Top 10 Pro Wrestling Finishers
Ah Wrestling the sport of kings (shout out to the lapsed fan podcast) but as far as nerd hierarchy goes pro wrestling is on the lower rung. Yes its more accepted now, as are all things geek but it definitely does not have the cache that say an anime fan or even a Dr Who nerd has all of a sudden. Pro wrestling (at least in North America) is still viewed by many as low brow, hillbilly, soap opera fake trash. Yes it can be all of that at times, but also much more when done right. A great match can tell a story without the fan knowing any back story, like an Austin v Bret Hart at Wrestle Mania 13. Or how many hours of joy Ric Flair promos have brought so many of us over the years. So fuck it no more hiding my fandom!
Here is my Top 10 list for the best Pro Wrestling finishers:
Before we get started I have to lay down some ground rules.
- Only finishing moves that have been used regularly in the WCW or WWF (I know its WWE, but I refuse to make that change) As I don't know the Indie circuit, ECW, New Japan etc well enough. On a side note some of the Japanese stuff Ive seen is crazy good and some of their finishers look seriously dangerous - check out Tiger Driver 91 by the late great Mitsuharu Misawa, Or Burning Hammer by Kenta Kobashi. You will thank me later.
- No Tag team Finishers, sorry Dooms Day Device - If I do decide to do the best Tag Team finishers list you will obviously be number one.
- I ranked these ten finishers based on how they looked (i.e is it believable, does it look like it would finish a match etc.) How over it was with the fans, and like all these lists it's just one persons opinion
- On a side note I don't watch much of today's product and my hardcore fandom was 94 until 2000, so keep that bias in mind.....cheers.
10. F-5: Brock Lesnar
Brock Lesnar is a genetic freak, who more so than any wrestler has the feel of legitimacy. He could probably beat the shit out of 99 percent of the Earths population; one on one, obviously not all at once. His F-5 suits his look and personality. Picking his opponent up on his shoulders and spinning them out violently, dropping them face down to the mat. It shows his strength and disregard for another human being.
9. Top Rope Elbow Drop: Macho Man Randy Savage
Yes there are more acrobatic moves from off the top, like the 450 splash or shooting star press. However Savages Elbow drop is so much more iconic, and definitely more over than any ones signature from up high. It showcased the legends athleticism, style and grace in the squared circle. It also signaled to the fans that he was a bit crazy and willing to take risks. Plus for all the cardio freaks and evolved wrestlers over the years few if any made that elbow drop look so silky smooth and punishing as it came crashing down on someones chest.
If Bone Saw (played by Randy Savage) hit Peter Parker with the big elbow drop then there would be no cinematic universe Spider Man!
8. Curb Stomp: Seth Rollins
Simple but effective; kick your opponent in the stomach, run of the ropes and jump up in the air stomping the back of their prone head into the mat. Like I stated earlier I'm very out of touch with the product, mainly tuning in for Royal Rumble and trying to get through Wrestle Mania - 7 hours are you fucking kidding me! However I'm aware that their are a lot of talented athletes in the game today, Seth being one of them. When I first saw the curb stomp I was floored! Especially that they call it a curb stomp in this PG era.It is so violent and on the nose, but in this case I'm all for it. Plus if you saw that in a real fight you would be disturbed and assume the victim is dead but in the ring it looks safe(er) and that's one of the good things about pro wrestling; simulated violence without all those real consequences.
I heard they banned it for a time. I assume because its now a publicly traded company and is very corporate, branding the product as family entertainment (unlike the attitude era) and they probably had some complaints? Just speculating, but now its back I heard, so that's good.
7. Vader Bomb
One of the reasons I fell in love with the product is that I was a self conscious tubby kid and in Wrestling they had tons of beefy big bastards who were taken seriously, rather than the butt of a joke. I looked up to the Earth Quakes of the world! They weren't to be made fun of, they were to be respected, feared or even admired. Vader was a beast of a man, who was not only huge but athletically imposing too. Bouncing off the second rope, Bret's rope, the best rope (I love you OSW Review) Vader built up momentum and launched himself horizontally in the air landing on some poor guy for the one, two, three.
RIP Vader! One of the most gifted big men in the sport.
