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A suplex is an offensive move used in both professional and sport wrestling. A suplex is a throw that involves lifting the opponent and bridging or rolling to slam the opponent on their back. Though there are many variations, the term suplex (without qualifiers) can also refer specifically to the vertical suplex.
- 1 Etymology
- 2 Suplex variants
- 2.1 Front facelock variants
- 2.1.1 Fisherman suplex
- 2.1.2 Hammerlock suplex
- 2.1.3 Slingshot suplex
- 2.1.4 Snap suplex
- 2.1.5 Suplex slam
- 2.1.6 Inverted suplex slam
- 2.1.7 Superplex
- 2.1.8 Vertical suplex
- 2.1.9 Underhook suplex
- 2.2 Belly-to-back variants
- 2.2.1 Belly-to-back suplex
- 2.2.2 Leg hook belly-to-back suplex
- 2.2.3 Cobra clutch suplex
- 2.2.4 Crossface chickenwing suplex
- 2.2.5 Electric chair suplex
- 2.2.6 Full nelson suplex
- 2.2.7 German suplex
- 2.2.8 Half nelson suplex
- 2.2.9 Pumphandle suplex
- 2.2.10 Sleeper suplex
- 2.2.11 Tiger suplex
- 2.2.12 Wheelbarrow suplex
- 2.3 Belly-to-belly variants
- 2.4 Side variants
- 2.5 Inverted facelock variants
- 2.1 Front facelock variants
- 3 See also
- 4 Notes
- 5 References
In Olympic and amateur wrestling there exists a move called a suplay, a Greco-Roman wrestling term. During his career, pro wrestling commentator Gordon Solie used the soo-play pronunciation (as has the AWA's Rod Trongard and Terry Taylor), but almost all other pro wrestling talent pronounces it sue-plex; this suggests the two names define the same kind of move. The origin of the word suplex is the French word souplesse (flexibility).
Professional wrestling features many different varieties of suplexes. The following are among the most common, but many more exist, particularly as the signature techniques of individual wrestlers.
Front facelock variants
In these suplexes, the wrestlers begin by facing each other, the attacking wrestler then applies a front facelock to the opponent before executing a throw. In most cases, the opponent is suspended upside-down during part of the move. The most common front facelock suplex is the vertical suplex.
Also spelled as a fisherman's suplex and also known as a cradle suplex. With their opponent in a front facelock with the near arm draped over the attacker's shoulder, the wrestler hooks the opponent's near leg behind the opponent's knee with his/her free arm and falls backwards, flipping the opponent onto his/her back. In most cases the attacking wrestler will keep the leg hooked and bridge to pin the opponent in a cradle-like position, as in the case of Curt Hennig's Perfect-plex or Bobby Roode's Payoff. Other times the wrestler will apply a leglock submission hold to the hooked leg.
Swinging fisherman suplex
Also known as swinging fisherman neckbreaker and the Golden Gate Swing. A swinging variation of the normal fisherman suplex, this move sees a wrestler, with their opponent in a front facelock with the near arm draped over their shoulder, hook the opponent's near leg with their free arm and roll over to one side, flipping the opponent over onto their back.
In this variation of the suplex, the attacker applies a hammerlock on his opponent before applying a front facelock and positioning the opponent's free arm over the attacker's head. The attacker then lifts up the opponent and falls backwards, dropping the opponent down back first, landing with their trapped arm bent behind their back.
The attacker faces a standing opponent with one side of the ring immediately behind the opponent. The attacker applies a front facelock to the opponent, takes hold of the opponent with his/her free hand, then lifts the opponent until he/she is nearly vertical. The attacker then falls forward so that the torso of the opponent bounces off the top ring rope, and uses this momentum to quickly lift the opponent overhead once more and falls backwards, driving the back and shoulders of the opponent into the ground.
A front facelock suplex, which sees the attacker apply a front face lock to his/her opponent, draping the opponent's near arm over his/her shoulder, the attacker stomps down hard and suplexes the opponent stiffly, resulting in a quicker throw.
This move is similar to most suplexes and starts with the attacker applying a front face lock to his/her opponent and draping the opponent's near arm over his/her shoulder, then lifting him/her up and holding the opponent in the vertical position. This is where the move differs from most of its counterparts with the attacker not falling with the opponent, but rather shifting themselves slightly and throwing their opponent to the mat. Sometimes this involves the wrestler turning the opponent in midair and slamming the opponent down to the mat in front of him/her onto their back, similar to a high-angled body slam.
