WWE: 50 Most Painful Wrestling Moves in History

Robert Aitken@@RobertAitkenBRAnalyst IMarch 5, 2011

WWE: 50 Most Painful Wrestling Moves in History

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    No matter what wrestler you are talking about, the thing that separates good ones from great ones is their ability to inflict pain. After all, that's how you win matches.

    Those really special wrestlers have special moves that they like to use. They are easy for them to use and cause a lot of damage to their opponents.

    It may not be their finishing move or a move that they are known for, but it is a move that helps a wrestler win. You could even argue that without it, wins would be harder to come by.

    These may not be the flashiest moves. They aren't always the moves that you assign to your superstar when you create yourself in a video game. However, they get the job done. Some of them even make you wish that you didn't want to secretly be a professional wrestler.

    These are 50 of the most damaging moves in wrestling. I'm sure there are some that aren't here. There is no ranking system involved because, let's be fair here; that list would be so difficult to put together.

    To say that one move hurts more than another is barking up the wrong tree.


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    Since we saw Chris Jericho eating a spear (which isn't on this list by the way; I await the hateful comments), we will start with Jericho's first of two moves on this list: the Codebreaker.

    Jericho brought this move into his regular rotation after his most recent stint in WWE.

    The move can come out of nowhere and it doesn't take much for Jericho to jump and put his knees on your head. His weight then helps to bring your head into his knees on the ground.

    Jericho doesn't get away without a little damage too. His knees cannot feel fantastic after that and he lands square on his back from the move. Here's hoping that Jericho whips this one out on a Dancing With The Stars judge in case he gets a bad score.


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    The Undertaker makes multiple appearances on this list. His first move is one that helped to build his legend: the Tombstone piledriver.

    A piledriver, regardless of its style, is very lethal and very damaging. This is why many versions of the piledriver are rarely seen in professional wrestling anymore.

    The chances of kicking out after having your head plunged into the canvas by the Deadman are small.

    It is also a nice touch that The Undertaker folds his opponent's arms across their chest for the pin as if they lay in a casket.

    It is one of the best taunting pinfalls and strikes fear into nearly anyone who sees it.

Figure-Four Leglock

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    This may be the submission move that actually hurts the most. It was made famous by Ric Flair, but it has been used by many superstars over the years.

    It can make anyone's legs feel a lot of pain. It can even bring pain to the one who applies the hold.

    Any wrestler who has the move applied to them can counter it by doing one simple thing: turn over. For instance, in this picture, if Kurt Angle rolls to his belly, the pressure is applied to Flair's legs instead of his own.

    Both men's legs are in jeopardy in this move. This move is strictly built upon the pressure that comes in when physics is brought into the scenario.


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    Triple H has dominated WWE over the years with his move, the Pedigree. There is nothing about it that doesn't hurt. It is set up by The Game kicking you in the groin and putting your head in between his legs.

    After grabbing your arms as if they are handlebars on a bicycle, Triple H jumps into the air and onto the ground.

    Hunter's knees may take some damage, but that is nothing compared to hitting your head and knees on the ground without having your hands to help brace your fall. Game Over.

Michinoku Driver

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    Taka Michinoku was one of the better technical wrestlers in the 1990s of the then-WWF. Michinoku was one of the men in the Japanese faction Kaientai. He also had one of the most damaging piledrivers out there.

    There have been hundreds of modifications to it overseas, but go to a wrestling event in Japan and try to not see a Michinoku Driver of some sort. I dare you.

    I couldn't find a picture of Taka doing it in the WWF because he often was overpowered by the much larger superstars. Taka was one of the best jobbers in the late 1990s.

    However, his move is used worldwide, as shown in this picture. Go on YouTube and search for some of these drivers. If you begin to grab your neck from watching them, I will understand.


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    Often referred to as The Cyclone, the F-5 was the move that Brock Lesnar used to destroy WWE for the short amount of time that he was there. A who's who at that time were victims to this move.

    It is everything that John Cena's Attitude Adjustment is but much more. Lesnar would hold his opponents like he is holding The Rock in this photo. He then would turn his shoulders to his right and fling his opponent off to his left.

    I like to think of the F-5 as the knuckleball of professional wrestling. No two F-5's look exactly the same.

    Some opponents fly further away than others do. Some land more awkwardly than others do. It is very unpredictable of a move since Lesnar rarely sees where his victim lands.

