I got into a disagreement with my good friend James about the quality of a few different wrestling finishing moves, which prompted me to write this article. James, feel free to comment with your various counter-arguments, but I don't expect to be changing my opinion.
5. Figure Four Leg-Lock
I'm a guy who likes submission holds more than a lot of people do. I was a big fan of Dean Malenko's Texas Cloverleaf finisher, and I liked when Sting or Owen Hart hooked the Scorpion Deathlock/Sharpshooter. Not Bret Hart, that guy was a bum.
The Figure Four, though, was the best one. Part of it was that it was executed by Ric Flair, one of my favorite all-time wrestlers and one of the best villains in the game. Another part was that the two wrestlers involved could see each other's faces, talk trash, rake each other's eyes, etc. You've also got the ability to grab the ropes and "cheat" to get more pressure. It creates a ton of potential results, including, of course, a submission.
It says a lot that Jake the Snake Roberts managed to take a fairly common move and make it his own finisher. His execution of it was flawless. It's also one of those out-of-nowhere moves that I love (as you'll read); any time a match could be decided in the blink of an eye, your attention is heightened. I've watched probably a hundred matches of Jake's over the years, and plenty of them ended suddenly when Jake pulled off a DDT.
The same move has been twisted around a couple dozen times into various other finishers: Mick Foley's double-arm DDT, the Scorpion Death Drop, etc. But nobody does it quite like the Snake.
3. Clothesline from Hell
Ask any passive wrestling fan to name a few wrestling moves, and the first few they name will probably be (in no particular order): body slam, suplex, clothesline. There are plenty of suplexes that get used as finishers, but none that really sing as being noticeably better than other suplexes.
But when Bradshaw/JBL did his Clothesline from Hell...well, holy shit, it was good.
Something about Bradshaw's height, his body shape, and his execution just made the Clothesline from Hell a thing of beauty. It also worked great as a tag-team finisher, because his tag partners could always do something to set up a clothesline. It's great in that it's fast, it's super-violent, and it's easy to appreciate. I'm delighted that JBL had a run as a title-holder, so that everyone got to appreciate his finisher as much as I already did.
FYI, Luke Harper does a similar move in today's WWE, if you're interested.
2. Stone Cold Stunner
This move basically drove the entire Attitude Era of the WWF. The pop off of a Stunner was always great, but when someone like Vince McMahon or Bret Hart was on the receiving end, the crowd was electric. As with the DDT, the quickness of the move made it an amazing story-driver, not to mention a great finisher for long, back-and-forth matches. But when you add Stone Cold's character to the move, it's an incredible combo.
I do think, though, what made people enjoy it as much as anything was the fact that Stone Cold was always using the Stunner on Vince McMahon, his "boss." The WWF/E loved selling this point, and people ate it up.
1. Diamond Cutter/RKO
When I first really got into wrestling, Diamond Dallas Page was one of the biggest stars in WCW. The nWo had just really hit its stride, and DDP was a foil to all of their plans. This absolutely would not have worked without the Diamond Cutter. It's insanely fast, and takes zero time to set up. That instant explosion was the perfect counter to the nWo's swarming nature. Then, when Randy Orton came around and started using the RKO, I recognized it as what was already my favorite move. Surprise surprise, the rest of the world also appreciated it. Search YouTube for "RKO" and you'll see what I mean.
That's my list. I imagine I'll be fighting a lot of you on the figure-four, and I can appreciate that it's not for everybody. But it's unquestionably one of my favorites.
As for the other four? Well, I wouldn't understand anyone who doesn't like those moves.
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