Submission grappling has been around for centuries, and if you have an older/younger brother or cousins close in age to you, you may have direct experience with very basic submission grappling. Although Vince isn’t the biggest fans of submissions, these moves are essential to wrestling as we know it. The tool of highly-skilled wrestlers, submissions don’t just put wrestlers into painful predicaments and end matches, but they can also function to help tell a story through the course of a match. All of that being said, let’s take a lot at the 5 most painful submission holds in the WWE today, in no particular order.
Cross Arm Breaker - With a legitimate MMA background—Del Rio fought former heavyweight star Mirko CroCop —Del Rio brings a very real and very painful submission from the MMA cage and judo dojos to the ring. Placing pressure on both the shoulder and the elbow, the efficacy of the cross armbar is unquestionable, seeing that many MMA fighters use this maneuver in fights, most notably, the undefeated UFC women’s champion, Ronda Rousey.
Lion Tamer- Note: Not the Walls of Jericho, the Lion Tamer. Jericho has left to go back on tour, but this can still be counted since he was wrestling as recently as 2 weeks ago. In the WWE, the Walls of Jericho devolved into a friendly-looking Boston Crab, but back in WCW, the Lion Tamer was one of the most painful-looking submission moves in the company. Rob Dyrdek uses the term “scorpion” to describe what the human body does when the torso slams into the ground so quickly that the legs are forced up and over the lower back. A “scorpion” lasts for a half a second at most. Imagine someone deliberately contorting your body in that manner and then adding the insult to injury by placing their knee on your head. In his last run, Jericho would do the move once in a blue moon if he had an opponent who could sell it properly.
No Lock- Daniel Bryan is not just a storyline submissions specialist; he actually knows countless submissions as a result of undertaking legitimate MMA training at Randy Couture’s Xtreme Couture gym. It’s no surprise then that he uses a submission hold that fuses two different submissions into one massive painful maneuver: the omoplata and the crossface. Named for the man who taught him this hold, the Yes! Lock wrenches the arm while grating the face. Two points of pain, two points of pressure, two reasons to tap.
Kimura- Anytime a move produces the gruesome arm fracture that Frank Mir produced in a fight last year, that move is dangerous and something to fear. With Brock Lesnar’s import of the Kimura to professional wrestling, the move easily becomes one of the most dangerous submission holds in the sport. All of the supposed swelling of Triple H’s arm that occurred after the first two Triple H/Lesnar matches may be true, because even if Lesnar wasn’t pulling too hard, the hold is painful and effective.
Hell’s Gate, aka the Gogoplata- Using the shin bone to create a nasty choke sounds like a mean submission, and there’s no question that it is. This choke traps the near arm and uses the shin to press into the trachea while pulling the head down into the shin (either by pulling the head down or pulling the free leg in variations). It’s a dreadful choke that opponents must detest, so one can see why the Undertaker decided to add this sinister move to a bruising moveset.
As professional wrestling has evolved, its’ apparent that various maneuvers from martial arts disciplines have been incorporated into movesets. Specifically, many well-known submissions in the WWE are actual MMA holds used by mixed martial artists. Being legitimate submission holds that gnarl and wrench limbs and force tap out, these holds are some of the most painful submissions in wrestling today.