The 50 coolest maneuvers of all time
Pro wrestlers have been dishing out cool moves since the early 1900s when Frank Gotch was suplexing dudes. The game has evolved like X-Men since then (ever take a few years off watching wrestling and come back to find guys doing things you never thought possible?), but the most impressive maneuvers have stood the test of time.
Today, every Superstar has awesome moves. Hell, Chris Jericho has 1,004 of them. But which are the coolest? We ranked the 50 holds, strikes and dives that would've made Mr. McMahon shout, "What a maneuver!" if he was still sitting at the commentary booth.
And what exactly do we mean by coolest? If you were cool you wouldn’t be asking that question.
Ultimate Warrior's Gorilla Press Slam
Pure intensity, pure mayhem, pure Warrior. Whenever Ultimate Warrior’s music hit, all hell would inevitably break loose. But nothing demonstrated the sheer electricity and powerful essence of such a wild Superstar like his Gorilla Press Slam.
Whether it was 15 seconds into a match or at the culmination of an all-out slaughter in the face of the gods, Warrior would call upon his trademark military press out of nowhere, launching his adversaries high above his head with his barbarian grasp, before sending them roaring back down to earth again. After that, there was nothing left to do but pick the bones. — MICHAEL BURDICK
Victoria's Widow's Peak
Putting her own spin on the Gory Neckbreaker — a move innovated by Mexican ring legend Gory Guerrero — Victoria felled many a female in WWE with the chiropractic nightmare she called the Widow’s Peak. In executing the maneuver, the raven-haired aggressor would hoist her opponents back-to-back over her shoulder then drop them savagely to the canvas, twisting their necks backward in a sickening show of force. Incapacitating such iconic Divas as Torrie Wilson, Stacy Keibler and WWE Hall of Famer Trish Stratus, the Widow’s Peak earned Victoria her second Women’s Championship in a Fatal 4-Way Match on the Feb. 23, 2004, edition of Raw, when she used the dreaded maneuver to take out Lita. — JAMES WORTMAN
JBL's Clothesline from Hell
Some wrestling moves are precision holds, designed to stretch opponents’ limbs past their breaking points. Others are about hitting a dude so hard his head might pop off. JBL’s Clothesline from Hell clearly falls into the latter category.
The big Texan took a cue from fellow Lone Star State native Stan Hansen, as both men enjoyed recklessly throwing their beefy arms at foes like big league sluggers swinging for the fences. JBL almost always connected, knocking the poor sap across the ring from him into next week. Hell probably sounded like a vacation after getting clobbered by The Wrestling God’s signature clothesline. — BOBBY MELOK
Dean Malenko's Texas Cloverleaf
If finding a four leaf clover is considered good luck, then finding yourself in Dean Malenko’s Texas Cloverleaf must be just the opposite.
Originated by WWE Hall of Famer Dory Funk Jr., the hold was made popular by The Iceman in WCW in the mid-to-late 1990’s. Malenko made many an opponent submit by grabbing his victim’s legs and bending one so that its shin wrenched into the knee of the straight leg. Reaching through the legs and around the other ankle, Malenko would grasp his hands together, turn his opponent over and lean back, putting enormous pressure on the legs, spine and abdomen.
It’s a hold that looks awesome as it inflicts pain and certainly spells bad luck for anyone finding themselves locked in it. — TOM LIODICE
Roman Reigns’ Superman Punch
A close-fisted punch in a WWE match usually garners an admonishment — almost always unheeded — from the referee. However the rule book goes out the window when Roman Reigns lands his breathtaking Superman Punch. A jumping, cross-body right hand delivered with phenomenal impact, the blow is made all the more devastating by the incredible torque generated by The Shield member’s 250-pound frame. John Cena, Sheamus and Big E have all been flattened by a hit so impactful it would rival the power of George Foreman in his prime. What makes this move even more frightening? Even if an opponent is somehow able to avoid the strike, they still have to worry about a Roman Reigns spear that can rearrange the organs of any Superstar today. — ANDY SEIFE
Arn Anderson's Spinebuster
No one threw a Spinebuster quite like Arn Anderson. The Enforcer of The Four Horsemen managed to snatch up a rebounding opponent by the legs, spin around and viciously slam them into the canvas in one fluid motion. Few moves looked so beautiful and so painful at the same time.
