Hey everyone! It's The Wrestling Classic here with a ranked list compiling the 35 best wrestling moves of all time. I know there will be moves that aren't on this list that might be super popular. Looking at the evolution of wrestling over the past decade alone, there are new innovative moves being introduced all the time. I'm also sure there are a handful of fans who watch all the wrestling from around the world who know about moves that I haven't even heard about, but that's okay. I'm going to try to include as many of the most memorable moves and the ones that we all tried replicating growing up. I think I did a decent job narrowing it down. I'll let you be the judge.
The 35 Best Wrestling Moves of All Time, According to The Wrestling Classic
Some wrestling moves that are really popular are not on this list and I would like to highlight them now. Moves such as the:
The Cross Rhodes
The Perfect Plex
The 450 Splash
The Texas Cloverleaf
The Michinoku Driver
The Scorpion Death Drop
The Blue Thunder Bomb
The Torture Rack
The Attitude Adjustment
Coup De Grace
The Rock Bottom
The Big Boot
The Mandible Claw
The Doomsday Device
And most importantly the ARM BAR (if you get it...you get it), just to name a few.
35. The Camel Clutch
The "Camel Clutch," "The Accolade," or whatever name you want to call it has been a staple in professional wrestling for years. Invented by Gory Guerrero and popularized by The Sheik, the move has stood the test of time. A rear chin lock while seated on the back of your opponent puts them in this compromising position. It is one of the oldest moves in the game and has helped a handful of superstars win championship titles. From the Iron Sheik to Sgt Slaughter to Scott Steiner to Miro, it has been an effective way to make your opponent either submit or pass out. Definitely, a move we have all tried locking onto a sibling, cousin, or friend. This classic submission maneuver will always hold up as one of the best wrestling moves ever created.
34. Leg Drop
A simple move that in recent years wouldn't be considered a finisher by no means. Regardless, for decades it was immortalized as a devastating maneuver when used by Hulk Hogan as a finish. Preceded by some hyped-up finger-pointing and a big boot, "The Hulkster" would finish off all of his opponents with a big leg drop. It creates suspense when a bigger superstar like Yokozuna uses the move but it's usually for a near fall. Nowadays, we see it used more frequently as a transitional move, a false finish, or even off-the-top rope as a high spot. But it really made this list due to the power of "Hulkamania," brother!
33. The People's Elbow
An exaggerated elbow drop would get the fans to their feet every time it was dubbed the most electrifying move in sports entertainment. According to Triple H, this was a move The Rock initially began using at non-televised house shows to try to pop the boys and, more importantly, to make The Undertaker laugh to break character. Therefore, a move that started as a joke resonated with the audience because of the way The Rock would present it. "The Great One" would pause to soak in the crowd's reaction after hitting rock bottom or spine buster to set up the move. He would then slowly slide off his elbow pad, throw it into the audience for a lucky fan to catch, swing his arms back a fourth, and hit both ropes before dropping the elbow that would send a shock through his opponent's system. Truly electrifying for a simple elbow drop.
The "Moonsault" was one of the first high-risk maneuvers that put fans in awe before the various high-flying moves we see now in modern wrestling. It doesn't seem like much now but to see someone have enough faith in themselves to backflip off the top rope onto their opponent risking the chance of just hitting the mat or landing on their opponent's knees was quite something. Whether it was Lita using it to win championships, big guys like Vader and Bigelow showing us their unique athleticism, show-stealers like Charlotte or Shawn Michaels diving onto their opponents outside of the ring, or moments such as Cody Rhodes or Kurt Angle performing it off of a 20-foot steel cage, the Moonsault still puts fans in awe.
31. German Suplex
Suplex City...nuff said.
30. Ankle Lock
One of the most dangerous submission finishers of all time. Legends like Kurt Angle and Ken Shamrock would get a hold of that ankle and the complexion of the entire match would change. The opponent screamed in pain while their ankle was viciously twisted in ways it was never intended to be. The way the opponent's ankle would be twisted looked gruesome and the superstar locking in the hold was filled with intensity.
29. Vertical Suplex
A move that is a staple in the wrestling business that has evolved into many different variations. Whether it's a standing vertical suplex that shows strength, the "Three Amigos" variation that was popularized by Eddie Guerrero, or the devastating Superplex off the top rope, the vertical suplex continues to be a prominent move to wear your opponent down.
