Jamie Lithgow, Brian Damage, Craig Wilson, John Carbery and Amerigo Diehl
In last week’s top five we listed finishing moves that didn’t look painful. This time around we flip it round and focus our attention on the Top Five devastating finishing moves, the sort that often make you wince whilst watching. We’re also pleased to introduce our newest contributor Amerigo Diehl
5. Christian’s Unprettier/Killswitch: Originally Christian’s move, now used by Tyler Breeze. At one point it was called The Impaler, but all of its names are apt. I’ll admit the set-up can, on occasion, look awkward. That said, the person receiving the move falls flat on their face without their hands to break the fall. I’ve never heard of anyone being injured by the Killswitch so it must be safe, but I’m a grown man and can’t quite figure out exactly how. That is the mark of a great move.
4. Spike Piledriver: Done safely a spike piledriver, in reality, is no more or less dangerous than a regular piledriver – which is still pretty dangerous. However, it was mainly used during injury angles so I always perceived it as being the ultimate double team move. It truly is a relic now though. We no longer see piledrivers in WWE, never mind the double team version.
3. Bob Holly’s Alabama Slam: Yes, it’s a flat back bump. However the person receiving the move gets rotated 270 degrees, thus picking up momentum along the way and adding to the whiplash effect upon landing. This move just looked nasty.
2. The Undertaker’s Hell’s Gate: Aka the Gogoplata; a foot choke that can be found in MMA. I have no doubt that The Undertaker’s application of the move is entirely safe, but it is so true to the real version and the selling is always so spot on from his opponents that it looks devastating.
1. Clothesline From Hell/Lariat: Whether from Bradshaw or Stan Hansen, fuck taking this move!
5. The Eliminators’ Total Elimination: The Eliminators from their ECW days had one of the most impactful finishers in all of wrestling at the time. It was basically Saturn doing a leg sweep while Kronus did a spinning heel kick at the same time. In regular speed, it was a tremendous move that wiped out opponent after opponent.
4. Cody Rhodes’ Cross Rhodes/Roll of the Dice: Whether it was Cody Rhodes, Goldust or Reno from WCW doing it…it had the look and feel of a devastating finisher.
3. Paul Orndorff’s Piledriver: What made Orndorff’s piledriver any different from any other wrestler who did them. Ordorff use to pick up his opponent, jump high in the air and drive a wrestlers head and neck into the mat. A very dangerous move all around…that is why the move isn’t as commonplace as it once was..but in my opinion, Mr. Wonderful did it “wonderfully.”
2. Legion of Doom’s Doomsday Device: The Road Warriors were certainly bad asses and their finisher was downright scary. Animal lifts up his opponent on his shoulders, so Hawk can climb the top rope and connect with a flying clothesline as Animal simply flips off the poor wrestler from his shoulders. Where ever the wrestler lands…is anybody’s guess.
1. The Lariat: I am in agreement with Jamie above me…the lariat is by far the most devastating maneuver I have ever witnessed. Many have done it…but only Stan Hansen and to a lesser degree (but not by much) Bradshaw did it with such a violent aggressiveness.
5. The Eliminator’s Total Elimination: This is an absolutely brutal looking tag team move that left opponents crumpled on the mat. A crazy looking finisher that The Ascension – remember when they got to hit finishers? – imitated slightly with their finisher, although it didn’t have the same impact as Kronos and Saturn’s move.
4. Farooq’s Dominator: Apparently people started to refuse to take this move due to the damage it did to their knees. They should be grateful they didn’t have their faces destroyed by it! Even against main roster guys, Farooq made it look like he was taking risks with a jobber when he delivered it.
3. Legion of Doom’s Doomsday Device: Another tag team move, this one the finisher of the legendary Road Warriors, Hawk and Animal. Clotheslining an opponent off your partner’s shoulders sounds brutal enough but factor in the height from which the opponent dropped, it was always going to be dangerous. Just ask Henry Godwinn.
