As wrestling has evolved over the years, maneuvers that were once seen as awe inspiring and elite are now everyday occurrences. To think there was a time where the superplex was seen as an incredible, once in a lifetime move whereas nowadays you see it every Monday night. However, there are still some moves which are revered for their grace, power, effectiveness and greatness. Many of those moves are used by wrestlers to close out a match. Once a wrestler has exhausted their arsenal and their opponents are still able to stay alive in the match, they must resort to one final technique which will surely bring an end to the match. There you have it friends, one of the coolest aspects of pro wrestling: the finisher.
The finisher is now somewhat of a lost art in pro wrestling. Wrestlers seem to kick out of finishers on a weekly basis now, which cheapens and weakens the strength of those finishers but at one point in time, one finisher was enough to make an opponent tap out or keep them down for the three count. This list will analyze and rank the most memorable, cool, devastating and best finishing moves in WWE history.
This list is one of the toughest to do. There were many moves which had to be left off so if you don’t see your favourite chances are they would be on a top 20 or 25 list. As a general rule, the success of the performer doing the finisher also factors into the ranking. It is not the major factor though. The main quality needed for the list is that once the move was executed did it generate a reaction out of you? The bigger the reaction generated, the more likely that move will enjoy a higher ranking. Now without further delay, we present the top 15 finishing moves in WWE history.
15. The Razor’s Edge (Scott Hall)
Say hello, to the bad guy… with the amazing calling card. As one of the highlights of the WWE’s dark ages in the mid 1990s, Razor Ramon was a dynamic and charismatic performer whose work in the ring could back up the game he spoke. The greatest move in his repertoire is no doubt his finisher, the Razor’s Edge. Not only is that the title of an awesome AC/DC album but it’s also a move where Hall holds the opponent above his head by the triceps and throws his victim over his head flat on his back. Hall came up with the move while studying Japanese wrestlers and his research paid off big time, as it remains one of the best finishers of all time.
14. The Last Ride (The Undertaker)
While many people (including the WWE apparently) forget that Undertaker transformed from a zombie to a biker for a brief time from 2000 to 2003, this move refuses to be forgotten. The powerbomb is a move that has been used by hundreds of power wrestlers but few were able to add their own twist to the classic recipe. The Undertaker managed to do it. The move begins as a standard powerbomb but once his foe is lifted up, Taker hoists them up a few more inches and then finally drops them while hanging on till the bitter end. Undertaker kept this move in his arsenal once he returned as the Deadman in 2004, and thank God for that.
13. DDT (Jake Roberts)
The very idea of a superstar using the DDT as a finisher seems laughable. It is a staple move of so many wrestlers that it can hardly be considered unique by anyone’s standards. In the WWE of the 1980s though, there was no other finisher that could match the intensity and velocity of Jake “The Snake” Roberts’s DDT. Named after a banned pesticide which can cause brain damage, Roberts invented the move by accident when an opponent tripped over Roberts’ foot while trapped in a front facelock. The simple move is just driving the opponent’s head into the canvas but the subtlety of The Snake made the move so much more. The sustained popularity and the numerous variations of the move is indicative of its power.
12. Glam Slam (Beth Phoenix)
Divas’ matches are often mocked by some fans for being an excuse to go the bathroom but there are some women’s wrestlers that demand your attention and deserve it. “The Glamazon” Beth Phoenix was one of those special ladies. One of the most talented and strong in-ring competitors in WWE history, her finisher the Glam Slam was a large part of her popularity. Phoenix overhooked both her opponent’s arms, hoisted them high in the air only to release them and drop her foe face first for the win. The slick transition into the pin makes the move look even better. Phoenix’s boyfriend Edge better not piss her off, because this finisher is one of the most devastating ever.
11. Punt Kick (Randy Orton)
It’s not a shock that the 12-time World Champion Randy Orton is on this list. What might be a shock though, is that the RKO is not the finisher I’m showcasing here. As cool as it is (it won hashtag of the year dammit!) there is another finisher of Orton which is so brutal that WWE has banned it due to fear of concussions. I don’t see what the concern is. All he does is run at a floored opponent at full speed and rear his foot back to send his opponent’s skull into the nosebleed seats. No big deal at all. Seriously though, it is a shame that Orton can’t use the move anymore. It’s a guarantee that Orton would win over plenty of fans back simply if this was back in his arsenal. Possibly the most sinister and evil finisher in WWE history is also one of the best.
10. Ankle Lock (Kurt Angle)
Things are about to get real. One of the few wrestling moves to actually be applicable in real life, the ankle lock is a crushing submission hold which destroy the leg and foot of anybody who is unfortunate enough to get caught in it. Former UFC fighter Ken Shamrock brought the move to the WWE in 1997 and while his submission was awesome, it was the Olympic Gold Medalist Kurt Angle who took it to another level. Not only did Angle torque his opponent’s foot to a ludicrous degree, he also grapevined his opponent’s leg to keep them in place and make escape impossible. Angle’s crazed killer facial expressions also added to the move’s intensity and made it one of the best submission holds in wrestling history.
