Wrestling matches are often nothing more than a choreographed series of sequences known commonly as spots. The best wrestlers are usually able to disguise this fact during the match by telling compelling stories, executing their moves perfectly or creating a flow that seems to make every single occurrence feel organic, but the fact remains that these spots are the lifeblood of nearly every professional wrestling match. At their best, these spots provide the most memorable moments of the evening. In fact, many wrestlers like Mick Foley have been able to launch a new stage of their career off of the impact of that one great spot that nobody will ever forget.
Not all wrestling spots are so lucky, however. While many wrestlers over the years have attempted to create their own career-defining moments via that one great moment, it doesn’t always work out that way. Whether it’s a botched execution or the spot itself was poorly planned from the start, a bad spot sticks out like a sore thumb and can often ruin an otherwise great match. These moves and sequences have been around for years and are guaranteed to almost always work and serve as the blueprint to a modern wrestling match.
But you know, if you’ve watched wrestling for long enough, then it’s hard to not get a little tired of seeing the most popular spots used again and again. They may be classic and time-tested, but it’s reached a point where these sequences have become too predictable and often hurt a match with their mere presence more than they help it. They are making professional wrestling a much more boring show to watch and, for that reason, they are the top 15 spots that we are tired of seeing.
15 Steel Step Shots
A long time ago, larger wrestlers started to use the ringside steel steps to beat their opponents into submission. The sell was that these steps weighed over a hundred pounds and could knock out even the toughest wrestlers instantly. While this used to be a pretty effective way to sell a beating back in the day, now the whole process just looks ridiculous. Not only are we well aware that those steps are indeed fairly light, but watching a wrestler pretend to struggle with these steps before awkwardly hitting an opponent with them is almost always a painful process. There’s just too many other viable weapons at ringside to justify this spot. Perhaps the most painful angle ever done regarding the steel steps was when Erick Rowan and The Big Show actually competed in a Stairs match at TLC 2014. Maybe that match alone is what landed the spot on this list.
14 Fatal Four Way Multi-Man Knockouts
In nearly every multi-man match, there comes a moment where each wrestler takes a turn knocking another out, with the last wrestler usually collapsing from exhaustion after delivering their move. The sequence is supposed to draw a big reaction from the crowd, but more and more often is being met with silence or polite clapping. Maybe it’s because we’ve seen this same sequence so many times that the effect has long worn off, but it probably also has something to do with the fact that the spot itself destroys the flow of the match by essentially resetting whatever momentum came before. It also abandons a certain amount of logic; why is it only the last guy that all of a sudden can't get up and continue? Wasn't he the one resting while everybody else was laying into each other? This is a spot that definitely has to go or at least see a reduction in the amount of times it's used.
13 Wrestlers Climbing To The Top Rope Just To Get Thrown Off
If a wrestler like Neville goes to the top rope, we're able to believe that they might actually hit a move from that position because guys like that have quite a few top rope moves in their arsenal. However, when some like Randy Orton or Sheamus goes to the top rope to hit a move against a downed opponent, you can be certain most of the time that they’re coming right back down. This spot used to be pretty entertaining when it was just part of Ric Flair’s character, but now we see too many wrestlers climb to the top despite the fact that we know they do not deliver moves from that position. After so many years of this spot having a place, it's time wrestlers found another way to allow the opponent to make their comeback. It just removes so much of the suspense from a match when you know what's coming.
12 The Classic Leapfrog Sequence
There are a million variations of this spot, but the basic process involved one wrestler throwing another against the ropes, ducking down to perform a back body drop, having the other wrestler leapfrog over them and either delivering a big move or eating a dropkick based on if they’re a heel or face. While not the most painful sequence to watch, the problem with this one is how arbitrary it is. The moment this series starts, you know exactly what is going to happen next. Few matches actually feature any real variation on this sequence and it’s almost impossible to fit it into a match naturally these days.
This is probably one of the first spots a wrestler learns how to do when they're training for the first match. It has been a standard one in wrestling for so long and likely isn't going away any time soon. That doesn't mean the fans aren't tired of seeing it though.
