In the modern world of sports entertainment, finishing moves have become a dying breed. Sure, every superstar still has to have one, and often matches are built around the 'will they, won't they' aspect of whether a superstar can hit their finisher or not. Crowds still get excited to see them and it's an aspect of wrestling that will likely never die.
But, finishing moves rarely ever truly finish a match in this day and age. The finisher kick-out has become so commonplace that fans would balk at the idea of one solitary finishing move getting a three-count; they've come to expect multiple finishers per match with multiple kick-outs. It's become the cumulative effect of several finishing moves that win matches in the modern age.
Bearing that in mind, this article will look at the 10 most protected finishing moves in WWE today. There is only one move on this list that has never been kicked out of, which should tell you all you need to know, but the rest are all maneuvers that still mean something because only the most prestigious superstars are allowed to kick out of them.
10 END OF DAYS - BARON CORBIN
To date, no one has kicked out of the End Of Days on WWE's main roster, which makes it the most protected move around today. Baron Corbin recently used the move to retire Kurt Angle at Wrestlemania 35 and we wouldn't be surprised if it helped him claim the Universal Championship sooner rather than later.
WWE has been uncharacteristically smart with this finishing move; Corbin stopped using it as much during his stint as Constable/General Manager of Raw, because he was booked to get his comeuppance by losing a lot of matches, and WWE didn't want him hitting the move, only for people to kick out of it.
9 RKO - RANDY ORTON
'RKO outta nowhere!'
These have become very familiar words uttered by Michael Cole in the last 15 years of WWE programming. Randy Orton's iconic finishing move is one of the most devastating in company history. It's also guaranteed to get a pop from the crowd every single time.
Over the years, six stars have managed to kick out of the RKO: John Cena, Daniel Bryan, Mark Henry, Kane, Roman Reigns and The Undertaker. But considering how many times the move has been applied to secure Orton a win, coupled with the sheer length of his tenure in WWE, we'd still say that's pretty good going.
8 KHALLAS - JINDER MAHAL
Jinder Mahal's main event push from 2017 was bizarre at the time and, to be honest, seems no less bizarre in hindsight. This is because WWE pretty much immediately dropped him right back down the card after they seemed to deem their experiment a failure, and these days he's barely seen on Monday Night Raw.
However, during this run, Jinder did establish a genuinely protected finishing move: the Khallas, a modified version of a full nelson slam. Only one person kicked out of the maneuver: AJ Styles. Jinder used the move to defeat the likes of Randy Orton and Shinsuke Nakamura during his WWE Championship run, and even later used it to win the US Title at Wrestlemania 34.
7 THE STOMP - SETH ROLLINS
Seth Rollins has used a few different finishing maneuvers during his time in WWE, but none proved any better than the Stomp (which he was banned from using for several years, but is part of his arsenal again these days).
Four superstars have kicked out of it: John Cena, Brock Lesnar, Randy Orton and Dean Ambrose. However, due to the extremely high calibre of those opponents, we'd still count the Stomp among the most protected finishers in WWE today. The Stomp isn't kicked out of by any old superstar; that honor is reserved for main event players only!
6 630 SENTON - RICOCHET
Ricochet's top rope 630 senton is truly a sight to behold. The move can only be performed by a select few pro-wrestlers due to its ludicrously high level of danger and minimal margin for error, and Ricochet is the only person doing it in WWE.
As a fairly recent addition to the roster, fans haven't seen it a ton of times yet, but each time has been spectacular and has usually led to Ricochet picking up a win. He used it to beat Robert Roode to retain his spot in the upcoming Money In The Bank ladder match and has also used it to pin superstars such as Cesaro and Eric Young.
5 FIGURE 8 LEG-LOCK - CHARLOTTE FLAIR
When Charlotte Flair applies the Figure 8 Leg-Lock, it's almost a certainty that her opponent will tap out. Charlotte used the maneuver to win the Women's Championship at Wrestlemania 32, tapping out Becky Lynch in a Triple Threat match that also involved Sasha Banks. She also used it to defend her Smackdown Women's Championship against the then-undefeated Asuka at Wrestlemania 34.
Superstars escaping the hold is extremely rare. One high-profile instance was when Sasha Banks used a steel chair to smash Charlotte into releasing the hold during their Hell In A Cell match in 2016, but other examples are few and far between.
4 KINSHASA - SHINSUKE NAKAMURA
This one requires a little bit of explanation. Shinsuke Nakamura's Kinshasa, a painful-looking running knee strike, has been kicked out of by three superstars since he debuted on the main roster. Jeff Hardy and Seth Rollins both kicked out once, and AJ Styles kicked out twice during their WWE Championship feud in 2018. In the age of multiple finishers in every match, three isn't a bad return for Shinsuke.
Admittedly, though, we are choosing to ignore the three people who kicked out of the move when Shinsuke was on NXT: Samoa Joe, Finn Balor and Bobby Roode...
3 KIRIFUDA CLUTCH - SHAYNA BASZLER
Shayna Baszler is a legitimate badass, who competed in a host of Mixed Martial Arts promotions (including UFC) before transitioning into the world of sports entertainment. In many ways, she's the next Brock Lesnar or Ronda Rousey, and she should become a huge star on the main roster in years to come.
Her time in NXT has been marked by her becoming the only two-time NXT Women's Champion, a title she won both times with her trademark submission hold: the Kirifuda Clutch. Even in her very first title opportunity, in which Ember Moon scored an unlikely victory by reversing a cross armbreaker into a pin, WWE was careful to ensure Baszler slapped the Clutch on Moon after the match. She choked her out and immediately established the move as something to be feared.
2 COUP DE GRACE - FINN BALOR
Finn Balor's Coup de Grace is undoubtedly a spectacular finishing move. The height he gets on his jump off the top rope is incredible and it always carries that extra element of potential danger; it looks like it would be very easy for Finn to mistime his landing and hurt his opponent.
On WWE's main roster, only one person has kicked out of the Coup de Grace, and that was the 'Beast Incarnate' Brock Lesnar during his WWE Championship match with Balor at Royal Rumble 2019. However, Kevin Owens and Samoa Joe also managed to avoid defeat after taking the move on NXT.
1 COQUINA CLUTCH - SAMOA JOE
WWE has done a superb job at presenting Samoa Joe as an unstoppable monster in the last few months, and a big part of the presentation is his submission hold the Coquina Clutch. He recently used it to defeat Rey Mysterio in less than a minute at Wrestlemania 35, for instance. Anytime Joe locks the move in, his opponents go to sleep, and it has led to him picking up a host of wins.
Only once has the move been used against Joe, which was when he locked it in on Seth Rollins at Payback 2017 but the Architect managed to roll his body into a pinning position on Joe, thereby picking up the 1-2-3 without ever escaping the hold!