Powerbomb! Secret History on a Devastating Wrestling Move

One of the most iconic moves in wrestling is the Powerbomb. Discover the history and secrets behind one of wrestling’s most powerful statements of a maneuver, ten notable wrestlers who used it, and how a legendary wrestler’s misstep led to the creation of this legendary move!

Origins of The Powerbomb – A Move Created On Accident!

Over the years, many variations of the Powerbomb have been used in wrestling, from Diesel’s Jackknife to Seth Rollins’ Buckle Bomb. The attacking wrestler picks up their opponent so their legs are resting or straddling on their shoulders before slamming them back-first into the mat.

The Powerbomb was almost always used as a finisher, but less so in today’s era of frenetic wrestling that features plenty of false finishes.

But the original Powerbomb was invented out of a botched spot by one of wrestling’s greatest technicians: Lou Thesz.

As noted on WWE.com, Lou Thesz is the “father” of the Powerbomb, and it all happened in St. Louis, Missouri, as the Piledriver began to catch fire in the 1930s and ’40s.

Lou Thesz delivers a Powerbomb on Antonio Rocca in Milwaukee on January 8th, 1953.
Lou Thesz delivers a Powerbomb on Antonio Rocca in Milwaukee on January 8th, 1953. [Photo: WrestlingClassics.com]
During a bout between former NWA Champion Lous Thesz and fellow legend Antonio Rocca, Thesz attempted to hoist Rocca up for a Piledriver before Rocca began to fight out of it.

Rocca reportedly lifted himself into a sit-up position to try and counter the move, but Thesz continued to throw his opponent down anyway.

Rocca landed high on his back, and in that instant, the Powerbomb was accidentally born as the two performers reportedly realized that what they had just done looked dramatic.

Word spread through the territories like wildfire that this new and innovative move had burst onto the scene.

Popularizing The Powerbomb

Word also got overseas, and the Powerbomb made its way to Japan. It was practiced in dojos around the country, where stars created their own variations and practiced its execution.

Fast forward to modern times, and Japanese greats like Jushin Thunder Liger started using it as one of their signatures.

Wrestlers like Kevin Nash, Sid Vicious, and Vader would also popularize the Powerbomb worldwide in the ’90s and beyond, where it began undergoing various changes as wrestlers added their own flavor.<

Jushin Thunder Liger executes his version of the Powerbomb, the Liger Bomb, on Tyler Breeze during his NXT debut.
Jushin Thunder Liger executes his version of the Powerbomb, the Liger Bomb, on Tyler Breeze during his NXT debut. [Photo: The Sportster]
For example, Mitsuharu Misawa’s invention of the Emerald Flowsion was a more dangerous way of delivery as wrestlers were beginning to take the bump higher and higher onto their necks and shoulders.

As a result, performers began throwing their opponents down harder, from greater heights, and at higher angles resulting in many injuries, including concussions, broken bones, and even paralysis, as seen in the case of Droz and D’Lo Brown.

Performers were beginning to understand that one can only take the maneuver so far before it becomes legitimately unsafe.

Notable Wrestlers Who Used The Powerbomb

Below you will find a list of ten notable wrestlers, in no particular order, who have used varying versions of The Powerbomb over the years.

1. Batista: Batista Bomb

Batista had one of the most fluid and beautiful Powerbombs in wrestling history, but nothing felt good about taking it.

Batista nails Rey Mysterio with a Batista Bomb powerbomb at WWE Survivor Series 2009.
Batista nails Rey Mysterio with a Batista Bomb powerbomb at WWE Survivor Series 2009. [Photo: The Sportster]
The Animal would hoist his opponents up and sit down with them during the Powerbomb before they would land simultaneously.

Batista’s Powerbomb, dubbed the “Batista Bomb,” was unique in that it’s one of the only variations where the giver comes all the way down with the person taking it.

According to Daniel Bryan, it was one of the most unpleasant things he ever had to endure in the ring. This version is arguably one of the most well-known variations of the Powerbomb.

2. The Undertaker: The Last Ride Powerbomb

Part of the appeal of The Undertaker’s “Last Ride” Powerbomb is that The Undertaker is 6’10.”

