In wrestling, you’re only as great as your finishing move. If you can’t find a way to electrify the crowd then you’re probably not going much further than Barry Horowitz. But whose finishers were the best of the best? We all have our personal favorites, but these are the ones that superstars used to launch their illustrious careers. These are the 50 greatest finishing moves wrestling has ever seen.
50. LEG DROP Is it actually a good move? Probably not, but Hulk Hogan is the definitive name in wrestling so it’s blasphemous not to put him on a wrestling list.
49. STARSHIP PAIN
John Morrison isn’t a household name, but his finisher feels like it could be straight out of WCW’s stellar light heavyweight division in the 90s.
48. GO TO SLEEP CM Punk may be one of the biggest stars the WWE has seen in years, but his finisher feels a little lacking. It gets enough of a crowd reaction to make the list, but you have to admit it’s a little clumsy.
47. GORILLA PRESS
Every time the Ultimate Warrior did his gorilla press slam, it felt like with little or no additional effort he could easily throw his opponent across the arena.
46. ZIG ZAG Dolph Ziggler may be the most undervalued present-day wrestler and his finisher, which looks like some sort of jumping reverse DDT, is a perfect example of why he needs a championship push.
45. CROSSFACE CHICKEN WING When Bob Backlund made his comeback as a loose cannon that would snap at any moment and put anyone in the crossface chicken wing, it was probably the most feared hold in wrestling.
44. CAMEL CLUTCH
The Iron Sheik may be the greatest villain wrestling has ever seen and his finisher was one of those that seemed impossible to escape.
43. MANDIBLE CLAW Let’s look past the pain factor and just consider how unsanitary it was for Mankind to shove those dirty fingers down your throat.
42. Superfly SplashNobody was better at combining a high flying maneuver with tiny, exotic underwear quite like Superfly Jimmy Snuka.
41. ATTITUDE ADJUSTMENT So many big finishers start out with a fireman’s carry and while John Cena’s is effective, it’s definitely the least impressive of the group.
40. IRON CLAW It’s a shame that Kerry Von Erich passed away in the prime of his career, because no one did the iron claw like him. It’s one of those moves that have just disappeared over time.
39. BATISTA BOMBBatista may not have the greatest powerbomb in the history of wrestling, but when a guy of his size flips someone upside down and slams him onto his back with that kind of force, you have to respect it.
38. THE ELBOW DROP Every time Macho Man Randy Savage climbed to the top rope, you knew something fantastic was about to happen.
37. WALLS OF JERICHO The combination of the Walls of Jericho and the Codebreaker is a big part of what made Chris Jericho one of the biggest stars in recent memory.
36. THE TORTURE RACK
35. BANZAI DROP I know Yokozuna wasn’t actually sitting on them with full force, but it must have been terrifying seeing that giant body tumbling down onto your chest.
34. TOTAL ELIMINATIONThe Eliminators were one of the most innovative tag teams in the history of ECW and, honestly, you could fill a list with nothing but moves they pulled off during matches. Total Elimination was simply awesome.
33. CRIPPLER CROSSFACE
We won’t mention whose move it was, but no matter who used it, the crossface was a devastatingly effective finisher.
32. SISTER ABIGAIL Bray Wyatt is the best character in wrestling right now and his eerie finisher deserves every bit of recognition it could get.
31. EDGE’S SPEARIt’s wasn’t quite the weapon that Goldberg’s spear was, but don’t underestimate how great it was when Edge would launch his full body into the midsection of his opponent.
30. RKO If we were just going by the amount of Vine videos featuring the wrestler appearing in random scenarios and hitting his finisher, Randy Orton’s RKO would be at the top of the list.
29. DOOMSDAY DEVICE
The Road Warriors may be the greatest tag team of all time, so their super elevated closeline is obviously one of the most popular finishers the WWE or WCW ever saw.
28. RUNNING AWESOME BOMB
When you saw Mike Awesome’s beautiful mullet flying in the wind as he ran across the ring getting ready to slam an opponent into the mat, you knew you were seeing pure magic
Stan Hansen’s finisher may not have been elaborate, but his monstrous variation of the closeline felt like a move that would legitimately take your head off. .
26. THE F-5 Brock Lesnar’s finisher is impressive, but it would be a lot higher on the list if Sable didn’t use the exact same move before him.
25. THE INVERTED POWERBOMB Vader took the powerbomb to an insane new level when he briefly flipped the script and finished off his matches with an inverted powerbomb that saw opponents being slammed down face first.
24. SWEET CHIN MUSIC
HBK turned a simple savate kick into one of the most iconic finishers of the Attitude Era and the only move that ever sent Marty Jannetty flying through a window.
23. THE PEDIGREEIf you have any doubts as to how effective Triple H’s finisher was, and continues to be, just watch this.
22. TAZZMISSION Tazz never saw the level of success he had in ECW anywhere else, but the Tazzmission was probably the most feared move the organization ever saw, especially when it was preceded by a Tazplex.
21. TEXAS CLOVERLEAF Dean Malenko was known as the man of a thousand holds and the greatest of all of those was, without a doubt, his variation of the Sharpshooter.