Burning Hammer

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    This is Tyler Reks. This is Tyler Reks grappling JTG. Tyler Reks is going to do the Burning Hammer to JTG. JTG will fall to Reks's right and land on his face and stomach.

    Translation: get the hell out of Tyler Reks' way.

    Reks holds many of his opponents in this torture rack-meets-Attitude Adjustment move. It is also a very popular move overseas and Reks hits it as perfectly as anyone in the world.

    If this move doesn't propel Reks to a push soon, then I will lose faith in WWE and its initiatives to push young talent.

Lion Tamer

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    I love the Walls of Jericho just like any other wrestling fan. The move is a more intense version of the Boston Crab.

    However, an even more intense version from Jericho is the Liontamer. The difference in the two moves: Jericho's right knee.

    Jericho can put that knee into an opponent's back or, as seen here, press the knee against the top of the head and put more pressure on the neck. Jericho has made even the toughest men tap with this modified submission move.

Gutwrench Powerbomb

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    Jack Swagger's reputation as a great amateur-turned-professional wrestler has gone through some ups and downs. However, the best rollercoaster ride in Swagger's eyes has to be the gutwrench powerbomb.

    The difference between this and any regular powerbomb is that Swagger grabs his opponent without their head being in between his legs. It is much more explosive and more difficult to pull off.

    I also considered putting the Batista Bomb on the list, but that move is simply a sit-out powerbomb. At least Swagger's is more difficult to pull off and causes a lot more whiplash, due to it being able to be hit on a moment's notice.

Three Amigos

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    I couldn't find a picture of Eddie doing the three amigos, which he called his trio of suplexes. Eddie would keep his form after each of the suplexes, shifting his weight and picking his opponent up for more.

    It was a classic way for Eddie to gain some momentum in his matches. Many opponents never seemed to recover from the sequence.

    A suplex is a suplex, but three in a row? It reminds me when Chris Jericho used to do a powerbomb and pick his opponent back up with the same hold and do another one.

    It is a great sign of strength. It takes a lot out of both men, but it always put Eddie on a roll that would likely not be stopped.


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    Perhaps the only positive thing from Carlito's tenure in WWE.

    Before Jericho's Codebreaker, Carlito did the Backstabber, a version of the same move on the back. It is hard to say which could hurt more.

    My money goes on the Backstabber since you do not see your opponent do it and it could develop a stinger in someone's back.

    Just look at Shelton Benjamin wince. It looks like someone is forcing him to watch his promos.


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    Formerly known as the Unprettier, Christian's Killswitch is a very lethal move that could easily signal the end of any match.

    Christian grabs the arms of his opponent when behind him and maneuvers himself in front of the opponent. The switch (see what I did there?) in position puts the opponent nearly face down and means that all Christian has to do is sit down.

    Captain Charisma can pull that move off at almost any time. If you fall victim to one, don't expect to enjoy it. Also, don't expect to win that match.

Future Shock DDT

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    Drew McIntyre will get a world title shot in 2011. You can count on that. When McIntyre pulls off a move like his Future Shock DDT, most opponents are going to take a little nap.

    The Chosen One does two underhooks and puts their head under his arms. After sweeping his leg back, McIntyre sits down, which only exposes the opponent's head, causing damage to their neck and all but ending the bout. There's a load of hurt from that move.

    Sometimes referred to as a Scot Drop, the Future Shock is one of the moves you may not think about from a superstar that you may not think about. That will change, people. Expect a big year from the Scotsman.

Ankle Lock

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    Be it Jack Swagger or Kurt Angle, the Ankle Lock can certainly hurt an opponent. One arm is draped around the ankle while the other grabs the foot and jerks it.

    The foot is put in an unusual position. There is also a way to sit down with it and wrap your legs around your opponent's leg. This extends the leg and makes it harder to crawl to the ropes.

Hell's Gate

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    If you don't think that the Hell's Gate submission hold hurts, you are out of your mind. This is especially true when you realize that the move is straight out of MMA.

    The Undertaker traps an opponent's arm in between his legs, which form a shape similar to a Figure Four Lock. He then grabs the man's head. This puts a lot of pressure on the arm and the neck.

    If you don't break your collarbone first, you should just tap out now.


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    Sure, this is a picture of a huracanrana. But the Frankensteiner is a spin-off of this move.

    Instead of letting the legs go after flipping, Scott Steiner (yes, he developed this move) would keep his legs locked in.

