The DDT: one of wrestling's most devastating finishers, but one that has become the norm as years go by.
Innovated accidentally by Jake Roberts, the move was revolutionary for its time, and is now used often as a transitional move or a spot mid-match. Not for Raven. He won championships in WWE, WCW, ECW, and TNA with his iteration, the Evenflow DDT.
"A lot of people don't even know what DDT is. It's a pesticide that was banned in the 70's, so it's a really good name. It has a good pedigree to it. You need a finish you can do to everyone," Raven told me, with the latter point being a sentiment often echoed when speaking to any wrestler about their finishing move.
Raven's version of the popular move was revolutionary in its own right. The setup that he uses, by his own admission, isn't as revolutionary, but eliminated predictability from longtime wrestling fans who recognize patterns in selling and counters.
"When I'm not being lazy and just falling and do it right, I hook the guy, and give it a second or two," Raven explains "There has to be a space for someone to counter it. If you always hit it suddenly as soon as you grab the neck, when you pause, people will go 'he's pausing so someone will reverse it.' I kinda stole that from Matt Hardy -- the couple second thing. I take bits and pieces from everyone. If I have them by the left arm in a facelock, they'd take their left arm, spin out of it."
After the initial signifying introduction to the move, making it look good is the next task. Raven's DDT is a little different than the version Jake "The Snake" Roberts made his go-to. According to the former NWA Worlds Champion, everything from leg placement, to how fast you fall plays a role.
"To make it look good, you have to kick your legs out and drop to your back as fast as you can," said Raven. "The more your legs are at 90 degrees, it gives the illusion that they've gone in a different direction and that it's more sudden."
Perhaps more importantly, is how the opponent takes the Evenflow. Some better than others. "Guys always want to take a somersault, and I have to tell them a face plant looks so much better, because it looks like you got planted. When you do a somersault, it looks like a somersault and it's actually more dangerous because you got the guy's next. It's more dangerous and looks way worse. There's guys like Kanyon who could spike themselves and stay with their head in the ground and their legs straight out like somebody threw a javelin and it landed in the grass. That makes it look unbelievable. Him and Kidman could do that. I tried, believe me. I take a terrible DDT," laughed Raven.
Who was the worst? Raven was quick to fire friendly shots at a familiar ECW foe.
"Sandman, always Sandman (laughs). I think it's half a rib, because he would do a somersault, but he would land on the other side of me, which is impossible! He'd be on my left side, do a somersault, somehow roll over my side and end up on the other side of me. He's actually a great athlete, you'd never know it by his frankensteiner or half his spots he does," said Raven.
Later in Raven's career, he changed the name of his technique. The motivation for the Evenflow DDT was apparent, but the rechristened "Raven Effect DDT" wasn't as obvious to fans, and had cinematic ties.
"I knew I needed a name for it, and Pearl Jam's "Evenflow" was out, and it was just such a cool name," remembered Raven. "I changed it to the Raven Effect because this movie "Zero Effect" with Bill Pullman. There's a line at the end, he goes 'what has come to be known as the Zero Effect.' I thought that was so cool!"
Raven, real name Scott Levy wasn't always Raven, and he didn't always use the Evenflow DDT. Early in his career, he was blossoming WCW light heavyweight star Scotty Flamingo. Other names included Scotty The Body and Johnny Polo. While portraying some of those characters, he relied on another classic wrestling finishing tactic.
As it turns out, a literal pain in the ass gave birth to the Evenflow DDT.
"Scotty Flamingo used the piledriver the few times he went over, Scotty The Body, I don't remember what he used! I was doing a piledriver before, but with heavier guys it's a pain and it also kills my tailbone and asscheeks. Most guys when they do a piledriver, they fall on their butts. I don't think that looks dangerous at all. You have to kind of jump up and fall back and kick your feet out suddenly before you fall on your ass, but that's a pain in the ass with bigger guys. I figured I'd go with the DDT. Jake was one of my heroes, so it was an homage to him," Raven said.
All anal injuries aside, two of the most popular wrestling moves were made his own, one certainly more famously than the other.
In researching for the segment, I saw claims that "Scotty Flamingo" used a leaping shoulder block to finish off his opponents. The man himself has no recollection of getting airborn.
"(Laughs) I don't think so! I don't think I've ever done a leaping shoulder block! Even in the wrestling magazines, I said I was from Cherry Hill, New Jersey, because that was a wealthy area. Bill Apter decided that Short Hills was a wealthier area and moved me to Short Hills without knowing it. I've never even been there! I finally drove through there like five years ago," he said.
The Evenflow DDT led to two ECW World Championships, four tag team titles in the company, the NWA Worlds Heavyweight Title, the United States and Tag Team Title in WCW, and dozens of titles throughout the independent circuit. One may argue that recreating a move and getting it over could be more of an uphill task than creating one from scratch.
The Evenflow DDT delivered in that regard, and in the ring.