The 50 Worst Moves in Pro Wrestling
Professional wrestling has evolved greatly over the years, especially when it comes to the moves and finishers of the superstars.
When you take a look at matches from 20-30 years ago, match endings appear to come out of nowhere. When you see one superstar drop another with a big body slam and get the three count, it almost seems laughable.
While the days of leg drop finishers are long gone, many of today's superstars still use moves that aren't really convincing. This list takes a look at those moves, as well as some of the worst of the older generations.
The criteria for making this list is loosely based one several things, including effectiveness, realism, unnecessary theatrics, and if it is a finisher, the likelihood of it finishing the match.
The list is in no particular order, though I do think that the last five are the worst of the whole bunch.
Take a look and see if you can think of any that I might have forgotten. Let me know what you think is the worst of them all, or if you think any didn't deserve to be on this list.
As always, thanks for reading. Enjoy!
Tadpole Splash: Hornswoggle
We wouldn't take many other moves from someone Hornswoggle's size seriously (except for when he bites), so why should we believe a splash from the top, or sometimes second rope?
What's even worse is that some very credible superstars have been pinned after being on the receiving end of the Tadpole Splash, including Chavo Guerrero.
Mandible Claw/Mr. Socko: Mick Foley
While in theory the Mandible Claw could be an effective move, putting pressure on the area underneath the tongue, it just doesn't seem like a scary attack in the world of professional wrestling.
The worst is when Foley coupled the move with Mr. Socko, when it seemed that the superstar on the receiving end of the Mandible Claw was just flailing and trying to get the dirty sock out of his mouth.
Also, why wouldn't the other superstar just bite down? Seems like an easy way to get a couple of fingers out of your mouth.
Khali Chop: The Great Khali
I don't care how big you are, a chop to the head is not going to knock you out the way that WWE superstars portray when they face Khali. Unfortunately, Khali is too big to perform many other holds or throws that would have made for a better finishing move.
You would think that a punch, something like Big Show's WMD, would be more effective than a goofy-looking karate chop, but I guess WWE needed something different.
Scorpion Death Drop: Sting
DDT's are one of those moves that its effectiveness has faded out over time. Back in the '80s and '90s, it wasn't uncommon to see a DDT end a match, but today it's used as a mid-level attack. So why does Sting still use a version of it as one of his biggest moves?
Really, the Scorpion Death Drop doesn't even look as effective as other DDTs. He just kind of falls back with the other superstar in a reverse headlock. Time to evolve with the rest of wrestling, Sting.
Attitude Adjustment: John Cena
Now I'm not including this move because I dislike John Cena, but rather because if you are going to be considered the biggest superstar of this era, you should have a move that reflects your status.
While it's not the weakest or least impressive move on this list, it really isn't impressive at all. Think of the moves other larger-than-life superstars have had. The best of the best are all big slams or jarring attacks that seem to come out of nowhere, the Attitude Adjustment just looks weak.
Heck, even the Protobomb that Cena uses to set up the Five Knuckle Shuffle would be a better finisher.
Five Knuckle Shuffle/People's Elbow/Playmaker
I don't care if you are a lower mid-card superstar or the biggest name in sports entertainment, bouncing off the ropes and posing over your opponent does not make your move more effective.
Fist Drop: Jerry Lawler
Now I'm not saying the getting a fist to the face from two ropes up wouldn't hurt, it just probably wouldn't hurt much more than any ordinary punch to the face.
King, next time you go up the ropes, try to land with more of your body, maybe an elbow or a leg, it'll do more damage.
Back Handspring Attacks: Kelly Kelly
Ah yes, the move made popular by Snooki at WrestleMania XXVII.
While it may look cool, and yes we were all impressed that Snooki pulled it off, doing a couple of backflips before attacking your opponent probably does more harm than good.
Headbutt: Vladimir Kozlov
Years ago, the Headbutt was used by many monstrous superstars as a testament to their brute strength; today, however, the move seems silly, especially when used by someone smaller than The Great Khali.
Vladimir Kozlov only stands 6'4", so thinking of him as a menacing monster who uses his head as a weapon doesn't sit well with most fans, which is probably why he went from headlining Survivor Series, to pairing with Santino Marella in a comedic role, to finally being released by WWE.
Samoan Spike: Umaga
The Samoan Bulldozer was one of the scariest-looking superstars in recent memories, which makes it a shame that he couldn't develop a finisher that was as scary as him.
Sure, a taped thumb to the throat could cause some damage, but all it would take to deter this move is putting your arm in front of your neck. If your opponent is too far gone to throw up an arm, he probably is already able to be pinned.
Spear: Depends on Who Uses It
When used by Rhino or Goldberg, the Spear was one of the most devastating moves in pro wrestling history. Later on, Edge used it to moderate success, but now it has become a part of Christian's moveset.
