"The Top 50 Finishing Moves in WWE history" Review – Part 1

It’s been a while since I’ve written anything, so needless to say, I’ve been getting the itch. I’m still far too busy finishing up my last semester of grad school to write consistent RAW reviews, but hopefully this will suffice for the time being. A couple things upfront, I will only be reviewing disc one. Discs two and three are filled with old matches from the likes of Sergeant Slaughter, Bob Backlund and the Wolfpac. I skimmed through that content, even finding an RVD vs Too Cold Scorpio match that I’ve never seen before (and really was not worth watching), but this review will primarily be focused on the 50 best finishers discussed on disc one.

One more thing, I will be listing the finishers in reverse order here and briefly discussing what merits their placement on the list. If you want to be surprised at what is included, stop reading now.

Spoiler Alert: John Cena’s “Attitude Adjustment” makes an appearance. Thankfully this glorified fireman’s carry was not in the top 10. Here we go.

50. JBL’s “Clothesline from Hell” 

A strong start. In my opinion, this may be the most devastating maneuver on the entire list. There’s ways to prepare for a top rope splash or a submission move, but there is no avoiding getting absolutely destroyed by the “Clothesline from Hell.” Listed at number 50, this may be the one finishing move on the entire list that I would least want to take. I mean, it would be an honor to get Stone Cold stunned and sell it like The Rock. Taking Hulk Hogan’s immortal leg drop would be a crowning achievement in my life. However, I would never in a million years volunteer to take JBL’s Clothesline from Hell. Bradshaw already had a reputation for being stiff in the ring, and this finisher did nothing to dissuade that way of thinking. JBL took a routine clothesline every wrestler performed and turned it into one of the most fearsome moves in wrestling history. 
49. Vader “Vader Bomb”

“The Vader Bomb was a pretty unique move because it showed the athleticism of a 400 lb guy” -Jim Ross
I could not agree with JR more. Even though he’s only dropping from the 2nd rope, it’s 400 lbs directly on your chest. I would imagine breathing properly after that one would be a challenge. Unfortunately for me, Vader was at the very beginning of my wrestling watching career. I recognize him more as Frankie’s dad on “Boy Meets World” than as the agile big man for the WWF and WCW. I loved seeing him come out and destroy Heath Slater during his last appearance on television.

As big and tough as Vader was, my money is on Mr. Feeny. His Vader Bomb was a cool move, made even more impressive by Vader’s size.

48. Dusty Rhodes “Bionic Elbow”

Dusty Rhodes is well before my time. The only time I’ve seen the American Dream on screen was well after his in-ring days were over. My only real memory of Dusty was during his brief time in ECW when he feuded with Steve Corino. Rhodes had that ravenous audience’s respect, so I knew he must have been a big deal back in his day. He certainly did not look like the prototypical wrestler, with his physique definitely left something to be desired. As for the finisher itself, not my favorite, but it certainly deserves a place on the top 50. It could look good if sold correctly, and it may have inspired Wade Barrett’s new elbow finish. Properly placed near the bottom of the list.
47. Million Dollar Man “The Million Dollar Dream”

 “The Million Dollar Man, I think about the Million Dollar Dream, I had it put on me. I don’t like it at all. It’s painful and it hurts.” – Dusty Rhodes

Our first submission finish on the list. A variation on the sleeper hold that really did look like it would put you to sleep if applied for long enough. Possibly the signature move of the 80’s. To add insult to injury, Ted DiBiase would stuff a $100 bill in his opponents mouth as they laid unconscious.

Being honest, I need a job. Sign me up to wrestle The Million Dollar Man seven days a week. Ted DiBiase brings the quote “getting paid while you sleep” to a whole new level. This was a great submission move and a great finisher. 

“If you can’t breathe you can’t compete and “The Million Dollar Dream” will take your breath away” – JR
46. Kerry Von Erich “Iron Claw” 

I am aware of the Von Erichs. I know they wrestled in the Texas Sportatorium and inspired Stone Cold to become a professional wrestler. I know they were good: that is the extent of my Kerry Von Erich knowledge. Nostalgia not being a factor, I am not a fan of this finisher. There was nothing visually stimulating about watching a man put his hand on someones entire face, and this move was thus probably only included so the WWE could show off their vast archives of wrestling content.

Kerry Von Erich may have been the originator, but no one executed the Claw better than Jim Carrey. “No one can stop the Claw!”  Hell, I’m more scared of The Claw from Toy Story. Recently we saw Japanese Albert applying this complete face lock, but seriously, out of every finishing move, I’m pretty sure this one is the most avoidable and the most reverse-able. This finisher could have been omitted from the list and I would have had no qualms.

