15 Superstars' 'secret weapons'
As the old saying goes, “There’s more than one way to skin a cat.” WWE’s slightly less gruesome take on that proverb, however, might be more along the lines of, “There’s more than one way to win a wrestling match.” For every signature move a Superstar carries in his or her arsenal — your Rock Bottoms, Tombstone Piledrivers and the like — there are plenty of other maneuvers those Superstars used to rely on that fell by the wayside over the course of their careers.
Still, no Superstar worth his salt ever truly drops a maneuver altogether, so it’s not all that uncommon for these moves to resurface should the opportunity arise, and often to great effect. These are the moves you hear rumors of, or might catch a glimpse of on an old, grainy YouTube clip or — if you’re really old school — a VHS tape. These are formidable leftovers from the formative years of WWE’s top competitors. Think of them as secret weapons of sorts, lying in a vault but always at the ready should they ever be needed again.
With that, come take a look into these Superstars’ personal vaults as WWE.com examines these secret weapons: their origins, their effectiveness, why they moved to the backburner … and, of course, a possible situation where we might see them again.
Wasteland (Bad News Barrett)
It's called The Barrett Barrage for a good reason: Bad News Barrett unloads a variety of powerful blows left and right like artillery fire in the ring.
Long before he sent opponents crashing to the canvas with his mighty Bull Hammer elbow, however, Barrett utilized a feared maneuver called Wasteland to lift them up on his broad shoulders and slam them down with authority. The finisher’s list of victims reads like a veritable who's who in WWE: John Cena, Rey Mysterio, Randy Orton, Kofi Kingston, Daniel Bryan and even WWE Hall of Famer Edge. All of them felt the full brunt of a move that seemed to replicate the motion of a hammer hitting the firing pin on a revolver. Only in this case, the revolver is 6-foot-7 and weighs 246 pounds.
"My opponent has a much higher drop than he would have with a regular performer in WWE," Barrett told WWE.com, explaining the power behind Wasteland. "When I'm slamming him down to the canvas, if you drop him from 6-feet-7 in the air, it doesn't matter who you are — it's going to be pretty painful and enough to stun you for three seconds."
Barrett transitioned to using the Bull Hammer because he felt it was a far more dangerous and effective blow, and one that is harder to counter than Wasteland. But he's not opposed to bringing back his old finisher when and if the situation calls for it. After all, it was the move that won Wade the Intercontinental Title in March 2011 when he surprisingly caught Kingston in mid-air as "The Wildcat" attempted to deliver Trouble in Paradise — a finishing strike that is rarely countered.
"I'm certainly not averse to using it. It's still there in my arsenal," Barrett said. "If the time calls for it and I need it for any reason, it's there waiting. You likely haven't seen the last of the Wasteland."
Zack Attack (Zack Ryder)
So where did Zack Ryder come up with his original (and since semi-shelved) signature maneuver, the Zack Attack?
Well like any good pupil, he got it from his teacher.
“The Zack Attack is actually a move I took from Matt Striker, believe it or not,” he explained. “When I started in ECW, it was my first time as a singles competitor. I needed a singles signature move, and I remembered Striker had actually hit me with it before. I thought ‘Oh, that’s pretty cool. It’s different.’ ”
The move — which carries the technical and un-bro-ish handle of “inverted overdrive” — consisted of Ryder pressing his knee against the side of a Superstar’s head, then using the opponent’s arm like a lever to wrench him clean off his feet while Ryder threw his weight back. The end result was the Superstar landing square on The Ultimate Broski’s knee, with the back of the neck as the point of impact. It’s among the more painful-looking maneuvers in WWE, but as it turned out, it was almost too intricate to be as effective as Ryder would have liked.
“The setup was just too annoying,” Ryder said. “You had to be in the right place at the right time, so that’s why I eventually switched to the Rough Ryder.”
Nevertheless, the “Internet Champion” does have a soft spot for his old go-to move.
“I break it out every once in a while,” Ryder told WWE.com. “A few months ago at a Live Event, I hooked Dolph Ziggler with it and screamed ‘old school!’ Nobody got it except for me. I just did it for myself. I always have it, and I’m sure if ever get a WrestleMania match, I’ll use it in there. It’s still in the video game. People on Twitter are always asking me to break it out, so it’s there. Maybe on a special occasion.”
Dazzling feats of strength are becoming a trend when former United States Champion Cesaro steps into the ring. Seemingly every week, The Real Americans' adopted patriot pushes the limits of his own physical prowess and shows the WWE Universe exactly why he's earned the right to talk the talk.
