Pro Wrestling: The 50 Most Painful Finishers of All Time
Hello Fellow Bleachers! It's been quite some time since I contributed on here. I hope all of you had a wonderful holiday season, and would like to wish you all a happy New Year!
Now on to my article.
This article is the biggest in magnitude that I have taken on. This list is not in order of the most to the least painful, or vice versa. It is merely a compilation of the finishers that I think would be the most painful in pro wrestling.
A finisher can define a wrestler. A finisher can be synonymous with a wrestler.
How many times has the crowd hollered "WHOOOOO!!!" when a wrestler applies a figure four leg lock?
Who comes to mind when you think of a super kick?
Without further ado, here a what I believe to be the 50 most painful finishers in wrestling history. I will give a brief explanation of the move, as well as include those wrestlers known for using the move.
I hope you enjoy, and as always, please feel free to comment or add to this list.
Generally used by a wrestler taller than 6'6", the chokeslam involves lifting an opponent by the throat into the air as high as you can reach, then slamming them forcefully into the mat on their back.
Imagine gasping for air while being lifted only to have what is left in your lungs driven out of your body as you crash from eight feet or higher in the air onto your back.
Used By: Big Show, Kane, Undertaker.
The Pedigree consists of a set up of a shot to the midsection, and while the opponent is doubled over, his head is placed between the legs. A double underhook of the arms completes the set up and then jumping and driving the opponent into the mat face first.
Used By: Triple H
This move consists of locking one of your opponents arms between your legs as they are lying face down on the mat. your hands are then interlocked around the chin area of your opponent and pulling back as far as you can while lying on their back to eliminate any movement from the opponent.
Used By: Chris Benoit, Bryan Danielson
I know there are many different versions of this finisher, but all of them look brutal.
No matter what the set up into the driver is, the end result of the move is being driven into the mat on to the top of your head. Versions include the original Texas pile driver, tombstone pile driver, and probably the coolest version, the Canadian Destroyer.
Used By: Undertaker (Tombstone), Petey Williams (Destroyer), Jerry Lawler.
This finisher consists of grapevining your opponents legs around one of yours as they lay on their back, and then rolling them onto their stomach and leaning back while simultaneously pulling on their legs and sitting on their backs—an innovative version of the Boston Crab.
Used By: Bret Hart and almost every other wrestler after him.
Speaking of Innovative Boston Crab...the Lion Tamer consists of rolling your opponent from their back to their stomach, like a Boston Crab, but instead of the opponent being solely on their chests, the Lion Tamer has the opponent on their face and neck with a knee being pressed into the back at the same time.
It's much more painful looking than the current version of the move, The Walls of Jericho.
Used By: Chris Jericho
Figure Four Leg Lock
A submission finisher, the figure four consists of wrapping one of your opponents legs around the back of one of yours and placing the ankle/shin area of that leg on top of the knee of the opponents other leg. Once this is done, your free leg is placed over the foot on top of the opponents knee and locking your feet together underneath the opponent while wrenching down on the leg that is on top of the knee.
Used By: Many, but most widely known as the finisher of Ric Flair.
The first Tag Team finisher on my list, the Demolition Decapitation was one of the coolest finishers around when I was a kid. It consisted of the opponents back draped over the knee in a back breaker fashion and then having an elbow dropped on their neck/chest area from the ropes.
Used By: Demolition
This move looks absolutely brutal at times, especially when the person on the receiving end is smaller than the person delivering it. The whole move is a running tackle while driving the shoulder into the stomach area of the opponent.
Used By: Edge, Rhino, Christian, Goldberg
Diamond Cutter/ RKO
This move is so versatile that there really is no absolute set up for it. Basically, whenever you have the opportunity to catch your opponents head in a reverse headlock over your shoulder, you grab hold and drive the opponent face first into the mat.
Used By: Dallas Page, Randy Orton
Like the pile driver, the stationary powerbomb has numerous variations. The standard powerbomb involves grabbing the opponent by the waist while their head is between your legs. They get lifted in a fashion that causes them to end up sitting on your shoulders facing you. The final movement is forcefully slamming the opponent back first onto the mat.
Variations include the Jacknife powerbomb and the Last Ride.
Used By: The Undertaker, Kevin Nash
Like the RKO/Diamond Cutter, the superkick can be pulled seemingly out of nowhere. It all boils down to a high crescent kick right under the chin and can be delivered in an instant.
Used By: Shawn Michaels, James Storm
Back Cracker/Back Stabber
The Back Cracker/Stabber is a double knee backbreaker which involves lifting your knees to the middle of an opponents back as you forcefully pull them backwards as you fall to the mat, driving their back onto both of your knees.
Used By: Carlito
This move looks absolutely brutal when performed correctly. It's not very technical as it's basically a jumping thrust kick to the head, but it looks very impressive and painful.
