Here's how wrestlers celebrate their lineage.
If you watch professional wrestling long enough, you'll notice little allusions to prior events and prior wrestlers. And one of the coolest ways to call back to wrestling's illustrious history is to perform an older wrestler's signature move.
Here are 10 WWE wrestling moves with historical, familial weight. They've been passed down through families, from father to son, father to daughter, and uncle to nephew. They show love to the prior generation. They communicate the influence older wrestlers have on the young guns. And they elevate younger wrestlers, positioning them as inheritors of legacies bigger than themselves.
Which ones are your favorite? Let us know in the comments.
The Samoan Drop
When watching WWE, you'll notice a disportionate number of Samoan performers. For that, you can thank the massive Anoa'i family, who have been a key part of WWE history for close to 40 years. Among the most famous Anoa'i family members are the late Yokozuna, Rikishi, the late Umaga, and The Rock (through blood brother status). Current members of the family in WWE include Roman Reigns, Jimmy and Jey Uso, and Nia Jax, who is The Rock's cousin.
The Anoa'is' signature move is the aptly nicknamed Samoan drop. The Rock's grandfather, "High Chief" Peter Maivia, used it. Roman Reigns' father Sika (who formed the Wild Samoans with his brother Afa) used it. And everyone from the current generation uses it as a signature move. Jax even uses it as a finisher.
The best Samoan drop is Umaga's, hands down. He does more than just drop his opponent. He slams him, with ill intent, using every bit of force that he can muster.
The Iron Claw
Back in the old days, before Vince McMahon drove all the territories out of business, the Von Erichs were the golden boys of Texas, with gleaming hair, chiseled physiques, and freshly scrubbed appeal. The patriarch of the family, Fritz Von Erich, had six sons; five of them became wrestlers. And their calling card was their father's innovative Iron Claw. They reached out, grabbed their opponents' foreheads with their massive hands, and squeezed as hard as they could.
In the late 80's and early 90's, Kerry Von Erich wrestled in WWE as the Texas Tornado. And at SummerSlam 1990, he applied his father's Iron Claw to win the Intercontinental Championship from Mr. Perfect.
The years have not been kind to the Von Erichs. Five out of the six sons are dead—three from suicide, the others from illness. But surviving son Kevin Von Erich still performs the Iron Claw at special appearances. And Kerry's daughter Lacey Von Erich, who wrestled in TNA, also used the move before retiring in 2010.
The Million Dollar Dream
Before Vince McMahon became an on-screen character, he channeled his "evil billionaire" persona through Ted DiBiase, the Million Dollar Man. Ted tipped with hundred dollar bills. He challenged a young child to dribble a basketball and kicked it away before the last bounce. He tried to buy his way to the WWE Championship.
His finisher was the cobra clutch, which he called the Million Dollar Dream hold. It was lights out once he locked this on, and he would finish the humiliation by stuffing a hundred dollar bill into his unconscious opponent's mouth
When his son, Ted DiBiase Jr., made his WWE debut in 2008, he picked up his father's gimmick and also adopted his father's finishing move. But after a while, he started putting his own twist on the move. He first debuted the Dream Crusher, which incorporated a Russian leg sweep into the cobra clutch. But the best iteration of the move was Dream Street, which transitioned from the cobra clutch into a slam that resembled the Rock Bottom. Rather than copying his father directly, young Ted asserted, through his moveset, that he wanted to be his own man.
The Gory Special
The Guerrero family, like the Anoaʻi family, is wrestling royalty. Eddie Guerrero is the most known to current fans, but his father, Gory Guerrero, was a true innovator of his craft. He's given credit for innovating two moves: the camel clutch and the self-named Gory special, which stretches and submits an opponent, back-to-back.
When Gory's grandson, Chavo Guerrero Jr., arrived in WWE, he used a modified version of the Gory special as his finisher. He incorporated a painful-looking facebuster at the very end and called it the Gory bomb. Again, it was a nod to his famous wrestling heritage and an assertion of his individual identity.
The Calgary-based Hart family is best known for their technically proficient, snug style—a product of training in patriarch Stu Hart's basement, also known in wrestling circles as The Dungeon. Graduates of The Dungeon include Chris Jericho, Edge, Lance Storm, Chris Benoit, and Mark Henry. And of course, prodigal sons Bret Hart and the late Owen Hart were two of Stu's most famous pupils.
