Stone Cold Stunner. Torture Rack. Rock Bottom. Scorpion Death Drop.
All these moves create an indelible image in the mind of a wrestling fan. They provide an anchor around which a wrestler can work a match. They are easily recognizable in the match, and the fans can expect and pop for the move. It can be used by announcers as a way to build the match (it’s Mike Tenay’s favorite way to hype a match). Overall, it adds depth to the wrestler’s character.
When a big move gets a personalized name, it is instantly recognized as a “signature” maneuver, whether it’s exclusive to that wrestler or not. The Rock adopted the urinage as his finisher, and dubbed it the Rock Bottom. Even though several WCW wrestlers (DDP, Vampiro, BookerT) used a urinage in the normal course of their matches, the move became associated with the Rock, and those WCW guys looked like they were copying the Great One.
From top to bottom, each WWF wrestler has at least one signature move. Vince McMahon sees the immense value of these unique maneuvers, and makes sure his announcers know the names of the moves, and that the move is usually exclusive to the wrestler. Even if it isn’t, like say the Death Valley Driver (used by both Saturn and the Good Father), they have separate names and are made to seem like separate moves.
In WCW, very few of the newer wrestlers seem to have signature moves that have unique names, and even fewer have more than a unique finisher in their repertoire. Even worse, the WCW announce crew doesn’t even know the names of the all the signature moves that do exist. Last week when Big Vito executed the Big Vito Special, Mike Tenay didn’t know the name of the move and also commented that Vito rarely goes to the top rope. Had Tenay been prepared, he would know that the Big Vito Special is a top rope elbow drop, and Vito uses it in almost all of his matches.
How many of the (former) Natural Born Thrillers have finishing moves with names that you can think of? Seanton Bomb from Sean O’Haire and the Roll The Dice by Reno is all I can drum up. Shawn Stasiak, Chuck Palumbo and Mark Jindrack don’t have finishing moves, or if they do, they are not well enough defined to warrant names.
Without a gimmick or distinctive theme music to set these wrestlers apart, a catchy and flashy signature move is an invaluable tool in getting a new wrestler over. It could be argued that the collection of signature Hardy Boy moves went a long way to getting that team popular with the fans. If WCW bookers aren’t going to assign moves, WCW wrestlers should do it on their own.
Shane Helms is a rare exception in WCW in 2001. He has a whopping three signature moves, all with a catchy name that the announcers actually know. The Sugar Smack is a super kick, the Nightmare on Helms Street is a modified inverse DDT and the Vertebreaker is a cool unique new finisher for Helms. It is these moves and his excellent work that has elevated Shane Helms above the other 5 wrestlers in the perpetual Jung Dragons/3 Count opening matches.
Crowbar is another WCW wrestler who embraces the naming of signature moves. In fact, he had the fans help name his finisher on WCW Live. The sad reality is that Tony Schiavone and the other WCW announcers simply don’t the names of Crowbar’s moves. Nothing is more irritating than hearing Tony exclaim “that’s his move!!!” when one of WCW’s young wrestlers executes his finisher.
Helms, Crowbar recognize that signature moves are things that can set one worker apart from another if mic time is not possible or if mic skills are lacking. Helms in particular is getting quite a following, and his new theme music actually uses the Vertebreaker as the main lyric.
There are countless ways that a wrestler can get noticed by the fans. A great look, a cool gimmick, super mic skills, catchy music and a big push are all ways that wrestlers can get over. However, an often overlooked method is by having a signature move that the fans can notice and get behind.