What made Anderson’s Spinebuster so dangerous was that he could hit it out of nowhere. The understated grappler had no contrived set-up for the move, no tell that gave away what was about to happen. Before it registered with anyone, Anderson’s opponent was in need of a chiropractor, the match was over and fans were in awe of how easy The Enforcer made it look. — B.M.
Mick Foley’s Cactus Elbow
“I started doing the elbow in Texas in World Class [Championship Wrestling] and it actually started with me missing it all the time. It was the only move I know that was named after the pain it inflicted on the offender rather than the victim, which is when I called it The Hipbuster.
“This was during a time when sports-entertainment was a lot different. I was working with a very limited skill set and was really into creating the type of moves where people would sit back and say, ‘Oh, that had to hurt.’
“Out of all the ones I did, the most memorable was the one from the second rope onto Sting at Clash of the Champions. It was done perfectly, at the perfect place against the perfect guy.” – MICK FOLEY, AS TOLD TO ZACH LINDER
The Undertaker's Old School
It wasn’t always known as Old School. Back when The Undertaker first started walking along the top rope with his victim’s twisted arm locked in his hand, it was just a crazy, nameless move. Was it practical? Probably not. The Phenom put himself at risk for getting crotched or flung to the outside of the ring each time. Still, opponents were rarely able to stop The Deadman once he started his journey. Staring up at a 7-foot zombie who was somehow walking on air, they must have felt as horrified as Father Karras in “The Exorcist” when the little girl’s head started spinning. The Undertaker favored more punishing moves later in his career — Last Ride, Chokeslam and Hell's Gate chief among them — but none were as dramatic as Old School. — RYAN MURPHY
Killer Kowalski's Stomach Claw
A master of the mat science, Walter “Killer” Kowalski knew that in order to succeed in his chosen industry he had to develop a unique maneuver that would bring him success. And that’s what he did with the bizarre — and effective — Stomach Claw. With his massive hands, Kowalski worked like a surgeon, pinpointing his opponent’s stomach muscles with precision. It got ugly from there as Killer applied vicious, relentless pressure, squeezing an opponent’s intenstines until submission was achieved. Needless to say, it took some time before Kowalski’s defeated adversary could enjoy a good meal afterwards. — HOWARD FINKEL
It takes a Superstar of superior determination to pull off a move as daring as the Killswitch. And, as his Peeps know, Christian and his “one more match” mentality are perfect not just for being able to deliver this devastating attack, but make it look cool in the process. When Captain Charisma is efficient, the fluidity of the Killswitch holds a beauty that few other match-ending maneuvers can equal. If he milks it, the move doubles as a cerebral attack, giving opponents time to realize what’s about to happen.
The maneuver’s origins can be found in the Tomikaze, a unique attack favored by tag team specialist Tommy Rogers. Still, while Superstars like Billy Kidman and Nunzio have also used it, the Killswitch truly belongs to Christian. — MIKE MURPHY
Booker T's Harlem Hangover
You’d have to be a real sucka to not appreciate Booker T’s Harlem Hangover. As if a 260-plus pound Superstar executing a top rope maneuver isn’t intense enough, the WWE Hall of Famer added even more force with a mid-air flip, crashing onto his unlucky opponent’s dome with a face-rearranging leg drop. Despite all the other iconic moves in Booker’s arsenal — from his ring-shaking Book End to the WWE fan favorite scissors kick — his Harlem Hangover remains the most awesome and devastating of all. Can you dig it? — J.G.
If you’re looking for an honorable way to incapacitate your opponent, the Backstabber may not seem like a fitting choice. This double-knee backbreaker only works if the perpetrator can sneak up on his adversary from behind. And the Superstar who made the move famous, Carlito, wasn’t exactly the first grappler to use it. (For starters, inaugural “Tough Enough” winner Maven used a variation of the finisher that he called the M-Plosion.)