Stu was a big proponent of stretching—of putting his pupils in submission holds, for real, in order to teach them respect and endurance. But the one thing he did not teach his sons was their most famous move, the Sharpshooter submission hold.
It was actually taught to Bret by Cuban wrestler Konnan. But on WWE television, it was incorrectly attributed to Stu, perhaps because WWE Creative wanted to build up the family's mystique. To this day, however, the move is still synonymous with the Hart family. Bret and Owen's niece Natalya, the current SmackDown women's champion, uses it as her finisher.
The Power Slam
A member of the Hart family by marriage, the late British Bulldog Davey Boy Smith was a graduate of the Hart family's Dungeon and a powerhouse in the ring. His finisher was the power slam. He would take a running start from the turnbuckle in order to get maximum impact.
In 2007, Davey's son, DH Smith, debuted in WWE. Like his father, he was massive, and like his father, he also used a running power slam. Unfortunately, however, his mic skills didn't hold up to his ringwork. After his Hart Dynasty stable (with Tyson Kidd and Natalya) broke up, Smith left WWE. He still wrestles, most recently with New Japan Pro Wrestling, where he won the IWGP tag team championship this September.
Mr. Perfect was aptly named. He never got further than the mid-card, but the man was a technical wizard in the ring. And his finisher, the Perfect-plex, was a thing of beauty. It was a bridging cradle suplex, and it was a perfect heel finisher; it had the kind of showmanship that fit Perfect's cocky persona.
His son, Curtis Axel, also used the Perfect-plex for some time. But it didn't have the same impact as his father's. Back in the old days, almost no one would kick out of the move (Bret Hart at SummerSlam 1991 was a notable exception). Nowadays, the bridging cradle suplex, like the once-devastating DDT, has become a regular move in many wrestlers' arsenals.
Axel still performs for WWE, where he's currently a member of the Miztourage stable. Hopefully, he's got one more Intercontinental title run in him before he hangs up his boots.
The Three Amigos
When Eddie Guerrero died suddenly in 2005, there was an outpouring of grief and tributes. He was one of WWE's most beloved superstars, both by fans and in the locker room. And all the wrestlers had their own way of paying tribute. They wore T-shirts that said "I'm your papi!" They did his signature chest pound. They shared stories about his life.
But the best tribute was by Eddie's nephew, Chavo Guerrero, years after Eddie's death. It was during the 2011 Royal Rumble, and after entering the ring, Chavo performed Eddie's Three Amigos suplexes on everyone within reach. He finished his tribute by pointing to the sky and performing Eddie's trademark shoulder shake. The crowd gave him a standing ovation, and rightly so.
The Superfly Splash
Towards the end of his life, Jimmy Snuka was submerged in a cloud of suspicion, stemming from a murder accusation. But in his heyday—the early- to mid-80's—he was a high-flying superstar. His Superfly Splash, a caution-to-the-wind, open-armed dive off the top-rope, was iconic, particularly when he dove onto Don Muraco from the top of a steel cage in 1983.
His daughter Tamina, currently on the SmackDown brand, performs a version of her father's finisher. But instead of diving with her arms up, palms out, she dives with her arms back and fingers splayed behind her to emphasize her forward movement.
The Figure-Four Leglock
What more can be said about Ric Flair? He's the Nature Boy. Space Mountain. The Dirtiest Player in the Game. A limousine riding, jet flying, wheeling and dealing, kiss stealing, son of a gun. And he's quite possibly the greatest sports entertainer to ever live.
When his daughter, Charlotte Flair, came up through NXT, she staked a claim on the women's division, both as the daughter of a Hall of Famer and as one of the most athletic women on the roster.
There's a difference between an average figure-four leglock and a Ric Flair figure-four leglock, which comes complete with theatricals, hip swivels, and "WOOO"s. Charlotte must have known that she couldn't top that show. So instead, she modified her father's finisher to suit her. Charlotte refers to her figure-four leglock as a figure-eight leglock. She performs a bridge stretch after locking in the hold—a nod to her competitive gymnastics background.
It's nothing if not effective; Charlotte is now is a six-time champion, which means she's only ten more title reigns away from her legendary dad.