Over the course of wrestling history, we have seen several wrestling styles inside the squared circle. These styles include brawling, technical wrestling, high-flying wrestling, power wrestling and submission wrestling.
Submission wrestling usually isn’t as popular as the other forms of wrestling, but still appeals to a loyal fanbase.
When one thinks of submission experts, a few names come to mind. These names include Bret Hart, Ric Flair, Daniel Bryan and Chris Benoit.
I have compiled a list of the top nine submission moves in wrestling history. This list my own opinion and you may disagree with the ranking or the moves on this list. I ranked the moves on degree of pain delivered, popularity and exposure of the move, among others.
Please leave comments at the end of the article.
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One of the oldest submission moves in professional wrestling history is the sleeper hold. While it may not be the flashiest move, it made the list due to its history. Every person who has watched professional wrestling has most likely seen a sleeper hold at one point of another.
This move is also known as a rear-naked choke and is used in the mixed martial arts world.
While I am unsure as to the sleeper hold’s origin, I am sure it is not going anywhere in the world of professional wrestling.
The Anaconda Vice is a submission move used by CM Punk. The Vice is a choke hold that is applied to a wrestler who is down on the mat.
The Anaconda Vice made this list due to its believability. This hold appears to be very painful and effective. CM Punk can perform this move at any point and sells it better than anyone.
This move is also used in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.
The next move on the list is a cross armbreaker. This move is used today in the WWE by Alberto Del Rio. This move is used as Del Rio’s finishing maneuver. It involves taking a standing opponent to the ground and directly into a classic armbar.
Like the two previous moves, the armbar in used in the MMA world. Del Rio’s version of the armbar is on this list due to the pain dished out by it. Anyone who has ever received an armbar knows that you can’t fake the pain you feel during the move.
The STF, or stepover toehold facelock, is a submission maneuver used by John Cena. I understand that many of you reading this article probably are not fans of Cena, but you can’t deny the effectiveness of this move.
The move involves an opponent lying on his stomach while the wrestler locks the opponent’s leg and pulls back on the head of the opponent. This move appears incredibly painful and effective.
While Cena uses the Attitude Adjustment often to finish his opponents, the STF is another legitimate way to end a match.
The Boston Crab, like the sleeper hold, is a submission move that has been used in a large amount of wrestling matches. This move has been used by countless wrestlers since professional wrestling has hit popular culture.
Chris Jericho is the most notable user of the Boston Crab with his Walls of Jericho. Jericho’s version is modified from the original Boston Crab. Jericho pulls back on the wrestler’s leg, thus creating more pressure on the neck.
If you come from the Attitude Era of the WWE, the ankle lock probably brings images of Ken Shamrock. Shamrock made this move a devastating finishing move in the late 90s.
Lately, Jack Swagger has used the ankle lock to finish off his matches.
The ankle lock is probably the most basic move next to the sleeper that’s on this list. The move involves taking one's ankle and turning it until the wrestler taps out.
Like a lot of the moves on this list, if the lock is done right, it legitimately can hurt someone.
Some of you may know this name by the Labell Lock or the Crippler Crossface, but it is also called the Yes Lock. This move is currently used by Daniel Bryan. The basic crossface move is standard with all three moves, but Bryan adds a small modification using his legs.
This move has put many matches to rest for Bryan and will continue to do so due to the violence of the hold.
A list of submission moves can’t be compiled without listing the figure four leg lock.
This move was made famous by Ric Flair. The move has been a stable in Ric Flair’s wrestling repertoire since his NWA days.
While the move is very effective, the counter for this move only involves turning the applying wrestling over onto his stomach. Jeff Jarrett was also a notable figure four user while with the WWE and WCW.
The most famous move on the submission list is the Sharpshooter.
This move was made famous by Bret Hart during his time in the WWE and WCW. Sting and The Rock are also notable users of the Sharpshooter, but Sting uses the name Scorpion Death Lock. In my opinion, this move has added immensely to the legacy of Bret Hart.
Hart used this move almost exclusively as his finishing move while in the ring. Wrestling fans, young and old, should know what this move is, as its legacy is important to technical wrestling.