The Evolution of the Finisher


The “finisher” in professional wrestling is a wrestler’s signature way of winning, almost their trademark if you will. Every wrestler is known by it, John Cena has the attitude adjustment (previously called the F-U), AJ Styles has the Styles Clash, and even less common stars such as Fernando and Diego have the Backstabber. Each and every one of them being some fancy maneuver created along the way of following their dream. Yet, why are the finishers of today so much more complex than those of the earlier years? It’s all because of overuse. The best example to use in this scenario is the DDT. What started off as an accident caused by Jake the Snake Roberts accidentally falling turned into one of the most devastating finishers of his time period. In today’s wrestling, a DDT is one of the most common moves there is. Wrestlers were forced to add twists and variations on to the move to even make worth a little bit of shown pain. Dolph Ziggler has to jump while holding his opponents head and hang for a little under two seconds for the move to even really qualify as a signature move. Take the spear for example. Rhyno, Edge, Roman Reigns, Goldberg, Big Show, Batista all users of the same move and that’s just to name a few. So how did all of these wrestlers get away with using the same move, some even at the same time? It’s all in the branding. Each wrestler must make the move their own whether that means changing the name, the build up, or the showmanship. Rhyno changed it to a gore and got the whole crowd involved by chanting with him right before he took his victims. Big Show used his incredible size to give his opponent an amount of pain they wouldn’t soon forget. Roman Reigns simply used it in a time period when the move was scarce so it seemed more rare. So if you can’t overuse a move whether it’s direct (the DDT) or indirect (the spear), how do you create a working finisher? You don’t! There are so many different types of wrestling moves in the business that it’s almost impossible to create something that is completely new. Instead you must make every aspect of the move your own. Jimmy Superfly Snuka used the Superfly Splash, a devastating jump from the top rope that left your opponent unable to kick out. Superfly used this move until he semi-retired from the WWF in 1992 and ECW in 1994. Yet, the move really never left the company and it wasn’t stolen from Snuka it was just altered enough that people didn’t see them as the same. Rob Van Dam’s Five Star Frog Splash altered the set up and the delivery to make the move entirely his own. Wrestling history is full of finishers reused and recycled and that is something that will never be changed, but what can be changed is how they use them.

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