Big E hospitalized for what he says was broken neck suffered during WWE SmackDown

Popular WWE star Big E suffered a broken neck in an accident during the live broadcast of WWE SmackDown on Friday night, he said on social media.

The former WWE champion took an overhead belly-to-belly suplex from fellow wrestler Ridge Holland during a segment and landed on the top of his head. It was clear immediately that something had gone wrong.

Big E was removed from Legacy Arena in Birmingham, Alabama, on a stretcher and taken to a hospital, a scene that was not shown on television.

In a video he posted to Twitter, Big E said he has retained all feeling and movement in his limbs and extremities and his strength level "feels fine." But he said doctors informed him he broke his neck.

On Saturday morning, Big E posted another video from the hospital with an update. He said his C1 and C6 vertebrae were both fractured. However, he suffered no displacement to the spine, no spinal cord or ligament damage and he will not need surgery. Big E said it was "really good news all things considered."

It's unclear how long the injury will keep him out of action, though the possibility of him performing at WrestleMania 38 next month seems slim.

Big E was wearing a neck brace in both videos.

"I can't thank all of you beautiful people enough for all of your concern and messages," he said. "It's very heartwarming. ... I'm gonna be all right. I'll be good. Don't worry. Go to sleep. Don't worry about old me. But for real, thank you. I appreciate all of you."

Big E, 36, won the WWE championship for the first time in September and held it until Jan. 1. The Florida-born wrestler, whose real name is Ettore Ewen, is a former WWE Intercontinental champion and multiple-time WWE tag-team champ with The New Day, his longtime group with Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods.

The 5-foot-11, 285-pound Big E is a former University of Iowa football player and powerlifter.