Editors' Choice: Who has the best arsenal in WWE?
One of the great things about the current WWE roster is how many different styles are represented in the ring. There are daring highfliers, overpowering strongmen, ruthless brawlers and wild savages. Every WWE Superstar brings a unique and varied offense, but some arsenals are just better than others.
We asked 10 WWE.com editors to select the Superstar who they think has the very best arsenal on the WWE roster. Who has the moveset that’s the most effective, dynamic, brings the crowd to their feet, and still scores consistent three-counts? Join our conversation to decide for yourself.
- Brogue Kick
- White Noise
- Beats of the Bodhrán
- Irish Curse
The thing I love about Sheamus’ offense is the focus on impact. Every move The Celtic Warrior makes is done with the intent of destruction. There are no “Five Knuckle Shuffle” flourishes, no unnecessary high-risk dives. It’s straight punishment — the kind of moveset I would’ve given to my oversized CAW when I was playing “No Mercy” on my N64 back in college. Even his signature taunt — where he viciously pounds on his chest like a territorial ape — is aggressive.
Sheamus, I think more than any other Superstar on the roster, wrestles in a style that is exactly tailored to his size and build. He plays almost exclusively to his strengths, using his overwhelming power, dominant stance and, one must assume, adamantium skeleton in all of his most effective maneuvers. Just look at the way he takes advantage of his opponent’s momentum when pulling them into his White Noise backbreaker — it’s the perfect combination of strength, poise and the unpleasant meeting of back and bone. I like it even better when he’s just being plain ugly like in his Beats of the Bodhrán, that artless display of aggression where he smashes on a guy’s chest cavity with his forearm like he’s beating the dirt out of an old rug.
The Celtic Warrior’s style negates the idiom that the best offense is a good defense, because Sheamus is all offense. In turn, his offense becomes his defense. He’s not blocking punches when he’s not punching, he’s just kicking. It’s the type of fighting style an angry Celt might implore if he was plucked out of time and dropped into a WWE ring, which is what makes it all so effective. I even appreciate the fact that the names of his moves all suit his persona with none of them feeling forced (OK, the Cloverleaf might be a bit too twee, but still).
Sheamus’ approach to pro wrestling is pro wrestling like The Road Warriors did it. Stan Hansen and Bruiser Brody, too. And it’s just the way I like it. — RYAN MURPHY
- Attitude Adjustment
- Belly-to-back suplex
- Top rope leg drop bulldog
Don’t you get it by now? John Cena knows exactly what he’s doing. The guy’s been around the block. He is well aware the so-called “Five Moves of Doom” won’t be making him an Internet darling anytime soon. He knows he can’t somersault like Van Dam, or fly around like Bryan, but what John Cena can do is win.
Cultivating an arsenal that inflicts as much damage on his opponent as possible with minimal risk to his own well-being, John Cena has developed a unique and underrated style that has kept him mostly off the shelf and constantly with his arm raised. Sure, the Attitude Adjustment might not be a 450 Splash, but it certainly gets the job done. And it’s a move that only John Cena can do to victims ranging from Rey Mysterio to Big Show.
John Cena knows what’s expected of him. And his brilliance isn’t in winning 8-year-olds’ hearts with wristbands and million-dollar smiles — his brilliance is in the ring, where he can be as unpredictable as Seth Rollins and as powerful as Cesaro. Watch as he hoists the largest of competitors off the mat for a belly-to-back suplex. Or, as superheavyweights brace themselves for more of John Cena’s muscle, the way he counters with a dropkick, or a hurricanrana, or even goes up to the turnbuckles to unleash something a bit more high-risk.
I recently asked John Cena if he’s felt the need to curb his style to avoid injury.
“If you broke down my technique, it wouldn’t really take a rocket scientist to do so,” he told me. “I don’t how you would take something so basic and do less.”