Used By: Sheamus
Gory Guerrero is credited with inventing this move. It involves sitting on an opponents back, lifting their arms across your knees and behind your elbows as you lock your hands under the opponents chin and pull backwards forcefully.
Used By: Iron Sheik, Scott Steiner, Jinder Mahal
Forward Russian Legsweep
The real flaw of this finisher is the amount of time that it can take to set up. Other than that, it looks devastating. It involves locking in a full nelson on the opponent from the side and then executing a front legsweep, dropping the opponent face first into the mat.
Used By: The Miz, Jeff Jarrett
Go to Sleep
This move consists of lifting your opponent onto your shoulders into a fireman's carry and then dropping them down onto a knee lift to the head. Simple, effective, brutal.
Used By: CM Punk
This move has fallen by the wayside as a finisher, which is a shame. Like some other moves on this list, the DDT has variations on its execution, but all involve front face locking an opponent in some form or another and driving your body backwards to drop the opponent on their head.
Used By: Jake Roberts, Drew McIntyre
Another move credited with being invented by Gory Guererro, the Widow's Peak is an elevated neckbreaker, where the opponents are back to back with the receivers legs wrapped around the legs of the person delivering the move. The deliverer then drops to their knees or ass, simultaneously attacking the neck and knees of their opponent.
Used By: Victoria (Tara)
Another finisher that can be applied in a variety of instances, the Code Breaker is a double knee face breaker in which the person delivering the move grabs the head of their opponent and falls similarly to the back cracker, instead driving the opponents face into the knees.
Used By: Chris Jericho
This submission finisher involves grabbing hold of the opponents foot, locking it to your chest and wrenching upon it until they submit due to the force being applied to the tendons within the ankle and knee. Variations include the person delivering the move grapevining their legs around the leg they are attacking also.
Used By: Kurt Angle, Jack Swagger
Clothesline from Hell
This strike finisher just looks painful. A normal clothesline is pretty standard in any wrestling match these days, but when delivered with this type of velocity, it takes on a whole new level of brutality.
Used By: JBL
This finisher is executed with the attacker cradling the opponent on their shoulders, normally from an elevated position and then dropping to the mat, impacting the neck and shoulders of the opponent on the mat and shoulders of the attacker.
Used By: Samoa Joe
Perfected by Arn Anderson, the Spinebuster involves picking an opponent up around the hip area and either slamming their backs straight to the ground, or spinning 180 degrees and slamming them back first that way. The person receiving the move is usually coming off of the ropes running.
Used By: Arn Anderson
Rock Bottom/Book End
Another finisher with multiple variations is the side slam. This move involves the arm of the deliverer across the chest of the receiver while face to face but slightly beside each other.
One version of this move is the Rock Bottom. The head of the deliverer gets placed behind one arm of the receiver while the deliverer lifts the opponent high into the air and slams them on their backs.
Used By: The Rock, Booker T
Yet another finisher with multiple variations of delivery. All versions seem to include an inverted face lock with the receiver's chin ending up on the shoulder of the deliverer before the deliverer drops to the mat, driving the jaw into their shoulder.
Used By: Steve Austin, Vince McMahon
Top Rope Splash
Whether in the form of a frog splash or just a regular splash, nobody can deny that landing your whole body weight across the midsection of your opponent from at least 10 feet in the air is not painful.
Used By: Jimmy Snuka, Eddie Guererro, Val Venis, Tamina, D-Lo Brown, Rob Van Dam
Inverted Stomp Facebreaker
In this finishing move, the person performing the move applies a standing wristlock and then lifts a foot to the opponents face. The person delivering the move falls backwards to the mat, pulling on the arm and simultaneously driving their foot into the face of the opponent.
Used By: Gail Kim
Top Rope Elbow Drop
This finisher is along the same lines as the top rope splash, although instead of landing your whole body across the midsection of the opponent, only the elbow is used (obviously).
Used By: Randy Savage, Shawn Michaels, CM Punk
The second entry from the Tag division is the Doomsday Device. Depending on who performs it, it always includes an opponent seated on the shoulders of one deliverer while the other clotheslines the opponent from the top rope. The variations I have seen include an electric chair drop in tandem with the clothesline, or the holder of the opponent throwing them off of their shoulders during the clothesline.
Used By: Road Warriors (Legion of Doom), The Dudley Boyz
Another top rope finisher, the Swanton Bomb involves a diving flip off of the top rope, where the person delivering the move drives their shoulders into the midsection of the fallen opponent.
Used By: Jeff Hardy, Sin Cara, Hunico
Another installment of a tag team finisher, the 3-D is performed when one member of the team flapjacks an opponent, while at the same time, the other attacker performs a cutter on the way down.
Used By: The Dudley Boyz
The Canadian Destroyer is a version of a pile driver, but I feel that it is such an innovation of the pile driver that it seperates it from the others. It begins with the receivers head between the attackers legs. The attacker then front flips while holding the opponent, delivering a pile driver out of the flip.
