Wrestlers Who Regret Their Own Moves

A carefully curated moveset is as much a part of a professional wrestler as their entrance music or ring gear. We become familiar with the arsenal of our favorite performers and anticipate the situations where they could best hit that 619, GTS, or Scissor Me Timbers. The best moves become more recognizable than the performers themselves, and are frequently adopted by talents in other companies, passed on to related characters (like Undertaker and Kane's Tombstone Piledriver) or the next generation of wrestlers.


Like anything in life, not every move is perfect for every pro wrestler. Often, a young grappler will be given a move that a veteran booker or agent decides is a better fit for their character. Conversely, a wrestler might have a move they've been doing for years that simply runs its course, or doesn't look great in a different company. Let's take a look at some of these moves that wrestlers came to despise and either modified or eliminated from their day to day repertoire.

Terri Runnels' Bronco Buster

Known best for managing her ex-husband Goldust and, later, the Hardy Boyz, Terri Runnels was a mainstay on the WWF/E roster back in the late '90s and early '00s, performing as both Marlena and using her own name. She made an impression on audiences of the time with her platinum blonde hair, her glamorous evening gowns, and her affinity for cigars. However, Runnels didn't have a lot of love for the finishing move she was saddled with (no pun intended) when she was working in the ring – the Bronco Buster. Replying to a tweet with images of an unnaturally excited Jerry Lawler on the receiving end of the move, Runnels tweeted, "I HATED DOING THOSE!" 


Aside from the obvious messaging a woman hopping onto a man's face in the turnbuckle implies, the Bronco Buster also resulted in one of the more painful stories in wrestling. X-Pac needed surgery after injuring himself while hitting the move in a 2013 match with Jerry Lynn. He did continue using it afterward though, so clearly not everyone hated performing the maneuver and even that nasty injury didn't dissuade X-Pac from doing it. Still, given the severity of his injury and Runnels' disdain for it, maybe it's for the best that we don't see the Bronco Buster too much these days.

Jeff Hardy's Swanton Bomb and 450 splash

The more extreme half of Team Extreme has done (arguably) more damage to himself than he has to his opponents in his matches. The Hardys' style of wrestling, which was groundbreaking when the Hardys exploded onto the scene during WWE's Attitude Era, was incredible, dangerous, and always looked like it would cut their careers short. Still, Jeff and Matt are performing to this day and part of that is due to their realization that some of their moves just aren't worth the damage they incur. Speaking with Colt Cabana on his "The Art of Wrestling" podcast in 2017, Jeff talked about retiring the 450 splash he used in so many of his early matches: "I stopped doing the 450 because I over-rotated and jacked my shoulder up. I thought I broke my collarbone or something, but those days are over, so I'll stick with the Swanton."


Ironically, in an interview Jeff gave to the Canton Repository a year later, he was asked how he'd survived the "death-defying maneuvers" he was known for, and Hardy replied, "The toll has been rough at times. Lately, my lower back has really been bothering me to the point where I haven't been doing the Swanton as much in the live events just to protect it." While Jeff still uses the Swanton, Matt Hardy noted on Twitter that Jeff has altered the move so he protects himself more on impact — a decision that will hopefully help Jeff end his career with a little less pain from that dramatic finisher.

Matt Hardy's Event Omega

Jeff's brother, Matt, was just as unforgiving in his offense as Jeff. While many consider him the less daring of the pair, he's also not afraid to take a risk to delight the fans no matter where he's working, whether it's WWE, AEW, Impact, or elsewhere.


One of the more sane decisions Hardy has made is to retire a top rope leg drop combination he used to employ with his brother. Matt would hit the leg drop on one end of a downed opponent, while Jeff landed a splash off the top rope on the other. While the move was visually impressive, Matt Hardy replied to a mention of it on Twitter a few years ago, saying, "This maneuver was called EVENT OMEGA. And is most likely the reason that I've recently learned that my lower back & pelvis have started fusing together." That's definitely the kind of move one can imagine hating once you've learned what kind of damage it did to you.

Hulk Hogan's Leg Drop

While we're on the subject of how something as low-impact looking as a leg drop can damage you over time, let's take a look at a guy who finished practically every match with one – the immortal Hulk Hogan. Hogan's finisher, usually preceded by a big boot after an Irish whip into the ropes, was as simple as it was effective. While it isn't the most visually arresting move — Hogan himself admits to WWE on Fox that "if somebody used a leg drop for a finish he'd probably have to come off the top of the building to get your opponent to stay down." Still, he insists that "at the time, when I dropped the leg and I beat people, it meant something."


