Professional wrestling aerial techniques
Aerial techniques are maneuvers, using the ring and its posts and ropes as aids, used in professional wrestling to show off the speed and agility of a wrestler. These moves are mainly done by smaller, quicker wrestlers who are unable to do most of the power moves. There is a wide variety of aerial techniques in professional wrestling. Due to injuries caused by these high risk moves, some promotions have banned the use of some maneuvers.
Moves are listed under general categories whenever possible.
- 1 Arm twist ropewalk chop
- 2 Diamond Dust
- 3 Diving back elbow drop
- 4 Diving bulldog
- 5 Diving crossbody
- 6 Diving DDT
- 7 Diving double axe handle
- 8 Diving elbow drop
- 9 Diving fist drop
- 10 Diving headbutt
- 11 Diving hurricanrana
- 12 Diving knee drop
- 13 Diving leg drop
- 14 Diving shoulder block
- 15 Diving stomp
- 16 Flying calf kick
- 17 Flying clothesline
- 18 Flying neckbreaker
- 19 Flying spinning heel kick
- 20 Flying thrust kick
- 21 Frankensteiner
- 22 Moonsault
- 23 Senton
- 24 Shiranui
- 25 Shooting star
- 26 Splash
- 27 Sunset flip
- 28 Transition moves
- 29 Modifiers
- 30 See also
- 31 Notes
Arm twist ropewalk chop
The wrestler takes hold of one of the opponent's wrists and twists that arm in an arm wrench. The wrestler then climbs up the corner turnbuckles and walks on the top rope, before jumping down and striking the opponent's chest, back or the back of their neck. This is often referred to as Old School, the name used by The Undertaker, who popularized it.
This move is a forward somersault three-quarter facelock bulldog/jawbreaker performed by an attacking wrestler from an aerial platform. This move involves the attacking wrestler standing on a platform (i.e. the second turnbuckle, or sitting on the top turnbuckle) and facing the back of a standing opponent while applying an inverted facelock. From this position the attacking wrestler leaps forward, somersaulting, to roll the inverted facelock into a three-quarter facelock, as they fall the wrestler drops to a seated position and driving the opponent's jaw into their shoulder for a jawbreaker, or, the wrestler falls back-first forcing the opponent's face into the mat/shoulder for the bulldog. This move was innovated by Masato Tanaka
Diving back elbow drop
This variation of a diving elbow drop sees a wrestler stand facing away from a standing or supine opponent and in an elevated position. The wrestler then dives backwards and strikes the opponent in the shoulder, chest or head with the back of their elbow.
This is a bulldog performed by a wrestler from an elevated position. A bulldog is a move in which the wrestler applies a headlock or face lock to his opponent and leaps forward, so that the wrestler lands on his back or in a sitting position, driving the opponent’s face into the mat. A standard diving bulldog sees a wrestler jump down on an opponent from an elevated platform and apply any version of a headlock to take down the opponent to the mat.
This move is used by many, usually light, wrestlers and is often known as a diving crossbody, or a cross body block which is the elevated version of the crossbody maneuver. To perform the move, a wrestler jumps from an elevated position (usually the top turnbuckle) onto an opponent, landing horizontally across the opponent's torso, forcing them to the mat and usually resulting in a pinfall attempt. The diving crossbody is popularized by Ricky "The Dragon" Steamboat, along with the diving brain chop. There is also a reversed version, named reverse crossbody, where the wrestler faces away from the prone opponent before executing the crossbody maneuver.
The wrestler stands in an elevated position (usually the top rope) and faces the standing or bent-over opponent. As they dive, the wrestler wraps their near arm around the opponent's head in a front facelock and swings themselves backwards in midair, landing back-first and simultaneously forcing the opponent's head into the mat.
Diving double axe handle
Also known as a diving axe handle, diving double axe handle smash or diving double sledge, this is accomplished by jumping from the top turnbuckle to the mat or floor and striking the opponent with two fists held together in the fashion of holding an axe. This is usually done on a standing or rising opponent, not a prone one.
A common variation of the diving double axe handle sees the wrestler standing over the top rope, facing away from the ring (facing the fans). From this point, the wrestler jumps and twists his body (from this point, the wrestler would be facing the inside of the ring), and quickly holding both fists together, striking the double axe handle. The maneuver is described as a diving discus (double) axe handle.
Diving elbow drop
A diving elbow drop is executed by diving onto a supine opponent with one's elbow cocked, driving the elbow into the opponent's shoulder, chest, or head. In a less common variation, known as the diving back elbow drop, the wrestler stands on the top turnbuckle facing away from the opponent then leaps backwards, extending and cocking one elbow. This move was popularized by Randy Savage, who used it as his finishing move.
