Thursday, October 18, 2012

"The Top 50 Finishing Moves in WWE History" Review, Part 2



Welcome to part 2 of "The Top 50 Finishing Moves in WWE History." You can find part 1 with my analysis of numbers 50-25 located here.. We pick up this column at number 24 on the list and it's one of my personal favorites. The man representing this finisher has spent time in Mexico, Germany, Japan, ECW, WCW and the WWE. Here to Save Us All is the Ayotolla of Rock and Rolla. He is "Lionheart" Chris Jericho.

24. Chris Jericho "Lion Tamer/Walls of Jericho"

"Basically what Chris Jericho does when he puts you in that move is he bends your body in a way that is never supposed to bend." - Kofi Kingston


This submission move is probably my favorite of all time.

I'm not sure if a difference between the two finisher names was ever clarified or not. For me personally, I always considered the move to be "the Liontamer" when Jericho intensified the pressure by putting his knee on the back of his opponent, whereas "the Walls of Jericho" was more of a straight Boston Crab applied to bigger wrestlers. Again, that is just how I personally distinguished the two. The only knock I really have about this move, is that you absolutely need your opponents cooperation to apply it. Seriously, try putting this move on a person that doesn't want it. It's not going to happen...believe me, I've tried.



23. Edge "Spear"

"He was his own greatest cheerleader, he made the build up to that move, part of the move." - Mick Foley


I like Edge a lot so I am going to try and be kind here. The Spear, at least Edge's version, is no where near as good as the Rhyno's Gore! Gore! Gore! (imagine Paul Heyman screaming in Jim Ross' ear at the top of his lungs).

The only Spear by Edge that deserves recognition is the one he performed on Jeff Hardy at Wrestlemania 17. I still remember watching that TLC Triple Threat Tag-team championship match with my mouth open the entire time. It's a miracle that no one was seriously hurt or dead after that match. Other than Edge's spear to Hardy off the ladder, Goldberg's spear was far superior. I don't want to take anything away from Edge. He had a phenomenal career. I just happen to think that his spear is vastly overrated.

22. Iron Sheik "Camel Clutch"

"Iron Sheik's Camel Clutch probably holds the distinction of being one of the most brutal yet simple holds that I've ever seen." - CM Punk

I never had the pleasure of watching the WWE's favorite racial caricature perform in the ring. The good news is, the Iron Sheik has a Twitter account that is just fantastic. Seriously, follow him on Twitter @the_ironsheik. Every tweet comes off like a drunken rant. As for the move itself....eh. I've seen better. It's a cool transitional move. I would like it if it was meant to weaken the neck in anticipation of a stronger submission. I don't think this move should have made the list. If it had to be included, it would be better placed in the 40's.

21. John Cena "Attitude Adjustment"






20. Scott Hall "Razor's Edge"

"I'm gonna show you, just how bad, the Bad Guy can be!" - Scott Hall

HEY YO! Let's all just take a minute and marvel at how Scott Hall is still alive. If you're in the mood to be significantly depressed, take a minute and check out this ESPN 360 documentary on Scott Hall. Truly scary stuff.

Now that you are all in high spirits, let's talk about the Razor's Edge. I loved it. It was the perfect finisher for a cocky, bad guy. While the RKO is the poor man's Diamond Cutter, the Razor's Edge is the douchebag's powerbomb. And I say that with the upmost respect. In the 90's I didn't watch to see Doubleya C Doubleya, I watched to see the NWO.

Hall's Crucifix powerbomb was quite a sight to see. He was strong enough to do the move on bigger wrestlers, but nothing was more satisfying to see than Scott Hall just launching a cruiserweight across the ring. Take a look at Hall just murdering Rey Mysterio here, throwing the 140 pound luchadore like a javelin.

One more for the good guys.

19. Goldberg "Jackhammer"

"Goldberg created this incredible persona for himself and part of that persona was coming up with a finishing move that only he could do. I would have never of tried, I don't think I could do it to a mannequin." - Mick Foley

This Ryback clone was THE wrestling superstar of the late 90's. His unbelievable "winning streak" that lasted (literally) years was one of the coolest and best done creative ideas I've ever seen.

