New Japan Pro-Wrestling tries to keep itself somewhat separate from other wrestling promotions where the performers need to spam their finishers three-four times before finally getting a victory and instead do a lot of work to keep finishers as strong as possible. Often in non-title matches, more simple maneuvers can win a match without the need of pulling out the massive world ending moves.
Whenever the finisher needs to be broken out, it typically only takes one before the match is over. Bigger matches and events will sometimes see a finisher be used a second time to officially seel the deal. Also, a common occurrence is names that haven’t gotten that massive push just yet have very protected finishers due to wrestling lower card names and not working as long of matches so typically once the finish is hit, the match is done. With that in mind, here are some of the most protected finishers in New Japan history.
10 Pulp Friction – Juice Robinson
Multi-time IWGP United States Champion, Juice Robinson decided to be a little creative with his finisher when he created the Pulp Fricition as the move in an Unprettier but Juice jumps before smashing his opponents head to the mat. The move has been kicked out of a few times but compared to other moves, typically is the end of the match when used.
As mentioned earlier, some names haven’t been in the biggest matches on the card, so they are normally facing names that don’t need to be putting on five-star classics and kicking out of big moves. Juice is a decent example of that due to his matches not lasting the longest and either he wins with the move or losses and doesn’t get to try it.
9 GTR – Hirooki Goto
Another way that NJPW wrestlers can keep a finisher protected is by having more than one to use at a moments notice. Hirooki Goto has a few that he has used over the years and some of then get pulled out on rare occasions and in turn end the match when performed.
Goto typically uses a seated armbar or a vertical suplex side slam as his match enders that have seen a few people kick out, but his other two finishers the Goto Shiki (Cross-legged Cradle) and the GTR (Spinning Headlock Lariat into a Backbreaker) aren’t often kicked out of.
8 Back 2 The Future – Kushida
Watching any Kushida match since his NJPW return, fans will often see him end things by performing his Hoverboard Lock (Kimura lock) submission. Again having many moves to end the competition including a Corkscrew Moonsault to keep his strongest finisher well protected.
Kushida will on occasion end things with his Back 2 The Future finisher which is a Small Package Driver where he slams his opponents head and neck on the mat with both men’s bodies crumbled in an odd way.
7 Time Bomb – Hiromu Takahashi
Hiromu Takahashi has two finishers that are quite well protected as one is the upgraded version of the first finisher used for a bigger impact. The first is the original Time Bomb where Hiromu lifts his opponent into a Fireman’s Carry and swings them down into an Emerald Flowsion.
The second is the cleverly named Time Bomb 2 which sees Hiromu hook his opponents legs and hit the Emerald Flowsion once again. Both moves have a pretty good success rate due to Hiromu also using a Fisherman’s Suplex and Triangle Choke as alternate finishers.
6 Destino – Tetsuya Naito
One more trick that wrestlers will do to keep a finisher protected is hitting it in different variations. Fans have pointed out that sometimes when Tetsuya Naito or other names hit their finisher, they won’t do something like hook the arm or grab or leg or just whatever is involved in the move.
The Destino is a Half Nelson Somersault Reverse DDT, a mouthful for sure, ending with Naito slamming the back of his opponents head down. The start of the move sees Naito grab his opponents arm before completing the maneuver causing him to have more control over his competition.
5 Ishii Driller – Tomohiro Ishii
Tomhiro Ishii is a man of multiple match ending moves like headbutts, powerbombs, and multiple suplexes. His go to however is a Vertical Drop Brainbuster, a move he will sometimes do from the top rope for extra impact.
That move will sometimes get kicked out off so when Ishii really needs to put away his competition, he will use his signature Ishii Driller. The move is similar to the Brainbuster but even more devastating as he lifts the opponent in the same position but then instead slams them down with a piledriver.
4 Bad Luck Fall – Bad Luck Fale
A name that has been a constant in New Japan despite not having the most success is Bullet Club member, Bad Luck Fale. Fale uses quite a few moves to end a match, but one stands out among the rest.
The Bad Luck Fall sees a similar set-up to the Celtic Cross/Razors Edge but instead of Fale slamming the competition down, he instead throws them forward where they land via their own momentum. The move is used on rare occasion and whenever is pulled out, typically ends things.
3 Rainmaker – Kazuchika Okada
When talking about a topic such as protected finishers, one of the first names that pop into fans minds is Kazuchika Okada and his Rainmaker lariat. Despite that, it has seen its fair share of names either grab the rope or get out via other means.
The move often gets reversed before it can be hit and even on occasion others have hit Okada with the move. Okada also uses a few submissions to win matches such as his Money Clip or Red Ink.
2 Gotch-Style Piledriver – Minoru Suzuki
New Japan’s resident “Murder Grandpa” Minoru Suzuki is a man of few finishers such as his Rear Naked Choke that mostly gets the job done for him whenever needed. There are sometimes that he decides to use a much more brutal move and pulls out the horrifying Gotch Style Piledriver.
During Suzuki’s current run in NJPW, no one has gotten out of the move and once it hits, it’s all over. Prior to this run, the move was kicked out of a few times but since has been protected quite well.
1 One Winged Angel – Kenny Omega
While these other names might save their finish for big moments and have something to fall back on when needed, Kenny Omega uses the One Winged Angel quite often still with amazing results.
During his entire run in NJPW, no one kicked out of the move except himself whenever someone would attempt to do his move to him. Throughout all of Omega’s career only one man has kicked out with Kota Ibushi during their time in Dramatic Dream Team being the man to do so.