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Tuesday, April 30, 2013

50 Greatest Finishing Moves: 40-31

Missed the rest?  Catch up before reading the rest:

40. Booker T's Harlem Hangover


If you only know Booker T from his post-WCW days, then the above video is probably the only time you've ever seen him use the Harlem Hangover.  At one point in Booker's early career this was his main finisher but a mix of a age and the watered down nature that main eventers bring in terms of risk taking relegated this move to the shelf from about 2000 until he retired.  The incredible thing about the move to me is the risk involved for the person taking the move.  Booker T wrestled his entire career north of the 250 pound mark, and while graceful for his size, 250 pounds is a lot to trust will land where it needs to after a flip off the top rope without legitimately getting your head crushed.  Just ask HHH, I think there is a good reason the above clip is the only time he ever busted it out in the WWE.

 39. Matt Morgan's Hellevator


The Hellevator is another example of a move that impresses due to the size of the opponent.  Any time a seven footer uses a move that involves momentum rather than pure strength, it is fun to watch.  The first time I saw this move I figured this was going to be some boring variation on a vertical suplex.  Then Morgan swung the opponent the other way and added so much extra impact compared to usual variation of just falling backwards.  Sadly, Morgan has since abandoned this move in favor of one of my generic ineligible moves, a big boot with a cute nickname.

38. Bryan Danielson's Cattle Mutilation  

When I first saw Danielson use this move, I certainly thought it was rather unique, but it wasn't until I tried using it on my younger brother that I realized how impressive it was.  I put on the ground chest down, hooked both arms, and then flipped over and heard the screams.  The reason wasn't necessarily the pain of the hold you see above, but rather it was a testament that you need to be a better athlete than myself to attempt this.  After flipping over I landed flat on my ass, with my brothers arms still hooked and stretched then considerably further than a human arm is meant to go.  While the move is visually impressive, it is also great because it is rare that a move used on the mat requires a feat of athleticism that is usually only seen leaving the top turnbuckle. 

The first, and arguably still the best, devastating tag team maneuver.  While I don't have it ranked highest among tag moves, I wouldn't fight with anyone who did.  The concept is so simple, hold an opponent on the shoulders and wait for your partner to come flying of the ropes to knock him cold.  For the era it was in, it was perhaps the most feared move there was.  

 36. Triple H's Pedigree

Everyone knows this move.  Usually, the big main eventers have reasonably generic finishing moves, HHH though created one of the greatest moves ever.  I remember when first group of friends starting wrestling on my trampoline, we were trying out all of our favorite moves on everyone.  Stunners, chokeslams, rock bottoms, all the big moves and we were all happy to let the others try them out on us in return.  The one move no one wanted to participate in was the pedigree.  It doesn't matter what the landing surface you have, landing on your chest is uncomfortable.  The only reason that this isn't higher is because someone has taken it and one-upped since HHH created the move.  You'll be seeing the improved version later in the list.  

35. Rey Mysterio's West Coast Pop


Rey Mysterio is one of the greatest innovators in the history of my beloved choice of white trash entertainment.  While Mysterio has moved away from this move due to a combination of knee surgeries and the popularity of the 619, for my money the West Coast Pop is the greatest move that has ever graced his arsenal.  It shows amazing agility and technique but still managing to make you cringe a bit with the impact on the opponents head at the end.

 34. The Maximo's Spanish Fly


If you aren't a die hard fan, you've likely never seen the Spanish Fly.  It was used by the Maximo brothers, a team that never found big success, never reaching any higher on the pro wrestling ladder than Ring of Honor (and their stay there was relatively short).  I have never understood their lack of success as they brothers could really wrestle and their finish was absolutely beautiful to behold.  The only move you'll see that manages to get three people leaving the top turnbuckle at the same time.

Everyone knows this move and while it has often been repeated, no one else has ever used it effectively as a finisher.  The thing about the elbow drop is that if you don't use it perfectly, it looks painfully fake.  CM Punk has recently started using the elbow to pay tribute to the late, great Savage, but his just pales in comparison to the original.  The top rope elbow drop is often used so that the wrestler clearly is pulling the elbow up at the last moment to avoid really driving it into the opponent.  With Savage, never.  The point of the elbow is driven deep and hard, sometimes to the chest, and occasionally in the middle of a poor schmucks face.

 32. El Generico's Turnbuckle Brainbuster

While a brainbuster is a move that drastically overused on the independent scene, El Generico has found a way to make a common move stand out from all the other.  A brainbuster is a scary move in it's own right, picking an opponent up and just dropping them flat on top of their head is a move that always carries a lot of risk.  Generico makes a habit of propping his opponent on the top rope and then using the move on the turnbuckle itself, and the landing is generally unpredictable.  

 31. 2 Cold Scorpio's 450 Splash

When Scorpio first started wrestling in the early nineties, the top rope had firmly established itself as starting spot for several maneuvers.  Scorpio was the first, to my knowledge, that actually started using the ropes to do something truly incredible, when most were using it as way to just add momentum to a standard maneuver like a splash or elbow drop.  Scorpio used the extra height to add some twists no one could ever pull off from the mat itself, spinning 450 degrees before using that momentum to flatten his opponent into the canvas. This has been used a lot since but like many top rope moves, most high flying wrestlers just use it as another move, and not as signature finisher like Scorpio did.  