Really? Christian? All six feet and 200 pounds of him make for one weak looking spear. Please, Christian, stick to your other crappy finisher.
Pounce: Monty Brown
Though not terrible, Monty Brown's Pounce just seems like one of the weirdest finishers of all time.
The pounce is one of very few moves that require both superstars to be bouncing off the ropes, and not even heading head-on.
Brown would attack his opponent from the side, hitting them with a hard shoulder. Not the worst move, but most of it just seems very unnecessary.
P.S.: Sabu sells the heck out of it in the video.
Head Crush: The Great Khali/Fritz Von Erich
Here's another move that implies that its user has superhuman strength.
Sure, getting your head squeezed by a man the size of The Great Khali would hurt, but are we supposed to believe that the other superstar couldn't put up enough of a fight before they pass out?
When the move was performed by the late Fritz Von Erich, it seemed even less possible; he was only 6'4", compared to Khali's 7'1".
Boom Drop: Kofi Kingston
It's not the first and probably not the last time I will say this, bouncing of the ropes and making a signature move does not make your attack any more powerful.
When you really look at it, Kofi Kingston's Boom Drop is really nothing more than a modern day Hogan Leg Drop, just with a little bit (OK, a lot more) air under it.
Pit Stop: Nasty Boys
On the list of grossest wrestlers of all time, the Nasty Boys are pretty high up in the ranks. But did they really need to use a move that forces their opponents to take a big whiff of their armpits?
That's exactly what Pit Stop was. One of the Nasty Boys would hold their arm up while the other rubbed their opponent's face in his armpit. Not only is this not even a real move, it would take an unfathomable level of stench for it to be actually effective.
Starship Pain: John Morrison
What makes a move more effective? How about spinning and flipping around when you fall from the top rope?
Really, that's all Starship Pain has going for it. It's only a leg drop from the top rope, and Morrison doesn't even jump off the ropes; he falls.
There's a reason that John Morrison is not seen as a main-event superstar, and it starts with his goofy parkour gimmick.
619: Rey Mysterio
It's not that a kick to the face isn't painful, it's just that the amount of build-up is almost stupid.
Are we really supposed to believe that some of the greatest superstars in WWE would just sit there on the ropes, knowing that Mysterio is heading toward them with a kick to the face in mind? And he could at least jump off the ropes afterward, falling on top of someone isn't really a move, either.
Heart Punch: Crush
Back in the old days of territorial wrestling, the Heart Punch was considered a powerful and even dangerous move. Rumors even began to appear saying that the Heart Punch killed people.
By the '90s and '00s, everyone knew better, but some still tried to pass it off as a legit move.
Crush used the Heart Punch as his finisher while in WWE for a few years before he moved to WCW.
Stroke: Jeff Jarrett
Aside from having one of the absolute worst names for a finisher in wrestling history, it's also one of the weakest looking moves as well.
Sort of like a Forward Russian Legsweep, the Stroke is little more than Jeff Jarrett pushing his opponent's face toward the mat, which is usually not done with much force, allowing the viewers to see the opponent's hands get up in time.
Stink Face: Rikishi
Rikishi was a big dude, capable of dishing out his fair share of punishment in the ring. But for some reason he decided that it would be better to try and gross out his opponents instead of incapacitating them.
If you were seated in the corner and Rikishi hiked up his tights, you had better be prepared.
Personally, I think that the Torrie Wilson version was much better, but that's just me.
Bronco Buster: X-Pac
I'm not exactly sure what the Bronco Buster was supposed to accomplish, and I'm not sure if it ever really did what it was supposed to.
Either way, it looked stupid.
DDT: Tommy Dreamer
I've already covered Sting's Scorpion Death Drop, which is basically a reverse DDT, so this one should be even more basic.
The DDT had its days; back in the time of Jake "The Snake" Roberts, it was a very powerful move, but today it's in everyone's moveset.
Running Forearm: Tito Santana
Oh yeah, that thing John Cena does a bunch of times before hitting his real set up moves and finisher, that used to be a finisher back in the day.
How was a running forearm ever considered enough of a move to result in a pinfall? The only legitimate time it has ever been used effectively was when Lex Luger used it, and it only made sense for him because he had a metal plate in his arm.
Tongan Death Grip: Meng
In theory, the Tongan Death Grip is effective. If pressure is applied to the right points, your opponent could pass out.
Your opponent could also just punch you in the face while you are grabbing his neck.
Gorilla Press Drop and Big Splash: Ultimate Warrior
The Gorilla Press Drop is actually one impressive show of strength, which makes the Big Splash finish one of the worst moves of all time.
