Having been introduced to New Japan Pro Wrestling on Monday, my last few days of freedom before I return to university have ultimately been spent wondering as to why only a handful of WWE superstars can realistically call themselves wrestlers. Is that an excuse for this column being a day late? Probably not, but it did get me thinking as to how WWE’s product has changed over the years and how even small differences such as a superstar’s moveset can be altered by PG ratings, media pressure and commercialisation.
The contrasts between WWE and NJPW are fairly obvious, and it stems from the fact that one is sports-entertainment, while the other is good, old-fashioned, down-and-dirty wrestling. I won’t insult your intelligence by telling you which of the two is wrestling, but what I will say is that in the current product that WWE offer us, it’s become increasingly difficult to list superstars who can lay claim to being “technical wrestlers”.
It’s obvious that the change to sports-entertainment has affected the moves we see in WWE today, with far less emphasis on wrestling, and in this weeks list, I’m going to take a look at five moves that, for one reason or another, have been adapted or erased from WWE completely.
The Three Amigos, made famous by the late Eddie Guerrero, was perhaps one of the most iconic moves of Latino Heat’s career. The move itself consists of three consecutive suplexes where the superstar doesn’t release his opponent. The move has since been replicated by Chavo Guerrero in homage to his brother.
The question is, how could WWE work the triple suplex into a superstar’s moveset and who, from the current full-time roster, could do it justice? My initial reaction was Daniel Bryan, but having given it a bit of thought, perhaps Alberto Del Rio could benefit the most from using Eddie Guerrero’s Three Amigos. Now whether you love Del Rio or you hate Del Rio, he is undeniably good in the ring, and given his current gimmick of “fighting for the Latinos”, it could very well benefit the World Heavyweight Champion.
Perhaps my favourite submission of all time, the Torture Rack was one of former WCW and WWF wrestler Lex Luger’s signature moves. The opponent would be hoisted up so that their body is horizontal on the wrestler’s shoulders, before they were bounced around and stretched in painful positions until they tapped out.
Imagine now, with Ryback’s physique and current “bully” gimmick, if he had a move like the Torture Rack. Following the disaster that was “Cryback”, The Big Guy needs something to make him intimidating again, and I personally don’t want to see him hitting backstage jobbers with potato salad or pouring cold soup down their clothes, I want to see him picking people up and putting them in the rack. Then, and only then, will I take Ryback seriously as a bully.
For those of you who don’t know what the Backstabber is, it was one of the only things that I enjoyed about Carlito’s time at WWE. It was his finisher move, effectively the Codebreaker but to the back, and I defy anyone to watch the video below and not wince in pain. We’ve seen Del Rio use this in some capacity, but it deserves to be a finisher.
I had a bit of trouble deciding who would benefit most from adopting the Backstabber as their signature move, but eventually I landed on Sami Zayn. The NXT rookie has put on some magnificent matches on the show and is certainly going to be on the main roster before too long. I’ll confess that I haven’t seen enough of him to know how he puts people away, but I like the possibility of such an athletic superstar finishing his opponents with a Backstabber like the one shown in the video below.
The aptly named Michinoku Driver was made famous by Taka Michinoku more than a decade ago and it is still used around the world. There are numerous variations to the move, which gives whoever was to use this in their moveset a lot of freedom to express their technical ability. The only thing is, with few technically-gifted superstars in the current roster, there aren’t many who could make a real success of it.
The superstar who I personally would select to use Michinoku Driver is Antonio Cesaro, who I feel like I mention every week on this column. He is, in my opinion, the most technical wrestler on the roster and, adding the Michinoku Driver to his already excellent moveset would do the move justice and give Cesaro yet another move to impress the indy-element of the WWE Universe who already believe he should be at the top.
When I reminisce of Tajiri and his two signature moves, Poison Mist and the Tarantula, I can’t help but look back fondly on his time with WWE. The tarantula, in particular, had one major drawback in that it could only be held for five seconds before a rope break, but it was a nice submission move that looked as though it would do some damage.
There’s only one obvious candidate to incorporate this into their moveset, and it’s Daniel Bryan. He’s a submission specialist, and while I’m not suggesting he makes this some form of signature move, I’d love to see the tarantula being used again in WWE.
Thanks for reading. Leave a comment telling us what moves you would like to see return to wrestling. You can also follow me on Twitter: @RKO914