10 Best WWE Finishers Ever

John Cena debuted a new finisher in China over the weekend...

John Cena debuted a new finisher in China over the weekend and the world lost the plot - only the world didn't really lose the plot, because everyone was enjoying Starrcast and looking forward to All In at the time the leader of the Cenation hit the move.

I loved the move, simply because I'm sure it made that section of the WWE Universe piss their pants in unadulterated fury. Get this, right - Cena's much-hyped sixth move of doom is a punch. A right hand. What's more, it's not even a proper punch, it's a glancing blow to the side of the head that will be known as the 'Lightning Fist' going forward.

I'm not too sure why I'm writing this article in 2018, as the concept of a finishing move is as outdated as most of Jim Cornette's opinions these days. Gone are the days when a finisher would signal the end of a match being near, with a kickout or three seemingly compulsory before any bout is allowed to reach its end.

Despite the fact they're only half as effective as they were back in the good old days, we still love a good finisher, don't we? Here's the 10 best of all time in WWE based on nothing more than my uninformed opinion. I could make this list iron clad and scientific and stuff by picking the 10 finishers that won the most matches, but I simply don't care how successful a move is - I just want it to look pretty.

10. Steiner Screwdriver

I know, I know - you think this move should be number one. I agree, but I'm putting it at number 10 because Scott Steiner's maths is so rotten. He probably believes 10 and 1 are the same thing or the equivalent of MOOSE or something...

And I know the footage above isn't from WWE, but Scotty did indeed hit the move on Vince McMahon's hallowed canvas during the early 1990s.

I don't really know what to say about this, just look at the state of it. I can't believe Scott got away with doing it for so long. It's the best/worst thing ever, depending on if you're just watching from the sidelines like us, or taking the move and risking everything yourself. The margin for error is smaller than... something that is really, really small.

9. 3D


I think you could count on one hand the number of times the Dudleys botched the execution of their 3D, and considering the amount of times they hit the thing over their illustrious run, that's bloody impressive.

This entry works on both sides of the kayfabe/shoot brother debate. On the worked side of things, I think you could count on that same hand the number of people who kicked out from the 3D, while when we're shooting, it's a really glorious looking thing, isn't it? With or without table. And of course, the added crowd noise always helped - that anticipation-raising cry of "3DEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE" from an arena full of fans always produced a smile on my face, as I'm sure it did yours.

8. Vertebreaker



Please don't think I'm a hipster with these obscure picks. If I was a wrestler, and believe me I dreamt about it... once, I'd be happy if any of these 10 moves were my designated finisher.

Much like the Steiner Screwdriver earlier in this list, it's a wonder The Hurricane got away with doing this move for so long. It's the margin for error, the way that Shane's body isn't really intertwined with his opponent's, plus the fact both people involved in the move have to be in sync even though they're looking in opposite directions. It's just so bloody dangerous.

Of course, Helms used the move more in WCW than he did in WWE - that didn't stop the Vertebreaker rearing its beautiful head on occasion, though.

7. RKO


How could I have a list of the 10 best WWE finishing moves ever and not include one of the few to become an actual living, breathing, meme?

I know that some people reading this article will prefer Diamond Dallas Page's Diamond Cutter, and good for them, but there's simply no looking past the fact that even though he's been doing it for roughly 15 years at this point, Randal's RKO is still as popular as it ever was.

Staying power like that simply cannot be ignored. Rumours have it that when Will Young sang the song Evergreen, he was telling the story of the RKO... maybe.

6. Doomsday Device


I'm really sorry. I'm so sorry. That's the best quality image I could find of the Doomsday Device, and it has pissing Heidenreich doing it. You didn't deserve this. Next time you see me, remind me that I owe you a beer.

What an impressive spectacle this move was. Animal would hoist an opponent on his shoulders, with Hawk flying through the air to send them tumbling quite literally arse over teakettle to the mat below.

I just loved the apparent disregard shown by LOD while doing this move. Of course, to the trained eye I'm sure it was very safe every time they hit the thing, but to an eye like mine that hasn't even thought about taking a bump, it just looked like Animal didn't care where or how his foe landed - that disregard just added to the move tenfold.

5. Curb Stomp


Don't roll your eyes! I know this move is probably too young to be considered one of the GOATs at this stage, but there's one detail that sets the Curb Stomp apart from the pack in my mind: WWE canned the move for a while because it looked too violent for TV.

