While cruising around Netflix the other night, I came across WWE: The 50 Greatest Finishing Moves in WWE History. After watching it, I obviously had a different rankings than the film. This led me to think about which ones would be in my top 10 WWE finishing moves from my childhood.
As I have stated before when writing about the WWE/WWF, I was really into wrestling from about 1987 to 1996. Then I got back into it, although not religiously, during the Attitude Era. I have never seen a match with John Cena involved. So there’s where you can cut me off. “Childhood” may be the wrong word to use when describing the time of my life when I watched wrestling, because the Attitude Era basically ended around the time I turned 21, but for purposes of this post, I’m going to run with it.
First off, if you want to see WWE’s list, you can click here. If you want to see my list, check out my top ten below.
The criteria for my list is simple:
1. No “frog splash” type moves off the top rope. There’s literally no creativity involved and there’s nothing to suggest that this specific wrestler will deliver more pain to an opponent than if any other wrestler did the same thing.
2. Explosiveness of the move. I needed to be wowed.
3. Submission moves are so impressive, even though in the WWE they are fake.
Let’s get to this list, shall we? Love it or hate it, leave it in the box below. I know some one is going to get real carried away and curse me out. But I don’t care. Let me have it.
10. Brutus “The Barber” Beefcake – Sleeper Hold
How could you forget Brutus “The Barber” Beefcake’s sleeper hold? I bet if you were a wrestling fan in the late 80’s, you probably tried to either jump off your couch and do Macho Man’s flying elbow, or give one of your friends the sleeper. What made the sleeper so awesome, was that Beefcake would hit his opponent with it after whipping them off the rope, or just sneaking up from behind them. And let’s not forget to mention that after you were put to sleep, you would get a free haircut!
9. Jake “The Snake” Roberts – DDT
Much like Brutus “The Barber” Beefcake’s sleeper, Jake “The Snake” Roberts not only put his opponents to sleep, but he also humiliated them afterwards. As if it wasn’t enough to have your face/head rammed into the mat with a tremendous amount of force, how would you like to have a giant python named Damien placed on your unconscious body?
8. Batista – Batista Bomb
This is my one exception. I randomly came across a Monday Night Raw probably in 2006 or something and saw Batista for the first time. After watching for about thirty seconds, I was absolutely mesmerized by this man’s physique, the tattoos, and his combination of sheer power and quickness. Then he delivered the Batista Bomb. Holy shit. This was the most powerful finishing move I have ever seen. I would have ranked this higher, but so many people had already done powerbombs before. But this is the best I had ever seen.
7. Bob Backlund – Cross Faced Chicken Wing
The first time I saw this move, my bones felt like they were going to snap. Backlund was the most vanilla, no flare, blah WWE Superstar that has ever been on TV. But this submission move was feared by everyone. This was the first submission move that I ever saw that looked “real”.
6. Shawn Michaels – Sweet Chin Music
Who would have thought that a simple kick could render so many wrestlers incapacitated? That simple kick was so precise, that it made the same sound every single time. It made a sound just like Indiana Jones’s whip. THWACK! Aside from that DX promo in the video, what made the kick so awesome was that he actually connected with it. It wasn’t some “fake” move. He literally put the sole of his boot into the face of his opponent.
5. “Macho Man” Randy Savage – Flying Elbow
“Macho Man” Randy Savage was one of the greatest of all time. Everything about him was over the top, including his finishing move. While I don’t like finishing moves that come off the ropes, Savage’s flying elbow was something special. It was like watching a majestic home run. A towing dive to the deepest part of the ballpark, and you are just waiting for it to come down. Savage was like the Jim Edmonds with this move. He didn’t always take the perfect route to get to his opponent, but it was always spectacular. His leaping ability was so extraordinary, that he could land this finisher when his opponent was literally half way across the ring.
4. Ultimate Warrior – Gorilla Press + Running Splash
In the late 80’s and early 90’s, The Ultimate Warrior was my absolute favorite WWE superstar. He was a certified lunatic who brought so much intensity, and the crowd absolutely loved him. With his absurd looking physique, The Warrior’s finishing move was one that showed off his brute strength. The move was more of a showcase for his muscles than anything. But none the less, the gorilla press was so impressive. But not only did he drop his opponent from over his head to the canvass, then he finished it off by coming off the ropes and splashing down all 275 lbs on their back or chest.
3. Bret Hart – Sharpshooter
Bret Hart was probably the most technically sound wrestler to ever set foot in the squared circle. Every move he did was with absolute precision. The Sharpshooter was no exception. The hybrid Boston Crab/Figure 4 leg lock was a devastating move that made all of his opponents tap out. What made this move cool was that it was so visually appealing. Crossing his opponents legs over and then spinning him around and putting all the pressure on the small of the back. No one escaped this hold.
2. The Rock – The Rock Bottom + People’s Elbow
The Rock was the most charismatic Superstar to ever step into the ring. Sorry Hulkster, you may have put the WWF on the map, but The Rock was like none other. The Rock Bottom was such an awesome move. The power in which the Rock used to slam his opponent into the mat was incredible. So many times they appeared to bounce off the mat as their bodies were thrown to the canvas. But what made the whole finishing move so great, was The People’s elbow. After the Rock Bottom, came the play to the crowd. The Rock would stand over his opponent, take off his elbow pad and throw it into the crowd, then take off for the ropes. At full speed, The Rock would come to a screeching halt, and unload with this funky elbow that was so unbelievably ridiculous looking. But it didn’t matter. Because the crowd absolutely LOVED it.
1. Stone Cold Steve Austin – Stone Cold Stunner
“The Stunner” for short, was my favorite finisher of all time. It was a move that epitomized the WWE Attitude Era. A kick to the stomach, then an over the top face breaking maneuver. Imagine getting your chin/neck snapped into another man’s shoulder? Good lord. As the Attitude Era built up steam, so did Stone Cold’s ferociousness. It got to the point where after he put his opponent out, he would blast them with two middle fingers. It was so over the top, but what in professional wrestling isn’t?
I hope you enjoyed my top ten, and I’m sure yours is nothing like mine. But that’s cool, I’d love to hear your opinions below and who is in your top 10.
Honorable mentions that didn’t make the cut:
– Hulk Hogan’s leg drop. It was an iconic move in WWE/WWF history, but it was so blah. Hogan was a big, slow-moving guy and there was nothing explosive about it.
– “Million Dollar Man” Ted DiBiase’s Million Dollar Dream. I wanted it to be on the list so bad. It was probably #11.
– Triple H’s Pedigree. It’s a pretty cool move, but when I’ve seen people kick out or “survive” it, the move loses a bit of credibility.
– Undertaker’s Tombstone Pile driver. Like Hogan’s leg drop, this is an iconic finishing move, but not necessarily a top ten move. The execution wasn’t always the best. Half the time it didn’t look like his opponent’s head was hitting the mat. Considering the Undertaker has been around since 1932, you would think that he could perfect this thing.
– Ric Flair’s Figure 4 Leg Lock. This is another move that could have been in the top ten, but the nature of the move kept it out of mine. There’s not questioning the fact that it’s a legit submission move, but it took too long to apply.