Although both moves are different in the way they are executed they are pretty similar when performed. The Hurricanrana was popularized in Mexico and is capped off with a pinfall stance. Whereas the Frankensteiner ends with dropping your opponent on their head. Both can be performed off the top rope or just from standing in the ring. Regardless though, both moves are impressive and Scott Steiner would yell at you if you called the Frankensteiner a Hurricanrana.
The running knee has always been a devastating move in wrestling. More recently, we have seen Daniel Bryan use one to finish off his opponents. However, the flamboyant style of the "The King of Strong Style's" running knee is something else. Corey Graves yelling "KINSHASHAAA!" every time Shinsuke Nakamura hits the move adds to it as well. I don't know a single person who wants to be met with a knee to the face.
26. Canadian Destroyer
I remember seeing the "Canadian Destroyer" used for the first time by Petey Williams in TNA and being blown away! It is a flip piledriver that would get the attention of anyone scrolling through the channels or randomly watching wrestling—definitely an innovative finishing maneuver. However, in recent years it has become a move more frequently used in matches for false finishes or high spits, which has made it lose some of its original shine, but it is still a super cool move. No matter how many times you've seen the maneuver, it's still incredible to see.
25. Punt Kick
I remember seeing Randy Orton hit the punt kick for the first time in 2007 to take Shawn Michaels out of action for months. The most memorable one had to be when he hit Vince McMahon with the kick on Raw, forcing the boss to be taken out on a stretcher. It was a devastating kick to the head that put superstars on the shelf. It was banned from the WWE for years, although we saw variations of it around the world like the "PK" by Shibata in Japan. It recently made its return to WWE in 2020 while Orton was feuding with Edge, and I couldn't have been happier.
24. Burning Hammer
The "Burning Hammer" is one of the most dangerous moves in wrestling. It's also rumored to be banned in the WWE. Kenta Kobashi used the move in the late '90s to help him in his epic rivalry against Misawa in All Japan. Kobashi's career ran from 1988 to 2013, and he only used the move seven times. The move became more frequent in the independent scene during the 2000s, but it's one of those moves we don't see on television often due to its dangerous nature. Although when we do, it's definitely the end of the match.
23. Boston Crab/Liontamer
The "Boston Crab" has been a staple in wrestling forever. However, Chris Jericho put his own spin on it when he was the young "Lionheart" creating the Liontamer in which he would remain standing and sometimes place his knee in the middle of his opponent's back. However, when Jericho began facing more heavyweights the "Liontamer" began looking more like the Boston Crab too because it was more difficult to perform the move on larger superstars. This is another move that I'm sure we have all tried locking onto somebody growing up.
22. The Lariat
I know you're most likely wondering how a clothesline made this list. Well, from Stan Hansen's "Lariat" to Hulk Hogan's "Axe Bomber" to JBL's "Clothesline from Hell" to Okada's "Rainmaker," the Lariat has proven to be a final blow if executed with brutality. Don't underestimate a powerful lariat when delivered by someone who has perfected it. The simple yet hard-hitting nature attached to this devastating maneuver should definitely be considered by many as one of the best wrestling moves of all time.
21. Shooting Star Press
The Shooting Star Press is one of the most beautiful aerial moves in wrestling created by Jushin "Thunder" Liger. For this move, the wrestler jumps forward from an elevated position and presses his knees to his chest, executing a backflip, and lands on the opponent as if performing a body press. It can easily be botched, which makes it dangerous, thus adding suspense every time a superstar goes for it. The modified corkscrew shooting star press used by PAC deserves an honorable mention here too. This is a move I would highly suggest you shouldn't try at home.
20. Curb Stomp
Hearing the name curb stomp already creates a vicious visual in your head of someone getting their head stomped. However, the way Rollins delivers it with agility and finesse makes it look a lot cleaner than that visual while still vicious. The move was banned for a while due to WWE not wanting kids to try it at home, but thankfully Rollins could bring it back. I wouldn't want Rollins to have any other finisher.