Yet the Backstabber’s ability to change the momentum of a match at a moment’s notice may justify the dubious means needed to execute it. Carlito certainly proved the move’s effectiveness, as he employed it to great success in his pursuits of championship gold. Besides, if a Superstar’s not using everything in his bag of tricks to attain greatness in WWE, where’s the honor in that? — MATT ARTUS
Chris Jericho's Lionsault
Chris Jericho once proclaimed himself “The Man of 1004 Holds.” Of course, he was mocking Dean Malenko’s “Man of 1000 Holds” moniker, but Y2J undoubtedly revolutionized many of the coolest and most creative moves in history. The Walls of Jericho and Codebreaker are both awesome (and barely missed this list) and highlight his technical ability and ring savvy. But it’s Jericho’s Lionsault that exemplifies the speed, precision and agility of the veteran’s enviable mat prowess. The fact that Y2J makes a move as dangerous — both to perform and to be on the wrong side — look easy makes it all the more impressive. — KEVIN POWERS
ECW wasn’t just barbwire and flaming tables. For every cane-swinging Sandman, there was an expert grappler like Tazz. Brooklyn tough to the bone, Tazz brought judo expertise to ECW rings, but it was his innovative “Tazzplexes” that led him to be known as The Human Suplex Machine.
Like a feral jungle cat, The One-Man Crime Spree would attack his opponents anyway he could. Locking his right forearm under his rival’s chin and his hooking his left arm under their armpit, Tazz would propel himself backwards and send his enemy soaring above his head. This wasn’t any ordinary suplex. This was a surefire way to end careers. Competitors as wide-ranging as Sabu and Kurt Angle experienced it first-hand as “just another victim.” No barbwire required. — Z.L.
Cesaro's Very European Uppercut
Cesaro’s moveset is one of the most devastating — and, not to mention, most diverse — in all of sports-entertainment today. Perhaps the most deliberately impactful maneuver at his disposal, however, is the Very European Uppercut, a brutally blunt blow, delivered directly to the mush of an adversary.
Executed (a particularly good word, that, as the move is akin to an execution) by heaving an opponent in the air, then taking him to dream street courtesy of a forearm to the face, the uppercut can turn a match around in an instant.
Painful as it is for the unfortunate soul on the receiving end, it also looks insanely cool. — ALEX GIANNINI
Mankind’s Mandible Claw
Doctor-turned-wrestler Sam Sheppard is recognized as the inventor of the Mandible Claw, first implementing the maneuver in 1969. However, the invasive submission move didn’t gain prominence until the late '90s when it was performed by Mick Foley under the leather mask of Mankind.
A hold that perfectly suited the madness of Mrs. Foley’s Baby Boy, the Mandible Claw saw Mankind shove his hand into an opponent’s mouth, forcing his fingers into the soft tissue under the tongue, causing pain and temporary paralysis. Throw on Mr. Socko — Foley’s trusted sock puppet — and adversaries not only faced an extremely painful finish, but were left with the taste of foot fungus in their mouth. — SCOTT TAYLOR
The Brian Kendrick's Sliced Bread #2
In the hierarchy of great American innovations, the list goes 1.) sliced bread, 2.) Sliced Bread #2, The Brian Kendrick’s dizzying take on Naomichi Marufuji’s patented shiranui. The maneuver is, more or less, an inverted DDT with a little English on it. Instead of simply pulling an opponent’s head into the mat from behind — like in Sting’s Scorpion Death Drop — Kendrick would grab his target in a facelock, run up the turnbuckles and then backflip over them. His momentum would drive his victim’s head into the canvas with a lot more oomph — particularly beneficial for a lighter competitor like Kendrick — and a lot more flash. No wonder it edged out toilet paper on the list of integral modern advancements. — R.M.
Ultimo Dragon’s Dragon Sleeper
In a WCW cruiserweight division replete with diverse and world-traveled competitors, Ultimo Dragon stood head and fire-breathing snout above the rest in terms of well-roundedness. Sure, he flew and kicked with the best of them, but he could also tie on a submission, and there was no better example of this than his namesake hold, the Dragon Sleeper.
Essentially a rear chancery, the move was startlingly punishing, with Dragon wrenching back on an opponents’ head — causing their spines to arc almost beyond the point of no return. That’s not all: the speedy Dragon had an ability to lock in the maneuver when foes least expected it, adding a thrilling air of unpredictability. — JOHN CLAPP
Eddie Guerrero's Three Amigos
Eddie Guerrero had maneuvers in his arsenal that were more daring (frog splash) and looked more painful (Lasso from El Paso), but none were delivered with the same verve and mechanical precision as Three Amigos.
