Without endings, the world would be full of angry people anxiously awaiting some type of completion to fulfill this human need in our brains to finish things.
How upset would you be if you paid money to see a movie and about halfway through the story, it cut to the credits? What about reading books? Imagine owning a book that is missing the ending. Or if you were watching a television show about a New Jersey family in the mafia for six seasons and during the shows series finale, all you get for the final payoff is a fade to black?
In professional wrestling, a wrestler cannot become a legend without an ending. He can have the athletic ability, the look, and even an amazing storyline and still fail if he is missing that one thing that is required of the greatest pro wrestlers of all time, a finisher.
Finishers are amazing. They can be moves that are extremely difficult that cause a roar from the crowd that nothing else can replicate. How many times did Stone Cold Steve Austin run into the ring, use the Stunner on someone, and blow the roof off the joint?
That is what we are talking about today. The finishers that belong in the Hall of Fame alone. They are the moves that, when executed properly, end a match right quick and in a hurry. Some finishers are beautiful but just do not produce a strong enough response from the fans to stick. Those are not the ones we are talking about. We are just going to talk about the 20 most powerful finishers in wrestling, and rank them all along the way.
20 Baron Corbin: End of Days (Reverse STO)
For the past few years, Baron Corbin has flown under the radar in the WWE. He dealt with some injuries and that took him off the floor for awhile but even when he was there, he wasn't. He has all of the talent as anyone else in the WWE today and is finally showcasing it in 2017 as evident by his recent rise in popularity. His two highest rated matches of all time coincidentally occurred this year with the highest rated match going down between AJ Styles, Dolph Ziggler, Kevin Owens, Sami Zayn, and Shinsuke Nakamura during Money in the Bank 2017 last June.
As his popularity continues to grow, so does his move set, especially his closer, which is known as the "End of Days" and is a lifting reverse STO move that has slowly become one of the most exciting to watch in the WWE today. It is a tough move and is basically like giving yourself a "Rock Bottom" while slamming your opponents face into the mat.
19 Lex Luger: Torture Rack
Long before the WCW and WWE took complete control of the pro wrestling industry, there was another promotion that was well respected and also very popular throughout the United States, the NWA. This is also where wrestling fans were introduced to Ric Flair and the Four Horsemen, the legendary wrestling stable. It was also where Lex Luger first arrived in the business. He showed up as an associate of Ric Flair and quickly gained notoriety for his nearly perfect build and amazing physique.
His finisher was one that had an extremely high close rate because of what it did to his opponents. The Torture Rack was designed to take a wrestlers body and bend his spine and bust his ribs to the point he had to tap out or break his back. Not many men could perform such a powerful move which is also part of why it was such an amazing finisher.
18 Bret Hart: Sharpshooter
Technically speaking, Bret Hart is the greatest professional wrestler of the modern era, pound-for-pound. He was raised on the sport and grew up in the industry and respected everything about pro wrestling. He respected it so much that he turned himself into one of the best ever. He just simply got it. He knew what to do, where to be, how to sell, when to ease off, etc...
Bret Hart was hated by more fans than just about any other pro wrestler aside from Hulk Hogan and that was all by design. He turned into a heel and was so good at it, he stayed a heel.
His finishing move, the Sharpshooter, was the perfect finisher for a heel to land because it was so brutal and so graphic, it left the opponents screaming in pain in the middle of the ring just before tapping out. It's part torture, part finisher and it worked.
17 Randy Savage: Flying Elbow Drop
Randy "Macho Man" Savage was an icon. He was a legend and it was because he worked hard and loved pro wrestling. He earned everything he got and was known as one of the most meticulous and precise fighters in the industry. He planned his matches from start to finish, and sometimes forced his opponents to practice with him before the arena's would open that day. Sometimes, more than once.
His attention to detail led him to become one of the greatest wrestler ever and his highlights all feature the same thing, his flying elbow finisher. That flying elbow drop was one for the ages. He would climb to the top rope and launch himself right onto his opponents body, leaving nothing more than an easy 1-2-3 pin.
