I hated Biology in high school. I hated it so much, in fact, that I failed it my Freshman year. To be specific, the only anatomy I gave a damn about was the anatomy I could scope out in the 30 second porn clips it took me an hour to download on my 56k modem. But I digress. Anatomy would have been much more tolerable to me if that boneheaded Mr. Z (no relation to the legendary Z-Man) took the time to play to my very specific interest: pro wrestling.
I’m going to right the wrong done to me over a decade ago and give you a little anatomy lesson in pro wrestling. What I really mean by that is I’m going to show you strikes that I really, really like to see and some of the athletes that made them famous!
WEAPONS OF THE UPPER BOD!
When Harley Race first starting using the diving headbutt, he never realized how many careers it would ruin and how many people would get murdered by their husbands because of it. Was it worth it? Probably not, but man do I love watching it performed. There’s just something about watching a man glide through the air to smash their own head on an opponent that gets the blood pumping. The Dynamite Kid, Chris Benoit, and Daniel Bryan are all great examples of visually stunning diving headbutts, but bigger men like Bam Bam Bigelow and Umaga crushed it too.
No, it’s not a clothes line. Extend the arm, rear back, and deliver a clubbing blow to the neck/chest/head and you’ve got yourself a good old fashion lariat! I’ll be honest with you folks, this is a personal favorite of mine. To quote my best bud (and co-host of the Tiger Driver ’91 Podcast) Carlos Rivero, “Is there anything that warms your heart more than a good fuckin’ lariat?” The only thing that warms my heart more is eating pizza right before bedtime.
Of course, how could I write about this move and not talk about Stan Hansen? That cowboy murdered so many Japanese wrestlers through the 80s and 90s that I’m convinced he was planted there by the United States as a weapon of vengeance for Pearl Harbor. The atomic bomb was just an appetizer, but Hansen’s brand of pain was the main course. No sushi, just grade A American BEEF!
Contemporaries like Kenta Kobashi, Steve Williams, and Terry Gordy made good use of the lariat as well. More modern times saw JBL straight up decapitating WWE superstars with a lariat he so eloquently dubbed “The Clothesline From Hell.” Dean Ambrose has a good rebound lariat, but Nigel McGuinness did it better. Japan and American independents are literally littered with these clubbing catastrophes. It’s like ice cream. A lot of different flavors and they all taste delicious. Unless, of course, you’re getting your jaw rearranged by one.
Elbows. The weird little awkward pointy thing that connects your forearm to the rest of your arm. In the real world it’s ugly and you’re worried about keeping it moisturized so it isn’t ashy and gross. Makes you look homeless, ya know? Pull yourself together. Once again, I digress. In the world of pro wrestling, however, the elbow is a violent weapon of jaw-shattering proportions. In other words: elbow strikes bring the pain.
Mitsuharu Misawa is a legend, not only in Japan, but in pro wrestling all around the globe. His elbow strikes, and specifically his roaring (rolling) elbow, are just as legendary. Straight up, Misawa annihilated gaijins and fellow countrymen alike and I would lose my mind every time he rearranged a face. Consequently, I believe he was the cause of Kawada losing many teeth over the years, but more on him later. It’s well worth mentioning that Chris Hero has done a fine job at carrying Misawa’s legacy here in the states. After his tour in NOAH several years back, Hero came back better and stronger than ever. Here’s JT Dunn just because.
Did you think that was all, daddy? No,no, no. Fre got a few more gallons of elbow love in the tank if you wheeeeeeeeel. The American Dream, daddy, he’s been smashing bionic elbows on people since before I knew how to poo in a toilet. Dusty didn’t have to stiff guys with elbows to legitimize his as a registered weapon, which makes it all the more impressive.
And how about guys that come off the top? Wuddap, Mach? The late great is known very well for his polished in-ring style before all, but before Shawn Michaels made the cameras light up with his version of the elbow, Savage was nearly going blind from the flashes himself.
Elbows man, the Quasimodo of wrestling moves. Thing is ugly and ashy, but damn does it produce some beauty.
I think a lot of great moves go under the radar, especially when you don’t see them on television too often. You know what’s on my radar at all times? A man running at another man full speed, and striking said man with his palm as hard as he can. Jushin “Thunder” Liger, in turn, has been blippin’ my radar for quite some time in Japan. You need someone to keep it real in the states? I got you, fam. With thunder, you’ve got lightning, and if you’ve got lightning, you’ve got independent icon and Chikara founder Mike Quckenbush striking men with the quickness.
