“Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery” as an old saying goes. That fits wrestling as well as numerous people have basically taken off acts of other stars. Ric Flair never made a secret of basing his entire act on Buddy Rogers while Hulk Hogan borrowed from Billy Graham. It’s become more clear with finishing maneuvers as several are quite obviously taken from others. Seth Rollins used the Pedigree when allied with Triple H to show how close in partnership they were. Sometimes, a guy takes a finisher off an opponent to rile him up or mock him better. And some just use them without much regard as to who came up with them.
It says a lot a wrestler can use a finisher so much that it’s identified with him when he never came up with it. It’s far more common than one things; Lou Thesz invented the power bomb and so many others have taken off him. Likewise with Jake Roberts and the DDT. But some origins of famous moves can surprise you majorly. Guys have taken the moves of others and made them their own so well fans can forget they were basically stolen. Here are 15 wrestling finishers you didn’t know were taken off others and show how the business continues to evolve.
15 Razor’s Edge
The crucifix power bomb has become Sheamus’ finishing move in recent years, helped by a running start and a toss. But it was made famous by Scott Hall. He used it in WCW when he was the Diamond Studd, calling it the Diamond Drop. In WWE, he changed it to the Razor’s Edge and it looked fantastic especially when used on smaller jobbers. It helped Hall as Razor Ramon become one of the biggest stars in the company.
Hall, however, has stated that he actually learned the move from Dan Spivey. The blonde-haired man never became a major star but still impressive in his height and build and was using the move, even how he took some weight on his knees and slamming the guy down. Hall spiffed it up a bit to make it his own and says a lot so many still think of Ramon when they see the maneuver used.
14 Rock Bottom
For years, The Rock and Booker T have clashed over their powerslam finisher. Rock claims to have come up with the Rock Bottom first and used it well. Booker was pushed as a singles guy in 2000 ripping off the Rock with a finisher called the Bookend. They brought it up when they feuded in 2001 and Booker said he’d been doing the move first before the Rock started using it. But the fact is, neither of them were the ones who brought it up first. That was Bryan Clark who briefly wrestled for WWE as Adam Bomb before moving to WCW. For a brief time, before he was hooked up with Kronik, Clark was using this move, calling it the Death Penalty. He didn’t use it too long, preferring his panhandle slam called the Meltdown but it still means both Rock and Booker were imitating Clark, rendering the argument a bit moot.
13 Styles Clash
In 2011, Michelle McCool ignited a firestorm when she began using the Faithbreaker as her finisher. The key issue was the fact it was basically the Styles Clash with a new name. A.J. Styles had been using the move for years in ROH and TNA, a fantastic finisher that got fans going. Fans were outraged at this rip-off although Styles said he wasn’t too upset as it just reminded folks of how the move was really his. Lost in the controversy is that Styles never came up with the move in the first place. It was actually created by Col DeBeers, a South African heel in the AWA in the late 1980s. Styles did add a bit more flair to it with the hooking of the legs but he was just building off of what DeBeers had formed to help create such a terrific finisher.
Really, what better finisher for a guy named the Undertaker than a tombstone? He’s played around with stuff like the Last Ride and the Hell’s Gate but the Tombstone remains Taker’s major finisher which Kane has duplicated as well. But the move wasn’t his own invention as indeed, the very first time Taker used it in his debut at the 1990 Survivor Series, Gorilla Monsoon was already calling it the Tombstone. The Dynamite Kid had been using it in Stampede for a time but he learned the move during a tour of Japan. It was innovated by Mark Rocca, better known as Black Mask although Takao Omori was the one who came up with it. It does look far more devastating from Taker and Kane and still makes far more sense for them to use it.
It’s a pretty wild move, grabbing a guy, turning him around with arms hooked, the guy’s head against your shoulders, then dropping them to slam to the mat. Christian began using the move more and more and during a backstage interview with the Hardys, snapped that it was a move that “would make you so damn unpretty.” That name caught on, following Christian when he used it as his finisher in TNA. However, Christian was never really a fan of it and so changed the name to the Killswitch.
Tyler Breeze resurrected it under its original name for his own run. However, fans forget Christian didn’t make up the move as it was created by Tommy Rogers, one half of the popular tag team the Fantastics who called it the Tomikaze. Surprising how he managed to craft a move made well by so many others.
10 Bank Statement
Sasha Banks has been a key part of WWE’s revival of women wrestling. With her wild attitude and great ring skills, Banks has become a major star in NXT and the main brands with multiple championship runs. While she has many moves in her arsenal, Banks uses the Bank Statement as her main finisher, a variation of the crossface that has a person down, arms locked up and Banks pulling back hard on the chin to force a submission. The move really came to be from Taka Michinoku, a Japanese star who was pushed when WWE tried their own light heavyweight division in the late 1990s. He later moved on to become part of the funny Kaentai team but got attention for the move which looked quite good. Banks adds to it with her Codebreaker style attack to set it up so looks harder but owes a debt to Taka.
9 Sweet Chin Music
Many have duplicated it but no one makes a superkick look as powerful as Shawn Michaels. It took a bit for it to rise but soon Sweet Chin Music was taking off as his finisher, fantastic when a guy sold it right and getting fans going. But Michaels was actually just borrowing from a former Texas wrestling star. “Gentleman” Chris Adams was among the more popular workers for World Class Championship Wrestling, using his British charm and style to get over rather well.
He used a “thrust kick” as his finisher, taking down guys and it stood out pretty well. Adams sold it as being from a soccer background and thus his kick devastating, especially when he and Gino Hernandez formed a top tag team. While it wasn’t as flashy as Michaels, Adams did get there first using a superkick as a major finisher.