Don't believe me? Seth Rollins himself talked about the fiasco on an episode of Talk Is Jericho way back when: "It was right after I won the [WWE World Heavyweight] title at WrestleMania [31] and I think it was the first time Vince had thought about it and he just decided that because they're sending footage down to the Today Show to show because I'm there. I took the flight that night and they're showing me and they have the footage to back up when we're talking and stuff like that and a lot of it is me doing the Stomp. Aside from it having a fairly violent name and connotation, right, but just the visional of it, he was watching it and he thought to himself that it is easily [imitable] by young children, which a lot of our stuff is, but, for whatever reason, he had it stuck in his head, as his champion, as a top guy, he just didn't want that to be the lasting image. He didn't want to put any [bullets] in the [guns], so to speak. He didn't want to have any reason for people to be like, 'oh, what the hell?', so he just removed it from the equation."

Obviously the Curb Stomp returned to WWE not too long ago and has had roughly 729 names since. Let's forget about the nonsense, however, as the move consists of one man stomping another's head into the ground - that's all that should matter. This is surely one of the few moves in wrestling today that could kill quite literally kill you if performed in a shoot manner, brother, brother, brother.

4. Sweet Chin Music


It's just how sudden he hits the thing, isn't it? Like a bullet from a gun, a greyhound from a box... a snot from a sneezing nostril... Shawn Michaels hits a Sweet Chin Music really, really quickly, ok?!

They always say that a great finisher is something that can be hit on any opponent no matter their size, and this is certainly one of them. Although, you just have to wonder after almost 20 years of using SCM to close his matches, just what kind of a state HBK's hip sockets are in - I don't know why you would wonder that, but looking at the angle of his body in the iconic image above, I can't think about anything else.

I bet the answer is yoga...

3. F5


For the record, I prefer Sean O'Haire's F5 because he did a little spinny thing as well that made the move flashier than a Premier League striker's motor. But, since he's The Beast that's made the move his own in the 16 years or so since I marvelled at the former Natural Born Thriller, I guess Brock deserves some credit.

Plus, his F5s look pretty decent, don't they?

I suppose the any opponent rule from the Shawn Michaels entry in this list doesn't really apply when you're Brock Lesnar. You can do anything to anyone you want, so seeing him hoist up the likes of Big Show and Undertaker with ease isn't too much of a surprise when you think about him.

What is a shocker, however, is the ease he hits the move with in the dark depths of a marathon match. My mind is going back to No Mercy 2002 and that Hell in a Cell match with The Undertaker. Both men had lost a considerable amount of blood in a right old ding-dong battle to end them all, but not only was Brock able to get The Deadman up in the air, he did so after reversing a Tombstone seamlessly. That kind of stuff boggles the mind - it simply shouldn't be possible.

2. Stone Cold Stunner


The only thing keeping the Stunner out of top position is the fact you realise Jim Ross isn't there when good old JR isn't there to call the move - if that makes any sense whatsoever? The Stone Cold Stunner and Jim Ross shouting "Stunner! Stunner! Stunner! Stone Cold! Stone Cold! Stone Cold!" are a package deal for me, and when Jim isn't there, it's just not the same.

Still, the Stunner didn't do too badly for Steve Austin over the course of his WWE career, did it? It's the kind of move that can be hit out of nowhere, or with a wonderful build up. It's the kind of move that can be hit on anyone - once they're used to taking the move, isn't that right Vince? It's just a fantastic finishing move that ticks all the boxes... I really don't know what more I can say about the Stunner that hasn't been said already. It's really, really good, isn't it?

1. Tombstone Piledriver


It looks like it could kill the most fearless of men, there's a SWEET pinning combo; what's not to like about The Undertaker's Tombstone Piledriver? Don't answer that - I know you're going to say the fact that sometimes you can clearly see 'Taker's knees hit the mat a long time before his opponent's head could even dream of doing so. I'm sorry Undertaker doesn't want to legitimately hurt his FRIENDS! 

With the success 'Taker has enjoyed over the past 28 years in mind, it's a wonder that more WWE Superstars haven't resorted to dropping their opponents on their heeds. It's a pretty safe bet that if you drop somebody on their head, they aren't going to get back up because they're dead - neck snapped, the lot. Is that not the aim of pro wrestling? To KILL your opponent? Don't answer that.

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Ross Tweddell

Written by Ross Tweddell

Presenter over on the Cultaholic Wrestling YouTube channel. Email: [email protected]