Physical presence has been a very important element of professional wrestling over the decades. Names such as Hulk Hogan, Andre the Giant, The Undertaker, Kane, and The Big Show all had intimidating statures. In addition to physicality being a major element of their character, they also had finishing moves that made them stand out from many other wrestlers in WWE.
Along with Hogan’s leg drop, Undertaker, Kane, and Big Show all had the chokeslam as their finisher, as well as Undertaker and Kane using the tombstone piledriver.
As the company began to add more restrictions to their list of moves due to heightened awareness of concussions, here are some wrestling moves that are no longer allowed to be used in the company.
Chair shots have been a major feature in hardcore-style wrestling matches for decades, and has also been used as a way to add more heat to a villainous character and commence a “heel turn” (a good guy becoming a bad guy). It also adds an element of shock and awe to the wrestling fans. Numerous superstars have used chair shots throughout pro wrestling history for these reasons, but no longer in the WWE.
In 2010, WWE banned chair shots to the head, no longer allowing this action to occur. Although there some exceptions since then, WWE has stayed true to this ban, mostly due to the importance of refraining WWE superstars from suffering concussions. Chair shots to the back are still executed, but any to the wrestler’s head no longer is allowed.
To add more heat to his villainous character, Randy Orton added punting his opponent’s head to his arsenal. However, the punts quickly became too severe, and was banned in 2012. Orton stated in a tweet that the punt was banned due to concussion awareness.
Thankfully, Orton had one of the most devastating moves in WWE, the RKO, so the punt was not a major loss to the momentum of his character.
Prohibiting a submission finishing move is rare, and CM Punk fell victim to this rarity. In 2012, he revealed during an Ohio Comic Con Q&A session that WWE told him to stop using the Anaconda Vice in exchange for the GTS (Go to Sleep). He also dispelled any rumors that the finishing move he popularized in Ring of Honor, the Pepsi Plunge, was banned.
Although the Anaconda Vice was banned from use, the GTS become a signature part of CM Punk’s career while he was in WWE, leading him to a WWE Championship reign of 434 days. This remains the longest reign since Hulk Hogan’s title reign from 1984 to 1988.
The Vertebreaker was popularized in WCW and WWE by Shane Helms, although it was performed by various other talent on the independent circuit over the years. From the very appearance of the move, it looks like it is one of the most dangerous moves in all of wrestling.
Helms explained in a recent interview with Fightful why the move was banned, and his reaction to it.
“I think we said something about it, but it was nothing bad. Like, I didn’t invent the Vertebreaker. I had no problems with anybody doing it. But when WWE banned it, that was a time in the business where a lot of guys got hurt with piledrivers so they said, ‘eliminate it, all piledriver type maneuvers except for the Tombstone.’ But all the other piledrivers got eliminated and basically my boss said, ‘don’t do it.’ I’m one of those weird people, I do what my boss says. And at the same time there was only about three people I could even pick up at that particular time. Everybody was gigantic back then, so it wasn’t a big deal for me. I didn’t mind doing the Eye of the Hurricane, I actually invented that move. So, that was fine with me.”
The Canadian Destroyer
Speaking of piledrivers, the Canadian Destroyer, popularized by Petey Williams, was also banned due to WWE’s restriction on all piledrivers (except for The Undertaker’s Tombstone). However, Vince McMahon did recently lift this ban to bring more of a “cool” factor in matches, which is why it can be seen performed by Rey Mysterio.
The move was also recently executed from the top rope during a NXT match between Keith Lee and Dominik Dijakovic. By the way, if you have not seen that match yet, go check it out. It was amazing.
The Burning Hammer
The move itself was innovated by Japanese women’s wrestling star Kyoko Inoue, and the Burning Hammer as a name become popularized in Japan by Kenta Kobashi. In the WWE, Tyler Reks used the move, but got into an altercation with John Cena who forced him to change the move, thus banning it.
The Burning Hammer was revived by Brian Kendrick during the Cruiserweight Classic, as he used it on Kota Ibushi. Bianca Belair also uses a modified version in NXT, similar to how Reks used it but in a sit-down variation.
Although it has since been reinstated, Seth Rollin’s Curb Stomp was banned from WWE. Rollins explained in an interview that stomping another man’s head and calling it The Curb Stomp was not the type of image that he wanted of his top guy.
When the stomp was banned, Rollins went on a mission to find a finishing move. During this time, fans saw him perform the ripcord knee smash, and, most popularly, The Pedigree. However, thankfully, the move is back. However, the “Curb Stomp” name is still banned, as it is has been changed to simply the stomp.