Goldberg needed a finisher as intense as his personality. Often he would set up the Jackhammer with his violent version of the spear (Edge's spear was more of a shoulder tackle, Goldberg looked like he wanted to go right through his opponent). How effective was the Jackhammer? I don't think I can remember a single person kicking out from it. Incredible move, I'd place it in my own personal top 10. The best part of about Goldberg had to be the parody he inspired.

Who's next?

18. Rey Mysterio "619"

I'm sorry, but a move that was originally designed as a taunt should not make it on the list. But hey, the WWE has to keep the kiddies happy. Long before Rey Mysterio was the fat kid at the pool party who swam with his shirt on, he used the 619 to taunt his opponents in WCW. Now, (not so little) Rey Rey uses this move to set up another move. 

Look, the 619 isn't even a finisher. This one passes the eye test, but fails the logistics test. I'll agree that sliding through the ropes and kicking your opponent looks cool. But this move should do nothing more than stun someone. I've been watching Rey since he's come into the WWE and I still don't know what his finisher is. For a while he used the vaulting hurricanrana into a flipping, pinning manuever. Recently, he just goes up to the top rope and uses his body mass to crush wrestlers laying on the mat. None of these moves really look devastating enough to actually incapacitate anyone. 

Oh, it's fake? Well, then. 

17. Road Warriors "Doomsday Device"
"When I first saw the Road Warriors do the Doomsday Device, I thought the guy was incapacitated." - Daniel Bryan
I have to admit, this tag team finisher may be better than the Dudley Death Drop. I don't know who originally thought of the idea to place your opponent on your shoulders and then have your tag team partner come off the top rope with a diving clothesline, but they are a genius. 

And it wasn't just a clothesline 6 feet above the air either. When the Hawk dove from the top rope, Animal would flip the opponent backwards, often result in that wrestler landing on his head. I don't think there has ever been a tag team as intimidating as the Road Warriors and their finisher, along with their face paint and spiked shoulder pads, is a big part of the reason why. Even as the Road Warriors are gone, out of respect, you don't see anyone adopting the finisher as their own. 

What a rush! 

RIP Road Warrior Hawk

16. Bruno Sammartino "Bear hug" 

"Bruno Sammartino's Bear hug was probably the most dominant finisher for a decade." - CM Punk

I'm not going to insult a legend. But if the Bear Hug is going to make it on the list of top finishers, it needs to be as number 50. 

15. Sgt. Slaughter "Cobra Clutch"

"It's one of the few things I wish I could go back in time for. It would have been an honor to be knocked out by his Cobra Clutch." - William Regal

When William Regal would rather use his time travel abilities to go back so he could wrestle Sgt. Slaughter and get put in the Cobra Clutch instead of buying up all the shares in Microsoft, you know you have an great finisher. When you saw Sgt. Slaughter slap on the Cobra Clutch, you knew that it was only a matter of time before his opponent was knocked out. This was a sleeper on steroids. I never really got to watch Slaughter wrestle except in gimmick matches later on in his career. My memories of Slaughter are mostly of the shenanigans DX would pull on him. At number 15 on the list, this finisher is placed appropriately. 

14. Jeff Hardy "Swanton Bomb" 

"It hurt like hell, but it looked the exact opposite of what it felt like." - Edge

Jeff Hardy is a madman, which I say that with the up most respect. It is just a shame that his demons squandered his ultimate potential in the WWE. When I think about Hardy's Swanton Bomb, SO many memories come rushing to my mind: on Randy Orton off the RAW pillarsWrestlemania 16 or Wrestlemania 17.


I first took notice of Jeff Hardy when the Hardy Boys battled Edge and Christian in the very first tag team ladder match at No Mercy in 1999. The bout featured innovations that are now considered staples in ladder matches today. At the time, Edge and Christian were my favorite tag team and I wanted to see them win, but after the show both teams put on, I wasn't upset with the result. It's sad that Jeff Hardy's career was cut short in the WWE because of his drug problems. He was talented and made his name in the WWE, not in ECW or WCW. The sky was the limit for Jeff.