The Undertaker, in his days in World Championship Wrestling as Mean Mark Callous, performed a variation of the diving elbow drop where instead of jumping from the top turnbuckle, he would instead climb up and walk across the ropes before performing the move.
Pointed elbow drop
The wrestler sits on the top turnbuckle with a foot on each second rope, facing a supine opponent. The wrestler then leaps towards the opponent, clasping their forearms together, and lands on their knees, driving both elbows into the shoulder or chest of the opponent.
Diving fist drop
A fist drop is a move in which a wrestler jumps down from the turnbuckle on an opponent driving his fist into the opponent's chest or head. When doing a diving fist drop, wrestlers have their front four knuckles out, and their thumb to the side.
Also known as a diving headbutt drop. A diving headbutt is delivered from the top rope or turnbuckle to anywhere on the opponent's body. The move was accidentally innovated by Harley Race. He adapted it as a signature move, and it was then adapted and further popularized by The Dynamite Kid. It was later discovered that this move could cause spinal damage, as well as head, legs, or chest injuries and brain damage. Chris Benoit's brain damage found after his death has been attributed to the move. It is also speculated that constant use of the move led to Daniel Bryan's major surgery in 2014.
Also known as a diving hurricanrana, this move is executed by jumping forward off the top rope with legs apart, straddling a standing opponent's shoulders, while using the momentum to snap off a hurricanrana.
In this variant of the diving hurricanrana, the wrestler first performs a front flip from the top rope before executing a true hurricanrana into a pin. The technique is named by and after the wrestler Dragon Kid, who popularized the maneuver.
With this variant, the wrestler first, facing away from the ring and situated on the top turnbuckle, performs a 180° turn in mid-air and then performs front flip (see Phoenix Splash) before executing a hurricanrana into a pin.
Diving knee drop
A move in which a wrestler jumps from a raised platform (the top turnbuckle, the apron, etc.) and lands his or her knee or knees across a supine opponent. There is also a variation where a wrestler jumps from a raised platform and lands his knees across the shoulders of an opponent.
Diving leg drop
Also called a guillotine leg drop, this diving attack sees a wrestler jump forward from a raised platform (i.e. top turnbuckle, the ring apron, etc.) landing the bottom side of his/her leg across an opponent (usually on the throat or face).
Diving leg drop bulldog
This is a diving version of the leg drop bulldog, that sees the wrestler springboarding off one of the ropes or jumping from the top turnbuckle and dropping their leg across the back of the head of an opponent who is leaning forward.
Moonsault leg drop
This variation sees the wrestler perform a top turnbuckle moonsault but instead of landing on the opponent in a splash position the wrestler would continue the rotation to drive his leg across an opponent who is lying on the ground.
Somersault leg drop
The wrestler, standing on an elevated position, jumps, flips forward and lands his leg on the opponent lying beneath him.
Diving shoulder block
The wrestler dives from an elevated position, tucks his arms, and strikes the opponent with one of his shoulders to the upper body.
This is a diving shoulder block takedown, also known as a spear. A move in which a wrestler will jump from a raised platform such the top turnbuckle, and drive their shoulder into the opponent's torso, forcing them down to the mat.
The wrestler jumps down from a raised platform onto an opponent, dropping his foot onto any part of an opponent's body. A variation known as a diving double foot stomp is when a wrestler jumps down from a raised platform on an opponent driving both his feet into anywhere on the opponent's body, usually the chest.
Moonsault double foot stomp
This variation sees the wrestler perform a backflip moonsault, but instead of landing on a fallen opponent in the splash position, the wrestler continues the rotation so that he/she drives both feet into the opponent.
While situated on the middle rope of a turnbuckle, a wrestler jumps over a charging opponent and drives his feet into the opponent's back in order to push him into the turnbuckle or the ground with greater force, before landing on his feet. The technique's name is a reference to the stomping attacks used by video game character Mario, who protects the Mushroom Kingdom.
Flying calf kick
With the wrestler standing over the top turnbuckle or the top ropes, he jumps off and slightly twists so he's elevated in the midair facing away from the opponent, with one of his sides facing the mat. From this point, the wrestler delivers a kick with the back of his leg.
A move in which a wrestler will jump from an elevated position and perform a clothesline to a standing opponent. A version of this move, called a flying lariat, involves the wrestler wrapping his arm around the opponent's head.
