Houston has been the home, however temporary, of some of the greatest performers to ever walk the squared circle. Every great wrestler needs a great finisher, so today we look at the ones that had been used to propel these men and women to victory!
Undertaker - Tombstone Pildriver The pildriver has always been one of the most feared and dangerous moves in wrestling, and more often than not they are banned because of the capacity for severe injury. It was a piledriver from Owen Hart that broke the neck of Stone Cold Steve Austin and cut short much of Austin's potential. Houston's own Undertaker and his kayfabe (In character) brother Kane are among the few men still regularly using the move, likely owing to the relatively safety of the tombstone variety and the tremendous strength and control of the big men.
Hernandez - Border Toss Shawn Hernandez was known as "Hot Stuff" Hernandez back when he was a trainer and performer in Houston's TASW (Texas All-Star Wrestling.) When he went on to TNA (Total Nonstop Action wrestling) he started using a frightening version of the powerbomb as a finisher. Hernandez actually tosses his opponents from his shoulders vertically instead of horizontally. This limits the neck damage potential of the powerbomb while at the same time adding power to the move from the increased height.
Tom Prichard - Savate Kick When it comes to superkickers from Texas the award is always going to go to San Antonio's Shawn Michaels. It's a thing of beauty, no argument. Pasadena's Tom Prichard, though, also had a devastating one back in his day. What he lacked in Michael's ability to travel the distance of the ring he usually made up in vertical leap, aiming for the side of the head rather than the chin. Zoom to about 3:15 in the video to see it in action.
Apache Bull Ramos - Texas Bull Rope While Apache Bull Ramos didn't really have all that great a finisher, he is credited with inventing one of the most unique ways to end a match. He was the mind behind the Texas bull rope match, where two opponents are tied together at the wrist and you win by dragging your opponent to each of the four corners. In the hands of masters like Bautista and JBL in the video above, it makes for a one-of-a-kind contest. You don't see it too much, though, as the chances for dislocations and ligament tears is very real.
Stevie Ray - Slapjack Depending on how kind you are you remember Stevie Ray as half of the celebrated tag team that should have been called the Houston Heat, or as point man in the NWO (New World Order) B Team and originator of the term "fruit booty". Either way, Ray's double underhook faceplant was a monster of a finisher (5:50 in the video if you want to skip). It's not functionally different than Tripe H's Pedigree, but the Slapjack was frightening simply because of how clearly Stevie Ray did not give a damn about the safety of his opponent. Anyone that survived the Slapjack uninjured is a tough guy in my book.
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Jesse Sorensen - Go 2 Sleep Fighting out of Katy, Texas we have Jesse Sorensen. The reverse DDT is a hard move to master and expand upon. The body really doesn't want to bend that way, and it makes planting with force difficult. Sorensen's variant uses the inverted facelock merely as a holder before spinning into a cutter. It's more faceplant than DDT, but the momentum earns it the more deadly designation.
Kaitlyn - Lotus Lock The sole woman on our list is also the sole submission finisher. The Lotus Lock is a thing of beauty, and Kaitlyn was a damned trapdoor spider with the thing. As you can see in the video above, she was often able to launch it from a full nelson sitout slam, which is an easy, but rare move that shocks the spine and most people don't see coming. It's usually knocks the wind out of an opponent just long enough to get the legs into place behind the neck.
Necro Butcher - Choose Death Necro was teaching and performing in TASW around the same time as Hernandez, and I don't even know how to describe the guy. If a flesh wound was given a human form and a bad attitude it would be Necro. He uses moves that would kill a dozen lesser men as regular attacks, but his hardcore coup de grace was the Choose Death. It's at 1:40 in the tribute above, and it's just your basic sidewalk slam. Problem is, he slams you onto the backs of two steel folding chairs. I'm pretty sure it should actually be illegal.
Kerry Von Erich - Texas Tornado The legendary and tragic Von Erich family originated in Jewett, Texas, but Kerry spent some time at the University of Houston and he is among the wrestlers I'm most proud to call one of our own. A motorcycle accident led to the amputation of his right foot, and addiction to the pain killers that he used following that led straight to his suicide.
In the ring, though, Kerry was magic. Just magic, and if fate had been kinder I believe he would have stood with names like Shawn Michaels and Bret Hart. He did employ his family's famous iron claw facelock, but his real finisher was the spinning discus punch. What the Heartbreak Kid could do with a kick, Kerry could do with his fist. He could zoom across the ring in the blink of an eye, whirling and connecting with pinpoint accuracy. No one's done it as well since.
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Booker T - Harlem Hangover The other half of Harlem Heat and the pride of Houston wrestling. Booker T always had a very unique style. He was the high flyer because his brother was the size of a small car, and then he added about 30 pounds of muscle to his tall, lanky frame to make him damn near unstoppable. If you ever want to spend an afternoon watching the absolute best wrestling has to offer, check out his best of seven series with Chris Benoit.
Booker T is best known for the scissor kick finisher, and that's a great one, of course. Old school WCW fans might remember the nuclear bomb that was his missile dropkick. For me, it's the somersault legdrop from the top rope that was his masterpiece. Insanely difficult to pull off and murderously dangerous to receive, it was never his go-to attack. However, when nothing but the most badass bit of death from above was due, accept no substitutes.