The finishing move. It’s the most powerful maneuver in a wrestler’s arsenal and once he/she hits it, it’s curtains for their opponent, right? WRONG! As it shakes out in today’s WWE, most finishers are more of drama builders than dominant knockout blows. Although the AA has lost pretty much all of its luster, there are still a few WWE finishers that consistently bring about a victory for their masters. In that sense, those finishers are protected. I promise you, you can’t name this list off the top of your head. Here are the top 10 Most Protected Finishers of 2017.
First, let’s set some criteria. The first factor considered in making this list was the amount of PPV matches that the particular finisher ended (pinfalls/submissions in elimination matches also count). This is because PPV matches are the most influential and are the only times where wins and losses actually matter. That narrowed down the list pretty well. For the last few spaces where the numbers were close, I took into account how many times the move needs to be hit to finish a match (generally) and how many matches it tends to finish on TV. Now that that’s out of the way, let’s get to it!
Roman Reigns’ Spear: 3 total PPV finishes. Believe it or not, the Spear only finished 3 PPV matches in 2017. Yes, it only took one to take out John Cena. However, it took a whole bunch to defeat Braun and The Undertaker. Add that to only 3 victories with the Spear on WWE PPV in 2017, the Big Dog’s finisher didn’t quite make the cut.
Braun Strowman’s Running Powerslam: 3* total PPV finishes. I know I’m going to get a HUGE amount of flack for this, but it’s true. The Running Powerslam was responsible for 2 eliminations at Survivor Series. The last time it “ended” a match before that was back in January at the Royal Rumble when Braun nailed Reigns with one which then let Kevin Owens make the pin for the win (hence, the asterisk). Sad, but true.
Baron Corbin’s End of Days: 2 total PPV pinfalls. It’s the coolest finisher in WWE right now and performs excellently on TV. I couldn’t not mention it despite logging in only 2 PPV pinfalls.
10. Dean Ambrose’s Dirty Deeds: 3 Total PPV Finishes
It might not be the sexiest looking thing in the world, but it certainly is effective. Dirty Deeds gets countered a whole lot but when Dean hits it, chances are the match will be over. Dean used Dirty Deeds on Baron Corbin to retain his Intercontinental Championship at WrestleMania. He hit it once more, this time on Sheamus, at SummerSlam after a nice assist by Kenny Omega’s…I mean Seth Rollins’ V-Trigger to win the Tag Team Championships. Lastly, he hit Dirty Deeds on Sheamus again at No Mercy to retain the Tag Team titles with Seth Rollins. Yeah, the Triple Powerbomb might be the go-to finisher for the foreseeable future now that the Shield is back together, but Dean will always have ol’ reliable Dirty Deeds in his back pocket.
9. Finn Balor’s Coup de Grace: 3 Total PPV Finishes
If it weren’t for Finn’s unfortunate injury at SummerSlam 2016, I’m sure this would be much higher on the list. The numbers really hurt this one. After returning to the ring after WrestleMania, Finn picked up where he left off, nailing the Coup de Grace on Bray Wyatt at back-to-back PPV’s for back-to-back wins at SummerSlam and No Mercy. Finn kept his momentum rolling by using his trusted double stomp to defeat the Phenomenal One, AJ Styles at TLC. Noticeably, though, Finn did not eliminate anybody from the Survivor Series match with it. Kurt Angle, aka Mr. Selfish, had to Angle Slam John Cena after he’d just been hit with a Coup de Grace, then make the pin. Thus, it does not get credit for the pinfall. It’s a very trusty finisher, as it finishes most matches on TV. But the three wins, 2 being against the same guy, doesn’t do the Irishman any favors here. Sorry, Finn. *puts up Too Sweet* *waits forever for Finn to return Too Sweet*
8. Aleister Black’s Black Mass: 3 Total PPV Finishes
The only NXT entry on this list should not be taken lightly. Actually, it should be taken pretty heavily considering that it looks like Aleister Black for real knocks out his opponents whenever he hits them with Black Mass. Just like Balor, I’m sure this would be higher on the list if it weren’t for the infrequency of NXT Takeovers. Black put away current NXT Champion, Andrade “Cien” Almas, at Takeover: Orlando with Black Mass at his NXT debut. Black hit Black Mass again at Takeover: Chicago to put away Hideo Itami in a hard-hitting affair. Finally, and most recently, The Dutch Destroyer hit Black Mass to take out The Velveteen Dream at Takeover: War Games in NXT’s second-best match of the year. To my knowledge, it’s never been kicked out of on NXT TV or PPV. It will be a championship winning move and should be treated as such today. I love it, you love it, but I have to keep to the rules I made for myself and the 3 PPV wins puts this devastating kick back to slot #8.
7. Neville’s Red Arrow: 4* Total PPV Finishes
Without a doubt, this is the most impressive-looking finisher in WWE. What would it be called in technical terms? A corkscrew shooting star press? I consider myself pretty athletic and I stub my toe getting out of bed every morning. Then we have Neville flipping around with no regard for human life and making it look beautiful at the same time. He was also able use what would widely be considered a babyface move as a heel finisher, which is a testament to Neville’s incredible character work. Neville used the Red arrow to defeat Jack Gallagher at Fastlane, Austin Aries at WrestleMania, and Akira Tozawa at SummerSlam. All of those victories were to either win or retain the Cruisereweight Championship. At Extreme Rules, Neville nailed Austin Aries with a Red Arrow, but instead of going for the pin, he locked in the Rings of Saturn for the win. That would be the 4* finish, as the commentators made sure to talk up how the Red Arrow weakened Aries’ back, resulting in the quick tapout after the Rings of Saturn were locked in. Word on the street is Neville is back on good terms with WWE and should be making a return as soon as early December. So, hopefully, we’ll be seeing much more of the gravity-defying move we all love.
6. The Miz’s Skull-Crushing Finale: 4 Total PPV Finishes
Ya know, back in 2001, Chris Jericho used to use something very similar to the Skull Crushing Finale as a finisher instead of the Walls of Jericho or the Lionsault. Anyways, the A-Lister is now the master of the move and he uses it rather effectively. What is essentially a right-side-up Styles Clash, the Skull Crushing Finale doesn’t look like too much of a thunderous move and it tends to get kicked out of a bunch for as much as Miz hits it. That’s why it’s far down the list compared to the other 4-match finishers. The Miz hit the Skull Crushing Finale on Dean Ambrose at Extreme Rules to win his 7th Intercontinental Championship. Good start. The Miz used it on Dean Ambrose again at Great Balls of Fire to retain the IC Title. Then at SummerSlam and No Mercy, Jason Jordan suffered pinfalls due to the Skull Crushing Finale with one of those being in a successful IC Title defense by the Miz. Probably the most shocking entry on this list, the numbers certainly helped Miz feature here. Classic heel move. *golf clap*