"The saddest thing in life is wasted talent, and the choices that you make will shape your life forever." - A Bronx Tale

13. Eddie Guerrero "Frog Splash"

"He knew exactly where to land on your body to make that move the most effective and the most painful, and to knock you senseless." - William Regal

Refer to my comments in Part 1. I have absolutely nothing against Eddie Guerrero. He was without a doubt, one of the greatest wrestlers of all time. I just think an emotional decision was made here. Eddie Guerrero died after overcoming his drug problem. He was a great WWE champion. Our memories of Eddie is the guy who was always smiling. But my argument stands: RVD's Five Star Frog Splash was just better. The sordid truth of these rankings is that Rob Van Dam made the company look bad too many times. First, by getting busted for marijuana possession while he was the WWE champion. Later after years of floundering, when RVD's contract was up he chose to take a break and then go wrestle for TNA instead of resigning with the WWE.

I like Eddie's Frog Splash because of its impact. Eddie looked like a missile in the air while performing the move. While RVD's was more graceful, Eddie's was more direct. I'm sure there are people out there who prefer Eddie's version, I'm just not one of them. Great move, emotional placement. 

12. Macho Man Randy Savage "Flying Elbow Drop"

"Randy Savage's elbow from the top rope is one of my favorite finishers of all time." - CM Punk


We've seen Punk pay tribute to Savage by putting the stars on his tights and adopting the Macho Man's top rope elbow (although Punk's version is brutal on the eyes). Like Daniel Bryan said, as a kid, who didn't practice dropping Savage's elbow on couch cushions? Whether he was in WCW or the WWE, Macho's elbow was an iconic and feared move. He took all of his body weight and jumped off the top rope, leading with his elbow. 

Right now the Macho Man is up in heaven dropping elbows on an unsuspecting Jesus. 

RIP Macho Man Randy Savage


11. Randy Orton "RKO"

No, no, no, no, NO. I'm sorry if I'm acting all butt hurt about this, but having Randy Orton's RKO as number 11 on this list when DDP's Diamond Cutter is number 41 is damn insulting. Randy Orton, Mr. Dishonorable Discharge, should not even be on this list. John Laurinaitis' Ace Crusher deserves placement over the RKO. I'm not wasting any more of my time talking about Randy Orton's cheap copy of the superior move, the Diamond Cutter.  

10. Bret Hart "Sharpshooter" 

"Bret was one of the most technically sound performers ever in WWE and that's what he prided himself on, the Sharpshooter was evidence of that." - Mick Foley

With out a doubt, this is one of the top 2 submission finishing moves of all time. One of the clips on the DVD that they used was of Mr. Perfect doing a leg drop and Bret catching the leg, then flipping Henning over and locking in the Sharpshooter until he tapped. It was an absolute brilliant reversal  that just re-enforced the notion that Bret could lock the move on at anytime. 
It's a shame that the "Excellence of Excecution" is probably best known for being the patsy in the Montreal Screwjob at Survivor Series '97. He was never quite the same in WCW and we have to wonder to this day, what might have been. 

The best there is, the best there was, the best there ever will be. 

9. Jimmy Snuka "Superfly splash"

"Jimmy Snuka's Superfly splash was the first time I remember a guy doing a move off the top rope." - Daniel Bryan

I think nostalgia more than anything is the reason this finisher is so high up on the list. I have appreciation for the Superfly splash because it lead to future wrestlers coming off the top rope in a dynamic fashion. Snuka was well before my time, but you aren't a true wrestling fan unless these two Snuka moments do not immediately jump out at you. The first being Roddy Piper hitting Jimmy Snuka over the head with a coconut on Piper's Pit and Snuka doing the Superfly splash off the steel cage.




8. Ric Flair "Figure Four Leg Lock" 

"Ric combined the element of being a master technician and a master showman to make the Figure Four Leg Lock one of the fear and amazing finishes in wrestling history." - Mick Foley

High praise coming from a guy who had legit heat with Flair at one point. There's no disputing that the Limosine ridin', jet flyin', son of a gun was one of the greatest technical wrestlers of all time. His figure four is THE signature finishing submission hold of all time. We'll ignore the fact that Flair blatantly stole the Nature Boy gimmick and figure four finisher from Buddy Rogers. Ric Flair's Figure Four and Bret Hart's Sharpshooter are the two greatest submission finishers of all time. 
Because I like severely depressing my audience, if you haven't already read it, check out Shane Ryan's Grantland article on why Ric Flair is still wrestling today. 

WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

7. Hulk Hogan "Leg Drop"

"I got three punches, I got a foot and a leg drop. That's how I do it." - Hulk Hogan

The best "worst" finisher of all time? Probably. There's not too much to say about this move. Hulk Hogan took an ordinary move and turned it into the Immortal Leg drop. How or why he decided to make this move his finisher is beyond me. I can't help but think that I would feel a little bit insulted having to lay down for a big boot and a leg drop that got two feet off the air. If you have some spare time, check out this Hogan vs Shawn Michaels match from Summerslam 2005. HBK overselling Hogan's terrible offense is a sight to see.
I think I prefer Big Show's Hogan to the real thing:



6. Shawn Michael "Sweet Chin Music"

"Nobody tells the Heartbreak Kid Shawn Michaels when to deliver Sweet Chin Music!" - Shawn Michaels

Here we are. We've reached yours truly's favorite finishing move and favorite wrestler on the list. No one in history delivered a super kick as well as Shawn Michaels. He wasn't as big as most of the wrestlers he spent time in the ring with, but his finishing maneuver was more than enough to knock even his biggest opponents out.

The new DX sucked pretty bad but it did give us my favorite backstage skit of all time (except for Daniel Bryan, Kane and Harold). Shawn Michaels was trying to prove just how controversial he could be, so he gave sweet chin music to 3 backstage employees (local development talent). Amazing stuff. My favorite finisher, I would have placed it higher, but I can't complain too much.

"Shawn Michaels stuck his foot in the face of some of the most famous names in this business." - Jim Ross

5. Jake "The Snake" Roberts "DDT"

"Probably my favorite ever finishing maneuver." - William Regal

I can't tell you how happy it makes me to see Jack Roberts placed this highly on the list. Jake "The Snake" was the first wrestling action figure I ever received as a kid. Like Regal says during this segment, "I wish a lot of people wouldn't even try to do it, because no one can do it like Jake Roberts." 


Jake Roberts contributed a lot to the wrestling business, but oddly enough one of his notable moments was putting over Stone Cold in the finals of the 1996 King of the Ring. In the post-match interview, Austin essentially jump started the "Attitude era" with this famous promo:


A truly great finisher that has been copied and watered down today. Jake Robert's DDT is often imitated, never duplicated.

I am pleased to say that Jake Roberts is still alive. It's pretty rare for a wrestler to make it to their sixties. 

4. The Rock "Rock Bottom/People's Elbow"

"I laugh when I hear those two combined, because one of them is so devastating and one looked so silly." - Mick Foley

Whether you call it the People's Elbow or the Corporate Elbow, it was simply the most electrifying move in ALLLLLLL of entertainment. My personal favorite versions of Dwayne Johnson have to be the Corporate Champion Rock and leader of the Nation of Domination Rock are . I absolutely died when the Rock gave Rolex watches to D'Lo, the Godfather and Mark Henry while giving Faarooq a portrait of himself.

The Rock Bottom was the true finisher, the People's elbow was just the icing on the cake, if you smell what the Rock is cooking. 

3. Triple H "Pedigree"

"You can't brace for it at all; you eat the canvas." - CM Punk

As much as I hate HHH, I absolutely love the Pedigree. Well let me clarify. I love the version of the Pedigree where HHH keeps his arms hooked and drives his opponent's face in the mat. When HHH faces larger wrestlers he unhooks his arms and the move loses all of its impact. 

