Jamie Lithgow, Brian Damage and Chris Flackett
This latest Top Five is partly inspired by Randy Orton’s RKO on Seth Rollins at Wrestlemania 31 as we look at some of the coolest variations of finishing moves that have taken place ranging from Jimmy Snuka’s splash from the top of a cage through to Orton’s Wrestlemania RKO.
5. RKO on Evan Bourne
Technically this did not occur in a match, but I can’t ignore something this amazing. Bourne’s Air Bourne finisher – his version of a Shooting Star Press – was always cool to see, whether he connected with his opponent or not. However this tops the lot, and technically it’s an RKO, not Air Bourne. Unbelievable timing from these guys.
4. RKO on Seth Rollins
The move from this year’s Wrestlemania that inspired this Top Five. I told myself that I would only include one RKO – because my list could be entirely comprised of that one move – but I just couldn’t. The Air Bourne RKO probably does look more impressive and more shocking, but there seemed to be more elements to this Curb Stomp reversal. The previous RKO was more like two moves happening at once, while this was a clear reversal with both men changing position mid-flow. Plus, it was the finish of a Wrestlemania match. I rest my case.
3. Sweet Chin Music on Shelton Benjamin
Shawn Michaels vs. Shelton Benjamin, on Raw, in a Gold Rush Tournament? Yes please. This is a forgotten classic, surely one of the best matches in Raw history. The finish is outstanding. I’m still not quite sure what Benjamin was going for with his springboard across the ring, but man did he get some distance. Just a shame that HBK’s boot was awaiting him when he landed!
2. Top Rope Crucifix Powerbomb reversal to Top Rope Hurricanrana and Roll Up for the win!
Eddie Guerrero and Rey Mysterio had some world class matches together, but I don’t think anything else they did even came close to their match from Halloween Havoc 1997. I’ve written about this match a few times on this blog, so all I will say is that for me this is professional wrestling at it’s very best. While I have seen tidier top rope Hurricanranas – not much tidier mind you – none will have been delivered as the finish to a match this good. The perfect ending to the perfect match.
1. Jeff Hardy Swanton From The Ladder (Wrestlemania 16)
As with RKO’s, I could have made a list comprised entirely of Jeff Hardy spots from TLC and ladder matches. Controversially I’ve picked this over his spot with Edge spearing him while he dangled above the ring at Wrestlemania 17. Firstly, this was from the original TLC match – although it wasn’t called a TLC match. Secondly, Jeff only had Bubba and one table to land on. By the time these matches were called ‘TLC’ matches tables were stacked on top of each other, so this was Jeff learning his lesson the hard way. Thirdly, he performed this move from the apex of the the ladder with nobody holding it. I wouldn’t stand at the apex of a ladder to clean my gutters, never mind do a flip off it. When compared to other TLC spots this is often overlooked, but for me it is the ultimate spot never to be repeated again.
5. Jimmy Snuka leaps off the cage
Ok, I realize in today’s day in age this spot doesn’t compare to what wrestlers can do off the top rope etc. You need to keep in mind the era in which this was done. In an era where wrestling was more ground and pound….Snuka took it to a whole other level when he climbed to the top of a steel cage and leaped off it onto Don Muraco. It was groundbreaking and mesmerizing at the same time and inspired a whole new crop of wrestlers who were in attendance at Madison Square Garden during that moment including guys like Mick Foley and Mark “Bubba Ray Dudley” LoMonaco. Incidentally, this wasn’t the first time Snuka did the jump off the cage..he also did it to Bob Backlund….but this one in 1983..is the most talked about.
4. Dean Malenko Gutbuster on Rey Mysterio Jr
Back in 1996….at the peak of WCW’s hot streak…the cruiserweights were consistently stealing the show. One move in particular was Dean Malenko versus Rey Mysterio in which Malenko went to the top rope…put Mysterio in a fireman’s carry and then jumped off the top and did a gut buster on Mysterio nearly flawlessly. A true Holy Sh!t moment…
3. Elix Skipper Walks The Cage
This next highlight comes from TNA….A steel cage match where Elix Skipper does a balancing act on top of the cage to perform a hurracanrana on top of the cage. One of the truly breathtaking highlights in TNA history….
2. Edge Spears Jeff Hardy Mid air
Wrestlemania 17 was the place that this spot took place…Jeff Hardy is hanging from the tag titles which are suspended up in the air. Edge then spears Hardy all the way down to the mat. That move in itself helped shorten Edge’s career.
1. Mick Foley’s fall from the Hell in the Cell
I’m sorry…I realize there are probably countless other spots that were more dazzling to witness…but for my money seeing Foley just throw himself off the cage like he did with reckless abandon…to me is still the ultimate highlight.
5. Diesel throws Bret Hart through the Spanish announcer’s table
This might seem quite a passe choice by today’s standards, but there is still lots to recommend it. Sometimes the best spots are the ones that aren’t signposted, that you just don’t see coming. Case in point, Diesel looks like he’s going to flip Hart back into the ring but instead pushes Hart, who hits the wood with such force that you wonder for a moment if he was even aware the spot was going to happen. Bret’s selling is superb, looking like a crumpled mess on the floor. It broke new ground in a bloodless, family friendly WWF at the time. Shame it introduced the Spanish announce table cliche, though…
4. Rey Mysterio reverses splash mountain into a hurracarana at Bash at the Beach 1996.
The first Lucha Libre match I ever saw and it completely changed the way I saw wrestling. There were numerous spots to pick here (the moment early on where Psychosis ends a sequence of excellent reversals with a monster tope to the outside is a highlight), but the finishing sequence where Rey Rey counters a top rope splash mountain attempt with a hurracarana for the win is the draw dropping moment.
3. Taz DDT’s Bam Bam Bigelow into oblivion at ECW Heat Wave 1998.
A justified Joey Styles “OH MY GOD!” moment. They had already both crashed through the ring at Living Dangerously, but this took it slightly further. And they still nanaged to make it look unexpected! Which is a credit to both wrestlers. Bam Bam goes to slam Taz from the ebtrance ramp into the audience but Taz counters with a swinging DDT at the last moment, driving both men through the ramp and into hell. The fact that both men can’t be seen after, as if the earth had swallowed them up, only makes it cooler.
2. Jeff Hardy senton bomb’s D-Von from the exit of MSG, Royal Rumble 2000.
Proving that spot-fest matches don’t have to be aimless wanderings fron daft bump to daft bump, the trio of the Hardys/Dudleys/Edge & Christian managed to make matches like this geniunely exciting and – dare I say it? – a little bit more classy. Certainly, this match was an action packed encounter, and Jeff’s suicidal senton off the top of the exit on to a prone D-Von on a table below was the perfect ending. Could only have been improved if Jeff had hit the senton from off the taxi over the entrance way.
1. The Undertaker topes half the locker room at Ground Zero.
When the likes of a Rey Mysterio or a Jeff Hardy hit some sort of suicidal dive, of course it’s impressive. So when a giant of a man like Taker does so, its doubly impressive. A perfect end to a very heated match. Just when you thought the fight was over and the locker room had managed to seperate the two, Taker flies out of nowhere over the top rope and smashes HBK, and other superstars besides, with a jaw dropping tope. The elevation Taker gets is incredible, and this match, along with the Hell in a Cell classic the month after, definitely went someway to helping to increase the Undertaker legend.
You can read all previous Top Five pieces here.