As Hank Scorpio once said, “it’s the little things that make up life,” and you should never argue against the leader of Globex Corporation. The smallest of details can make the biggest differences, and that’s certainly true when it comes to wrestling. For years, wrestlers have been incorporating their own unique little quirks into everything they do to separate themselves from the rest. An extra ‘little touch’ can be added to anything: a move, an entrance, a hold, even a pinfall. The simplest of additions turn the forgettable into the memorable, but what are the greatest small details in sports entertainment? Well, fear not, I’ve got you covered. Here are the Top 15 Best Little Touches in Wrestling.
For this list, I’ve ranked the best little touches I could think of, and because they are so ‘little’, and because they are rather hard to categorise, there may be plenty of extra details that wrestlers have utilised over the years that I’ve missed off this list, so please tweet me your suggestions @HairyWrestling. Also, these ‘little touches’ can belong to a single wrestler, or can be used by many. With that being said, let’s get on with the list.
- Cocky Pins
For an arrogant heel, cocky pins serve as a method of showing how little respect they have for their opponent as well as how much of a high opinion they have for themselves, whereas for a dominant heel, a simple foot or a single finger on their destroyed opponent’s carcass shows exactly how destructive and powerful they really are. Although they rarely get the three-count, cocky pins are a simple little touch to that go a long way to building-up a confident villain.
- Holding the Mic
It’s amazing how something as simple as holding a microphone slightly differently to everyone else can make such a difference. Personally, whenever the likes of The Miz or Dean Ambrose cut a promo, and their grip on the WWE mic isn’t the same as how 99% of talents hold the stick, it makes me pay more attention to what they say. It is the most subtle difference, yet it instantly differentiates them and says something about their personality, whether that’s Damien Sandow playing to his intellectual savour character by holding it like a wine glass, or Dean Ambrose grasping at it like a madman with him being a lunatic and what not. Entry #14 on this list is a perfect example of how the smallest detail, possibly overlooked by many, can make a great impact.
- A Blissful Way to Hold a Title
Many superstars over the years have tried holding or wearing their title belts in their own unique ways just to add their little touch to being a champion, however for the most part, I’m a bit of a traditionalist when it comes to championships. I want to see a belt treated with respect, and be worn with pride (unless they’re purposely disrespecting the strap like Tetsuya Naito does), so when Ziggler wore the heavyweight title backwards whilst grinding his hips, or the likes of Jeff Hardy and Chris Sabin wore it around their necks, it did not appeal to me. However, when Alexa Bliss holds her women’s championship next to the back of her head, not only does it give her that little idiosyncratic feel to her championship identity, it also shows her pride in holding that strap. The title being directly next to her smug, smiling face is a display of how much she loves holding that belt, whilst simultaneously reminding audiences that she is the champion and instantly makes anyone watching associate her with that title. Simply bliss.
- Vampire Whips
Nobody really cares how well someone does an Irish Whip. It’s the one move every single wrestler in the world does, but only one wrestler ever made this extremely common maneuver memorable for me. When Gangrel reserved a whip into his own, he leapt into the air and spun with such ferocity, it made the frankly ridiculous Irish Whip look believable. This little touch adds so much velocity and force to it that his opponents have no choice but to be sent careening into the ropes.
- The People’s Stomp
When you think about it, shaking your leg before stomping someone to add ‘impact’ is a bit fucking ridiculous, but so is pretty much everything about wrestling, and that’s why we love it. One man who was absolutely full of this weirdness was The Rock. He talked about ‘pie’ way too much, his eyebrow was more over than 90% of the entire roster, and nobody questioned it when his leg seemed to be possessed by Elvis every time he hit a stomp. It served no purpose other than to be another of Rock’s strange mannerisms that made him one of the most unique and iconic stars in WWE history.
- RVD Ascending the Ropes
Rob Van Dam is still to this day an absolute freak of athleticism. When I first saw a man with a strange haircut and an LSD-inspired singlet ascend to the top rope like a monkey in one swift movement, my tiny little mini mark mind was well and truly blown. RVD had so many unique movements and mannerisms within the ring that there really was nobody else like him, and his incredible leap to the top turnbuckle was just a small part of what made him so special.
- Elbow to the Face During a Pin
There’s not all too much you can do to improve a pinfall. After all, the pinfall itself isn’t exactly the most important part, it’s what precedes the cover that really determines how effective it is. However, by just adding an easy little touch, it can add so much more aggression and grittiness to something so simple. When a heel presses their elbow into their foe’s face during a pin, it makes them seem so much more competitive and intent on causing harm. By adding pain to something which isn’t intend to cause any is the perfect little touch to make any grappler look dangerous and aggressive.
- A Demonic Title Entrance
Finn Balor’s demon persona is one of the most genius things in wrestling today. The complete contrast between the leader of Balor Club and the Demon King is incredible, right down to the smallest of details. His entrance, his appearance, his mannerisms, his movesets, everything is distinct between the two personalities, and it makes for wonderful viewing. During his time as NXT champion, regular Finn would walk out with the golden strap around his waist, hidden by his lovely leather jacket, whereas when The Demon crawled out in front of a crowd, his belt would already be there waiting on stage for him. Demon Finn would crawl slowly towards his prize, before quickly reaching out to grasp the title in his claws like an animal catching his prey. If you had never seen The Demon before, this simple little touch showed you instantly just how different he was to the Finn you were used to on NXT TV.