    This would result in the opponent landing directly on his head. Ouch.

German Suplex

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    Much like Eddie Guerrero's Three Amigos, Chris Benoit had this trio of German Suplexes. There was no fancy name for them, but that was the kind of the style for the Rabid Wolverine.

    He just went out there and threw you around in any way he wanted to. I believe that it is harder for Benoit to hold his grasp around the waist and throw three vicious German suplexes.

Sleeper Hold

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    CM Punk's GTS (Go to Sleep) may be popular among fans, but it is not on this list. I classify it as a knee to the head. Big deal.

    A sleeper hold, however, is a classic hold that had provided many men over the years with some early nap times.

    Notorious from "Rowdy" Roddy Piper and brought back by Dolph Ziggler, the sleeper can really make someone drowsy. And no, don't try it. Just take my word on it.

Skull Crushing Finale

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    The Miz needed a new finisher for his new attitude. He came up with the Skull Crushing Finale, which combines a full nelson with a Russian leg sweep. It is simple and easy to set up.

    The Miz can unleash the move on a whim. He has used it to knock out some of the best in WWE right now and has even used help from his Money in the Bank briefcase to incapacitate people.

Crippler Crossface

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    Chris Benoit always wrestled as if he was looking to put this move on his opponent. Anything as simple as control of his opponent's arm could lead to the crossface being put in.

    You know that a move is painful if it is used to win a world championship. Most of these moves have been used in that situation, including this one.

High Cross

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    Sheamus has some of the most dominating moves in WWE. You could argue that his combined arsenal is second to none among the current roster.

    His Brogue Kick has nearly decapitated people. The Irish Curse backbreaker can cause injury to any opponent. However, his major move to his opponent is the High Cross.

    Known at one time as Pale Justice and the Celtic Cross (name of Finlay's old finisher), the High Cross occurs when the Celtic Warrior picks up his opponent in a crucifix position, much like this moment with Goldust.

    He then runs from one turnbuckle to nearly the center of the ring and throws the man. The man lands at almost the opposite turnbuckle.

Trouble in Paradise

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    I'm not a big fan of a single kick doing enough damage to be considered very painful. The same goes for a single punch (sorry, Big Show).

    However, Kofi Kingston can land with his kick named Trouble in Paradise from seemingly nowhere. Kofi spins in a full circle and it lands perfectly more often than not.

    Kofi does not have the ability to see his opponent and adjust where his foot is. It always hits its mark with Kofi floating a few feet from the ground. It is perhaps the most impressive kick I have ever seen. Perhaps...

Glam Slam

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    The only move used primarily by a female that is on this list, the Glam Slam could take out many men if she so chooses to.

    Beth Phoenix can manhandle any Diva with that move. If the Divas division was legitimate and realistic, Beth Phoenix could be champion whenever she wants to.

    Phoenix grabs the two arms of her opponent, lifts her up, and slams her with a sit out slam. It usually means the end of any match and Phoenix could likely defeat many Divas with just that move alone.

Cross Rhodes

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    I am very happy to see Cody Rhodes becoming a fixture on Friday nights. I am especially happy because it means that I could be seeing more of the Cross Rhodes.

    Many wrestlers have had their swinging neckbreaker finishers, but none of them seem as realistic, as pretty and as damaging as this one.

    Cody has the head under his left arm and holds the right arm with his own right arm. After turning a little bit counterclockwise for some momentum. He spins his opponent clockwise and onto the floor.

Final Cut

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    From one member of the Rhodes family to the other, Goldust has a very nice finisher that he calls the Final Cut.

    The move starts as a vertical suplex, but changes once the opponent is at the top of the move. It then turns into a swinging neckbreaker and can happen so fast.

    Just ask Ted DiBiase how it feels. Maryse didn't seem to like it too much.

Gallows Pole

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    Remember Luke Gallows? No? Too bad.

    This move was actually very cool. Gallows would trap his opponents' arms by locking his hands around their chin. He would then lift his opponent up that way, only to slam them down like the picture.

    Originally referred to as the Twelfth Step, the Gallows Pole may sound familiar to some people. It is the name of a folk song from the 1930s.

    It is also the name of a Led Zeppelin song. You probably know the latter.

T-Bone Suplex

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    A T-Bone Suplex is just a solid move. I said before that not every move on here was a finishing move.