The Undertaker performs the Last Ride on Triple H at WrestleMania 27.
The Undertaker performs the Last Ride on Triple H at WrestleMania 27. [Photo: WWE.com]
His version of the Powerbomb, The Last Ride, included lifting his opponent straight into the air once they were already on top of the giant’s shoulders. This added an extra six inches to a foot of height, making a huge impact.

The Last Ride is one of the most devastating maneuvers in all wrestling. Undertaker’s vertical lift before slamming his opponents down to the mat is a variation of the Powerbomb that fans will never forget.

3. Kevin Owens – Pop-Up and Apron Powerbomb

Kevin Owens has multiple variations of his Powerbomb, including both the Pop-Up and the Apron Powerbomb, although he has leaned toward using The Stunner as of late instead.

Regardless of what Owens opts to use, his Pop-Up is as impressive as the Apron Powerbomb is painful and dangerous.

Kevin Owens hits Bobby Lashley with his signature Apron Powerbomb on Monday Night RAW in 2018.
Kevin Owens hits Bobby Lashley with his signature Apron Powerbomb on Monday Night RAW in 2018. [Photo: Sportskeeda]
After performing it in almost every major company worldwide for two decades, Owens has perfected his version of the maneuver.

With the Pop-Up, Owens throws his opponents straight into the air instead of lifting them before catching them on his shoulders and throwing them forcefully down in one fluid motion.

As for the apron landing, it’s simply a traditional Powerbomb, except the wrestler’s neck and back land straight on the corner of the ring apron.

4. Vader Bomb Powerbomb

Vader utilized his size and strength when executing his Vader Bomb Powerbomb, a favorite version of many fans.

Vader lifts Shawn Michaels for a Vader Bomb Powerbomb.
Vader lifts Shawn Michaels for a Vader Bomb Powerbomb. [Photo: The Sportster]
Instead of the wrestler straddling his shoulders, Vader would often pull the wrestler entirely over one side of his shoulders, resulting in a high angle, high impact, dangerous-looking Powerbomb that was among one of Vader’s many weapons.

Additionally, Vader would remain standing up to maximize the height of his opponent’s fall and create variations to better work for him as his career evolved.

5. Sid Vicious / Sycho Sid Powerbomb

Sid Vicious’ Powerbomb is both a thing of beauty and quite ugly, but he does have one trick to achieve extra impact on his way down.

Sid would drop to his knees on the way down from the Powerbomb, saving his body from an impact like Batista endured and gaining extra momentum to toss his opponent down.

Sid Vicious prepares to Powerbomb another master of the move, "Diesel" Kevin Nash. Nash used the Jackknife Powerbomb throughout his career.
Sid Vicious prepares to Powerbomb another master of the move, “Diesel” Kevin Nash. Nash used the Jackknife Powerbomb throughout his career. [Photo: @WWENetwork on Twitter]
Whether Sid held his opponent over one shoulder like Vader or Scott Hall or held them up in a more traditional manner, the damage was equal as all these stars figured out their own flavor to add to the Powerbomb.

6. Kevin Nash / Diesel: Jackknife Powerbomb

Another variation that can be argued as one of the most popular or iconic of the Powerbomb is “Diesel” Kevin Nash’s Jackknife.

Kevin Nash hits "The Giant" Paul Wight with his Jackknife Powerbomb variation in a tag-team match in WCW.
Kevin Nash hits “The Giant” Paul Wight with his Jackknife Powerbomb variation in a tag-team match in WCW. [Photo: @WWENetwork on Twitter]
This was so wildly successful because the former nWo member could nail other big men such as “The Giant” Paul Wight and Goldberg with it, an incredible feat of strength that’s rarely been matched since.

And those taking the move had a seven-plus foot drop to the mat after Nash completed his fluid motion.

The Jackknife is one of the most recognizable yet simple variations and is often imitated to this day.

7. Jushin “Thunder” Liger: Liger Bomb

The high-impact, high-angle Liger Bomb of Jushin “Thunder” Liger” was partially responsible for bringing the Powerbomb overseas.