The Amigos hardly seemed friendly as Eddie punished his foes with three consecutive vertical suplexes, kicking his leg and rolling from one to the next so methodically that even larger Superstars like Brock Lesnar and Triple H didn't have a chance to break the chain. To add insult to injury, Eddie would pound his chest and shimmy his upper torso, seemingly exclaiming, "Who's the man now, dog?!" without saying a word. And the crowd delighted in Eddie's antics every single time.
Three Amigos still resonates to this day, as evidenced by the WWE Universe's "Eddie!" chants immediately after Brock executed the triple suplexes on CM Punk at SummerSlam 2013. — TOM HERRERA
Kaval’s Warrior’s Way
Kaval’s greatest talent was finding art in the artless. A flurry of punches and kicks became a symphony of brutality when orchestrated by the winner of WWE NXT’s second season. Same goes for his Warrior’s Way — a brilliant take on the double stomp, which looked oafish when performed by brutes like Kevin Sullivan, but beautifully destructive when executed by Kaval. Leaping high from the top turnbuckle, the Brooklyn native would pull his knees into his chest to achieve maximum recoil before driving both of his feet into the chest of the opponent below. There’s nothing pretty about shattering a man’s sternum, but, somehow, Kaval made it so. — R.M.
The Great Muta's Asian Mist
The Great Muta wasn’t the first competitor to spit poison in an opponent’s face. Credit for that goes to Muta’s forbearer The Great Kabuki (or maybe it should go to that dinosaur that hocked a loogie on Dennis Nedrey in “Jurassic Park”). Either way, the enigmatic Japanese Superstar still emerged as the master of the mist when he broke out in the NWA in the 1980s and began blinding rivals like Sting and Ric Flair with green venom he’d spray from his mouth like an angry dragon. The unorthodox competitor often used the mist as a theatrical flourish during his ring introductions, but it always worked best moments after he pinned an opponent with the colorful poison still oozing down his chin, making Muta look like a serpent taking a moment to pull its head up from a kill. — R.M.
Lance Storm’s Rolling Single Leg Boston Crab
The only crab rolled finer than what you’d find on a sushi platter was mastered by Canadian import Lance Storm. The submission expert’s rolling single-leg Boston Crab was nothing short of a ring masterpiece, gawked at by spectators rapt by his swift athleticism.
Storm’s hold was lethal enough once cinched in, but it was the mat wizard’s execution that made it unique from any other maneuver in any Superstar’s arsenal. Many a charging foe fell to the former U.S. Champion’s backwards roll and seamless leg sweep, leaving them susceptible to an agonizing half-Crab. It was the perfect defense-turned-potent offense — and a thing of beauty to behold. — CRAIG TELLO
Umaga's Samoan Drop
Some men in wrestling insist they are monsters, but there was no needless boasting from Umaga. He really was one. Still, The Samoan Bulldozer’s wildness didn’t mean he was uncontrolled. He executed maneuvers with a blazing accuracy, making his onslaught nearly impossible to escape. And his spectacularly painful Samoan Drop was without exception.
From High Chief Peter Maivia to The Rock, any Superstar boasting Samoan heritage has utilized the eponymous attack, but none as impressively as Umaga. Most Samoan Drops require time for the victim to be hoisted on his opponent’s shoulders, but not when done by Umaga. The brutal Polynesian tossed his prey high in the air, and — with nowhere to go — they’d hardly have time to land before the 340 pounder was snapping backwards into the hard canvas. Umaga proved in one powerful instant that monsters are real. — Z.L.
Bret "Hit Man" Hart's Ringpost Figure-Four Leglock
If the thought of having one of your legs used to try and break the other makes you uneasy, imagine adding the extra pressure of a steel ring post to the pain. Bret Hart discovered this agonizing variation on the classic submission hold during 1997, when the “Hit Man” began to unleash his vicious side on the WWE locker room. This wasn’t even a legal maneuver. Hart just locked it on to show that the moniker of “Excellence of Execution” was more about the damage he could cause than the graceful way he caused it. — B.M.
