A great finishing move can define a wrestler. Finishers can become iconic, from Stone Cold Steve Austin’s Stunner to The Rock’s People’s Elbow. But when a finisher doesn’t work, in rare circumstances, wrestlers dig deep to brandish a powerful, more dangerous super-finisher to finish the job. Sometimes, the maneuver becomes more iconic than its creator!
Who Invented the Superkick?
On the topic of finishers in wrestling, look at the case of Chris Adams. While many associate the Superkick with Shawn Michaels’ Sweet Chin Music, “Gentleman” Chris Adams was the innovator of the technique.
It’s doubtful that when one hears the word Superkick, they think of the British innovator. Yet whenever Adams himself is mentioned, their mind often jumps to his dramatic move.
The Super-Finisher – Dangerous Wrestling Finishing Moves Rarely Used Today
So, what happens when a finisher doesn’t work and the opponents kick out?
Stars have to delve deep to brandish a new maneuver to put their foe away. Some of these are now known as super-finishers.
However, they are rare, powerful, potentially dangerous, and only to be used in the direst of circumstances.
Let’s look at ten such wrestling super-finishers, in no particular order.
1. KENTA’s Ura GTS
KENTA challenging CM Punk has made the world more aware of his Go To Sleep or GTS innovation.
Yet many are still unaware of perhaps the one move in Kenta’s arsenal stronger than the GTS.
Rather than lifting his opponent into a Fireman’s Carry, KENTA brings them up into an Argentine Rack before dropping them down into a rising knee strike straight to the back of their head.
A more tame version, in which the opponent is flipped over back into a knee to the face, has been brought into the mainstream by men like Sammy Guevara and Dominik Dijakovic.
Still, it’s highly doubtful that we’ll see this version broken out any time soon.
2. Toshiaki Kawada’s Ganso Bomb
Toshiaki Kawada, a man known for his incredible strikes, powerbombs, and infamous Dangerous DDT Brainbuster, was also the innovator of one of the most terrifying wrestling moves ever conceived.
The Ganso Bomb, sometimes called the Kawada Driver, was created by accident, a fact it has in common with moves like the DDT, Powerbomb, and Claymore Kick.
During a match with Mitsuharu Misawa, Kawada broke his arm, but he chose to finish the match.
However, unable to lift Misawa for his usual Powerbomb finish, Kawada dumped him on his head with the brand new Ganso Bomb.
Inspired by the reaction he received from the crowd, he continued to use it sparingly after that, positioned as a desperate last resort.
3. Randy Orton’s Punt Kick
Randy Orton is known worldwide for his legendary RKO. But one could argue that his Punt Kick is even more devastating.
Most of the finishers on this list have some level of inescapability.
But The Punt Kick has never been kicked out of to date.
They’ve gone so far as to sell it as a move guaranteed to injure his foes. The opponents receiving the move kayfabe their injuries for several weeks afterward.
The Punt is a perfect contrast to the RKO, a raw, ruthless move compared to the flashy RKO.
While Orton does have a way of signaling for the RKO, it was typically performed “out-of-nowhere.”
Not so with The Punt. Instead, Orton would back up slowly into the corner, nearly frothing at the mouth as he leaned forward, waiting for the opponent to get up before delivering the kick.
Its shocking return at Backlash 2020 sold Edge’s defeat perfectly.
It’s one of many examples of the perfection of this move.
4. Mitsuharu Misawa’s Tiger Driver ‘91
Mitsuharu Misawa is regarded by Japanese wrestling aficionados as the greatest wrestler of all time, and for good reason.
Highly skilled, his vast move set included hits like the Emerald Flowsion and Tiger Driver. Misawa’s Tiger Driver was often used as his primary finisher. It’s a simple, effective Sitout Double-Underhook Powerbomb.
While it was kicked out on occasion, it was a solid finisher for the most part.
That was until Misawa failed to put away long-time adversary Akira Taue with the move and had to get creative. Wasting no time, Misawa picked Taue to his feet and drove his neck to the mat with the newly minted Tiger Driver ’91.
One of the most protected finishers in history, only one man has ever kicked out of the move, Kenta Kobashi.
In a brilliant finish, Kobashi kicked out of the Tiger Driver ’91 and stood before Misawa, dead on his feet. This led Misawa to hammer Kobashi with elbow strikes until he finally stayed down for the three count.
5. Andrade’s Elevated Hammerlock DDT
Andrade may not have had the most remarkable run in WWE.
Still, he certainly had some brilliant matches, many of which were capped off with his beautiful Hammerlock DDT, sometimes known as La Sombra in reference to his former character.
However, he, too, needed to power up the move to take down his opponent on several occasions.
