It’s often been stated that wrestlers need a few things to succeed in a big promotion like the WWE: a great entrance, a great look and a great finisher, but having a combination of all three is tough to obtain, as the following 15 people will prove, for different reasons. It’s hard for a wrestler to be the entire package, so for some who possess the look, charisma and entrance, their finisher just falls flat of the mark, while others possess a phenomenal finisher struggle in other areas. This list will look at 8 wrestlers in the WWE who were booked great who lacked that finisher, and others who were booked terribly but possess a fantastic finisher.
Author's note: When I say “terrible wrestler,” I refer to the WWE’s booking of this performer, not their in-ring talent, as some of the wrestlers on that side of the list have gone on to be fantastic on the independents, but weren’t treated as true stars during their time with the WWE.
15 Great Wrestler, Terrible Finisher – Big Show: WMD
Some might argue about Big Show being a great wrestler, but he is certainly a good worker, because he wouldn’t have lasted over 20 years in the wrestling industry if that weren’t the case. Although he mostly utilized the Chokeslam as his main finisher throughout that time, he brought the Weapon of Mass Destruction in during his later days, a knockout punch that looked just as silly as it did ineffective. Obviously, a punch from a 400+ pound monster would hurt quite a lot, but there was something about Show’s punch that just didn’t look right, and it kept him from looking as dangerous as he should have been. It seems that he is now close to retirement, looking in better shape than ever, and after his long, illustrious wrestling career, most fans will probably forget how bad the finisher was, and that’s the way he should want it.
14 Terrible Wrestler, Great finisher – Wade Barrett: Bullhammer
When we talk about missed opportunities in the WWE, one of the first that comes to mind is Wade Barrett and Nexus, as he should have become the top heel in the company. Alas, the company had no intentions of pushing anyone but John Cena, and he fell by the wayside, becoming nothing more than a run-of-the-mill midcarder. He may have won the Intercontinental Championship several times, but the title had become almost meaningless during his time, and unfortunately he left the company to little fanfare a year ago. We have all of these negatives, but there was one positive about Barrett that couldn’t be hidden, and that was his Bullhammer elbow, a vicious strike that ended almost any opponent he encountered, and although it was a simple move, it was fantastic.
13 Great Wrestler, Terrible Finisher – Tye Dillinger: Tye Breaker
Tye Dillinger is a veteran in the wrestling industry, but his popularity only exploded in NXT with the “Perfect 10” gimmick, and he has had a fantastic run from that point on, and it has led to him becoming a prized acquisition for the SmackDown Live brand. But there’s just one thing missing from his act, and that’s a great finisher. We all know that it’s basically impossible in this day to come up with a new wrestling move, so you’re bound to have a finisher used by someone else in some capacity, but Dillinger’s finish, the Tye Breaker, is a simple fireman’s carry to the back of the knee, the same move that both AJ Styles and Kevin Owens use as a transitional move at the beginning of their matches. It’s unlikely that it will change, as Tye has used it effectively, and his star power is derived from his great character work. But it’s just not as good a finisher as others within the WWE.
12 Terrible Wrestler, Great Finisher – Justin Gabriel: 450 Splash
When referring to the author's note in the introduction, Justin Gabriel is the embodiment of the "great wrestler, terrible treatment" in the WWE, as he has gone on to become one of the standout high-flyers in the world of professional wrestling since his departure, most notably in Lucha Underground as The Darewolf, P.J. Black. While in WWE, he was fairly successful as a member of the Nexus and the terribly named Corre, but once those factions ceased to exist, Gabriel was treated horribly, and given absolutely no chance to succeed. Like others, he has proven the WWE wrong by becoming a valuable commodity on the independent wrestling scene, and it just shows that sometimes, the WWE isn’t the be-all, end-all for young pro wrestlers. The one constant throughout Gabriel's run in every company he competes for is the beautiful finisher he possesses, and while others like AJ Styles use the 450 splash, Gabriel was the first to use it in the WWE for quite some time, and each and every time he hit the move, it looked incredible.
