Between all the zany story lines, attempted murders, and rampant vehicle destruction that takes place in the constantly bonkers world of professional wrestling, folks will occasionally meet in the ring to settle their differences with grappling and fisticuffs. Whether a match lasts 30 seconds or an hour, it will likely end with one wrestler hitting the other with their FINISHING MOVE, a move so MIND BENDINGLY POWERFUL that it effectively stops the user's opponent from continuing the fight. Finishing moves are the most important tool in a wrestler's in-ring arsenal, not only because they end matches, but because they're a reliable way to pop the crowd and their possible arrival helps build tension throughout the match. Some finishing moves are iconic, more integral to a performer than any catchphrase could ever be. Imagine "Stone Cold" Steve Austin without the Stone Cold Stunner or The Undertaker without the Tombstone Piledriver. They'd still be great, but there'd undeniably be something missing.
There's a ton of wrestling in the world today, so obviously, there are also a lot of finishing moves. While many of them are excellent and actually seem like something that could plausibly end a confrontation between muscle bound, spandex-clad titans, others are very bad and/or very dumb, and turn what should be an epic finale into an underwhelming showcase. So, without further ado, this list is dedicated to the best and worst finishing moves in wrestling today, a carefully curated testament to the most badass moves currently putting wrestlers out of commission and their less than astounding counterparts.
Honorable Mentions: Kenny Omega's One Winged Angel, Tetsuya Naito's Destino, DIY's Meeting in the Middle, Pentagon Jr.'s Fear Factor, Drew McIntyre's Claymore, Christopher Daniels' Angel's Wings, Neville's Red Arrow, Johnny Ace's Ace Crusher (ETERNAL!)
15 Best - Randy Orton's RKO
Randy Orton's a complicated guy. He's capable of putting on great matches, but he's prone to extended bouts of just not caring. He's undeniably at his best as a heel, but the WWE keeps booking him as a face and, Face Randy Orton is one of the most boring things on the planet. However, through all of this, there's one saving grace: the RKO, one of the most exciting and unpredictable finishing moves in wrestling today. It can be hit from anywhere (Or OUTTA NOWHERE), which creates easy tension, and fans love its brutality. It even became a meme in 2014, which is an accomplishment only it, John Cena, and that weird .gif of Vince McMahon getting excited can lay claim to.
14 Worst - Braun Strowman's Running Powerslam
Braun Strowman's running powerslam isn't a bad move, it has a fair amount of impact and showcases Braun's power well, but it feels underwhelming. Braun has quickly developed into one of the centerpieces of Monday Night RAW and he's blazing a trail of destruction everywhere he goes. He's flipped over an ambulance, collapsed the ring, and murdered Kalisto with a dumpster. Considering that resume of violence, shouldn't he have a finisher more destructive than something Randy Orton regularly uses as a transitional move? A move better utilizing his considering height and strength, like a chokeslam or a chokebomb, would be better. Or, The Undertaker isn't exactly using the Last Ride anymore. Just saying.
13 Best - Ember Moon's Eclipse
The top of the NXT Women's Division is something of a murderers' row. Asuka is a Panzer tank in lady form, Nikki Cross is downright unsettling, and Ember Moon is on another level athletically from the rest of the division. However, the scariest thing of all may be Moon's finisher, the Eclipse, a diving corkscrew stunner. The sheer amount of athleticism and timing that go into pulling it off are unbelievable. There's an ever-present dread that Moon will miss or botch and someone will get hurt, either her or her opponent. That dread makes it all the more amazing when she hits it successfully, and the crowd loves it. It's a true marvel and will almost certainly be what topples Asuka's title reign.
12 Worst - Brian Cage's Weapon X
Brian Cage, or just Cage, as he's known in Lucha Underground, is a very scary man and he genuinely looks like he could bench press a Honda Civic, but his finisher, the Weapon X, a Gory special reverse STO, is needlessly complex. It takes an irritatingly long amount of time to set up what basically amounts to a glorified complete shot. The amount of time it takes to set up somewhat bring down what should be the most emphatic moment of a match or beat down, and worst of all, it just doesn't look that painful. Considering his other finisher, the Drill Claw, is a vertical suplex piledriver, and his Alabama Slam is a thing of beauty, maybe the Weapon X should fall down the depth chart a little bit.
11 Best - Prince Puma/Ricochet's 630° Senton
Ricochet, or Prince Puma, as he's known in Lucha Underground, may very well be the best high-flyer in all of professional wrestling right now (Sorry, Will Ospreay). The things he can do in the ring simply boggle the mind. Although the most physics breaking move he's ever done is the double rotation moonsault (YOUTUBE IT!), he hasn't used that in a long time. So, his 630° Senton gets the call on this list. Here's a breakdown: he just goes really high into the air, does about two and a half flips, and then lands on his opponent, turning their insides into mush (More flips equals more damage, right?). It's a simply breathtaking maneuver and puts all of us non-flying humans to deep, painful shame.
10 Worst - Charlotte's Natural Selection
Like Braun's running powerslam, Charlotte's Natural Selection, a forward somersault cutter, isn't a bad move by any means. It can be hit from a variety of angles, creating tension, and it slams her opponent's face into the ground, which is always nice. However, just like the running powerslam, it feels extremely anticlimactic. Even hitting it on Bayley on the apron didn't seem like a satisfying finish. Charlotte's an incredible performer with an arsenal of great moves at her disposal. Her moonsault is one of the best in wrestling right now, and maybe ever, and her tall frame makes her big boot feel absolutely devastating. She's simply too good not to be putting bigger exclamation points on her matches.