Tajiri’s Tarantula was perfect for ECW, because there were no disqualifications for not letting your opponents off the ropes by the count of five. As a matter of fact, there were no disqualifications for anything! It was a nightmare for anyone ensnared in the human torture device sadistically executed by The Japanese Buzzsaw.
The bizarre maneuver was actually three submission holds in one as the shoulders, knees and lower back were all being hyperextended simultaneously. Given the choice, I would rather take my chances with a real tarantula. After all, if you escape the spider, it can’t kick your head off! — JOEY STYLES
Saturn's Death Valley Driver
With the exception of that brief time he became smitten with a mop, there wasn’t a whole lot of levity to Saturn, so it only makes sense that he preferred using a maneuver as grave as the Death Valley Driver to wipe out competition. In its base form, the move — a fireman’s carry into a brainbuster-type impact — is straightforward. But what set Saturn’s version apart was its grace and intensity. Some lackadaisical practitioners seemed satisfied with merely falling onto their sides. Not Saturn. Like a pierced and tatted bat out of hell, the Boston badass accelerated across the ring and leapt high in the air before crashing down. With Saturn, there was never any mistaking his malice. — J.C.
Adrian Neville's Red Arrow
I’m going to dispense with the lead-in here and cut to the chase: This is the coolest wrestling move I’ve ever seen, and I don’t know how Adrian Neville does it. Well, I know how hedoesit, propelling himself off the top turnbuckle into a shooting star press before corkscrewing his body around like an Olympic diver without interrupting the maneuver’s original loop-the-loop, finally hitting paydirt in his prone opponent juuuust after he rights himself. But I don’t know how a man can shrug off Newton’s Laws like some kind of metaphysical vigilante, weaving and twisting his way through the force of the Earth itself to create the most epic finishing maneuver currently marinating down in Full Sail, a place that has no shortage of eccentric personalities or epic finishing maneuvers. One peep at the Red Arrow and you’ll believe … ah, hell, you’ll believe a man can fly. — ANTHONY BENIGNO
Sabu's Triple Jump Moonsault
In the mid-90s, it seemed like everything Sabu did purposely ran counter to conventional wrestling logic. Whereas most Superstars saw steel chairs as devices to simply whack opponents with, he viewed them as springboards, a means of acquiring greater hang time. Case in point: the Triple Jump Moonsault.
With his opponent lying on the canvas, Sabu would run the ropes, leap onto a chair set up next to the victim and then spring from the chair to the top rope. Then, he’d backlfip off the rope — and over the chair — onto his foe. He’d miss as often as he hit, but that’s not what mattered; it was the reckless creativity that made the move a true Sabu hallmark. — J.C.
Batista's Batista Bomb
The powerbomb has been a staple of many of sports-entertainment’s big men. From Kevin Nash’s Jackknife to The Undertaker’s Last Ride, there have been variations on the form, but none have the added impact that the Batista Bomb delivers.
A modification of the sit-out powerbomb, The Animal’s trademark maneuver has shattered the likes of Triple H, JBL and John Cena. What makes the move distinct is the force in which Batista drops his opponent. Falling to the ground with his victim, The Animal maintains momentum until the point of impact. Worse yet is when he sends his opponents through tables or onto steel steps with the Batista Bomb. Simply explosive. — K.P.
Scorpio's 450 Splash
I’ll never forget the first time I saw the 450 Splash. It was 1992 and 2 Cold Scorpio was the mystery partner of Ron Simmons against Tony Atlas, The Barbarian & Cactus Jack at WCW Clash of Champions XXI. I was in my college dorm and stunned into silence by what I had just seen. Little did I know that a couple of years later my silence would be replaced by screams of “Oh my God!” as Scorpio made mat magic with the likes of Sabu, Rob Van Dam and Eddie Guerrero in ECW.
I’ve seen a handful of smaller wrestlers execute the move that Scorpio invented over the years, but Scorpio’s always impressed me the most because he is 6-foot-tall and 235 pounds. By the way, Scorpio is now 48 years old, hasn’t aged a day and still finishes off opponents with his 450. — J.S.
Brock Lesnar's F-5
Remember that movie “Twister,” where Bill Paxton and Helen Hunt get trapped in the middle of a tornado? That’s sort of what it looks like when a Superstar is unceremoniously swept into a world of pain by Brock Lesnar’s signature F-5. The Anomaly hoists his foe onto his shoulders in a fireman’s carry, but instead of dumping them to the mat, he shoves them skyward — pushing their legs and pulling their head simultaneously — rotating them in midair before they fall face first to the mat.