16 Razor Ramon: Razor's Edge
There have been many professional wrestlers that have turned into a lost cause because of various reasons. Whether it be drugs, alcohol, or just plain insanity, some of the best pro wrestlers of all time ended up disappointing us all and Scott Hall is one of them.
His story is the worst because he just might be the most successful and the best that failed to reach his potential because he was distracted outside of the ring. His finisher was a perfect example of just how impressive Scott Hall was as a wrestler. He would take his opponent over his shoulder and onto his back, with both of their arms held high above his head, and then launch their bodies across the mat, slamming them by the back of their neck into the mat.
It was known by two names, depending on which promotion he was working for. In the WWE it was called the Razor's Edge and in the WCW it was called the Outsider's Edge.
15 Diamond Dallas Page: Diamond Cutter
If you ask pro wrestling fans from the '90s and '00s about the WCW firepower, they will give you some obvious names like Hollywood Hulk Hogan, Bret Hart, Ric Flair, Kevin Nash, Goldberg, Sting, Chris Jericho, and one other wrestler that came virtually out of nowhere to become a legend of the sport. Diamond Dallas Page worked as hard, or harder, than just about everyone else in the industry back then, eventually securing himself as one of the greatest WCW superstars during the companies greatest years.
His rise to the top was aided by a finisher that was similar to Stone Cold Steve Austin's finisher, The Stunner, but with enough of a difference as to not compare the two men as copying from another. DDP refereed to his finisher as the Diamond Cutter. But it wasn't just the finisher that was powerful, it was the setup and delivery too. He would raise his arms high up in the air, making a diamond sign, letting the fans know what was about to happen. He would then explode the diamond, deliver a loud, "Bang," and then send his opponent to the ground.
14 John Cena: Attitude Adjustment
This list features a lot of legendary pro wrestlers that carried their promotions on their backs throughout their careers. Among them was a man by the name of John Cena. Cena went from wrestling under the moniker, Prototype, to being dubbed the Doctor of Thuganomics around 2002. It was during his time as the Doctor of Thuganomics that John Cena grew into a superstar. He would rap and throw out some of the funniest lines on Smackdown each and every week, turning himself into something he never expected, a 16-time WWE World Champion. He shares that record with only one other wrestler, Ric Flair.
When he was throwing out rhymes and spitting sick lyrics, he introduced a finisher he called the Attitude Adjustment, and the rest was history. He is so strong that he had no trouble lifting wrestlers up on his shoulders and slamming them to his side. He made it look too easy at times and would perform it to a crowd of 30,000 screaming fans and get a reaction you cannot replicate.
13 Austin Aries: Brainbuster
The WWE does not own all of the best talent in the industry. At one point, they did. But that was nearly 20 years ago. Nowadays, there are many options for talented wrestlers and Austin Aries took full advantage of each and every one of them. He has wrestled for the WWE, TNA, Ring of Honor and a ton of other smaller promotions. He has even won multiple World Championships, from being the TNA World Heavyweight Champ to becoming the first 2-time Ring of Honor World Champion, Austin Aries has taken his talents all over and shined everywhere.
One of the pieces of Austin Aries gimmick that so many fans love is his move set. He has some very interesting moves that eventual lead up to his finisher, the Brainbuster.
The Brainbuster can only be described as the scariest vertical suplex because it throws a wrestler into the mat on their head. It always looks as though his opponents are going to have a broken neck because of the force behind the move.
12 Rob Van Dam: Five-Star Frog Splash
Not many pro wrestlers were able to succeed from the top ropes like Rob Van Dam. He was a stud on the top ropes and even developed a finishing move that was later called the Five-Star Frog Splash.
The Frog Splash was made famous by Eddie Guerrero, who actually got the idea of the move from Mexican pro wrestling in the 1980s. But it wasn't until Rob Van Dam showed off his athleticism, launching himself high off the top rope, higher than anyone else has ever performed the frog splash, and landing anywhere in the ring that the opponent might lay. He could reach all angles and spots from that high and was up there for so long it was almost like he would be flying on the way down.