9 Best - The Young Bucks' Meltzer Driver
As well as being one of the best tag teams in professional wrestling, the Young Bucks are also known for their zany personas and goofy antics. So of course they have a finishing move named after acclaimed wrestling journalist Dave Meltzer, whom they call Uncle Dave. The Meltzer Driver, a springboard somersault spike tombstone piledriver, is both ridiculously over the top and very, very painful looking. Whether or not the flip adds to the damage is a discussion for another time (The answer is yes, obviously, this is wrestling, duh), but the obvious damage of smashing someone's head into the ground and the added force of another person are obvious. The glorious overkill is just part of the Young Bucks experience.
8 Worst - Bayley's Bayley-to-Belly
Bayley is delightful. She's one of the few universally beloved faces in the WWE right now and she has a host of great matches to her name. However, that doesn't excuse her from having a very lame finisher. The Bayley-to-Belly is lame. Come on, a belly-to-belly suplex as a finsiher? It's not even one of the top 5 coolest suplex variations and it's probably the weakest. It just doesn't feel like a damaging enough move to end matches, let alone win titles. Bayley's a dynamic worker, she can surely come up with something better than this. Her elbow drop is fun and pops the crowd, or maybe even a different kind of suplex would work. Something has to change, because the Bayley-to-Belly is a signature move masquerading as a kill shot.
7 Best - Kazuchika Okada's Rainmaker
New Japan Pro Wrestling is the spiritual home of stiff shots and will somehow make your body physically hurt just watching it. Perhaps no move better displays this than Kazuchika Okada's Rainmaker, a wrist-lock into a short-arm lariat. On paper, it doesn't sound nearly as cool as it is, but it's truly one of the best moves in wrestling today. The sheer amount of force Okada puts into it and the way his opponents sell it like they just got hit by a roller coaster is fantastic. It's like JBL's Clothesline from Hell, but more fun and Okada has never been accused of bullying rookies, or "young boys" as they're called in Japan. Above all else, the Rainmaker emphasizes that a finisher can be both remarkably simple and tremendously devastating.
6 Worst - Dolph Ziggler's Zig-Zag
Why has Dolph Ziggler been using the the Zig-Zag, a jumping reverse bulldog, as a finisher for most of his WWE career? It's a solid move and moves like it are equally solid. Finn Balor's Sling Blade and Edge's Edge-o-Matic are great, but as signature moves. They wouldn't be believable as finishers because, regardless of whatever hypothetical whiplash or damage that may be done to the neck, they're mostly just pulling their opponents to the ground in a rough fashion. They don't look painful enough to end a match. Dolph's experimented with a superkick as a finisher, but that's been so diluted in recent years that it barely registered as deadly. Maybe it's too late for Dolph to change now, but the Zig-Zag is still bad.
5 Best - Shinsuke Nakamura's Kinshasa
Shinsuke Nakamura is the King of Strong Style, a style of wrestling best described in agonized grunts and the sound of a boot hitting a man in the face, so of course his finisher made this list. The Kinshasa, or Bomaye, if you're one of those people that still calls Kevin Owens "Kevin Steen", is a running knee to the face, for God's sake. It's just brutal to look at. If someone run full speed towards you and knee'd you in the face, you'd curl up in a ball and cry for an hour. It'd be awful. Like the Rainmaker, the Kinshasa is incredibly simple in design, but the force and theatrics that go into it, as well as its real world reputation of damaging jaws, make it an brutal and convincing finishing maneuver.
4 Worst - John Cena's Attitude Adjustment
This spot easily could have gone to John Cena's STF, because he puts no pressure on it and seemingly forces his opponent to tap out by the sheer force of his yelling, but he's used the Attitude Adjustment to win more matches and it's equally bad. At this point, it's unclear if the AA's reputation of badness comes from how diluted it's become (It takes at least four of them to pin anyone) or the fact that it's just a slam. It has height, but height only works for so much. His opponents just land on their backs after falling a few feet. It's not that bad. It's impressive when he does it two people or at once, or someone twice his size, but other than that, it's an underwhelming finisher for a 16-time world champion.
3 Best - The Revival's Shatter Machine
The Revival's Shatter Machine finisher, a flapjack into a double knee facebreaker, holds the dual honors of being the best tag team finisher in the WWE, and maybe the entire world, and for having the best finisher name in all of wrestling. Say it to yourself: Shatter Machine. It sounds viscous. It sounds like something Dr. Eggman would create to try and kill Sonic the Hedgehog. The name doesn't over-hype the move's destructive capabilities, either. It has all the fun of the Dudleys' 3D, but with the added bonus of destroying someone's face in the process. The Revival are an absolute joy to watch wrestle and the Shatter Machine is the crown jewel in their bag of tricks.
2 Worst - Big Show's Knockout Punch
It's just a punch. It's literally just a punch. It doesn't matter if it's a punch from Big Show and he's a giant, so therefore his punches hurt more. Nor does it matter how many times he cocks his fist back. That doesn't make punches stronger. Roman Reigns' Superman Punch is better and he cocks his fist way more, but he doesn't use it to pin people. Every wrestler uses punches in every match they compete in and rarely do matches end because of those punches. He doesn't even make it look convincing. Most of the time, the Knockout Punch just looks like he's lightly bumping his opponent's head, like he's trying to congratulate them for turning in their project on time, but missed their shoulder. It's a trash move.
1 Best - AJ Styles' Styles Clash
Why is the Styles Clash so great? Is it because it's unique and somewhat elaborate, but not as needlessly complex as a move like the Weapon X? Is it because the way the receiver's head is positioned, they could break their neck if the slightest thing goes wrong and that danger is somewhat thrilling? Is it because Michelle McCool used to do something like it and we all subconsciously respect that (Probably not)? In all reality, the move itself doesn't look all that devastating. It's a mat slam and the receiver lands on their stomach. Everything about it maybe shouldn't work, but AJ Styles is a gifted enough performer to turn the mundane into something exciting and cool.