Knowing that, it's a little heartbreaking to learn about the lasting impact that finisher had. In an interview with the Los Angeles Times, Hogan talked about the leg drop and its effects on his body. "Everyone says they wouldn't change anything about their life. If I could change anything, it would be my finisher," Hogan said. He went on to explain his history of back surgeries and injuries that the leg drop was responsible for, and said that with all his talk about his 24-inch pythons he should have used a sleeper hold as a finisher. While the "Python Crush" or "Hollywood Hug" may not seem as dramatic in hindsight, it seems the Hulkster would be enjoying a much more pleasant retirement if he'd employed some variation on a sleeper rather than that leg drop.


MVP's Playmaker

"You know what? I hated that finishing move. It was given to me." That's the answer MVP gave Ryan Satin on the "Out of Character" podcast when he was asked who his favorite person to hit the Playmaker on. "I got stuck with it, so I tried to make it look like a Heisman pose. What I hated about it was it relies a lot on the other guy to look good. So I wasn't really a fan of the Playmaker and I can't even tell you who I enjoyed hitting it on." The Playmaker is kind of a spin on the swinging neckbreaker, except it's applied using the attacker's leg instead of arm, and the victim's arm is held in position to help get momentum on the swing. It's about as awkward to describe as it is to see in action, honestly.


It's a bit surprising that he would be so against his finishing move, but it makes a little more sense when MVP explained that "like three or four different people had it before." He went on to say that the Shining Black, a move he "stole shamelessly from Chono Masahiro," was one of his all time favorites – although he credited Taz with giving the move the name Roman Reigns uses for it, the Drive By.

Dean Ambrose's Headlock Driver

Sometimes, a wrestler will retire a move because it has the potential to injure them. Other times, it's because the move was never one they wanted to begin with, or because they genuinely hated doing it. But Jon Moxley, back when he was Dean Ambrose, stopped using his trademark headlock driver because it was "stupid looking."


When he was a part of the Shield in WWE, Dean Ambrose was the "lunatic fringe," and his moves were some of the more brutal looking of the trio. He used a headlock driver as a finisher, but retired it due to issues with height. As the former Ambrose, Jon Moxley, told Fightful in a 2020 interview, "The headlock driver's awesome if you've got the right guy doing it to the right guy. It can be like the nastiest, coolest piledriver looking thing in the world or if the guy's taller than you, which so many of the guys in the WWE were taller than me, it can be just really awkward and stupid looking. I think I gave it to Randy Orton one time, who is someone with a significant height advantage on me, it was just awkward. I was like, 'That's it, I'm switching this up.'" Mox credits trainer Joey Mercury with the idea to switch to the double arm DDT, and so was born Dirty Deeds — or the Paradigm Shift, if you prefer.


Triple H's Pedigree Pandemonium

When Triple H was playing the blueblood Hunter Hearst Helmsley after he arrived in WWF from WCW, he was asked to switch to a different finisher. In an interview with WWE's "The Bump" (h/t Fightful), Triple H said he had been using a version of the Pedigree as well as an Indian Death Lock, but was told to give the Ace Crusher a try. Hunter did, but said that he wasn't comfortable using the cutter. "Most times, when you would ask enhancement guys how to take it, they wouldn't know." Hunter said he found it difficult to receive and deliver the cutter, and switched back to using his Pedigree finisher that he'd used while on the independent scene. 


However, Diamond Dallas Page claims that it was a phone call from him to Triple H that got the move out of Trips' repertoire. As Page explained on his "DDP Snake Pit" podcast, "The Diamond Cutter was really getting over ... you could hit it on anyone out of anywhere." Fortunately, Page and Trips had a relationship from their training days at the WCW Power Plant. Page said he called Triple H and said, "You know bro I'm just really starting to get this Diamond Cutter over ... if you wouldn't use it anymore, I'd really appreciate it." He said Triple H agreed, and that was the end of the Pedigree Pandemonium. 

Either way, the story ends with both HHH and DDP ending up with a finisher that came to define their character.


