Few things better in wrestling than the finisher. It often at times can have a stake in how popular the person becomes, and on rare occasions become just as popular as the person doing it. So, for this episode of the Super Terrific Happy Hour I thought we’d take a look at the best and the worst of the business. I’m always up for hearing from the fans, so shoot me an email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or a message on Facebook with your list and you’ll see your name in the bright-lights of my next column.
First up, the best:
# 5 – Mankind – The Mandible Claw/Socko
As I stated earlier, a move can become just as big as the wrestler, and that was the case here with Mr. Socko. When Mankind started out he was dark and disturbing. Mick wanted a different finisher other than the double arm DDT and flying elbow he’d been using as Cactus, and found inspiration in an odd place. In the 60′s, the man the movie & TV show, The Fugitive was based on, actually became a wrestler. Since he was a Dr, he knew quite a bit about human anatomy, and thus learned of a nerve in the mouth, under the tongue. When pressure is applied, it’s paralyzing. Perfect, Mick felt.
I was 11 when Mankind debuted the night after WM 12, and he scared the hell out of me. The scariest part was when I saw him jam his fingers into Holly’s throat, causing him to spit up a white foam.
Of course, as time went on and Mankind became a lighter-character, the Mandible Claw turned into Mr. Socko, thanks to Al Snow and a memorable segment on Monday Night Raw. Since then, the move has become just as big as Mick, and an indelible part of pro-wrestling during that era.
# 4 – Kevin Nash, Psycho Sid, Scott Norton – The Powerbomb
Landing on your back sucks. That’s a given. Landing on your back from about 7 feet in the air while being forced down, is devastating. As a kid, there was nothing more awesome to me than a powerbomb. I thought that every time someone was powerbombed, they risked being killed. What happens when the unstoppable forces meets an unmovable object? It turns into a powerbomb.
Although a lot of people execute the powerbomb, and some use it as their finisher, I always enjoyed Kevin Nash’s the most. Sure, he didn’t slam you down like Scott Norton, or boost you a little higher like The Undertaker, but Kevin Nash just knew his shit was deadly. When he’d have you doubled over, he’d get a look on his face like “last chance” and once he threw you down, he’d just back off with a look on his face like he knew nobody was kicking out now.
As time went on, variations came. From the sit down powerbomb, double team powerbomb, from the top rope, through a table, but still none of them can match the original. Nash didn’t win the world title in less than 20 seconds by kissing Bob Backlund, and I didn’t break my parent’s sofa by not powerbombing my little brother on it.
# 3 – Shawn Michaels – Sweet Chin Music
When Shawn went solo in the early 90′s, this was the very move that separated the bond that was The Rockers. During the Beefcake’s Barber Shop talk show, he had The Rockers on to show that everything was gravy. Shawn’s right leg disagreed as it let Marty Janetty’s face borrow a cup of sugar. And by sugar, I mean pain.
For some odd reason, it took Shawn a while to actually use it as a finisher. He was using a stupid suplex for a while, but once he realized what the real deal was all about, shit really started cooking.
Something that’s important in a finisher is the ability to either build it up, or snap it out in a heartbeat. The Superkick is that ideal maneuver. He can wind it up clear across the ring, the crowd counting each stomp, or he can place it on your while standing within 1 foot of you. Doesn’t matter the height of the opponent, Shawn’s foot will find your face, and kick that shit so hard it’ll blow up your apartment. And that doesn’t even make sense.
# 2 – The Undertaker – Tombstone Piledriver
Without a doubt, kayfabe or not, there never has, and never will be a more devastating move than The Tombstone Piledriver.
Only a very, very select few in The Undertaker’s 20+ year run have ever kicked out of the Tombstone, for the simple fact that there’s just no beating it. When someone get’s hit with a finisher, there’s a little bit of hope, a little bit of belief that perhaps the person could kick out, not with The Tombstone. When ‘Taker drops you on your head, that’s it.
It’s also a move he can slap on you at any time. Going from the outside of the ring in, off the apron, catching someone in the air. Bottom line is, you are not safe, no matter what. The odds are not in your favor, and it’s a pretty safe bet you’re going to get dropped on your fucking skull.
So with all that backing, what could possibly top it?
#1 – Diamond Dallas Page – The Diamond Cutter
There is probably no movement on Earth I’ve done more, than that of The Diamond Cutter. I’m talking, more times than I’ve sat down and sat up, or waved. Back in ’97 and ’98 I would rock the Diamond Cutter on anyone I could get my hands on. My little brother, friends at school, nobody was safe.
Just like anyone facing DDP. The Diamond Cutter is the most perfect finisher in history. Height, weight, it’s all a moot point when it comes to The Cutter. DDP can snap it on you no matter what you’re built like. No matter where you are, or what you’re doing. The ways he can vairate the Diamond Cutter started to be the highlight of his matches. How’s he going to do it this time? The pop it would draw from the crowd was always enormous. So, it’s no surprise that when Stone Cold started using a variation of it that became just as popular, and just as cool. Randy Orton does the Diamond Cutter exactly, except he lacks creativity in it’s execution. Although he does get a great leap. And I suppose lately he’s been pretty DDP-esq in pulling it out of no where. However, his version requires one to REALLY suspend their disbelief, because when someone grabs my head, I don’t suddenly feel the need to leap in the air.
Also, I’d like to say I include The Stunner and The RKO along with The Diamond Cutter, as they’re all in the same family.
