There are many different moves and holds and wrestling as we know. As old moves die, new moves come and take their place. Who among us isn’t familiar with the Curb Stomp? What about the End of Days? The Sling Blade? How about the dreaded dive? For every move like these, there are moves that have either bitten the dust entirely or moves that just don’t really matter anymore. Let’s have a look at the wrestling finishers of yore, shall we?
Poor DDT. It used to be the much-feared finisher of Jake “The Snake” Roberts back in the ’80’s. Once he slapped it on his opponent, it was over. It didn’t matter how big the guy was, he wasn’t going to kick out of a finisher that smashed his head into the mat. This move struck fear in the hearts of opponents and fans alike. Fun fact: during a feud with Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat, Ricky and Jake were outside the ring. Ricky told Jake to DDT him on the floor. Jake didn’t want to do it but Ricky assured Jake that he could protect himself. He was very wrong. Jake performed the move like he always did but Ricky failed to adequately protect himself and, as a result, he was seriously concussed.
Now, it’s just another move. How many people have you seen perform this move on an opponent who then kicks out of the ensuing pin like it’s nothing? Happens all the time. What was once a devastating move is now just another in a series of moves on executes on their opponent.
Here is a devastating finisher that was used by no less than 2 major superstars of their era: Ric Flair and Greg Valentine. For both of them, this finisher was just devastating. Ric took many competitors “to school” with this painful maneuver. I’ve had it applied to me and I can tell you how much it really does hurt when applied correctly. The pressure it forces you to put on your own kneecap is pretty crushing.
Greg would kind of do it the same way but, about midway through his WWF run, he also had a shinguard that he would turn around to his calf to do further damage to his competitor.
Of course, before either of them would apply it, they’d apply plenty of “rest holds” to the leg in order to weaken their opponent. It was sadistic and it told a great story – especially the way Ric would do it. He showed no mercy and really made his opponent suffer. Greg would do it as well to a slightly lesser extent but the result was always the same. They’d put the move on and it took very little time (unless your name was Dusty Rhodes) for their opponents to give it up.
Today, while the move has remained painful, it’s not a guarantee of submission like it had been decades before. It’s almost a glorified “rest hold” at this point. Oh, how the mighty have fallen.
Here’s another one that used to matter. Think of what this really is. The opponents lock up and one of them gets his arm around the others head and squeezes. Ever had it put on you? It hurts! It used to be that guys would put it on each other and hold onto it for dear life. The guy in the headlock would try to whip the guy into the ropes but the one applying it would refuse to let go. This might happen a couple of times with the headlock-ee not getting anywhere. He’d start punching the abdomen of the guy applying the move and he’d just wrench it in harder – forcing the headlock-ee to stop. He’d punch him in the abdomen again and the guy applying the hold would wrench it in harder again while the headlock-ee screamed in agony. This was an opportunity for some solid storytelling. “Look how strong the guy applying the headlock is”. “He’s gonna squeeze his head off!” The headlock-ee withers in pain while the move is applied further telling the story. This could then be moved to a hip-lock takedown where the headlock-ee now not only has the headlock on him but he also has the applier’s weight on him making it that much harder to breath and making the move harder to break. The headlock was, at one point, a fairly substantial move – though it was always a “rest hold”.
Now, headlocks are moved on from within about 15 seconds for the most part. No one stays in them and that story is rarely told anymore. My assumption is that producers don’t think people have enough of an attention span to appreciate it anymore. Maybe they’re right.
At one point, this could be used to great effect. Usually applied early in the match (that’s still the case), there were so many ways to use this move. One way was to have the two opponents trade them. This still happens now. One opponent will put it on and before you can take a breath, the other guy has reversed it. This usually happens when a heel tries to put it on first. The face will then reverse it and the fun begins. I remember a sequence involving Arn Anderson and William Regal. Arn put it on Regal, Regal reversed it, Arn reversed it, Regal reversed it, Arn reversed it, Regal tried to reverse it again but Arn wouldn’t release it and Regal ended up on the ground in a nasty wrist lock writhing in pain. Nice, quick story told. Arn was great at this. He would “work the arm” constantly and his opponents would look like they were about to die. This was especially true of Dusty Rhodes. He was a master of “selling”. If Arn put him in an armbar, you were sure Dusty’s arm was going to be broken off the way he’d sell it. It made Arn look great and kept the fans invested – wondering how long Dusty could take it or if he’d submit.
Today, it’s quickly applied, reversed, and moved on from. It’s the very epitome of a transition move. It means absolutely nothing nowadays for the most part.
Those are just a few moves that either don’t matter anymore or moves we rarely see these days. There are others but, in truth, this would be many pages if I put them all in. Now, it’s your turn. I’m sure you can think of others. Post them below!