I’ve never felt personally inspired by The Bushwhackers before… and yet, here we are.
While recently rating the cousins Luke and Butch as a unit, I mentioned how I would theoretically dig them if they were an act today. And I confessed how great I thought their finishing move, The Battering Ram, was.
Inspiration was struck, and I was determined to make a list counting down some of the best tag team finishing moves in wrestling history! If I were to make such a list, would The Battering Ram place?
Tag Team wrestling… is what it is in the current environment. AEW showcases it. NJPW loves multi-man matches, to the point where strict two-on-two encounters get overshadowed a bit. And WWE just kind of begrudgingly still has tag teams because some universal law insists that they must. People don’t like to admit it, but WWE is actually doing BETTER with tag teams now than they were, say, a decade ago, when most of their tag “teams” were two randomly chucked together guys who would win the belts, lose them, and then break up forever.
But regardless of what you or Vince or anyone thinks about tag team wrestling, there have been some truly impressive tag team finishing moves throughout history. So let’s look at some of my favorites…
The Bushwhackers: Battering Ram
Look, I’ll be honest: there are at least two moves that I can think of off the top of my head that are here for strictly ironic reasons. But I’d like to point out a few things:
-First: this is my list.
-Second: wrestling is supposed to be fun, and stuff like this can be enjoyably silly. If we all take our wrestles too serious, what are we even doing with our lives?
-Third: for decency’s sake, I’ll make this my #10, but my other one will be higher, and you just have to accept that. I’ll explain why when I get there, but it means more to me.
But yep, we are kicking off with the Bushwhackers and their… running assisted headbutt to the gut/sternum? Look, this move was harmless. They primarily used it on jobbers or low-tier “names” like The Beverly Brothers. It’s not like they were out there winning the tag titles from Demolition with The Battering Ram. This was just to make people smile. And as much as I hated The Bushwhackers as I kid… this? This still made me smile.
Even in theory… this isn’t BAD. It’s the force of two people running at you. It’s a combination impact from a shoulderblock and a headbutt. And there’s no real likelihood for a huge backfire. Like… until you actually SEE IT, it seems like a good idea.
The Quebecers: Boston Crab / Flying Legdrop combo
I was EXTREMELY UPSET in my research to find out that this was NOT The Quebecers’ actual finishing move; it was just one they did mid-match sometimes. For the last thirty years, I have remembered The Quebecers as “That team that did that sick Boston Crab + Flying Legdrop combo”, and while they are… they didn’t primarily use it as a finish.
They should have!
And I’m sure they beat some jobbers somewhere with it. They KIND OF won the match in that video with it. They won 50% of the match with it.
So I’m counting it.
Seriously, that move looks DEVASTATING. If I was a tag team guy, I would 100% call PCO up and ask for his permission to bring that back. You could get a win off that by pinball, submission, or referee stoppage! Versatility!
American Alpha: Grand Amplitude
Holy hell what a creative move this was. Jason Jordan with an arm ringer into just… tossing the foe into the air, leading to Chad Gable catching him out of the fall into a bridging back suplex. It wasn’t… devastating. It didn’t look like it would kill you. But it was fast, sudden, and brilliant. You took a big fall and were being pinned before you knew what happened.
It’s just a shame that both of these guys ended up being the Marty Janetty of their tag team.
That’s not fair; Jordan was starting to do pretty good heel work before his injury.
HEY, I wonder if this list will see any other successful NXT tag teams who were ruined on the main roster and had a finisher that involved one guy throwing someone in the air. Hmmm!
Power & Glory: The Power-Plex
I have something off a bias against finishers where it’s just… one move into another move. The Hardy Boyz were stars, but their finisher was just the Twist Of Fate and then the Swanton Bomb. Two disparate moves, back-to-back. DX in their more team-oriented runs did a Superkick into the Pedigree. I mean, sure, that should kill a dude, but it’s just… two consecutive moves.
Paul Roma and Hercules really took this concept and made it work, mostly because of their beautiful timing.
Paul would jump for his splash well before Hercules’ Superplex was done, and the Power-Plex really came across, somehow, as one move because of it. The splash’s impact hit almost right in conjunction with the superplex! Gorgeous stuff.
The Brainbusters: Spike Piledriver
Growing up, the first pro wrestling move that really WOW’ed me was the Piledriver. It’s a terrifying looking move, but it also seemed like it would be fairly easy to protect your opponent with it (history has proven me wrong on this, I guess!). In an era where so much of WWE was a vertical suplex, a body slam, an atomic drop, and, like, 50 abdominal stretches… seeing the piledriver made you feel like the match was SERIOUS. Someone using a piledriver wasn’t just trying to get a 3-count; they were trying to destroy their enemy.
And then Tully and Arn were just out doing an ASSISTED PILEDRIVER on guys.
When picking someone up, putting them upside-down, and driving them head-first into the ground just won’t cut it (When?! When is THAT not enough?!), then I guess you have your buddy come over and push them down with some additional force!
It is a bit funny because Tully’s contribution was, uh, a small leap to bap their feet, but STILL. Piledriver, great. Piledriver-plus? That’s definitely a top ten move.
War Machine / War Raiders: Thor’s Hammer
Only WWE, man, could so badly miss the boat on these guys. I guess they had a tidy little run for a bit with the belts, but they never felt as important or dominant as they should have, and they were taking FAR too many L’s. As usual, NXT spent all day scrubbing the floors to get something shiny and perfect, and then WWE tromped in with their muddy boots and ruined everything.
