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Plainly stated, I took four categories (moves, submissions, strikes, and corner moves), and I seeded what I judged to be the 16 best finishers in each milieu into a bracket. My process wasn't completely scientific, but I had a method. I took into account how cool the move was, how iconic in WWE folklore, how over it was, and how much the move looked like it hurt. Some regions were harder than others to seed; I struggled to find 16 corner finishers, but found that I could have done three regions based on wrestling moves or submission holds apiece. I will explore poll options, and either tomorrow (Friday) or Monday, March 24, you will be able to vote down your favorite finisher in WWE history. Now, for the explanations:
1 – Stone Cold Stunner: This move is perhaps the most iconic finisher in WWE history, and its cache attached to perhaps the most important wrestler in the company's folklore was undeniable.
2 – Tombstone Piledriver: Undertaker's first and best finisher has the added mystique of being banned at one point because it was too dangerous (read, it injured Triple H and Shane McMahon).
3 – DDT: Jake "The Snake" Roberts brought this hold to WWE, and the state of the finishing maneuver was never the same again.
4 – PerfectPlex: I still was legitimately shocked when Bret Hart kicked out of the PerfectPlex at SummerSlam '91.
5 – Diamond Cutter/RKO: Controversial opinion alert: I think Randy Orton's execution of the move is slightly better, although Diamond Dallas Page made better use out of showcasing its versatility and hitting it out of nowhere and not doing that stupid ground-pounding taunt beforehand.
6 – Pedigree: Triple H sucks, but his finisher is rad as hell.
7 – Last Ride: When the Tombstone got banned, Taker got himself a finisher comparable. This variation on the power bomb is still my favorite to this day.
8 – Jackhammer: Goldberg was a mixed bag in the ring, but the way he executed on his finishers was always top notch. The Jackhammer looked like ass when done by Mr. Ass, but Goldberg owned that shit.
9 – Razor's Edge: Scott Hall's almost lax form on the move only added to its allure. How was the super cool Razor Ramon going to tighten up execution on any move?
10 – Thump/Running Powerslam: The running powerslam was the perfect finisher for thick, hossy, brutish dudes like Junkyard Dog and The British Bulldog.
11 – F5: The move might look almost sloppy in comparison to other iconic WWE finishes, but it always looked like a devastating fit for Brock Lesnar.
12 – Rude Awakening: It's the only neckbreaker that ever looked like a legit finisher, and Rick Rude always had the sense enough to gyrate his hips before dropping the hammer on it.
13 – World's Strongest Slam: Sure, a front-facing powerslam when done by a regular wrestler might be lame, but consider it being done by a 400 pound behemoth of a man. Yup.
14 – CrossRhodes/Roll of the Dice: I've come around on this move a lot mostly thanks to Cody Rhodes habit of slowing it down and always facing the hard camera when he does it.
15 – Dominator: The Dominator was pure whiplash personified, an angry, violent move for an angry, violent man.
16 – Rock Bottom: The Rock Bottom gets the final slot mainly because it was The Rock's primary, non-bullshit finish. It also had that elusive "hit out of nowhere" quality that puts a good finisher on another plane.
1 – Sharpshooter: Forget that it was the move that sent Bret Hart out of the WWE; no other top guy in the company relied on a submission move as much as Hart relied on the Sharpshooter during his run.
2 – Million Dollar Dream/Cobra Clutch: The Dream has the cache of being used by two different wrestlers to similar overness. Ted DiBiase's application of the move always popped me though.
3 – Camel Clutch: Sheiky baby fuck your ass and make you humble. Uh, I mean, it's a simplistic hold. However, it's identified with one of WWE's signature icons, and it was tied to perhaps the last great Madison Square Garden show finish before the WrestleMania era.
4 – Mandible Claw: I would argue no finisher better fit a singular persona than the Claw fit Mankind.
5 – Figure 4: I would have the Figure 4 higher if it didn't get so watered down in WWE's parlance (Jeff Jarrett? THE MIZ?), but Ric Flair used it in the company. I can't really knock it too low.
6 – Scorpion Crosslock: Yeah, it's a neophytic finish that has only been used twice on WWE television recently (not sure how many times Bull Nakano used it within the company), but hot damn, have you seen how impressive it looks? Paige hit a homerun here adopting this hold.
7 – Crossface Chicken Wing: Crazy old man Bob Backlund slapping this hold on unsuspecting rubes and wrenching them until they got stretchered out of the arena was probably my favorite singular thing in WWE between 1993 and 1995.
8 – YES! Lock: The LeBell Lock feels a bit too close to the Crippler Crossface here to include it too high (not including that one for OBVIOUS REASONS GAWD), but I can't leave out the signature submission hold of a guy whose gimmick still is that he's a really good submission wrestler.
9 – Black Widow: AJ Lee is tiny even by WWE women's standards, so this move is the most brilliant fit for her as a finish, especially when she applies it to someone who knows how to take it in a way that doesn't make it look applied in slow motion.
10 – Hell's Gate: Undertaker has had a lot of kick-ass finishes over the years, hasn't he?
11 – Tazzmission: What pushes the Tazzmission above most other chokes and sleepers is that even in WWE, during his abysmally booked time period, the announcers always sold getting choked out as a death sentence.
12 – Tarantula/DilEMMA: Technically, it is not a finishing hold because it's done in the ropes, but it has a lot of the same qualities that a great submission finish has.
