David Arquette trained for six months to compete in wrestling matches, but on November 16, a so-called Death Match nearly cost him his life
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Credit: Daniel Zuchnik/WireImage

For the past six months, David Arquette had been training for and competing in wrestling matches, but on Nov. 16, a so-called Death Match nearly cost him his life.

“I’m lucky to be alive,” Arquette, 47, tells PEOPLE just after leaving the hospital for an infection stemming from a deep cut in his neck. “If I had been cut in the jugular, I probably wouldn’t be here right now.”

The actor was in the middle of a match with wrestler Nick Gage when he went into self-described “defense mode.”

Says Arquette: “Sometimes they use those florescent light tubes and I got cut and started seeing dripping blood and I panicked. I turned around too quickly and the end of a broken bulb got me in my neck. It was gruesome.”

He went to the hospital where they sewed up his neck, but went back to the hospital the next day when “I woke up with the shivers and a swollen neck.”

In surgery, Arquette was informed that he had cut part of his neck muscle. “Doctors call that The Box because it’s such a dangerous place to get punctured,” he says. “It was really scary.”

Now, Arquette is reflecting on the incident, and why he took up the dangerous sport in the first place.

“Eighteen years ago, I won a WCW World Heavyweight Belt,” says Arquette. “But that win was a big disgrace to the belt and the wrestling community and ever since people have been criticizing me. I really wanted to prove myself and stand up for myself. I was sick of being bullied and for people thinking I’m just some punk from Hollywood.”

So, the father of three began training with Peter Avalon and lost over 50 pounds with diet and exercise.

Still, he admits that he knew little about Death Matches, during which there are “no rules and no disqualifications.”

Says Arquette: “I didn’t know the extent of how hardcore those things are. I was in over my head for sure.”

His wife Christina McLarty was “freaked out,” Arquette admits. “Luckily I asked her not to come because I had a feeling it was going to be a scary situation.”

But despite everything, he’s not ready to turn in the towel completely.

“I’m really lucky,” Arquette admits. “But I love wrestling and I will do it again. But I will never do another Death Match.”