There's nothing like the spectacle of professional wrestling. The gimmicks, the athletic feats, the storylines -- it's all just the best. But without the proper finisher, a wrestler might as well sign up to be a jobber. Go ahead; try to imagine Shawn Michaels without the superkick or Stone Cold without his Stunner. They'd be mid-tier superstars at best, not the worldwide icons they came to be. With WWE's New Era upon us, it's time to rank the best finishers in wrestling history -- based on how impressive the move is, how painful it looks, how it was booked, and just how nostalgic it makes us.
Some of our favorites that didn't quite make the cut include Sting's Scorpion Deathdrop; the Perfect-plex; any Brainbuster, especially one on top of a turnbuckle; the Shooting Star Press; Bray Wyatt's Sister Abigail; Big Show's version of the Chokeslam (sorry, Kane); the Torture Rack; Go To Sleep; Legion of Doom's Doomsday Device; Dean Malenko's Texas Cloverleaf; Roddy Piper's Sleeper Hold; Jeff Hardy's Swanton Bomb; and many more, probably. Let us know what we left off the list in the comments.
Dishonorable mention: Leg Drop of Doom
Used by: Hulk Hogan. For some reason, this was one of the most devastating moves in the classic days of professional wrestling. Hogan kicked you in the face, bounced off the ropes, then dropped his big thigh all over your face. It's a move your grandfather could do. The fact that we allowed one of the biggest names in wrestling to have such a weak finisher is something we should all try to forget.
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25. Mandible Claw
Used by: Mankind. Having a grown man shove his fingers down your throat would be bad enough. Mick Foley took things to the next level, of course, when he introduced the world to Mr. Socko.
24. Styles Clash
Used by: A.J. Styles. As wrestling has evolved through the years, finishing moves have become more and more complex. The Styles Clash is devastatingly elegant in its simplicity. Pick a guy up (while he's hanging upside-down), hook your legs over his arms, then drive him face-first into the mat. It's so effective that rumors of WWE banning the Styles Clash are always floating around.
Used by: Roman Reigns, Goldberg, Edge. Yes, the Spear is an incredibly basic move. Yet when delivered with the right amount of force -- and when sold properly -- there's something spectacular about what amounts to a glorified football tackle.
22. Blue Thunder Bomb
Used by: Sami Zayn. Zayn's such a technical marvel that it's hard to pick just one of his signature moves. There's nothing quite like the Blue Thunder Bomb in his arsenal, though. It's equal parts whimsical (as the opponent floats over Zayn, seemingly removed from the effects of gravity) and powerful (as the opponent comes crashing to earth, flat on his back).
Used by: Rey Mysterio, John Cena. The 619 is cool, too. But Mysterio was at his best when he was jumping onto people's shoulders for a massive Hurricanrana. And that move becomes even more impressive when you have someone Cena's size pulling it off -- or when you add a 450 off the turnbuckle to set up the move for the "Dragonrana."
Getty ImagesFrank Micelotta
20. Ankle lock
Used by: Ken Shamrock, Kurt Angle. WWE has gone away from signature moves over the years, which is a shame. This was one of the best, made popular by two superstars who had athletic careers outside of the squared circle. The ankle lock is incredibly simple -- and incredibly painful. Sometimes, that combination is all you need for a finisher.
19. Attitude Adjustment
Used by: John Cena. The AA in and of itself isn't particularly spectacular. Cena's ability to hoist anyone on the roster onto his shoulders most certainly is, though.
Used by: Vader, Charlotte. Rarely is the moonsault used as a finisher these days, to be sure. The sight of Big Van Vader flying through the air will stick with us for the rest of our lives, however. And on those grounds alone, the moonsault makes this list.
17. Figure-four leglock
Used by: Ric Flair, Charlotte. It's iconic. It's painful. And it's reversed about half the time. Perhaps if the figure-four were booked as a more solid finisher, it would rate higher on this list.
16. Walls of Jericho/Liontamer
Used by: Chris Jericho. Jericho's old finisher is rather simple -- notihng more than an at-times-modified Boston Crab. He and his opponent usually sell it well, though, which makes this an iconic move.
15. Bank Statement
Used by: Sasha Banks, Daniel Bryan, Chris Benoit. Banks' crossface serves as a stand-in for all of the extremely painful crossface finishers we've seen through the years. For my money, it's tough to beat the "Yes Lock," but Banks is the chosen representative for this class of submission holds since she's still an active wrestler -- and a world champion.
