In the world of professional wrestling, a finishing move is meant to highlight a particular wrestler and provide the bow that ties up his character, attitude and overall move set. It sounds simple, but being able to come up with a great finishing move for every wrestler can be quite the challenge.
For every iconic finisher like the Stone Cold Stunner and the Jackhammer, there have been busts like the Worm. That trend continues today in a world where fans are fascinated with specific moves like Kevin Owens pop-up powerbomb or AJ Styles flying forearm – or, on special occasion, the Styles Clash. Wrestling finishers are meant to provide an exclamation point on a match, signaling that the hard-fought match is over.
Not everyone has a great finishing move and, over the years, many of them lose their luster and are delegated to becoming a signature move that might lead to a close two-count on the pinfall attempt. But that’s just one of the many problems with today’s generation of finishing moves.
Sometimes, the superstar picks a finisher that has been done several times over the years. Or maybe they go with something a little too simple – maybe fearful that they couldn’t come up with anything different. It is a tough responsibility, but this is the business of sports entertainment and fans have to be able to enjoy how a match ends.
The following 15 professional wrestlers need to make a chance to their finishing move. It could be for an upgrade from the cliché or possibly making a change after several years of fans becoming familiar with what they do. The list includes veterans with more than a decade of experience and even some who are relatively new to being shown on television. Regardless, these 15 wrestlers need to make a change to their finisher as soon as possible.
15 Rey Mysterio
There is no denying that he is arguably the king of lucha libre and one of the most popular stars in professional wrestling. But over the years, his move set feels a need for an upgrade – especially his finisher.
There isn’t a whole lot of reasons to dislike the character of Matanza Cueto. In fact, I loved how the folks at Lucha Underground built him up throughout the first season and early part of the second season. It’s just the fact that his finisher leaves a little bit to be desired.
13 Baron Corbin
Maybe it’s harsh to criticize the young Baron Corbin since it is a decent looking finishing move when done on some of the smaller talents. But if the WWE wants to develop Corbin as one of their future big men, one has to question if he can pull off the End of Days finishing move against wrestlers who are a little bit bigger than 220 pounds.
Speaking of the generic chokeslams, Impact Wrestling’s Tyrus is one of the members of the “big men who chokeslam people” club that has about as many names as Hugh Heffner’s black book. Having a big man perform a chokeslam is easily one of the biggest clichés in professional wrestling. It doesn’t matter whether it starts with a normal grab of the throat or with the Tongan Death Grip.
11 Titus O’Neil
Titus O’Neil feels like someone who could be a main event star, but is held back to a number of factors. You could blame it on the booking by the WWE creative team, or that he sometimes gets himself into some trouble. But he is very charismatic on the microphone and has the linebacker physique at 6-foot-6and 270 pounds.
10 James Storm
The Cowboy known best for his time with TNA and a brief stop at WWE’s NXT development brand found most of his success in the tag team division. As a singles wrestler, he had some good matches. But his finishers haven’t had the right element to them some Storm fans would have liked to have seen.
9 Dean Ambrose
While there is a lot to like about the Lunatic Fringe, it seems like he could have used a better finisher than the DDT. His style isn’t meant to include technical submissions or throws, but he has shown in the past that he is more than just a brawler that shows little regard for his own personal safety.
8 The Miz
While he’s been criticized over the years, one cannot deny that he has worked extremely hard to be on the WWE roster after coming in as a mediocre host of the Divas Search more than a decade ago. There is talent there, but his finishing move falls under the same pitfall as the Dirty Deeds DDT and other moves that don’t warrant being that ending exclamation point.
7 Erick Rowan
Big man with a big bears and a sheep mask does make him one of the more, er, different talents on the roster. He’s not as skilled as his Wyatt Family brother Luke Harper, but he could eventually become one of the next up and coming big men in WWE. As creative as the character is in WWE, his finisher in the full-nelson slam is not as creative.
6 Luke Harper
In all honesty, Luke Harper is a unique superstar on the WWE roster who could be a decent singles talent. He’s worked well as one of the enforcers of the Wyatt Family and stands out with his one-of-a-kind look and how he yells “yeah, yeah, yeah” during matches. He could be a special star in WWE.
In a way that is going to echo the criticisms for Luke Harper and Erick Rowan, Hanson’s finishing move as a singles competitor was a simple spin kick that was not an extremely impressive move. Sure, it shows he is pretty agile for a big man, but it doesn’t really do much to be the exclamation point to end a match.
4 Bobby Lashley
For someone who has found success both in professional wrestling and mixed martial arts, Bobby Lashley doesn’t necessarily have the greatest finishers. Sure, receiving a spear from a near 250-pound man who once served in the U.S. Army isn’t going to be a very pleasant experience. But it’s become another one of those cliché moves like the chokeslam.
3 Big Show
Part of updating a finishing move is to improve upon what you already had. In the case of The Big Show, he went from the cliché chokeslam to a very mediocre knockout punch. While it is somewhat realistic to be legitimately knocked out by a punch from a seven-foot tall, 400-plus-pound giant, this is professional wrestling.
2 Johnny Mundo
While the former John Morrison was one of the most athletically gifted men on the WWE roster – and still arguably a great asset to Lucha Underground – the current Johnny Mundo could try making some changes to his finishing move. While the End of the World corkscrew moonsault is impressive to watch, it’s not any more effective that other wrestlers using a split-legged moonsault as a signature move (i.e. Rob Van Dam).
1 John Cena
Over the years, wrestling fans have seen the leader of Cenation and the man who will likely break Ric Flair’s world championship record (sigh) do the same fireman’s carry move. They’ve attempted to make it seem more impactful by having it done onto tables, cars, chairs, etc. If you broke down the move, the opponent essentially takes a back body drop – only from the shoulders.
Many veterans have reinvented their move set in the later years of their careers by adding submissions or new signature moves. If Cena wants to maintain a level of intrigue from the fans, he needs to update his finisher – and everything else.
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