Most fans will agree that the most recognizable — and easily the most imitated — finishing move in professional wrestling is the stunner.
Stone Cold Steve Austin, then in the midst of a persona change, needed a new finishing move that would help establish his character as a beer-chugging, boot-stomping rattlesnake.
He wasn’t the innovator behind it, though. The credit belongs to ECW alum Mikey Whipwreck — but it was Stone Cold who catapulted the move to the level of the iconic.
The stunner itself has several variations, most of them much more impressive-looking than Stone Cold’s. In fact, there’s nothing swanky about his version: It only involves a middle finger and a boot to the gut, followed by a sit-down face lock.
In case you forgot, it looks really quite ancient (still awesome, though) if seen today:
Many wrestlers have included it in their arsenal of moves since Austin retired from in-ring competition 16 years ago, but only one had the balls to make the passing of the torch official: Kevin Owens.
He told Sports Illustrated earlier this month: “One day it occurred to me that no one does the stunner as a finishing move, but to me, it’s always been the best move.
“I just went to Steve one day when he was here and I asked him, and he said, ‘I can’t believe nobody’s asked me this before, but of course you can use it. Do whatever you want with it.’ I did that out of respect for the people who’ve come before me. I would never want to do that without his approval.”
If anything, he should have done it sooner. Owens, like Austin back in the day, portrays the character of an everyman who has no problem standing up to authority figures. In fact, the McMahons seem to love working with him just as much as they did with Austin.
“I’ve worked with Shane many times and I got to do a program with Vince. I’ve even been involved with Triple H and Stephanie on TV,” Owens tells SPIN Life. “Anything that I got to do with any member of the McMahon family is extremely memorable. I grew up watching this empire that they’ve created, and now I get to share screen time with them. I get to wrestle Shane and I get to head-butt Vince. If those aren’t career highlights, then I don’t know what are.”
As honored as he is to be associated with the rattlesnake, Owens doesn’t want people to forget that there’s more to his career than the stunner.
“I hope I’m not just remembered for a finishing move, so I don’t really care either way,” he points out. “I just want to be remembered for creating moments that people will talk about for many years so I don’t really have a preference. I’m sure before my career is over I’ll switch to another finishing move. Whenever it stops working I’ll come up with something else.”