Superkick: The History of Wrestling’s Most Loved/Hated Move

The Superkick never fails to get a massive reaction from wrestling fans. They either love or loathe it (depending on who delivers it). It is fast, brutal, and in the right hands (or feet), can look spectacular. It can be used in tandem as a tag team offensive, or it can be the catalyst of a turn that breaks tag teams up. World championships have also been dramatically won via The Superkick.

So why is the move so polarizing? We dive into the surprising history of wrestling’s most controversial move!

The Superkick Heard 'Round the World! Shawn Michaels superkicks Marty Jannetty before propelling him through Brutus Beefcake's barber shop window on WWF Wrestling Challenge on January 11th, 1992.
The Superkick Heard ‘Round the World! Shawn Michaels superkicks Marty Jannetty before propelling him through Brutus Beefcake’s barber shop window on WWF Wrestling Challenge on January 11th, 1992.

The Superkick: Surprising History of Wrestling’s Most Controversial Move

In the style of Julie Andrews in The Sound Of Music, we shall start at the very beginning, as that’s a perfect place to start.

(How much better would The Sound Of Music be if it was just Maria Von Trapp superkicking ruffians down the hills of Austria? “The hills are alive with the sound of Sweet Chin Music!”)

The origin of The Superkick we know and love began with a gentleman named Chris Adams.

Now THAT's a superkick! Chris Adams vs. Michael PS Hayes.
Now THAT’s a superkick! “Gentleman” Chris Adams vs. Michael PS Hayes. [Photo: @OldWrestlingPic on Twitter]
Starting his athletic career as a martial artist, by age 21, “Gentleman” Chris Adams had won three national British judo championships throughout the 1970s.

His skills and well-educated feet helped him transition to pro wrestling in the late ’70s.

Kicks were nothing new in the industry, but with an added side step and furious speed, Adams took the judo thrust kick to the next level, with many crediting him as the true originator of “The Superkick.”

Chris Adams Uses The Superkick in a Bar Fight!

Chris Adams’ move was dangerous in kayfabe and in reality too!

Speaking to Vice, David Manning (a wrestling referee and booker best known for his work in the Texas-based World Class Championship Wrestling) recalled an eye-popping incident overseas after Chris had one too many beverages.

“Chris was wrestling for us in Israel, and we had two different hotels. We had all the heels in one hotel, and all the babyfaces in another. I got a phone call saying, ‘You gotta get over here and get Chris Adams. He got into an argument with the bartender, and Chris had this Superkick. It was real.'”

How real was it? Real enough to almost land Adams in jail!

“Chris had reared back and kicked this guy at the bar, and just the way he hit him, the guy’s eye came out and ruptured.”

Manning had to get Chris out of Israel quickly. He found his passport and drove him straight to the airport. Not half an hour from returning to his hotel room, Manning received a knock on the door from the police, who were after Adams.

The Rockers and The Superkick

While Chris Adams was superkicking his enemies in the face all around the territories, a young Shawn Michaels took note. Speaking to Sports Illustrated, The Heartbreak Kid reminisced.

“First time I saw it was ‘Gentleman’ Chris Adams. He’s a guy I watched from World Class Wrestling with the Von Erichs in Texas, and I think he’s smiling in his grave that his move has become so big.

“He might not be so happy that it became synonymous with my name, but I always give credit. ‘Gentleman’ Chris Adams came up with The Superkick.”

“I saw it once when I was a kid, and obviously, as The Rockers, me and Marty started doing it.”

The Rockers superkick Jim Neidhart of The Hart Foundation.
The Rockers superkick Jim Neidhart of The Hart Foundation. [Photo: Bleacher Report]
The Rockers would use The Superkick as part of their tag offensive with laser-like precision.

Either solo or simultaneously, The Rocker’s kick would be one of the many moves that brought them success as a team, and poetically, it would be the move that caused the split.

In a legendary angle, Shawn would drop Marty with a sneaky sidekick before propelling him through the barbershop window.

But it would take a little time before Michaels adopted it as his bonafide, iconic finisher.

The Superkick Takes on a Life of Its Own

One thing you got to love about the wrestling business,” Shawn Michaels described, “is if you beat that dead horse long enough, it will take on a life of its own.”

This aptly illustrates what happened with The Superkick.

“At first, I started with the teardrop suplex, something a little different, and it was okay,” Michaels explained on the 2012 WWE DVD 50 Greatest Finishing Moves In Wrestling History, where Sweet Chin Music was ranked a respectable fourth place.

