Once upon a time (25 years ago), these finishing moves could destroy any opponent who had the misfortune of connecting with one.
Somehow over the years, wrestlers became much more like supermen, and these once dangerous finishing moves guaranteed to score a three count barely get a two.
Let's take a look at some of these once-great finishers.
Used by the great midcarders Hercules and Billy Jack Haynes, this move even garnered a rivalry between the two which culminated in Wrestlemania III's "Battle of the Full Nelsons".
I mean, when was the last time a MOVE dictated the feud.
The full nelson has since moved into obscurity, with only Chris Masters using the move when he happens to be on Superstars and not jobbing.
Trust me, that combination doesn't happen often.
I was watching AWA on ESPN Classics recently when I saw a very young Shawn Michaels use the superkick on his opponent.
Instead of going for the pinfall, Michaels climbed to the top rope, connected with a diving crossbody as his opponent was getting up (yes, getting up from Sweet Chin Music), and then scored the pinfall.
Something about it just seemed rather ironic and out of place considering how many more opponents Michaels took out with the superkick over the next two and and a half decades.
Ricky Steamboat pinned the then-NWA World Champion Ric Flair with this move. Does anybody even use it anymore???
If Brutus "The Barber" Beefcake happened to put one of these on you, one things was certain-- you were going to get a hair cut.
Also used by Roddy Piper, the move eventually lost its glory and only occasionally showed up in matches.
If it wasn't for Samoa Joe or recently Dolph Ziggler, the sleeper would be a forgotten hold relegated to the shelf with the half nelson.
The move that catapulted the Macho Man to the top, the move was a staple of Shawn Michael's move set (though with the elbow landing on the chest, not around the neck as usually seen), but Michaels only ever got a two count out of it.
Now I think Curt Hawkins is using it for a pinfall win. Hawkins??? Come on, Elbow Drop. Don't go the way of Hawkins!
Randy Orton's dad Cowboy Bob Orton amazed crowds with a suplex from the second rope. Barry Windham also used it as a finisher.
This move has a strange history as back then the person who used the move could easily move in for a pinfall, but somehow as time has progressed, the move became SO powerful that both wrestlers are often drained by it, leading to the eventual play of both wrestlers hurting on the mat.
One goes for the pinfall, but too much time is wasted and we get a three count. Big Show used this against Jack Swagger recently and didn't win the match with it. Wha??
While on the subject of Jack Swagger vs. Big Show, I recently saw Swagger perform a leg drop on Show that barely got him a one count. Seems the only person that could destroy an opponent with this was Hulk Hogan.
Even The Undertaker, whose moveset consists of dropping his opponent's head into the top turnbuckle (Snake Eyes), hitting them with a big boot, and then coming down with a leg drop only gets a two count. How bizarre.
Speaking of the Undertaker, he's the only one in wrestling who can get away with a piledriver, and that's just because it's a belly-to-belly move that is relatively safe.
The piledriver doesn't quite fit the theme of the slideshow, but its absence should be addressed.
The reason we don't see the traditional piledriver anymore is because of just how dangerous the move is. Owen Hart broke Steve Austin's neck with the move.
Before WWE's ban on the move in 2000, the move was already banned in the city of Memphis, Tenn., which is rather ironic since Memphis's favorite wrestler, Jerry "The King" Lawler, used it as a finishing move.
In my mind, the move that fits the theme the most is the DDT. At one point in time, no one could kick out of a DDT. No one.
Jake Roberts would hit you with it and you wouldn't even notice the python crawling all over you because you'd be KNOCKED THE F* OUT!
Anymore, this move is used by Orton rather dramatically, but it never gets him a pinfall (does he even bother to pin them after hitting an opponent with it??).
Drew McIntyre uses a theatrical version as well, so it seems there's one out there who can still get the pinfall with it.
Generally anymore, the DDT is a mere counter, possibly one of the coolest looking counters out there and one meant to look rather devastating (I do still love seeing a tilt-a-whirl DDT counter).
Still, it's a counter, none the less, and never a finisher. Alas....
Does this mean 25 years from now, RKOs, GTSs, and FUs (Attitude Adjustment-- whatever) will only garner a 2 count?
Will future opponents kick out of a 450 splash or a pedigree? And finally, will someone finally be able to kick out of a spear delivered by a man billed at 250 pounds?
Only time will tell if these tried and true finishers will become mere attributes to a wrestler's moveset.
Honorable mentions should go to the diving splash, Jim Duggan's three-point stance clothesline and the neckbreaker. If there are anymore I missed, feel free to comment. Thanks, and I hope you enjoyed.
Also, check out The Finishing Moves List for an exhaustive list of moves and the people who used them.