When an opponent is down, but not quite out, every wrestler has one move that will finally get them the final “1-2-3”. This move is simply known as a “finisher”, and aside from finally ending the match, it’s meant to get the crowd up out of their seats and go wild, whether they are cheering or booing the wrestler that’s about to win.
Not all finishers are created equally though, some might not have quite the right impact, or the setup is so clunky that fans lose interest by the time it’s performed. Although, there are many factors involved, a wrestler’s finishing move can make or break their career, and finding the right one is critical towards being successful. A basic kick or slam just won’t do, there needs to be something special that connects with the wrestler, and thus, to the fans.
With just over 100 male and female wrestlers on WWE and NXT’s rosters, there are plenty of moves to pick from, but only the top 30 made it to this list. The criteria used are the following: setup, impact, theatrics, and legacy.
For your convenience, videos of every move will be included, so let’s get right to it, and see where your favorite wrestlers…finished.
30 John Cena – Attitude Adjustment
Cena’s move is a glorified Fireman’s Carry, and it basically made the list due to its massive legacy over the past decade. The Attitude Adjustment (AA) has put down some of the biggest wrestlers ever: The Rock, Brock Lesnar, Shawn Michaels, and even, Zack Ryder.
Okay, maybe Zack wasn’t a big deal, but this move has helped Cena win 24 titles within the WWE, and will probably earn him a few more before it’s all said and done.
29 Braun Strowman – Sideways Flapjack
Okay, you’re probably thinking, “who is this guy, and why is he even on this list?” Well, the answer is simple: he’s 6’8”/385 lbs. of muscle and mean muggin’ ugliness. Imagine being picked up like a child, tossed in the air, and slammed on your face with Braun partly crushing you, just for good measure.
While the move itself is not that amazing, it’s tough to ignore when a man that size is making Roman Reigns – who is not exactly tiny – look like a toy doll.
28 Charlotte – Figure Eight
WWE wants to make it perfectly clear that Charlotte is Ric Flair’s daughter by giving her a similar theme, trotting Ric out all the time, and giving her a similar finisher. While the Figure-Four is a classic submission move, it doesn’t quite have the same effect on modern crowds as it did in the past.
So, to give it a modern twist, Charlotte performs a back-bend while it’s locked in, although it doesn’t really make the finisher look any more painful, it adds some fresh theatrics.
27 Nikki Bella – Rack Attack
Here is another classic move – The Torture Rack – that was given a modern twist to fit Nikki better. Obviously, she’s no Lex Luger, so trying to rag doll women on her shoulders wasn’t going to look that great.
Instead, she sets them up the same way and drops down “breaking” their back in the process. Nikki has developed a bit of a “lady Hoss” style over the past few years, so this move is very fitting for her and one of the better finishers in the women’s division.
26 Chris Jericho – Codebreaker
A great “out of nowhere” type of finisher that tends to surprise crowds, when Jericho goes for it. Letting gravity do most of the work, Y2J brings his opponent’s face to his knees and they meet harshly when Jericho’s back lands on the mat. This move has one of the quicker setups which usually receives a nice pop from the crowd.
As you can see in the video, the Codebreaker can also be used as a perfect counter to any opponents who take to the air, which just makes for an even greater impact.
25 Dean Ambrose – Dirty Deeds
Also known as a Double-Arm DDT, made popular by the Hall of Famer, Mick Foley. Dean gives it a little extra flair with the leg kick before dropping his opponent directly on their head.
Overall, it’s not the flashiest move on the list, but it’s incredibly devastating as the head and neck get crunched into the mat. Just think how much it hurts when you lightly bump your head on the ceiling, “ah, son of a…”
24 Natalya – Sharpshooter
One of the most well-known submission moves ever, made popular by Bret “The Hitman” Hart. Since Natalya is part of the family, she carries the torch and performs the move just as well.
When the setup is smoothly and not done too quickly, the Sharpshooter allows crowds to get pumped up for when it’s finally locked in. As a bonus for Natalya, when she takes on more flexible opponents – AJ Lee, Alicia Fox, Naomi – she’s able to lean all the way back for that extra “ouch” effect.
23 Jack Swagger – Patriot Lock
Although Kurt Angle did it better, Swagger’s version is still pretty vicious to watch. This move usually depends on how much his opponent wants to sell the pain, if they do, it looks like Swagger is about to break off the bottom half of their leg.
This one is all about the theatrics, the opponent’s face twisted in agony as they reach out for their only salvation - the ropes - if they hope to continue the match.
22 Sting – Scorpion Death Drop
This move is interesting because of the unique setup, which is a headlock, but the opponent’s face is towards the sky. Thanks to this unique positioning, crowds can immediately recognize the move and go nuts, all while Sting stares back at them, waiting just slightly before driving the back of his foe’s head to the mat.
