The Origin Of Iconic WWE Finishers

3/15/2024 10:40 AM

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The Origin Of Iconic WWE Finishers

The Origin Of Iconic WWE Finishers

March 15, 2024 10:40 AM
The Origin Of Iconic WWE Finishers

Every finisher has an origin story.

10: The Styles Clash

The Styles Clash is one of the most iconic and recognizable moves of the modern era. AJ Styles has used the trademark finisher across numerous promotions including TNA, NJPW, and of course, WWE. 

When it comes to the origin of the celebrated finisher, the move has an unusual origin, and It actually originated during a failed powerbomb attempt on a trampoline. 

During an interview with ITN Wrestling, the former WWE Champion revealed:

“Well, my little brother was trying to powerbomb his buddy on the trampoline. He’s dangling upside down. They’re talking to each other, And I go, oh, and I walked over there and my little brother took the first-ever Styles Clash on a trampoline.”

9: Skull Crushing Finale

It took The Miz quite a while to find a finisher that worked. At first, The Miz was using various moves as finishers including The Reality Check, and The Mizard Of Oz. These moves just didn’t feel right, and it was when Miz was brain-storming with Dean Malenko and Arn Anderson, that The Skull Crushing Finale was born.

The Miz offered some fascinating insight into the origin of the WWE Title winning move on TikTok, and this is what he had to say:

“So I went with Dean Malenko and Arn Anderson, and every live event, every television, Monday Night Raw, like, we would literally be just racking our brains on different finishers.He first came up with the knee DDT, which everyone thought was a half-DDT, so no. Then the knee lift into the neckbreaker, which was my former one, which I called the Reality Check, and they’re like, ‘That’s just not a finisher.’..”
“Then I re-upped it, what if I doing it into one move? That didn’t work for him either. Then one day, Dean was like, ‘Why don’t you try and do a full nelson and sweep the front of his legs and see if that works.’ And we did it and everyone seemed to like it. I liked it because I could pretty much do it on everybody, and so that is how the Skull Crushing Finale was created.”

8: The Claymore

Drew McIntyre has used the Claymore finishing move for a considerable amount of time, and the crazy thing about the popular move is that it was created thanks to concern that he was going to split his pants.

McIntyre, whilst appearing on Broken Skull Sessions stated that during a match on RAW in 2013, he was going for a big boot on Ryback, but he was concerned that his 3MB pants were going to split, so he threw his other leg in the air, and The Claymore was suddenly born:

“I don't want my crotch to split, so I kicked up the other leg, knocked out my opponent and knocked myself out at the same time. Like, I remember getting up, doing an arm ringer after I did the maneuver, let the arm go, walked across the ring, tagged out and fell to the floor because I'd knocked myself silly. Got to the back and someone pulled me aside and said, 'If you can do that move without killing yourself you've got something cool there.'…”

In-time, The Claymore became his primary finishing move, and would even win him two World Titles in WWE. 

7: The People’s Elbow

It’s hard to imagine The Rock’s persona working so well during the Attitude Era without The People’s Elbow.

The People’s Elbow, thanks to The Rock’s over-the-top mannerisms managed to ignite the crowd, and the People’s Elbow became one of the most over finishing moves in WWE history.

According to numerous legendary names including Triple H and The Undertaker, The Rock began to deliver the move during the Attitude Era in the hopes of making other wrestlers break character.

The move would eventually stick as a permanent finishing move when the fans loved the concept of the finishing maneuver.

The People’s Elbow would become one of two main finishers for The Rock, as he would also use The Rock Bottom, which was much more impactful as a move, and has often been replicated by wrestlers over the past two-decades. 

6: The F5

Arriving on the main roster in 2002, Brock Lesnar was instantly presented as credible and legitimate, and one of the central reasons why Lesnar got over almost immediately was thanks to his finishing move.

From the moment Lesnar hit his first F5, it received a great reaction from the crowd, as the move stood out, and looked completely different from all the other finishers in the company.

In a rare out of character interview on WWE Confidential, Lesnar declared that the F5 was born out of him watching old Japanese wrestling:

"And I was watching a bunch of Japan wrestling videos and Jonny Laurinaitis, one of the road agents, saw me practising moves similar to it and decided that we should incorporate both of them and use it as a semi kind of DDT, kind of spinning DDT, where the guys on my shoulders and turns out it looked pretty devastating and it was effective, and I liked it."

5: AA

John Cena’s AA has an interesting history, and Cena first used the move in 2003 during a main event level feud with Brock Lesnar. The move which was initially called the FU, was used to contrast Brock Lesnar’s F5, which was a great angle to take, and the move managed to get over to such an extent that Cena kept the move for the next two-decades.