A neckbreaker in which the attacking wrestler jumps from a raised platform (usually the second turnbuckle) and grabs an opponent's neck while in midair, thereby taking them down with a neckbreaker. The most common variation of this is the flip neckbreaker slam or Blockbuster which is a neckbreaker where the attacking wrestler performs a somersault, and while flipping, catches the opponents head ending in a neckbreaker slam.
Flying spinning heel kick
A move in which the wrestler will jump from an elevated position (usually the top turnbuckle) and strike a standing opponent with spinning heel kick in mid-air.
Flying thrust kick
Executed when a wrestler jumps from a raised platform (usually the top turnbuckle), and hits a standing opponent with a thrust kick in mid-air.
This is a hurricanrana executed on an opponent sitting on the top turnbuckle. With the attacking wrestler's legs scissored around the opponent's head while they face each other, the wrestler performs a backflip to swing through the opponent's open legs, dragging the opponent into a forced somersault that distances the wrestler from the opponent, who lands on his or her back. The name Frankensteiner comes from Scott Steiner, who popularized the move. This move is usually referred as Avalanche Frankensteiner.
A handstand variation can also be used. With the opponent seated on the top turnbuckle facing the ring, the wrestler performs a handstand on the bottom turnbuckle, wrapping his or her shins or feet around the neck of the opponent. The wrestler then bends his or her legs forward towards the ring, pulling the opponent over and flipping him or her down to the mat onto his or her back. Former WWE Diva Trish Stratus used this variation of the move as one of her signatures, calling it the Stratusphere.
Also known as an inverted frankensteiner, this is a hurricanrana executed on an opponent sitting on the top turnbuckle. However, unlike a standard frankensteiner, the opponent is facing away from the ring on the top turnbuckle thus the opponent backflips over and lands on his or her chest rather than his or her back. This move can also be performed to the outside of the ring if the opponent is facing the inside of the ring or sitting on one edge of the corner turnbuckle facing the audience with both legs on the outside of the ring on the same side. There is also a standing variation of this move in which the wrestler jumps onto the opponent's shoulders from behind and then flips backwards driving the opponent's head and/or chest onto the mat.
The wrestler performs a senton, flipping 630 degrees forward before landing, i.e. one full rotation (360 degrees) following by a somersault senton (270 degrees). A corkscrew can also be added to the move. In this variation, the wrestler, facing away from the ring and situated on the top turnbuckle, performs a 180° turn in mid-air and then performs a 630° senton onto a lying opponent.
Also known as a 450° senton, the attacker jumps to the top turnbuckle or jumps onto the ropes, facing away from the ring, and executes a 450° backflip, like a moonsault but twisting 90° more, landing in an ordinary senton position. There is also a standing version of this move.
Imploding senton bomb
This variant on the senton which sees the wrestler use his/her tailbone and lower body in a seated position to force the opponent to the mat rather than using their whole back. This seated senton is performed by jumping forward off a raised platform or springboarding on to the shoulders of a standing opponent forcing them to the ground. This can also be performed onto an opponent prone or supine on the mat.
A variation of this move, the Banzai Drop, sees a wrestler standing above a fallen opponent climb up onto the second turnbuckle (facing away from the ring) and jump down, landing on the opponent's stomach or chest. This move was made famous by Yokozuna, who used it as his finishing move. He also gave the move its name, as he would usually shout "Banzai" when performing it.
This variant on the seated senton, which is technically described as a diving somersault seated senton, is performed by flipping forward off a raised platform on to the shoulders of a standing opponent forcing them to the ground in a pinning position. The move gained its name through the use of its creator, Molly Holly.
In this variation of the senton, the attacking wrestler executes a quick front somersault off the top turnbuckle, before landing on the opponent back-first as in a regular senton. It can also be performed from a standing position.
High-angle senton bomb
A variant of the senton bomb, which sees an attacking wrestler leaping off the top turnbuckle keeping their bodies straight and arms out-stretched, making it resemble a swan dive, and then waiting until the last moment to execute the flip, so that they just barely complete it when impacting with the opponent with their upper back/shoulders.
The shiranui is a backflip three-quarter facelock falling inverted DDT, it was created by Naomichi Marufuji. This move has a wrestler put the opponent in a three-quarter facelock and run up the corner turnbuckles or ring ropes and jump backwards, performing a backflip in the air, and landing face down to the mat, driving the opponent back-first down to the mat. Sometimes a standing variant is performed by wrestlers with adequate leaping ability or when assisted by a tag team partner. The move is popularly known, especially in North America, as Sliced Bread #2, a name created by wrestler Brian Kendrick and used by many other wrestlers. In a slight variation named sitout shiranui the wrestler lands instead to a seated position, driving the opponent's head between his legs.