11 Great Wrestler, Terrible finisher – Seth Rollins: Pedigree
Seth Rollins is by far one of the best wrestlers in the world, and although the company has fumbled around with his character since returning from a career-threatening injury, he remains a main event star with one of the most diverse skill sets in recent wrestling memory. As a babyface character, Rollins has struggled mightily, but his move set includes many crowd-popping maneuvers, which has kept his popularity alive, but yet he doesn’t use such moves to finish matches. Instead he uses his former mentor Triple H's Pedigree. Since defeating The Game at WrestleMania, it looks like Rollins has moved on to use a more New Japan-style finisher, a Rainmaker/knee strike combination, so next time a list like this comes out, it’s likely Rollins won’t be on it, but for using such a boring, power move like the Pedigree, he makes the list this time.
10 Terrible Wrestler, Great finisher – Evan Bourne: Shooting Star Press
Evan Bourne, or Matt Sydal on the independent wrestling scene, is one of the best cruiserweights in the world, as his performances in ROH, PWG and New Japan show, but in the WWE during a time where cruiserweights were given no chance, and after a few injuries and mishaps, he was released to little fanfare. That’s unfortunate, as he has developed into not only a great wrestler, but an interesting and likeable character, and with Triple H gaining more power and influence, don’t be surprised to see him get another run in the company. As for his finisher, the SSP has been used by many performers in the past, from guys like Billy Kidman and many cruiserweights today, but Bourne used it beautifully like them, and like Neville was before the cruiserweights came back, he was nothing more than a decent wrestler with a great finisher.
9 Great Wrestler, Terrible Finisher – Roman Reigns: Superman Punch
Whether some idiotic wrestling fans care to admit it or not, Roman Reigns is a great worker, and he has proven that over the past few years, he is capable of putting together a great main event match, but one thing I can’t argue with those vocal fans on is just how horrid and stupid his Superman Punch is. We all know that the company is positioning him to become John Cena 2.0, so I somewhat understand where the criticism of him comes from, but he is a good wrestler. It's just that the Superman Punch is just terrible, as it doesn’t look painful at all, and comes with theatrics that no one really enjoys. His spear looks impressive, and as a big, powerful wrestler, Reigns could no doubt add a different finisher to his arsenal, but for now, I guess we will have to put up with the Superman Punch.
8 Terrible Wrestler, Great finisher – Rhyno: Gore
Rhyno has been a star in WWE, ECW and TNA throughout his long wrestling career, but unfortunately, The War Machine hasn’t always been treated well, especially within the WWE, where he was never given too many opportunities to succeed. Still, there was one thing that stayed the same throughout, and that was his Gore, a variation on the spear that genuinely looked like he was tearing his opponent in half. Maybe it was the ferocity that the Man Beast would hit his opponent with, or maybe it was the selling from his opponents, but either way, when the Gore was hit, virtually no one would survive. Still, he has managed to have some small success in the WWE, even up until last year where he was one-half of the first ever SmackDown Live Tag Team Champions, and that’s in no small part thanks to the power of the Gore.
7 Great Wrestler, Terrible Finisher – Edge: Spear
The Spear is one of the most iconic, yet also overused finishing moves in wrestling history, with men like Batista, Goldberg, and The Big Show (and women like Kaitlyn) having all utilized the move at one point, but perhaps the one most synonymous with the move was the Rated-R Superstar, Edge. Unfortunately for him, it was also the weakest-looking of all the versions of it, as it looked like Edge was giving his opponent a running hug to the midsection, but it still managed to put away some of the biggest stars in the industries vast history. He had other great moves in his arsenal, and will go down as one of the most accomplished performers in WWE history, so the terrible-looking spear won’t have an impact on his legacy. Regardless, it didn’t look as dangerous as it was made out to be.
6 Terrible Wrestler, Great Finisher – Tyler Reks: Burning Hammer
Tyler Reks had a great look, and was decent inside the ring, so it looked like he had some promise about him, but it’s this exact finisher we are talking about that begun his downfall in the WWE, as he used a variation of the traditional Japanese Burning Hammer, the original which was seen in the Cruiserweight Classic by Brian Kendrick on Kota Ibushi. Unfortunately for Reks, it looked a little to familiar to John Cena’s AA for the Face that runs the Place to handle. According to reports, Cena confronted Reks about the use of this move, but he took it as more of a rib, and continued to use the move, and John then used his influence to have Reks released from the company. We can’t say whether that part of the story is true, but Tyler wasn’t given much of a chance, despite all the positives about him.