- Body Scissors/Strikes During Submissions
Whenever a submission is locked in, I always appreciate it when the user adds a little extra something to their hold to make it even more painful. By wrapping their legs around a foe’s limb or body, or striking at the focused body part in order to weaken it mid-hold, it not only makes the move look even more deadly and thus more likely to finish the match, it also makes the user appear to be much more proficient and knowledgeable in the art of submission. Simply put, there is no reason to not add these little touches when trying to make your opponent tap.
- Austin Aries’ Tope Atomico
By simply adding a jump before hitting this springboard move, Austin Aries adds so much more flare and impact to this already beautiful move. Normally when hitting a Tope Atomico, the user pulls their body over the top rope to land with their back rolling onto their target’s sternum, however when Aries executes it, he leaps into the air as he holds onto the top rope, before leaning back and launches himself over and onto his foe. I never get tired of watching the former TNA World Champion hit this move, and it’s all down to his own unique little touch that makes it so fantastic to witness.
- The WCW Dragon
Goldberg was a legit badass. He would walk out, destroy whoever was inside that ring in quick succession, and then walk straight back out. It’s no surprise that the former NFL player became one of the most popular wrestlers in the world in the late 90s as there was no way any fan at the time, young or old, could not love such a destructive force inside the squared circle. And if Goldberg’s in-ring antics didn’t show off just how intimidating and ridiculously tough he was, one of the little touches during his entrance certainly did. Goldberg would walk through a barrage of sparks without even a flinch, then would emerge from a shroud of smoke, and to top it off, that same smoke would billow out from his face like a big, bald fire-breathing dragon. This little touch added to Goldberg’s intimidating persona, and seeing him breathe out that smoke once again in late 2016 was a huge rush of nostalgia for me, and thousands of wrestling fans around the world.
- Wiping Boots
Old school mentality requires all who enter the squared circle to respect every single inch of it. Wiping your boots on the apron before stepping between the ropes is the perfect symbol of this respect, so I really appreciate whenever this tradition is carried on in modern wrestling. My personal favourite user of this long-established little touch was William Regal who would snarl his face and stare into the audience as he wiped his boots in the most exaggerated way possible in order to both pay respects to the ring, and to highlight his snooty, stuck-up, upper-class persona. Now I’m not saying that all grapplers should be required to do this, yet when I see a modern star clean off their boots before stepping onto the mat, it always puts a little smile on my face.
- Five-Star Selling
Rob Van Dam’s Five Star Frog Splash was a move packed full of impact. RVD would launch himself into the air as high as he possibly could, before crashing down onto his foe’s body in painful fashion. However, the real trick into making this move seem like the most deadly aerial finisher of all time is a little touch employed by Van Dam himself. Whenever he hit his signature move, Rob would never immediately go for the pin. Instead, he would roll off his opponent and clutch at his ribs to show that the move was impactful, that it practically destroyed both his opponent and his own body in the process. This one added extra made RVD seem like that much more of a risk-taker, and made his finisher that much more destructive.
- Wyatt’s Kiss of Death
Sister Abigail is one of the best finishers in WWE today – destructive, visually appealing, can be done quickly or drawn-out for effect, fits Wyatt’s character perfectly, and hugely impactful. When Wyatt decides to end his opponent’s misery and put them away with the final blow, he lays one last kiss of death on their forehead as he holds them in his grasps, before striking with all his might. Wyatt’s final kiss is the perfect example of a tiny little topping that transforms a great move into something iconic.
Lesnar Stalking the Ring – When Lesnar paces around the ring, he looks hungry for destruction, as if he is stalking his prey, ready to strike.
When People Actually use the Tag Rope – I’m just a bit of a mark for people respecting the rules, simple as that.
So Many Things that Johnny Gargano Does – Johnny Gargano really is one of the best wrestlers in the world, and he applies so many different added extras to his matches that it’s extremely difficult to pick out just one. Hopefully now he has separated from his former DIY partner Tommaso Ciampa, Gargano will be able to show the world all of his quirks that make him so incredible.
“Shhhhh!” Before a Slap – A good slap deserves complete silence for maximum impact, and us marks will always happily oblige when a wrestler tells us to, “Shhhh!”
- Deadman’s Eyes
When the legendary Undertaker slowly made his way down to the ring, his face was shrouded underneath the dark, atmospheric lighting, and the brim of his trademark hat. When the houselights went up, and the hat was lowered from atop Taker’s head, his face was unveiled, and the millions watching around the world saw the Deadman’s eyes, two blistering white orbs rolled into the back of his head. Every time I saw those eyes, my whole body would fill with excitement, as I knew I was about to witness something special. This one fine detail was the final finishing feature to the greatest entrance of all time, and has got to be the most iconic little extra touch in wrestling history.
What are your favourite little touches in wrestling? Let me know in a comment below or on Twitter @HairyWrestling.