Sure, John Cena wants us all to believe he’s basic, though he’s anything but. John Cena’s a winner. And that’s all that matters. — ZACH LINDER
- Alligator roll
- Pendulum face plant
- Michinoku Driver
- Discus clothesline
There’s no arsenal in WWE as debilitating or bafflingly refined as Luke Harper’s. His preferred style of mauling can be viciously rudimentary. He leans in on each and every hold, smothering opponents (see the alligator roll), and driving joints into their faces every chance he gets. But to discount The Wyatt Family’s titan with the thousand-yard stare as a crazed-eyed simpleton is a mistake.
Precision is a big part of Harper’s game. When he stretches his arms out in front of him and forms a shaky box with his hands, it doesn’t look like he’s just warding off evil spirits — he’s locking prey in his crosshairs. Case in point is his heat-seeking dive to the floor, a move normally reserved for men half his size. He’ll also incorporate big-impact slams, like the Michinoku Driver or a mutt of a move that begins in a belly-to-back suplex position and ends with a bad-intentioned pendulum swing that plants opponents face-first onto the mat. It’s like somebody taught an alligator to wrestle by showing it lucha libre and Fit Finlay matches.
As if his suffocating approach and surprisingly fine-tuned technique weren’t enough, Harper is always ready to unleash his righteous Discus Clothesline, which is thrown with so little regard for anyone’s health or wellbeing that it might as well hail from Texas. — JOHN CLAPP
- Superman Punch
- Running dropkick
- Leaping clothesline
- Samoan Drop
Even without the smoldering gaze that makes men tremble and women swoon (an unofficial sixth weapon if there ever was one), Roman Reigns is like an army battalion on two feet. His arsenal is plentiful, and its power is absolute.
Initially just the big man to balance out The Shield’s nimble Seth Rollins and wild Dean Ambrose, Reigns developed carefully and persistently into a true five-tool player. Culling his maneuvers from classic competitors (his spear brings Edge and Goldberg to mind) and outside sources (the Superman Punch’s origins lie in mixed-martial arts), Reigns quickly turned into The Hounds of Justice’s ace in the hole. The role proved so effective it not only helped him anchor one half of a historic WWE Tag Team Championship reign, it immediately thrust him into the WWE World Heavyweight Championship picture upon The Shield’s breakup in 2014.
Once there, Reigns didn’t waste any time, leveling WWE’s most vaunted competitors with Samoan Drops and leaping clotheslines, leaving a trail of destruction in his wake that’s destined to eventually wind towards the ultimate prize. While the WWE Universe wept for The Shield’s dissolution, it’s likely Reigns’ opponents did as well. Now they have to stand one-on-one against Reigns with no partner to tag in and save them. — ANTHONY BENIGNO
- Cesaro Swing
- Standing superplex
- Very European Uppercut
- Deadlift gutwrench suplex
Cesaro may be the strongest, most pure athlete I have ever seen in a WWE ring. So, of course, I might be a little biased when I say “The King of Swing” has the best arsenal in WWE.
No man is too big for The Swiss Superman to execute any of these maneuvers on, and this is clearly evident with the first two maneuvers on this list — The Neutralizer and the Cesaro Swing. The Neutralizer sets up just like a piledriver, but instead of putting his arms around his opponent’s waist, Cesaro hooks his arms through his foe’s legs and lifts him up before driving his victim into the mat. If that sounds devastating, imagine Cesaro delivering it to 400-plus pound behemoths like Big Show or Mark Henry. It pretty much made my jaw drop.
The Cesaro Swing — once a daily maneuver now a rarely used attraction — is a nearly incomprehensible feat of strength where The Swiss Superman grabs his opponent by the legs and spins in rapid circles like Thor readying to throw his hammer. The dizzying move has been delivered to such giants as The Great Khali and Brodus Clay.
Cesaro’s standing superplex gives a new meaning to power. When I saw him deliver this to John Cena, it made me respect his athleticism even more so.