20. ANKLE LOCK
Ken Shamrock made it popular, but Kurt Angle turned it into one of the most iconic finishers of the 21st century.
19. DIAMOND CUTTERDiamond Dallas Page was doing the RKO before there was an RKO. Plus, he may or may not have been in the Illuminati.
18. THE MOONSAULT The moonsault is an awesome feat when it’s done by a light heavyweight, but when the nearly 400lb Bam Bam Bigelow did it, the entire arena just went nuts.
17. SWANTON BOMB Jeff Hardy inverted the moonsault and wasn’t afraid to use it through every table and off every ladder he could find.
16. THE RUDE AWAKENING There was just something about the Rude Awakening that fit every part of the persona that was Rick Rude. The tights, the hip swivels, and the hair just perfectly encompassed the Ravishing One.
15. 619Rey Mysterio could break off a dozen moves before you could name the first one, so it’s no surprise his finisher would be exciting, high flying, and stunningly impressive.
Obviously The Big Show didn’t invent the choke slam, but when a 7’ monster that weighs over 400 lbs lifts you into the air by your throat, he can take all the credit in the world for it.
13. DUDLEY DEATH DROP
No tag team put together more exciting combination moves than the Dudley Boyz. The 8-time ECW tag team champs took the RKO or the Diamond Cutter to a whole new level than often ended with someone going through a table.
12. FIVE STAR FROG SPLASH/VAN DAMINATOR
Rob Van Dam may not be able to perform at the level he once thrived, but when he was in his prime, almost every move he pulled off was more impressive than most guy’s big finisher.
11. THE MILLION DOLLAR DREAM
Ted Dibiase was one of the most charismatic heels in the history of wrestling, so his variation of the sleeper hold became hugely popular. There’s just something about a hold that would leave you completely unconscious that makes it completely terrifying.
10. FIGURE FOUR To be the man, you gotta beat the man and that’s exactly what Ric Flair did throughout his career. Sure everyone broke out of the figure four at some point in major matches, but there was nothing better than watching Flair grab onto the ropes to get extra leverage as he clamped on his signature hold.
9. THE RAZOR’S EDGE
Razor Ramon was a near perfect character because Scott Hall embodied every aspect, right down to the finishing move. It was brash and intimidating and a masterful display of his strength and abilities.
8. THE ROCK BOTTOM/PEOPLE’S ELBOW
There’s no wrestling finisher as ridiculous as The People’s Elbow, but it wasn’t about the move as it was about the showmanship. The whole thing became its own production and absolutely worked the crowd into a frenzy. There’s a reason why The Rock is now the biggest action star in Hollywood.
7. TOMBSTONE PILEDRIVER Even if it’s at the top of the list, it may still be the most iconic finisher of all time. The Undertaker took a move that isn’t the most glamorous or flashy and turned it into one of the most notable signature moves of all time. Plus he could cross his opponent’s arms while pinning them so it looked like they were dead. It doesn’t get much better than that.
6. THE SHARPSHOOTER/SCORPION DEATHLOCKWe can stop pretending that they’re not the same move and just appreciate the fact that Sting and Bret Hart both have hall of fame careers with the exact same finisher. The interesting part is they had quite different styles as Hart was much more of a technician and Sting usually set his up with the Stinger Splash, which is not Hart’s style at all. One thing was for sure, when it was applied, you knew the match was about to be over.
5. THE DDT It’s such a simple move, but even today it still gets the crowd going. When Jake The Snake would spin his finger in the air we all knew what was coming next. Best of all, it was almost always followed by someone getting a snake dumped on them. Damien deserves as much credit as Roberts.
4. JACKNIFE POWERBOMBWhat made Diesel/Kevin Nash’s powerbomb so much better than the average powerbomb is how effortless it came off. When he lifted his opponent to the peak height, he’d just let go, which made it seem so much more confident and intimidating than an average powerbomb. Sorry Psycho Sid, Diesel has this one locked down.
3. THE PERFECT PLEX
The montages of Mr. Perfect excelling at every possible sport imaginable were enough to make him a legend, but the Perfect Plex was so great because you actually felt like it was nearly impossible to kick out of the move. Plus it went directly into a pinning formation, so when it hit, Perfect was taking home the win.
2. THE SPEAR/JACKHAMMER Wrestling has never witnessed a force like Goldberg. He didn’t just defeat opponents; he destroyed them. There was no face paint or over the top gimmick, but just a raw machine that would plow through anything in his path. What made The Spear so fun to watch is that it didn’t feel like a move that would only work in wrestling. You seriously felt like he was hitting these guys so hard they could turn inside out. As great as Edge was with The Spear, Goldberg’s follow up with the Jackhammer made it one the most spectacular combos in wrestling history.
1. STONE COLD STUNNER
Jim Ross is probably the biggest reason The Stunner is as exciting as it was. His reactions were nothing short of legendary, but let’s not take away the credit from Steve Austin. He knew how to sell his move and exactly what the crowd wanted to see. The moment when Austin hit Vince McMahon with a Stunner for the first time and was arrested by a group of officers may go down as the greatest moment in the history of Monday Night Raw, and rightfully so.