Views From The Turnbuckle: The Case Against Finishers
A wrestler's finisher or signature move is something that is viewed as being one of the key factors in a wrestler's quality. A weak finishing move can hinder a wrestler's popularity; an impressive one can make their career. Petey Williams is a good wrestler, but when you think of him you don't think of his smooth technical ability or his athleticism, you think of the Canadian Destroyer, which is fine, it's a great move, and it shows how important a finisher can be for a wrestler. Moves such as the Pedigree, Tombstone and Sharpshooter are as iconic as the men who perform them.
But from a match-quality standpoint, finishers are severely handicapping what the performers can do in the ring and what kind of finishes can be used. At the higher levels of pro-wrestling, especially in the WWE a match basically cannot end without a finisher being hit.
For example, Kane throws Dolph Ziggler off of the ropes and hits him with a big sidewalk slam and goes for the cover. What are the chances of Kane getting the full 3 count on that maneuver? There isn't a chance, to the best of my knowledge he has never won a match using that move. So why would he go for the pinfall? It is such an anti-climactic moment, then why not avoid the pin completely and set up your next move? Nobody with a brain is in suspense about that cover, nobody thinks that the match could be concluded right then and there because Kane didn't chokeslam him, he only gave him a sidewalk slam.
If finishers did not exist, then no one move would signal the end of a match. Instead, a wide variety of maneuvers could be considered the one that could finish a guy off. When one move in particular is considered the most lethal of an individual's repertoire, then all the other moves are considered weaker and less effective. If all those moves were considered to be equal in power, than matches would be more exciting, more unpredictable and the finishers could be more diverse.
One of the reasons I am a big fan of Dolph Ziggler is that he really does not have a go-to finishing move. He has won matches in the past with the sleeper hold, the Zig-Zag, the Fame-asser and the superkick. When Ziggler hits one of those moves, it is possible to think that this could really be the conclusion of the match. Conversely, just because he hits one of those moves that does not mean the match is over. If John Cena hits the Attitude Adjustment, unless it is a particularly large match, you might as well count the 1,2,3 because hardly anybody kicks out of it unless the match is on ppv or for a championship.
Robert Roode is also someone who does not have a real official finishing move. He has a variety of moves that he has won with, making each move just as lethal or effective as the next. What do Roode and Ziggler have in common? They are both generally perceived to be very good in-ring workers. Both men have a significant list of good/great matches on their resume. Is it a coincidence that the two main individuals who are known for not having a real finisher are also two of the best workers currently performing today?
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