The world of the WWE is a bit like the worlds established by various superhero comic books. Audiences watch high flying action, as two forces of brute strength attack each other for extremely high stakes. It’s a league populated by the good guys taking on the bad guys. Sometimes the good guys may even turn into villains themselves later on down the road. Mirroring the likes of the Justice League or the Fantastic Four, wrestlers have even banded together to form stables in order to face off against others. Of course, the most striking similarity is probably their wrestling moves themselves. Much like any good superhero comic, the heroes of the WWE universe all have their own special moves that leave us all with our mouths hanging open.
Throughout the history of the WWE there have been some rather memorable moves. Whether a devastating finisher, a mid-air counter, or even a submission, fans appreciate the athleticism and timing behind each and every coordinated effort. Some wrestlers have found success based solely on their move, and have come to be defined by it. Others use special moves more sparingly, playing on the wow factor. Whatever the case, wrestlers and their moves have been closely linked for ages, and it plays a large part in fan popularity.
Over the years, however, fans have witnessed various shifts in the “Meta” of the WWE. Wrestlers have strayed from certain moves due to a multitude of reasons. Certain moves that used to wow the audience may have lost their luster, or perhaps there are simply too many health concerns involved. In some cases, the element of time has made moves antiquated and outdated.
It’s past due we take a look back and compile a list of such moves, the rarest in all the league. Some are so rare it’s unlikely we’ll see them again, while others still pop up from time to time, surprising all who are there to witness. What follows are ten of the rarest moves in the WWE:
10 The Worm
We’ll go ahead and start this list off with a doozy. The worm was perhaps one of the more entertaining moves of the wrestling world some five years ago. Now, you’d be lucky to find it anywhere. The move is about what you’d expect: as an opponent is recovering on the ground, the wrestler does the worm up to the body before standing and slamming back down onto the unfortunate victim.
Scotty Too Hotty patented the signature move, using it to brilliant effect. Part of the reason it was so popular was due to the way Hotty played to the crowd. It wasn’t simply a move, it was an interaction with the audience. Scotty Too Hotty would initially bounce on one foot as everyone spelled out the word “worm”, then commence the worm motion, and finally everyone in the audience would chant as he prepared to deliver the final blow. It’s one of the funnier moves you’ll ever see, and here’s hoping it makes a bit of a comeback.
9 The Powerbomb
This move is a bit more common than the previous entry. In fact, we’d venture to say most wrestling fans have seen one in action. This will begin to change shortly though, as the move is being slowly phased out of the wrestling repertoire of the modern day.
A powerbomb is precisely as brutal as the name suggests. It happens when a wrestler has his opponent’s legs on his or her shoulders, and slams their back onto the mat. It’s a move that capitalizes on the large mass of its victims, and the force with which they are slammed down is exciting to behold. Unfortunately, it may in fact be a bit too powerful. In recent efforts to cut back on injuries, the powerbomb is being scaled back throughout matches, becoming increasingly rarer with each day that passes because of the risk of back and neck injuries it poses. While it’s certainly fun to watch, no move is worth losing your career over.
8 The Rowboat
We’ll admit, we’d never heard of this one either, but once we saw it it’s certainly hard to forget. This move is pure entertainment, and it’s questionable as to whether it causes any pain for its victims whatsoever. Nevertheless, it is quite rare to encounter this spectacle.
The tag team Rock N’ Roll express used this move against opponents. Usually it involves a series of other moves in order to set it up where both their opponents are laying down in the ring. Then, the two Rock n’ Rollers each grab one leg from each opponent and sit down, proceeding to yank the legs like oars. The hilarious result is two men appearing to row a boat while their opponents yelp in pain. For some reason, we have an inkling that this move will stay filed away for the foreseeable future.
7 Tilt-A-Whirl DDT
This is a move that simply seems impossible to pull off. When hit correctly, the wrestler attempting the move spins around the opponents head in midair before eventually grabbing them around the neck and smashing their face into the turf. Having trouble picturing it? Check out the video and be amazed.
It’s a move that necessitates an incredible amount of athleticism and balance, not to mention timing. The set-up must be perfect, as must be your momentum while heading into the move. Lack of momentum may mean an inability to fully rotate. The degree of difficulty makes this move rather rare, though wrestlers like AJ Lee and Rey Mysterio have pulled the move off several times.
