A single wrestling move can be a uniquely powerful force. The best can bring a crowd to their feet, elicit gasps of shock and awe, or even become a phenomenon in mainstream pop culture (Randy Orton’s RKO comes to mind). The most spectacular moves in pro wrestling can define a rivalry, a character, or even an era. Who could forget Stone Cold Steve Austin stunning Vince McMahon, CM Punk turning on The Rock at RAW 1000 with a devastating GTS, or Brock Lesnar conquering The Undertaker’s streak with his third F5? The worst, however, can be simply exhausting for the modern wrestling fan. Whether the move be ridiculous-looking, wildly unrealistic, or simply overused, many moves that have become staples in both major and independent companies have long outlived their shelf life, if they ever had any value in the first place. Some of the moves on this list have been engrained in the fabric of pro wrestling for decades, and no longer have much effect in today’s high-impact wrestling style. Others are phenomenal moves that have been overused to the point of irrelevancy. Others still are moves that look great, but are so ridiculous in either their set-up or in the position their opponents must remain in to take the move that they have the potential to destroy a viewer’s suspension of disbelief. And some are just dumb-looking moves that never should have existed in the first place. With that in mind, enjoy the worst wrestling moves in use today that could use to be retired for good.
15 Knife Edge Chop
Known around the world as Ric Flair’s signature strike, the Flair Chop, the move has become one of the most popular strikes a wrestler can dish out. And for good reason! The move looks fine, is easy to perform safely, and produces a satisfying sound that echoes through the arena. The problem is, the move has become so inexorably tied to the stylin’ and profilin’ superstar that brought it to prominence that any time the move is delivered today, it is met with a resounding “Wooooo!” from the audience. Considering the variety of strikes any given pro wrestler has in his or her arsenal (that probably look considerably more believable), it seems only right that Ric Flair’s signature open-handed smack remains exclusive to The Nature Boy.
14 The Claw
This entry includes the nerve hold applied to any part of the body, such as the face, stomach, or armpit. While The Claw may be fading in the modern era, it can still be found in promotions around the globe as a heavyweight’s rest hold or even his/her finisher. And while it may have the potential to be painful in real life, this move just looks dumb. To apply it safely, The Claw needs to be loose enough to sap it of any believability, it leaves the victim’s arms and legs free to counter, and it’s simply dull and uninteresting to watch. It’s about time the Claw was left in the distant past where it belongs.
13 Bronco Buster
Potentially the most inevitable entry on this list, the Bronco Buster is one of the more painfully moronic moves in this history of pro wrestling. On top of being humiliating to the victim (Mick Foley describes his humiliation from the move in his documentary), it’s so patently hard to believe that a series of butt-bumps to an opponent’s chest could possibly deal significant damage, never mind score a pinfall, that it seems a rib that the move became a feature in the sport at all. Add on a surprising element of danger (X-Pac tore his anus in an attempt at it) and the Bronco Buster should never have existed in the first place, and should be retired as soon as possible.
12 People’s Elbow/Five Knuckle Shuffle
These absurd moves take a staple in pro wrestling, add absurdly long acts of posing, posturing, and taunting, and are somehow supposed to be considered more devastating and capable of scoring the 1-2-3. Both require the victim to lie down for minutes at a time as their charismatic opponent dances around, runs from corner to corner, and stares at the audience knowingly before executing a simple elbow or fist drop. While these may be exclusive to two WWE wrestlers, they are so ridiculously contrived that they have to take their place at number 12 on the list.
11 KO Punch
Punches are one of the most fundamental strikes in pro wrestling. Punches to the head and face are utilized in almost every match, and are generally regarded as vital to the pro wrestling experience as a whole. So when a wrestler takes a simple punch to the face, closes his fist, and calls it a finishing maneuver, it seems rather silly. I have no doubt that a giant like The Big Show punching someone in the face would hurt, but why would he ever use any other move if all he needs to do is punch his opponent in the face to win? Again, this move is exclusive to one superstar, but earns its spot on the list for sheer lack of creativity and logic.
10 Russian Leg Sweep
The Russian Leg Sweep, another staple in pro wrestling, is generally looked over by the fan base at large, but leaves spectators wondering: who is this supposed to hurt? The move, which involves the attacker hooking his or her leg around that of the victim, draping his/her arm around the other’s shoulder, and falling backwards, seemingly produces exactly the same impact for both wrestlers, as they take back bumps in stereo. It’s about time we saw the last of this particular transitional move.
Rey Mysterio’s initially popular signature move, which has since been replicated by many a high-flying independent wrestler, is another move that requires far too much suspension of disbelief to fully enjoy. From the set-up, which involves the victim flying into the second rope usually off the force of a hurricanrana that would normally be sold with a flip bump, to the delivery, which requires the victim to lie motionless on the second rope for an exorbitant amount of time while the attacker runs to the other side of the ring and back to swing around feet-first into his or her face or chest, the move has grown tired since the initial wow-factor wore off. While it remains a fun move to see live, it’s just too overdone and silly to deserve a lasting place in wrestling’s go-to moves.
8 Old School
One of The Undertaker’s many signature moves (and by far the weakest), the leaping chop from the top rope demonstrates remarkable balance, as Taker walks across the top rope while holding onto the wrist of his opponent before jumping in the air and crashing down with an open-hand chop, but the move is so easily countered it’s hard to believe it’s been such a constant in his move-set for so long. At any point in The Undertaker’s walk along the rope, it’d be extraordinarily easy to throw off his balance with the arm he’s clinging on to, either dumping him inside the ring or crotching him on the rope. While Old School is a nostalgic treat, it’s probably for the best it’s retired along with legend who calls it his own.
7 Top Rope Double Foot Stomp
The move recently popularized by Alberto Del Rio requires the opponent to hold himself up preposterously as Del Rio (or anyone else who uses the move) comes down with both feet onto the chest of the victim. The impact can look phenomenal, and truly devastating, but the wrestler taking the move has to not-so-subtly put him- or herself into the required position, making the victim look like he/she either doesn’t know what’s coming (unlikely considering it’s been made a finishing move) or isn’t too bright. Even though it’s only very recently been popularized, it’s already time to lay this one to rest.
Another move that can be seen during the course of multiple matches on a single show, the slingshot flies in the face of logic and basic human anatomy to such an extent it’s hard to believe it has become such a universal maneuver. While it looks good, and wrestlers like Dolph Ziggler can even make it look devastating, flinging a person’s legs onto the floor would in no way cause them to fly up in the air like on a pendulum. And while the same argument can be made about the Irish whip and other mainstays in wrestling, the slingshot adds so little to a match that its lack of logic hurts it much more. Wrestling would be just fine without it.
To preface this, the superkick is one of my favorite moves in wrestling. It looks great, it can come out of nowhere believably and is associated with one of the best wrestlers in the history of wrestling itself. However, it has become so common in today’s wrestling scene it has been robbed of much of its impact. While watching Fastlane with a friend who stopped watching wrestling around 2006, one of the first comments he made was: “Wow, the superkick is just a move everyone does now, huh?” From WWE throwing the move around for a false finish to the independent scene’s obsession with the move (in part thanks to The Young Bucks’ Superkick Party, which I will not knock), the superkick has faded into meaninglessness so quickly it’s almost hard to believe. It’s right about time to retire the superkick and leave us with our Shawn Michaels memories, at least for a little while.
The bearhug is dull. Impossibly, inescapably dull. Watching a wrestler perform a bearhug is one of the most substantially uninteresting things you can do. It’s a hug. Sure, it’s a tighter, more genuinely painful hug, but a hug all the same. It doesn’t win matches, so there’s no drama, it doesn’t look like it hurts, so there’s no sympathy generated, and it drags the pace of any match to a standstill. Just look to the WrestleMania 29 match between Ryback and Mark Henry to see the absolute disastrous effects a bear hug can have on the pace and interest level of a match. Wrestling would be better off without it.
3 Diving Headbutt
The diving headbutt is a move that, when done correctly, has the ability to look absolutely devastating. The problem lies in its apparent level of danger, as the impact on the wrestler delivering the move’s head and neck is too great to be worth pulling off. Given the state of the wrestlers who most famously utilized it (Chris Benoit and Daniel Bryan), it’s hard to justify the impressive move’s continued existence in an industry that has been scrutinized heavily for its treatment of injuries. Eliminating the diving headbutt from wrestling could not only save careers, but potentially even lives. It’s time to retire the move for good.
2 That Irish Whip into a Backdrop Counter
Any wrestling fan knows exactly the move I’m describing. Wrestler A Irish whips Wrestler B into the ropes and crouches down, awaiting a backdrop, while Wrestler B looks at the bent-over Wrestler A incredulously for a moment before kicking him/her in the face, dropping down and punching him/her in the throat, etc. It’s a counter that’s been repeated hundreds of times, and every time it looks a little goofier than before. Considering that for an actual backdrop, a wrestler doesn’t telegraph the move so obviously, it’s easy to predict, robbing of it of any drama it may have produced. It seems like there’s plenty of effective counters to a backdrop that don’t make the wrestling attempting the move look like a goober. Let’s leave this one in the past.
1 Leg Drop/Top Rope Leg Drop
While there are many variations of the leg drop, they all have two things in common: they don’t look like they hurt at all, and they’re actually incredibly dangerous for the wrestler delivering the move. From Hulk Hogan’s iconic leg drop that has left his spine in worse condition than Tyson Kidd’s hair circa 2010 to Fandango’s admittedly more impressive Diving Leg Drop that is certain to take years off his career, the leg drop is a move that looks like it has very little impact, as the attacking wrestler lands with neck of his/her opponent safely under the crook of the knee. A move that manages to look terrible and be hugely detrimental to the health of the wrestler performing it? Well-deserving of its number one spot on the list. Retire this one immediately.