Once upon a time, in the mid-eighties, Hulk Hogan was reigning supreme on WWE and Hulkamania was running wild. Everyone was in Hogan's shadow except a very selected few like Andre The Giant.
There was however something, not a wrestler, that broke out and became as popular as the biggest name of the time. It was a wrestling move; it was the DDT!
It's normal to hear a wrestler's name chanted by fans but it's not every day you will hear crowds all over the USA chanting the name of a wrestling move and Jake Roberts made it happen in the '80s. Even in 2005, when he made an appearance on Raw to confront Randy Orton, the word "DDT!" could be heard by screaming fans in the audience.
The "DDT!" chant became so phenomenal at one point that the WWE had no choice but to turn Roberts face. The turnover started after the fans cheered for him in a heel-vs.-heel feud over the Intercontinental Championship against Randy Savage in 1986.
Ironically, The Snake's rise of popularity played against him because he was next in line to face Hulk Hogan over the WWF Title but it never happened to make sure the champion was not overshadowed by the challenger.
Their program was cancelled because Roberts became too over with the fans as it could be seen on an episode of The Snake Pit. During the interview segment hosted by Roberts, the crowd chanted "DDT! DDT! DDT!" instead of rooting for the good guy when Hogan was on the receiving end of the famous move .
So, with the "untouchable" Hulkster who was meant to get all the cheers from the audiences, Jake Roberts officially turned face not long after that and he was kept away from the gold as we all know.
The origins of the DDT are not as clear as it appears. If it's mostly accepted to credit Jake Roberts as its inventor, the circumstances surrounding the first time it was used are nebulous. Roberts claims he drove his opponent's head on the mat after a simple headlock turned into a botch.
Around 1984, when he was working for Bill Watt's Universal Wrestling Federation, he was in a match against Len Denton. After Roberts walked on Denton's foot and fell down, he didn't release the headlock but instead, he brought his opponent head first on the mat with him. The DDT was then born.
Many are still questioning the accuracy of the whole story as reported by Roberts but rare are those who actually deny him as the innovator of the move.
Roberts's DDT was a vicious and sneaky move, sold as lethal and he applied it on many occasions that became classic WWE moments. Every time he placed his opponents in the DDT position, with his finger raised in the air, the fans became crazy. If he used it countless times as his finisher, the most famous DDTs were often outside matches context.
As stated above, the one on Hogan became a vintage moment, but there are several others worth of a mention. The most infamous was probably the one he applied on Steamboat right on the concrete on an episode of Saturday Night Main Event in 1986. Steamboat's wife was in the assistance and Roberts pointed her before executing the DDT.
To add even more mystic to the move, the meaning of the word DDT is not clear, which goes with Roberts's character. One day he could say DDT was standing for "Drop Dead Twice" and, on another given day, he could say it meant "Don't Do it Twice" or "Damien's Dinner Time". It can also be a reference to the dangerous pesticide with the same name which makes sense since both the wrestling move and the chemical product cause brain damage.
The DDT was always seen as a devastating finishing maneuver when it was applied by Jake Roberts and by a few others, like Adrian Adonis and Wendy Richter, who adopted the move under its original version in the '80s. However, from the '90s, with its several variants, the DDT became a simple signature move for many wrestlers, except for Chyna who used it as a finisher.
The Undertaker frequently used the running DDT as one of his many weapons and Mick Foley had the double underhook DDT in his arsenal. Edge also got his own variant, called the Edgecution.
The Rock went with two different versions the move, the floating and the flowing snap DDT. For a few years, Randy Orton applies his rope-hung trademark DDT in almost all of his matches and that is probably the variation that looks the most devastating along with the tornado DDT mostly used by lighter wrestlers.
The DDT made a return as a finishing move in WWE With Drew McIntyre and his Future Shock DDT, a snap double underhook variant. Maryse, with her French Kiss -a snap DDT with theatrics-, also uses it to finish her opponents.
You can watch Steamboat receiving the famous DDT on the concrete here, but we only get 17 seconds of the segment.
If you want to take a look to a tribute to Robert's DDT, click here.
For a modern use of the DDT, click here to see Drew McIntyre's version as his finisher.
Watch a tribute to the Edgecution here.
For an hardcore version of the DDT on Christian and for a regular one on Heath Slater by Randy Orton, click here.