The Very European Uppercut, where the Switzerland native hurls his opponent in the air and nails them with a stiff forearm to the face, is as visually stunning as it is physically devastating. My personal favorite is his deadlift gutwrench suplex. It takes a special kind of athlete to lift a 250-pound Superstar off the mat and over his head with pure power.
So the next time the sirens of Cesaro’s theme sounds, pay attention to his awesome arsenal. — TOM LIODICE
- Frenzied punches
- Crossface Chicken Wing
- Rebound clothesline
- Dirty Deeds
Dean Ambrose has the best arsenal in WWE for one simple reason — it’s completely unpredictable. Unlike most WWE Superstars, Ambrose doesn’t appear to have a strategy when he steps inside the squared circle, but his randomness makes him that much more effective. Whether he throws an opponent to the ropes and follows through with a knee to the gut — or he bounces off the ropes, rebounding with a clothesline — Ambrose keeps opposing Superstars on their toes.
High impact maneuvers such as a double underhook suplex and facebuster — as well as more traditional slams like the spinebuster — show that Ambrose is as powerful as he is frenzied. The former Hound of Justice is also a scrappy mat technician. He’s mastered classic submission maneuvers like the Figure-Four Leglock and armbar. He even utilizes Bob Backlund’s Crossface Chicken Wing on occasion.
However, no maneuver of Ambrose is more destructive than his finishing move, The Dirty Deeds. A modified DDT, Ambrose executes it by wrapping his arm around his opponent’s neck and diving forward, driving the victim headfirst into the mat. It’s a maneuver as reckless as the man himself, because you never know when it’ll strike next. — KEVIN POWERS
- Garvin Stomp
- Inverted headlock backbreaker
- Rope-hung DDT
Using genetic gifts bolstered by years of intense in-ring competition, Randy Orton has cultivated a formidable arsenal that allows him to adapt to any opponent. That might explain why — whether he’s embraced or reviled by the WWE Universe — The Viper has remained a fixture in the main event scene for the past decade. Sadistic and calculating, Orton deals out his brand of devastation with a unique style that mixes brawling and the varied technical offense one would expect from a third-generation competitor.
Passed down from his WWE Hall of Famer dad, “Cowboy” Bob Orton, the Superplex is a maneuver The Viper executes with a fluidity that brings a certain degree of poetry to the pain. On the flipside is his Garvin Stomp — an ugly series of strikes named after former NWA World Heavyweight Champion Ronnie Garvin — where Orton methodically attacks a grounded opponent’s body parts with surgical precision.
However, it’s when Orton truly begins to agree with the voices in his head that his most sinister weapons are unsheathed. Take his rope-hung DDT, for example. The next time you see Orton drag his opponent over the middle rope and prepare to drop him face-first onto the canvas, pay attention to The Viper’s eyes: He’s enjoying what he’s about to do, and it’s kind of terrifying. Then there’s his inverted headlock backbreaker, in which Orton actually transforms his body into a makeshift guillotine. That’s hardcore.
WWE’s Apex Predator has been known to incapacitate his foes with his patented punt — reserved for The Viper’s most hated enemies — but there are no moves in Orton’s arsenal that are as effective as the RKO, a jumping cutter that can be performed on any Superstar of any size at any time from any angle. Orton’s self-titled finishing move has felled countless champions, WWE Hall of Famers and, yes, even Meat Loaf. — JAMES WORTMAN
- Kicks to the chest and head
- Dive through the ropes
- Diving headbutt
- Running knee
- "Yes!" Lock
There is no Superstar with a more well-rounded an arsenal than Daniel Bryan. While most of his colleagues choose to focus on one approach to battle, The Beard has taken the best aspects of many styles and mastered them, making him one of the most dangerous competitors in WWE.
Bryan can trade strikes with the best brawlers, answering blows with a series of thunderous kicks that could crack the sternum of even the most barrel-chested competitor before capping his flurry off with a vicious kick to the head.
If Bryan’s opponent still has enough wits left about him to roll outside the ring, he wouldn’t even have a chance to recover. It would be only moments before The Beard launches himself recklessly through the ropes to come crashing down on his foe, shoving him back-first into the unforgiving ringside guardrail.
