Making (Erasing) A Finisher: Darren Young's Crossface Chickenwing

A finishing move in the world of wrestling is crucial. Something that can make or break a pro wrestler, often the coolest looking moves don't click, while something as goofy as "The People's Elbow" becomes iconic. Each wrestler has a different method to their madness when landing on their signature, match ending match up. In this new series, "Making A Finisher," will go in depth with wrestlers as they explain their moves, discuss how they were developed, who took it the best, the worst, why they stopped doing some of them, and the psychology behind them.


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Sometimes a finishing move isn't established. It just disappears. Well, kind of.

That's what happened to Darren Young. After runs with Nexus and as a member of the Prime Time Players, Young had a brief singles run where former WWF Champion Bob Backlund served as his life coach. Vignettes ran promising to "Make Darren Young Great Again" -- a play off of Donald Trump's "Make America Great Again" campaign.

Backlund himself had used the Crossface Chickenwing as a finish, and established it across multiple decades before. This wasn't Backlund's first rodeo as a manager, either, helping out The Sultan (Rikishi) and Kurt Angle along the way. However, Darren Young was outright instructed to use a different move early on in his singles run.

"I was told to use the Cobra Clutch. If I wanted to have Sgt Slaughter as my life coach, then I would have wrote up a script and presented it to Vince (McMahon) as my life coach. Who I love and helped me over the years as an extra. But Bob Backlund and I had a relationship outside the ring from doing appearances. He's energetic like me, does his signings standing up just like me. When I'm done tagging with Titus O'Neil, why don't I have Bob Backlund be my life coach? It was an idea I took from Mike Tyson's and his former trainer. Vince gave me the opportunity to do it and called up Bob Backlund personally. The people who worked under Vince didn't have my back. That stings, but life moves on," Young told Fightful.

The reason for young having to switch the move was an odd one -- WWE said it wasn't safe. Keep in mind, this is the same company that a year prior saw its Chairman's son launched off of a Hell in a Cell through a table. Young would elaborate, but say he didn't understand the unusual decision.

"I was told I couldn't use the Crossface Chickenwing because it was a dangerous hold. I said I could do it and was told 'try doing that on Randy Orton, who has shoulder issues in the past.' I know how to apply it without hurting anyone," said Young

The list of submission holds outright banned by WWE is very short. Sure, the likes of piledrivers and numerous other holds have been scaled back by the company over the last couple of decades, but a simple submission? That doesn't seem right. It didn't seem right to Darren either. He had his suspicions, which would be confirmed a matter of a few weeks later in 2016, when a contemporary happened to be watching an episode of NXT.

"I knew in the back of my mind that it was being saved for someone. Weeks later I walk into a live event and Miz says to me 'I just watched NXT and I just saw Asuka doing the Crossface Chickenwing!' I yelled 'motherfucker, I knew it!' and I walked out. I knew they were holding it for someone," Young told us.

Young, who told that story to Chris Van Vliet in a recent interview, got some grief from fans online for admitting he cried in the locker room to Triple H about the situation. Despite that, he did have a little bit of experience with the move, and discussed the art of making it look as good as he could.

"It's all about the illusion," Young elaborated. "It's all about how you rag doll. If you watch footage of when Bob Backlund was going heel and establishing the move, he would rag doll people. We are all professional stuntmen. You have to finesse it, you have to rag doll them, but still take care of your opponent, and that's something that I'm well known for. I wouldn't hurt anyone, I'd make it look as believable as possible. With UFC being so popular, you gotta bring that believability back. I want people to see me in the ring and say 'that looks like it hurt.' I knew for sure I'd be perfectly fine using a Crossface Chickenwing."

Young did get to use the move briefly, and recalled the short stint. It was The Miz in the ring with him, the same person who would eventually break the bad news that another wrestler had been given the hold as a finisher.

"There's footage of me getting over and the people getting behind me, and on an episode of Smackdown, I signaled for it and the place erupted. I put it on the Miz and I had him tap out. The announcers said it was going to be us at Battleground and Miz could have tapped out. That moment would have been so special for me. I was a part of the Nexus as a group, a part of the Prime Time Players, that was amazing. But this was myself, my last resort. The people were behind me, it's just unfortunate those under Vince McMahon didn't have my back," said Darren.

Between that show and the aforementioned Battleground, Young had been told to switch to the Cobra Clutch, and he would use that to end their pay-per-view match just days later.

Those holds weren't always what Young used, however. He had an impactful finishing move called the "Gut Check." Young would start out in a fireman's carry, before elevating his opponent down into a gutbuster. While it doesn't have the iconic history of the Chickenwing, Young wasn't shy about telling us who didn't take the spot so well.

"The Gut Check, you'll lose your lunch, because knees to the stomach isn't a good feeling. It's a vicious looking maneuver, but it's not something that's going to hurt you permanently. In wrestling you have some good dance partners, and some not so good dance partners. You have some people that will take it kind of shitty. I don't want to mention any names, Alberto Del Rio. There's some people who can take it really well, and some people who just dead weight you," Young closed.

Young hasn't been on cable much in the three years following the Crossface fiasco, and it remains to be seen what he'll use if he ever gets back there. Would the Crossface have changed things for him? Unlikely, but Asuka has made good use of it since, renaming it the Asuka Lock along the way.

Photo Credit: WWE

Past editions!

Gangrel's Impaler DDT

Adam "Hangman" Page's Dead Eye

Damien Priest's South Of Heaven Chokeslam

Stevie Ray's Slapjack, Harlem Heat's Harlem Hangover

"Switchblade" Jay White's Blade Runner

Christopher Daniels' Angel's Wings

Magnum TA's Belly-to-Belly Suplex

Mick Foley's Mandible Claw

Darren Young's Crossface Chickenwing

Abyss' Black Hole Slam

Raven's Evenflow DDT

Rob Van Dam's Van Terminator

Arn Anderson's Spinebuster

Kevin Owens' Stunner and Steenalizer

Victoria's Widow's Peak

Dakota Kai's Kairopractor

Bad Luck Fale's Bad Luck Fall

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