19. Styles Clash
The "Styles Clash" was a move created and popularized by AJ Styles. It was also used by Michelle McCool but it still always reminded me of AJ Styles. It was like nothing else we have seen before yet it made perfect sense as a move to neutralize your opponent by locking in their arms behind your legs to drop them with a facebuster. It can even be performed by jumping off the ropes to make it more devastating. It's not Styles' main finishing move anymore because it can be dangerous but you know the end is near the rare times he does pull it out these days. This complex and flashy finisher always gets a pop out of me, which is why I'll acknowledge it as one of the best wrestling moves I've ever witnessed.
The Spinebuster is one of those moves that was once a finishing move but slowly became a precursor for other finishing moves such as the "People's Elbow" or the "Batista Bomb." It was made popular when Arn Anderson would use it on his opponents which is known as the "Double A Spinebuster." However, this move has a few variations and all of them are effective. Superstars like Triple H, The Rock, Batista, Bobby Lashley, and many others have made the spinebuster a signature to their offense.
17. Razors/Outsiders Edge
The "Razor's Edge" or the "Outsiders Edge" was an impressive show of strength made popular by Scott Hall, aka Razor Ramon. It was also a really protected finisher as we rarely saw anyone kick out of it when "The Bad Guy'' used it. The crucifix powerbomb is still used today by the likes of Sheamus and Roman Reigns. It still looks as impressive as it did in the 90s but is usually used as a false finish these days.
16. Frog Splash
The Frog Splash was a thing of beauty. It was a splash but done with style while causing more impact to the final blow. Eddie Guerrero and Rob Van Dam popularized the move over the years. Eddie's top-rope splash was crisper and would hit with precision. RVD's splash got more air time and seemed to land with more impact. Many superstars today continue to use the frog splash either in tribute or because they were influenced by the superstars who used it before them. Eddie used the move to pay tribute to his old tag partner Art Barr who used it before he passed away. Now superstars such as Chavo Guerrero, Rey Mysterio, Sasha Banks, Kevin Owens, and Montez Ford use the move in honor of Eddie.
The "Go To Sleep" was created by Kenta in Japan but became more globally known when used by CM Punk in North America. It starts off with a fireman's carry position and ends with the opponent taking a knee to the face. It is definitely a knockout blow when executed perfectly. Once again, nobody wants to be met with a knee to the face.
14. Crossface/Yes Lock/Bank Statement
The crossface submission has been performed in many different variations but effective every time. Whether it's Daniel Bryan's "Yes Lock" where he locks the arm in a unique fashion to put his opponent in a more compromising position or it's Sasha Banks "Bank Statement" in which she locks in the cross face following a backstabber, it's a move that nobody wants to find themselves in. Superstars have won world championships with this move and it continues to be an effective submission hold.
When I first saw Brock Lesnar hit the "F5," I was fascinated. The Beast broke into the scene tossing grown men around like rag dolls. It's honestly weird seeing anyone else using the move. It's another move that starts with a fireman carry position but ends with Lesnar just tossing you over his head to the mat face first. Definitely, a maneuver that was a show of strength and dominance.
Chokeslam is synonymous with most big men in wrestling. It was used by The Undertaker, Kane, and The Big Show, to name a few legends who made the maneuver popular. It was also used by a few regular-sized wrestlers too such as "The Hurricane" Shane Helms. Regardless of the size of the person delivering the move, the chokeslam continues to be a signature in wrestling and one of the most well-known wrestling moves. If one of these monster men grabbed you by the throat, be ready to go on a wild ride.
The spear is a strong tackle or a shoulder block takedown. When delivered with speed and power, it is usually the end of the match. Goldberg, Edge, Big Show, Batista, and more recently, Roman Reigns and Charlotte Flair have all used the spear to put away their opponents. It's one of those moves that can come out of nowhere and from anywhere, which makes it even more dangerous. All men and women fear the spear.
The powerbomb, the tiger bomb, the pop-up powerbomb, the sit-down powerbomb, the last ride, the jackknife, and the triple powerbomb to name a few variations of one of the most versatile moves in professional wrestling. A plethora of superstars and legends used a version of the powerbomb. It was always a dominant move that changed the pace of the match or finished it considering who was delivering it. I think we have all powerbombed someone or something at some point in our life.