This move sees a wrestler jump forward from an elevated position followed by executing a backflip in mid-air. Many techniques can be performed after a shooting star; the most well known is the shooting star press but there are other variations like the shooting star legdrop and shooting star elbow drop.
Shooting star press
The shooting star press is a technique invented by Jushin "Thunder" Liger. In a standard shooting star press, the wrestler jumps forward from an elevated position and presses knees to chest, executes a backflip in mid-air, and lands on the opponent in the splash/press position. A corkscrew can also be added to the move by doing either a 180°, 360°, or more in mid-air, ending in either a senton or press. In the senton variation, this move is called the shooting star senton.
The move was previously legitimately banned in WWE in 2005 for safety reasons, as the move can easily be botched and cause serious injury, much like the piledriver. Two examples of this are at WrestleMania XIX, when Brock Lesnar botched a shooting star press, injuring both himself and his opponent Kurt Angle, and on an episode of SmackDown in 2004 when Billy Kidman, a long time practitioner of the move, accidentally gave Chavo Guerrero a concussion while performing it. From 2008, WWE allowed Evan Bourne to use the shooting star press as his finishing move, which he calls Air Bourne.
Shooting star leg drop
This move sees a wrestler jump forward from an elevated position followed by executing a backflip in mid-air and continue the rotation (doing a full 360° or more rotation) ending by drive his leg across an opponent who is lying on the ground.
Shooting star elbow drop
This move sees a wrestler jump forward from an elevated position followed by executing a backflip in mid-air then landing elbow first on an opponent who is lying on the ground.
Shooting star DDT
The opponent is facing the wrestler on the turnbuckle. The wrestler then does a backflip towards the opponent catching the opponent into a DDT on the way down.
Shooting star senton
This move sees a wrestler jump forward from an elevated position followed by executing a backflip in mid-air and continue the rotation (doing a full 360° or more rotation) plus adding an additional 90 ending in a senton.
Corkscrew Shooting star press
This move sees a wrestler jump forward twisting and flipping backwards at the same time and hits a shooting star. This move was popularized by NXT superstar Adrian Neville, who uses it as his finishing move in NXT, calling it the "Red Arrow."
The basic splash, which is also known as a press, involves a wrestler jumping forward from a raised platform (usually the top turnbuckle) and landing stomach first across an opponent lying on the ground below.
Innovated by 2 Cold Scorpio. The 450° splash, also known as the firebird splash, involves the attacker facing the ring from on top of the turnbuckles, then jumping and flipping forward 450°, landing on the opponent in the splash position. Due to safety concerns, this move was previously legitimately banned by WWE in 2005 . From 2010, WWE allowed Justin Gabriel to use the 450° splash as his finishing move.
Innovated by Hayabusa and technically known as a corkscrew 450° splash, the attacker, facing away from the ring and situated on the top turnbuckle, performs a 180° turn in mid-air and then performs a 450° splash onto a lying opponent.
Imploding 450° splash
This move sees the attacking wrestler stand on the top turnbuckle facing away from the ring. He or she then jumps backwards and executes a 450° splash inwards (facing the turnbuckle) onto a downed opponent laying on the mat.
Corner slingshot splash
The wrestler places the opponent so he or she is lying supine and with his or her head and feet facing opposite corners of the ring. The attacking wrestler then approaches the turnbuckle in that same corner, places his or her hands on the top rope and climbs to the first or second rope. The wrestler then bounces on the ropes before throwing their legs and body outwards and releasing the ropes, thus flying outwards and downwards and connecting with the torso of the opponent.
This move is performed by leaping from the top rope, stretching out to a horizontal position, and bringing one's feet and hands inward and outward before landing.
Eddie Guerrero made the Frog Splash famous in the '90s and early 2000s. However, the original, and slightly different, version of the frog splash was innovated by Art Barr in the early '80s and was named by 2 Cold Scorpio. After Guerrero's death in 2005, wrestlers such as Rey Mysterio, Christian, Chavo Guerrero, and Vickie Guerrero began using the move as finishers in tribute to Eddie Guerrero.
Rob Van Dam performs a high-angle turning variation named the Five-Star Frog Splash where the opponent is not placed perpendicular to the corner. Instead Van Dam turns in mid-air to land on the opponent in the splash position, regardless of which direction the opponent is lying in. He also uses a regular version, generally going halfway or more than halfway across the ring to hit his opponent.