Case in point: the Nov. 26, 2012, edition of Raw, when Cesaro lifted the 267-pound Sheamus onto his shoulders with remarkable ease, then propelled him down into the mat with a hard thump. The maneuver, which we had yet to see Cesaro perform in WWE, elicited "oohs" and "ahhs" from the crowd and generated instant buzz on Twitter.
"You always aim to surprise your opponents, and if I suddenly bust out a move they are not anticipating, it makes it even more effective," Cesaro told WWE.com of the move he now is calling the Swissblade. "I beat my opponents fair and square every night with the Neutralizer, but if I need something special, something a little extra, I'll bust out other moves."
The former U.S. Champion is tweaking his arsenal on a weekly basis, so it might only be a matter of time before this maneuver crops up again. But if that doesn't concern Superstars who have to face Cesaro in the future, this warning from him should:
"I have many, many more in my back pocket."
Boulder Holder (Ryback)
We’re relatively sure Ryback qualifies as a weapon unto himself, and we’re keeping a close eye on state regulations banning the Shell Shocked already. Therefore, you’ll forgive us for stating the idea of Ryback having a secret maneuver makes us break into a cold sweat.
As it turns out, though, the beast does have one go-to maneuver he likes to keep on reserve: the “Boulder Holder,” which is essentially a plus-sized version of the “Stone Cold” Stunner Ryback adopted after studying footage of Japanese wrestlers. To execute the move, Ryback hauls his opponent onto his back like a bookbag, hooks the offender’s head and leg, and sits down, slamming his tailbone into the mat while Ryback’s shoulder drives up into the opponent’s chin simultaneously.
It may seem like a complicated move to administer, but it helps that opponents tend to walk directly into it.
“A lot of Superstars try to defeat me by jumping on my back and putting me in a sleeper hold or rear chinlock,” Ryback told WWE.com. “I use it in those situations where I have someone on my back already. I can swing around and drop him down in a heartbeat, so I have the move on me at all times.”
The “Boulder Holder” is often used as a setup for Shell Shocked, but given Ryback’s ring dominance thus far, why even bother keeping a move like this secret?
“In a matchup, you never know exactly what’s going to happen, with the exception of I’m going to be in control the majority of the time,” Ryback explained. “I have a large arsenal of moves. Sometimes I forget moves, I have so many of them. But if it pops in my head, I do it.”
Colossal Clutch (Big Show)
Big Show: He breaks your back and makes you humble?
Pretty much, as it turns out blunt-force KO victories aren’t the only tricks in the giant’s arsenal. The World’s Largest Athlete also has some experience with submission holds, his favorite being a monolith-like variation on The Iron Sheik’s famed Camel Clutch. So essentially, take all the properties of the Clutch that made it so agonizing in Sheik’s hands, then multiply the size of the Superstar applying it, and you’ll get the sense of what makes the hold so utterly devastating. Big Show broke it out once or twice after signing the ironclad contract that saved his job earlier in 2012 (most notably against Santino Marella on a set of steel steps on the SmackDown stage). We can’t blame the former World Heavyweight Champion, though, for keeping it in his supersized back pocket when the KO Punch more than measures up well against all challengers.
Pin-Up Strong (Natalya)
Perhaps a better name for this submission is The Rainmaker — because every time Pin-Up Strong was applied, tears poured down a Diva's cheeks.
"Pin-Up Strong is a submission I performed when I was paired with Beth Phoenix as the Sisters of Destruction," Natalya told WWE.com. "When we tag-teamed together, she'd help me set it up and we made the other Divas cry — everybody from Eve Torres to Kelly Kelly — we made all those girls cry."
Can you blame the Divas for crying? The modified surfboard into a double wrist lock — inspired by Japanese female pro wrestler Kyoko Inoue — contorted and trapped Natalya's opponents' bodies upside down in such an awkwardly painful way, tapping out isn't even an option. Although the submission was brutally effective, Natalya said Pin-Up Strong doesn't measure up to her Sharpshooter, so she reserves it only for special occasions when she really needs to step up her game.
"I look forward to putting it on my next opponent," Natalya said.
Whichever Diva that happens to be, get your Kleenex ready.
Superman Punch (Roman Reigns)
It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s … Oh, wait – it’s Roman Reigns, and he’s about to punch someone square in the mush.
The former WWE Tag Team Champion is known for his sternum-shattering spear, yes, but right behind that on the list is the already-legendary "Superman Punch" that has emerged as one of his go-to maneuvers during its brief existence.
“It’s from my developmental time ... just me playing around in the ring,” said Reigns of discovering the maneuver, which sees him leap into the air like the Man of Steel himself, fist cocked back, moments before he brings it down as he returns to Earth. The combination of gravity itself and his own raw power plunge straight into a Superstar’s jaw, and it’s goodnight, nurse. “You often see it in MMA, but it never really works. I figured, what greater move to take for myself and make it work?”