11 The Slow Climb
Whether it’s a steel cage, a ladder or even the turnbuckle, whenever a wrestler needs to climb something and isn’t quite ready to finish the match, they proceed to do so as slow as humanly possible. The problem with this one isn’t necessarily that it doesn’t make sense in the context of a match, but rather that it always tips off the viewer to the fact that whoever is climbing slowly is not about to win. There are very few examples of a wrestler making that slow climb and eventually winning the match due to their efforts. Either mix it up once in awhile by making that happen or stop making audiences sit through the slow climb to nowhere.
Fans have gotten really smart in knowing what's going to happen next and after seeing so many matches, particularly ladder matches, all the suspense is gone. We know the only time a wrestler is actually on his way to victory is when he climbs the ladder like a normal person.
10 The Tower of Doom Suplex
You probably know the tower of doom suplex, though it’s possible you’ve heard it referred to by another name. Regardless of the name, it always starts with one wrestler trying to suplex another off of the top rope. Because they are unable to do it, another wrestler comes to help them. Following that, the fourth wrestler positions themselves beneath everyone else and ends the spot with a powerbomb/super suplex. Not only does this move typically grind the match down to a halt, but it’s usually used as an excuse to eliminate one or more competitors for a brief period of time and ruin the entire point of having multiple wrestlers compete in the first place.
This spot also takes away from the feeling of realness to a match. While we're all aware wrestling is scripted, we still want the feel of something that could actually happen in a real fight. Spots like this make it seem like the match was choreographed on a movie set in Hollywood, rather than pro wrestlers feeding off the crowd.
9 Exposed Turnbuckle Hits
On the one hand, the exposed turnbuckle is a classic heel maneuver that is kind of lovable in a retro way. The problem with the exposed turnbuckle is how dated the effect of the maneuver feels. We’ve seen wrestlers fall from 20 feet in the air through a table, endure countless chair shots and even survive some minor explosions on occasion. In comparison to those hardcore antics, ramming someone’s head into a brass ring just doesn’t have quite the same impact that we are supposed to believe it does. There’s also the slightly annoying fact that the heel that removes the turnbuckle is almost guaranteed to be the one that suffers its wrath at some point in the match.
Perhaps this could have a place in a match if we hadn't seen so many false finishes in our lifetime, but now this barely seems like a challenge for a wrestler anymore. Perhaps the spot is just a victim of circumstances.
8 Surviving A Submission Move Forever
When Bret Hart had Shawn Michaels locked in the Sharpshooter at the end of their classic WrestleMania XII iron man match for over a minute, it was a brilliant moment that perfectly captured both men’s will to win. Now, however, that same technique is used in even the most ordinary of matches in order to try to convey the same feeling. While having a wrestler battle out of a submission maneuver for a long period of time can occasionally make them look tough, mostly it just makes the move itself look weak which in turn has greatly reduced the threat level of submissions in pro wrestling.
When was the last time Chris Jericho won a match with the Walls of Jericho? In Ric Flair's later years, did he actually ever win a match with a Figure Four? How many times has Natalya locked on the Sharpshooter only for her opponent to escape and go on to lose the match? It's time submissions actually meant something again.
7 Eternal Struggle Battle Royal Eliminations
This spot is most common in Royal Rumble matches, though you will inevitably see it in any over the top rope battle royal as well. It involves one or more wrestlers attempting to eliminate another wrestler who is holding on to the ropes for dear life. Despite the fact that the wrestler holding on has a death grip that they will not let go of - or could just drop safely onto the apron if they wish to - the wrestlers trying to eliminate them will inevitably continue to do so until they seemingly get bored and move on to fresh prey. Not only is this spot annoying because it almost never works, but you are almost guaranteed to witness it occur several times throughout a battle royal.
In a way you can't really blame the wrestlers for this one. There's so little space in a battle royal type match that you can't really do 90% of what you would do in a regular match. They're extremely limited in what they could do in this type of match, but it doesn't mean we're not annoyed by it.