Sitout suplex slam
Also called a suplex driver or a falcon arrow, this sees an attacker apply a front facelock to the opponent and drapes the opponent's near arm over their shoulder. The attacker then takes hold of the opponent's torso with their free arm and lifts the opponent to a vertical position. The facelock is loosened so the opponent can be twisted slightly, then the attacker falls to a sitting position and the victim's back and shoulders are driven into the mat. The opponent lands between the attacker's legs with their head toward them.
Another variation sees the wrestler perform a vertical suplex, but instead of twisting the upside down opponent to face them, the wrestler turns 180° to face the opponent before sitting down and driving them back first between their legs.
Inverted suplex slam
Also called a front suplex or a gourdbuster, this move sees attacker apply a front face lock to the opponent and drape the opponent's near arm over his/her shoulder. The attacker then lifts the opponent into a vertical position, then he falls forward, driving the opponents face into the ground.
Sitout inverted suplex slam
The attacker applies a front face lock to the opponent and drapes the opponent's near arm over his/her shoulder. The attacker then lifts the opponent into a vertical position, and falls into a sit-out position, driving the face of the opponent into the ground. This move is known as a sitout gourdbuster or an inverted falcon arrow. In another variation, the wrestler releases the hold just prior to the sitout position letting his opponents own momentum to force them down head first.
A superplex is a name that comes from the term "super suplex" and refers to any suplex performed by an attacker standing on the second or third rope against an opponent sitting on the top rope or top turnbuckle. The most common suplex used for this top rope move is the standard vertical suplex variation (known as the suicide-plex), in which the attackers apply a front face lock to the opponent, draping the opponent's near arm over their respective shoulders, at this point the wrestler falls backwards and flips the opponent over them so they both land on their backs.
In a set-up similar to a snap suplex, the attacking wrestler applies a front face lock to his/her opponent, draping the opponent's near arm over his/her shoulder, when the opponent is in position he/she is lifted to an upside-down position before the attacking wrestler falls backwards slamming the opponent's back into the mat. Known in Japan as the "brainbuster". Commonly used by Goldust as "Final Cut".
Delayed vertical suplex
This variation of a vertical suplex, also known as the hanging suplex, standing suplex or stalling suplex, sees the attacking wrestler holds an opponent in the upside-down position at the peak of the arc for several seconds before completing the maneuver, thereby (in kayfabe) causing blood to pool into the head of the opponent. This move is a staple of larger and powerful wrestlers as it gives an aura of dominance over their opponents who can do nothing but wait to drop in the suplex.
This variation of a vertical suplex sees the attacking wrestler lift the opponent as in a normal vertical suplex, but then simply drop them flat to the mat instead of falling backwards with them. The move was first popularized in WCW by Kevin Nash, who began to use it instead of a standard suplex to avoid aggravating a back injury.
Rolling release suplex
This variation of a vertical suplex, also known as the Crash Landing, sees the attacker lift his opponent up with the standard suplex lift but instead of falling backwards and having the opponent drop down onto his shoulders and back, the attacker turns the opponent and releases them from the front facelock at the apex of the lift. Both the attacker and the opponent fall forward, with the opponent landing on his neck, shoulders and back.
Rotating vertical suplex
This variation of a vertical suplex, also sometimes known as the rotation suplex, rotary suplex or twisting suplex, sees the attacking wrestler lift the opponent as in a normal vertical suplex, but turn around as he or she falls back to twist the opponent into the mat.
Also known as a half-hatch suplex. The wrestler applies a front facelock with one arm and underhooks one of the opponent's arms with his other, placing his hand palm down on the back of the opponent. The wrestler then lifts the opponent up while bridging backwards and slightly twisting, bringing the opponent over him and onto their back. The wrestler bridges their back and legs to hold the opponent's shoulders against the mat.
In these variants, the attacker stands behind his opponent and applies a hold before falling backwards, dropping the opponent on his or her upper back. The most common belly-to-back variants are the German suplex and the back suplex.
Sometimes shortened to back suplex, the wrestler stands behind his opponent and puts his head under the arm of the opponent. The wrestler then lifts the opponent up using both of his arms wrapped around the torso of the opponent before finally falling backwards and dropping the opponent flat on their back. This move is referred to as a backdrop in Japan. The backdrop name is also used in the western world, usually by people who follow Japanese wrestling, although they sometimes use the name Greco-Roman backdrop. This is not to be confused with a back body drop.
