Some moves, for example, the devastating and destructive powerbomb, for one reason or another, have been adopted and used in brutal fashion by uncountable amounts of athletes in the squared circle.
Other moves in pro-wrestling however, come to be so entwined with a single wrestlers career, that for the longest time, it’s all anyone could ever think of when the move was brought up in conversation.
As wrestling evolves and the performers themselves in the world of sports entertainment continue to adapt and improve, we find ourselves in a climate where very few moves are protected and reserved for use by one person…
In the modern-day, the term “facebuster” is used loosely to describe a huge array of different moves within pro-wrestling. From the innovative Argentine Facebuster, the iconic Gory Bomb adapted by wrestling legend Gory Guerrero.
To the excitingly named belly-to-back wheelbarrow facebuster, which is as painful to receive as it is to say. You can see why it may be hard to trace the exact lineage of this much adapted move.
But, if we narrow our definition in the hunt of the origins of what we know today as the Pedigree in WWE, the move is known by it’s technical name the double underhook facebuster.
The double underhook part of the name refers to the specific way in which the aggressor folds their opponent in half with their elbows raised towards the sky, the attacking wrestlers then links their arms together around the extended arms of their opponent.
This means that as the wrestlers fall to the ground, the attackers full weight comes down on the opponents head with no means of defending themselves from the crushing and sudden stop of the mat, or as we’ve seen numerous times harder surfaces in and around the ring.
Online records discuss several wrestlers who used a version of the double underhook facebuster throughout wrestling’s past. From Colonel Debeers a wrestler most known for his matches in Pro Wrestling USA & the AWA was known to use a version of the move in the early 1980s.
A wrestler by the name of Ron Bass used the facebuster variant, but he was not consistent with holding the arms behind the back, arguably Ron Bass’ version of the facebuster happened much more commonly without the double underhook being applied and although he had a ggreat run in WWF during the 80s it’s hard to say whether Bass invented the move. He made it look devastating though, crushing his foe’s faces deep into the mat.
And if you didn’t think all of that sounds painful enough, one of the biggest, heaviest men to ever lace up their wrestling boots, an absolute ham-hock - Andre the giant can be seen here pulverising his opponent with his version of the move. Imagine how much Andre’s penis would weigh coming down on you. That alone is surely worth the one, two, three.
The man who made the double underhook famous throughout all of wrestling. A man for whom the double underhook was renamed The Pedigree, Paul Levesque, better known as Triple H.
Now in 2020, you are more likely to find Paul Levesque sitting behind a bid desk at the WWE headquarters, or producing one of the world’s most exciting wrestling brands in NXT – don’t let that charming grin and well tailored suit fool you.
Starting out his career as a pro-wrestler in training, Lavesque absorbed as much knowledge as he could from his tutors and mentors.
"It's interesting, the Pedigree, for me started actually when I was training with Killer Kowalski. Kowalski used to do it a spot where he'd put a guy's head between his knees and he would jump up and just kind of jar their neck. It just dawned on me that if he kept going straight down to his knees, it was like a sort of a version of a piledriver. And as I looked at it, I thought, well, if you held the guy's arms, it would be very clearly a piledriver, so it started out as that in my mind, I've always thought that it was something very unique that I had never seen done before, it sort of slowly evolved in to me hooking the arms behind the guy's back and then jumping up and having them, you know, come down full body face first." - Triple H
As John Paul Lavescque a French aristocrat in WCW before making the switch to then WWF in 1995 where he kept his pompous attitude under the name Hunter Hurst Helmsley and needed an equally fitting name for his finishing move. Iconic wrestler Michael P.S Hayes is credited with coining the term Pedigree and the name has been adopted as the defacto title of the move across most of wrestling.
The move has since proved timeless. Through 4 decades and hundred of opponents, Triple H has carved out a legacy with his version of the double underhook facebuster. Using the pedigree to win numerous title belts in now iconic matches at Wresltemania and beyond.
Triple H was named wrestler of the decade for the 2000’s by Pro Wrestling Illustrated magazine and the pedigree was a huge part of that success. The Game Triple H made the move look brutal against Mick Foley in now legendary, if a little sickening match, through tables and even onto metal tacks.
Seth Rollins & The Future
As Triple H’s wrestling career started to slow, he became a family man and an executive in WWE. Passing on his wealth of knowledge through his involvement spearheading WWE developmental and now third brand NXT.
One wrestler who had a stand-out career in NXT and was cherry-picked by Triple H, Seth Rollins would be taken under Triple H’s wing and made the first ever NXT champion. Placed as the architect of the faction ‘The Shield’ and was then also the man who took the heat for splitting from Roman Reigns and Dean Ambrose, Seth Rollins went from fan favourite to evil bastard over night and joined up with the oppressive leadership regime in WWE known as the authority.
Which, in no form of coincidence whatsoever was led by none other than Triple H. So, you can see why in 2015 when Seth Rollins’ ‘curb-stomp’ finisher was banned, he turned to his mentor and asked if he could take the mantle of the Pedigree.
"I was like, 'if you think that benefits you, please do. Like, I would be honoured.' And, you know, and it worked for him for a while. So, yeah, I was happy for him to do it. You know there's moments in your career where there are things like they say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. So that for me, if he felt like it was meaningful to him, I was glad he could use it and get something out of it." - Triple H
Since then Seth Rollins has been a mainstay at the top of the WWE universe as a beloved hero and a dastardly villain and stopped using the Pedigree in matches – choosing to forge his own path now that he is no longer affiliated with Triple H onscreen.
"The Pedigree was a part of my life when I was in the Authority and it made sense for the time being. After sealing the deal and beating Triple H with it Wrestlemania, that was a good place to retire it. At the end of the day, I want to be my own performer, and I want to have a finisher that is synonymous with me, not my mentor." - Seth Rollins
|Elsewhere in the wrestling universe, Chyna formerly Triple H’s girlfriend in WWF and 9th wonder of the world – a woman who didn’t only step over the boundaries of what was expected of a woman in pro-wrestling in the 90s, but utterly tore up the rule book. She went on to have a murky history of depression and abuse after she left WWE and was seemingly bitter about some aspects of how she was used in the company. Chyna used the pedigree in TNA before her death.
Another game-changing female wrestler is Velvet Sky who used her In Yo’ Face version of the pedigree throughout her career to this day.
Many others have pulled the Pedigree out in matches against Triple H, or in reference to him. But for now, I don’t ever see the Pedigree being associated with anyone but Triple H. And, say what you want about Paul Levesque as a business person, many have their views on how he handled certain aspects of his career.
However, in this modern time, to have carved out a legacy so impressive that only looks set to continue for a long time to come, really does show Triple H’s Pedigree.