The hands are powerful tools, as you can see. So that’ll lead us to the most popular of hand strikes…
Is there really anything like hearing the sound that blasts from a man’s skin after a chop? It’s one of those moves that you don’t need to see to cringe. The vicious sound of a chop is enough to make you feel another man’s pain. Admittedly, I wanted to post a Ric Flair compilation; after all he is the man, but I found this first. Dare I say, he may have had more brutal chops than Flair, but he was always intense as all hell. Don’t worry, Ric, you’re still the best that ever stepped into a ring.
Before I blurb on the independent side of the chop battle, let appreciate Big Show’s overhand chop because I’m not going to hate on a silverback bringing down the wrath of god with his bare hand. That said, Eddie Edwards and Roderick Strong have brought tears of joy to my face and tears of agony to their opponent’s (and each other’s for that matter) for quite some time now. The question always arises: who chops harder? Who makes a finer cut of roast beef from their foe’s chest? It’s a matter of opinion, I’m sure, and not one I care to find out for myself. I’ll stick to watching the pros chop each other silly.
ASSAULT FROM BELOW!
Before I write about people getting kicked in the face, let me take the time out to say I placed Kawada on a knee instead of a foot because I had to make room for Big Daddy Cool himself. Too sweet me if you think that’s ok. That said, fellow Nerdo columnist, Jerry Mascolo, suggested that I should have placed Kevin Nash on a quad as that’s the section of the body that he really tore it up with. Haha. I’m an idiot. Let’s move on.
As you can see, I’m a simple man and I’m into simple forms of violence. Sure, I enjoy a good Meltzer Driver as much as the next guy, but aside from everything I’ve already covered you know what I really enjoy? A good knee to the face. I also sit back, sip a cup of joe, and watch men run from one corner to the ring to the other, and stick their boot so far down the other guy’s throat that he’ll be nourished until Thanksgiving. After a long day at work, I like to unwind and watch a man with literally 3 teeth in his entire mouth, kick the daylights out of my favorite wrestlers. Ahh, leg attacks, you relax me so.
Regal kneed men in the face very hard, but Nakamura over in New Japan has also made a habit of using his knee as if it were a baseball bat and he had to collect some money the hard way. Both are fantastic, but Nakamura hits a knee like it’s an RKO sometimes and that’s never bad. His adversary for fiercest knee in the biz still has to be our favorite underdog, Daniel Bryan. And while we are on the subject, Bruiser Brody liked to drop a pretty weighted knee himself. That’s about 270 lbs. + of rugged man dropping the hardest part of his leg onto skulls. What’s not to love?
Kawada was such a bad motherfucker, I have to give him a section to himself, just for his kicks. A man who kicked dudes so hard, they named a series of kicks to the skull after him. It’s like he sacrificed all the teeth in his mouth to the wrestling gods so they could take away his vulnerability to pain, and grant adamantium legs for which to force his wrath on people. The compilation up top is nice, but you should really check out his matches with Misawa and pretty much anyone else who was an All Japan mainstay in that era to get the full experience.
You know, I never thought I’d see the day where I would post a Test big boot compilation video as an example for my love of watching people get kicked in the face, but life takes you to some crazy places, eh?
I’ve grouped these last two together as they’re essentially the same, but one is in motion. As you see above, the big boot brings a delicious amount of pain. Let me bring you to one of my personal favorite big boots and that’s the absolute devestation that follows Snake Eyes. Yeah, he’s caught people with it pretty dirty in the ring, but I’m talking about performing it in WWE video games for the last decades. Man, was it fun murdering my friends in TLC matches with Taker.
Yakuza Kick. Helluva Kick. Mafia Kick. Whatever you want to call it, it’s a running kick to the face and there’s nothing (too) sweeter than that. Sami Zayn/El Generico can deliver it like no other, but let’s look at a different variation of this move. Roddy’s Sick Kick is a flying version of the Yakuza. By flying, I of course mean launching yourself like a heat seeking missile, your boot being the warhead, and just locking on to your boy’s nose.
I’m not quite sure where to register this one, so I’ll leave this here for you. Cesaro has been crushing guys for a very long time. But, you know, we can’t connect.
There you have it. I’ve given you a lesson in anatomy you never knew you needed or wanted, but it wasn’t so bad, huh? What have we learned today? Well, we learned that elbows are gross and ashy, but aside from that, we learned that the human body really is a weapon. What’s that? Yeah, I know wrestling is fake, but the pain sure fucking isn’t. Class dismissed.
Oh, and why is Mick Foley’s face on the body of the picture? This is why.