The success of a professional wrestler can rest on several factors. To start the presentation is important. The look, entrance music, and ring gear can give the world a great introduction to the character and develop a connection with the audience. Even if the attributes mentioned above are a hit the wrestler can get exposed the second they get in the ring. If they can’t work and their moveset sucks the fans will turn on them in an instant. We can see this importance by looking at a wrestler’s finisher. The effectiveness of a finisher can get the desired pop from the audience. On the other side, a wrestler’s finisher, if terrible, can get a groan from the audience. Below we will take a look at some of the best and worst finishers in the history of WWE.
Best: Stunner/RKO/Diamond Cutter
Regardless of what people say these finishers are the same. The only difference is a matter of laying flat as opposed to sitting down with the move so these will be lumped together.
The cutter is an incredibly effective move. One can apply the finisher on any wrestler regardless of size. It is a move that requires no setup and can bit hit out of nowhere. This makes it one of the more dangerous moves on the roster.
The cutter also gets a huge pop from the crowd. With the instant nature of the move, it is easy to see why the fans jump out of their seats
Worst: Pumphandle Slam
Why anyone would adopt this as their finisher is mind-boggling. To begin with, this move is not effective. There is no way to build up enough momentum to incapacitate your opponent. Essentially, you are lifting your opponent and placing them on their back. Hardly a great move.
Looking at the Pump Handle Slam further one would question how this move could be applied to every wrestler. It would take incredible strength to lift a larger wrestler from that position, thus rendering the move useless.
Before it was a move used as a setup piece, the DDT was one of the most devastating finishers in the business. Introduced to the wrestling world by Jake Roberts, the DDT was an incredible move that wowed the audience.
Starting with a front face lock and driving your opponent’s head into the ground was a brilliant move. It was easy to perform on anyone, regardless of size, and it was believable that it would put your opponent down for the 3-count.
Worst: People’s Elbow
He may be one of the greatest to ever step between the ropes but The Rock sure did have a terrible finisher. The Rock Bottom was an effective finisher, so incorporating a standing elbow drop makes no sense. There is no conceivable reason why anyone would be put down for a 3 after this move. Sure, it gets a pop from the crowd but that is where the appeal ends.
The Rock should have stuck to his initial finisher, The People’s Elbow had very few redeeming qualities.
Best: Ankle Lock
Of all the submission moves that have made their way through wrestling, the Ankle Lock is the best. Grabbing your opponent’s ankle and twisting as hard as you can is a perfect way to finish the match. It is a simple yet incredibly effective manoeuvre. Once locked in escape is nearly impossible and the pain one will experience would be extreme.
This submission is also one that can be applied to any wrestler. Even the biggest man in the ring would fall victim to his ankle being contorted into obscene angles. This sets the ankle lock apart from other submission moves in the industry.
Worst: The Attitude Adjustment
Coming from the PG era is the most PG of all moves. The Death Valley Driver is a dangerous finisher that looks great, it is just a shame that John Cena went and toned it down.
Lifting a wrestler on his shoulder and driving them to the mat would be a great visual, but it is not what WWE had in mind. Cena gingerly lifts his opponent off his shoulder and drops him flat on his back. This is hardly a move that would knock any wrestler down for the required 3 seconds.
It is also hard to get a pop from the crowd with the move. No one truly believes that this is an effective finisher and we can see it in the faces of the audience.
Best: Brogue Kick
Sheamus may not be the most popular wrestler in the world but he sure does have a great finisher.
Flying at a wrestler and smashing them in the face with your boot is a great way to get a pop from the crowd. It is a move that requires little setup and can be hit from practically any position.
Generally called a bicycle kick, the Brogue Kick is a painfully effective finisher. It doesn’t matter how big or small you are, once you are smashed in the face you are down for a 3-count.
Worst: Torture Rack
Utilized by Lex Luger, the Torture Rack might be the worst submission movie in wrestling history.
There could have been many moves for a powerhouse to use but this one was confusing. Lifting a wrestler on your shoulder is an impressive feat but that’s where the awe ends. Laying across one’s shoulders does not look painful at all. It resembles something that one would use as a relaxation technique.
There is also the practicality of the move that is an issue. Most wrestlers would have a hard time getting a larger opponent onto their shoulders. This would pose an issue for anyone brave enough to give the move a shot.
Best: Flying Elbow
Many men/women have used a top-rope move as their finisher, but none are better than the Flying Elbow Drop.
Most top-tope moves require a lot of setup and it is hard to believe that they would work. With the Flying Elbow Drop, this is not a problem. The Elbow Drop rests on the quickness with which a wrestler can scale the ropes.
The effectiveness of this move is also great. With a standing elbow drop, there is no momentum, while coming off the top rope gives one the proper momentum. It is believable that one would be put down with an elbow flying directly onto their torso.
Worst: The Atomic Leg Drop
Hulk Hogan had many great qualities to his character, his finisher was not one of them. Dropping his leg across a wrestler’s chest may get them to gasp for air but there is no way that it would put them down for three.
This effectiveness applies even further when we consider most professional wrestlers. For a normal person, this move may work, but for a wrestler who stands over 6 feet tall, weighing close to 300lbs, this move would fall to the wayside.
The Atomic Legdrop may get an instant pop from the crowd but the appeal of that finisher ends there.