It’s the rare move that lives up to its namesake, and when combined with Lesnar’s inhuman strength, it becomes the sort of spectacular one might see in an old-school monster movie. Even its imitation has taken on a legendary life of its own, though nothing quite matches the look of “oh crap” terror on a Superstar’s face when The Beast Incarnate takes them for a ride. Here comes the…well, you know. — ANTHONY BENIGNO
Rob Van Dam’s Five-Star Frog Splash
Extreme Superstar Rob Van Dam has always utilized high-octane, explosive offense, and the Five-Star Frog Splash is the natural crown jewel of that onslaught.
The thunderous finishing maneuver calls for Van Dam to turn his entire body into a weapon. Hurling himself as close to the roof of the arena as possible, RVD is shot back down onto his target by gravity with an earth-shattering impact. When he crashes on the unfortunate soul with every ounce of his weight and momentum — an impact which visibly pains Van Dam as well — it’s simply all she wrote. — M.B.
Kane's Chokeslam from Hell
Kane began his storied WWE career mimicking his brother’s Tombstone Piledriver, but he ultimately settled on taking foes out with a simple but excruciatingly effective Chokeslam from Hell. On countless occasions, the seven-foot demon has exhibited mind-boggling strength by lifting some of WWE’s all-time heaviest Superstars — Big Show, The Great Khali and Vader to name a few — clean off the ground with one hand and planting them on the canvas with a bone-crunching thud. Although others in WWE have fashioned chokeslams of their own, nothing says you’re in trouble quite like Kane’s gloved hand wrapped tightly around your throat. — A.S.
Seth Rollins' Curb Stomp
The Curb Stomp is as breathtaking as it is brutal. When Seth Rollins executes the devastating maneuver on a fallen foe it’s as if he is jumping in slow motion with his foot finding the back of his opponent’s head. Then, like snuffing out a cockroach, The Architect thrusts his foot down, smashing the unfortunate recipient’s face straight into the ground below.
The high-flying Rollins could easily pull off a stunning top-rope maneuver, but instead he chooses to stomp his adversary’s head into the ground. It may not be pretty, but it sure is cool. — SCOTT TAYLOR
Cesaro's Cesaro Swing
Like a human Gravitron, the mighty Cesaro seizes hold of his opponent’s feet, leans back and, when momentum lifts his foe off the ground, starts swinging. And he keeps swinging. And swinging. And swinging and swinging and swinging.
That’s the gist of what’s come to be known as the Cesaro Swing, a throwback tactic so stupendous the WWE Universe cheers for it even though The Real American tends to lean towards villainy. In this regard, though, he has certainly given (we) the people reason to cheer. He swung Titus O’Neil so many times you half-expected a carny to materialize in the ring and charge “The Big Deal” for a ticket. Another Cesaro Swing, against Los Matadores at Hell in a Cell, seemed to peter out before he let out an animal yowl and picked it back up for another round of rotations. And, you know, there was that one time he swung the freaking Great Khali. It’s so money and he totally knows it. — A.B.
Shawn Michaels' Sweet Chin Music
“Gentleman” Chris Adams is credited with coming up with the superkick — a sidestep to thrust his boot into an opponent’s face — during his time at World Class Championship Wrestling in the early ’80s. Still, no competitor will ever be able to top Shawn Michaels’ rendition of the lethal maneuver.
Early on in his career, HBK used a standard version of the superkick along with his Rockers tag team partner Marty Jannety. Eventually, Michaels started tuning up the band before delivering a sweet sounding kick to an opponent’s jaw. Once you hear that boot hit the mat, watch out, because some Sweet Chin Music is on the way. — S.T.
Scott Hall’s Razor’s Edge
There’s something to be said about how dominating Scott Hall looked when he pulled off his Razor’s Edge. The former Razor Ramon would signal to the crowd with his trademark arrogance and outstretched arms before lifting his victim in the air and holding him there to show off his immense strength. By the time he sent his opponent careening back to the canvas, The Bad Guy had executed one of the most destructive finishers in history.
