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#FinisherFriday: The Curb Stomp

There are certain finishing moves that make you pause in awe with their beauty and grace—Neville's gravity-defying Red Arrow, Jeff Hardy's daredevil Swanton Bomb, or Matt Sydal's flawless Shooting Star Press.

Matt Sydal for the 2016 Summer Olympics!

There are other moves that make jaws drop with displays of strength so superhuman, they look like a video game cheat code—Brock Lesnar's F5, Ryback's Shell Shocked, or even the Philippine Wrestling Revolution's local powerhouse Main Maxx with his awesome Blitzkrieg Bomb.

PWR's Main Maxx takes a jobber for a ride. Photo from

And then there are moves that seem to have absolutely zero grace or technique behind them, may not be even the least bit pretty, but shock you with their raw savagery. Ox Baker's notorious Heart Punch comes to mind, as does Sheamus' ferocious Brogue Kick.

But as of late, when it comes to pure brutality, there are few moves more vicious than current WWE World Heavyweight Champion Seth Rollins' magnificently cruel Curb Stomp, which involves planting one's boot on the back of a bent-over opponent's head, launching one's self up in the air, and then channeling all of one's momentum to drive the receiver face first into the ground.

Randy Orton about to have the world's worst migraine.
Let's get one thing clear: Seth Rollins is an all-world aerialist. His Phoenix Splash and Skywalker DDT are must-see inclusions on the list of the most athletic pro wrestling moves of all time. He may be no Neville, but gravity does tend to get absent-minded with Mr. Rollins once in a while. His old finisher on the independent circuit, a small package driver dubbed "God's Last Gift" was also an impressive cocktail of technique and physics, winning countless matches for him along the way.

Why would a man with a history of such aerial artistry and technique resort to a move that, on the surface, looks so simple even a two-week wrestling novice could pull it off?

Two answers:
  1. It works
  2. It sends a message
On the first point, the Curb Stomp is legitimately dangerous. Randy Orton, John Cena, Roman Reigns, Dolph Ziggler, Brock Lesnar, and the Big Show will all tell you not even John Lloyd Cruz and all the Biogesic in the world could help you kick out once Seth Rollins stomps your brains out with this move.

Sorry Lloydy, sometimes it's too late for ingat.
Rollins isn't even the first man in wrestling to use the Curb Stomp as a finisher—both Super Dragon and one-time WWE Superstar Paul Burchill have been known to use variants of the move to end their matches.

But there's a different flavor of pure, uncontrived violence to Seth Rollins' version. The hangtime he gets before hitting the move is one of a kind; it feels like he's halfway up to the rafters when he catapults himself up in the air to land his move, much like Rob Van Dam made you feel when he'd raise the roof with his Five Star Frog Splash. At best, you're knocked silly. In worse cases, you end up with a broken nose, a cut lip, or your teeth knocked out. At the absolute worst, the head trauma could cause a concussion, hematoma, or even a skull fracture where a piece of bone can cut into the brain and cause severe bleeding.

The second point is more insidious—the Curb Stomp in popular culture is loaded with a history of bigotry, hate and hooliganism. Made famous by Edward Norton in his neo-Nazi skinhead role in American History X, it has been a preferred "kill shot" for various white power supremacists and homophobes in various hate crimes

The Curb Stomp might be a simple move, but it's one that carries a clear, and pointed message: I hate you. You are lower than me. There are cultures within which seeing the sole of a foot—let alone coming into contact with it!—are perceived as the gravest form of insult. In Arab culture, for instance, when the regime of Saddam Hussein came to an end, citizens displayed their displeasure towards him by slapping his toppled statue with the soles of their shoes.

That's the power of Seth Rollins' devastating Curb Stomp; it is a move that destroys his opponents on multiple levels: physically, psychologically, culturally. 

We don't know when we'll ever see the Curb Stomp in a WWE ring again—unsubstantiated rumors continue to fly on whether it has in fact been banned outright, or merely put on hold until various concussion-related lawsuits are resolved. But until then, we will remember it as a move that rocketed Seth Rollins to peak superstardom, claiming the WWE World Heavyweight Championship from the most fearsome physical specimen in the history of professional wrestling, and continuing to dominate the wrestling world one giant step at a time.


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