I have two distinct memories of the Pedigree. The first is when he absolutely botched it and almost killed his opponent Marty Garner:


The second is when he hit the move on Cactus Jack at the 2000 Royal Rumble on thumbtacks:




Triple H as a human may suck, but you gotta respect the Pedigree.=

2. The Undertaker "Tombstone Piledriver"

"Ohh I thought I had been Pedigree'd a lot. I dunno, I think you can go back in history and see who is Tombstone'd the most of all of Undertaker's opponents and I think I'd be way up there." - Mick Foley

The only man in the WWE still allowed to perform a pile driver. My favorite Tombstone memory is probably the Undertaker doing the move 3 times to Kane at Wrestlemania 14 (even though Kane mistakenly tried to kick out of the 3rd pin). This move was made illegal after Owen Hart broke Stone Cold's neck. Now the move can only be used with special permission and the Undertaker is usually the only one allowed to do it. Taker's been wrestling for 20+ years now and the Tombstone is a big part of the reason why he has been so successful. Look for the Deadman to hopefully hit one more Tombstone this year at Wrestlemania on Brock Lesnar. 


Rest in Peace. (Like the Undertaker says it, he is still alive and well)

1. Scotty Too Hottie "The Worm" 

1. Stone Cold Steve Austin "Stunner" 

"In my opinion the Stone Cold Stunner is the best move in wrestling history." - Daniel Bryan

"The beautiful part about the Stone Cold Stunner is that it can come from anywhere at anytime on any opponent and BAM! You were nailed, you were hit and beat." - Jim Ross

It's no "stunner" that this finisher was number 1 on the list (you have permission to never read my stuff again after that pun). I certainly can't argue with the placement of this move. It deserves to be number 1. As JR so eloquently puts it, "Someday the Hall of Fame will be full of guys that Stone Cold beat with the Stunner." Austin has beaten everybody with this one move. It was a brilliant choice because he could nail the Big Show with it as easily as he could to Jeff Hardy.

Best seller of the move: The Rock

Worst seller of the move: Vince McMahon

DVD Grade: A - Definitely worth purchasing. Casual and hardcore fans will enjoy this DVD. It has something for the old school, new school and attitude era crowd. I loved the mix of wrestlers from my Dad's day like Bruno Sammartino and Jimmy Snuka with wrestlers I grew up with like Jake "The Snake" and Bret Hart. The WWE's vast video library is on full display here. If you even mildly enjoy wrestling, I highly recommend purchasing this DVD.

Final Thoughts: Dead wrestlers. This list was kinda depressing. So many wrestlers dead before their time. This DVD was a harsh reminder of the sacrifice to their bodies wrestlers make in order to entertain us fans. 

As much as I loved this DVD, I did have some small gripes.

Notable exemptions:

I understand that not everyone's favorite finishing move is going to make the list. Taking this into consideration, I think that whoever put together the finishers list for the DVD did an exemplary job. But they could have fit a few more finishers on the list, considering the fact that:

1. Sting was never in the WWE, yet was included in a DVD titled "The Top 50 Finishing Moves in WWE History."

2. They could have grouped similar (the same) finishing moves together. Again the DVD is titled "Top 50 Finishing Moves" not "Top 50 Wrestlers Who Performed Finishing Moves." Group the RKO/Diamond Cutter together. The Five Star Frog splash/Frog splash/Super Fly Splash together. And the Batista Bomb and Jack Knife powerbomb together. 

You do that and you could have included a few more. Some of my favorite omissions include:

 Taz "Kata ha jime/Tazzmission"



RVD "Van Daminator



Shane Helms "Vertebreaker" 



Sabu "Triple Jump Moonsault" 




THE RAW LIBRARIAN'S
10. Dudley Boys - Dudley Death Drop
9. Goldberg - Jackhammer
8. Chris Jericho - Liontamer
7. DDP - Diamond Cutter 
6. RVD - Van Daminator/Five Star Frog Splash
5.  Brock Lesnar - F5
4. Triple H - Pedigree
3. Undertaker - Tombstone Piledriver
2. Stone Cold Steve Austin - Stunner
1. HBK - Sweet Chin Music

That's all the time I have. Thanks for reading. Keep an eye out for future, sporadic postings by me. I'll be a regular contributor again after my last grad semester ends this December. I hope I've been even somewhat missed. 

If you liked what you read take the time to leave a comment or hit me up on Twitter @TheRawLibrarian. Feedback is always welcome. 

1 comment: