The Finishers Of The N.W.O
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The Neon lights were starting to dim and flicker out. As one behemoth begins to stagnate.
An old rival ignites a revolution and brings in the dawn of a new age.
A weathered icon has changed his colours and turned to the dark side.
At his side, two outsiders – brothers in arms, who’ve recently been unshackled and their true abilities brought in to reality.
These three men, amongst other heroes of the age would blow a gust of change which would ripple through the universe for decades to come.
It was time for The New World Order.
The New World Order, most commonly shortened to N.W.O were one of the most revolutionary teams in all of pro-wrestling history. They threw down the bright colours and over-the-top character traits and brought the world a sense of gritty realism which saw their new employers World Championship Wrestling beat their bitter and longstanding rivals in WWE.
Hulk Hogan had left WWE – the company which he had an instrumental part in the early success of, then the World Wrestling Federation, and headed to their main competitors – only to receive luke warm receptions from live crowds.
He needed to evolve.
Razor Ramone & Diesel had dropped their monikers and became the much more real-to-life Scott Hall & Kevin Nash respectively and after a brief spell as The Outsiders, in one of the most shocking and memorable moments in all of pro-wrestling history – teamed with Hulk Hogan and formed the formidable faction – The NWO and pushed WCW to continued success in the famed Monday Night Wars in the mid-to-late 90s.
Hulk Hogan’s legdrop, Scott Halls Razor’s Edge and Kavin Nash’s Powerbomb.
This video will look at the long history of these now iconic finishing moves.
Some moves in pro-wrestling deliver devastating destruction to any wrestler unlucky enough to find themselves plummeting to the mat. Some moves in pro-wrestling tear your ligaments and contort your joints past the point of agony. Some moves in pro-wrestling defy physics – spinning through the air in a majestic display.
And then there’s the leg drop.
At Wrestlemania 3, in one of the most iconic moments in all of Pro wrestling – Hulk Hogan swept Andre the Giant off his feet and body slammed the behemoth right into the annals of sports-entertainment legend.
And although that moment is seared into most grapple fan’s memories, the historic match was actually won when Hulk Hogan came crashing down onto Andre the Giant with his finisher – the Leg Drop.
“When I dropped the leg, and nobody kicked out, it meant something. In the arena nowadays—in professional wrestling—if somebody used a leg drop for a finish, you’d probably have to come off the top of the building to get your opponent to stay down.” – Hulk Hogan
And although many wrestlers before Hogan had used a variant of a sitting leg drop onto their opponents. There is no doubt that this was the moment that the move really came into the history books of pop-culture in the United States.
Hogan is said to have learnt his iconic finishing technique whilst he was a wrestler in Japan;
“So when I brought it back to the States and I started dropping the leg drop, and the referee started counting, it was like a cannon: one, two, three. So I knew I was onto something. But it was just my luck that I dropped the leg drop in Japan and got the reaction that I did, so I just stuck with it"- Hulk Hogan
The leg-drop, compared to most modern day wrestling moves, is one of the least powerful looking. Especially when a wrestler lands the move with the softer part of their thigh, across the chest and upper arms of their opponents. It may seem like a life-altering event to have a performer the size of Yokozuna slapping his hams down on you with such gusto. The Usos recall when Yokozuna, their uncle returned from a wrestling show to their house;
“Uc took the leg drop from Yoko one time. Yoko said, ‘Just lay there, man, don’t move.’ - We were 8 not even 10 at the time. He lined up there in the corner and just walks up and.. BOOM!" - Jimmy Uso
So in actuality – his thighs were probably really padded and soft. Like someone laying a heavy pillow on you. Mmmm comfy.
The leg drop allows for the area of contact to be at it’s greatest surface area - thus spreading the impact, which you’d think would be a great thing for performers and fans alike. Nobody wants a big ham-hock like Nia Jax slamming her full weight down onto them in violent fashion.
Well almost nobody wants that. But in fact that move is incredibly forgiving for the poor sod laying flat on the mat. Afterall – nobody wants to see a wrestler get injured, or end up crippled later in life.
But, the leg drop is a little bit more complex than that…
Pro wrestling wiki states: “A leg drop or leg drop refers to an attack used in professional wrestling in which an attacking wrestler will jump and land his leg across a fallen opponent's chest, throat, face or head or in some cases, the groin/lower-abdominal area.”
This repeated movement, with the body of the wrestler coming down vertically onto the mat – as with so many other pro-wrestling moves – causes compression in the vertebrae of the spine. Even the immortal one Hulk Hogan couldn’t body slam this fact. By the time Hogan was 55 he had already been subject to 8 separate back surgeries in a 4 year period.
“This maneuver was called EVENT OMEGA..And is most likely the reason that I've recently learned that my lower back & pelvis have started fusing together”
Matt Hardy recalled on his version of the high-impact leg drop he would deliver from the top rope and even from the top of steel cages….
MY LEG IS ON FIRE
Look, I’m all for seeing new matches and exciting evolution in the ring but come on! If you call a move a Guillotine of Fire, only 2 things are certain. One. Someone is going to get seriously fucked up. 2. I am going to watch it on the internet.
At A MWE wrestling event in Matamoros, Mexico in 2018 In a brutal cage-match against Heroina – Angel Azul climbed to the top of the steel structure around the ring and with the aid of the referee, set his own leg on fire – the crowd knew what was coming, Angel Azul was renowned for this move in Mexico – he had perfected the art of almost seriously burning himself and his opponent in the pursuit of entertainment.
But this night – that almost, it never came.
As Angel Azul’s flaming leg span through the air like a fucking Catherine wheel on bonfire night – he slammed to the mat to the cheers of the fans in attendance. The only problem – the fire continued to burn.
At a wrestling show advertised as “Free admission for children” the crowd were left confused and horrified as Angel Azul luckily only suffered a minor burn to his leg and continues with this move to this day.
One thing is for certain – the fire in my heart for wrestlers like Angel Azul doing really stupid shit like this – will never be extinguished.
Over the years, the leg-drop in it’s purest form has lost some of it’s shine. A move that on it’s own garners little or no crowd response. It feels slightly dated when served up raw and with the damage it’s proven to cause, it is really worth a wrestler adding to their arsenal?
As such, The leg-drop is a move that has been adapted and evolved as much as most wrestling moves from this by-gone era.
We’ve seen leg drops Off the top of steel cages with limbs on fire and from the top of a ladder covered in rainbow covered paint.
We’ve witnessed the legdrop performed after an Irish jig, smashing down through the announce table and from the top rope by a fourty-year old in jean shorts.
We’ve seen it all.
Like Microsoft’s failed Spot smartwatch or Sega Channel’s On Demand gaming service in 1994, Dan Spivey was ahead of his time. And like the aforementioned dead tech, Spivey’s innovation and ability to change from the norm came at his detriment.
In the same way that in 2020 even my nan has a smartwatch to track her steps, and lots big game technology companies have a on demand gaming service like PS Now for Sony or Google Stadia. So, the wrestling world has similarly caught up too.
For his time, Dan Spivey was the Bray Wyatt of his generation. A mysterious character in Waylon Mercy – half back-water murderer, half cult-like leader. With his hawain shirts, slick talking yet vague promos and greasy hair, you can see how one could draw more than a few similarities between Follow the buzzards Bray Wyatt and Waylon Mercy.
Dan Spivey was innovative in not just his performance outside the ring, throughout his career in WCW, WWE and All Japan Wrestling he created a move that fit with his demonic character, years before Waylon Mercy even existed.
Pro Wrestling Wiki States: “The wrestler places his opponents head in between his legs then grabs the opponents stomach and lifts his opponent over his shoulder and holds both his arms in a cross position over his head. The wrestler finally runs or falls to his/her knees and throws his opponent onto the mat back/neck first.”
Dan Spivey sadly never had the career that perhaps his ideas and creativity deserved. He passed on his legacy however in another way. By teaching the technique to a young athletic up and comer by the name of Scott Hall.
RAZOR’S EDGE & SCOTT HALL
A man who’s career spanned decades across the most popular time in the industries history. Something that Scott Hall was no small part of.
From his time in the AWA, Scott Hall with his larger than life charisma and his larger than most stature. To his time in the late 80s in New Japan where Hall towered over competitors as an outsider American character.
Through his run as The Diamond Studd in WCW, using the crucifix powerbomb named the Diamond drop were Scott Hall gained notoriety and was quickly signed to a new deal with competitor WWF in 1992 after WCW seemingly had nothing for his character moving forward.
Later in 1992 Scott Hall appeared as Razor Ramon for the first time, a character based off of Tony Montana from Scarface, a Cuban bad guy, just oozing with love to hate him charisma.
Razor Ramon had a great run as historic Intercontinental champion and stayed with the WWF using his now named Razor’s Edge finisher, his now evolved crucifix powerbomb variant.
A key figure in the battle for dominance on television in the late 90s during the Monday Night Wars as one part of the massively influential Outsiders.
When Scott Hall and Kevin Nash left WWE in 1996 to join fierce rivals WCW and form one of the most influencial and divisive factions in pro wrestling history the New World Order, aligning with perennial babyface (at the time at least) Hulk Hogan, another icon of WCW’s rivals WWF.
Where Scott Hall adapted the crucifix powerbomb once again into the aptly named Outsider’s Edge.
The Razor Ramon character belonged to WWF at the time, the company hilarious choosing to keep both Kevin Nash and Scott Hall’s on-screen personalities alive in the wake of the two men’s departure.
With these two hilarious and at the time much hated replacements. One of whom, the man playing Nash – went on to become an industry legend and future hall of famer, big red machine Kane.
Scott Hall and Kevin Nash became just that as they transitioned to WCW, keeping their real names and assuming a lot more control over their matches and storylines.
The depth and breath of Scott Hall’s importance to wrestling at this time is far too important and best left for another time.
Suffice to say, Scott Hall went on to have a brief spell in infamous wrestling promotion ECW in 2000 and made trips back to Japan in 2001. Hall featured sporadically for several promotions over the next few years in the US, especially standing out in TNA where his crucifix powerbomb became known simply as ‘the edge’
In 2014 Razor Ramon was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame and at the 2020 event, Scott Hall the man will be inducted as part of the NOW with Nash, Hogan and X-Pac.
The Diamond Drop, The Razor’s Edge, The Outsiders Edge. Which ever variant of Scott Hall’s you look at. It’s clear to see why so many mainly associate the crucifix powerbomb with this one man.
So influential is Scott Hall in the wrestling world, that in modern times, wrestling has seen a huge array of wrestler’s put their opponents head between their legs, spin them up onto their backs and slam them down with a move that is biblical in it’s iconography aswell as it’s destructive capabilities.
Some wrestlers choose to finish the crucifix move with a sit down variant. Holding their opponents arms back into a pin after slamming them into the mat.
The Niagara Bomb, Splash Mountain or Black tiger bomb has proven popular with fans as a move that shows a wrestlers technical prowess and physical strength, aswell as looking spectacular.
In the 90s Eddie Guerrero and Matt Hardy sparingly used the moves to alight crowds.
Roman Reigns has used the move throughout his dominant run in WWE, through NXT and onto several Wrestlemania main events.
The Shield, with Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins used a variant of the crucifix as a triple threat move to add punctuation to their gritty style of beat down.
Sheamus has the high-cross a version which he has used for a decade in his run as world champion. The size of the pale Irishman lends itself to the crucifix powerbomb especially when added to the fact hat Sheamus gets a bit of a run up before delivering the final vertical domination to his opponents.
