In the older days of wrestling, finishing moves were pretty much anything not a headlock. Shawn Michaels
used a superkick called Sweet Chin Music for a finishing move. Other wrestlers today use a superkick as a transitional, or a set-up, move. None of them will EVER get a pinfall with it... but Shawn can, because he's given it a Name of Power.
Note that it isn't limited only to old moves: A move can be dubbed a finisher if it's a "variation of" something else and given a unique name.
- The DDT is a very basic move that happens just about every match today. Jake "The Snake" Roberts used to use it as a finisher and it was sold as extremely powerful (it was downright chilling to see The Undertaker No Sell Jake's DDT twice in one match), but everyone and their grandmothers uses it these days. Randy Orton has his own version where he hooks the legs of his opponent over the middle rope, elevating the opponent completely horizontally before delivering the DDT. This is sometimes referred to as the IEDDT, after the storyline where Randy (kayfabely) revealed he had IED.
- More DDT's: Raven with the Evenflow DDT, Tommy Dreamer with the Dreamer DDT, and more recently, Drew McIntyre with a double underhook DDT called the Future Shock (not to be confused with Chris Sabin's Future Shock, which was a variant on the 'fisherman buster').
- JBL with the Clothesline from Hell was not an example of this trope because it was a lariat, a much more violent evolution of the clothesline popularized by Stan Hansen...until he started using a diving clothesline instead.
- The People's Elbow is basically an elbow drop with a whole lot of setup, and was sometimes used as a finisher (he had other finishers).
- How can The Big Show win matches as soon as he lands one punch? Because it's not a punch, it's a "big right hand"!
- Well, these days it's the "Weapon of Mass Destruction", but still, yeah.
- To be fair, that IS a pretty darn big hand (attached to the darn big arm of a really big guy).
- To be more fair, a straight punch can be one of the most devastating strikes there is. It's just not as showy as most finishers.
- Ron Garvin made it work for many years in the Crockett NWA.
- And proved to be an example, because he was the "Hands of Stone".
- Paul Wight's original finisher (as the Giant in WCW and for a small while as Show) was a chokeslam...a longtime setup move for both The Undertaker and Kane.
- The Atomic Legdrop. Hulk Hogan's legdrop is a finishing move as opposed to almost every other leg drop you will see (including the "over the top" variant) because he gets a running start, and of course, it has cool sounding name. At King Of The Ring 1993, Yokozuna beat the Hulkster for the WWF Championship with that very same move. (Lets face it, anything that involves YOKOZUNA dropping his weight on top of somebody will be powerful.)
- Dragon Gate veteran Genki Horiguchi can win matches with a backslide, of all moves. His "Backslide from Hell" (or Heaven, if he's a face) is almost an afterthought when used by anyone else.
- Relatedly, when Bryan Danielson was the Ring of Honor World Heavyweight Champion, he actually got the Small Package over as a legitimate finishing maneuver. For a while, his inside cradle was considered unbreakable, and therefore a guaranteed victory. This didn't last, of course—in big-time matches, after about 30 minutes, one of the easiest ways to put Danielson's opponent over as a truly worthy competitor was to simply have him kick out of this small package.
- As Daniel Bryan, he has the flying knee, which is an interesting aversion, as it's unofficially known as the "Knee +," but the announcers just call it the flying knee. However, he has used it to beat John Cena, Triple H, and to set up Batista for the Yes Lock (a Crossface and a more traditional example).
- If Jeff Hardy uses a stunner, it's flashy and powerful, but nowhere near a match winner. When "Stone Cold" Steve Austin does it... Then it's a STONE COLD STUNNER!
- Scotty 2 Hotty had quite possibly one of the most extreme examples of this. His finisher was called The Worm. He would simply face-buster or bulldog the opponent, and then...dance for a good ten seconds, including the long worm move, stand up, and drop a chop to their chest/neck area. Nobody knows why he didn't just use that bulldog as a finisher since it could apparently keep his opponent down for as long as he wanted it to.