Sunday, April 28, 2013

50 Greatest Finishing Moves 50-41

I just finished watching the Top 50 finishers in WWE history DVD.  I understand that when you are a multi-million dollar entertainment company, you don't just make lists like that for fun, you are doing it to make money.  That means you get your biggest names in no matter what.  That is all fine and well but after watching a list that has Hulk Hogan's horrible leg drop in the top ten, I felt obligated to put together a list that doesn't need to throw in any shitty finisher, just because it was used by a big name.  

For those of you reading that are not pro wrestling fans, I should elaborate on what I mean by finishing move.  A finishing move is a move that a wrestler regularly uses to win or "finish" a match.  Some wrestlers have multiple recognized finishing moves and will have multiple entries on this list.  

There will be a few changes in the qualifications from my list and the WWE DVD, in that I am not sticking to WWE finishers.  Big time wrestling fans likely know that WWE is the most watered down wrestling company out there and some of the more impressive moves will come from other organizations. 
Secondly, I will not put in any move that is used by several wrestlers with slight variations, so you will not see any variations of DDT's, neckbreakers, or frog splash's.  That is not to say these are not good moves, rather that they are so common, picking one variation really just becomes about which wrestler using the move do you prefer.  I'm biased but I try to limit it.
Finally, I could care less whether the move won a world title or if it was used by a jobber that rarely won a match at all.  The list is not about the wrestler as a whole or careers, just the moves.

With my disclaimers out of the way, let's dive on into the list.  

Just missing the cut: William Regal's Regal Stretch, Dean Malenko's Texas Cloverleaf, Davey Richards' Butterfly Brainbuster, and Evan Bourne's Air Bourne.

50. Austin Aries' Last Chancery (Horns of Aries)

Look we all know by now that wrestling is fake.  The greatness of a move is more than just the danger or pain factor, it is also about the presentation.  The last chancery is not only a painful hold but the presentation is great.  When held in the move, a wrestler is held in a position with their face elevated from the mat just perfectly so the camera and catch every bit of pain etched in the man's face.  Great presentation means a great move.  

49. Diamond Dallas Page's Diamond Cutter

Modern wrestling fans will recognize the above move as the RKO that Randy Orton has made famous, and with good reason, it's the same damn move.  However, the RKO is not on my list.  The move itself is one of those moves that is great because it can come from anywhere and shock the crowd.  The reason I included it over the RKO is the realism that Diamond Dallas Page adds to his variation.  Orton tends to lazily hook the opponent's head with a single arm to drop them to the canvas, however DDP uses both arms to really add a level of inescapability to the hold.  

Also, I hate Orton and it's my list.

 48. Victoria's Widow's Peak

The widow's peak is the only move by a female competitor on my list.  While there have been many talented female competitors over the years, there has never been a power move that was more impressively used by a female competitor, as they tended to be more "finesse" than anything.  Then Victoria showed up in 2002 and started delivering the widow's peak.  The move is as devastating as any used by the men, dropping the opponents neck against her own shoulder in a position that does not allow the opponent to use their arms to protect themselves.  There has never been a female that presented a move as brutal before or since. 

47. Steve Williams' Backdrop Driver

I don't know that this one needs much detail.  
Lift a bitch, drop on head, 1. 2. 3.

46. Chris Benoit's Crippler Crossface

If you have started watching wrestling after 2007, you've probably never heard of Chris Benoit.  Benoit has been more or less written out of wrestling history due to the way his life ended tragically, along with his wife and child.  However, I'm a believer that one action should not make irrelevant a lifetime of work.  For 20 years, Benoit was arguably the most talented wrestler in the world, and the Crossface was his finisher of choice.  Most wrestling fans can likely vouch for the pain of the hold as it is simple enough to use that fellow wrestling fans tend to lock it in on each other.  The concept is simple.  Trap an arm, grab the face, and wrench the neck until the opponent gives up, and it usually worked.  

45. Kevin Steen's Package Piledriver

The piledriver is the original devastating move to be used in a wrestling ring.  Since the first use of the piledriver, many variations have been used, but few have rivaled the one Steen uses.  Most piledrivers focus on simply lifting an opponent and dropping them on their head.  Steen goes a step further in trapping their appendages before the move to ensure nothing can be done to lessen the impact.  

44. Abyss' Black Hole Slam

Most of the moves on my list are impressive because you watch it and say "I wouldn't let someone use that on me." Many focus on the neck or head and just look dangerous.  The black hole slam is much more basic.  The impressive thing about it is the speed at which it is delivered.  It is rare that a 350 pound wrestler uses a move that is impressive because of the finesse involved but that is what this is.  Catch the running opponent, quickly twist around like a madman, and drive to the canvas (preferably with thumbtacks waiting).

43. Test's Test Drive

Just like the black hole slam, this is a move that is impressive because of the size of the opponent using it.  The move has been used by many over the past few years, Cody Rhodes and Christopher Daniels to name a few, but none have made it seem as impressive.  

42. Vader's Vader Bomb

The Vader bomb is not impressive because of the move itself.  Rey Mysterio could use the move and I could kick out. It's the size of the man using it that makes it so iconic.  It is simple, effective, and honestly terrifying if you are the man being hit.  Just picture yourself flat on your back watching a 450 pound man drop on you from the second rope.  The move can really be summarized in one word.

41. AJ Styles' Styles Clash

The Styles Clash is unique in that there are very few moves that end with an opponent being dropped onto their chest.  The Styles Clash is great in that the set-up for the move including a believable trapping of the arms to negate an opponents counter, a high impact landing, and smooth, easy transition into the pin.  A complex move that has kept AJ Styles at the top of TNA wrestling for a decade now.  

Stay tuned for 40-31 tomorrow.