Lucha legend and Mexican wrestler extraordinaire Konan, with his don’t give a hoot attitude even decided to take the move to the top rope.
Shawn Hernandez doesn’t even want to take the time to slam you with his version of the move, known as the Border Toss. Hernandez simply slings you away with the distain that his character loves to show in his matches.
Perhaps the move the crucifix powerbomb in the minds of many like mine, will always remain most closely associated with one man Scott Hall.
But what a fitting tribute to a legend of the business, it is to see the razor’s edge still used in huge matches to this day, to the cheers of crowds around the world.
The microwave, the post-it note and penicillin. Some of humanities most important creations have come about seemingly by accident.
The same can be said for the Powerbomb.
One of wrestling’s most devastating and recognisable moves was invented by Lou Thesz.
A wrestling founding father and an inspiration to every technical style wrestler to come since his historic run from the 1930’s.
Usually remembered for his sublime grappling technique and innovative submissions – Lou Thesz never shied away from using more powerful slams and suplexs, especially in big title matches.
In one match, against Antonino Rocca, Thesz grabbed Rocca and positioned him for a piledriver. But as Rocca tried to fight out of the manoeuvre and lifted his head to try and escape, Thesz continued to slam his opponent onto his back and shoulders and in that moment, just by chance – the powerbomb was born.
It speaks volumes about the enormity and grandeur of Lou Thesz career, the fact that he achieved so much means that being as instrumental in the creation of such a famed moved – it is only a footnote to the other accolades of his history in and out of the ring.
As such, we don’t call is the Thesz bomb as we do with other moves he is synonymous with, i.e. the Thesz Press.
HOW TO / TECHNICAL
Pro Wrestling Wiki explains: “A powerbomb is a professional wrestling throw in which an opponent is lifted (usually so that they are sitting on the wrestler's shoulders) and then slammed back-first down to the mat. The standard powerbomb sees an opponent first placed in a standing head-scissors position (bent forward with their head placed between the attacking wrestler's thighs). He is then lifted on the wrestler's shoulders and slammed down back-first to the mat.”
As previously mentioned on my video – The history of the German Suplex. Since Belgian wrestling icon Karl Gotch’s heyday, there has been a huge outside influence on professional wrestling in Japan.
Whether it be the much beloved Japanese catch style, shoot wrestling which originates in England or powerful greco roman style submissions and grapples seen often in Japan, which can trace it’s lineage back to the Olympiad in Greece.
Or even the strikers in Japan, famed for their quick punches and brutal knees – owes a lot to the martial arts of East Asia and the boxing seen in Europe & America.
The powerbomb is no different. Once it was popularised in the USA, word quickly spread of it’s power and trainees began practising the moves in Dojos across the country.
Jushin Thunder Liger has the Liger Bomb for which he has gained critical acclaim and success.
One of Japan’s most famous exports, known for his supreme wrestling technique and colourful, eye-catching ring attire. Since his debut in 1984 Liger has consistently defeated some of the most recognisable names in wrestling history with his variant of the powerbomb.
Bringing his own style of force and strength to Japan, Vader made an immediate splash onto the wrestling scene in Asia with his notorious Vader Bomb.
Big Van Vader’s size allowed for more verticality and a even more devastating decent, quickly earning him a fearsome reputation as a monstrous gaijin.
Today the move stays alive in Japan, in part thanks to Former Golden Lover alongside Kenny Omega and one of New Japan’s most beloved stars.
Kota Ibushi adds emphasis to his victories by pinning his opponent following his vicious Golden Star powerbomb, a move which looks as perfectly executed as it is decisive.
WRESTLING IN ANIME
As with the German Suplex, so the powerbomb is a common attacking move seen throughout anime and manga.