A lightning quick setup allows Sting to get the jump on wrestlers, which was necessary in WCW, when he had to take on the 108 members of the n.W.o. Okay, maybe not 108, but he was usually a lone wolf and had to strike quickly to survive the show.
21 Baron Corbin – End of Days
A fresh looking move that may catch you by surprise the first time you see it. Using a healthy dose of momentum, Corbin catches his opponent, and performs a slingshot motion that slams his opponent face first into the ground.
At 6’8”/275 lbs. Corbin has the size and strength to make this move this move look that much more impressive, especially when he’s against smaller wrestlers, who get whipped down faster. Also, have to give bonus points for the name, as it’s one of the cooler sounding finishers.
20 Cesaro – The Neutralizer
Cesaro is pound-for-pound one of the strongest wrestlers in all over wrestling, the amount he’s able to dead lift is always a joy to watch. This is no more apparent then when he busts out The Neutralizer on guys like Big Show, literally picking them up, holding them upside down, and slamming them face first.
Much like Ambrose’s Dirty Deeds, it’s not really flamboyant, but what sets this one higher on the list is the spectacle of seeing someone like The Great Khali getting lifted up and dropped down.
19 Finn Balor – Double Foot Stomp
This one is all about the setup, the climb, the slight hesitation on the top rope, the long drop, and finally, stomping out his foe. It’s a tough move to pull off because Finn isn’t “actually” looking to stomp out the other guy, so he needs to pull up a bit on the landing.
Due to this, the blow can look a little soft, but crowds love it nonetheless. It’s a fantastic exclamation point to get the “1-2-3”, especially when he’s all painted up, it just looks awesome on TV.
18 Fandango – Diving Leg Drop
Fandango also has a finisher from the top rope, but his just looks more devastating as he drops his leg across his challenger’s neck. Just think about having someone jump high above you and land right down on your neck!
It’s a tricky move that Fandango make looks pretty simple, not only avoiding real damage to his opponent’s neck, but himself, as well.
17 Sheamus – Brogue Kick
This move just fits “The Celtic Warrior” so perfectly; it’s straight to the point and can look quite brutal when sold properly. Thanks to Sheamus’ size, a leaping kick to the face is quite devastating, and doesn’t require much of a setup to execute.
As one of WWE’s Hosses, Sheamus’ moveset tends to be more on the blunt side, and this finisher is no exception. If he ever gets a chance to cash-in his Money in the Bank opportunity, this move will most likely be the reason he becomes the next WWE champion. You’re excitement of that prospect will vary depending on what you think of him.
16 Roman Reigns – Spear
Plenty of people have used the Spear over the years (Goldberg, Rhyno, Charlotte, Edge, and Bobby Lashley) and while Reigns’ may not be the best performer of the maneuver, it definitely fits his body type and persona.
With long black hair flying everywhere, Reigns plows through his opponent, much to the delight of the fans. It’s an aggressive, full-speed type of move that can land a win or end in disaster for Reigns, if he misses.
15 Kane – Chokeslam
A classic move that has won Kane an obscene amount matches, by gripping his foe by the neck, fear instantly is shown as they know what’s coming next. The crowd bellows as Kane lifts up the poor unfortunate soul, and slams them down with furious anger.
Since Kane is from Hell and all, the whole move is perfect symbolism for the totality of his character as he is literally sending whoever he’s fighting, straight to Hell.
14 Paige – P.T.O. (Paige Tap Out)
Originally popularized by Japanese wrestler, Bull Nakano, Paige wanted to give props, and now uses it regularly in the WWE. The P.T.O. is great because it literally ties up every limb, so her opponent has virtually no way of getting out of it.
Basically, their only options are to wither in pain, eventually verbally tapping out, or by meekly tapping out with their hand, hoping the ref notices it, to end the suffering.
13 Sasha Banks – Bank Statement
“The Boss” is higher up on the list for creatively combining an impact move with a logical submission. First, she drives her knees into her challenger’s back, also known as a Backstabber, flipping her opponent over, and applying a bridging Crossface. This basically applies massive pressure on the injured back.
The move has helped Sasha win the NXT Women’s Championship, and most likely will get her the Divas Championship down the road.
12 Dudley Boys – 3D
This move can be done with or without a table, but much like bacon, a table makes everything better. In terms of tag team moves, this is one of the greatest ever; D-Von lifts and brings down the opponent, while Bubba adds a Cutter for added damage.
Much of the Dudleys’ popularity has come from using tables, so bringing them into the mix has made this move look even more devastating. It’s pretty hard to find a crowd that doesn’t explode when someone gets a 3D through a table, that’s how good this move is.