6 Rest Holds That Only End When The Fans Start Cheering
Though wrestlers need to take advantage of the breather offered by slowing down a match and exchanging rest holds, there are just some rest hold spots that have overstayed their welcome. The most notable rest hold offender is most certainly the “Will Him Back Into This Match” spot. This occurs when the heel locks the face into a light submission maneuver that would never cause them to quit (usually a headlock) but the face wrestler still needs to wait until the full support of the crowd is behind them before they are able to escape. It’s a cheap way to get the fans into a match, even though most people start clapping so the real action begins faster.
Like it or not, this spot is here to stay, as wrestlers inevitably need rest spots if fans want to see 20-minute classics. Plus, wrestlers always have to keep fans engaged during their bouts.
5 Human Safety Net Dives
Everybody is fighting outside of the ring when one wrestler decided to take to the top rope and dive out on top of them. No matter how long it takes the diving wrestler to get in position (and it has been known to take some time in the past) the wrestlers on the outside will almost always wait patiently to form a human safety net ready to catch them.
This incredibly choreographed spot almost never goes smoothly and instead just involves five guys staring in awe for 10 seconds as opposed to getting out of the way of danger. What’s especially infuriating is when wrestlers decide to pull off this spot several times in a row with a different diver each time. As said in previous entries, sometimes it takes away from our suspension of disbelief when a spot looks way too choreographed to work in a real fight. Plus, how much does it really add to a match anyway?
4 The "What’s It Going To Take To Defeat Him"
Some time ago, WWE decided to move towards a main event style that almost always featured wrestlers kicking out of each other's biggest moves at the last possible second. This false finish style can work very well when two experts are properly executing it (see the infamous Undertaker/Shawn Michaels WrestleMania 25 match as an example) but the more it is used in every match, the more predictable it becomes. Continuously presenting every wrestler as an unstoppable force of nature that will not fall to their opponent’s best moves makes it hard to really establish anyone as a top guy and weakens the power of the finishers themselves.
The reason the 'Taker/HBK battle was such a classic is because it was the first of its kind. Now that every wrestler has seemingly tried to emulate this match by throwing in finisher after finisher, this has lost a ton of meaning. Finishers almost don't mean anything anymore.
3 Hot Tags
Once upon a time, the hot tag was a staple of every great tag-team wrestling match. Watching a face escape the heel team’s brutal beatdowns and bring in his partner to wipe out the heels used to send crowds everywhere into a burst of applause equal to that of a Super Bowl touchdown. As important as the hot tag is to the tag-team formula, watching the face come in and wipe out the heel team in the exact same way every time has a nasty habit of negating everything that has happened before. When it reaches a point when you know the match can’t end until the hot tag is done, that is a problem. The only problem is, how else would you really build drama in a tag match? Perhaps it's only lasted this long because that's simply the best option, but you can't deny the spot feels extremely repetitive.
2 Chain Wrestling Stand-Offs
Two wrestlers engage in an intense series of maneuvers without either being able to get the best of their opponent. Because of this, they opt to stand-off against each other while the crowd, ideally, shows their appreciation for both wrestler’s talents by applauding wildly. This chain wrestling stand off has replaced the test of strength as the most overused method of beginning a wrestling match. While there is nothing wrong with chain wrestling, the problem is that the outcome of this sequence is never in doubt. It’s time that one wrestler actually starts coming out on top of these mat duels and for wrestlers to come up with more creative ways to begin their bouts.
It's not an amateur wrestling match, it's a professional wrestling match, so you have so many options in beginning a match. It shouldn't feel like a standard formula. Just don't start by hitting your finisher right away, okay Hunter and Orton?
1 Boo!/Yay! Strike Exchanges
Have you ever watched the Rocky movies and found yourself thinking “There is just no way a human being could survive that amount of punishment.” While pro wrestling requires you to accept a certain level of superhero toughness, the strike exchange is a step too far. Having two wrestlers stand toe-to-toe with each other and exchange a series of headbutts/forearms/punches is not only a tired way to try to start a “Boo/Yay!” chant from the crowd, but in some cases forces the wrestler to absorb unnecessary blows to the head without really adding anything substantial to the match. This sequence stops a match dead in its tracks and is too often called upon for a cheap pop.
Whatever you do WWE, just please don't do this spot with Lesnar anymore. No one is standing toe to toe with him and no one will beat him in a striking contest simply because they're getting a few more cheers from the crowd.
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