“I set it up with The Superkick, and I can remember, I believe it was Pat Patterson who came to me and said, ‘You know, I think the kick is better.’

“So we just started with that, then you start to bring a little more drama to it, like stomping in the corner.”

Shawn Michaels hits <a class=

The beauty of Sweet Chin Music was how adaptable it was. It could generate a fan-fair buzz from the crowd with the corner foot stomps, or it could hit “outta nowhere” for a sudden reversal or finish.

It could also be used on anyone of any size without worrying about hurting your back by hoisting some 300-pounder up in the air.

On top of that, anyone can use it, provided they are flexible enough to lift their leg to the appropriate height.

Other Wrestlers to Adapt the Move

Lance Storm, James Storm, Stevie Richards, Tajiri, Bryan Alvarez, Justin Credible, John Morrison, Miro, Dolph Ziggler, The Lucha Brothers, and Adam Cole (bay bay) are just a few of the wrestlers who would go on to slap the taste out of their opponent’s mouth with The Superkick and their expert lightning-fast feet.

But like Jake Roberts‘ DDT, the more people performed it, the more diluted it became.

However, some reactions to the move can be considered slightly over the top.

In 2021, rumors of WWE putting up “no thigh-slapping” signs in gorilla position circulated. For those unaware, a thigh slap is used to accentuate the sound of an impact during a striking move, most commonly associated with The Superkick.

And earlier this year, CYN (Control Your Narrative), founded by Adam Scherr and Ethan Carter III, released their company’s rules, with rule number five stating: “No Superkicks. No Tope Suicidas. No Canadian Destroyers.”

This is ironic given that rules 1 and 2 are:

1. You are in control

2. YOU ARE IN CONTROL!

Yes, you are in control. But don’t you dare use that Superkick!

The Controversial Young Bucks

One team that seems to get a lot of complaints about their overuse of the move is a young tag team called, well, The Young Bucks.

The Young Bucks superkick Jon Moxley.
The Young Bucks superkick Jon Moxley. [Photo: ITRWrestling]
After years of being lectured by their peers about what they should and should not do, the Bucks decided they would listen to the crowd instead, and they seemed to enjoy a good old-fashioned Superkick Party.

Nick Jackson recalls in their book Killing The Business when they decided to put more faith in themselves.

Beyond what people thought of us as individuals, the biggest criticism we’d gotten, from experts, fans online, and even the wrestlers in the locker room, was that we did too many highspots and way too many Superkicks. But instead of listening to the criticism and doing fewer, we decided to start doing even more.”

It was a success, so the Bucks continued the trolling tactic.

Matt even came up with a t-shirt that says “SUPERKICK, SUPERKICK, SUPERKICK, SUPERKICK,” an obvious reference to frequent criticism of their matches.

One Superkick Too Many

The Young Bucks have been superkicking since they were even younger bucks, but, like Chris Adams, they learned how destructive the move could be.

As guests on Chris Jericho’s podcast Talk Is Jericho, they revealed how they lost some facial features!

MATT JACKSON:

“We had a game where we would surprise each other by superkicking each other when we least expected it, and we had to sell the move.

You know what I mean, like Nick would turn a corner, I’m like, ‘Hey, Nick, surprise.’ Superkick, boom.”

NICK JACKSON:

“So I was brushing my hair one day; I think we were in Las Vegas. I turn around, and he goes, ‘Surprise.’ I have the brush right in front of my mouth; superkicks me right in the teeth.

I look, I go, ‘Oh my God, Matt, my front teeth are out.'”

MATT:

“He looks at me, and he has that Mick Foley smile, and I started panicking. I’m like, ‘Holy crap!'”

The Legacy Of The Superkick

With Chris Adams no longer with us, Shawn Michaels is probably the custodian of the move. So what does he think of The Young Bucks’ antics?

“I know of them. I’ve never met them. I understand they’re extremely talented.”

He continued, “Way back when I first started, I was copying people, and back then, they told me imitation was the sincerest form of flattery. I take that to heart. When people do it, my Twitter feed lights up, so I get free press off of that kind of stuff.”

Whether you love or loathe it, it looks like The Superkick is here to stay. The fact that it has been around for so long is a testament to its popularity, no matter what the critics say.

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Tim Buckler is a contributor for Pro Wrestling Stories as well as a writer, presenter, and lover who hosts the geeky magazine show "Tim Buckler's Thursday Night Geek Out" every Thursday at 8 p.m on Radio Woking. Follow him @blockbusterman on Twitter for more of his ramblings!