The Ultimate Warrior was one of the most intense wrestlers in WWE history, so why couldn't we get something cooler than him falling on his opponent? If it wasn't for the Gorilla Press Drop before the Splash, it would probably be considered the worst finisher of all time.
Atomic Noogie: Sgt. Slaughter
When Sgt. Slaughter turned heel in 1990 and was billed as an Iraqi sympathizer, he needed an illegal move to go along with his new alignment.
Insert the Atomic Noogie.
Yes, Slaughter would grind his knuckles into the temple of his opponent, causing (at least to what the viewers were to believe) extreme pain.
Look on the bright side. He could have used the Atomic Wedgie.
Three-Point Stance Clothesline: Hacksaw Jim Duggan
Very few professional wrestlers have been able to use a clothesline as a finisher and get away with it.
Wrestlers who were usually much bigger than their opponents, like JBL, were the exceptions. WWE Hall of Famer "Hacksaw" Jim Duggan was not one of those superstars.
To try and up the power of his clothesline finisher, Duggan would get down in a three-point stance, like a offensive lineman, before charging at his opponent. The result was too gimmicky, and the move was less than impressive.
Big Boot: Hulk Hogan/Kevin Nash
Delivering a Big Boot to the face of your opponent can result in devastation, just ask anyone who has faced Sheamus. But it takes a little effort on the part of the attacker in order for it to look good.
Sheamus pulls it off well, he charges at his opponent and delivers a kick with tons of force. Other superstars, such as Hulk Hogan and Kevin Nash, rely on their opponent to provide the force behind the attack.
They typically throw their opponents into the ropes and stick out their boot when the opponent is heading back toward them. The result is less than spectacular, as it looks like the opponent only gets knocked down instead of knocked out.
Swanton Bomb: Jeff Hardy
Don't get me wrong, the Swanton Bomb looks cool and when it is delivered from high up, like from the top of a giant scaffold, it looks like it could hurt. However, most of the time, the move is far less impressive than just about every other top rope maneuver.
Hardy's Swanton Bomb almost always ends the match, which seems odd seeing how he only lands on his opponent with the back of his neck or head. It's even worse on the times when he flat-out misses the opponent.
Backhand Chop: Ric Flair
Ric Flair's backhand chop is one of the most iconic moves in wrestling history.
Any time a superstar in any organization from WWE to a local Indy promotion uses a backhand chop, the fans in attendance will always respond with a loud "WOOOOO!"
However, that doesn't negate the fact that the move isn't anything special. It's a backhand to the chest, which can hurt, but doesn't hurt that badly.
If I was hit with a backhand chop, I would probably respond with a punch to the face, rather than cringing in pain.
Rolling Thunder: RVD
Let's see what goes into making the powerful sounding, Rolling Thunder.
Another somersault? Uh, check.
Jumping Somersault Senton? Okay, this is just silly.
Head Scissors Takedown: Many Wrestlers
The reason that the Head Scissors Takedown (and any of its many varieties) is on this list, is not because it is a bad or weak move, it's just that many of the superstars, both on the delivering and the receiving end of the move, do not perform and sell it very well.
When performed correctly, the move looks fantastic; however, many times the attacker is unable to grab his or her opponent's head correctly, leaving the opponent to have to try and make up for it by theatrically flipping to the mat, which typically results in a sloppy-looking takedown.
Standing Moonsault/Shooting Star Press: Many Superstars
Here is another example of a move that is watered down by the use of unnecessary flips and theatrics.
Jumping and falling on your opponent already isn't the most powerful of moves, but when you take away some of the height and in turn some of the added power from the fall, just because you want to make it look cooler, the result is less than spectacular.
Asian Mist: Tajiri/The Great Muta/Others
It's not that spitting something into the eyes of your opponent wouldn't effectively work, it's the thought that different colors of mist are supposed to result in different effects.
For example, red mist is said to burn the eyes of your opponent, blue mist will put your opponent to sleep, and the typical green mist just causes general disorientation.
It's a good thing none of the wrestlers ever accidentally swallowed the liquid. Imagine those side effects.
Camel Clutch: The Shiek/Sgt. Slaughter
The Camel Clutch is a reverse chinlock, which is an effective move in itself, but it also requires that you hook your opponents arms over your thighs to apply added pressure.
Where this move fails is that the opponent could easily free his arms and likely escape from the hold. If hooking the arms is all that keeps this hold in place, it really is unbelievable.
Crossface Chickenwing: Bob Backlund
There are good, effective Crossface Chickenwings, like this indy wrestler is performing, and then there are Bob Backlund's Crossface Chickenwing.
Backlund would hook the arm weakly and grab his opponent's chin, locking in his finisher. I use the term "locking" lightly, as it usually looked like the opponent could escape at any time, especially while they were wildly flailing around.