Make it work he has; the move has already become a match-ender and life-saver in equal measure – “Either I’m getting bored and I want to show off, do my thing, end the match there, or it’s an ace in the hole,” said Reigns –and it has clocked the likes of John Cena and Cody Rhodes. Even Reigns’ teammates in The Shield have gotten their bells rung a few times by the punch before they teamed up on the main roster. “[That] goes back to our days in developmental,” said Reigns. “I know I’ve hit Ambrose with it a few times. Rollins hasn’t eaten one yet, but they’ve known about it since day one.”
Though he has surely lost, or is losing, count of the number of people he has punched, there are a few who stand out. “Just in general, I’d say [my favorite to hit is] John Cena,” he said. “But I think the way I hit Randy Orton with it – I hit him from the floor like I do my dropkick to the apron. He was leaning out and chasing Seth Rollins; Seth got away from an RKO, [Orton] was chasing him outside the ring andbam, I was there, Johnny-on-the-spot, and knocked his jaw piece off.” Whom does Reigns have his eye on for a potential target in the future? As always, the young star is thinking big.
“I may have hit Big Show with it already, but I think it’s just fitting for me to knock him out with it,” Reigns said. “Considering he is The World’s Largest Athlete and he has his own KO Punch, if I could knock out a giant with it, I think that would speak volumes.”
He can fly? He can fly.
It seems incredible to believe, but Kane has a spring in his step. There have been a few occasions through the years — not many, but a few — when the WWE DIrector of Operations would earn himself an OMG moment by breaking out enzuigiris and hurricanranas on unsuspecting opponents who didn’t think him quite so spry. One particular contest against Mark Henry in ECW saw The Big Red Monster pull out all the stops, hitting The World’s Strongest Man with an enzuigiri before following it up with a running dropkick. The sequence left Henry floored, cut down by what we assume was some combination of straight-up pain and utter shock at what had just happened.
These days, of course, Kane's traded in-ring competiton for a corner office and an official WWE executive position. We’re still holding out hope, however, that The Devil’s Favorite Demon will get the itch and take the leap once again.
Brock Lock (Brock Lesnar)
As far as Brock Lesnar's submissions go, the Kimura Lock is rightfully feared by the majority of the WWE locker room. The devastating hold broke Triple H's arm — not once, but twice — and left John Cena in a sling following their brutal battle at Extreme Rules 2012.
Long before Lesnar instituted that feared MMA maneuver as part of his arsenal, though, he twisted Superstars' bodies in the excruciating Brock Lock, an over-the-shoulder single leg Boston Crab. Using his wide, hulking upper body like his own personal torture rack, Lesnar applied intense pressure to his opponent's knee joint until they had no choice but to tap out or risk serious injury to their ligaments.
You won't find much video evidence of Lesnar using the Brock Lock, as the submission had a very brief run from late 2003 into 2004, but watching Brock apply it once is surely enough to make you cringe.
Lion Tamer (Chris Jericho)
The Ayatollah of Rock ‘n’ Rolla’s signature maneuver during his days in WCW, the Lion Tamer found itself relegated to the backburner upon Chris Jericho’s ascension to the ranks of WWE. The maneuver is essentially a contortionist cousin to the Walls of Jericho where, instead of simply straddling his opponent with the legs hooked, Jericho drives one knee into the back of his foe’s head. The end result wrenches a Superstar’s entire body upwards into a C-position, putting equal pressure on the back and neck en route to earning a submission.
If there was one problem with the Lion Tamer — as Jericho explained in his book, “Undisputed: How to Become the World Champion in 1,372 Easy Steps” — it’s that most of his early WWE opponents were simply too tall for him to apply the hold effectively, so he reverted to the Walls of Jericho instead.
The move enjoyed a brief renaissance in 2012, with Jericho breaking it out against Kofi Kingston in the 2012 Raw Elimination Chamber Match and in several instances during Jericho's resurgence throughout that year. Long live the Lionheart, babaaaayyy!
Last Ride (The Undertaker)
The Undertaker's Tombstone will always be the most chilling weapon in his arsenal. It's the proverbial nail in the coffin — when he hits it, 9.9 times out of 10, his opponent has no chance of rising again. But if you're looking for The Phenom's second most dangerous move, it just might be the Last Ride — a powerbomb that lifts opponents up to the heavens before viciously driving them into their resting place.
The Deadman first introduced this move on the June 30, 2000, edition of SmackDown, when he drilled Edge into the canvas. Since then, the list of Superstars to go for their Last Ride has stretched to include John Cena, Triple H and Brock Lesnar. It's bad enough to endure a powerbomb from The Undertaker's towering height; when you add the downward force at which his foes plummet, the end result is a blow that will leave their craniums ringing for days.
