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Iconic Pro Wrestling Submission Moves: Who Did Them Best?

Pro wrestling matches aren’t just won by pinfalls. Another way to win a bout – and maybe even a championship – is via submission, applying pressure to part of an opponent’s body to make them either tap out, verbally submit, or even pass out. Even in the entertainment-focused WWE, fans have seen every kind of submission, including some of the most iconic.



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Submission moves break down wrestlers’ bodies with technical precision and these are the most complicated ones in wrestling history.

Rather than simply rattle off the most iconic submissions, let’s go one step further and put forward a wrestler who did the move best. Some of the wrestlers below innovated the move, while others simply proved to be the best practitioners.


Bryan Danielson Is A Master Of The LeBell Lock

The Move Is More Famously Known As The YES! Lock

Originator

Other Wrestlers Known For Using The LeBell Lock

Gene LeBell

Brie Bella, Edge


Innovated by pro wrestler, stuntman, and MMA pioneer “Judo” Gene LeBell, the LeBell Lock is a cool submission that involves not only a crossface hold, but also trapping the opponent’s arm between the user’s legs. Of course, most fans know the move as the YES! Lock thanks to Bryan Danielson in his WWE days as Daniel Bryan, and he’s arguably one of its best practitioners. Hailed as one of the best submission specialists in the world, Danielson is adept at making pretty much any hold look amazing thanks to his grip and intensity, especially when it’s one that he uses as his finisher like the LeBell Lock.

Kurt Angle Took The Ankle Lock To New Heights

Angle Had Two Versions On The Move

Originator

Other Wrestlers Known For Using The Ankle Lock

Ken Shamrock

Jack Swagger, Josh Alexander, Chad Gable, Jason Jordan


For longtime wrestling fans, their first exposure to the Ankle Lock was via Ken Shamrock, MMA fighter and pro wrestler who performed for WWE during the Attitude Era. When he left WWE, however, newcomer Kurt Angle adopted the leg finisher as its own, making it iconic thanks to his illustrious in-ring career. While the move “just” involves grabbing a guy’s foot, Angle always made it look insanely painful thanks to his overall performance. On top of that, Angle had a nasty variation where he would grapevine his opponent’s leg at the same time.

Sleeper Hold Was Something Special In Roddy Piper’s Hands

The Move Is So Old That It’s A Cliche

Originator

Other Wrestlers Known For Using The Sleeper Hold

Ed Lewis

Dolph Ziggler, Brutus Beefcake, Roddy Piper, Triple H


With one of its earliest practitioners – Ed “Strangler” Lewis – using the move way back during the early 20th Century, the Sleeper Hold is one of the longest tenured submissions in the sport, so much that it’s often taken for granted and considered a move that doesn’t usually win matches. That said, it’s still used to this day, though it was best used by a wrestler whose peak was in the 1980s.

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An amazing heel known for his promo ability, Rowdy Roddy Piper was no slouch in the ring, either, and relied on a Sleeper Hold as his finisher that almost always looked like it could legitimately make his opponents pass out.

Bobby Lashley’s Hurt Lock Is The Best Full Nelson

The Full Nelson Is Another Old Classic


Originator

Other Wrestlers Known For Using The Full Nelson

Ruffy Silverstein

Chris Masters, Hercules, Billy Jack Haynes, Superstar Billy Graham

While Chris Masters made it a whole thing with his Master Lock Challenge, the best use of the Full Nelson came from one of Masters’ Ruthless Aggression contemporaries: Bobby Lashley. After returning to WWE in the late 2010s, Lashley began using a Full Nelson as a submission, calling it the Master Lock. Not only did Lashley’s physique make the move seem even more impressive, but his tendency to jerk around opponents in the hold made it look all the more painful.