Hall created the Razor’s Edge himself, but credit to the powerbomb from which it came goes to all-time great Lou Thesz. The move lives on today with “The Celtic Warrior” Sheamus, who uses it as one of his key weapons. — M.M.
Jeff Hardy’s Swanton Bomb
When Jeff Hardy broke out in WWE with his brother Matt in 1998, he quickly earned a reputation for being an acrobatic risk-taker who would not hesitate to put his body on the line to emerge victorious. Nothing better epitomized Hardy’s fearlessness than his Swanton Bomb — a kamikaze dive modified at the very last second into a 180-degree flip, sending his back crashing down onto his supine opponent. For more than a decade, the former WWE Champion detonated the Swanton Bomb from the tops of ladders, steel cages and vertigo-inducing structures, entertaining and thrilling the WWE Universe, often at his own body’s expense. — A.S.
Randy Orton's RKO
What’s in a name? For Randal Keith Orton, it’s a lightning-quick front face neckbreaker that has defined a career filled with venom and victory.
A year after his WWE debut in May 2002, Randy Orton figuratively stamped his initials on a move he modified from Johnny Ace’s “Ace Crusher.” Like a true Viper sinking its fangs, Orton renders opponents motionless with a three-quarters facelock before driving them head-first into the canvas. The result has proved more pivotal to Orton's personal evolution than even his time under the tutelage of Triple H and Ric Flair — with the RKO, this son of WWE Hall of Famer “Cowboy” Bob Orton transformed into a destroyer of ring icons, cemented a legacy of championship glory and put a WWE-imposed face on an Apex Predator. — MIKE McAVENNIE
Before Roman Reigns, Batista, and Edge made the spear a signature weapon in their arsenals, the forceful tackle was brought to prominence 173 times between 1997 and ’98 as Goldberg decimated everyone in his path on an unbelievable winning streak.
As, arguably, the most powerful competitor in WCW history, the former Atlanta Falcon nearly split opponents in half by reckless driving his shoulder into their midsections. Devastating and brutal, Goldberg’s tackle was only the first step in an opposing competitor’s ultimate demise (his Jackhammer was the coup de grace), but it was always the most exhilarating. No wonder the former WCW Champions warned everyone to “Fear the spear!” — K.P.
Rob Van Dam’s Van Terminator
I had the pleasure of naming many of Rob Van Dam’s never-before-seen moves in ECW. The Split Legged Moonsault was just a matter of describing what I saw. The Five Star Frog Splash was a friendly jab at a wrestling newsletter writer that rated what he observed were the best matches with five stars.
I, nor anyone else, thought that RVD would one up his own Van Daminator (spin kicking a steel chair into his opponent’s face). However, one night, Rob stood on the ring apron, leapt to the top rope and spring boarded the entire length of the ring, driving a steel chair into his prone opponent’s face. Others have tried to imitate RVD, but they execute the move by climbing the turnbuckles to get to the top rope rather than leaping up in one fell swoop. That difference is why Rob Van Dam is truly one of a kind. — J.S.
Scott Steiner's Frankensteiner
“The originator of the move in Mexico was Huracán Ramirez, who wore a mask and called it the hurricanrana. But in English, it’s The Frankensteiner. And the very first person that I saw do it was Scott Steiner.
“It is still one of the top moves I’ve ever seen, because of his size. Scott Steiner is 250-plus, yolked, jacked up, and I saw him shoot a guy to the ropes, jump up in the air, hook him with his feet and give him a Frankensteiner. I was like, ‘Whoa! What was that?!’
“I’d seen that move in Mexico, but I’d never seen Scott Steiner, an American wrestler, especially a man of that size, do it. It wasn’t the most perfect move, but it just looked so intense and devastating. He’d spike the guy down on his head every time. I thought it was awesome.” – REY MYSTERIO, AS TOLD TO Z.L.
Mr. Perfect’s Perfect-Plex
Sure, a suplex is a punishing ring maneuver if it’s performed correctly. But it was the perfect move when it was executed by Curt Hennig.
Bowling flawless games of 300 and catching his own football field-length passes may have given Hennig the conceit to call himself “Mr. Perfect” in the late 1980s. Yet, it was the textbook execution of a bridging cradle suplex that truly afforded him such a moniker. Though the Perfectplex never won Hennig a WWE Championship, it emphatically epitomized the WWE Hall of Famer’s impeccable skillset inside the ring, and forced even the loudest of his detractors to view both the move and its master as technically … perfect. — M.Mc.