Many wrestlers perform the back suplex into a bridging position, simultaneously arching their own back and legs to elevate themselves, gaining leverage and pinning their opponent. In Mexico, this bridging version is known as a "Puente Griego" or Greek Bridge in English.
High angle belly-to-back suplex
Also known as a backdrop driver, the attacking stands behind his opponent and puts his head under the arm of the opponent. He then lifts the opponent up using both of his arms wrapped around the torso of the opponent. The attacker finally falls backwards to drive the opponent to the mat on their neck and shoulders.
Super belly-to-back suplex
This version of a superplex is a belly-to-back suplex executed on an opponent sitting or standing on the top rope, facing outward.
Leg hook belly-to-back suplex
Sometimes referred to as a leg lift back suplex or leg lift backdrop, it is applied just as a back suplex would be, except that the wrestler wraps only the near arm or no arm around the torso of their opponent. With the free arm(s), the wrestler then hoists their opponent's knees or thighs and throws them backwards in that manner.
Bridging leg hook belly-to-back suplex
The attacking wrestler begins this move by standing to one side of, and slightly behind, a standing opponent. The wrestler then puts his head under the arm of the opponent and uses their own near arm to encircle the waist of the opponent. The attacker then reaches under one of the opponents legs with their free arm, and lifts, forcing the opponent to bend into a right angle. Finally, the attacker falls backwards, driving the neck and shoulders of the opponent into the ground, simultaneously arching their own back and legs to elevate themselves, gaining leverage and placing the opponent in a pinning predicament.
Spinning leg hook belly-to-back suplex
The wrestler stands behind his opponent and puts his head under the arm of the opponent. The wrestler then lifts the opponent up by using one arm around the waist of the opponent and while using the other arm under one of his/her legs. The attacker begins to spins the opponent as he or she falls back to the opponent into the mat.
Swinging leg hook belly-to-back suplex
Also known as the side winder suplex, the attacker stands behind his opponent and puts his head under the arm of the opponent. He then lifts the opponent up using one arm around the waist of the opponent and another under one of his legs. The attacker then turns 180 degrees while falling backwards, slamming the opponent flat on his back.
Cobra clutch suplex
The attacker places the opponent in a cobra clutch hold. They then proceed to lift the opponent up and fall backwards, driving the opponent to the mat on their head.
Crossface chickenwing suplex
Also known as a Millennium Suplex, the wrestler stands behind the opponent. He locks one of the opponent's arms in a chickenwing, and wraps his other arm around the opponent's head. He then lifts the opponent up and falls backwards, driving the opponent on to the top of their head, down to the mat. This move was created by Yoshihiro Yamazaki, otherwise known as Tiger Mask IV
Electric chair suplex
Also known as an electric chair slam. The wrestler lifts the opponent on his/her shoulders in an electric chair sitting position and then bridges his back, slamming the opponent down to the mat shoulder and upper back first. When done with a straight jacket hold applied at the same time, it is known as a Japanese Ocean Cyclone Suplex.
Full nelson suplex
Also known as a dragon suplex and innovated by Tatsumi Fujinami, this belly-to-back suplex variation sees the wrestler apply a full nelson and then bridges his back, lifting the opponent over him and onto their shoulders down to the mat. The wrestler keeps his back arched and the hold applied, pinning the opponent's shoulders down to the mat.
The wrestler may also release the opponent mid-arch, throwing them down to the mat shoulders and neck first, in a variation known as release full nelson suplex.
Technically known as a belly-to-back waist lock suplex or a back arch throw, the wrestler stands behind the opponent, grabs them around their waist, lifts them up, and falls backwards while bridging his back and legs, slamming the opponent down to the mat shoulder and upper back first. The wrestler keeps the waistlock and continues bridging with their back and legs, pinning the opponent's shoulders down against the mat. The regular pinning variation can be referred to as the German suplex pin. The wrestler can also release the opponent in mid arch, which is referred to as a release German suplex. Sometimes, rather than bridging for a pin, the wrestler may roll himself into another position to perform the move again, often referred to as multiple or rolling German suplexes.
Also referred to as a straight jacket suplex or a cross-arm suplex, this variation of the German suplex sees the opponent's arms crossed across their chest and held by the attacker. The wrestler then uses the crossed arms as leverage to aid in lifting the opponent up while falling backwards to throw the opponent as in a German suplex.