RIP Kerry Von Erich

45. Rick Rude “Rude Awakening” 

“He hit a neckbreaker better than anybody has hit a neckbreaker in the history of wrestling.” – Wade Barrett

First things first, all of Rick Rude’s tights were absolutely amazing. How arrogant does someone have to be, to have their entire face embroidered over the pelvic area on their tights? And bonus points need to be awarded due to the fact that Rude would mock his opponent while he was delivering his finisher. Ravishing indeed. This finisher needed to be on the list and it was included in a deserving spot. Any man who appeared on Monday Night RAW and Monday Night Nitro simultaneously deserves a spot on this list.

RIP Rick Rude

44. Lex Luger “Torture Rack”

I think it is safe to say that “The Total Package” Lex Luger probably wouldn’t have passed a wellness test. The coolest part about this finisher was that you would think Lex would be limited with who he applied it on, but he was so strong, it didn’t matter how big his opponents were. It was pretty hilarious to see “Real American” Hulk Hogan and NWO Hogan both tap out to the torture rack in the clips, a signature finisher in the 90’s. I love it and completely agree with its inclusion. 
RIP Lex Lu….what? He’s still alive? Seriously?
43. Dudley Boyz “3-D”

The Dudley Death Drop: our first tag team finishing move so devastating that it broke Beulah McGillicutty’s neck and ended her career (kayfabe). This is definitely my favorite tag team finisher and probably in my top 10 finishers of all time. Did the fact that both wrestlers left the company in favor of another promotion affect the ranking here? We’ll never know. In my opinion this move should have been higher on the list, but I’m just glad TNA wrestlers weren’t snubbed.

There was a subtle difference in how the Dudley Boyz performed the move during their time in ECW and in WWE. In ECW Bubba Ray would pull down on the neck when the wrestler was at their apex. In WWE Bubba Ray kinda just caught the wrestler with his version of the Diamond Cutter on his way down to the ground. I would imagine a lot of wrestlers actually did get hurt in ECW, hence the small change.

Side note: no one took a 3D as well as Spike Dudley. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe the Dudleys are the only tag team to hold the ECW, WCW and WWE tag titles. A big part of the reason why was the Dudley Death Drop. 

42. Bam Bam Bigelow “Moonsault” 
In the same vain as Vader, Bam Bam was a very agile big man. “The Beast From the East” seemed to always land perfectly on his opponents chest. Highly impressive finisher. My memories of Bam Bam are mostly of his time spent in ECW. I remember his epic match against Bret Hart at the King of the Ring, but for me he gained his notoriety as part of the “Triple Threat” in ECW. This version of the Triple Threat included “The Franchise” Shane Douglas, Bam Bam and Chris Candido. So two dead wrestlers and one dead career. (Editor’s note: Wow man, that was cold, even for me)

One of the most graceful moonsaults I’ve ever seen. No joke.

Side note: Bam Bam is actually an ancillary character during my favorite “Beast from the East” moments. When I think about Bam Bam, I immediately recall him and Taz going through the ring and the ring ramp as well as RVD vaulting himself two times into the crowd onto Bigelow. The man could take it as well as he dished it out.

RIP Bam Bam Bigelow

41. Diamond Dallas Page “Diamond Cutter” 

“Greatest finish on the planet, Diamond Cutter.” – Diamond Dallas Page

My number 1 gripe with the list is right here. DDP, the originator of the Diamond Cutter gets placed at number 42, while Randy Orton’s poor man’s RKO gets preferential treatment. Ummm, bullshit. The set up was better, everyone and their mother did the hand sign (even causing DDP to sue Jay-Z) and the Diamond Cutter just looked better than the RKO. After all, it is common knowledge that Randy Orton called up DDP and asked for his permission to start using the RKO. The original > the copy. (Ignoring Laurinaitis’ Ace Crusher)

This finisher should have been much higher. It deserves to be right up there with the Stunner for the most recognizable finishing moves of the late 90’s. Self high-five. 

40. Mankind “Mandible Claw/Socko”

“It’s ironic that Mr. Socko became this lovable character when Mankind’s mandible claw was so feared and so dreaded.” – JR

I crapped on Kerry Von Erich’s face claw and I consistently shit on Santino’s “Cobra strike” (with good reason) so I’m gonna stay somewhat consistent. Where the mandible claw differs is that it actually is a paralyzing move. Mr. Socko may be a joke, but the Mandible Claw is capable of inflicting some serious damage. If you don’t believe me, just stick two fingers under your tongue and apply pressure under your chin at the same time. Not very comfortable.

