Professional wrestling has been around for much longer than anyone both in and outside of the business may realize. As such, many finishers have come and gone with few being quite as effective as the 12 definitive match-enders on this list.
Seriously, these bad boys not only got the crowd going but they also all but guaranteed that the end of the match was near. Sure, some of them may be more impactful than others – with a few actually causing broken necks – but the beauty of sports entertainment is that fans will believe just about anything if you get them invested in it.
12) Swanton Bomb
SWANTON BOMB!!!!!!! pic.twitter.com/Naht9dkvcL
— Otto Birss (@OBirss) September 1, 2017
It doesn’t matter if you’re eight or 80 – Jeff Hardy nailing the Swanton Bomb is one of the coolest moves in wrestling. Sure the likes of Kevin Owens have tried to replicate it, but good old Jeff gets a perfect dip on it to the point where you think he’s going to land square on his head.
It may be the only submission on this list which could ruffle a few feathers, but the Sharpshooter has more than earned its position here. Bret Hart made it look like he was tearing your ligaments in two every single time he applied it, with the effort against Stone Cold at WrestleMania 13 being a particular stand out.
10) Shooting Star Press
We head back to the top rope for the Shooting Star Press, which is a move that most high-flying performers can actually perform with relative ease. Still, it looks awesome to see someone gliding through the air like that and the impact is more than good enough to land it in the top 10.
9) Stone Cold Stunner
Yes, there may be some finishers that are more impactful, but whenever the Stunner hit; the roof came off whatever building it was in that night. It had the ability to pop a crowd who may otherwise have been dead in the water, with The Rock in particular selling that thing like an absolute pro.
8) Go To Sleep
Whether it’s KENTA or CM Punk, the GTS is about as effective as you could hope for a wrestling maneuver to be. After all, driving your knee into someone’s skull after picking them up onto your shoulders is bound to do some damage.
7) Tombstone Piledriver
— Corey Futuristic (@FuturisticCorey) August 30, 2017
The thing about the Tombstone Piledriver is that if you position your opponent wrong even slightly, they could end up in A&E for quite some time. Thankfully, it’s The Undertaker who delivers the move and therefore it’s usually delivered perfectly.
It’s the first of two appearances from Randy Orton on this list, with the Punt being arguably the more deadly of the two. First off, it was actually banned by WWE due to its ferocity, and secondly, it’s put a number of superstars on the shelf – in terms of storylines, that is.
When your finisher gets turned into a meme, you know you’re doing something right. The RKO is an absolutely perfect finisher because it quite literally comes out of nowhere, with Orton bringing it out many times over the years in order to put away anyone that he sees fit. Few have kicked out of it, and it’s not hard to see why.
4) The Red Arrow
me: I just want Neville to red arrow me into another dimension pic.twitter.com/OQOrNrHTpI
— 🐰 (@Shystorne) August 21, 2017
Top rope finishers don’t get any better than this. Period. The Red Arrow is a perfect display of athleticism, being performed to perfection by the one and only Neville. Plus, and this is key, when he lands it you can just tell that the person on the canvas is having a nasty old time; and we don’t mean in a ‘fake’ way either.
3) Sweet Chin Music
Nowadays you see several superkicks in the majority of big matches, but once upon a time you rarely saw them delivered. And this was for one reason and one reason only: the move belonged to The Heartbreak Kid, Shawn Michaels. It was done so perfectly by HBK that nobody will ever be able to top it, and that’s just a fact.
2) Steiner Screwdriver
Boy oh boy was this effective. With what looked like a standard body slam at first, or perhaps even a Jackhammer transformed into a sickening finisher, this was extremely difficult to watch. Scott Steiner was able to contort his opponent’s body in ways that we could never imagine, and it was always awesome.
1) Burning Hammer
Take all of your ‘wrestling is fake’ nonsense and shove it where the sun doesn’t shine because this move is utterly bonkers. It was created in Japan by Kenta Kobashi, and the fact that he’s only used it a handful of times should tell you all that you need to know. Just watch the footage.
If your necks don’t hurt just from looking at this, then you must be somewhat invincible. At the end of the day, wrestling may be considered ‘silly’ but these performers are putting their lives in the hands of their opponent, and that’s quite the responsibility.
The structure of a fully functioning bout rests on a decisive finisher, and that’s exactly what these moves provide us with.