He created a draping DDT similar to Randy Orton’s, yet far more devastating. Andrade would drape his opponent over the top turnbuckle, grip their other arm in his trademark Hammerlock, before falling back into a brutal, head spike of a maneuver in the vein of Finn Balor’s 1916 or Jon Moxley’s Paradigm Shift.
Notable uses of this move include it being hit on Drew McIntyre to win the NXT title and Johnny Gargano to retain the same title.
6. Chris Jericho’s Liontamer
The “Man of 1000 Holds” Chris Jericho often employs the Walls of Jericho Boston Crab to submit his opponents.
When that doesn’t work, however, he has the option of stacking the adversary high on their neck with his Liontamer, an Elevated Boston Crab, before placing his knee down onto the head or neck of the victim.
This submission almost always leads to victory for the first-ever undisputed champion.
7. The Undertaker’s Leaping Tombstone Piledriver.
Nine is a number that holds great significance in the discussion of this move. But why?
Over the years, The Undertaker has made use of various finishing moves. The Chokeslam, The Last Ride, and Hell’s Gate, to name a few. However, they play second fiddle to one of the most iconic finishers in wrestling, the Tombstone Piledriver.
Where is this going?
Throughout his legendary, 30-year career, only nine men have ever kicked out of his Tombstone Piledriver. Most of them overcame the Deadman afterward or were put away by another Tombstone.
That was until he clashed with Shawn Michaels in a Streak vs. Career Match in the main event of WrestleMania 26. Michaels was no stranger to the man or the move, having kicked out of the Tombstone a year earlier at WrestleMania 25. But this time was different.
Michaels kicked out of not one but two of the Piledrivers, one of them on the floor. Undertaker would rise to his feet as Michaels, desperately clinging on for life, slapped Undertaker across the face, enraging the Deadman.
Undertaker would pick up Michaels and deliver one last Tombstone, leaping into the air to finish the move and match.
8. Jun Akiyama’s Exploder ’98
Jun Akiyama was the closest thing to the 5th Pillar of Heaven in the late ’90s and early 2000s, standing right next to men like Kenta Kobashi, Mitsuharu Misawa, Toshiaki Kawada, and Akira Taue in what was arguably the golden age of Japanese wrestling.
Innovator of not only his famed Exploder Suplex but also the move we now know as Sami Zayn‘s Blue Thunder Bomb (Blue Thunder Driver upon innovation). Akiyama used a layered system of Exploders in his matches.
He had the standard Exploder, a sheer drop version, and a version off the top.
As impressive as these all were, they paled compared to his Exploder ’98, a devastating wrist-clutch, sheer drop Exploder Suplex made to send shivers down the spine of those watching.
Though he invented more finishers after this, the ’98 will always hold a special place in the hearts of fans.
9. Mitsuharu Misawa’s Emerald Flowsion Kai
If you were hoping for a double dose of Misawa on this list, you’re in luck.
The Tiger Driver wasn’t the only move that Misawa felt the need to enhance.
This upgrade wasn’t achieved in All Japan Pro Wrestling, but rather Pro Wrestling NOAH.
Misawa enhanced his normal Emerald Flowsion (which was essentially what would happen if a Powerslam met a Piledriver) by starting with a Vertical Suplex lift before quickly dropping his opponent into the Driver.
It was one of the most beautifully brutal-looking wrestling moves in history.
10. Manami Toyota’s Victory Star Drop
Manami Toyota is potentially the greatest women’s wrestler of this or any generation.
She often finished matches with either her Scoop Slam Piledriver, known as the Queen Bee Bomb, or the move that she innovated, known as the Japanese Ocean Cyclone Suplex.
Toyota had a devastating third option, however, one that she only resorted to twice in her career, that being the Victory Star Drop.
This move would be a Top Rope Bodyscissors Backflip into a back-to-back Kneeling Piledriver in purely technical terms.
It’s much easier to think of it as a top rope German Suplex using the legs rather than the arms.
However you chose to describe it, it’s unlikely we’ll see this dangerous move ever again.
That’s arguably for the best.
11. Kenta Kobashi’s Burning Hammer
While Kobashi didn’t invent the Burning Hammer (Joshi wrestler Kyoko Inoue created it as the Victoria Driver), it became his move.
The inverted Death-Valley Driver fit perfectly with the raw, unpolished, adrenaline-pumping wrestling style of Kobashi.
He’d hit move after move on his opponent to put them away. Moonsault, Burning Lariat, Vertical Drop Brainbuster, Diving Leg Drop, Orange Crush, Backdrop Driver, and Burning Lariat.
When all else failed, the Burning Hammer was called upon, and if it connected, the three count was all but a formality.
Ever since kick-outs became standard, truly protected super-finishers have become increasingly rare. Thus, seeing more moves like these remains an exciting prospect.
Only time will tell who will incorporate one of these moves into their arsenal or create their own brutal finishing move.
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