    Shelton Benjamin used this move often in his WWE tenure. It takes a lot of strength but deals a lot of damage. It is a very hard suplex to counter.

    I'm not really sure what else to say.

    I miss Shelton Benjamin.

    Wow. Reading that back, that sounded as exciting as one of Shelton Benjamin's promos. For those keeping score, that's two references to Benjamin sucking on the mic.


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    Tajiri had a lot of unforgettable things that he did in the ring. Be it his Japanese Buzzsaw, his green mist in the eyes of his opponent or the powerful kick he used to often finish opponents off, I always remembered the Tarantula.

    For this move, Tajiri uses the ropes to his advantage and inflicts a lot of pain to his opponent. The only problem with this move is that it causes an automatic rope break. The Tarantula can only truly be locked in for less than five seconds before being a disqualification.

Samoan Drop

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    A Samoan Drop is yet another basic move that causes a lot of damage. Just like a fireman's carry, someone who performs the Samoan Drop, like Big Daddy V in this photo, will fall to his back.

    Not only will the slam be a lot but the weight of the man who performs it will also cause a lot of damage. This is definitely true if that man is Big Daddy V. Look at how large that man is.

LeBell Lock

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    Daniel Bryan knows so many ways to make you tap out. His favorite way is becoming one of my favorite submissions as well. The LeBell Lock was named after "Judo" Gene LeBell.

    Bryan locks a crossface on while the arm is placed in a more awkward position. While it is similar to the Crippler Crossface, the difference that it holds does make a difference in when you should tap out and fight another day.

Camel Clutch

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    The Iron Sheik is a legend. I love how ruthless he was in the ring. I love to hear him attempt a shoot promo, especially nowadays. I love his pointy wrestling boots.

    However, one of the things I love the most is his Camel Clutch. It has become a staple among submission moves and has been used by so many men over the years.

Master Lock

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    Chris Masters destroyed most of WWE when he debuted. He rode the momentum of the Master Lock, his full nelson submission hold. Masters was typically very vicious with the hold, jerking his opponent from side to side.

    Regardless about how often Masters is seen on television, the Master Lock is still one of the most damaging moves and one of the hardest submissions to escape from.

Sweet Chin Music

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    There have been people who finish off their opponents with a kick, but none of them do it quite like The Heartbreak Kid. Shawn Michaels has broken many hearts over the years and probably a few jaws.

    His Sweet Chin Music is unlike most finishing kicks because he often stands in the turnbuckle and stomps on the ground.

    It is considered to be him "tuning up the band," but it is a warning stomp, like his kick is the shark from Jaws.

Punt Kick

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    People ask me how much Randy Orton's Punt Kick could possibly hurt. Well, it isn't the kick so much as it is where on the foot he hits and how his foot moves.

    Orton uses the top of his foot, unlike the sides or bottom of a foot, which most other kicks use.

    Orton also kicks hit foot up when he does it, making the damage arc upward. What does that cause, physicists? Whiplash.

Reality Check

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    Before The Miz was awesome and he was just a Chick Magnet, The Miz would give his opponents a Reality Check. A kick to the groin would often lead to The Miz standing back and running toward the opponent into a swinging neckbreaker.

    It was very vicious and was a great move to see The Miz break away from John Morrison.

    The Miz still uses the move from time to time, but it will always be one of the more vicious neckbreakers WWE has ever given us.

Batista Bite

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    You may not know about this move. Batista only used it for a short amount of time, mostly during his final feud with John Cena.

    It is very similar to the Rings of Saturn, a move that Perry Saturn used often in his career. If you don't know either move, I cannot really help you.


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    Wade Barrett's slam that he calls Wasteland may not seem like much, but it is very vicious and puts a lot upon the opponent to make the move work.

    Barrett puts the opponent on his shoulders and flings them off the front, sort of like a reverse Samoan Drop without him sitting out when he does it.

    Barrett nearly became a world champion with that move, but it did help him win the first NXT season, which hopefully means something down the line.

Shooting Star Press

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    The Shooting Star Press has been done by many wrestlers over the years, but it is often known as Air Bourne to those focused on WWE.

    Evan Bourne's height and technique is some of the best out there in regards to this move. He rarely has a bad instance of performing this move.

    Even after seeing it dozens of times on television and even seeing it in person, it still amazes me. And yeah, it hurts. You better believe it hurts.

450 Splash

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    Justin Gabriel is the one we associate with the 450 Splash, a move that some of the best high-flyers in the world have done. It is one move that I would wish that I could do.