9. Widow’s Peak (Victoria)
Watching early 2000s Divas’ matches makes one yearn for the days of ass-kicking bombshells like Trish Stratus, Lita, Molly Holly and of course Victoria. A candidate for the most vicious Diva ever, Victoria came straight from the bodybuilding world to the WWE with no wrestling experience but nonetheless was a breakout performer almost immediately. Her finisher had a profound effect on her success. The move was invented out of the Gory Special submission (created by Guerrero family patriarch Gory Guerrero) position but instead of a submission Victoria takes her opponent’s head and drops down for a neckbreaker. The impact is devastating and is ultra violent, a perfect combination for a great finisher which led Victoria to two WWE Women’s Championships.
8. Spear (Goldberg)
Like the powerbomb, the spear seems to be a fail proof (I’d call it lazy) finisher for several big wrestlers. You charge full speed at the opponent and slam your shoulder into the opponent’s ribs and crash them down. Several performers have used the move, but none have executed it like Goldberg. As a former defensive tackle of the Atlanta Falcons, the idea alone of this 285 pound monster sprinting at you is enough to terrify anybody. In terms of impact, this finisher might be the most devastating on the list. Really, Goldberg could have not used the Jackhammer at all and still be seen as a juggernaut. The simplicity of the move keeps it out of the higher spots, but it’s still awesome.
7. F-5 (Brock Lesnar)
Speaking of scary monsters, the current WWE World Heavyweight Champion and Beast Incarnate Brock Lesnar has quite a tornado of a finish. At first, the move doesn’t seem like much; Lesnar simply lifts his opponent up into a fireman’s carry position. Once the opponent is up though, he is lifted and spun like a airborne top and comes down on their face. What brings the move high on the list is that Lesnar has defeated so many legends with the move. The Rock, Triple H, Hulk Hogan, Kurt Angle and many more have all gone down to the F-5. Most impressively though, it was this move that finally broke the streak of The Undertaker. Enough said.
6. Five Star Frog Splash (Rob Van Dam)
Many people associate this move to Eddie Guerrero because of his relationship with the creator of the move Art Barr but in all honesty, “The Whole F’N Show” Rob Van Dam is the king of the frog splash. Not only is the height and hang time of his splash just jaw-dropping, RVD seems to be able to hit the move wherever the opponent is in the ring. Whether he has to turn in mid air or alter his trajectory, there are very few times where RVD didn’t make the landing look impressive. The move always generates a great pop, and is probably the best high flying finisher ever.
5. Stone Cold Stunner (Stone Cold Steve Austin)
How do you come up with a move that best personifies the kick ass redneck rebel that is Stone Cold Steve Austin? The answer is stunningly simple; the Stone Cold Stunner. Austin credits Michael P.S Hayes with the creation of the move and my lord did the Rattlesnake take the idea and run with it. A kick to the gut followed by a sit-out jawbreaker, no other move in wrestling history has generated the type of pop that this move did in the glory days of The Attitude Era. When Austin would drop those opponents on those stacks of dimes they call necks, it would more often than not be goodnight for his foes. That’s the bottom line, because I’m the writer of this list.
4. Pedigree (Triple H)
Almost everything about the man Paul Levesque is polarizing. Some say he is an overrated talent who married his way to the top of WWE while others argue that he is one of the smartest and most talented wrestlers of all time. One thing that all can agree about the performer Triple H is that his finisher is legendary. The Cerebral Assassin underhooks both his opponent’s arms and tucks their head in between his thighs to slam their face into the canvas with the full force of his and their weight plus gravity. The lack of escapes from HHH’s grip and the sheer viciousness of the move makes it one of the best. Because it is that damn good.
3. Sharpshooter (Bret Hart)
Here we have the creme de la creme of submission hold finishers. While other submission finishers are often broken or escaped from on a near constant basis, Hart’s sharpshooter has been broken only once (not including rope breaks) which was by The Undertaker at SummerSlam 1997. For the other 99.9% of his opponents though, the sharpshooter had no escape which made Bret Hart a fearsome force in the WWE despite his smaller size. Hart’s impressive ability to lock in the sharpshooter on men who sometimes doubled him in size is also a feat in it of itself. The sheer agony with how his opponents sold the hold and believable intensity of Hart makes it one of the best finishing moves of all time.
2. Sweet Chin Music (Shawn Michaels)
It can be difficult for a smaller wrestler to be seen as a credible threat in an industry where 300-pound athletes are as common as paper. You need a finishing move which you can land on anybody, anywhere and anytime with authority. Which is exactly why HBK’s superkick is an incredible finisher. No matter who you are, a side kick to your chin is going to drop you to the canvas and likely keep you there. That would be great on its own, but Michaels also adds in the theatrics of “tuning up the band” to make the devastating kick not also dangerous but also a threat to watch. Many performers like the Usos and Dolph Ziggler may borrow the superkick today, but the rightful owner of the superkick will always be the Show Stopper, Shawn Michaels.
1. Tombstone Piledriver (The Undertaker)
Iconic. If there is one word to describe The Man From The Dark Side, that is it. The Undertaker’s captivating presence, longevity, agility and leadership have made him perhaps the most loved and respected superstar in WWE history. All of those attributes combine together to create the most amazing finish in wrestling history: the Tombstone Piledriver. The move works on so many levels. It looks graceful, devastating, dangerous, cool and poetic all at the same time. Not only is the move great, but the set up and what happens after the finisher just places it on another plane of glory. Undertaker’s throat slash and the stacking of the opponent’s hands for the pin make the Tombstone Undertaker’s alone, even if others use it. The finisher fits the unbeatable legacy of the performer, and that is why it is the greatest finisher in not only WWE, but professional wrestling history.
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