6. Michinoku Driver: Taka Michinoku
Slick, crisp and lethal looking. If only Vince McMahon was as serious as his rival WCW to showcase the smaller weight class during the Monday night wars. Taka could of been used so much more effectively. He was so athletic, gifted and had a lot of charisma. Alas he was just made out to be an Asian stereotype comedy jober by the end of his fed run. I remember the first time I saw him wrestle on the great in your house ppv Canadian Stampede against his mentor the Great Saske. The match was dead good and when Taka pulled out the Michinoku driver I was floored! Immediately I went to pull off the move with my wrestling figures. Those were the days. Snatching his opponent in a body slam position, cradling the back of their head Taka sits out, driving the back of his foes head into the canvas. The move is so fluid and has a great snap to it, I love love love this move!
DDT: Jake the Snake Roberts
One of the most over moves you will ever see in wrestling. At his peak in the late 80's to the early 90's the crowd would chant so loud for his finisher because they knew it was a done deal if he pulled it off. Jake was a master of psychology and got a lot of response for a somewhat basic "classic" style. The DDT is used all the time in wrestling now; its a simple maneuver, garbing someone in a front headlock and than sitting down planting them head first. Yet even when he was years away from his prime (due to poor life choices), his brief comeback in 1996 still had the fans believing in the DDT. That's quite an accomplishment when you figure the move had already been saturated by so many wrestlers using the DDT as a transition move. Yet here's this guy: shirt on, out of shape, a shell of his former self, back in the ring and the fans still believe in his finisher. That's because the snake man had conditioned us all to know that if he hits the DDT, it's game set match.
4. Steiner Screw Driver: Scott Steiner
Holy fucking shit this looks so dangerous! I am glad that this move did not catch on. First off Scott Steiner is as crazy as they come. Roided to the gills with immense athletic prowess. The pre big poppa pump was less yolked so he had more mobility to pull off more stuff. Not sure if that's a good thing because the Steiner Screw Driver looks insane and I don't know why anyone would agree to take that move. He lifts them up in a vertical suplex but instead drops them straight down into a inverted pile driver. So little room for error! Unlike his Frankenstiener, no wrestler was ever seriously injured, but I wouldn't expect to see this move coming back anytime soon. All that said I cant get enough of this finisher and often watch it in gif form on loop.
3. The Sharpshooter: Bret the Hitman Hart
I am Canadian and my love, bias and appreciation for the hitman has no bounds. Probably why sweet chin music didn't make the list - plus I'm still salty about Shawn putting Marty through the barbershop window, never mind the Montreal screw job. However strong my bias may be I can still make the case for this class submission finisher. First off it looked great and painful. Secondly Bret was so skilled and crafty that he pulled it off in a variety of ways on wrestlers of all shapes and sizes. I can still remember seeing the 91 Summerslam match were Bret caught Mr Perfect's leg from off his back and grape vine'd Perfect's legs reversing a ball shot into the sharp shooter. Or some how getting Yokozunas' huge legs into the hold and it looking believable. That was the brilliance of Bret, he took wrestling seriously with a great sense of pride and it transitioned beautifully to the ring.
2. Tombstone Pile Driver: The Undertaker
A pseudo zombie undertaker wins wrestling matches by picking up his opponent flipping them upside down and than dunking them head first in the center of the ring. Wrestling is as ridiculous as it is fun! That's why so many of us love it. Not everything as to be a hyper realistic, high brow Aaron Sorkin script.
Unlike the Steiner screw driver, the tombstone looks a lot more safe but just as effective in signaling a possible end to the match. I can only imagine how mangled the mans' knees are from decades of dropping down on them night in and out. The move suits his character to a tee; a soulless man who craves destruction. After he puts them away with the move he folds their arms as if they are ready for a casket viewing and waits for the three count to end the match.
1. Stone Cold Stunner: Stone Cold Steve Austin
You will never hear such a crazed, elated crowd response in wrestling then Austin hitting the stunner on someone. The most over wrestler in history; at his zenith you could feel the energy through your T.V ! The Stunner looked great but it was more the mans connection with the crowd than the visual of Austin kicking someone in the stomach and dropping their jaw across his wide shoulder. The move was an extension of his attitude, his no fucks given swagger that so many fans lived vicariously through week in and out. The kick to the breadbasket (RIP Gorilla Monson) was the set up to the punch line we were all craving. We had heard the joke a million times before but nobody cared because it was how he delivered it.