It makes an arena explode. It gets you jumping out of your seat at home. It signifies the climax of a wrestling match. One thing that every wrestler must have to excite the fans and sometimes the finishing touch on the total package of a superstar is their finishing move. Without a great finisher, it’s hard for a wrestler to cap off a match. It also plays a part in determining how well we remember a certain wrestler. Could you picture Stone Cold sticking with the Million Dollar Dream and never adopting the Stunner? Could you imagine The Rock sticking with a Shoulder Breaker instead of using the Rock Bottom? Over the years, finishing moves have gotten more varied, more visually appealing, and they fit their respective wrestlers a lot more. They’ve also grown to be way more exciting than a sleeper hold or a heart punch. Without any further ado, here are the top 10 greatest finishing moves in wrestling history. This list is based on visual appeal, devastation and the reaction it elicits from crowds.
10. The DDT
Innovated by Jake ‘The Snake’ Roberts, the DDT is simply executed by grabbing the opponent in a front facelock, and falling back to drive the opponent’s head into the mat; simple and vicious. It looks devastating and it was new when Roberts began performing it. It has also stood the test of time, as many wrestlers have adopted the move into their repertoire. There’s a good reason for that. It looks cool and it really looks like it can damage the recipient.
The name DDT originally came from a notorious pesticide chemical known as dichloro-diphenyl-trichloroethane. This is a hazardous chemical buried in the ground and can cause brain damage. That’s what the finishing move looked like too. The victim’s head is driven into the mat and it can clearly cause damage if not executed by a professional.
The move has also been modified by many wrestlers into many different variations such as a swinging DDT, a double-arm DDT or a running DDT. However you spin it, it’s devastating and the origin of its name is definitely spooky.
9. The Go To Sleep
Japanese pro wrestler Kenta created the move, but out here in the Western world, we know this move as CM Punk‘s devastating finishing move.
The move itself begins with a fireman’s carry. The opponent is then dropped in front of the executor, who lifts his knee up right in the opponent’s face. It must be quite a sight to be falling to the ground and seeing a knee about to make contact with your face.
CM Punk has a great all-around move set, but the GTS really caps it off in a great way. While Punk’s mic ability is what truly made him a top star in the WWE, his great arsenal and finishing moves cannot be discounted in deciphering why fans have been so entertained with Punk. Hopefully we haven’t seen the last of this move.
When a wrestler begins his career 173-0 with a finisher, it belongs amongst the all-time greats. How perfectly did a spear fit a devastating wrestler like Goldberg? A former football player, Goldberg took WCW by storm, taking out a new victim week after week.
Goldberg was somewhat limited in the ring, but his high-impact offence and his brute strength made his quick victories believable and the fans embraced him. He perhaps had the best one-two punch finishing move in history.
The spear looked devastating enough as Goldberg would crouch in a corner, wait for his opponent to get up and drive his shoulder into the ribs of his opponent, much like a football tackle. Goldberg would then signify for the end, which was the Jackhammer.
The Jackhammer involved Goldberg picking up his opponent in position for a suplex, but would have his opponent hang in the air and shift the suplex into a powerslam. With that, Goldberg would take another victory and it was on to the next victim.
7. The F-5
Brock Lesnar seemed destined to be a big star from the moment he set foot in the squared circle. He had the look, the strength, the amateur wrestling accolades and was billed as a monster. He had a high impact offence mixed in with impressive traditional wrestling moves.
A mediocre finisher simply wouldn’t do, but the F-5 worked just perfectly. Another move that begins with a fireman’s carry, the F-5 is executed when the wrestler throws the opponent’s legs out in front of him while simultaneously falling himself, causing the opponent to land on his face and upper body. F-5 as in a devastating tornado. Marc Mero and Sable actually used the move, calling it a TKO, but again, Lesnar has really taken this move to another level.
6. The Rock Bottom/People’s Elbow
This finishing combo is a prime example of what was mentioned earlier about a finishing move also being about the reaction it gets from the fans. The Rock took a fairly simple move and took it to greater heights due to his unmatched charisma and electrifying persona.
The Rock Bottom is simply a side slam, where the wrestler stands face to face with his opponent, slightly to his side, then tucks his own head under the opponent’s arm and reaches across the chest with his near arm over the far shoulder. The wrestler then falls forward, driving the opponent to their back. Booker T used a variation of this move called the Book End, but no one quite did it like The Rock. The move can be performed quickly which adds adds a certain element of surprise.
The Rock would normally stand, eyes gazed on his dazed opponent, wait for him to turn towards him, and it was lights out.
The People’s Elbow is a perfect testament to The Rock’s flair. It’s one of the most ridiculous finishing moves in wrestling history, yet somehow The Great One made it great. A simple elbow drop mixed in with throwing an elbow pad into the crowd, running both ropes and dropping it. Nothing complicated here, but still amazing.
