Most finishing moves that WWE Superstars are using today are far too dangerous. In the interest of protecting these hard-working entertainers, I think WWE should ban Superkicks, Curb Stomps, the Khallas, the Kinsasha, and all other impactful moves considered “match-enders”.
In all seriousness, finishing moves are screwing up my enjoyment of wrestling and have been for a while. Not because of their impact, but due to an almost complete lack thereof.
WARNING: This may well be a Grumpy Old Man piece. If you are currently enjoying wrestling and think that WWE is doing everything right, you should probably go and read something else.
The other night I was watching a match between two Superstars I wasn’t overly familiar with. It had to have been NXT because I’ve been bad about watching lately and I think I know everyone on the main rosters fairly well. Anyway, I got really into the match and once I realized why it was like putting the last piece in a puzzle – it gave me the perspective to recognize a BIG problem I have with WWE’s main roster matches.
I didn’t get into this match because of the wrestlers themselves. They were perfectly good and did a fine job, but I didn’t really know anything about them so I didn’t get invested that way. I was into the match because I really didn’t know what their finishers were and had no idea when or how the match might end. This is a very different experience from watching typical WWE matches where basically every match ends with several false finishes and both competitors kicking out of “finishers”, usually multiple times.
I feel that WWE (and the wrestlers) feel like they have to do this as a way to build drama because the audience “knows” how wrestling works now and they see these false finishes and non-match-ending-finishers as the only way to surprise us with the outcome. What they’re forgetting is that matches are about so much more than just the outcome. If you look at each match as part of a long-term plan to build up a Superstar in the audience’s eyes, then every part of the match is important, not just the finish.
The result of every match having the finish that I described above is the, on some level, the end of every WWE match is boring. Because we know once the finishers start happening where things are going. Not only that, what do any of these moves really mean when the wrestlers pop right back up and wait their turn to hit their finisher?
Here’s an example of my issue – Roman Reigns and Dolph Ziggler are having a tremendous athletic exhibition. Lots of back-and-forth. Dolph hits a Superkick or a Zig-Zag, but you know it isn’t going to end the match, just that it’s time to start wrapping things up. Roman kicks out, gets up, and waits for Ziggler to be in position for a Spear. He hits it, Ziggler kicks out, gets up, and waits for Roman to be in position for a Superkick. He hits it, Roman kicks out, etc.
This is not compelling or exciting to me. The game of “Which Finisher Will End It?” is not fun. I’d much rather wonder which move will end things. This same formula, but with a variety of moves, would be so much more entertaining.
Which brings me to another issue – this homogenized endgame is made all the worse by the lack of selling and the obviousness of performers just waiting for their turn. The end of every match looks like a practiced dance routine as a result. Sometimes the entire match preceding the final act does, too, but that’s a whole other post. I’ll have to put on my Jim Cornette pants to address that phenomenon.
Hopefully by this point you get what I’m saying – most WWE matches end in very similar and predictable ways and I enjoyed the match of a couple of lower card talents because I had no idea what was going to happen.
I’ve often said that one of my all-time favorite match finishes happened years ago in a match between Samoa Joe and Low-Ki. They had a brutal, awesome match where they had thrown everything at each other (many different moves, not ten of the same move). It finally came down to the pair exchanging kicks in the middle of the ring. Low-Ki won when Joe just couldn’t take anymore. Neither man used a kick as a finish. Nobody could have called the match ending that way.
Obviously you can’t do that sort of thing all the time, but it was something different that was memorable and added weight to both performers’ reputations.
I’m not saying WWE should get rid of finishing moves. But they should absolutely stop the trend of the same move signaling the same kind of match ending. And if Nakamura manages to hit the Kinsasha – which he shouldn’t always use or always be able to hit – then that is the end. If a move is going to be considered a “Finisher”, then it should be protected and used as a finisher. If you have setup moves that might be kicked out of, then the wrestler should use a different move next instead of just doing the same thing again. That’s what gets boring to me. I’d much rather see, “Which move am I going to have to use?” than “How many times am I going to have to hit them with this same move?”.
On a side note, I got really excited watching SmackDown the other night when Daniel Bryan won with a heel hook. It was a “finisher” we hadn’t seen from him in WWE and it felt like such a fresh and exciting thing. As an audience member, I really didn’t know if Jeff Hardy was going to tap or not because it was an outside-the-box move. And when Jeff did tap it get a big reaction out of me because it was unexpected.
My hope was that Bryan might start utilizing a large arsenal of moves to end matches, providing that excitement and uncertainty that I mentioned before. Unfortunately a poster on the one of the forums I frequent pointed out that it might be Bryan’s new finish going forward because it would be easier for him to apply to larger guys like Cass and would also be easier to set up with lower impact (for Bryan) moves like kicks.
I hope you see that I’m not saying matches can’t still end with a Spear or a Phenomenal Elbow. My real problem is how similar every WWE match feels and how little most (not all) Superstars deviate from very established match formulas and movesets.
Oh, and before anyone recommends that I watch New Japan instead of WWE, tell New Japan that they need to make their website interface not awful. I subscribed for a while and loved the product, but their website is the drizzling shits.