13 – Torture Rack: Watching Lex Luger rack big-ass dudes never got old.
14 – Walls of Jericho: I might have seeded this one a bit higher if Jericho didn't phone it in most of the time he applied it post-WCW departure, but it's still iconic on some level.
15 – Master Lock: As hokey as the full nelson was as a finisher in any other hands, Chris Masters rag-dolled the shit out of people doing it.
16 – Ankle Lock: Even though I always thought the move was left too wide open to be completely awesome, I can't deny that no fewer than three WWE guys made it their own and got reactions for it.
1 – Sweet Chin Music: I hesitate to call it the most over-pushed finish in WWE history because that would connote that it didn't live up to its hype. Shawn Michaels owned that kick and elevated it to a move that is respected across the entirety of the wrestling landscape.
2 – Atomic Leg Drop: I wasn't leaving off Hogan's finisher, and honestly, this is another "World's Strongest Slam situation" here. A leg drop from, say, Jeff Hardy, isn't going to be finisher grade, but have you seen Hogan's ham-hock thighs and momentum-producing upper body?
3 – Spear/GORE! GORE! GORE!: Smaller dudes doing this move never worked for me, but that doesn't dilute how goddamn impressive it looked when Goldberg, Rhyno, Big Show, or Roman Reigns used it.
4 – Knee-Plus: Daniel Bryan gets mad air on this move, and honestly, if you can't buy a rocket-speed knee to the face as a devastating finisher, you should probably check out reading comics for finishes that would be in your power bracket.
5 – Earthquake Press: The best part about fat guys in wrestling is that all they have to do is sit on you to create an awesome finish.
6 – Blackout: Seth Rollins just freestyle-walking all over a dude's head is the most punk rock finisher in wrestling history.
7 – Clothesline from Hell/Western Lariat: Everyone does a clothesline. A lariat though? Yeah, that move takes a special kind of reckless hoss to pull off.
8 – Samoan Spike: A thumb to the neck seems so cheap and simplistic to the uncultured mind. However, try doing it to yourself even at quarter-speed and try not to gulp at least slightly.
9 – Green Mist: Again, the mist isn't technically legal, but since ref shenanigans are as part of pro wrestling as the Irish whip and bulge-revealing tights, this move belongs.
10 – Fame Asser: Billy Gunn may have had a shitty jackhammer, but his main finisher was tight.
11 – Knockout Punch: See World's Strongest Slam and Atomic Leg Drop.
12 – Ghetto Blaster: Bad News Brown's WWE career was checkered to say the least, but his enzugiri finish was impressive for a hoss his size.
13 – COBRA!: Nerve holds rock, and Santino Marella's execution of it is pro wrestling artistry and pageantry at its finest.
14 – 619: Sure, the setups for the kick have gotten more and more convoluted over the years, but I can't hate on a swing gate double kick to the face, ever.
15 – Go to Sleep: If my personal feelings on the matter were paramount, I'd have left this move off the list. However, CM Punk had to be represented here in some manner, the move is over with the genpop, and even among my Twitter smartass brethren, I am in a minority on my hate.
16 – Flying Forearm/Loaded Forearm: Tito Santana using it as a clean babyface finish was cool. Lex Luger using it as a dirty, loaded finish as a heel was even better.
1 – Flying Elbow Drop: The list of iconic finishers off the top in WWE begins with the Macho Man's signature. You don't have to have a ton of flips to be cool. Even Shawn Michaels used it to great effect, which I can't discount.
2 – Blockbuster: The cool factor on this move way outpaced the guy using it.
3 – Shooting Star Press/Air Bourne: Both Paul London and Evan Bourne were form perfect on their executions of the press, absolute poetry in motion.
4 – Frogsplash/Five Star Frogsplash: Eddie Guerrero's version of the move looked better going through the air. Rob van Dam selling the move afterwards because he got so much impact on it was a nice touch though.
5 – Red Arrow: You don't have to have a ton of flips to be cool, but when you make it look as easy as Adrian Neville does, then it doesn't hurt, either.
6 – 450 Splash: THE MOVE THAT NEARLY KILLED RICKY STEAMBOAT.
7 – Banzai Drop: See the Earthquake Press, only add height off the second rope.
8 – Doomsday Device: Tag team finishers still feel like they have a long way to go, but the Doomsday Device was still cool shit, no matter how simple it looked.
9 – Swanton Bomb: Jeff Hardy made what was just a rolling forward flipping dive into one of the most over finishers ever. Respect.
10 – Vader Bomb: See the other fat guy moves.
11 – Warrior's Way: Yeah, I wouldn't want anyone, not even a shrimp like Kaval, double-stomping me from height.
12 – Flying Crossbody: Ricky Steamboat made that shit look silky smooth.
13 – Demolition Drop: A backbreaker hold plus an elbow from the top equaled PAIN.
14 – Lita-Sault: Lita made the highspot gender neutral thanks to her sprightly if not a little sloppy moonsault.
15 – Superfly Splash/Money Shot: A little bit of the luster comes off the flying splash because Jimmy Snuka might get BENOIT'd for murdering someone and because Val Venis is now a raving asshole lunatic. But the move's still cool.
16 – Guillotine Leg Drop: I still can't believe they haven't gimmicked the name for Fandango's variant on the move.
Of course, I don't expect everyone to agree with the above seeding. Please relay your complaints in the comments, but for now, get your brackets in order. Voting starts soon.