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," Fightful.com 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.
How do you establish a finisher in a day where everyone is looking to push the envelope? How can you create something brand new that simultaneously has the ability to "be done to everyone?" "Switchblade" Jay White was faced with when gaining a renewed push in New Japan Pro Wrestling.
Enter the "Blade Runner," a rolling, angled Flatliner. The Flatliner is nothing new. It was popularized by Chris Kanyon in the 1990s, adopted by Edge, and modified by any number of wrestlers since then. The Blade Runner is one of those modifications of the reverse STO, and is perhaps best known as Bray Wyatt's "Sister Abigail" in WWE. Despite the popularity of the move, White tells Fightful.com that another wrestling veteran was the inspiration.
"Most people only know it as the Sister Abigail beforehand, so they're like, ‘oh, he took it from here!’ which is not true at all. I lived with Alex Shelley for the better part of a year. He was my first match in New Japan, we worked together, trained together in the dojo and stuff, so yeah. The Shellshock, that was his move, so that's where the origins of that came from. There's nothing to do with taking it from WWE at all. But you get fans that don't have the knowledge of that, and they think they do, and try to make comments like that. But that was nothing to do with WWE guys, it was adapted and given to me by Alex Shelley," White said.
White, Shelley and Wyatt are just a few of the many who have attempted to make the move their own. Mike Knox made it his go-to while performing in WWE's ECW, as did Fandango during his short-lived WWE push. White compares well physically with Shelley, and says his line of thinking of doing the move is similar to most -- anyone, anywhere, any time. He doesn't deny, however, that there can be exceptions to the rule.
"Yeah, it makes sense, I guess that's why he used it as well," White said. "I'm sure it'd be difficult on bigger guys, but it's not like I have to lift their whole weight over my head or anything like that. It can be hit out of anywhere as well, so I can surprise them with it. It doesn't take a crazy build up for me to get to it, so there's less opportunities for guys to be able to escape or counter it. So that's definitely some of the thought process for it.”
That size difference can pose issues, but so can the way the opponent lands. Ideally a typical face bump is ideal, but given the trajectory, velocity and weight involved, many often end up taking a face plant. That's just another day at the office for a guy like Kenny Omega, who White says takes the move better than anyone else.
"I make sure when I rotate with it that I rotate quick to the point where it pulls them around toward their head so a lot of guys don't really have much of a choice, to be honest. I think the best ones wound up being -- each time I hit Kenny with it, you look at the one where it's him down with the Bullet Club and in the match, I think those are some of the most vicious ones I've done," White told us.
The Blade Runner isn't he only head turner (literally and figuratively) that White executes from his arsenal. He's began using Sharp Sensations -- a crucifix to hold his opponents in place so they can't escape from the barrage of nasty elbows he throws downward at their face. Longtime fans of the UFC recognize this as one of the more famous early knockouts from Gary Goodridge. White said that the 1996 devastation of Paul Herrera stood out to him and led to him adopting the move.
That would have been back last year at some point, was when I first hit it. When I first saw it probably would be several years ago. I've seen a couple people comment, it was from one of the very old UFC fights –. (Gary Goodridge) He finished a fight with it, I remember seeing that maybe even a couple years ago and thinking that would be awesome for a move and no one else ever ... no one seems to have done the exact same thing. Daniel Bryan did similar versions of it before in Ring of Honor, but then I started using it last year and now I just have to use it in Japan.”
Not all moves have stuck around for White. Before his time as "Switchblade," he used a fisherman's driver that he called the "Kiwi Crusher," a play off of Low Ki's "Ki Crusher" name. Even though White doesn't use it to finish opponents off, he was still willing to walk us through the process of using it, naming it, and discovering that NXT UK's Travis Banks also used it.
"That's what I started with." said White. "That became my finish in Ring of Honor when I first got there. Obviously Low-Ki did the Ki Krusher, and we just chucked ‘Kiwi Krusher.’ I just make it slightly different, I grab a different leg to him -- I almost do it a little bit dead lift style, you know. He used to kind of pop guys up and come straight down. I like to hold them up, have their head and leg clutched, and so I have all their weight come down on the top of their head when I do that. That was how the play on the name came about. The funny thing with that is that Travis Banks would come over in England, also from New Zealand, he does the Ki Krusher and calls it the Kiwi Krusher. Neither of us ever said anything like that to each other, we just both happened to be doing it at the same time, and then we realized that both guys did it.”
You can check out additional stories from Fightful about Jay White at this link, and hear our audio with him above. You can see all of these Making A Finisher videos and articles weeks earlier by subscribing to Fightful Select tier 2 ($10).