Ziggler doing his variation of the DDTIn the world of professional wrestling, you must evolve. Every human has to do it to adapt to their environment. In pro-wrestling, adaptation is not only needed, but it is a must to be successful.You cannot be the same kind of character that another person was and you have to create unique offense and sometimes even defense, to excite a crowd full of people who have probably been watching longer than you have even considered being a wrestler at all. New is needed, as old is just that for a big reason. Fans today need more and more. Possibly the biggest evolution of pro-wrestling happened in the 1990’s when the dawn of the Attitude Era came about.Not only did we get unique matches that tested the will of every performer WWE had at the time, but WCW also tried random unique ideas to get people to pay attention. This became a time in which people would use old school moves but add a spin to them so that they weren’t like the others. This continued until present day when we see moves now from even the 90’s becoming secondary and even set up moves.John Cena stunner anyone? We decided to compile a list of moves that you may not realize people won matches with, as today they do not seem like finishers. In this list, we count down the top ten finishers that really aren’t finishers anymore. Enjoy.
The Von Erich family are beloved in the state of Texas even today and their promotion WCCW was one of the hottest promotions in pro-wrestling during it’s time. Run by Fritz Von Erich, the promotion was build on his family. Every one of his sons wrestled for the promotion, some like Kerry went on to join WWE at one point. Another went to Japan. Sadly, all but one of the brothers died well before their time.
Some died from drug overdose, others from suicide. Fritz was believed to have passed away due to a broken heart. Now only Kevin Von Erich remains from the original dynasty, and his sons are the next generation of Von Erichs to try their hand at wrestling.
The one big thing that the Von Erich family all had in common was their family move, the Iron Claw. This move was basically as it sounded. A Von Erich would put their hand on your face and put pressure on it. The hand would be like a claw and dig in until you gave up.
The look and premise of the manoeuvre seem idiotic to most looking back on it today. You could just back away or go toward the ropes, right? In theory this seems like a great plan but the Von Erich guys would get a person on their knees and anywhere they went, the claw would follow. They often times held the back of the head and took you to the mat on your back where you had nowhere to go.
The move became massively popular while they used it. Today, the claw is rarely seen and when it is, it is rarely viewed as a finisher. Most believe that when a guy comes along with a big enough hand, it could be given to them as a finish.
Until then, the move makes this list. The move does have some variations, but the original claw has not yet made a comeback.
Scott Steiner was never known as one of the best technical workers in pro-wrestling history but he was a solid performer. When he first started out, he and his brother were known as one of the best and most physical tag teams of their day. It was often seen as a punishment to work with them. Rick Steiner never truly stood out in his time outside of his tag team success.
Meanwhile, Scott went from tag to singles with major success. He would completely change up his character and even partially his wrestling style. He was a good college wrestler before working in pro-wrestling, so most knew he could go when asked. However, this was not seen as much during his singles run with WCW and especially not in WWE. One thing most realized quick with him was that he was a big man, but he was able to move very well.
This allowed him to invent a move still used today, the Frankensteiner. The move used to finish matches for Steiner and even he realized that needed to end and added another move to finish matches. In WWE, he never seemed to finish a match with it either on the rare times he actually did the move. Today, we have a number of versions of the move. However, it has yet to end a match in present day.
Many believe that if there was a great variation again, it very well could finish a match. WWE NXT Diva Bayley might need to consider such an action. Until a brilliant variation comes along, do not count on seeing it finish a match anymore.
#3 Atomic Drop
The atomic drop is a simple move in theory. You put an opponent up as if you will be doing a back suplex and then you take the person down on their tailbone or often times, groin area.
If you can believe it, this move used to actually win matches. The move was made famous by WWE Hall of Famer Bob Backlund. He was known for doing a running version of the move to add to the drama of it all. While he was more so known for his technical skill in the ring as well as submissions, this move allowed him to keep the crazy character idea a working move to exploit.
The move is not even a setup move anymore, With that said, this move may never see another time where it can be bragged about. The idea of the move is great today as it helps when trying to truly make a good and complete move-set. However, we probably should not expect it to end a match ever.
#4 Elbow Drop
The Elbow Drop, known by many as the one thing you used to do with your friends and cousin when you were a kid. It was a simple move in it’s time and still is today.
The idea is for one to go to the top rope and literally jump in their opponent, eventually landing your elbow into their chest. The move was made famous originally by “Macho Man” Randy Savage. It became even bigger when Shawn Michaels and Shane McMahon ended up using it. While McMahon used it as a finisher for a while, Michaels used it mainly as a set up move for his superkick he called “sweet chin music.”
The two most popular moments with this move arguably happened in WWE with Savage and McMahon. The first was when Savage hit it to become WWE Champion for the first time and the second was when Shane was on the WWE Titantron and jumped from seemingly 30 stories just to hit a fallen Big Show below.
The move has remained in WWE and other companies since, however, it is no longer used as a finisher for most people. Like Michaels, many use it as a set up move. Some even added a variation like Dean Ambrose, where he will do a standing elbow drop from the top.
Today, the move is nothing special compared to the amazing moves we see now. However, it will go down as a very memorable and iconic move due to the people who used it.
#5 Toe Hold
Frank Gotch was known as a good technical performer and had a finish known as simply, the toe hold. Weirdly, the move was just as the name suggested. Gotch didn’t make anything special happen, but he made the move look really painful.
Anyone watching him apply it knew the move had to be painful, but in all reality it was probably not as bad as Gotch led it on to being, by the way he resisted in locking it in completely.
The move has been applied a lot over the years since, but only as a minor move. The move if done in real life can probably hurt a good deal, but you have to apply it right. Once you do, fear the pain it can cause. Some MMA fighters have used it before, but it is certainly never the move of choice with the variety of leg, ankle and foot holds we have today.