This move is probably one wrestling fans have managed to witness within the past few years. John Cena is one notable wrestler who attempts the move from time to time, but much like a tilt-a-whirl DDT it requires a huge amount of athleticism to pull off.
The move is considered a leg takedown, though there are certain variations. Essentially, the wrestler using the move grabs the opponents head with their legs and flips them over their body using momentum and gravity. The stunned victim is then usually primed for a pin attempt. The move can be used as a rather successful counter to the Powerbomb, as wrestlers sometimes start in the vulnerable position of the Powerbomb victim before initiating the move. Though it’s a move that pops up more frequently than others on the list, it is still rare and dazzling enough to drop your jaw when executed correctly.
5 The Indian Deathlock
Submissions can be some of the most visually appealing moves in all of the fighting sports. They’re exotic and intricate, requiring a contortionist-like level of flexibility to pull off. Whenever someone lands a deep submission attempt, it spells pure agony for their opponent. The Indian Deathlock is one of the more rare submission leglocks in the WWE.
The Deathlock focuses on the lower half of the opponent’s legs, as the wrestler performing the submission attempt wraps his own legs around his opponents like a pretzel and applies tremendous pressure. Triple H famously performed the maneuver on one of the biggest stages imaginable against Booker T during a championship match. It’s a move requiring a large amount of technical skill, and is one that you’ll see very rarely in matches today.
4 Stump Puller
Well, this move was invented by a clown, so common sense holds it must be rather comical right? Not if you’re his opponent. While the Stump Puller was a patented finisher of Doink the Clown, it’s more common name is the Inverted Boston Crab.
The move occurs when the wrestler’s opponent is lying on the ground. The wrestler performing the move then grabs the leg and either sits or falls backwards in order to stretch back the legs of the opponent. Oftentimes this forces a quick tap out, or the opponent must endure the pain in a rather sensitive area. As mentioned prior, Doink the Clown often used the submission, but the move has faded out in recent years.
3 Avalanche Sunset Flip Powerbomb
Having déjà vu? Yes, we know we included powerbombs in this list already, but this variety is a different breed altogether. This move is truly a combination of two moves, a sunset flip from the top rope transitioning into a brutal powerbomb. The added momentum of the sunset flip makes the powerbomb even more brutal than usual.
A sunset flip is used to define a wrestler basically swan diving off the top ropes of the ring and flipping in order to gain better positioning on their opponent. It’s a graceful maneuver, and it comes with its perils as well. The top rope is, obviously, the highest rope available, and wrestlers get quite a bit of air when attempting the move. Transitioning into a powerbomb makes the move even riskier for both parties, as one slip up could have serious consequences. Because of this it is one of the rarer moves you’ll ever see.
2 Ring Post Figure Four Leglock
One of the rarest moves in the WWE because it requires the opponent being dragged over to one of the wrestling ring posts. The wrestler attempting the move then moves their legs into position around the pole, wrapping one leg around another outstretched leg. Then they lean back on the outstretched leg with all their weight.
It’s an interesting move in that the vanilla version of the Figure Four Leglock seems synonymous with the legendary wrestler the “Nature Boy” Ric Flair. This spin on it is a bit more vicious however, and causes extreme pain for whoever falls victim. Even more interesting is that in a league that’s largely based on slams and pinfalls, we see yet another submission make the list of the rarest WWE moves.
1 The Vertebreaker
It’s an intimidating nickname for an intimidating move. The Vertebreaker is basically a backwards piledriver where the opponent is draped over the wrestler’s back upside down while their arms are held. The wrestler then slams their head into the turf by falling straight down. It’s a finishing move popularized by The Hurricane.
While the WWE has decided to cut back on the popular Powerbomb moves, they have since outright banned the Vertebreaker. The danger lies in the vulnerable position opponents are left in right before being slammed to the mat. In recent years, neck injuries have been a big problem for WWE superstars and the league has taken preventative measures to avoid injuring their biggest assets. While the Vertebreaker was cool to watch, we won’t be watching it on anything other than video archives from now on. This move takes the top spot because, after all, you literally can’t get rarer than never being able to see the move again.