The Boston Crab Was Best Utilized By Rick Martel

The Crab Is A Legendary Submission


Other Names

Other Wrestlers Known For Using The Boston Crab

Walls Of Jericho, Quebec Crab

Chris Jericho, Nobuhiko Takada, Pedro Morales

Modern fans know the Boston Crab best when employed by Chris Jericho as his signature Walls of Jericho, but the legend of many nicknames may not have the best Crab in the history of the sport. That honor actually belongs to another Canadian submission specialist: Rick Martel. A versatile technician, the terminally underrated Martel used the Boston Crab as his signature finisher throughout his career in multiple promotions – not just WWE, but also AWA and WCW. As a technical wrestler, Martel knew how to make a move as cliche as the Boston Crab look tremendously effective.

Jushin Thunder Liger Has The Best Surfboard

This Move Is Also Known As The Romero Special


Originator

Other Wrestlers Known For Using The Surfboard

Rito Romero

Bryan Danielson, Natalya

A highly influential figure in junior heavyweight wrestling, Jushin Thunder Liger is best known for his high-flying maneuvers like the Shooting Star Press – a move he innovated. Despite his reputation, the former J-Crown Champion also has an amazing submission move in his repertoire, the Surfboard, otherwise known as the Romero Special. Developed by lucha libre legend Rito Romero, Liger kept the move alive throughout the 1990s, using it on a wide variety of talent throughout his career including Black Tiger, Brian Pillman, and even Cody Rhodes.

The Figure Four Leg Lock Belongs To Ric Flair

The Nature Boy Popularized The Move For Many Fans


Originator

Other Wrestlers Known For Using The Figure Four

Buddy Rogers

The Miz, Tito Santana, Dusty Rhodes, Charlotte Flair, Bret Hart

An icon of 1980s and 1990s wrestling, Ric Flair borrowed two things from his predecessor, Buddy Rogers – the “Nature Boy” moniker and Rogers’ signature maneuver, the Figure Four Leglock. And many fans would argue that Flair did the move best.

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The most dangerous move in Flair’s repertoire, “The Nature Boy” employed it beautifully in matches, not only increasing the drama, but also doing an amazing job reacting in pain when it was inevitably reversed on him.

Camel Clutch Is Best Used By Miro

Miro’s Version Is Currently Known As Game Over


Originator

Other Wrestlers Known For Using The Camel Clutch

Gory Guerrero

The Iron Sheik, Miro, Muhammad Hassan, Scott Steiner

Introduced to the wrestling world by Guerrero family patriarch Gory Guerrero, the Camel Clutch is a simple move where a wrestler sits on their opponents back, grabs their head, and wrenches back. Over the years – mostly thanks to the Iron Sheik – it’s become a favorite of foreign heels, including AEW star Miro. Dubbing his version Game Over, the Bulgarian-born wrestler has the size and intensity to make the move look incredibly painful, and numerous wrestlers have (in kayfabe) passed out in the hold.

Rear Naked Choke Belongs To Samoa Joe

Joe Has Won Countless Matches With It


Other Names

Other Wrestlers Known For Using The Rear Naked Choke

Coquina Clutch

Shayna Baszler, Minoru Suzuki

A move so old that nobody knows who originated it, the Rear Naked Choke – a choke from behind, usually with the legs locked around the torso – is a particularly effective submission in wrestling, and one favored by many a shooter. While Samoa Joe isn’t an MMA fighter himself, he’s taken a lot of influence from legitimate combat sports, having adopted the Rear Naked Choke as a finisher. A fierce competitor with countless classics to his name, Joe isn’t just adept at performing the maneuver, but is also great at employing it as a reversal.

Bret Hart Had The Best Sharpshooter

There Was Some Stiff Competition With This One


Originator

Other Wrestlers Known For Using The Sharpshooter

Riki Choshu

Sting, The Rock, Natalya, Tyson Kidd, Claudio Castagnoli

Choosing the best Sharpshooter in wrestling is a whole can of worms. For some, Sting and his Scorpion Deathlock is the version to beat, while purists will urge fans to not ignore the innovator of the hold, Japanese legend Riki Choshu. However, many would argue that all-time great technician Bret “The Hitman” Hart did it best. Adopting the move when he became a singles star, Hart does a standout job of locking in the move tight so that it always looked nice and painful.

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