Jushin Liger prepares to hit Ultimo Dragon with a Liger Bomb in 1993.
Jushin Liger prepares to hit Ultimo Dragon with a Liger Bomb in 1993. [Photo: njpw1972.com]
Liger’s variation accentuated the landing high on his opponent’s head and neck and included continued acceleration to the mat.

Additionally, Liger has one of the most satisfying yet brutal Powerbombs in the history of wrestling as he sat out with his opponents, easily and quickly pinning them for the victory and maximizing impact to the ring floor.

8. Mike Awesome: Awesome Bomb

Mike Awesome was one of the most beloved wrestlers and workers in ECW and all of wrestling, but fans, unfortunately, didn’t get to see his Awesome Bomb long enough.

Mike Awesome throws his opponent outside the ring and through a table using his Awesome Bomb variation of the Powerbomb.
Mike Awesome throws his opponent outside the ring and through a table using his Awesome Bomb variation of the Powerbomb. [Photo: The Sportster]
We all cherish watching his violent powerbomb variation, though, often through tables to the concrete floor below.

The big man’s variation is considered by many to be one of the most underrated; he is an unsung great of professional wrestling.

9. “Dr. Death” Steve Williams: Doctor Bomb (Gutwrench Powerbomb)

“Dr. Death” Steve Williams is responsible for popularizing the Gutwrench variation of the Powerbomb with his Doctor Bomb, in which the opponent is hoisted up sideways by the lower stomach or abdomen before being swung into the classic Powerbomb position and thrown to the ground.

Dr. Death Steve Williams performs a Doctor Bomb (Gutwrench Powerbomb) on Kenta Kobashi.
Dr. Death Steve Williams performs a Doctor Bomb (Gutwrench Powerbomb) on Kenta Kobashi. [Photo: @allan_cheapshot on Twitter]
In Williams’ case, he sat out with his opponents, maximizing the ground impact. But, again, this showcased the Doctor’s pure strength and aggression.

Unfortunately, as another underrated wrestling star, Dr. Death’s Powerbomb doesn’t get as much love as it should, considering we still see variations of it performed today.

10. Ahmed Johnson: Pearl River Plunge

Ahmed Johnson’s Double Underhook Powerbomb is another severely underrated entry that is one of the hardest and most impressive variations to pull off.

Ahmed Johnson prepares to hit his Pearl River Plunge powerbomb on D'Lo Brown on the hood of a car out on the streets of New York City on the debut episode of Shotgun Saturday Night on January 4th, 1997.
Ahmed Johnson prepares to hit his Pearl River Plunge powerbomb on D’Lo Brown on the hood of a car out on the streets of New York City on the debut episode of Shotgun Saturday Night on January 4th, 1997. [Photo: @WrestlingIsKing on Twitter]
Johnson’s Pearl River Plunge involved picking his opponent up by only their arms before executing the Powerbomb and letting his opponent go mid-way through the downward motion, sometimes sideways, for an unpredictable fall.

Again, the Pearl River Plunge used Johnson’s strength and size to his advantage, allowing him to execute on other big men such as D-Lo Brown.

The Powerbomb Today

As time went on and the pro wrestling landscape continued to change, countless variations of the Powerbomb came to light, such as the Orange Crush, the Tiger Driver, the Yoshi Tonic, Sunset Flip Powerbombs, Blue Thunder Bomb and many, many more. However, it is still recognized as an impactful and “big” maneuver.

Some of the biggest modern-day stars in wrestling, such as Kota Ibushi, Kenny Omega, and Sami Zayn, all showcase different variations of the Powerbomb in their matches.

In addition, it is often used in movies because of its recognizability, especially in anime when characters fight.

The Shield hit Cody Rhodes with a Triple Powerbomb on Monday Night RAW in 2013.
The Shield hit Cody Rhodes with a Triple Powerbomb on Monday Night RAW in 2013. [Photo: WWE.com]
For almost a century, the Powerbomb has been utilized by some of our most storied pioneers. The devastating maneuver shows a wrestler’s aggression and pure strength through its brutality and physicality.

The Powerbomb will undoubtedly continue to evolve over the next hundred years.

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Ethan Absler is a freelance writer covering professional wrestling for NBC Universal and The USA Network. He is an independent wrestler based out of Chicago with a degree in Broadcast Journalism from the University of Missouri.