Half nelson suplex
This is a version of a German suplex where the attacker stands behind the opponent, facing the same direction. The attacker uses one hand to apply ahalf nelson hold and wraps the other hand around the opponent's waist. The attacker then lifts the opponent up and falls backwards, dropping the opponent on their head, neck, or shoulders.
Mitsuharu Misawa's Tiger Suplex '85 is a variant with the second hand wrapped under the opponent's armpit, instead of around the waist.
The wrestler stands behind the opponent and bends him forward. One of the opponent's arms is pulled back between his legs and held, while the opponent's other arm is hooked by the attacker maneuvering his arm around in front of the opponent's shoulder (as in a pumphandle) and securing it behind the head (a quarter-nelson). The attacker then lifts his opponent up over his head and falls backwards to slam the opponent against the mat back-first.
There are many variations of the pumphandle suplex, including the maintaining of the grip in order to land the opponent on the mat face-first, or inverting the opponent's body position and securing the opponent's free arm using a half-nelson grip instead of the normal quarter-nelson.
The attacker places the opponent in a sleeper hold and then hooks one of the opponents arms with his free arm. The attacker then lifts the opponent up and falls backwards, driving the opponent on their head. A slight variation sees the attacker apply a half nelson choke instead of the sleeper hold before performing the suplex.
Innovated by Alfonso Dantés and popularized by the original Tiger Mask (Satoru Sayama), this move sees the wrestler standing behind their opponent, hooks both of the opponent's arms from the sides, and places their hands palm down flat against the opponent's upper back. The wrestler then lifts the opponent up and falls backwards, arching their back and legs and then slamming the opponent down to the mat shoulder and neck first. Like other suplex variations, this move can either end in a bridging pin or be released upon execution.
There is a slight variation that sees the attacking wrestler grabbing the opponent's arms at the wrists instead of hooking them from the sides. This is called a Wrist-clutch Tiger suplex and was innovated by Mitsuharu Misawa.
This move is performed when a wrestler wraps a forward-facing opponent's legs around his/her waist, in a wheelbarrow hold, from either standing behind an opponent who is laying face-first on the mat or by catching a charging opponent before then applying a gutwrench to lift the opponent up off the ground into the air, then the attacking wrestler would continue lifting the opponent over his/her while falling backwards to hit this variation of a German suplex. In Japan, this move is known as the Ocean Cyclone Suplex.
In these suplexes, the wrestlers begin by facing each other. The attacker then applies a bodylock before falling backwards and flipping the opponent onto his back and down on the mat.
The wrestler wraps their arms around the opponent in a waistlock or a bodylock position and flips them over by violently bridging their own body so the opponent lands on their back. This can be done either overhead or to the side. For a side belly-to-belly suplex, the attacker usually holds on to the opponent for the duration of the move, but for the overhead belly-to-belly suplex, the attacker usually executes an overhead throw and lets go of the opponent. It can also be performed in a "snap" fashion, where the attacker stomps down hard and suplexes the opponent stiffly, resulting in a quicker throw. It is mainly used by physically built wrestlers.
Super belly-to-belly suplex
This version of a superplex is an overhead belly-to-belly suplex executed on an opponent sitting or standing on the top rope, facing inward.
The attacker stands facing a standing opponent. The attacker then catches one leg of the opponent and pulls the opponent towards them so that they are face-to-face, with the attacker reaching under the opponent's leg and hooking it. The attacker then uses their free arm to reach behind the neck of the opponent and take hold of them. The attacker then quickly bridges backwards and releases the opponent, throwing them overhead, or turns 180° while slamming the opponent down to the mat. This move can be used to counter a kick. The move is also known as the head and leg suplex, and can be seen as a variation of the head and arm suplex.
Double underhook suplex
Also known as a double arm suplex, reverse nelson suplex, double axe handle suplex, and a butterfly suplex, the wrestler and opponent face each other, the opponent bent forward. The wrestler hooks the opponent's arms back in a reverse nelson, placing his forearms in the crooks of the opponent's elbows, with his hands on top of the opponent's back in a butcher's grip. The wrestler then lifts the opponent into an upside-down vertical position and falls back, shifting the opponent to one side as the opponent flips over. The wrestler executing the suplex may release the reverse nelson hold during the throw, or can maintain the grip and attempt a bridging pin or submission hold transition upon impact.