Obviously between this and Grand Amplitude, I find myself a fan of the idea that a tag team just splits a move in two, with one guy just chucking the opponent into the air for his partner to finish it. Thor’s Hammer obviously lacks the creative flair of Amplitude, but it sure looks more destructive. The latter would easily pin me; the latter would put me in the ER.
The Dudley Boys: 3D – The Dudley Death Drop
There are a lot of “classic” tag team finishers that won’t be making this list as we round out the top half. The Hart Attack. The Doomsday Device. And the reason for that is (ready your hurtful comments!): they’re just clotheslines, aren’t they? Like, even in the 80’s, people weren’t just randomly losing to clotheslines. But if Animal or Jim Neidhart HUGGED YOU during a clothesline, then ooohhhh boy, it was over.
The problem with them is that Animal and Neidhart always felt extraneous in those moves. Bret could just… do a running clothesline. Hawk could just do a flying variant. They just needlessly complicated it up by having a second dude stand somewhat nearby during the clotheslining.
For a while, I felt that way about 3D. After all… what was D-Von really contributing that Bubba couldn’t do on his own with a Cutter?
But then I watched it a bunch more, and… height. Height and added momentum. D-Von actively lifted and dropped people on his end of 3D. By itself, that move isn’t much, but at least it’s something besides “Jim Neidhart cuddles you for a second”.
3D was such a protected, devastating move in ECW and WWE. While the Hardyz were finishing people with a vanilla “my finisher, then your finisher” combo, and Edge and Christian just won however they could, the Dudleys were out there with a move to hang their hat on.
And then Cutter that hat through a table.
Any Version of The Midnight Express: The Rocket Launcher
Okay, here’s my second tag team guilty pleasure.
Honestly? Even I am too young to really appreciate the actual Midnight Express. I mostly remember the WWE’s New Midnight Express team of Bombastic Bob and Bodacious Bart. And, for some reason, I loved those guys. There are a lot of inexplicable, weird things in wrestling history that just “clicked” with me, and they were one.
My buddy and I co-captained our roller hockey league team in high school, and one year we changed our team from name from whatever it was (I don’t recall) to The New Midnight Express Hockey Team. Changed our colors to Blue and Yellow. And we always did our pregame warmup with “I Want You To Want Me” by Cheap Trick blaring, but that was more in indirect honor of Chris Jericho.
So go tell all your friends: you found the one New Midnight Express fan.
ANYWAY, either iteration of the team used The Rocket Launcher as a finisher, and just… can you picture drawing this move up?
“Okay, so we are going to knock our opponent down. Then I’ll tag you in. Then you climb the ropes as the legal man, and I will THROW YOU at them, and at the ground, as hard as I can. Belly first”.
“Yes, I see no flaws in this plan”.
“I know, right? There’s literally no way this could ever backfire”.
As far as finishers go, it’s as “no risk it, no biscuit” as you can get, I guess. Just… pitching your friend at the ground. Wow.
The Young Bucks: More Bang For Your Buck
I always preferred More Bang For Your Buck to the Meltzer Driver, just because the Meltzer Drive is honestly pretty silly and just looks impressive. More Bang For Your Buck is a more fluid and impressive steady barrage of attacks, and it just feels like it has more finality to it. The MD is a neat move that CAN end a match. MBFYB is what they should bust out to definitively win the match.
This is where The Bucks’ athleticism and cohesion is one full display. They hit a rapid succession of moves, with Nick always waiting until the last second to get out of the way of Matt’s moonsault. Obviously the Bucks do a lot of stuff well and even more things impressively. But I always mark out a bit when they use this gem.
The Eliminators: Total Elimination
Allow me to regale you with another personal tale, this time of the very first televised episode of ECW I ever watched.
Now I had seen clips of ECW, and I had tape traded with some of my high school buddies to get some of ECW’s shows in my possession, but when I found out that ECW was airing on TV at something like one in the morning, I knew I had to tune in. What I got was an episode that IMMEDIATELY solidified one tag team in the company as the hottest act around.
Near the end of the show, there was the typical dressing room clearing brawl where the ring filled up with talent just going to war. This was finally ended when The Eliminators came out and hit Total Elimination on EVERY SINGLE PERSON IN THE RING, with Joey Styles screaming out the move’s name each god damn time. Kronus and Saturn cleaned house.
Then, the promo to close out the show was duo backstage cutting yelling about how they wanted a match against Terry Gordy and Steve Williams so they could prove they were the best team ever, and it featured Saturn repeating how all he ever heard about was “Doc & Gordy” over and over while punching himself in the head.
And that was all it took. One show, and I was convinced The Eliminators were the most destructive force on the planet.
Ha, it’s actually a really stupid name if anyone besides Joey Styles says it.
That’s my list. And as I mentioned… no Doomsday Device. That isn’t a knock on the Road Warriors, who were still a great all-time team, but… I don’t know. It’s Animal giving a guy a piggy-back ride while Hawk does a basic wrestling move. A Legdrop isn’t the best finisher in wrestling just because Hogan did it, and the DD isn’t amazing just because the Road Warriors did.
Compare it to the Boston Crab leg drop up there! You know in your heart which is better.
But what is your Top Ten? Let me know in the comments! And take a break to check out some other articles, like some more of our wrestlers ratings on the Bret Hart scale or my list of the best gimmick match ideas ever!
Until next time… take care!