Pro Wrestling

10 Worst Finishing Moves In Wrestling History Source:

Finishing moves are very important to every professional wrestler. They need to be unique, visually impressive, and look like they actually hurt their opponent badly enough that they could put someone down for a pinfall, or force them to submit. Unfortunately, in the search for a finisher that could satisfy all those requirement, some wrestlers go too far astray and end up with some truly abominable creations. Some of them require too much suspension of disbelief, some of them take too long to setup for too small of a payoff, and some of them look like they wouldn’t hurt a fly. Whatever the case, these are some of the most truly terrible finishers in the history of professional wrestling.

10. The Rock – The People’s Elbow
Scotty 2 Hotty – The Worm
Santino Marella – The Cobra

We decided to throw these three silly moves into one entry, for two reasons. First of all, they’re all incredibly dumb and in no universe should they deliver enough force to actually stun an opponent long enough to get a pin (in fact, two of them require an opponent to stay down for so long that it would have been equally effective to attempt to pin them without delivering the finisher). Nobody argues that all these moves are ridiculous, but that leads into our second reason for grouping them together, which is that the wrestlers who delivered these wacky finishers were so popular that all these moves were actually incredibly over, and therefore accepted as credible finishers. There’s no denying that the moves themselves are terrible from the perspective of being realistic finishers, but we still feel bad about including them on this list, because only people with no sense of humor or appreciation for the incredible charisma of the wrestlers performing them would dare to complain about them. Source:

9. Umaga – Samoan Spike

Umaga was actually an under-rated wrestler who turned into a pretty good big man during his WWE career, but his finishing move was a big reason why it was nearly impossible to take him seriously when he was starting out, and dogged him even when he became credible in the eyes of the fans. The Samoan Spike, for all it has a fairly intimidating name, is literally Umaga sharply jabbing his opponent in the throat with his thumb. Sure, that would probably hurt, and to his credit, Umaga would tape his thumb heavily to make it look like he had reinforced the thumb to make it more painful, but who in the world gets knocked out by getting hit in the throat by someone’s thumb? We’re pretty sure someone tried to justify it by saying that Umaga hit the artery in the neck, disrupting the flow of blood and causing temporary paralysis, so I suppose they get points for trying. However, due to the fact that Umaga probably didn’t want to break him thumb or actually jab someone in the windpipe by accident, most of the time the Spike ended up hitting somewhere around the upper chest region.;jsessionid=B92BBCF612BCAD1BCC3D86F330E96082?r30_r1_r1:page=5 Source:

8. R-Truth – Lie Detector

R-Truth is a guy who likes to add a lot of movement to his arsenal of moves, with his matches sometimes resembling more of a breakdancing competition than a wrestling exhibition. But there have been brief periods where Truth was treated as a legitimate contender, and during one of those times, he started using a move called the Lie Detector (because he’s Truth, get it?) to finish off opponents. As ridiculous as the name is, it’s still outstripped by how terrible the move itself is. To perform his finisher, Truth bounces off the ropes, and then leaps into the air, spins around while flying at his opponent, and theoretically hits them in some way that knocks them out. Possibly Truth is supposed to hit them with an elbow or something like that, but he rarely bothered to make it clear what he was doing, so to most viewers, it looks like Truth is literally hitting his opponent with a flying pirouette.

7. Several Wrestlers – The Heart Punch

Few current fans are old enough to remember Ox Baker, who originated the move and had two deaths attributed to using the it (falsely, the deaths were coincidental), but it’s also been used over time by Stan Stasiak, Crush, and some guy named Mean Mark Callous. So why would we put a move that has actually claimed to kill people? Well, that’s because the Heart Punch is literally punching someone really hard in the chest. Sure, finishers don’t have to be fancy, but come on, who could possibly believe that a punch in the chest knocked someone out? Apparently the logistics behind the move are supposed to be that the punch, when performed accurately, is supposed to stop your opponent’s heart, knocking them unconscious long enough to be pinned. Of course, because you can’t actually kill people in pro wrestling, promoters would make sure to remind people that the move only stopped the heart temporarily, which removes the need to deal with biology questions that nobody was prepared to answer, but also makes the move far less cool.