One thing people should know about Frank Gotch is that he is a massive legend to pro-wrestling. He is the one who made it popular in the United States and without him, we may not see the WWE, WCW, ECW, and TNA companies grow and become global powerhouses.
He was a legit wrestler and back in the early 1900’s and up until the 1980’s, the days when pro-wrestling was seen as real and not in any way scripted or pre-determined. At one point, wrestling was even involved in carnivals to help put over these great athletes. Gotch was seen as one of the top athletes in the world from 1900 to 1911.
Gotch may have the toehold to his credit, but he also helped to create a move known as the ankle lock as well as the belly to back suplex. Look him up, you will see how big of a contribution he made to the business. Sadly, most of his moves have not been added on to. All except the ankle lock, it has never been changed.
The piledriver, known by many to be the most dangerous move in all of professional wrestling. Originally, it was not known as that. Sadly, over the years botches happened with the move and it ended up getting a ban from places like the WWE.
In fact, the only people allowed to do the piledriver after 2000 were people like Kane, Undertaker, and Jerry Lawler who was known as the man who made the move globally popular. The move was said to be invented by Wild Bill Longson. It is a simple move in concept. You pick a man up and have him upside down in your clutches, and then you drive his head into the mat.
The way to avoid injury is simply by falling backward and allowing them to avoid hitting any area other than your thigh. Remember how we spoke of innovating moves? The piledriver was not one that took long to mess with. People eventually decided to not fall backward but rather go straight down. This move led to people getting hurt a lot more.
While people like Jerry Lawler did the move this way, he was good at keeping his opponent from getting hurt in the move, all thanks to the way he held them during it. The move has been messed with a lot, and people like Kane and Undertaker used the tombstone version, which is one the safer ways of using it, but still has it’s dangers.
The move is no longer in use in its original form and barely used at all in the world today. Except for Japan, those crazy people don’t care.
Believe it or not, the dropkick was a finisher for a while in pro-wrestling. While we see it today as just another move, back then the wrestling was way different. There were few ariel moves and you were lucky to get picked up at all.
Usually, mat wrestling was the killer style of the day. When “Jumping Joe” Salvodi came along, he changed the game on what was happening in the world of wrestling when he used the first dropkick in a match. While there is some controversy stating that Abe Coleman was seen via video doing it before Joe did, the move was still a hit among those seeing it.
Joe said the move was inspired by Kangaroos he saw while on a trip in Australia. Joe was a smaller athlete, only at the height of 5’2, so this move helped him stand out in a world of guys much bigger than he was.
Today, we have countless moves of the dropkick family and going over them all would take far too long. Watch Hardcore Holly to see how the dropkick should be done, as he always had the best in the business.
The suplex may be the most common move in all of pro-wrestling. Even those who aren’t fans of the product know what a suplex is because of how massively popular the moves have become to the world of professional wrestling. There are countless variations of the suplex and like the dropkick, going over them all could take days.
The person who truly invented the first suplex is controversial and not truly known. Although Abe Coleman is seen as the father of the move but others say Lou Thesz is the true inventor of the move who is credited with inventing the powerbomb among other moves.
Basically, the idea of the move was simply to pick someone up from their shoulder area and waist and float them above you and then behind you. It was not something that could be seen as complicated, but back when it was first being done, you’d be surprised.
The move was so surprising to see early on that when someone did hit it, it would finish a match. Today, the original suplex like the dropkick does not end a match. There is a variety of variations that have since been applied to the suplex idea that have ended matches. However, the original has probably not beaten anyone since the FDR administration.
The DDT is one of the most popular moves in all of pro-wrestling. WWE Hall of Famer Jake “The Snake” Roberts is the man who invented it.
The move was simple in design, you grab a man and put his head under your arm as you grab his neck around it. You then go to the ground with him in a hold and drive his head into the mat. The move was seen as revolutionary in it’s time and one of the most lethal moves of its day.
Roberts has since come out to say that he is happy the move caught on and has lasted this entire time, but he’s not as happy about it being added on to. He’s right about the many variations. It is one of the few moves that every style of wrestler uses from Lucha Libre to Japanese Strong Style. Although the move will go down as one of the best in history, as it should, Roberts was known as the best to ever do the move.
While there are variations of the DDT that are used to finish matches today, the original no longer does this and will most likely never do it again.
#10 Leg Drop
The Leg Drop, known as the single worst finisher in the history of pro-wrestling. The move was popularized by WWE Hall of Famer Hulk Hogan and one of the most simple moves ever devised.
It is never going to be confused for one of the most technical moves in history, but the move is iconic and most likely will always be because of who it is connected to.
What was so funny about the leg drop in Hogan’s time was that he came popular in the 80’s and 90’s when some of the most iconic moves were invented or used in the same promotions he was in. Here he was as a near 300 pound man dropping his leg on people. The move was done so often it eventually caused tailbone and back troubles for Hogan, as well as his slamming of Andre the Giant. However, that is another story for another article.
No one has used the leg drop as a finisher since Hogan and didn’t even really do it before him very often.
While Hogan is credited with the “Atomic Leg Drop” we know it as today, the leg drop may always go down as a move that only Hogan used. While some have used moves like the superkick over the years and even the Ace Cutter over time, it seems like no one wanted to finish a match with a leg drop. Funny enough, when people saw Hogan wrestle and beat people with it, it was rarely questioned for it’s greatness in beating someone.
Today there are a lot of variations of the move and there were at the time Hogan used it as well. This old school move will never be used again to finish people off, you can count on that. Unless Hogan makes a comeback....which few want to see.