He would even pull himself in different angles or spots just to make the move reach his opponent. It was a move that was tough not to be amazed when seeing it in person.
11 Bray Wyatt: Sister Abigail
The creation of a successful character gimmick does not occur overnight. It takes time and many failures before one sticks. In fact, the WWE has failed more often than they have succeeded. But every now and then, they create someone like Bray Wyatt, who is the brother of Bo Dallas and the nephew of Barry Wyndham, a creepy gimmick that reminded fans of Max Cady, the killer from the 1991 movie Cape Fear. Luke Harper and Erick Rowan followed Bray and formed The Wyatt Family, one of the scariest and creepiest stables in WWE history.
If you thought Bray Wyatt was a perfect creation from the WWE, then you must really love and respect his powerful finisher, the Sister Abigail. The move starts off when Bray knocks his opponent out cold. He then picks him up by his side, holds the opponent in a head lock, and then gives him a sweet kiss on the forehead before flipping backwards, slamming his face into the mat with a cross-body reverse DDT. It always ends up keeping his opponent motionless and out for the count.
10 Kurt Angle: Ankle Lock
What?! What?! What?!
Before the crowds began asking that annoying question all night long, Kurt Angle was just an Olympic wrestler fresh off a Gold medal from the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta. It took some time before the fans began to hate Kurt Angle. At first, he was an actual wrestler that was looking to become a superstar and was gaining much fame and success because of his background story. But then the fans turned on him and never looked back.
His finishing move was the Ankle Lock and was once loved by the fans, just as much as they loved him. It nearly broke the foot of his opponents and almost everyone that found themselves in the Ankle Lock, never got out. As the fans began to turn against him, the move began to get worse. Much like Bret Hart's Sharpshooter, the move embarrasses his opponent while forcing them to tap out eventually.
9 Shawn Michaels: Sweet Chin Music
If you were asked how many professional wrestlers use a high kick to the face as a finisher, you would say Shawn Michaels and that's where it stops. No one else had a move anywhere close to this making it perfect for his rise to stardom. It was not just a memorable finisher, it was a deadly one. After putting his opponent's into a dazed state, he would line himself up in the opposite corner of the ring and begin stomping his feet as if he was charging his foot for the final kill.
Then, when his opponent came within range, Shawn would land a shot clean across his opponent's jaw, sending their broken bodies to the mat, normally unconscious, leaving them available to be pinned with ease. The kick became known as Sweet Chin Music and it did just that.
8 Randy Orton: RKO
Just like the Stone Cold Stunner, Randy Orton's RKO finisher captivates a crowd, leaving them screaming and hollering at what just went down. It is a simple move and Randy does it to perfection. He just takes his opponents head, usually without them suspecting a thing, and slams them down to the ground with so much force they end up going unconscious. In fact, Randy Orton made the move his own by landing it on opponents that never even saw it coming. He would unleash it after charging them from behind and the next thing the wrestler would know is that he was getting up off the mat following a loss.
The finisher was so powerful that it became an internet sensation thanks to Vine and YouTube. The phrase, "RKO outta nowhere," has become an internet meme and reminds us all just how important these wrestling moves can be when used correctly.
7 Petey Williams: Canadian Destroyer
How do you define powerful when it comes to pro wrestling finishing moves? In the case of Petey Williams, he would define a finisher as powerful if it ends up getting banned from the sport because of how dangerous it is to perform. Since he was in the TNA, we are going to assume that not many of you know who he is or anything about this finisher so we are going to try and explain it.
It usually occurs shortly after a reversal where Petey gets his opponent's head in-between his legs, bent over, about to receive a powerbomb. However, instead of picking him up for the powerbomb, Petey instead jumps forward, over his opponent, while keeping his head between his legs, and flips the guy over, right into a piledriver. It is not easy to explain but when you see it, you will understand why it was banned.
6 Diesel: Jackknife Powerbomb
The WCW did not begin its' meteoric rise until they stole two wrestlers away from the WWE. And it was not only two stars, it was two of their biggest ones, both men were former heavyweight champions in the WWE before they were signed by WCW. Those men, Kevin Nash and Scott Hall, became known as The Outsiders, and, with the help of Hulk Hogan, formed the nWo.
As the WCW exploded into one of the biggest promotions in the world in the late '90s, they were lead by Kevin Nash and is incredible size and strength. The seven footer used the Jackknife Powerbomb to finish his opponents by slamming their bodies from several feet in the air into the mat.
Kevin Nash began using the finisher from the first few matches of his career. It got better each and every time he used it, each time getting harder and more dangerous. No one was safe from it. No one.
5 Triple H: Pedigree
Of all the moves on the list, Triple H's Pedigree just might be the most valuable because it earned him win the WWE World Heavyweight Championship (4 times), the WWE's World Heavyweight Championship (9 times), and a dozen other titles like the Intercontinental Championship and the European Championship. He even treated many of his defeated opponents to a Pedigree on the belt itself, multiple times.
In the beginning of his career, Triple H was a wealthy man of royalty that was above everyone else. It did not take very long to change the gimmick and turn him into more of a bodyguard and a bad boy with D-X, that's where he found his most success. The Pedigree came from that first gimmick and lasted through his entire career, which dates back to the early '90s.
4 The Undertaker: Tombstone Piledriver
A legend in professional wrestling isn't defined by one thing. His status arises from a series of events that occur early on in a wrestlers career like when The Undertaker made his first appearance during Survivor Series and immediately made a lasting impression during his match. His skill set combined with the gimmick and an amazing move set turned The Undertaker into one of the all time greatest.
His finisher became known as the Tombstone Piledriver and is a legendary move by itself. Once The Undertaker performs the Tombstone on his opponents, the next thing they see is the whites of his eyes and he crosses their arms, similar to the way a dead body lays in a casket, and gets the pin. Even people that do not watch wrestling know about The Undertaker and his Tombstone Piledriver.
3 Goldberg: Jackhammer
When Goldberg showed up on WCW Monday Night Nitro, it did not take very long for his undefeated streak to turn him into a star. After 15 wins, fans started to take notice of this beastly man that was spearing his opponents with the same force as a race car slamming into a brick wall followed by a jackhammer, slamming his opponents to the mat to get the pin.
There was not very many finishers that you knew were going to be the end of a match like Goldberg's Jackhammer. It was just plain scary to watch him line up his unsuspecting opponents and run full speed at their chest, slamming them down. The spear gave him the time to get the crowd up on their feet, preparing to give the loudest pop of the night once he lifts his opponent up high into the air, feet pointed to the heavens, before swinging and slamming their lifeless bodies down for the 1-2-3 pin count.
2 Toshiaki Kawada: Kawada Driver
A move that grabs the attention of the audience and causes a pop louder than anything you have ever seen before is powerful as is. But technically speaking, there are not very many finishing moves in pro wrestling that are nearly as powerful as the Kawada Driver.
Toshiaki Kawada used the Kawada Driver in Japan and makes it look as if he is murdering his opponent by slamming them down onto the mat after lining them up for what looked to have been a powerbomb. You will never see this move in the WWE because of how dangerous it is, just go ask Mitsuharu Misawa, an opponent that took a Kawada Driver harder than anyone ever will.
If the human neck was built to withstand a body slam to the mat then everyone would be doing it. It sometimes even looks like a botched move but is still extremely effective.
1 Stone Cold Steve Austin: Stone Cold Stunner
Professional wrestling reached a peak in popularity during the late '90s and early '00s that they might not ever be able to reach again. It was a culmination of many things including characters, storylines, and competition with the WCW on Monday nights.
Stone Cold Steven Austin is another reason for its' rise to the top. He electrified the crowd and turned the entire WWE world against the owner Vince McMahon. The love for Stone Cold and the hatred for Vince McMahon caused fans to make a choice and most chose Steve. His finishing move, the Stunner, was so effective that once he landed it, only about 5% of opponents were ever able to recover from it and continue fighting.
No other move in pro wrestling ever owned an arena like the Stunner.
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