5. The Sharpshooter
The name sounds cool enough and when you see it, man does it hurt. Bret Hitman Hart performed this move with such perfect execution. It has become perhaps the most famous submission move in wrestling history and it wouldn’t have happened without Hart. Although he didn’t invent it, he sure made it what it is. It can be known as Canada’s finishing move. The move was invented by Japanese professional wrestler Riki Chōshū, while Ronnie Garvin and Sting both used variations of the hold before Hart. However, the Sharpshooter is the common name given to the hold today.
It begins with the opponent on his back. The wrestler sticks either his right leg to his/her right, or left leg to his/her left, wraps the shins, grabs the top leg and turns over, leaving the opponent prone on the mat on their stomach with all the pressure on their lower back and legs.
Many have used the move including the late Owen Hart, The Rock and recently Natalya, Bret Hart’s niece. Trish Stratus even used it to win her seventh Women’s Championship in her retirement match. The move gets a great reaction to this day, from Canadians in particular.
4. The Pedigree
Originally known as a double underhook facebuster, Triple H adopted this move when debuting with the WWE in 1995. He may not have had the perfect gimmick right away, but he sure had an impressive finisher throughout his entire career.
The move we now know as the Pedigree begins with the wrestler bending the opponent’s head forward, placing the opponent’s head between the wrestler’s legs, hooking the arms and dropping to the canvas, leaving the opponent defenceless for the impact coming to their head.
The Pedigree has stood the test of time, as Triple H, nearly 20 years into his WWE career still uses it when he occasionally wrestles. It still looks great and the amount of opponents it has put away sticks with fans and tells us how devastating it is when it’s delivered.
3. Sweet Chin Music
It can come as quick as a hiccup or it could be built up and anticipated with fan participation. When broken down, it’s a simple sidekick to the jaw, but it looks amazing and when executed by perhaps the greatest performer in the history of wrestling, it takes on a life of its own.
Shawn Michaels always made the move look amazing and it seemed to get bigger and bigger as the years went by because of the amount of sizzle that went with it. More often than not, it’s not the finishing move that makes the wrestler, it’s the wrestler that makes the finishing move. HBK undoubtedly took the Super Kick to new heights, coining the name, Sweet Chin Music. The move has been emulated, but never duplicated. No one can deliver it like the Showstopper.
2. Stone Cold Stunner
No move ever got a bigger reaction from the audience. It was quick, could come out of nowhere and it was delivered by the biggest superstar in the industry. Stone Cold Steve Austin took a simple cutter and brought it to unprecedented heights.
He’d start with a simple kick to the gut and while his opponent was hunched forward, he’d grab his opponent’s head, turn his back to his opponent and fall flat on his rear end driving his adversary down to his knees with the impact on their jaw.
Every week we would wait to see who would fall victim to Austin’s Stone Cold Stunner. No one was off limits, whether it was a wrestler, an interviewer or the owner himself, Vince McMahon.
It’s not the most impressive looking finisher, but no move got the fans louder. It’s also perhaps the only move where the one taking the stunner is just as important as Austin. We saw so many different ways to take a stunner, whether it was Shane McMahon spitting out beer as he took it, The Rock flopping like a fish or Santino jumping backwards with a salute.
The move has seen some modified versions like Randy Orton‘s RKO or DDP’s Diamond Cutter but no one will ever get the reaction Austin got.
1. Tombstone Piledriver
No finishing move or name ever fit a character more than the Tombstone Piledriver fit The Undertaker. For so many years, no man got up from the Tombstone. Kane, HBK, Triple H and CM Punk are the only guys who spring to mind who have done so.
This move looks deadly and it’s fitting that the Deadman performs it. The traditional piledriver is lethal itself, and the move has been banned from usage in the WWE since 2000. Only Undertaker and Kane are still allowed to perform their Tombstone version. Kane adopted the use of this move, but it will forever be the Undertaker’s.
The kneeling reverse piledriver, as it is technically called, was used quite often prior to Undertaker, but he’s the one who truly took it to new heights.
It’s performed when the wrestler places an arm between the opponent’s legs and the other arm on the opposite shoulder. The wrestler then lifts the opponent up to the other shoulder like a body slam lift and into a reverse piledriver position. The wrestler then drops to their knees, driving the victim’s head into the mat. When this move is performed by a 6’10” Undertaker, it simply looks mesmerizing and you can’t picture a wrestler kicking out once it’s done.
Adding to the move itself are all the little touches Undertaker adds to it when executing the move. His signature throat slash signifies it’s coming. After performing it, he cross the opponent’s arms the way a body would look in a casket, while pinning their shoulders to the mat 1-2-3. Everything about this move works for the Undertaker.
Adding to the fire is the fact that he is 21-0 at WrestleMania with many of his victories accomplished with this move. Its longevity plays a huge part in this being the greatest finishing move in wrestling history.