5 Great Wrestler, Terrible Finisher – Bayley: Bayley-to-Belly
Although Bayley has been booked horribly on the main roster (another example of Vince McMahon not knowing how to book wrestlers based on their ability and character, rather than everyone in the exact same manner), she is still a phenomenal wrestler, as evidenced by her bouts with Sasha Banks in NXT. None of that, however, will change the fact that her finisher is nothing but a Belly-to-Belly suplex, which doesn’t look dangerous in the slightest. Admittedly, it looks great when she hits it from the top rope, but that iteration of the maneuver is only used in the biggest moments of big matches, as the usual version doesn’t look too impactful, especially from such a small woman like Bayley. Hopefully the booking changes, and Bayley can become the mega babyface star we all expected her to become. Although it’s unlikely she will change finishing moves, it won’t stop her from being the fantastic wrestler we all know she is.
4 Terrible Wrestler, Great Finisher – Kalisto: Salida Del Sol
Despite winning the NXT Tag Team Championship and also the U.S. title, Kalisto hasn’t been treated all that well during his time with the WWE (seriously, how is he not currently one of the top stars in the Cruiserweight division?), and a performer who was meant to be the next Rey Mysterio has resulted in practically nothing, being used in ridiculous stories with Titus O’Neil on RAW, and nothing more. Several others have utilized his current finisher, including Seth Rollins while he was on the independent scene, but Kalisto makes it look fantastic, and while we won’t be seeing it much due to his limited role on RAW, it’s still great. The best use of the move was when he hit it off the top of a ladder through another ladder on one of The Usos, and it was one of the most jaw-dropping moments in WWE history.
3 Great Wrestler, Terrible Finisher – John Cena: STF/AA
Whether you like to admit it or not, John Cena is a fantastic wrestler, and he will go down as one of the best of all time, and what is even more impressive than his body of in ring work is the fact that he did it with not 1, but 2 of the weakest finishing moves in recent memory. First known as the FU, now the AA is a simple fireman’s carry, and although Cena makes it look as good as anyone that has ever used the move, it looks like a weak move that wouldn’t hurt anyone, especially tough wrestlers. Next is what is probably the weakest looking submission maneuver of all time, and that’s the STF, which looks like it is making minimal effect on his opponent, especially when comparing it to submissions like The Sharpshooter, Anaconda Vice or even Chris Jericho’s Lion Tamer.
2 Terrible Wrestler, Great Finisher – The Original Sin Cara: Top Rope Spanish Fly
Sin Cara was one of Triple H’s first big project performers in the WWE, but for several reasons, he turned out to be nothing but a massive failure, from the botches to the language barrier to the weird, blue light that covered the building every time he was wrestling. Bbut he did have one saving grace for a brief time, and that was his finishing move, a very impressive Spanish Fly from the top turnbuckle. Eventually, the former Hunico took over the character, as it failed miserably in all aspects, and he turned that into a fair amount of success as a part of the Lucha Dragons, but it will never destroy the legacy that the first character built. Of course, the top rope Spanish Fly is a very contrived finishing move, but when he hit it, it looked as impressive as any move in recent memory.
1 Great Wrestler, Terrible Finisher – The Rock: People’s Elbow
The Rock is easily the most charismatic and entertaining performer in the history of the WWE, and he had many memorable matches against the likes of Triple H, Hulk Hogan and of course Stone Cold Steve Austin, and while his finishing move, The People’s Elbow was a flashy move that always popped the crowds, it was nothing more than a simple elbow drop. That may be a perfect analogy for The Rock’s entire career, more look and character than in-ring performer, so this move perfectly fits his character. But honestly, what wrestler wouldn’t be able to kick out of a simple elbow drop? It may have some theatrics added to it, but at the end of the day, Rock does little more than a weak looking elbow to the chest. Even then, it will still be always remembered as the “most electrifying move in all of sports entertainment.”