11 Chris Jericho – Liontamer
The only person with two moves on this list is Y2J, some could argue the Lionsault should be here too, but trying to spread the love a bit. The Liontamer is rarely used these days, as it’s a fairly dangerous move to pull off, twisting and contorting his opponent in terrible ways.
It’s basically a Boston Crab, but Jericho puts his knee on his opponent’s neck or back, depending on how flexible they are. In one of the more painful looking submission holds, most wrestlers tap out fairly quickly.
10 Rhyno – Gore
One could argue this move is still basically a Spear, but thanks to Rhyno’s stocky body size and high aggression this move is all his own. When done improperly, the Spear can look like a giant hug, with Rhyno’s Gore that just doesn’t happen.
The move is destructive on its own, but Rhyno tends to find things to put people through, whether it’s a table, barricade, or stage set.
9 Daniel Bryan – Busaiku Knee
Unfortunately, due to neck issues and concussions, we haven’t had a chance to see this move in quite some time. Although smaller in stature, Bryan is lightning quick and can land this move out of nowhere.
Typically, he’ll get a running start from the corner of the ring, gaining enough momentum to blow through whoever is unlucky enough to be in the way. There’s nothing too flashy here, just a single strike with heavy impact, causing crowds to erupt in cheers.
8 Becky Lynch – Dis-Arm-Her
With the highest submission finisher on the list, Becky’s move is easy to apply and looks incredibly painful. With the opponent face down on the mat, she takes their arm and yanks it back to places where an arm shouldn’t go.
Becky’s moveset includes other submissions and multiple suplexes which helps soften up her opponent for the Dis-Arm-Her (which is quite a clever name).
7 Samoa Joe – The Muscle Buster
A legit devastating move, just ask Tyson Kidd, who was nearly paralyzed from the neck down because of it. Joe lifts and cradles his rival on his shoulder, then drops straight down crushing their neck/upper back.
Although he’s still fairly new to NXT, Joe has been using this move for quite a few years, finishing off most of the top stars in TNA.
6 Kevin Owens – Pop-Up Powerbomb
The powerbomb is one of the most destructive and entertaining moves in all of wrestling. The setup, flipping the opponent (or in this case popping them up in the air) and slamming them hard to the mat is just perfect pro wrestling.
Kevin Owens uses the powerbomb in fine fashion, utilizing momentum to throw his opponent up in the air, and gravity to drop them hard to the mat. As one of the more vicious heels, the move fits his persona perfectly.
5 Neville – Red Arrow
Is it possible for a wrestler to gain popularity off of only one move? Neville obviously has a lot of tricks in his bag, but this one is what gets everyone to pay attention to him. Not only is he doing a back-flip off the top rope, but adds a corkscrew motion, because, why not?
“The Man That Forgot Gravity” is able to pull this move off with incredible consistency, and it’s one of those moves that must be seen live to fully appreciate the difficulty.
4 Bray Wyatt – Sister Abigail
We’re at the point where any one of these moves could be #1; in this case, Sister Abigail is not only a finishing move, but a storyline in itself. Bray always talks about this person like she might still be around, and naming his finisher after them reminds fans she may show up one day.
With a kiss to the forehead, Bray whips his opponent around in a fury, landing them flush against the mat, typically getting him the win. A nasty variation of this move is up against the steps or barricade, but on its own, Sister Abigail is one of WWE’s best finishers.
3 Brock Lesnar – F5
Let’s be real here, this move would not nearly be as great if Brock Lesnar wasn’t the one performing it. Along with his size, his unhinged aggression just works perfectly as he literally whips his opponent around in the air - much like a tornado – crashing them to the mat.
With smaller opponents he’s able to fling them with so much speed it’s hilarious to watch. When he goes up against bigger guys, it just becomes impressive that he can actually lift and flip them at all.
2 Randy Orton –RKO
Much like a sniper, Orton can strike from anywhere with this move, and for an opponent, that’s a scary thought. How can they wrestle a guy who could finish them off at any moment? This is a high-impact, single strike, that takes only a second to complete!
Orton has finished off tons of opponents with it, and amazingly, still finds new ways to surprise crowds when he decides to unleash the RKO.
1 The Undertaker – Tombstone
Forget “currently in the WWE”; this move could possibly be #1 all-time! The Tombstone has always been a well-protected finisher, when it’s used; the match is almost always over. The name is fitting for “The Deadman”, and is unbelievably devastating to other wrestlers.
Imagine being upside down and dropped directly on the top of your head, being knocked out is probably a best case scenario, followed by paralysis and then death. As harsh as that sounds, there’s a reason why he tells opponents to “rest in peace”.
Although its days are numbered, you’re number #1 finisher in the WWE: The Tombstone.