Updated: Apr 27
Abraham Lincoln, one of the most famous men in the history of mankind. History remembers Abe Lincoln as a war hero, a man who revolutionised the US-economy and abolished the horror of 19th century slavery.
However the 16th president America is also credited with the first recorded use of the chokeslam.
Notable Presidential biographer Carl Sandburg wrote in his 1940 book ‘The Prairie Years’ that Abraham Lincoln was a feared amateur wrestler in his youth.
During one bout, when a local champion supposedly cheated, by stomping on Lincoln’s foot, Abe became enraged.
"This exasperated Lincoln so that he lost his temper, lifted Armstrong up by the throat and off the ground, shook him like a rag, and then slammed him to a hard fall, flat on his back."
Although heavily disputed – this description certainly sounds like an early version of the chokeslam.
Violent and astonishingly powerful – the chokeslam shows aggression and brutality not seen with some other famed wrestling moves.
Professional wrestling historians are still debating the origins of the chokeslam. Various iterations of the manoeuvre were used throughout the squared-circle’s storied past.
Moves that involve chokes in wrestling are generally banned. During the early years of the chokeslam, it was almost always met with the proponent being disqualified.
In modern times – Sid Vicious is generally credited with being one of the first to use the move on television in the late 80’s. The giant, angry Sid would finish his opponents during the early stages of his career by picking his enemies off of their feet by their throat and dropping them in a heap at his feet.
911, an ECW wrestler used the moves in the 90’s – the chokeslam being suggested as a finisher by then ECW owner and promoter Paul Heyman. Probably the most memorable part of 911’s career.
“He didn’t have much luck as far as his career is concerned, but 911 should be remembered as one of the early adopters of the chokeslam and who without, ECW wouldn’t have been the same." - Paul Heyman
Akira Taue innovated the move further. His elevated variation put his head under the arm of his opponent, Akira would then lift his opponent high above his head, spin 180 degrees and slam them down to the ground whilst holding their throat.
This chokeslam version was named the Ore Ga Taue which after it’s innovator and became one of the most common variants of the move seen in modern day wrestling.
HOW TO / TECHNICAL
“Although a chokeslam begins with a "choke", it is not usually considered to be an illegal move.A chokeslam is a type of body slam in professional wrestling, in which a wrestler grasps an opponent's neck, lifts them up, and slams them to the mat. The wrestler places their free hand behind the opponent's back to help turn them horizontally for the throw.” - Pro Wrestling Wiki.
The chokeslam is typically used as a finisher by large wrestlers, further enhancing its perception as a powerful manoeuvre as there is simply further to fall to your fate for the performer receiving the move.
It is a common move performed by taller and bigger wrestlers, such as Kane, The Big Show, Abyss, The Great Khali, Vader, Braun Strowman and even Awesome Kong – feared female giant known for her brutality and unrivalled strength.
Some comparatively smaller competitors also have used the chokeslam - Lacey Von Erich used it as a shorter athlete with limited success – then in WWE The Hurricane, a much beloved-super hero character in the early 2000’s used an almost joke version of the chokeslam.
MOST FAMOUS CHOKESLAM
At King of the Ring pay-per-view on June 28, 1998, at the Civic Arena in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The most famous chokeslam happened and became a notorious wrestling moment that reverberated around the wider world.
Mick Foley, known at the time as Mankind was set to take on The Undertaker in the third ever Hell In A Cell match. A stipulation, still to this day, reserved for the most hate-filled rivalries.
High above the ring, atop of the steel cage which the two athletes had fought in and out of. The Undertaker pushed Foley who fell off the side of the cell and onto the ring announcers table below to one of the most famous wrestling calls of all time. By legendary commentator Jim Ross.
Mick Foley was known to be one tough son-of-a-bitch and was determined not to let this turn of events lose him the match. He returned to the fight after several minutes of medical attention and somehow ended back up on top of the cage with the Undertaker.
Foley, bloody and broken tried to stand his ground but was too weak to avoid further attacks. When Undertaker grabbed Foley by the neck and pulled him into the air. Foley was ready to receive the famous Undertaker chokeslam. The fans cheers filled the arena as Foley was slammed hard into the roof of the cell.
However, the strength of the cage’s roof wasn’t tested and to the shock of the crowd, the announcers and even the Undertaker himself – Foley crashed hard through the cell ceiling and fell 20 feet to the ring below.
Mick Foley’s body crashed to the mat and his lifeless body slumped in the middle of the ring unconscious. The fans in the stadium had witnessed one of the scariest and most devastating moments in pro-wrestling history.
"Maybe the most famous match ever. For which both men received a very extended standing ovation from the crowd in attendance." - Journalist Michael Landsberg
"Watching from the back, I thought he was dead. I ran out here and looked down at him, still lying in the ring where he'd landed. His eyes weren't rolled back in his head, but they looked totally glazed over, like a dead fish's eyes." - Terry Funk
The 27 minute match is bloody, gruesome and at times, hard-to-watch.
But none-the-less one of the most influential and divisive in the ring.
Cementing the chokeslam as one of the most iconic moves in wrestling history.
So the next time you happen to find yourself hoisted 8 feet in the air, a large muscular mans hand wrapped around your throat, as you plummet to your demise, remember...
You’ve got good old honest Abe Lincoln to thank.