2. Dr Death Steve Williams’ Backdrop Driver: This is almost tough to watch, it’s little wonder he got the nickname Dr. Death with moves that look as absolutely brutal as this.
1. JBL’s Clothesline from Hell: I know, a clothesline is a very common move but as others have suggested already, few would disagree that JBL took it up a notch with his version.
5. Yokozuna’s Banzai Drop: Even if Yokozuna came down light, sometimes he didn’t, I don’t like the idea of having 505 pounds of human being sitting on my chest for up to 30 seconds. I can only imagine the terror going through a poor jobbers mind watching that giant arse plummeting in their direction.
4. Top Rope Brainbuster: When El Generico became Sami Zayn his mask wasn’t the only thing he lost. He was also forced to, sensibly, leave his Top Rope Brainbuster behind him when signing with WWE. Regular brainbusters are dangerous enough and standard top rope superplexes have left those not properly prepared to take them in the morgue. To do a brainbuster off the top rope with your head landing vertically on the turnbuckle? I think if I were wrestling Generico I’d insist on a roll up.
3. Jim Breaks Special: “Limb’s just aren’t supposed to bend that way” and even if they are the Jim Breaks Special still looked incredibly painful. A top wrist lock combined with an arm wringer and a lift at the armpit, no thank you.
2. The Burning Hammer: The Burning Hammer was a move I never thought I’d see performed in a WWE ring, so when Brian Kendrick recently planted Koba Ibushi with one during the Cruiserweight Classic I lost my mind. The set up is similar to a torture rack only you then fall sideways driving your opponents head directly into the canvas. I honestly don’t think there’s a safe way to take this.
1. The Ganzo Bomb: I have to imagine this started as a cover up for a botch. If you haven’t seen a Ganzo Bomb before imagine a wrestler going for a standard power bomb only they lose control of their opponent who ends up hanging vertically as if setting up for a styles clash, instead of correcting though the person giving the move bridges their back slightly and simply drives their opponents skull brutally into the mat. The first one could’ve been a botch but for some reason the Japanese wrestling industry adopted this move. It was only performed on a few occasions, due to its obvious insanity but it is no considered a move nonetheless. It even made it into the Fire Pro Wrestling game series. Again, if I were in the ring with a wrestler who insisted on using a Ganzo Bomb I think I’d just insist he beat me with a sleeper hold instead.
Any good wrestling finisher requires 2 parts: Someone to execute it, and someone to sell it. When these two are combined together properly, the result can make even the most hardcore fan cringe at the end result.
5. HBK’s Sweet Chin Music/Super Kick: Not everyone will agree with this, however what I like about this move as a finisher was NOT the way Shawn Michael’s would often deliver it, where he would telegraph it, then charge out of the corner. No, instead I love the way he would just suddenly deliver it out of the blue.
4. Triple H’s Pedigree: Again, this requires a bit of suspending your disbelief. When executed and sold properly, it offers no protection for your opponents face. The hooking of the arms to prevent any sort of blocking was always to best part. Rendering your opponent’s face completely vulnerable is always a winner in my book.
3. Paul Orndorff Pile Driver: Wow, where do we start with this one. The pile driver was used by many wrestlers, however as it was pointed out, unlike Ray the Crippler Stevens, or Bob Sweetan, Orndorff, added that little jump, to make it look like he was not only trying to drive his opponents head into the mat, but actually through the mat, through the arena floor, and maybe into the first layer of the Earth’s crust.
2. Legion of Doom’s Doomsday Device: Again, with any good finishing move timing and coordination are everything. This move took both, and where you landed, and how you landed was often unpredictable. Good Stuff!!!
1. JBL/Stan Hansen’s Lariat: I have to agree with Brian, Jamie and Craig on the lariat. I tried to stay away from submission holds on this finisher list, because I wanted ones that showed surprise, intensity, and raw aggression. This move holds all three.
You can read all previous Top Five pieces here.