Used by: Goldberg. We look back on Goldberg's WCW shtick and laugh. The whole undefeated streak was such amateur booking. At the time, however, Goldberg was awesome, and the time he hit the Jackhammer on the Giant is one of the most impressive moments in professional wrestling history.
13. Dirty Deeds (DDT)
Used by: Dean Ambrose, Jake Roberts, Raven. Dean Ambrose's finisher is the latest in a long, storied tradition of dropping people on their head with DDTs, going all the way back to Jake Roberts.
Used by: Brock Lesnar. Unstoppable monster + lifting large human beings onto his shoulders + gravity = a solid finisher that would be even better if Lesnar actually drove his opponent into the mat instead of just letting them fall from a great height. That would be a top-ten finisher.
Heather McLaughlinWWE, Inc.
11. Sharpshooter/Scorpion Deathlock
Used by: Bret Hart, Sting, Natalya. It's a move as classic as the figure-four, with the added benefit that it's not reversed nearly as often. People might find a way to reach the ropes to break the hold, sure. But once the Sharpshooter is locked in, your options are limited. (Now, can we get everyone doing the Sharpshooter these days to work on their technique, please?)
10. Frog splash
Used by: Eddie Guerrero, Rob Van Dam (five-star frog splash). As we've seen over and over on this list, sometimes the best finishers are those that keep it simple. Guerrero's frog splash was a vicious leaping strike from the top turnbuckle, and RVD took it to another level with his flipping, five-star version of the classic move. These days, you can catch Seth Rollins flying through the air, doing his best ode to Eddie.
Used by: Triple H, Seth Rollins. Your arms are wrapped up behind you. Your face is stuffed in between someone else's legs. And down, down you go, face-first into the mat. There's nothing pleasant about the Pedigree, which has been booked as one of the most powerful finishers in WWE.
8. Flying Elbow
Used by: Macho Man Randy Savage. The sight of Macho Man flying through the air, emblazoned in ridiculous colors and dropping elbows on his opponents, is why we fell in love with wrestling in the first place. The Flying Elbow is iconic. Period.
Getty ImagesRussell Turiak
7. Rock Bottom
Used by: The Rock, Booker T. This is the move you were comfortable trying with your friends, because no one was going to get hurt by a Rock Bottom. In that sense, it's kind of the Hogan Leg Drop of modern WWE. Combined with the People's Elbow, however, it's one of the most electrifying moves in sports entertainment history. You can't have a top ten without the Rock Bottom.
6. Jackknife Powerbomb
Used by: Kevin Nash. Nash didn't always give the Jackknife his all. And when he wasn't feeling it, the powerbomb fell flat. When he was committed to the act, however, the Jackknife was a ruthless finisher that folded his opponents in half after driving them into the mat from seven feet in the air.
Getty ImagesRussell Turiak
5. Tombstone Piledriver
Used by: The Undertaker. The Tombstone is the definition of iconic. Very rarely did anyone kick out of the Undertaker's signature move.
4. Razor's/Outsider's Edge
Used by: Razor Ramon/Scott Hall. Scott Hall is the most underrated wrestler ever, and he has the most underrated finisher as well. It's not the way the move finishes, necessarily, although being driven into the mat like that has to hurt. It's the way Hall held his opponent up in the air in a crucifix position for what seemed like an eternity, letting them contemplate their fate before the three-count.
3. RKO/Diamond Cutter
Used by Randy Orton, Diamond Dallas Page. DDP popularized the Cutter, but Orton perfected it. The best finishers can be hit from multiple angles and from seemingly out of nowhere -- and that's the definition of the RKO.
2. Sweet Chin Music
Used by: Shawn Michaels. I agree 100 percent with my colleague's opinion that there are too many superkicks in professional wrestling these days. There's a reason for that, though. Everyone wants to do a superkick because it's amazing. Sweet Chin Music was the very best. Whether HBK was pumping up the crowd by stomping on the mat or hitting one on an unsuspecting opponent in the blink of an eye, every one of his superkicks got us on our feet.
1. Stone Cold Stunner
Used by: Stone Cold Steve Austin. He's the GOAT. And Austin's Stunner is the GOAT, too. He hit it on everyone, from championship contenders to presidential candidates. Any time you were face-to-face with Austin, you had to worry that a kick to the gut was coming, followed by a Stunner. Ask a non-wrestling fan to name a move, and they're going to pick the Stunner.