The History of the German Suplex
Updated: Apr 27
Karl Gotch, a Belgian wrestler of German-Hungarian decent invented the move in the late 50’s in Japan.
Originally named the Atomic Suplex by Gotch, his Japanese employers soon changed it to German Suplex amid connotations of nuclear destruction in the early 50’s being a no-go.
Japan was where Karl Gotch really made his name. And soon became synonymous with the innovative suplex variant of his own design.
Using it to defeat numerous foes throughout his time in Japan.
After his time on top, the list of students that came under Karl Gotch’s wrestling tutelage is long and impressive including the likes of Yoshiaki Fujiwara, Hiro Matsuda, Satoru Sayama, Barry Darsow, Osamu Kido and Minoru Suzuki.
Not to mention his outright popularity with fans at the time. This culminated in Gotch leaving a huge legacy in Japan and the wrestling world, thus the term – German Suplex, remained.
POP CULTURE AROUND THE WORLD
He made such an impact in the pop culture of Japan that even to this day anime and manga regularly features wrestling as it’s theme, various grappling manoeuvres and the occasional trope of the German / Eastern European bulk.
The German suplex has also featured in a number of different films and television shows, If your less familiar with the ins and outs of wrestling, then you’ve probably seen one on screen and not even realised.
This legacy continues in Japan with a modern-day master of the German Suplex is New Japan Pro Wrestling’s crowning star, Kazuchika Okada.
Smooth and seamless. Okada’s version looks effective at taking out his opponents, as it has been proven to be, over the last decade – in securing his spot as the rainmaker and one of wrestling all-time greatest.
As with most things wrestling related in Japan – Okada’s viscous German Suplex looks noticeably more damaging and brutal than it’s American counterparts, only adding to the decisiveness of the manoeuvre.
The technical name for the manoeuvre is a belly to back waist lock suplex – but that just doesn’t roll off the tongues of fans and announcers. I can’t see Brock shouting belly to back waist lock suplex bitch and having the same sort of impact.
To perform the German Suplex, the attacker stands behind their opponent with their, the attacker then locks their arm around the receivers waist.
Using their own weight and entire body strength, the attacker then lifts their opponent up off the ground, simultaneously falling backwards and bridging their legs, ensuring that their opponent takes most of the damage from the force of the fall on their shoulders and upper back.
At Summerslam 2016, Suplex City was founded and it’s Mayor was the beast, Brock Lesnar. In a match with perennial good guy John Cena – Brock unleashed a barrage of German Suplexs to his opponent.
One after the other, like nothing we’d seen before on this stage. Brock Dominated the 16-time world champion, delivering 16 German suplexs throughout the match on his way to a decisive victory.
An overnight meme machine and pop-culture phenomenon, Brock Lesnar brought the German Suplex once again into the mainstream, with Twitter and Instagram alight with videos and images of Lesnar’s German Suplex masterclass.
Over the years the move has been adapted and different variations have been pulled off with varying degrees of brutality and destruction.
A crowd favourite variant on the classic German, is to continue the move by holding onto the waist lock and rolling with your opponent until both are back their feet, in position for the attacker to deliver a second or even third suplex in quick succession – known sometimes as the three amigos and popularised in the 90’s by the likes of Chris Benoit and Kurt Angle.
A delayed, high-angle pinning variant of the standard German suplex, which targets the opponent's head and neck more than the shoulders or upper back, is known as an Everest Suplex or a Mount Fuji Suplex in reference to heights of these mountains.
You can perform a straightjacket hold like Io Shirai, which you just shouldn’t mess with.
A pinning variant allows for immediate pin attempts directly following the move. The attacker mantains the waistlock and arches their back and legs further, holding the opponents shoulders to the canvas.
A release suplex from the German position has been favoured by some – One of it’s most brutal advocates was Vader, especially in Japan.
The move is one of the most famous and recognisable from around the wrestling world and in Germany the move is still called a German Suplex.
A list of the german wrestlers who have performend this move include:
Wunderkind Alex Wright in 90s WCW,
Murat Bosporus in Pro Wrestling Noah,
Bad Bones John Klinger,
Brakus in ECW,
Alexander Wolfe in NXT,
David Finlay in New Japan.
& Don’t forget former Dueschland national team pro footballer Tim Weise.
The move is a real display of an athletes abilities and strengths.
A perfectly timed and angled German Suplex is a thing of beauty and wonderment, one that, if pulled off correctly is an iconic move within the squared circle.
It’s aggressive, immediate and powerful and deserves it’s spot as one of the world’s favourite wrestling moves.