A stunning finisher.
Used By: Petey Williams
For those of you that doubt that this move is painful, stick a couple of fingers in your mouth under your tongue and squeeze as hard as you can from the inside and outside of the mouth. Done? Hurts, doesn't it? While this may be an unorthodox finisher and look a bit silly, it is still quite painful.
Used By: Mick Foley
Most people will know this by another name, the Hell's Gate. This finisher involves trapping an opponents throat against your shin while you are lying down. Your hands get locked behind the opponents head and you force your shin into the throat of the opponent while pulling their head forward into it at the same time.
Used By: The Undertaker
Sit Down and Running Powerbomb
Like separating the Canadian Destroyer from the other pile drivers, I felt that with the added impact of extra velocity delivered by the attacker, these versions were different enough to have their own slide.
The differences are in the name. The basic attack is the same, but in the sit down powerbomb, the attacker slams the opponent between his/her legs as they finish, ending up in a pinning position, and the running version involves the attacker running partly across the ring with opponent on shoulder and finishing the move with higher impact.
These two variations have also been used in tandem as the running sit down powerbomb.
Used By: Batista, D-Lo Brown.
Named after the wrestler who uses it as his finisher, Cross Rhodes is a spinning face buster where the opponent is front facelocked and the attacker corkscrews both wrestlers bodies while forcing the opponent face first into the mat.
Used By: Cody Rhodes
Another variation on the top rope splash, but modified enough to warrant mention on a different slide. The 450 splash is so named as the attacking wrestler uses added velocity from flipping 450 degrees while in the air before landing on the opponents midsection.
Beautiful and painful at the same time.
Used By: Justin Gabriel, Juventud Guererra, 2 Cold Scorpio
When you are billed at over 600 pounds, any move that you perform on an opponent should be painful. But when your finisher involves jumping from the second rope and dropping all your weight onto your opponents chest in a sitting position, that's just brutal.
Used By: Yokozuna
Normally performed from the top rope, this move has also been done from the top of ladders and cages. It involves driving your own head into a part of a prone opponents body, usually around the head or chest area.
Painful to the attacker and receiver.
Used By: The Dynamite Kid, Chris Benoit
Another form of pile driver innovative enough to be separated from the others on this list, the vertebreaker is a back-to-back double under hook pile driver, which is also known as a Kudo Driver.
There are differing setups to the move, but all involve the receiver double under hooked upside down and back to back with the attacker. The attacker then drops to a sitting position, driving the opponents head into the mat.
Used By: The Hurricane, Homicide
This finisher involves beginning with a double chicken wing on the opponent and then twisting around into an inverted double underhook. With the receivers arms occupied, the deliverer drops back first onto the mat, causing the opponents face to be driven into the mat in a facebreaker.
Used By: Christian
Nothing complicated about this move, as it is a straight up high speed roundhouse kick to the head of a seated or kneeling opponent. Simple but devastating.
Used By: Tajiri
The STF (Stepover Toe hold Facelock) is similar to the Crippler Crossface, but the attacking wrestler traps one of the opponents legs between their own thighs and then lies on the opponents back and locks their arms around the neck over the receiver, pulling backwards.
Used By: John Cena, the Great Muta
Another move that has been argued as not being all that painful, I would have to disagree, as any extremely forceful shot to the throat or neck area has to be painful.
Used By: Umaga
Black Hole Slam/ Winds of Change
Another version of the Side Slam, the Black Hole Slam (Abyss) or Winds of Change (Wade Barrett) adds the momentum of the opponent coming off of the ropes and being caught and spun normally 180 degrees and slammed.
Used By: Abyss, Wade Barrett
The Scissor Kick is delivered to an opponent that is bent over normally from a kick to the stomach. The attacker then jumps in the air and does a "scissor" motion with their legs, forcefully striking the opponent in the neck with a kick.
Used By: Booker T, Alicia Fox.
Double Foot Stomp
Another top rope move that is exactly what it says it is. The attacker jumps from the top rope and stomps both feet into the midsection of the prone opponent.
Used By: Low-Ki
This move is a combination of a suplex and pile driver into one move. The attacker lifts the opponent as if a vertical suplex was to be performed, but instead of falling back to slam the opponent on their back, the attacker drops from the suplex position into the DDT.
Used By: Austin Aries
Atomic Leg Drop
I know I'm going to catch a lot of heat for this one, but I don't care. If someone that weighs over 300 pounds drops their full body weight onto your face and head with the meaty part of the thigh, it's going to hurt.
Used By: Hulk Hogan
Well, there you have it folks. My picks for the 50 most painful finishers of all time. Here is your obligatory honourable mention. I hope you all enjoyed this slideshow, and feel free to comment, disagree or add finishers you think should be included.
Thanks for reading.