WWE’s Ruthless Aggression Era was a unique time in the pro wrestling business. During this period, WWE featured an interesting blend of established veteran performers and exciting up-and-coming stars. Needless to say, the WWE roster was absolutely stacked during these years.
With so much talent around, many performers felt compelled to have a deep arsenal of offensive maneuvers. Some performers at the time even felt it was necessary to have multiple finishers. With the uptick in finishers, it’s understandable if some fans have forgotten a few over the years. Regardless, these specific Ruthless Aggression era finishers are worth revisiting.
The Ruthless Aggression era featured a lot of great things. It was arguably the high point in WWE’s roster history as far as talent depth. One thing that wasn’t exactly great during this era though was the tag teams. With the exception of a few teams, a lot of the teams during this time were forgettable. Not Cryme Tyme, though.
The duo of JTG and Shad Gaspard was a great blend of entertainment and skill. Inside the ring, the duo had incredible chemistry together. This was evident by their double-team finisher, the G9. The move was a Samoan Drop, Neckbreaker combo that required pinpoint timing to look good and be safe. The pair would use the move with great success during their time together.
9 The Mizard Of Oz
Despite what some fans may think, The Miz didn’t have an easy road to pro wrestling stardom. The recognition Miz received from his time as an MTV reality show star didn’t endear him to his wrestling peers. This made it difficult for Miz to be accepted by the locker room as well as the WWE audience. Miz persevered though.
On top of the perception issues, The Miz didn’t exactly have a stellar move set when he first arrived in WWE. This included his finishing move, The Mizard Of Oz. Clever name aside, the move was just a swinging reverse DDT. While not super exciting, the Skull Crushing Finale seems to fit The Miz better.
8 Broken Arrow
In late 2002, Kurt Angle would introduce his stable known as Team Angle. The group would consist of Angle, Charlie Haas, and Shelton Benjamin. Haas and Benjamin would operate as a well-oiled tag team machine. The pair would be known as Team Angle until they transitioned into The World’s Greatest Tag Team.
The name was a bold choice but the two backed it up. Haas and Benjamin would excel as a unit, often executing crisp double-team moves. Their finisher, the Broken Arrow was a great example of this. The move would see Haas prop an opponent up on the ring ropes while Benjamin leapfrogged him onto their opponent. It was a thing of beauty.
During the Ruthless Aggression era, Edge would begin his ascension up the WWE card. While he would eventually reach main event status as “The Rated-R Superstar,” the early years of the Ruthless Aggression era are where he laid down a lot of the foundation that would lead to his future success.
During this time, Edge had an impressive and underappreciated offensive move set. He would also try out a few different finishers during this time too. This included the submission hold he’d dub the “Edgecator.” The move was basically just a forward-facing Sharpshooter but Edge made it feel like a big deal. Edge’s maniacal facial expressions always helped get the move over even more.
6 Bubba Bomb
Transitioning out of the tag team division can be difficult for some performers. This can be especially hard for performers who weren’t exactly jumping for joy at the idea of being split from their partners. In 2002, The Dudley Boyz found themselves in that exact scenario. Thanks to the WWE brand split, Bubba Ray and D-Von would be split up.
What wasn’t immediately obvious to many fans was that this also meant the end of the pair’s popular 3D finisher. As a singles competitor, Bubba would begin to use a sitdown Full Nelson bomb dubbed the “Bubba Bomb”. It was nowhere near as popular as the 3D but Bubba made it work for him until he and D-Von eventually reunited.
5 Lasso From El Paso
Eddie Guerrero is among the most beloved and well-respected figures in wrestling history. Furthermore, the Guerrero family has contributed greatly to the wrestling business over the years as far as wrestling moves. Eddie’s father, Gory Guerrero invented a grueling submission move that is still known as the Gory Special.
While Eddie Guerrero is mostly remembered for his picture-perfect Frog Splash finisher, that wasn’t the only finisher in his arsenal. Eddie also had a submission finisher, the Lasso From El Paso. The move was a painful-looking hybrid of a Liontamer and Texas Cloverleaf. Eddie won a handful of matches with it but it obviously never caught on like his main finisher.
AJ Styles fans might want to skip this entry. As phenomenal as Styles most certainly is, the truth is, many WWE fans knew his finisher as Michelle McCool’s finisher first. While Styles was tearing it up in TNA as pro wrestling’s best-kept secret, Michelle McCool was using her Faithbreaker finisher in front of a way larger audience.
The move is exactly Styles’ Styles Clash finisher. The only thing McCool didn’t do was do AJ’s pose before planting her opponent. As fate would have it though, the current generation of WWE fans are now very familiar with the Styles Clash while many of them have forgotten the Faithbreaker.
Most pro wrestling megastars have humble beginnings. That includes even the legendary John Cena. Cena’s early character was a far cry from the gimmick that would eventually carry him to 16 World Championships. Cena would spend time in WWE’s developmental system as The Prototype. Though he’d ditch the name when he got called up, Cena kept his move set for a bit.
This included his Protobomb finisher. The move was a spin-out Powerbomb not unlike Sami Zayn’s Blue Thunder Bomb except Cena didn’t drop to a seated position. Cena still uses a variation of the move to set up the Five Knuckle Shuffle but most fans barely remember it as his old finisher.
Much like John Cena, Randy Orton’s early days were almost unrecognizable. First, Orton sported much longer hair than most fans are accustomed to seeing him with. Furthermore, his tights were shorts rather than trunks and he had a lot less ink on his body. Lastly, Orton had a different finisher at the time, the O-Zone.
The move was also known as the Overdrive. Regardless, it wasn’t the RKO, which helped take Orton’s career to the next level. The move is similar to a swinging neckbreaker but Orton would use his leg to hook his opponent’s head instead of his arm. The move wasn’t a terrible finisher but in hindsight, Orton made the right call adopting the RKO.
1 Brock Lock
Brock Lesnar is hands down the most decorated combat sports athlete ever. Brock dominated collegiate wrestling, became an instant star in pro wrestling, and even reached the top of the MMA world as the UFC Heavyweight Champion. That’s an incredibly impressive resume. As a pro wrestler, Brock achieved enviable success at a very young age.
Brock would plow through the WWE roster using his devastating F5 finisher. As a former amateur wrestler though, Brock’s bag was extremely deep. For a while during the Ruthless Aggression era, Brock showed off his extensive repertoire when he started using the Brock Lock as his submission finisher. Brock would wrap his opponent’s leg around his massive neck and lift. The move looked very painful and was very believable. He hasn’t used the move much since but he can at any moment.