So to recap:

Mr. Socko = Child’s play toy

Mandible Claw = painful submission
39. Honky Tonk Man “Shake Rattle & Roll” 

This glorified swinging neckbreaker is less than impressive. On a side note, I have no idea how Jerry Lawler’s cousin had a job for so long, let alone how he held the Intercontinental title for 454 days. Not a fan of this finisher making the list when there were a couple other more deserving moves.

38. Yokozuna “Bonzai Drop”

“Yokozuna’s Bonzai Drop literally scared me as a kid. It frightened me.” – Daniel Bryan

I like the move and I enjoy the laziness of Yokozuna just sitting on his opponents’ chest for the pin. Similar to the Vader Bomb, what is most impressive about this move is the athleticism displayed by such an enormous athlete. It would be hard enough kicking out of Yokozuna just sitting on your chest, but combining that with the man jumping on you from the second rope is just unfair.

RIP Yokozuna

37. 2 Cold Scorpio “450 Splash”

“A lot of people have used the 450 splash, but no one used it any better than 2 Cold Scorpio.” – Jim Ross

Pretty cool to see 2 Cold Scorpio get some love on the list. His 450 splash definitely warrants a place. You also have to remember that while high flying moves may be the norm now, seeing Flash Funk perform the 450 splash was something a lot of people had never seen before in the mid 90’s. Before Eric Bischoff stole ECW’s cruiserweights, the vast majority of wrestling fans had never seen high flying action like this before. Scorpio performed this move way better than Evan Bourne could ever dream. And without the pot addiction.

36. Sting “Scorpion Lock”

Correct me if I’m wrong, but Sting has never been in the WWE. I believe the title to this DVD is called “The Top 50 Finishing Moves in WWE History.” I don’t know if this was an oversight or if they just wanted to create some good will with Steve Borden, but Sting was never in the WWE. I think Vince just wants Sting to sign a WWE Legends contract after he’s done fooling around in TNA. But, the fact is, the title of the DVD clearly indicates that this is a WWE finishers list.

In regards to the move, I’ve seen it before. I liked it better when it was called the “Sharpshooter”.

I’m just playing around. I like Sting and I’m glad a little technicality like never working for the WWE didn’t keep him off the list.

35. Lita “Lita-sault”

My favorite thing about Lita’s moonsault was that she took her top off before she did it.” – Drew McIntyre

That makes two of us Drew. I first saw Amy Dumas as Miss Congeniality in ECW. She’s come a long way since being the valet to Danny Doring and Roadkill, The Angry Amish Chicken Plucker.  In all seriousness, that may have been my favorite gimmick of all time.

When she first came to the WWE she was paired up with Essa Rios and made her valet. However, Lita quickly over shadowed Mr. Aguila as her high flying talents were on full display. I’m glad Lita got a spot on this list. Her finisher was far from original, but no body looked better doing it. The Divas division hasn’t been the same since Lita, Trish Stratus and even Mickie James left.

34. Kevin Nash “Jack-knife powerbomb”

I just tore my quad writing that last title. Anyone who can powerbomb the Giant deserves a spot on this list. His Jack-knife was a variation of the powerbomb and as he showed, Nash could hit it on anybody in the business (except for that time he dropped the Big Show on his head). So, I won’t hold it against Nash that he was largely responsible for the downfall of WCW.

33. Jerry Lawler “Piledriver”

“I can tell you this, no one ever executed the piledriver like Jerry Lawler” – Jim Ross

Get well Jerry. Then stay far, far away from the ring or any commentary booth. As for the finisher, I LOVED  Lawler’s piledriver. One of my favorite piledriver moments was when Jerry Lawler faced Taz in a strap match. This was back when Taz was still the “Human Suplex Machine” and not the pudgy announcer. Lawler nailed Taz with 3 straight piledrivers. Taz no sold the first two, but then collapsed after the third one. The montage of top guys that Lawler hit with the piledriver was amazing. Jake the Snake, Bret Hart, Shawn Michaels and many others have fallen victim. Great finisher, great placement. It is no surprise the move is banned today.