Also called a T-bone suplex, the attacker stands facing his opponent and positions himself under one of the opponent's arms and wraps his arm around the opponent's neck and back (this position is similar to that of a side slam) and then grabs the waist or leg of the opponent and tosses him backwards, over the attacker's head. Several other variations exist, such as the wrist-clutch Exploder suplex and the bridging Exploder suplex.
Also called a gargoyle suplex, the move is a variation of the traditional overhead belly-to-belly suplex in which the wrestler, standing face-to-face with his opponent, clutches his hands together having firmly encircled the opponent's head and one arm. This grip, as opposed to the waistlock of a normal belly-to-belly, is then used to hoist the opponent in the overhead arching throw.
A modification of this move is the machine gun suplex, in which the attacking wrestler holds the head-and-arm grip using just one of his own arms, and with his other grabs the opponent's free wrist and forces it behind his back to secure a hammerlock. This double grip is then used to hoist the opponent overhead in the belly-to-belly throw.
Northern Lights suplex
The attacking wrestler puts his head under the arm of the opponent, wraps an arm around the waist of the opponent and flips him/her backwards. This suplex can either be released or bridged into a pin. The wrestler can also float over into another Northern Lights suplex. An inverted variation also exists. This move was innovated by Hiroshi Hase. 
Table top suplex
- See Fallaway slam
This is when a wrestler holds both the opponent's arms under his own (known as overhooks in mixed martial arts and amateur wrestling, as the arms loop under the opponent's arms from above) with the hands connected below the opponent's triceps, from here the opponent is left secure and unable to counter or move away from the attacker while he/she delivers a belly-to-belly throw flipping the opponent overhead in the normal belly-to-belly motion. In amateur wrestling and other contact-sports, the trapping suplex is called the suicide throw. It is done slightly differently, usually the opponent is tossed to the side and lands on their back.
This move consists of one wrestler picking up his or her opponent off the ground (or mat) and then using a large portion of his or her own body weight to drive the opponent down on the mat. He or she begins face-to-face, then the attacker forces the opponent's head down and locks the opponent's arm around it.
In the side variants the attacker stands to the side of his or her opponent and applies a hold before falling backwards to slam the opponent to the mat. The most common is the side suplex.
This sees a wrestler lock their opponent in a cravate and pull down with their arms so that the opponent is forced to bend over. The wrestler then positions the opponent so that they are facing across the body of the wrestler and with their head in front of the wrestlers chest. The wrestler then falls backwards and pulls upwards with the cravate, forcing the opponent off their feet and into the air and over the wrestler, landing on their neck and shoulders. This move was innovated by Chris Hero.
A gutwrench suplex involves a wrestler standing on one side of an opponent locking his/her arms around the opponent's waist (near arm in front of the opponent and far arm behind) and lifting him/her up and slamming him/her over back-first down to the mat.
A gutwrench suplex which begins with the opponent lying on the mat. The wrestler locks his arms around the opponent's waist and stands up, lifting the opponent. He then throws the opponent to his side, dropping them to the mat face up on to their shoulders or face down on their chest.
This move was borrowed from Greco-Roman wrestling, where it was most famously the signature move of Russian Alexander Karelin.
The attacker stands either facing directly one of his/her opponent's sides or slightly behind in an angle. He places the opponent's near arm over his shoulder, grabs a waistlock, and then lifts the opponent up while falling backwards, causing the opponent to land on his/her neck and shoulders. Its name is derived from and innovated by Masa Saito.
Leg-hook Saito suplex
The attacker stands behind and to one side of the opponent. The attacker wraps one arm around the waist of the opponent and grabs the back of the opponent's near leg with their other arm. The attacker then lifts the opponent on to their shoulder and then falls backwards, driving the opponent into the mat at a high angle. This move was used by Shawn Michaels in his early career as a finisher and was named the Teardrop Suplex.
Inverted facelock variants
In these suplexes, an attacker begins by facing the back of an opponent and applying an inverted facelock before executing a throw. In most, the opponent is suspended upside-down during part of the move.
Inverted vertical suplex
Also known as a Reverse suplex, this move sees the attacker stands behind an opponent and applies an inverted facelock with one arm, and uses the other arm to aid in elevating the opponent so that he/she is lifted up and held upside-down before the attacker falls to his back driving the opponent down to the mat face first, behind the attacker.
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