not only are you giving momentum toward the attacker, but they’re giving momentum to you. Bam. 10 out of 10.”
Draven on Michaels’s Sell: “It was perfect. If I could give it an 11, they got my vote.”
Overall Ball-Buster Rating: 10