With The Help Of Paul Heyman, This ECW Wrestler Helped Popularize The Chokeslam

The chokeslam is a move that has been a staple in modern pro wrestling, used mostly by large wrestlers as a signature or finisher move due to their height and strength. Stars like Big Show, The Undertaker, Kane, and The Great Khali are perfect examples of wrestlers who utilized the move. 


But when did the chokeslam make its first pro wrestling debut?  The introduction of the move is a little unclear, but we can map out its earliest in-ring use in All Japan Pro Wrestling. One of the legendary "Four Pillars of Heaven," Akira Taue, had used the chokeslam, which he called "nodowa otoshi." Taue utilized the chokeslam numerous times in multiple variations since 1992, and would chokeslam people from a belly-to-back suplex, vertical suplex, and hip toss. 

The chokeslam had been around long before ECW, but Paul Heyman and wrestler 911, real name Alfred Poling, helped make it popular in the U.S. Tommy Dreamer went as far as to say that Heyman invented the move. "He visualized it and gave it to a wrestler named 911," Dreamer said. 


It would be the first time it was referred to as the chokeslam and 911's variation of the move set the standard for chokeslams moving forward. He had the opponent's arm over their shoulder so they could push off to create the height and hang time that made the slam look imposing.

Abraham Lincoln: The originator of the chokeslam?

There is a possibility that the chokeslam originated from the 16th president of the United States, Abraham Lincoln. Catch wrestling was a style of wrestling that involved a mix of hand-to-hand combat and grappling. The sport was so popular that even Abraham Lincoln himself participated in wrestling bouts.


Historian Ronald C. White Jr. has no doubt that Lincoln wrestled and apparently was pretty good at it too. Lincoln's wrestling career spanned 12 years, and to historians' knowledge, he only had one recorded defeat. His 6-foot-4-inch height and physical toughness gave him a competitive advantage over his smaller opponents, which could explain his success in wrestling.

One of his most famous bouts occurred in Illinois in 1831. Jack Armstrong, a leader of a local gang called The Clary's Grove Boys, challenged Lincoln to a wrestling match. Armstrong had an almost 10-inch disadvantage and tried to trip Lincoln, which is considered to be foul play.

An angry Lincoln retaliated by picking him up by his neck and shaking him like a rag doll. While there is no recounting of a slam afterward, it's clear to see the resemblance to the modern-day chokeslam. Armstrong called off the bout and Lincoln agreed to a draw. The match earned him the respect of Armstrong and his gang and the two later became good friends.


While Lincoln doesn't get the credit for the chokeslam, his impressive wrestling career helped etch his name in the National Wrestling Hall of Fame.