Over the past 15 years, professional wrestling has gone from revolutionary in terms of athletic prowess to well… mediocre. It’s not that the athletes aren’t still amazing, but in terms of the moves used in the ring, the innovation of the ’90s hasn’t carried over into the next millennium. As a result, many of the moves that made wrestlers superstars a decade before are still being used today and because of that, the sport lacks the same appeal it once had.
In this piece, ReviewFix.com Editor-In-Chief Patrick Hickey Jr. counts down ten of the most influential finishing moves in the industry.
10- Clothesline from Hell: Stan Hansen made the move famous in the ’80s, but John Bradshaw Layfield made it a household name in the ’90s. Other wrestlers like Rick Steiner, Masato Tanaka, Brock Lesnar and Bill Goldberg had vicious clotheslines in their arsenals, but it was never a finisher for them. For guys like Hansen and Bradshaw however, the move induced a plethora of victories.
9- Frog Splash: Used by everyone from Eddy Guerrero to Di-Lo Brown, the frog splash is essentially a modified splash off the top rope, but when done right, it can steal the show. Just ask anyone who ever saw the late-Mike Awesome pull it off back in his ECW days. The same thing goes for former NWA champion Christian Cage, who used the move to take himself from a mid-carder in the WWE to a main eventer in TNA.
8- Frankensteiner: Scott Steiner may have made the move famous and while it will often be regarded as his, countless cruiserweights, [Rey Mysterio especially] have modified the move and put their own stamp on it. Often used as a set-up move nowadays, the move is still a stunning one when done by the right competitor.
7- Super Kick: The list of wrestlers that have used this move is insanely long, ranging from Lance Storm and Chris Adams to “The Heartbreak Kid,” Shawn Michaels. Able to turn the table during a match in a second, it’s one of the most devastating moves in the industry. It’s also the move that ended Bret Hart’s career.
6- Figure-Four leg lock: Ric Flair may be the last wrestler in the sport to use it as a finisher, but as long as the industry is alive and well, athletes will use this move. Able to get the crowd back in the match, nothing gets the crowd going like seeing the move reversed.
5- Elbow drop: Much like the figure-four, Randy Savage pretty much retired this move as a finisher when he retired, but that will never stop countless other wrestlers from using it.
4- Powerbomb: Again, for as long as there is a sport, huge wrestlers with a lack of ingenuity will use some variation of the powerbomb as a finisher. From Kevin Nash’s delayed “Jacknife” to the late Andrew “Test” Martin’s side-swipe diving variation of the move, it’s been done to death. Nevertheless, it’s a hard move to top in terms of devastation. While many have done the move however, only a few have done it will a sheer ferocity to make it truly their own. Of the few, performers the likes of Sid Vicious and Scott Norton stand tall among the best who have used it.
3- Chokeslam: Much like the Powerbomb, big guys will always use the Chokeslam. While the Undertaker and Kane have made a living from the move, guys like 911 managed to squeeze a few more years out of his carer with it.
2- Ace Crusher: Johnny Ace’s modified neckbreaker not only paved the way for “The Stone Cold Stunner” and “The Diamond Cutter,” but the “RKO” as well. Even the Disco Inferno used the move, tabbing it “The Chart Buster,” after his wrap-around jaw breaker went flat.
1- The DDT: Who would have thought that Jake Roberts tripping while having someone in a headlock in the early ’80s would change the industry forever? Simply put, if you are a wrestler, you’ve used this move. Scott “Raven” Levy continued the legacy of the move as a finisher through the ’90s and into the millennium, but it appears its time as a finisher is over. Nevertheless, when someone like Hulk Hogan, who was locked into a move set for nearly 20 years, manages to use it, [the first big Nitro during the New Blood storyline was the night] that’s saying something.