Mysterio Express (Rey Mysterio)
The move doesn't look like it's going anywhere at first glance, but once the Mysterio Express gets rolling, both his opponent and the WWE Universe absolutely need instant replay to find out what the heck just happened.
With his legs wrapped around a Superstar's back, Rey Mysterio uses the canvas to catapult himself into a sunset flip powerbomb that whips his opponent around like a Tilt-A-Whirl at the amusement park. In the blink of an eye, the Mysterio Express comes to a harsh stop in a pinfall position, forcing his opponent to act quickly or suffer a stunning defeat. And unlike Mysterio's well-known signature maneuvers — the 619, West Coast Pop and Droppin' the Dime — this daring maneuver is one any Superstar is hard-pressed to remotely anticipate.
Mysterio rarely uses this rapid-fire maneuver these days, but you never know when it could come in handy again soon. It's served him quite well in past showdowns like the Cruiserweight Open at WrestleMania XX.
Cattle Mutilation (Daniel Bryan)
Of all the submission holds in Daniel Bryan’s extensive repertoire, this one is quite possibly the most wicked. In a maneuver the “Yes!” man carried with him throughout his years on the independent scene, Bryan forced his opponents to tap by driving them face-down onto the mat and executing a double underhook before flipping over into a neck bridge. This homemade torture device, which he called the “Cattle Mutilation,” would twist his opponent’s entire upper body into an excruciating contortion, pulling the shoulders up at an unnatural angle while simultaneously pressing them together, Bryan’s forehead burrowing into the top of the spine as the final pressure point.
It’s not quite as tidy-looking as the “Yes!” Lock, but the maneuver is no less effective. Yet Bryan has only broken it out on a few very select occasions since arriving in WWE. Most prominently, he applied the hold to former NXT mentor The Miz at Hell in a Cell 2010, in a Triple Threat Match that also included John Morrison. Bryan sprung the move on The Awesome One just after Morrison had woven him up in the Tarantula. The hold was only applied briefly, but it did its work, leaving Miz a writhing mass in Bryan’s clutches with his legs kicking in desperation for what must have been the longest four seconds of the evening for him.
Lotus Lock (Kaitlyn)
A submission maneuver can make you tap out even quicker if you don't see it coming. And Kaitlyn will be the first to admit most Divas probably didn't expect anything like the Lotus Lock from her.
Despite its name, the Lotus Lock is anything but pretty and docile. After executing a full nelson bomb, Kaitlyn quickly wraps her "freakishly strong" legs like a vise grip around the outside of her opponent's arms, all the while digging her feet into the back of her opponent's neck. Yeah, it's as painful as it sounds. The arm-wrenching submission turned out to be a valuable equalizer during Kaitlyn's many battles with Maxine on WWE NXT.
"Everything else in my arsenal is more powerful and a stronger style," Kaitlyn told WWE.com. "I feel that a submission is very unexpected from me. I know, I'm not like Natalya, who's from the Hart Dungeon and has 1,001 submissions, so it's more of an element of surprise and way more effective that way."
The submission was conceived when Kaitlyn started to think about taking advantage of her leg strength, and then soon discovered a variation of the move that served as inspiration for the Lotus Lock. Kaitlyn explained that the Lotus Lock can be challenging to execute, especially when an opponent recognizes she's aiming to lock it in, but once it's locked in, "no one's getting out of it."
"I'd use the move when something huge is on the line," Kaitlyn said. "Obviously, every match we fight is important, but I think it's used for when everything else has failed and they're not expecting it."
La Mística (Sin Cara)
Jaw-dropping maneuvers that make you go "whoa" are the norm for Sin Cara, but this is both his most difficult to execute and the most awesome to witness. A holdover from Sin Cara’s epic reign atop the Mexican luchador ranks, the masked man executes La Mística by first building up his momentum running the ropes. Then Sin Cara strikes, ducking under an opponent’s arm and twisting himself up into a headscissors. The International Sensaton uses his head of steam to spin both himself and his opponent around like a helicopter for several turns before forcing him face-first onto the mat, swinging simultaneously over and locking in an armbar mid-fall. Disorientation and pain takes over, and a Superstar is forced to tap.
Due to the complexities of the maneuver, La Mística is WWE’s version of Sasquatch: often rumored, but almost never spotted. Occasionally, he will break out variations of the tactic — floating over into a DDT instead of an armbar — but Sin Cara has instead adopted a senton as his new go-to in the pursuit of victory. Every so often lighting will strike, though, and the lightning-fast Sin Cara will break out his classic signature attack. Count us among those jealous of the WWE Universe members lucky enough to have seen it.