The Pedigree is a move made popular and most synonymous with Triple H. The number of times we have seen the "Cerebral Assassin" put away his opponents with the maneuver over the last 25 years shows its efficiency as a finishing move. There have been times that others used the move over the years, such as Seth Rollins, but I think the move will always remind us of "The Game." If you want to play the game, be ready to potentially eat a pedigree if it's what's best for business.
8. Figure Four Leg Lock
The Figure Four Leg Lock is one of the oldest moves in the game. Although the submission move has been used by many superstars and still is being used today, I mostly think of Ric Flair when someone brings it up. That being said as much as it wore down your opponent, I feel like I remember more wrestlers reversing it more than it being a finish to a match. Charlotte's adaptation of it as the Figure Eight seems to finish more matches than the original move. Regardless, when someone locks in the move, we still all hear the "WOO!" sound in Flair's voice in our heads.
The DDT was a deadly finishing move created by Jake "The Snake" Roberts in which he would drop his opponents headfirst from a front face lock position. It is now used more commonly in matches in different variations as high spots or reversals since it can be given at any given moment. For example, we all love Randy Orton's hanging DDT. However, some superstars still use variations of it for a finishing move. In conclusion, though, the DDT remains to be a move opponents want to avoid at all costs. Trust me...
6. The Piledriver
Speaking of moves that opponents want to avoid at all costs, the next move on this list is the piledriver. This is a move that if performed incorrectly could be very dastardly for the opponent on the receiving end. The version of the move where a superstar lands in a sitting position seems to be the most dangerous version and has been banned throughout the years. However, the popular Tombstone version where the superstar lands on their knees is more protected and safe. It's also more iconic due to the careers of the Undertaker and Kane.
5. Sharpshooter/Scorpion Deathlock
This is hands down my favorite submission move. The submission maneuver was invented in Japan by Riki Choshu but popularized by Bret Hart and Sting in North America. Whether you called it the "Scorpion Death Lock" or the "Sharpshooter," the move was known for making superstars tap. The move is still used in matches today either to wear an opponent down or as a finish to pick up the victory. Either way, it's a move you don't want to find yourself locked in and always brings the suspense level up when excellently executed.
4. Flying Elbow Drop
Oooooh Yeah!! The flying elbow is that aerial maneuver that lives by keeping it simple yet significant and effective. The flying elbow drop was popularized by my all-time favorite "Macho Man'' Randy Savage during a time when high-flying moves were a rarity. The delivery of it was always clean yet flamboyant. It became a staple for many other stars in different variations over the years, such as Shawn Michaels, Shane McMahon, Test, CM Punk, Kairi Sane, Jay Lethal, and Bayley. I still find the simplicity but grace of it beautiful for all the pomp and circumstance.
3. The Cutter
The three most dangerous letters in professional wrestling...the "RKO." Originally the "Ace Cutter" and popularized in the 90s as the "Diamond Cutter" used by Diamond Dallas Page, the RKO is one of the most popular moves in wrestling. In the modern era, the cutter has even gotten flashier with springboard versions of it too. However, the "RKO Outta Nowhere" trend just made Orton's version of the move more popular than it already was. It is one of those maneuvers that can come out of nowhere and at any moment which makes it one of the most dangerous moves. Every wrestling fan has a favorite RKO or Cutter moment.
2. The Superkick
The Superkick was the best for me when Shawn Michaels would tune up the band for "Sweet Chin Music." Nowadays many superstars use the superkick as an offensive move to the extent where it feels overused. However, it still sometimes leads to victory for some because it can literally be unleashed at any moment and unexpectedly for the opponent. In the end, I'll never complain about a superkick party but nothing hit like some sweet chin music.
1. The Stunner
There are many things in common with the top three moves on this list. They all could come out of nowhere and people anticipated seeing them. The difference is that as a wrestling fan growing up in the late 90s and 00's you almost felt cheated if you didn't get to see a "Stone Cold" Stunner delivered on television. When Austin makes guest appearances now, it's almost inevitable that someone will eat a stunner. Everyone has a favorite Stunner moment or person who sold it. The exciting reaction of the commentators and the crowd just added to the move so much more too. It is without a doubt the most popular maneuver in professional wrestling and most definitely at the top of the list for the best wrestling moves of all time.
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