"Macho Man" Randy Savage's Top Rope Elbow Drop
In the late ’80s and early ’90s, the most spectacular finishing maneuver was not Hulk Hogan’s Atomic Leg Drop, Flair’s Figure-Four Leglock or even Jake “The Snake” Roberts’ DDT. It was "Macho Man" Randy Savage’s Top Rope Elbow Drop.
Yes, long before every other Superstar was attempting their own aerial assaults, Savage was turning the high-flying attack into an art form, crashing down upon on opponents inside and outside the ring with devastating results. And whenever the two-time WWE Champion stepped onto the top turnbuckle and pointed his fingers to the sky — signaling that he was about to drop the big elbow on another unfortunate victim — it was usually just a matter of time before the three-count. Oooh yeah! — M.B.
Bret "Hit Man" Hart's Sharpshooter
It’s the move that made “Stone Cold” Steve Austin a household name. It’s insanely difficult to affix correctly (just ask The Rock), and it’s one of the most classic — and painful — submission holds of all time. It’s Bret “Hit Man” Hart’s Sharpshooter, and it’s simply one of the coolest moves in the history of sports-entertainment.
As iconic as the pink and black tights donned by the WWE Hall of Famer himself, The Sharpshooter is often imitated, never equaled and, arguably, the best there is, the best there was and best there ever will be. — A.G.
The Undertaker's Tombstone
For nearly 20 years, one finishing maneuver has been more effective than any other. It has downed hundreds of fallen competitors while defining both a legendary career and the ultimate Streak.
“It lets you know that either the match has been taken to a different level, or the match is over,” John Cena told WWE.com.
Horribly disorienting and nearly impossible to escape, the piledriver’s setup allows The Undertaker to stare directly into the camera lens before executing it, telling the world that victory is certain before he sends a rival to rest in peace.
“It’s all about the guy doing it,” Cena said. “When you have The Undertaker doing a move like the Tombstone, it just fits.” — Z.L.
"Stone Cold" Steve Austin's Stunner
During the Attitude Era, all it took was a simple kick to the gut to make it clear that mayhem was imminent. “Stone Cold” Steve Austin dispatched a generation of Superstars with his patented Stunner, and no maneuver has been as sudden, chaotic and vicious since.
“It was just so awesome, it was ridiculous,” John Cena told WWE.com.
What also made the Stunner so thrilling was The Texas Rattlesnake himself. The maneuver was so quintessentially Austin that no other Superstar has dared to attempt it since.
“It was immediate and rebellious,” Cena said. “It elicited anarchy and anyone could fall victim to it at any time. It was perfect.” — Z.L.
Evan Bourne's Air Bourne
Everyone from Jushin “Thunder” Liger to Brock Lesnar has used the Shooting Star Press, but no Superstar ever mastered the artistry of it quite like Evan Bourne. The best WCW Cruiserweight that never was, Bourne’s “Air Bourne” maneuver took the grappler — and the move — to heights the WWE Universe has rarely seen.
After laying his opponent prone within spitting distance of the turnbuckle, Bourne would ascend to the top rope and get — to quote the great Booker T — “caught up in the lights” as he soared into the heavens themselves, executing a perfect backflip in midair before landing, gracefully yet painfully, chest-to-chest on his soon-to-be-vanquished foe. The move caught so much air each time he did it you’d think his opponents would just roll out of the way before Bourne’s descent. They were probably too amazed to move. We certainly know the feeling. — A.B.
Jake "The Snake" Roberts' DDT
“It was an accident. I was wrestling a guy by the name of “The Grappler” Len Denton in Mid-South. I had him in a front facelock and I used to use a knee lift for my finisher. He went to shove me into the turnbuckles, but instead of me releasing him in the corner and hitting him with a knee lift as he staggered back, he stepped on my foot. I fell backwards and he fell on the inside of his face. I got up and realized I had something. Naming it was pretty simple. I picked up a USA Today one morning and the government was outlawing the poison DDT.” — JAKE ROBERTS, AS TOLD TO Z.L.