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#FinisherFriday (11/30/18): The Torture Rack

from USAToday.com
Welcome to another edition of #FinisherFriday! This is Wreddit_Regal bringing to you an analysis of one of the submission maneuvers that have stood the test of time.

This one holds a special place in my mind, as one of the earliest memories of wrestling in my childhood was me and my brother watching Lex Luger grab a weakened opponent, hoist him above his shoulders, take hold of his leg with the right arm and the chin on the left arm, and proceed to jump and yank the bloody hell out of it repeatedly. It was a display of raw strength, since you can't just bend a normal person backwards if you weren't gifted with such physical prowess like Luger did. (After watching the VHS tape, my brother was eager to learn the new move, and you probably know what happened afterwards.)

In the present, numerous wrestlers both male and female have incorporated the move in their arsenal, giving them near-instantaneous victories once the hold's applied. I should knowas my small body was bent in the air many years ago by my brother, the pain was enough to realize that it was called the "Torture Rack" for a damn good reason.


To be technical, the Torture Rack is technically known as an Argentine backbreaker rack. The maneuver consists of the following steps:

  1. The attacking wrestler places his/her opponent face-up across the wrestler's own shoulders (think of the F5 or AA setup, but with the opponent's body facing the ceiling)
  2. The attacking wrestler hooks the opponent's leg with one arm, and the chin or neck with the other arm
  3. The attacking wrestler proceeds to pull down on both ends to flex the opponent's back. Most of the time, the attacking wrestler bounces up and down to aid their arms in the bending process.



Sounds and looks devastating, doesn't it? But let's get to know the move more so that we can fathom its exact nature.

Bending the back won't produce a substantial amount of pain (as evidenced by the back stretches used in yoga classes, and the degree of bend is visibly more than the bending done on the Torture Rack). You need to bend the opponent's back to more than his/her tolerable level, and unless the match is a superfight (i.e. a small wrestler against a bigger wrestler), a wrestler cannot in any way bend a similar-sized opponent's back to a degree that causes pain. So how come this move can make people tap out in seconds? Two important factors come into play:

1. The attacking wrestler uses his/her nape and shoulders as a fulcrum in bending the opponent's body.

Think of the situation as trying to snap a golf club in two. With just your two hands (and assuming you have serious arm power), a minor bend is the best you can do. But add your knee to the fray, and you have a powerful third force at your disposal. Your knee must not be stationary when you try to snap the golf club over it, but instead travel upwards in a fast motion, to act as the breaking force. (NOTE: I do not promote violence against golf clubs in any way.)

Similarly, to generate a breaking force as the body rests in the fulcrum, the attacking wrestler bounces multiple times to slowly bend the body to even greater degrees. This gradual increase in bending until the object/wrestler snaps in two is collectively a hybrid between a "quasi-static load" (gradual bend done by the motion of the arms) and a "dynamic load" (done by the quick motion of the knee/bouncing up and down).

from Thoughtco.com

So, to recap quickly:

Opponent - Golf club
Your arms - Your arms
Your nape and shoulder - Your knee
Bouncing up and down - Your knee traveling upwards
Quasi-static load - bending using the arms
Dynamic load - sudden colliding motion caused by the knee/bouncing up and down

2. This is the underrated and often overlooked part. Remember that part about hooking the opponent's head using the other arm? In the video montage above, notice how the attacker's hand or arm is placed, and where it is placed. This crucial hand/arm placement is what determines the equally painful "secondary attack":

a. If the hand/arm rests upon the chin of the recipient as the move is being done, then it is certain that the recipient is dealt with a secondary neck crank like the one in this picture:


b. If the hand/arm rests upon the neck of the recipient as the move is being done, then it is certain that the recipient is dealt with a brute version of an air choke. Although less capable of causing unconsciousness than blood chokes, air chokes are VERY PAINFUL since the trachea and larynx are very delicate and inflexible. This may cause irreversible damage if applied for a long time.


In both cases, it is a no-brainer that the pain is normally unbearable, and results in a quick tapout.

So there you have it chaps, the Torture Rack deconstructed. What move do you want to see in the next week's article? Let us know in the comment section below!

*****

Wreddit_Regal is the resident sports kinesiologist of Reddit's wrestling forum,r/squaredcircle. From the most basic of punches to the most intricate double-team maneuvers, he can explain them within the realm of human anatomy and physics, because when doing absolutely nothing wrestling-related, he also happens to work as an operating room nurse.

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