According to ECW Legend, Tommy Dreamer on Busted Open Radio, due to Cena’s AA being a version of the Death Valley Driver, and Dreamer still using the move on WWE TV, Cena politely asked Dreamer if he would be okay if Cena adopted the move:

“I’ll tell you what stood out because this business is all about respect. It really is. Early on when WWE first wanted to push John, he came to me and said, ‘They suggested in the meeting to use your finish as my finish. I wanted to come to you. If you don’t want me to do it, I won’t do it.’ I was like, ‘I appreciate you so much for coming to me. I’m not winning with it and obviously they want you to do it, so run with it.’ Just to come to another person and say that, was super cool because he cared when he didn’t have to care.”

4: The Pedigree

When ranking the most popular and well-established finishing moves in WWE, The Pedigree would most definitely be towards the upper echelon. The move was introduced by Triple H in the 1990’s, and it managed to look completely credible, whilst (after some early adjustments) being completely safe to take.

The origin of the move traces back to Triple H’s days learning to wrestle. It’s well known that the multi-time former WWE Champion was trained by Killer Kowalski, and Kowalski would deliver a move that was similar to The Pedigree, so The Game took on the move, and introduced a few tweaks to make it his own.

Speaking to Fox Sports, The Game added:

“…The Pedigree, for me, started actually when I was training with Killer Kowalski. Kowalski used to do it in a spot where he'd put a guy's head between his knees and he would jump up and just kind of jar their neck. It just dawned on me that if he kept going straight down to his knees, it was like a sort of a version of a piledriver. And as I looked at it, I thought, well, if you held the guy's arms, it would be very clearly a piledriver, so it started out as that in my mind, I've always thought that it was something very unique that I had never seen done before, it sort of slowly evolved into me hooking the arms behind the guy's back and then jumping up and having them, you know, come down full body face first…”

3: Goldberg’s Spear

Goldberg’s spear is arguably one of the best versions of the move. Goldberg’s version always looked incredibly brutal, and it acted as the perfect transition to set up The Jackhammer.

The WWE Hall of Famer revealed the origin of his version of the spear during an appearance on Talk is Jericho, and according to Goldberg, it was basically a finisher that was called on the fly during one of his first matches in WCW:

“Jamie [the WCW Referee] says, ‘What’s your finish?’ I said, ‘Finish? What is that? I don’t have a finish.’ And he goes, ‘Whatever you do, do something impactful that people are gonna remember.’ So I get in the ring, Manny and I are circling. And I say, ‘Manny, do you trust me?’ He goes, ‘Yeah.’ I said, ‘Then at the finish. Tuck your head, spread your legs and kiss your a** goodbye, but hold on.’..”
“And I did it, and to me it was a natural move. And I went in the back and everybody’s mouths were open, hitting the floor going, ‘Whatever you do, do that every single time”… 

2: End Of Days

It’s often the case that modern-day finishers receive a ton of criticism. Some fans believe that modern-day finishers are lazy, and most of them are carbon copies of what has come before.

However, when it comes to Baron Corbin’s End of Days, Corbin has managed to deliver something completely unique, and WWE thankfully committed to protecting the finishing move as much as possible, meaning that the finisher is considered one of the most remarkable finishing moves of modern times.

The move had a surprising origin, and it was born out of Corbin and Sami Callihan just “playing around in the ring”. Appearing on Insight with Chris Van Vliet, Corbin stated:

“At the Performance Center, we have a crash pad ring. You can go in there and try things. A kid named Sami Callihan, I was playing around with him in the ring, and he does this thing where he springs off the bottom rope and catches you for a DDT. And I was just messing with him, and he jumped, and I caught him, and I did the End of Days on him. We both sat up and looked at each other and said, 'Wait a second. What was that?'"

1: RKO

Randy Orton’s RKO is legendary, and although Orton isn’t the first wrestler to use a cutter as a finishing move, Orton’s version of the move is without question the most widely known.

A crazy fact about the move was that Randy Orton’s own father, Cowboy Bob Orton first used the move during the 1980s, yet Orton doesn’t cite Cowboy Bob as his inspiration for using the cutter as his primary move.

Appearing on IMPAULSIVE with Logan Paul, the WWE veteran revealed he drew inspiration from John Laurinaitis, as well as Diamond Dallas Page:

“So… Did you (Logan Paul) ever meet John Laurinaitis? So he was head of talent relations when… For the majority of my career. He used to do a move called the Ace Crusher. Very very similar to the RKO. Diamond Dallas Page, who I’m sure you’re familiar with, he did the Diamond Cutter. Both those moves inspired me and in one way or another for me to come up with the RKO. So I needed a move that I could do to everybody. That I could do to you know, Rey Mysterio, Omos, or… You know, I wanted to do that finishing move to everybody. And that was the best choice…”