The Beard is so efficient that he has multiple ways of claiming victory. If Bryan’s in the mood to end things quickly, he’ll charge straight at his opponent and put him out of his misery with a well-placed knee to the face. That’s how he claimed his first WWE Championship, defeating John Cena at SummerSlam 2013. If Bryan wants to make his opponent suffer a little bit, he’ll trap him in his patented "Yes!" Lock, a combination of an omoplata and a crossface.
Yes, Daniel Bryan may be injured at the moment, but every move in his arsenal (plus whatever he adds during his absence) ensures that once he returns, it won’t be long before he raises championship gold over his head again. — BOBBY MELOK
Rob Van Dam
- Top turnbuckle side kick
- Rolling Thunder
- Five-Star Frog Splash
- Van Daminator
- Van Terminator
Rob Van Dam’s arsenal does not consist of “borrowed” moves. The man’s a sports-entertainment original who performs freakishly athletic maneuvers that nobody else can physically duplicate. In fact, we could publish a 10-page feature on RVD’s offensive arsenal alone.
Let’s think like an opponent, facing the only man to simultaneously hold the ECW and WWE World Heavyweight Championships:
“How does he have the balance, flexibility, agility and strength to kick my teeth out with a top turnbuckle leaping sidekick and land on his feet? OK, I’ve managed to regain my faculties and get myself to my feet. Why is he tossing me a chair? Oh no! He’s already left his feet for a spinning back kick.” Van Daminator!
“As I lay here, I see RVD picking up a full head of steam, rebounding off the ropes, now coming at me even faster with the intent on crushing my torso.” Rolling Thunder!
“Now RVD has once again leapt to the top turnbuckle, the one farthest away from me, and I know that he will travel three quarters of the way across the ring, changing his human missile of a body from parallel to perpendicular in mid-air to empty my lungs (and hopefully not my colon).” Five-Star Frog Splash!
“Why hasn’t he pinned me yet? I can’t move! Now RVD is dragging me to the corner, propping me up and placing a chair in front of me. I can barely see him out in the adjacent corner, leaping up to the top rope and spring boarding off in a single fluid motion. He’s careening feet-first across the 20-foot ring toward the steel and my skull!” Van Terminator!
Cut to black. — @JOEYSTYLES
- Curb Stomp
- Flip dive
- Standing Shooting Star Press
- Running turnbuckle powerbomb
- Diving knee
When talking about Seth Rollins’ move set, “arsenal” is a more-than-apt descriptor.
Let’s start with the finisher. A quick, brutal act, Rollins’ Curb Stomp has emerged as one of the most visceral and devastating moves in all of WWE. Mixing graceful athleticism and extreme sadism, the maneuver formerly known as “Blackout” is an act of black artistry that few can pull off. Rollins, of course, does it with a flourish. The Curb Stomp is as straightforward as it is brutal: Rollins leaps to attach the heel of his boot to the top of his opponent’s head, and then he, the boot and the head all come crashing down to the canvas.
His finisher is the anchor of a balanced assault that includes some show-stopping maneuvers such as his Flip Dive over the ropes, where he more often than not lands on his feet. And his Standing Shooting Star Press defies gravity, because he performs the feat on the mat and without the advantage of climbing to the top rope, as is customary for the move. Then there’s his Running Turnbuckle Powerbomb, a maneuver that adds a whole head of steam to the (now-defunct) Shield’s trademark exclamation point powerbomb. Rollins hoists his opponent up, gets a running start and flings his foe unapologetically into the corner. To round out his arsenal, The Architect utilizes a Diving Knee strike that he hits from the top rope, a move that can quickly and easily turn a match around — and turn out the lights for his opponent.
Put the five maneuvers together — and combine them with Rollins’ overall moveset — and there’s no question that Mr. Money in the Bank has the best arsenal in the business. — ALEX GIANNINI