Updated: Apr 27
Sometimes in professional wrestling, a move can look difficult to pull off and technically impressive whilst not appearing to damage the opponent as much as the attackers effort deserves. On other occasions in the squared circle a simple and sudden move can put a foe down for the 1,2,3. And under some rare circumstances – an athlete is able to perform a move which is both visually magnificent, majestic and beautifully timed – whilst also smashing their unfortunate competitor to smithereens. One such move in the latter category, is the Dropkick.
“A dropkick is an attacking manoeuvre in professional wrestling. It is defined as an attack where the wrestler jumps up and kicks the opponent with the soles of both feet; this sees the wrestler twist as they jump so that when the feet connect with the opponent one foot is raised higher than the other (depending on which way he or she twists) and the wrestler falls back to the mat on his or her side, or front.” – Pro Wrestling Wiki
The simplest version of the dropkick move, one that is no less difficult to perform than it’s more complicated counterparts is the classic standing dropkick.
Jumping Joe Savoldi is credited with first using the manoeuvre – often seen using the dropkick after throwing his opponent towards the ropes and attacking them upon their rebound from a standing stance.
“Savoldi, a former All-American running back for Knute Rockne at Notre Dame, used his association with football to identify the move as the "drop-kick" and the press also called it a "flying dropkick". - Times Leader. 18 May 1933
The dropkick’s origins as with many historical wrestling moves is a little clouded. Abe Coleman, known as "Hebrew Hercules" and "Jewish Cougars" a 5’2” stocky powerhouse said he was inspired when he saw a Kangaroo whilst on an international wrestling tour in Australia – however some believe this is just a story fabricated by Coleman to add intrigue to his famed move.
Later, the dropkick was popularised by grappling legend and WWE Hall of Famer Antonino Rocca the Italian using the move in his time wrestling in Texas from the early 1940’s.
“This is commonly employed by light and nimble wrestlers who can take advantage of their agility, and is often executed on a charging opponent, while charging at an opponent, or a combination of the two.” - Pro Wrestling Wiki
Second only to China in it’s deep rooted connection to martial arts is Japan. A country proud of it’s rich heritage hosts some of the best professional wrestlers in the world. New Japan Pro Wrestling is Japan’s biggest grappling brand and it’s hard hitting athletes and no-nonsense approach to story-telling as well as harbouring some of the greatest wrestlers of all-time amongst their present and former rosters.
Despite its normal application as a staged attack in pro wrestling, dropkicks have occasionally been used in mixed martial arts competition by fighters such as Ikuhisa Minowa, though usually with only limited noticeable effect on the recipient.
Anime, another highly popular Japanese export regularly features the dropkick manoeuvre often from ridiculous heights and distances and often with devastating results to it’s recipient.
The Power Rangers used dropkicks.
Godzilla even had a pretty hilarious version all of his scaly tailed own. Top notch editing.
Another huge form of entertainment in Japan is video games…
The video games industry, especially in Japan, since it’s inception has never shied away from pop culture references. Aside from the wrestling-based games themselves, we’ve seen a lot of wrestling moves in video games over the years.
One of the most popular moves that appears in video games is the dropkick. From Ryu, zangiev and mika in street fighter with their impossibly quick and accurate variants of the move. Another classic fighting game franchise Mortal Combat has Ferra & Erron Black’s dropkick from hell.
Dying light allowing you to lock on and destroy hordes of zombies from seemingly any height to deliver a skull crushing dropkick.
Even some cute little Pokemon being able to learn jumping and drop kick variations and kick your favourite poke pal’s tiny head off.
Talking of kicking heads off...
In 2015 Okada faced his old nemesis – the ace of japan Tanahashi in a now famed 7th meeting between the pair.
For some in the wrestling industry, the dropkick is a throwaway move, used to bridge the gap between pauses in the match and link together bigger moves.
But not at Wrestle Kingdom 9. Not when it’s the dropkick master Okada who is involved. A large part of the story of the match was the intrigue whether Okada would be able to hit his fames move.
Again and again Tanahashi thwarted his efforts. But boy oh boy. When Okada jumped and extended his body – all 6”3 of his heavy torso flew gracefully through the air, his large boots connecting perfectly with the chin of his opponent and the crowd went fucking ballistic.
The undisputed king of the dropkick – Kizuchika Okada has the world’s most famous version of the move. And rightfully so. His pin-point accuracy and brutality of the dropkick is matched by his ability to jump so high and effortlessly for such a big man.
REST OF THE WORLD
Nowadays the dropkick is used by an uncountable amount of wrestlers. The move has been adapted and evolved over the many years of it’s use and today you can expect to see some very creative ways of jumping off the ground and shoving your boot directly into somebody’s eye-socket.
In all styles of popular wrestling, from Lucha Libre with it’s high-octane versions of the dropkick. To old-fashion British style grappling. The dropkick and it’s many forms are previlant throughout all of wrestling and have been for more than 30 years.
Corner dropkick sees an attacker hurtling towards their opponent who is set sitting in the corner of the ring.
A Low dropkick sees the user attacking their foes shins, knees and ankles.
Missile dropkick is a very popular version where the move is taken from the top rope onto a standing opponent.
The Corner-to-corner missile dropkick, made famous by Shane McMahon during the attitude era. He can still be seen using the move to this day, sometimes with the added bonus of crashing through a garbage can before kicking his enemies in the face.
A Somersault dropkick adds a flip and a spring board variant is when the attacker bounces off of the ropes before the kick is administered.
The move is quick, flashy and something that you probably don’t want happening to you on a regular basis.
A swift jump before smashing your laces through your fellow wrestler’s teeth is an extremely effective way of causing damage whilst also proving your athletic and physical prowess and for that reason and it’s long intertwined history in the wrestling business – it is sure to live on as one of the most recognisable and popular moves in between the ropes.