Top eight most forgotten WWF pro wrestling finishing holds of the 1980s

The DDT was one of the greatest finishing moves ever when Jake “The Snake” Roberts would nail an opponent with it in the WWF, and it’s a move well-remembered by WWE wrestlers today such as Randy Orton during his matches on Monday Night Raw.

But what about the 1980s moves that went the way of big hair and Miami Vice that virtually no one uses in 2011? I saw these moves every week, so I’d like to share my top eight most forgotten finishers from the ‘80s:

8. The atomic knee-drop— If you’ve never seen it, the atomic knee-drop involved picking your opponent up on your shoulder like a back suplex, but instead sending their butt down across your bent knee. Bob Backlund used this primarily during the early ‘80s, but by the end of the decade it had become the move everyone did. And then the maneuver for some reason faded, and now almost no one performs it, which may leave it ripe for a rebirth.

7. Swinging neckbreaker—Various forms of this move were popular in the 1980s. The Honky Tonk Man and Masked Superstar both used it, among other wrestlers, with Honky Tonk’s version known as the Shake, Rattle, and Roll. Superstar took out a young Eddie Gilbert with the swinging neckbreaker in a TV angle designed to get over Superstar’s upcoming matches with Backlund.

6. Camel clutch—I don’t understand why the Iron Sheik’s camel clutch, which Mexican great Gori Guerrero originated, isn’t used much today. It’s a mean-looking hold that makes you think it hurts to have it on you. Many of us remember Hulk Hogan powering out of the camel clutch en route to winning the WWF Title in 1984 (about six minutes into this clip).

5. Sleeper hold—Yes, modern WWE wrestlers like Dolph Ziggler spring out the sleeper hold during SmackDown matches, but it’s never a finisher and it has rarely been done with the heat that Adrian Adonis used to get using the hold. I’m talking about the New York City, leather-clad Adonis, not Adorable Adrian who wore enormous pink trunks to cover up his huge gut. The best part of Adonis’ sleeper was when the referee would force him to “wake up” his opponent, which usually involved giving the person a dope slap across the back of the neck.

4. The five-count—The five-count wasn’t actually a hold, but the end result of one. The 400-plus-pound King Kong Bundy would squash an opponent in the corner with a running splash, cover the person for the three count, and then insist that the ref make an extra two slaps on the mat for a five count. I think there were occasions during which Bundy would pin a star wrestler, yell for the five count, and the star would kick out. The five-count was funny and separated Bundy from the pack—and the gimmick would work today.

3. Flying hammerlock—The only wrestler I ever saw use this was George “The Animal” Steele, and it was another one of those holds that appeared to really be dangerous. Imagine bending your opponents arm behind the back in a hammerlock, and then lifting the person up in the air. One of the greatest scenes ever in early 1980s WWF television was when Steele dislocated a jobber’s shoulder after using the move, which today is still shocking to watch, even if it was all a well-performed work.

2. Perfect Plex—“Mr. Perfect” Curt Hennig made his version of the fisherman’s suplex into something special as the Perfect Plex, complete with his giveaway line, “Now you’re gonna see … a Perfect Plex!” I have no clue why Hennig’s son, Michael McGillicutty of Nexus (a.k.a, Joe Hennig), doesn’t use the move.

1. Polish Hammer—“Polish Power” Ivan Putski was a small, but insanely juiced, wrestler whose gimmick was that of a very strong guy who sold little. When opponents angered him, he’d tighten all his muscles, take everything the opponents could dish out, and then unleash on them with a barrage of punches. He’d then whip them into the ropes and hit them with the Polish Hammer, which was Putski clasping this hands together and cracking the foes in the chest like a sledgehammer. It was a cool-looking move and my choice for the top long-lost finisher.

That’s my list, but if you think I missed a move, please add a comment.


  1. Anonymous

    Sgt Slaughter Cobra Clutch! Just ask Pat Patterson
    Greg Valentine Figure 4! Just ask Chief Jay Strongbow
    Jesse’s Body Breaker was’nt that great.

  2. Pingback: Remembering Bob Backlund’s chicken wing, among his other finishers « Boston Garden Balcony
  3. Steve

    Go back a few years before 81 and the most deadly finishing movie was Larry “the Axe” Henig’s “Lariat.” By Today’s standards, it’s just a clothesline. But by the standards of the 70’s, it was one finishing move that left his opponent out cold in the center of the ring.

  4. modew's manager

    Backlund used the running atomic drop, which was far more impressive. I remember seeing him use it on the early heel Hogan in the late 1970s, with a one-arm lift. Crazy.

    Other finishers that have bitten the dust:
    * Figure-Four Leglock (used, not as finisher)
    * Full Nelson, with or without swing.
    * Crossface Chickenwing.
    * The banned-in-many-territories Piledriver.
    * The Bionic Elbow (thankfully).
    * The Iron Claw.

    And, can someone please bring back the Alabama Jam?

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