High-flying manoeuvres have mostly become the norm in modern wrestling. The standard for jaw-dropping airborne manoeuvres actually seems to be rising steadily. In the early days of pro wrestling, wrestlers hardly ever got off the ground, much less climbed the top turnbuckle and leaped.
The utilisation of aerial manoeuvres increased steadily starting in the Golden Era of professional wrestling. That number increased even further in the 1990s as Lucha Libre’s impact on American wrestling expanded. In retrospect, it is obvious that many of the most daring acts from the 1980s and 1990s were innovative at the time.
Jeff Hardy is currently regarded as one of his generation’s most inventive and audacious artists. But the future “Charismatic Enigma” had a lot to prove when he made his WWE debut alongside his brother Matt in the late 1990s. Most likely, some of Jeff’s risky stunts were motivated by the chip on his shoulder.
Hardy has made nearly every tall leap imaginable in the course of his more than 20-year career. However, as the modern-day inventor of the Swanton Bomb, he may leave behind the largest legacy. The Great Sasuke, a Japanese wrestling superstar, employed a variant of the technique, but Hardy’s is a little different. His interpretation resembles a senton in essence. Hardy puts off doing the flip until the very last second, which keeps him upright longer than necessary and ups the risk of the move.
The Topé Suicida, also referred to as the “Suicide Dive” by American fans of professional wrestling, has become as one of the most utilised manoeuvres in the sport today. Executing the manoeuvre is comparatively easy. A straightforward dive from within the ring to outside the ring is performed, with the performer diving through the ropes as opposed to over them. The technique appears riskier by going through the ropes.
Before Bret “The Hitman” Hart included the Topé Suicida in his arsenal in the 1990s, the weapon had already been widely used in Mexico for some years. New performers were motivated to employ the manoeuvre much more frequently as a result of the attention Hart provided it. However, the move’s effectiveness has undoubtedly been diminished by the regularity with which it is used nowadays.
Rob Van Dam was the best-kept secret in professional wrestling for many years. Only ardent ECW fans were aware of the jaw-dropping talent Van Dam possessed back then. Along with inventing one of the best Frog Splashes ever, Van Dam also created a brutal hardcore finisher known as the “Van Terminator.”
In order to execute the technique, one must first position an opponent on the bottom turnbuckle, then ascend to the top turnbuckle in the opposite corner, lunge across the ring, and kick a chair in their face. The manoeuvre was first used by Shane McMahon in the early 2000s, and while his execution is excellent, Van Dam’s is incomparable.
Shooting Star Press
Legendary Japanese entertainer Jushin “Thunder” Liger is credited with creating the Shooting Star Press. The move is executed when a wrestler leaps off the top rope, crosses his knees over his chest, and flips over the opponent, landing flat. The manoeuvre may have been created by Liger, but Billy Kidman of the WCW was responsible for making it well-known in the US.
The technique was employed by wrestlers like Marc Mero, Evan Bourne, and on occasion Shane McMahon in the WWE. At WrestleMania XIX, Brock Lesnar tried what is arguably the most famed or renowned Shooting Star Press. Unfortunately, Lesnar’s execution of the move wasn’t flawless, and he nearly hurt himself. Since the beginning of wrestling, the manoeuvre has grown increasingly common.
The Phoenix Splash is an excellent illustration of how the standard for high-flying techniques is continuously being pushed. The move is essentially a Shooting Star Press corkscrew. The Phoenix Splash begins off stepping backward on the top turnbuckle, similar to a moonsault, which is the only distinction between the two moves, other from the corkscrew component.
Japanese wrestler Hayabusa popularised the manoeuvre in the 1990s. High-flying artists like Rich Swan, Seth Rollins, and most notably PAC have made the move a fixture in more recent years. Phoenix Splash is still a sight to behold today, but back in the 1990s it was certainly something to behold.
Huracan Ramirez, a renowned luchador, created the Hurricanrana in Mexico. However, Scott Steiner, one of the top in-ring performers of the day, popularised the technique in the 1990s. Steiner transformed the standard Hurricanrana, which is really just a head scissors takedown with a pinning combo at the end, into an extremely potent finisher.
Steiner’s rendition had a much greater impact. Steiner’s version would drop an opponent on their head as opposed to their back. Steiner would frequently perform the move while leaning towards the top turnbuckle to increase its effectiveness. Today’s top performers frequently perform a Hurricanrana or Frankensteiner variant.
“Superfly” The best high-flier of his era was undoubtedly Jimmy Snuka. Snuka performed in New York, which was at one point the most significant region in pro wrestling. Snuka rose to prominence while working for Vince McMahon’s WWE. With an aerial game that was years ahead of its time, the Fijian phenomenon enthralled crowds.
The “Superfly Splash,” which Snuka termed his signature move, was his go-to attack. A man Snuka’s size flying over the top rope and crashing down with such impact was astonishing in the early 1980s, but the technique is utterly minor by today’s standards. When Snuka jumped off the top of a steel cage onto Don Muraco in October 1983, he immortalised both himself and the Superfly Splash.
Since the 1990s, pro wrestling in America has been greatly influenced by Lucha Libre. Ultimo Dragon was a particularly significant Lucha Libre legend. Many moves that are still frequently used in pro wrestling today were invented by Dragon. The Asai Moonsault was one such move that would catch on with some of professional wrestling’s biggest names. A springboard Moonsault off the second rope, usually to the outside of the ring, is the move, which is appropriately named after its creator.
The move had a significant impression on everyone watching in the 1990s. Throughout his career, Shawn Michaels would successfully use the move. The fact that many of today’s top stars, like Kenny Omega, still use the move as part of their offensive arsenal only serves to emphasise its significance.
In the 1990s, a fresh batch of performers improved their aerial skills and unveiled some astounding tricks. The 450 Splash was near the top of the list of moves. The action is rather obvious. An athlete splashes down on their opponent after jumping off the top rope and rotating 450 degrees.
The manoeuvre gained popularity in WCW courtesy to 2 Cold Scorpio, who would later employ it in ECW and WWE. Popular WCW Cruiserweight Juventud Guerrera also employed the 450 Splash. As a finisher, the move is still used by WWE stars like Ricochet and Mustafa Ali. Ali occasionally even employs an inverted variation of the manoeuvre.
Flying Elbow Drop
WWE surpassed all other wrestling promotions in the 1980s. The majority of the nation was thus introduced to WWE as their main source of professional wrestling. “Macho Man” Randy Savage established himself as one of WWE’s greatest and brightest stars. Fans would come to recognise Savage’s ground-breaking in-ring manoeuvres, which featured his well-known Flying Elbow Drop finisher.
The action was easy to execute yet quite powerful. Savage would descend from the top rope upon his opponent with enormous force, elbow first. Future stars like Shawn Michaels and CM Punk used the Elbow Drop as their signature move throughout their careers, and the technique went on to have a significant influence on them.