Snake Eyes/Turnbuckle Attacks: Many Superstars
Which are we supposed to believe? That the turnbuckles are hard and can hurt, or that the turnbuckles are safely padded?
We know that turnbuckles are filled with some sort of stuffing, thanks to George "The Animal" Steele, and we've seen superstars take the padding off in order to expose the metal beneath, so why should we believe that the turnbuckles cause great pain?
Old School: Undertaker
Undertaker has been performing Old School for so long that it's the reason it was given the "Old School" name. Originally known as the Arm Twist Ropewalk Chop, it has been a staple in Taker's moveset for over two decades.
But are we really supposed to believe that his opponents are in such pain from an Arm Twist that they wouldn't be able to just push him off the ropes? I think believing in a professional wrestler who has risen from the dead is more likely.
Corkscrew Plancha: Many Superstars
The Plancha is a common maneuver where the wrestler launches himself over the ropes to attack his opponent(s) with a flying crossbody. There's nothing wrong with that, until you add the Corkscrew part.
Again, spinning around only adds a visual effect, it does nothing to help (it actually detracts from) the move. Give me a Suicide Dive instead.
Shake, Rattle and Roll: Honky Tonk Man
Wikipedia describes the Shake, Rattle and Roll as a "Swinging neckbreaker, with theatrics." Naturally, it's the theatrics that I have a problem with.
I know professional wrestling is all about entertainment, but do we really need to see an Elvis-inspired dance before HTM hits a rather cool-looking move? I think not.
Spin-a-Roonie: Booker T
Okay, so maybe it's not a move designed to inflict any actual damage, and sure it's occasionally entertaining to watch, but how can I not include it on this list?
Bionic Elbow: Dusty Rhodes
The legendary Dusty Rhodes is said to be the innovator of the Bionic Elbow, but what is so special about it? It's really just an elbow delivered to the head.
Also, why call it Bionic? There's nothing "bionic" about it, unless we are supposed to believe that Dusty Rhodes is completely normal except for the superhuman strength that he has in his elbows.
Tornado Punch: Kerry Von Erich
Known as the Texas Tornado, Kerry Von Erich used a move that related to his nickname. Unfortunately, it was nothing more than a punch to the head.
Of course you have to factor in the fact that Von Erich spun around in place before delivering the punch to his opponents. That makes it more effective, right?
No? That's why it's on the list.
Cross Rhodes: Cody Rhodes
The Cross Rhodes, Cody's newest finisher, fits well with his new persona. It's quick, it creates a big impact, and it looks cool. I just have one problem with it. The other superstar does too much to help it.
I just can't see how the wrestler on the receiving end of the Cross Rhodes would spin so much. It seems like it's a two-person move, not a move that one person can pull off, especially someone as small as Cody Rhodes.
Battering Ram: The Bushwhackers
The award for most ridiculous tag-team finishing move of all time goes to The Bushwhackers, hands down.
In case you can't tell from the video, the Battering Ram is nothing more than one of the members putting the other in a headlock and then using their head as, you guessed it, a battering ram.
Call it what you will, the Killswitch is one of the most unbelievable moves of all time.
Sure, falling onto your opponent so that his face slams to the mat with your weight on the back of his head seems good on paper, but take a look at how Christian gets to that point.
If anyone believes that Christian is actually able to hold on to his opponent's arms while he spins them into position, they must be more engrossed by wrestling than this guy.
Walk the Plank/C-4: Paul Burchill/John Morrison/Sin Cara
This is both one of the coolest looking and absolutely most ridiculous looking moves in the history of professional wrestling. Paul Burchill used it as his finisher during his pirate gimmick, and John Morrison has used it, and I think I remember seeing Sin Cara use it several times off the top rope.'
While it looks great, the chance of the superstar pulling it off without the help of their opponent is absolute zero, and there's no hiding it.
Leg Drop: Hulk Hogan
Yes, the immortal Hulk Hogan still uses the Leg Drop as his finisher. Heck, I even watched it take out Randy Orton live at SummerSlam in 2006. Talk about unbelievable.
If you are asking why it is so unbelievable, let me explain. It's a leg drop! How on earth is that supposed to end a match that occurred sometime after the '80s?
Cobra: Santino Marella
Is there a move in professional wrestling history more ridiculous than the Cobra? Sure, Santino is a funny character and the move works for him, but when it takes out another superstar, that superstar loses any credibility he may have had.
Lately, the move has been blocked more than it has succeeded, but that doesn't make it any less absurd.
The Worm: Scotty 2 Hotty
Scotty 2 Hotty probably holds the record for the longest, most drawn-out finisher in history. It is also hands-down the dumbest move of all time.
What part of hopping around the ring on one leg, doing the worm, making a couple of dance moves, then delivering a chop to your downed opponent could even be remotely considered a viable wrestling maneuver?
I don't know, either.