Two larger than life characters, battling it out, giving it their all – when BAM one of them scoops up the other and SLAMs them down to the ground. You’ve probably seen it more often that you think. Especially if you’re not so familiar with wrestling techniques.
The powerbombs happen in cartoons, action films, on television and a host of other types of fiction.
WRESTLING IN THE WIDER WORLD
However that’s not where the powerbomb’s influence stops.
In MMA - Powerbombs are sometimes used in mixed martial arts competitions, when a fighter attempts to slam another fighter who has him trapped in a triangle choke.
The strength and technique needed to pull this move off in a pro-wrestling ring – where both performers are trying their best to make each other look great and balancing their move-sets together to make an entertaining encounter.
Imagine how difficult this is to pull off when it’s for real.
Imagine Brock Lesnar has you synched into a tight triangle and you are fading fast – your last chance, your only hope need to lift him off the ground stand up straight with his 130 kilos or 286 pounds of Ham Hock on your arm like a meaty wrist watch and slam him to the mat full force, in hopes of an escape. Mind-boggling.
Formerly Mike Knoxx. A man of considerable stature and strength in the ring, known equally for his impressive athleticism and brutal, hard-hitting moves.
The Knox Powerbomb, Awesome-bomb – or by any other name. Mike’s variations of the classic powerbomb set a fire in ECW where he became known for some of the most sickening spots in what was already considered Extreme.
Throughout the 90’s and early 2000’s Mike Awesome was famed for his powerbomb in WCW, WWF and All Japan.
As with most things, wrestling moves change over time. The powerbomb I no different. And as wrestlers try their best to improve and adapt their move-set, the powerbomb has undergone quite the evolution.
A Pinning Variant is a good place to start when adapting any move in wrestling.
It allows for a quick transition into a pinning predicament and an attempt at winning the bout. The powerbomb works perfectly for this with the natural endpoint of the move being the attacker stood over his opponent who now has his shoulders already pinned to the canvas.
The Undertaker has never been afraid of change – His character re-design as Bad-Ass biker Taker brought with it the Last Ride. An extremely high angle variation of the powerbomb which created even more distance from the canvas on top of Taker’s 6-foot 8 frame.
Another main stay and giant of the attitude era in wrestling was Kevin Nash. His devastating Jack-knife Powerbomb looked sickening as his opponents in WWF & WCW in the 90’s crumpled to the mat, folded in half after falling 7 feet in the air. Big Sexy sure knew how to execute a powerbomb back then.
aS A Counter to Hurricanranna - In professional wrestling, it is also sometimes used by a bigger wrestler as a counter to an attempted hurricanranna by a smaller wrestler.
The powerbomb is one of the most adapted and evolved manoeuvres that a wrestler can perform today. Nobody owns the move and it isn’t synonymous with a particular performer’s career, yes Batista made a name with his destructive Batista Bomb and some of the others that I’ve mentioned today could say that the powerbomb helped their career.
But as a move that is used by so many, it’s never been linked so specifically to one wrestler, in the way that say the mandible claw was Mic Foley’s or the figure four was Flair’s.
As deep rooted into the history of wrestling as ring-ropes and kneepads, the powerbomb is an iconic signature of the squared circle.
A pure and undeniable indicator of an athletes physical strength and grappling skill – the powerbomb will continue to be used as a finisher for generations to come, as the future of powerful slams sets to roll on with the likes of Kota Ibushi in Japan, Authors of Pain in WWE and numerous proponents on the independent wrestling scene.
A devastating move which will continue to win matches as long as pro-wrestling bells continue to ring.
NWO had such a monumental impact of the world of sports entertainment that is Sparked the tinder in the hearts of pro-wrestling fans and captured the minds of the wider pop-culture world. They’ve been imitated and recreated countless times since the late 90s but I don’t think you will ever truly see a buzz like the one created by Hulk Hogan, Kevin Nash, Scott Hall and the numerous others that pulled on that classic black and white t-shirt.
To watch a video on this subject click here.