The Rock, Triple H and the Top 10 Spinebusters in WWE and TNA
Triple H busts up CM Punk (Credit: WWE.com)
It is simple in design and relatively safe to execute, yet it often looks as brutal as its name sounds.
It's been one of my favorite wrestling maneuvers ever since Arn Anderson planted the likes of Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels with it back in the late '80s.
The move is a game-changer that can come from virtually anywhere in a moment's notice.
It has proven to be effective as a transitional, finishing and desperation move.
There have been many incarnations of the spinebuster across the globe, but for the purposes of this list, I have narrowed the field just slightly.
A spinebuster only qualifies if it:
A) has appeared in North America,
B) is not an Alabama Slam (e.g. Bob Holly's finisher),
C) is not of the sit-out variety (e.g., D'Lo Brown's Sky High).
Why the criteria?
My knowledge of spinebusters outside of WWE and TNA is limited.
I consider the Alabama Slam its own move.
The sit-out version of the move is as much a powerbomb as it is a spinebuster.
Let's break out the top 10 best spinebusters in professional wrestling!
10. David Otunga
Otunga renders his "Verdict" on Justin Gabriel.
So David Otunga's thrust spinebuster, the "Verdict," is not pretty to look at.
Nothing about Otunga is, really.
Not since Chris Masters has someone made a muscular physique seem nerdy.
Playing an argyle sweater-clad, over-caffeinated legal consultant will do that to a guy.
I do have to give Otunga credit for using a modified spinebuster as his finisher, even if it is due to a lack of ability to perform more technically challenging wrestling maneuvers.
I admire that he usually grabs the throat of his opponent when lifting him up, which gives the move a chokeslam-like viciousness.
However, the glaring weakness of Otunga's "Verdict" is that he is entirely incapable of hitting the move on the fly.
You can see it coming 12 blocks off, as Otunga usually picks a wounded opponent up off the mat to initiate the move.
If he wants to get the move over, he needs to start surprising us with it when his opponent misses a strike or bounces off the ropes.
Seeing Otunga's spinebuster more often would likely mean he'd have to win matches.
On second thought, I'd like to invite the "Verdict" to remain as dull and irrelevant as its practitioner.
9. Faarooq/Ron Simmons
Faarooq gets apocalyptic on Attitude Era Superstars.
Did Ron Simmons create an Arn Anderson-like masterpiece?
But that was never his aim, and he really didn't need to.
The former WCW World Champion was so big, strong and mean, utilizing a polished spinebuster would have been out of character.
Follow his opponent to the mat?
Faarooq thought it was better to dump the guy on the back of his skull.
It was legit nasty, too.
What I love about this spinebuster is that it looked fully realized regardless of whether the recipient was a lightweight (X-Pac) or a legit heavyweight (Test), a hopeless evergreen (Sean O'Haire) or a seasoned veteran (Perry Saturn).
I give Ron extra points for that sick double-spinebuster he and his APA drinking buddy Bradshow used to put away so many tag teams.
Rhyno damns Rob Van Dam.
Very rarely does a big man hit this move with so much finesse.
I respect that he opts for the classic spinning format.
That's uncharacteristic of a character dependent on formidable girth and raw power.
That's kind of the thing about Rhyno, isn't it?
He looks tough. He wrestles tough.
But he talks...well, his talk is tough to listen to.
ECW purists will argue that he's horribly underrated and ought to be wearing a world championship.
I would remind them that the man looks like an overfed muskrat.
However, there's no disputing that his spinebuster was impressively textbook.
7. Bobby Roode
Bobby Roode is triple rude here.
For those of you with a PhD in the evolution of pro wrestler finishers, you know that Bobby Roode has finished TNA opponents with approximately 14,000 different slams and submissions throughout his career.
But there's been one wrestling constant for the more talented half of Beer Money Inc.:
I don't believe it's ever been his finisher, but with a name like the Double R Spinebuster, you can't help but associate the longest-reigning World Champion in TNA history with the classic back-first bump.
Roode has a far more classical delivery than many of the men who best him on this list, but he suffers from a lack of internationally scoped usage.
He can send Dixie a thank-you card.
For such an athletic man, I don't think he engages his opponent or pops his hips as swiftly as he could.
He falls down the list for being a tad sloppier than a good Canadian ought to be.
6. Bill Goldberg
Goldberg hits more than your average spinebuster on Orton.
This one will generate some heat, especially from the TNA Roode brood.
Please watch the video.
Goldberg's spinebuster was far from conventional.
Heck, he didn't even perform it terribly often.
However, the military press setup was dramatically telegraphed (much like the more famous Jackhammer), and Goldberg made the wait well worth it by slamming the very life out of his victim.
