What A Manuever!

Hey Scott,

Multi-part question, but mostly related, so please bear with me:

I always wondered what the process was for a wrestler getting their finishing move. It's hardly debatable now to say how dull and generic the WWE product is now. One of those things I think that is a big part of that is the signature moves of the wrestlers. When someone is signed or brought up from development, are they assigned a move(s) randomly based on their character or build? There always seems to be SOMEONE using a variant of the Flatliner or the Overdrive or some other generic finish that bounces between wrestlers. Are the wrestlers allowed to suggest moves for themselves that they like or think they can do well, or is it a committee decision thing?

In the past, lots of the legends from even a decade ago had their signature move, but a lot of the time, it wasn't the first move they used as their finish. HBK used the Backdrop Suplex and the Piledriver with the Superkick as a signature move, before the Superkick became the one getting the bigger reaction. Suddenly, it goes from a stun/match reversal move into a knockout finish. Same goes for Austin and the StunGun to Stunner. The Rock tried out the CrossBody and ShoulderBreaker before hitting on the Rock Bottom.

This strikes me most in a couple current wrestlers: Ziggler & Ryback…Ziggler is awesome, but between the Sleeper & Zig Zag, he hasn't been hit with any real good finishes. He does the FameAsser, but thats another example of recycling someone else's finish. I always thought a good finisher for Ziggler would be the Lightning Spiral; still a quick/sudden move, but a lot more devastating and still possible to do without injuring the other guy. Ryback suffers from a great set-up/build on his finish & a super anti-climatic end with a simple fallaway slam. If the hookup and marching around led to an actual Muscle Buster or something, maybe I'd dig it more. Hell, his Backpack Stunner from his Sheffield days was better than the Shellshock is.

Sorry for the rambling, but thoughts?

The transition from backdrop suplex to superkick for Shawn Michaels is actually a very interesting one, because generally once someone has their finish established like Shawn did they rarely let them change it around.  Keep in mind that the product is very merch-driven, and for example THQ wants everyone to have easily identified finishers fo the videogame, I'd imagine.  Plus they love having stuff to trademark.  I've noticed that Ziggler has actually won a couple of major matches now with that superkick, so there might be something there.  Generally in the modern era, though, I've noticed that guys will get their finisher early on and then stick with it FOREVER, no matter how lame.  Back in the days of jobbers you could try stuff out from week to week and see what gets over the most.  Ted Dibiase used to rotate finishers constantly before settling on the Million Dollar Dream, for instance.  Nowadays you need something that's gonna beat Zack Ryder in 90 seconds and make fans pop for it without changing the channel, so everyone does the Test Drive or Flatliner, as you noted.  With Ryback, it is what it is.  He beats guys with it and it's over, so whatever.