6. Big Show – KO Punch

One of the most long-standing rules in wrestling is that closed fist punches are illegal. The actual reason behind it is that even pro wrestlers realized that actually punching someone repeatedly and having them not be knocked down and the wrestler delivering the punches not breaking bones in their hand would be way too unrealistic. Also, most wrestlers can’t throw realistic fake punches, so banning closed fists opens up a variety of chops, elbows, and forearm smashes for use instead. With that in mind, by the rules of pro wrestling, how does the Big Show not get disqualified every time he punches someone in the face as hard as he can? We get it, he’s got big fists, but his finisher is predicated on forgetting that you’re not actually allowed to do it! And that doesn’t even get into the ridiculousness of WWE originally calling the move the WMD, which, you know, isn’t exactly the most PR-friendly name you could go with (and of course, being WWE, they doubled down on it and made t-shirts). Source:

5. The Goon – Checking From Behind

Anyone who watches hockey knows that a cross check from behind is one of the most dangerous moves in the sport, and in the modern NHL, is often severely punished, so at least the concept of it as a wrestling move has that going for it. With that said, however, the finishing move of the short-lived Goon character was terrible for many reasons, most importantly because, for some reason, it had to be delivered outside the ring, resulting in any wins The Goon did accrue in WWE being via countout. In case you’d forgotten, unless there are special stipulations in place, you cannot win any titles in WWE by countout, thus putting a fairly low ceiling on The Goon’s already fairly small chances of career success. Also, since pro wrestling does not allow you to carry a stick, the Goon’s finisher basically involved him running up and shoving his opponent into the ring apron. Not exactly the most devastating finisher we’ve ever seen, but to be fair, the Goon barely won any matches and wasn’t around long enough to truly matter. Source:

4. The Von Erichs – The Iron Claw

Listen, we know that everyone loves the Von Erichs and they were some of the biggest stars of the territory days before most of them died in various tragedies, but the Iron Claw was one of the dumbest finishers of all time. For those who aren’t aware, the Iron Claw involves taking your hand and literally grabbing your opponent by the face until they pass out or submit. It sounds impressive, but have you ever actually tried grabbing somebody’s face in one hand? Doesn’t that seem pretty unbelievable that anyone, even someone with an incredible grip strength, would be able to keep holding onto someone in that way without them slipping free? Frankly, if your opponent took a couple of quick steps backward, your hand would probably slide right off. It’s possible that the move would be slightly more believable if applied by some gigantic wrestler with huge hands that could actually envelop your face (although maybe not, as Kane briefly used a variant where it was alleged that he was smothering wrestlers by covering their nose and mouth, and it just looked like he was playing the world’s worst game of “Got Your Nose”), but the Von Erichs were average-sized wrestlers, so it ended up looking like they were lightly massaging their opponent’s temples. Source:

3. MVP – The Playmaker

At one point in wrestling, everyone was trying to make their finisher a variation of a neckbreaker. It sort of made sense, neckbreakers are basic moves that you can usually perform on any wrestler, and they look like they deliver a serious impact while generally being pretty safe and requiring nothing more complicated than a back bump from your opponent. However, there are only so many ways you can modify a neckbreaker before it becomes silly, and that point was reached with Montel Vontavious Porter and the Playmaker. Basically, MVP drapes his leg over the back of his opponent’s neck, and essentially falls forward, while the wrestler taking the move flips onto their back. It requires a convoluted setup, and looks like it is delivered with absolutely no force behind it (mostly because there isn’t). It is literally the weakest possible version of a neckbreaker, and yet MVP continued to use it as a finisher for most of his WWE career.

2. The Great Khali – Khali Chop

So, The Great Khali is really big, but also incredibly immobile and a pretty bad wrestler who got worse the longer he stayed in the business, which is really just a sad fact of life for larger wrestlers. The fact that The Big Show has managed to remain consistently decent for so long is actually a massive outlier, but we digress. Initially, Khali used a Tree Slam as his finisher, which didn’t look all that great, but had the benefits of being visually impressive and having the necessary impact of dropping somebody from a dangerous height. But as Khali became less able to move around the ring, his finisher was downgraded to an overhead chop, which is exactly what it sounds like. Somehow, Khali hitting someone over the head with the edge of his hand became a devastating finisher, despite the fact that wrestlers took much worse moves from much more powerful wrestlers on a regular basis and continued to get up afterwards. By the end of Khali’s WWE career, he was so broken-down that the Chop was literally all he ever did, which was actually fairly sad. Source:

1. Byron Saxton – Whatever That Is Supposed To Be

As bland and unmemorable as Byron Saxton is as a WWE announcer, he was probably even worse as a wrestler. Somehow, despite basically being treated like an announcer in both developmental and some limited WWE appearances, Saxton ended up on the fourth season of NXT, back when it was still a fake reality show. He was eliminated early and immediately went back to being a mediocre announcer, but not before debuting his alleged finishing move. To this day, we’re still not sure what this move was supposed to accomplish, although the closest description we’ve come up with is, “modified reverse facebuster”, even though it bears only a passing resemblance to anything close to those words. Perhaps a more appropriate description would be “he screwed up a neckbreaker and decided to just go with it”, but that’s a little wordy for a finisher. In any event, no wrestler since Saxton has ever attempted to replicate his finisher, and it’s likely nobody ever will. mostly because it’s almost certain that nobody can figure out how Saxton did it in the first place.

Stephen Randle

Stephen Randle

Stephen Randle is an avid wrestling and film fan. He's been writing about WWE, movies, and video games for Goliath since 2015.