The final blow could be described as a short Spear, but I think of it as a modified spinebuster because Gillberg's big brother was also known to press opponents over his head and drop them to the canvas with a powerslam.
The only real difference is that the opponent lands upside down for the latter.
It wasn't displayed nearly enough to be in the top five, but it gets this spot based on destructive visual cred alone.
Am I a Goldberg fan?
Would I sit through a lukewarm Goldberg return just to see this one-of-a-kind move performed on selling-machine Dolph Ziggler?
You bet your sweet bippy.
5. Booker T
Booker T just about books Jericho into the nearest hospital.
He once called it the 110th Street Slam.
That's a far better name than the high-impact delayed spinebuster.
It's been in his playbook for years, and for good reason.
Booker makes this baby look rocket-fueled.
I've long thought it was a better choice of finisher than the belabored scissors kick or Rock-tainted Book End.
The execution is well-nigh flawless, but the fact that he's finished very few matches with it hurts his spinebuster ranking.
While Booker's version is similar to the Alabama Slam, he stays just outside the Yellowhammer border by not dangling his opponent behind his back Bob Holly style.
Book's spinebuster is almost as savage awesome as his commentary.
4. The Rock
The Rock sets up the People's Evil... err... Elbow.
"Spine on the pine," as Jim Ross so beautifully christened it.
If this was a list of the fastest-occurring spinebusters, the Rock would sit atop the SmackDown Hotel eating a certain baked good and strumming basic chords on his acoustic.
But that would be an oddly specific list.
Um, unlike this one.
The Rock almost exclusively uses his instant-impact spinebuster to setup one of the most preposterous finishers in the history of the business.
He literally flails his arms about, runs the ropes and then does a sort of wiggly thing before performing a standard elbow drop on his opponent.
It's like Hogan's Leg Drop of Doom, except with an elbow.
Rock's spinebuster is guilty by association.
That said, the People's Champion throws foes down with unparalleled authority, and the move never fails to bring the audience to the People's Feet.
Stop pausing to gesticulate, Dwayne.
It makes your opponents look like sissy underlings.
3. Triple H
Move over, Double R. Here's the Triple H spinebuster.
Love him or hate him, Triple H electrifies the live crowd every time he connects with a spinebuster.
Triple H can't quite capture the amazing crispness Arn Anderson brought to the move, but that's understandable when you consider the excessive muscle mass Triple H carries around.
I bet he could have really brought it home during his leaner, pre-main-event years.
But hey, his version still looks pretty good, and I respect the guy for paying tribute to a great veteran.
It's probably due to Triple H's fondness for the move that you rarely see it used as a transitional move by other WWE workers.
It is used either as a finisher or a powerful setup for the finish, and that's usually only if you're Triple H's jacked-up protege.
I bet Jake "The Snake" Roberts wishes he had the political sway to protect the DDT like that.
On a different note, Triple H usually follows up the spinebuster by raising his arms in strange celebration.
Sometimes he's so excited that he starts the gesture before getting to his feet.
I don't know about you, but I always worry that he's going to blow out one or both of his quads again.
Like father, like son-in-law.
Batista ain't playin' with the Game.
Batista excelled at only four things:
1) Wrestling in surprisingly fun matches against the Undertaker,
2) getting whooped by Booker T backstage,
3) being the only known 43-year-old male to actively rock a tramp stamp
4) crushing opponents with spinebusters and Batista Bombs.
I rank Batista's spinebuster just above that of his Evolution mentor because he finished more matches with it.
He also had the physical size and explosiveness to make it look like he'd just snapped his opponent in half like a tea biscuit.
Batista typically used the move to set up for the equally thunderous Batista Bomb.
However, when faced with gigantic opponents like Big Daddy V, the Great Khali or Mark Henry, Batista wisely settled for a spinebuster finish.
While I never bought a pay-per-view headlined by this frightening mess of veins and hair gel, I did get a kick out of watching him turn spinal cords into dust.
He dropped more than one man spine-first on steel steps.
Definitely worth a watch.
And a grimace.
1. Arn Anderson
The perfect spinebuster.
He wasn't Ric Flair, and he never closed a PPV with this move.
And sure, he looks like your testy, hard-drinking uncle Gary.
Double A could have easily gotten lost in the bodybuilder-biased climate of pro wrestling, but he didn't.
He was way too articulate on the mic and calculating in the ring to fall off the map.
Plus, he could bust a spine like no man before or since him.
You know you perfected a move when commentators mention your name every time someone uses it.
Just ask Lou Thesz, Harley Race or...
"Double A" Arn Anderson.
Anderson's spine-busting expertise inspired the likes of Triple H and Bobby Roode to make it a signature move of their own.
It inspires me to watch more Arn Anderson tapes.
No one does it quite the same.