- In TNA or Impact Wrestling or whatever the hell they're calling themselves these days, James Storm uses a super kick as a finisher. It is, of course, named the Last Call, as part of his "beer drinking cowboy" gimmick (lifestyle?)
- Randy Orton seems have to have added Kurt Angle's Olympic/Angle Slam into his moveset. He's yet to score a pinfall with it, though.
- Speaking of Sheamus, the Brogue Kick (a standing scissor kick to the face) has become his Finisher, replacing the Celtic Cross (Crucifix Powerbomb). Though he sometimes also uses White Noise (The Kryptonite Krunch, technically known as a 'Over the shoulder back-to-belly piledriver.').
- Mark Henry uses a standing power slam with more elevation than normal, which he calls the "World's Strongest Slam" in reference to his Pan Am weight lifting victories and squatting record.
- Zack Ryder's finisher is a leg lariat he calls the Rough Ryder, though he does jump higher than needed, similar to when Doug Basham would use it, but Doug's wasn't as guaranteed to end matches because it wasn't named.
- Chris Masters could get away with finishing people with the full nelson by having it booked as unbreakable and dubbed the Master Lock.
- Trish Stratus at one point used a regular headlock bulldog as a finishing move. She called it the "Trish Dog". She later upgraded to a more impressive spring board version called the Stratusfaction.
- Orlando Jordan once won a match with a series of punches dubbed the Orlando Jordan Shuffle. They were usually just a spot he was known for rather than a match ender, though.
- Michael McGilicutty won matches with a running neck breaker he called the McGilicutter.
- Damien Sandow, the "intellectual savior of the masses", has a finisher called the Terminus. (Ter-min-OOSE). It's a neckbreaker he does by crossing his opponent's arms over their head and neck, and standing back to back, he drops down with a neckbreaker. Steven (William) Regal used a one armed variant of this move as the Regal Cutter as well. Sandow's is a little different as he also rolls backward as soon as he lands, which is supposed to make it different enough somehow. It has a name? It's a match ender.
- Then he switched to a full nelson slam. You know, that move Hardcore Holly had been using on Velocity for years without ever seeing it end a match? Oh, Sandow drops to one knee while doing it and calls it You're Welcome.
- William Regal himself offers a subversion, claiming he won matches with "The Power Of The Punch" while he really just hit guys with brass knuckles. He had a straight example too, as Carlito could hit knee lifts all day but William Regal's Knee Trembler was a finisher.
- Wade Barrett has been using an elbow smash to end matches. He calls it the bull hammer.
- He briefly called it 'The Souvenir'; perhaps it got changed for not being intimidating enough.
- Naming it the "Perfect-plex" rather than its traditional name (the fisherman's suplex, because it has a hook...get it?) made it Mr. Perfect's impossible-to-kick-out-of finisher.
- And now Curtis Axel has started using it.
- Also, Goldberg names his (guaranteed to end match) suplex the Jackhammer, though it lifts the same as a suplex, it drops more akin to a dangerous buster, which usually does not need a name of power.
- Inverted with Edge, who had a reverse Russian leg sweep and then a leaping DDT with Names (The Downward Spiral and the Impaler/Edgecution, and used the spear as a signature move. Eventually, the spear evolved to his finisher for the rest of his career, and remained being called a spear until the day he retired.
- A similar case with R-Truth: he briefly had one of his signature moves, a leaping spinning elbow, become a finisher because he gave it a name, the Lie Detector. Unlike Edge, he eventually stopped using it as a finisher.
- A strange case with Triple H, in that he'd held onto the Name of his finisher, the Pedigree, since he started wrestling in the WWE in the mid 90's, despite drastically changing gimmicks from the blue blood snob that he came in as several times over the course of his career, making the name make no sense most of the time.
- He's had it so long, that in his current position/gimmick of COO it's arguably wrapped back around and become valid again.
- Defied with Dean Ambrose, who has been using a headlock driver as a finisher more or less since debuting as part of The Shield, and as of March 2014 it STILL doesn't have a name, official or unofficial.
- It was FINALLY given a name on the March 28th Smackdown: Dirty Deeds.