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Brainbuster Weekly (9/5/19): Analyzing Signature Finishers

Matthew Davis brings you stats & analysis to make you sound smarter than the average fan! And it’s entertaining! For starters, let’s take a look at finishers.



Austin Aries Brainbuster

Matthew Davis brings you stats and analysis to make you sound smarter than the average fan! And it’s entertaining, too! For starters, let’s take a look at finishers.

Hello everyone! This is a brand new article featured weekly here on The Chairshot! Earlier in the week I had the pleasure of introducing myself to you all, and I want to thank you all again, and the team behind The Chairshot for taking a shot on me, pun intended, to give you all the best stats, facts, and statistical analysis that can be had in professional wrestling! The debut piece here will look at the analysis of finishers.

As far back as I can remember, something that defines professional wrestling has been the signature maneuver that each wrestler had mastered to cause the most pain on their opponent. I remember watching old wrestling with my grandfather many years ago, and saw names like Gorgeous George and “Nature Boy” Buddy Rogers in black and white on ESPN Classic and the old WWF 24/7, and the MSG Channel. I watched Buddy Rogers win a match with a neckbreaker. That move was considered so devastating it put everyone away for three. He also invented the figure four leglock in his career, but, I remember being amazed that the neckbreaker was considered so vicious that it won a match. Skipping ahead, in the late 1980s, we saw Jake “The Snake” Roberts innovate the DDT. Just a regular frontlock free fall head smash into the ring. But it was original and new. It won a lot of matches. These men would target certain body parts over the course of the match to finally hit their big finisher for the win. They would become massively popular moments in a match drawing emotion from the crowd.

As time has gone on, we as fans have desired more original, more devastating, more awe inspiring signature moves. Wrestling has become so athletic and creative that moves that were considered devastating 50 years ago are used as every day moves, such as the lateral press, the vertical suplex, the neckbreaker, elbow drops, and the normal DDT. We now see triple flip splashes, springboard moves, inverted combinations, and whatever Zack Sabre Jr has decided is a submission move which shouldn’t even be possible to the human body.

Let me ask you, what is your favorite finishing move? Let me know in the comments. I’d love to see your replies. Mine is The Flying Elbowsmash by Macho Man Randy Savage. I say elbow smash, and not elbowdrop, because that’s how it made it so much differently and much more effective! (All in a name, right?) When Macho Man went up top, he twirled his finger, the fans reacted, and we knew the match was finished. As wrestling began to change during the Attitude Era, we actually began to see finishing moves get countered, blocked, or miss completely. We also saw something which especially in the Western world was so shocking that it still draws gasps today, someone kicking out of a pinfall after a finisher is connected. A lot of this psychology began in companies like All Japan, New Japan, and Mexican promotions in the 1990s, where as staple companies like WCW and WWF would often use typical finishes. But as time passed, we began to see longer matches, with unpredictable finishes, especially at big shows like the Royal Rumble, Wrestlemania, War Games, and Starrcade. Now kickouts are a regular thing to build suspense and drama.

Let’s take a look at some interesting tidbits and facts about finishers just this year!

  • In New Japan in 2019, there have been 860 finishing moves attempted in singles matches.
  • Of those 860: 55% have been countered, and 8% have been blocked or missed, a total of 63%
  • There have been pinfalls or submissions attempted 28% of the time a finisher is attempted
  • There have been pinfall or submissions attempted 94% of the time a finisher is connected
  • There has been a kickout or a rope-break 43% of the time a finisher is attempted
  • Overall, only 10% of all finishing attempts result in a kickout and 15% result in a decision because so many are countered, missed, blocked, etc

Let’s compare this to just the last two months (July and August) on the WWE main roster:

  • In WWE in July and August 2019, there have been 172 finishing moves attempted in singles match
  • Of those 172: 18% have been countered, and 10% have been blocked or missed, a total of 28%
  • There have been pinfalls or submissions attempted 61% of the time a finisher is attempted
  • There have been pinfall or submissions attempted 97% of the time a finisher is connected
  • There has been a kickout or a rope-break 11% of the time a finisher is attempted
  • Overall, only 9% of all finishing attempts result in a kickout yet 50% result in a decision

The companies have such brilliant differences in how matches are laid out. Seeing the numbers really brings that to life. Seeing a company like WWE have a pinfall or submission 82% of the time a finisher connects, where as the number is almost half that at 51% in New Japan shows some interesting things. Going back to the original topic of finishers being so well developed, so devastating, that in Japan, they are so revered and respected that they actually spend many hours training how to reverse and block them, where as they’re attempted less frequently in WWE (far more single matches, with almost the same percentage of finishers per year) and end matches at a much higher degree. Does that mean finishers in WWE are better than those in Japan? I’d actually say it is the opposite, even though there are more kickouts in New Japan. Moves like Ishii’s “Brainbuster” connect 29% of the time they’re attempted, while Roman Reign’s “Spear” connects 83% of the time, yet no one kicks out of the Brainbuster and people have kicked out of the Spear. Some moves like Naito’s “Destino” connect at 43%, yet are kicked out of frequently, 11 opponents have kicked out of “Destino” in his 12 singles matches, and he’s only beaten 7 of them with the move in 12 matches.

All in all, it’s just so incredible to watch the evolution of signature moves in wrestling. Perhaps a time will become where an article like this will be considered ahead of it’s time, as wrestling promotions as a whole will discuss and analyze the effectiveness of finishers, which will only create more innovation in the sport as wrestlers will need to create better finishers. The spectacle of sport has defined our lives, the admiration of statistics have allowed us to calculate awards, recognition and records. It’s far past the time for professional wrestling to be welcomed into the conversation. This is just the beginning..

That’s it, our very first Weekly Brainbuster! I hope you’ve enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it. If you like what you see, feel free to discuss it in the comment section, or contact me at, and continue to support The Most Complete Wrestling Database Online Project by following me on Twitter at “@TMCWDOP”!

Let us know what you think on social media @ChairshotMedia and always remember to use the hashtag #UseYourHead!

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