Top 10 Wrestling Moves Banned By WWE



Top 10 Wrestling Moves Banned By WWE

VOICE OVER: Ashley Bowman WRITTEN BY: George Pacheco
These wrestling moves caused a lot of trouble. For this list, we'll be ranking the moves or holds that, at one point or another, were prohibited by the company for use in their squared circle. Our countdown includes Vertebreaker, Poisoned Frankensteiner, Unprotected Chair Shots, and more!

Top 10 Wrestling Moves that Were Banned by WWE

Welcome to WatchMojo, and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 10 Wrestling Moves that Were Banned by WWE.

For this list, we’ll be ranking the moves or holds that, at one point or another, were prohibited by the company for use in their squared circle.

Wrestling rules can often be fluid, and these moves may have been phased in and out of favor, but they had to have been banned, at least for a time, from a WWE ring.

#10: Vertebreaker

One constant you will hear consistently throughout this list is the danger so many of these maneuvers pose to the head and neck. The Vertebreaker is absolutely one of those moves, a finisher conceived originally in Japan by Megumi Kudo before being popularized by Shane Helms in the United States. Truth be told, the Vertebreaker looks great: a reverse, double-underhook piledriver with a huge “wow factor.” However, it requires the user to possess immense strength and control, while at the same time leaving the opponent exposed to severe injury. Although Seth Rollins did bust the Vertebreaker out at a live WWE event in 2016, it was, at least for a time, forbidden from use, out of an abundance of caution.

#9: Shooting Star Press

We mentioned at the jump about how moves that were formerly banned do occasionally make their way back into the squared circle. So why was the Shooting Star Press brought back? Well, it looks damn cool for one: a scintillating back flip that demands maximum air while delivering an equally max level pop from the audience. It was briefly banned by the WWE after Brock Lesnar famously botched his attempt during his match against Kurt Angle at Wrestlemania 19. Lesnar failed to get the proper elevation, and fell right on his head and neck. It was a horrifying sight, and offered proof how the Shooting Star Press should probably best be left to the lighter and more agile high-flying specialists.

#8: Muscle Buster

There’s a bit of back-and-forth regarding whether or not Samoa Joe’s finisher, the Muscle Buster, was ever officially banned by the WWE. The move was modified by Samoa Joe, taking his opponent from the corner turnbuckle in a tucked in position, and dropping them backwards onto their shoulders. This change tragically didn’t stop the damage to Tyson Kidd’s neck during a match with Joe on June 1st, 2015. Kidd suffered massive injuries, and was forced to retire, while wrestling journalist Dave Meltzer proclaimed on his “Wrestling Observer” Newsletter that WWE had banned the move as a result of the incident. However, Joe would later be quoted in an interview saying that he was “not quite ready to pull it out of my arsenal just yet.”

#7: Buckle Bomb

There’s a small list of fantastic performers who have sadly been laid low by the dangerous maneuver known as the Buckle Bomb. The physics are relatively simple: a lift and toss into the corner turnbuckle. However, the impact is taken straight onto the neck and shoulders, and botched deliveries have resulted in major injuries to Finn Balor and Kairi Sane. Even the icon Sting was forced into a semi-retirement after taking the move during a match with Seth Rollins. We’ll get back to Seth later, but the WWE officially put the Buckle Bomb on ice after Nia Jax botched her attempt during a match with the aforementioned Kairi Sane.

#6: Poisoned Frankensteiner

We know what you might be thinking: “well, with a name like ‘Poisoned Frankensteiner,’ it’s no wonder this move is banned.” But that’s only half of the story. The original Frankensteiner was developed by Scott Steiner in the late eighties, a head-scissor backflip that ends with the opponent flat on the back. The “Poisoned” modified comes from inverting the move, grabbing the opponent while they’re facing away from the ring. There’s more left up to chance with this version, as it not only drops the opponent face-first, but it also gives them less control during their descent. The move was banned by WWE as a result, although it was busted out by Bayley during her match with Sasha Banks at NXT Takeover Brooklyn in 2015.

#5: Curb Stomp

We bring it back to Seth Rollins again, this time with a finisher that seems to vacillate between being banned and allowed, depending on the circumstances. It’s called the Curb Stomp, and it’s exactly what you think it is: a running stomp on the opponent’s head that drives it into the mat. It’s one of those finishers that looks great, looks painful and can be hit out of nowhere at pretty much any time. The problem is right there on the tin, however; it directly affects the head, and can spell disaster if performed improperly. Rollins replaced the Curb Stomp for a time with the Ripcord Knee Strike and even the Pedigree, before eventually returning the Stomp to his arsenal on a selective basis.

#4: Brainbuster

Our next entry is a bit strange, because the Brainbuster was commonplace throughout much of the pro wrestling landscape, dating all the way back to the 1950s. Killer Karl Kox invented the move during this era, and it wasn’t long before other wrestlers would bring the Brainbuster into their arsenal: a vertical suplex that ends with the opponent’s head and shoulders being driven into the mat. The problem is, you guessed it, the lack of protection offered to these very sensitive areas. WWE banned the move for a time as a result of this, despite the relatively safe track record of wrestlers taking the Brainbuster. One notable exception to this, however, was a nasty botch by Goldberg against The Undertaker at “Super Showdown” 2019.

#3: Diving Head Butt

Sometimes, the simplest moves can be the most dangerous. Case in point? The Diving Headbutt, a move popularized by Harley Race before being adopted by everyone from Chris Benoit and The Dynamite Kid to Daniel Bryan. The problem stems from the consistent damage sustained by the user during delivery. After all, it requires the wrestler to basically throw caution to the wind and dive, head-first, into their opponent without any protection. Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy is a real thing, and resulted in the WWE nixing the move, thanks to its nasty reputation. The company has occasionally allowed wrestlers like Lars Sullivan and Bryan to bust out the diving headbutt, but you don’t see it very often.

#2: Unprotected Chair Shots

Speaking of CTE, our next entry isn’t necessarily a move, per se, but it was an intrinsic aspect of the wrestling injury, as closely associated with the artform as a side headlock. And chair shots do still occur. All the time, in fact. The main difference is we don’t see un-protected chair shots anymore. Instead, these blows with steel chairs usually either target the back or some other part of the body. One need only look to the “I Quit” match between The Rock and Mankind from the 1999 “Royal Rumble” to see evidence of how fast ‘n loose WWE used to play with the Unprotected Chair Shot. It’s so traumatic that footage of the affair was even featured in the iconic pro wrestling documentary, “Beyond the Mat.”

#1: Piledriver

It’s a move so closely associated with pro wrestling, that you may not even notice that you don’t see it in WWE anymore. It’s the basic-but-devastating Piledriver: a move that’s served as the finisher for everyone from Harley Race (again) to Jerry “The King” Lawler. The execution is simple, taking the opponent’s head between one’s legs before picking them up vertically and dropping them on their head. However, it’s also as dangerous as it sounds, with “Stone Cold” Steve Austin even suffering a broken neck after taking a botched Sit-out Reverse Piledriver from Owen Hart. Only Kane and The Undertaker seemed exempt from the Piledriver ban, although CM Punk and John Cena famously called an audible during a match, busting out the move, reportedly without permission.