32. RVD “Five-Star Frog Splash” 

“A lot of people have used the frog splash over the years. Every one else that used it is a four star frog splash, when RVD did it, it became a five star frog splash.” – CM Punk

It warms the cockles of my heart to hear CM Punk pay tribute to the original “Paul Heyman” guy. I am an unabashed RVD fan so there is absolutely no way I can be unbiased about this. The Five-Star Frog Splash is a top ten finisher of all time. It’s better than Eddie Guererro’s and it makes Christian and Chavo’s version look like a live abortion.

Nobody was more over with the crowd in 2001 and 2002 than RVD and yes, I’m including Stone Cold and the Rock. But because Vince McMahon didn’t create RVD, he was always held back. I could write a whole column on this topic and one day in the future when I have more time, I probably will.

Anyway, love the finishing move, disagree with the placement. My disagreement will turn into an audible groan later on in the column.

Mr. Monday Night. Mr. PPV. The Whole F’n Show. One of a kind.

31. Big Show “Chokeslam” 

What’s this? The Big Show’s “harder than an normal” punch finisher didn’t make the list? I’m sorry, I don’t like the Big Show’s chokeslam. I much prefer the Undertaker or Kane’s version. I’m not going to talk too much about this move. We’ve all seen the move done by numerous people, hell even The Hurricane used it. Also, I could watch “Sugar” Shane Helms chokeslam HHH on a loop until the day I die.

30. CM Punk “GTS”

“I’m not envious of many things in the world, but I wish I would have come up with that maneuver  That is a perfect way to finish off an opponent.” – William Regal

Major props given here by Lord Steven. The GTS is such a William Regal type move I’m not sure how he never came up with it. Anyway, love the GTS. If sold properly it can look like a million bucks. There’s moves that look cool but should never be able to pin an opponent and then there’s moves that look like the guy should never get up. The GTS is both.

29. Brock Lesnar “F-5”

Probably the most explosive finish of all time.” – Alex Riley

Now we are starting to get down to the cream of the crop finishers. There is no way more than five finishing moves should be higher on the list than the F-5. Considering the degree or difficulty and the fact that Lesnar has hit this move on the Big ShowRikishi and a freaking shark, this move deserves top 10 recognition. I don’t know if I have ever seen anyone get up after an F-5. Maybe Kurt Angle did it or maybe the Undertaker, but I am having a hard time remembering any occasion right now. Out of every finisher on the list, the F5 is the move I am personally least capable of performing.

28. Bob Backlund “Crossface Chicken Wing”

“When he put that Chicken Wing on…..mmmm you were screaming for the hot sauce.” – Dusty Rhodes

Seriously though, this move looked incredibly uncomfortable. Locking the arm and shoulder with one hand and yanking back the head and neck with the other was a lethal combination. Bob Backlund may have looked like Ron Howard’s retarded cousin, but his finisher was no joke.

Also, any man that can inspire Maria Menounos to wear a t-shirt with their likeness, is okay in my book.

27. Batista “Batista Bomb”

Yawn. Would have preferred to see Sid Vicious’ version instead, but Dave Batista is HHH’s real life buddy, so here we are. Nothing to see here. Move along sir.

26. Mr. Perfect “Perfect Plex”

“Anytime you can already have somebody in a pinning position where they can’t kick out, what better than that for a brilliant man.” – William Regal

I’m more impressed with the fact that he never once missed catching the towel he threw behind or back or missed swatting the gum out of his mouth. The man had serious hand-eye coordination. I always like the fisherman’s suplex and this was just a cooler version. It’s too bad that today Henning is more synonymous with The Plane Ride From Hell. Really though Curt, you challenged Brock Lesnar to a fight…..on an airplane. And you thought this was a good idea?  Really? He was a little less than perfect that day.

RIP Curt Henning….this is getting super sad.

25. Kurt Angle “Ankle Lock” 

The list of  wrestlers who tapped out from this move is endless. Hulk Hogan, The Rock, The Big Show, and many others felt the wrath of the only Olympic Gold Medalist in WWE history. Many wrestlers have used the ankle lock before, including UFC Hall of Famer Ken Shamrock, but Kurt took it and made it his own. This move made him one of the most dangerous men in professional wrestling. Great move, great location, great wrestler. It’s true, it’s damn true.

I’ll see you guys next time with part 2 of Dead Wrestler’s finishers “The 50 Greatest Finishing Moves in WWE History.” Chill until the next episode. If you haven’t seen it already, enjoy Stone Cold E.T. ordering burgers at the White Castle drive-thru.

People are always welcome to leave a comment down below and follow me on Twitter @TheRawLibrarian

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