8 Camel Clutch
The most famous user of this move was the Iron Sheik and it made sense given his background as an evil Middle Eastern heel. It’s been used since by the likes of Sgt. Slaughter and others and looks quite painful. It was popularized by Ed Farhat, better known as the maniacal Sheik, a madman into bloody battles. In 2004, Muhammad Hassan was getting a push in WWE but not making himself popular with his arrogant attitude. During a backstage clash, Hassan told Eddie Guerrero he should stop using the Clutch because it was “his” move. Eddie fired back that it was his father, Gory Guerrero, who actually invented the Clutch in the first place. That’s right, a move so associated with “Middle Eastern” heels has its origins in Mexico and how so many owe Gory thanks for a painful maneuver.
7 Skull Crushing Finale
The Miz’s move can look good given the right circumstances. A variation would be the Stroke by Jeff Jarrett but that suffers as it looks like Jarrett is driving his own face into the mat with his opponent at his side. The Miz fixes that by getting his opponent into a full nelson then driving down which looks much better. He’s used it to win titles and get himself over well but he didn’t come up with it. Instead, Chris Jericho actually used it back in 2001, calling it the Breakdown. It surprisingly wasn’t used that often despite looking good as the Walls of Jericho seemed to suit him better. Jericho himself has taken a couple of shots but not like he has room to talk considering he borrowed the Codebreaker from Japan which shows he’s not really an innovator.
It was Sting who really started using the move first as the Scorpion Death Lock when he broke out as a singles star in 1988. Bret Hart would then move on to it with the Sharpshooter when he began his own singles run. Debate still rages as to which man made it look more effective and painful and thus added heat when Bret and Sting finally clashed in WCW. The fact was Sting got there first as during a tour of Japan in 1987, he met Riki Choshu, who taught him the maneuver. Sting was soon using it well and while Hart claims he developed the Sharpshooter on his own, Sting has openly stated the two moves are almost exactly the same. Again, each man has used it well but neither created the move as each owes Choshu for innovating one of the best submission moves ever.
5 Frog Splash
Rob Van Dam’s version of the move is great. But many associate it with Eddie Guerrero who was amazing as he took flight, bending his arms and knees in before sending them flying out as he landed on his opponent. Eddie’s reasons for using the move were quite personal. While variations had been around, the frog splash was basically created by Art Barr. Barr and Guerrero were one of the hottest teams in Mexican wrestling, the two getting crowds so riled up that they literally needed police escorts to get to and from arenas. Barr had been using the splash and was nicknamed the “frog” for how he really looked the role with legs flying and puffing out his cheeks.
Barr died suddenly in 1994 after years of drug use and Guerrero decided to use the move as a tribute to his best friend. While some have tried, few have managed to make the splash as great as Eddie did which keeps the memory of both him and Barr alive.
When Triple H started with WWE in 1995, he was Hunter Hearst Helmsley, a stuff “Greenwich snob.” He came out in fine outfits, doing bowing and acting a posh guy, a far cry from later personas. He did possess a great finisher in the Pedigree (so named to keep with his act) which hooked the arms before driving a guy down into the mat with head between knees. At first, Hunter kept the arms hooked all the way down but was warned it was too dangerous so dropped that fast.
For the origins of the move, Ron Bass actually used an early version in his run in WWE although it would be more just dropping the guy than hooking the arms. But it shows how Hunter had to undergo a few evolutions before reaching his true potential and that includes his finisher.
At first using it only rarely, CM Punk soon had the GTS as his main finisher. At first, he had the Pepsi Plunge, a top rope Pedigree and no shock that was dropped so he adopted the GTS. It looked impressive, a fireman’s carry before throwing the opponent up and hitting a knee to his face and almost always meant a pinfall. Punk could make it work off another move to get the crowd going and guys did a great job selling it as a devastating move. Punk used it quite a bit but didn’t create it. He took it from Japanese star Hideo Itami (better known as KENTA) who even openly said Punk was “on a list” for stealing his move. Itami himself has cut down on its use as the move is now so closely associated with Punk. A clear case where the imitator made the move far more famous than the guy who came up with it and boosted Punk to his massive success in WWE.
2 Diamond Cutter
The RKO is terrific to watch as Randy Orton has showcased the ability to yank this move out of almost nowhere (thus inspiring a classic meme) for a brutal finisher. Before that, Diamond Dallas Page was using it as the Diamond Cutter and likewise rocking fans with how he could slip out of an opponent’s move and hit him with a facelock that drops him down to the mat, a knockout blow that leads to a pin. But who came up with it first may be a surprise. DDP himself learned it from Johnny Ace, better known as John Laurinaitis, calling it the Ace Cutter. There have been variations since like the Twist of Fate of the Hardys and the Dudley Boyz’ 3D but the original Cutter still remains a sharp finisher with fans, something to thank Ace for big time.
1 Stone Cold Stunner
It’s one of the most iconic finishers in recent years. So fitting for Austin, the Stunner was soon his calling card, a great move that got fans going whenever he used it. He had to shake it up a bit after his neck injury, not as quick as it once was and Austin had to kick someone in the gut to set it up. It was a hit as Austin continues to use it on numerous people (it’s impossible to count the number of times Vince McMahon has been Stunned) and it gets a pop. But Austin didn’t create the move, which was used in Japan. What may surprise is where Austin learned it from.
In ECW, Austin had a feud with Mikey Whipwreck, a jobber who won fans over as a fighting underdog. He was using the move, calling it the Whippersnapper although not as polished as the Stunner. Austin would borrow it and give it a nice boost to make it his signature move and still top notch in terms of his stardom.