Kevin Owens' pop-up powerbomb and Steenalizer

Kevin Owens' moveset is constantly changing as he gets older and wiser. One example of this is the elimination of the Steenalizer from his repertoire, and he addressed it in an interview with Fightful. The move, named after his former ring name of Kevin Steen, was simply brutal — it's kind of a package fallaway suplex into the turnbuckle — and Owens himself deemed it too dangerous to keep in his moveset. "I retired that one myself, actually. I had a couple of close calls where, everyone I gave it to was fine, but I felt like it was too close where maybe it wouldn't have been fine."


Another of his finishers simply became too commonplace for Owens, and he dropped that move as well. His pop-up powerbomb was a match-ending maneuver for a while, but, as he told Fightful, "I felt like everybody was doing a powerbomb of some sort, just short of doing pop-up powerbombs. I'm pretty sure I saw some guys do it too ... I was seeing all these people doing powerbombs and I want to stand out with something different." That led Owens to asking "Stone Cold" Steve Austin's permission to use the Stunner, and even though WWE told Owens that it "wasn't the right time for it," when he first proposed the change, eventually KO was given permission to use the move on a regular basis.

Mustafa Ali's 054

As we've seen in a number of instances on this list, sometimes a wrestler simply decides it's time to move on from a part of their offensive move set. While some stick with them or alter them, other performers choose to abandon a move altogether out of caution for themselves or their opponents. Mustafa Ali made a tough call regarding his finisher, and he addressed his decision to stop using his amazing 054 in a couple simple, straightforward, and relatable statements.


The 054 is one of those top-rope moves that is hard to imagine someone consistently performing without turning gravity off in the cheat menu. As a unique variation on the already dangerous 450 splash, it's a high risk move and apparently Ali realized at some point that it was too risky to continue performing. When he was asked whether he'd abandoned the move on Twitter, he replied, "yeah, the risk isn't worth the reward." In another Tweet, when he was directly asked why he stopped using the 054, Ali replied, "Because I wanna be able to play with my grandkids one day." A fantastic, honest answer to the question, and evidence that pro wrestlers are still people at the end of the day.

Seth Rollins' Pedigree

Seth Rollins has one of those selections of moves that is difficult to judge. Sure, several of them look cool, but they have also done a lot of damage — breaking John Cena's nose, tearing Finn Balor's shoulder, and nearly sending Sting into retirement. Even with that record, the Ripcord Knee and Buckle Bomb both remain parts of Rollins' arsenal. He has a more tenuous relationship with the Pedigree, the finisher he took from Triple H while under his influence after breaking away from the Shield. 


Rollins started using the Pedigree as a show of respect when he aligned himself with Triple H and The Authority after he turned on his former faction. In time, Rollins and Triple H's relationship soured as so many in pro wrestling do, and Rollins faced his boss at WrestleMania 33. After that victory, Rollins continued using the Pedigree for a while out of spite. In a Facebook Q&A from 2016, Seth said, "every time I deliver a Pedigree, it's me sticking my fist up in the air and telling [Triple H] to stick it up his rear-end." 

While he still occasionally busts the move out, Rollins told the Mirror, "The Pedigree was a part of my life when I was in the Authority and it made sense for the time being, after sealing the deal and beating Triple H with it at WrestleMania, that was a good place to retire it. At the end of the day I want to be my own person, I want to be my own performer, and I want to have a finisher that's synonymous with me and not with my mentor."


Randy Orton's RKO

If there's a negative to having a move become synonymous with a performer, it's when the move is no longer appealing to perform. Randy Orton has been doing the RKO so long, and so successfully, that it's hard to imagine him finishing a match with anything else (punt kick notwithstanding). The RKO outta nowhere will always be attached to the Viper, a move he's used since John Laurinitis suggested he transition away from "The OverDrive" – a move we previously discussed as The Playmaker. Speaking with Kurt Angle on his show (via Sportskeeda), Orton said the move "...wasn't something I was feeling." He talked with John Laurinitis, who is credited with inventing the Ace Crusher, and Laurinitis told him to use that as a finisher. Randy said, "Diamond Dallas Page made that move famous as well. So, credit to those guys for letting me steal their s**t and make it even better."


In hindsight, Orton said he wouldn't have chosen the finisher now that he's living with the long term effects of using it. In an interview with St. Louis's Fox 2, Randy talked about the RKO. "I've been doing it for a very long time and I kind of wish I could go back in time and create a finishing move that didn't entail me jumping up as high as I can and landing on my back ... after doing that a couple of thousand times over the last few decades, I'm starting to feel it."