    Gabriel is often spot-on with the move, although he was given some criticism at the beginning of his WWE career for missing at times. There is a lot of difficulty that could come into effect when performing it.

    By the way, did you notice that Tyson Kidd has been on the receiving end on the last two slides? Poor Tyson...


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    The Edgecator was a rare thing to see from the Rated-R Superstar until recently.

    His inability to use the Spear at Royal Rumble brought back the submission hold for Edge.

    It is a variation of the Sharpshooter, similar to the changes made from the Boston Crab to the Liontamer.

Gory Bomb

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    Congratulations to Chavo Guerrero for getting onto a list on Bleacher Report for something positive.

    Let's all take a moment to suck that in...

    Now that that's over, understand that Chavo rarely gets the time to wrestle anymore, let alone perform the move.

    I can only hope that Chavo is passing the secret to this move down to a younger superstar. This move almost reminds me of a backwards version of the Glam Slam.


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    You can all rest easy now, Randy Orton marks.

    The RKO, which are the initials for Orton's full name (CM Punk's name for Orton is his actual name, for those who didn't know), also stand for the one of the most vicious cutters in WWE history.

    It is similar to the Diamond Cutter used by DDP, except more like a sitout cutter. Orton also has the ability to strike at any time with the move.

Frog Splash

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    There are so many frog splashes in wrestling. The most famous one around today is the Five-Star Frog Splash by Rob Van Dam.

    There isn't much of a difference in terms of a look, but some can travel longer distances than others can.

    The contracting of the body, otherwise referred to as the frog part of the splash, gives the wrestler the ability to extend completely, maximizing damage.

Stone Cold Stunner

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    We all know what the Stone Cold Stunner is about. There isn't much difference from most cutters. In fact, it is pretty close to an RKO.

    In fact, a lot of what Randy Orton is reminds us of Austin. The next thing you will tell me is that Orton will have some snake-related nickname.

    Oh, wait.


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    The Sharpshooter will never truly go away. The Hart Foundation made it popular in the 90s. The Rock used it in the 2000s.

    Now, The Hart Dynasty has used it. All three members are now on their separate ways, but they all can use the move if they so choose. Natalya has even brought it to the Divas division.

The Last Ride

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    When The Undertaker came back as the American Badass, he brought a new finisher in The Last Ride. A typical powerbomb done in a new way with more distance from the sky to the ground than most superstars do.

    I'll admit that it is a little awkward when The Undertaker would linger before hoisting the opponent up because it would put the opponent's private area in a rather awkward place, but the move is still just as tragic.

Sidewalk Slam

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    Grab an opponent, place him on the side of you and fall to your side, using your opponent to comfort the blow. That's what a typical sidewalk slam is for.

    It won't finish anyone off, but it will certainly stun an opponent and give you the time to prepare for your next move. As long as you can lift your opponent up, it is a solid move for anyone to do.

Alabama Slam

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    Hardcore Holly may have seemed rather generic to many wrestling fans that followed his career. He was the average brawler that was never an easy victory and never a man you would forget facing.

    One of the reasons for the fear in facing Holly was his ability to pull off an Alabama Slam whenever he felt like it.

    The move includes Holly grabbing the legs of his opponent and using his legs to swing the rest of the body to the ground.

    Holly taught this move to Cody Rhodes when they were tag team champions together. You know, before all the "Dashing" thing.

Pump Handle Slam

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    Some of the best powerhouses have used the pump handle slam. Test became a fixture in WWE with the move.

    In the picture, you can see Snitsky using the move. Only a powerhouse could manhandle an opponent to slam an opponent with that intensity.


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    Say what you like about John Cena and his fighting style. His Attitude Adjustment is your basic firemen's carry. The Five-Knuckle Shuffle is just flashy. His ability to no-sell moves annoys many wrestling fans.

    However, Cena is always looking to adapt and change his fighting style. A few months ago, Cena performed a dropkick. He also has a leg drop from the top rope, a rarity for a man of his size. Cena also threw a submission move into his game with the STF.

    Originally named the STFU, which stands for obvious things, the STF stands for stepover toehold facelock.

    The knee is fully extended behind itself while one of the strongest men in the WWE wraps his gigantic arm around your neck. Cena may be dramatic when he uses it, but it certainly is effective, making some of the best ]WWE has to offer tap out.


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