This is a pinning move where a wrestler and his opponent face each other, with the wrestler on higher ground (such as the top turnbuckle). The wrestler dives over the opponent, catches him in a waist-lock from behind, and rolls into a sitting position as he hits the mat. As the wrestler rolls over, he pulls the opponent over backwards so that he lands on his back in a pinning position.
Some moves are meant neither to pin an opponent, nor weaken them or force them to submit, but are intended to set up the opponent for another attack.
Springboarding involves a wrestler using any of the ring ropes to bounce upward. Most high-flying techniques can be performed after a spring board, i.e. springboard legdrop, springboard dropkick. Sometimes wrestlers will bounce off one set of ring ropes then off another to perform a move, this is referred to as a double springboard, the most notable double springboard move is a version of a springboard moonsault in which a wrestler bounces off the rope to elevate himself/herself to the top-rope from where he/she bounces off to perform the moonsault.
Another version of a springboard is the rope run/climb in which a wrestler would run up the ring ropes, effectively springboarding with one foot off each ring rope. This is often used in a version of a Tornado DDT in which a wrestler applies a headlock runs up the ropes (often at the turnbuckle), still holding onto the opponent, spins off from the elevated height to hit the DDT.
A slingshot involves a wrestler, who is standing on the ring apron, pulling on the top rope and using its momentum to hurl themselves over the ropes and into the ring. Many high-flying techniques can be performed after a slingshot.
The term corkscrew implies adding a spiral (resembling) a corkscrew to a maneuver. The term could also refer to the motion when a backflip (Moonsault) is twisted around so that the attacker faces the inside of the ring instead of the outside when the maneuver ends.
An accepted term in American wrestling for a slingshot crossbody where the wrestler goes from the inside of the ring over the top ring rope to the outside. In lucha libre, this is called a Pescado when the top ring rope is used for a slingshot, though the term plancha has been popularly accepted in American wrestling for the same maneuver. In America a move from the top turnbuckle to a standing opponent on the outside where the chests impact each other is also commonly referred to as a plancha. Plancha is also used in America to refer to any attack from the ring to the outside in which the wrestler impacts their chest against the opponents chest. For example, a shooting star press to the outside onto a standing opponent is referred to as a shooting star plancha.
The term ropewalk is used to refer to any move which first sees the attacking wrestler walks along the top rope before performing a move.
The term standing is used to refer to any move which is being performed at the same level as the opponent, usually on the ring mat. This is rather than most aerial moves which are performed from a raised platform like the top turnbuckle.
The term somersault is used to describe a simple front-flip used to modify aerial techniques. Many techniques can be made to accompany a somersault, including sentons, leg drops, and splashes. A corkscrew can also be added to the somersault to further modify moves.
The term suicide or suicida is placed before any move that goes from the ring, the ring apron, or the turnbuckles to the outside of the ring. The most obvious is a suicide dive also known as a topé suicida, which is simply a jump through or over ring ropes to the outside. When a front flip is performed after leaping through the ropes, or by jumping over the top rope and performing a front flip, to land on the opponent back first, the move is known as a suicide senton or Tope con Hilo. Although it would appear as if Hilo is the Mexican name for the move, in Mexico the move is referred to as a Topé con Giro. Giro (Spanish for spin) was mistranslated as Hilo in Japan and the name Hilo (which in Spanish actually means thread) has remained outside of Mexico.
Over the top rope suicide dive
Instead of going through the ropes the wrestler goes over the top ropes.
The term super (the terms diving, avalanche, and top-rope are also used) is placed before any move (normally performed on the mat) which is being performed off the top- or second rope. For example, if a Samoan drop was performed from the top turnbuckle it would be called a "Super Samoan Drop". Many move variations performed off the top rope use the term avalanche instead of super, especially in Japan. Suplexes performed from the top or second rope are referred to as superplexes; while powerbombs performed from the top or second rope are referred to as superbombs, and powerslams from the top or second rope are referred to as avalanche powerslams, or cutters and stunners from the top or second rope are referred to as elevated cutters and elevated stunners, respectively.
A Topé, like the Plancha, is a move most often performed by jumping from the inside of the ring and out, but instead of going over the top rope, the Tope is performed by standing through the ropes to strike the opponent with the head. In Mexico, the Tope also refers to any leaping move where the head strikes the opponent, be it by jumping off the middle rope or a handspring into a headbutt.
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- Professional wrestling holds
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- Glossary of professional wrestling terms
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