And now the worst finishers…
This list was actually a lot harder to do than it’s predecessor, as there were so damn many shitty finishers for me to pick from, I could have made a Top 20 list. Now for this list, there’s a bit of a criteria. I mean, obviously Khali’s stupid chop is probably the worst finisher ever, but I don’t even classify it. The finisher has to have some sort of set up, and not just be some lame basic move like that.
Samoa Joe’s Muscle Buster. He got the idea from those tiny pink wrestling figures, so how cool could this move be, really? For how long the set up is, the pay-off is not even close to worth it.
RVD’s Van Daminator. I actually love the move, but man, it’s really dumb. The first couple times, it’s believable. But anyone who’d seen an RVD match, and went to fight him would know “don’t catch the chair and hold it to my face”. I think that’d be pretty easy to remember.
5. Triple H’s Current Pedigree
If you ever use to do video searches on WinMX, Kazza, LimeWire, or even youtube in its early days, you’d sometimes see a video titled “Triple H kills someone in the ring”. You knew it wasn’t true, so you’d watch it to see just what the hell was going on. It was simply Triple H when he started in WWE, beating a jobber on Superstars. He used the Pedigree, and it was vicious. He executed it so hard that while in mid-air, the guys back was flush against Triple H’s chest. It was a serious finisher. No one ever kicked out of the Pedigree.
But now? Please. For the last 4 years or so, I feel like the Pedigree should be called Birthday Card from Grandma. Because it’s seriously that scary. Triple H doesn’t hold the person’s arms anymore, and the person always puts their knee down, or their arms down. The move is nothing more than bending over and throwing yourself to the ground. It’s really stupid, and become so lame and sloppy that it’s turned into one of those detriments towards pro-wrestling, since it clearly exposes it. Because there’s no way in hell that ANYONE could be hurt with it. I’m sure the reason they started doing it this way was because the original probably hurt, well, get over it. It’s wrestling.
4. AJ Styles’ Styles Clash
Are you kidding me with this? When you were a kid, did you ever try to do a handstand? Yeah, me too. OK, and when you couldn’t do it, you either fell forward, or fell backward. If you fell forward, would it have hurt enough to keep you down for a 3 count? No, I didn’t think so. That’s exactly what the Styles Clash is. Trying to do a handstand, but falling forward. You could argue AJ’s extra weight is on you, but it’s just his legs. All the real weight falls on your lower half, and last I checked no is trying to pin my calves to the ring.
Now earlier, we talked about a finisher’s need to be simple, and able to pop off at any moment. With the Styles Clash, it’s so complicated, and takes so long, that the first time I saw it I confused it with a mathematical theory for time travel. I can understand the need to be original, which AJ really is most of the time, but you don’t have to be ridiculous too.
3. Scott Steiner’s Frankensteiner
It really seemed like back in the day if someone came up with a flashy move then it was immediately dubbed devastating. Thus the problem with the Frankensteiner. When Scott executed it, the announcers treated it as if Scott pulled a gun and shot his opponent in the cock. But in reality, it’s a freaking front flip. And it’s incredibly hard to set up. The way a finisher is great is that you’re able to pop it off at any time, execute it on a guy of any size, and it looks like it actually hurts. The Frankensteiner has about as much impact as a body slam, and has about as many set up points as putting an engine together. He’s gotta pick the guy up, put him on the ropes, he’s gotta climb the turnbuckle, and then jump up and wrap his legs around a guy. WHO THE HELL IS GONNA SIT THERE AND LET THAT HAPPEN? It’s another one of those moves that exposes the business. Plus, a finisher shouldn’t have far more risk than reward. All a guy has to do is hold on to the ropes and you’re gonna break your neck. If you’re an opponent of Scott Steiner, and you can’t see the Frankensteiner coming a mile away, then you should quit the business.
2. John Morrison’s Starship Pain
Are you freaking KIDDING ME? This move is about as dangerous as heavy petting. How did the conversation go when he was talking to Lanza, or Patterson?
Patterson: Hows your finishers? Is the crowd gonna go banana?
Morrison: Yeah, I do the splits on the ropes, and flip a bunch, and my hair hits the guy.
Patterson: Your hair?
Morrison: Yeah, but I don’t condition or shampoo often, so it’s heavy with natural oils.
Rob Van Dam use to do this but without all the useless flash. While at WCW he was told to use a move that had more impact. And this was from the inept heads at WCW, in the early 90s, when they never did anything heavy. So, how on Earth could John think this was plausible during the modern-day? The most I’ve seen him hit someone was when I think his head hit a guy’s abs.
1.Umaga and The Excecutioner’s Thumb Spike
Really? I’m suppose to believe that being poked in the neck is going to knock me out? Not to mention that with the speed and velocity that Umaga used, and with the fact it’s taped up, he’d puncture your fucking neck. I mean, he might as well have used the Three Stooges eye poke or something.
Would you tremble if someone told you that you’re going up against a guy who’s gonna poke you in the neck? I’d think to myself “with what? His dick? Because, yeah, that’d be scary…”. But a thumb? Was there ever an original thought about tickling someone as a set up? Or perhaps stomping on someone’s toe? Was the thought of giving a person a noogie, or holding them down and spitting, then sucking it back up before it hit your face, ever brought up too?
When I saw The Executioner use the move, I couldn’t believe how stupid it was, and I was 12. 12-year-olds love EVERYTHING. I couldn’t believe that they had Umaga use it. Here’s a guy who’s over 300lbs, a beast, and his finisher is tying your shoelaces together. Not a splash. Or a sit down powerbomb. Or something to capitalize on his strength. Nope. He lights a bag of poop on fire and rings your door.
What are your favorite and least-favorite finishers of all-time? Share your thoughts on our Facebook page.