As WrestleMania Season officially comes to a close, rather than do a recap of WrestleMania (it was awesome), I wanted to write about something that has been bothering me the last couple of years. Somehow in the evolution of professional wrestling, a wrestlers “finishing move” has become their “signature move” with the kickout percentage seemingly to increase year after year.
Back in the 90’s and early 2000’s, only in the biggest matches and on the rarest of occasions did someone kick out of a star’s finisher. Even lame moves like Hulk Hogan’s “Leg Drop” or Jake The Snake Roberts’ DDT saw their matches coming to a quick end once they hit their move. Can you picture someone kicking out of The Undertaker’s Tombstone, Stone Cold’s Stunner, Shawn Michael’s Super Kick, or The Rock Bottom other than on the rarest of occasions? But somehow, over the past decade, the frequency of finishers not resulting in a three-count has really picked up.
I get why the WWE would implement this mindset when it comes to high level matches. Fans pay a lot of money to attend (or watch on TV) and what could be more dramatic that when the fan favorite looks to be on the cusp of defeat only to kick out of his nemesis’ “finisher”. Every time it happens, the place erupts and fans are on the edge of their seat. But every time someone kicks out, it diminishes the move and makes it less and less impactful in the eyes of fans. Eventually it just become a normal move and random wrestlers start to use it…..look at the DDT.
The other issue with most “Finishers” these days is that they take long to setup….like Roman Reigns “Super Punch” where he tries to build anticipation for a long time. Really, the only move that appears spontaneous is the RKO from Randy Orton, and ironically, it’s one of the view finishers that people still rarely kick out of. I think that’s one of the reason’s why fans love that move because it truly seems to come out nowhere.
So my advice to the WWE is to encourage their wrestlers to have both a “Finisher” and a “Signature” move that they can use. Similar to how the Rock has The People’s Elbow and The Rock Bottom. For a Finisher to maintain it’s effectiveness, it must maintain it’s integrity in ending a match.