10. The Crossface
Kicking this list off is one of the most drama-inducing submissions in lush the history of technical wrestling.
This move has played a part in some of the most elegant and dramatic sequences and finishes over the years, and when it well and truly locked in, there aren’t many moves that get you hooked on the idea that the match is going to end right then and there more than the crossface.
Also, the unbelievable sequences leading up to the move and its possible counters make it an absolute gem in the storytelling, and whether the hands are clamped over the eyes, nose, or mouth, the move is visually impressive. Lots of wrestlers have the crossface in their arsenal and I’m going to mention three of the best.
Chris Benoit was arguably the one who made this move famous with his Crippler Crossface. It was a brilliant move that won Benoit many championships including the World Heavyweight Championship at Wrestlemania 20 (which has been erased from history for obvious reasons). My favorite Crippler Croosface was on SmackDown when Benoit reversed Rhyno’s Gore to tie him up in the Crossface and get the win in what is genuinely one of the best counters I’ve ever seen.
Sasha Banks has her own version of this move called the Banks Statement. It perfectly suits her character as she’s able to take down and punish much bigger women than herself, she may be small, but she’s the best, and the name Banks Statement is just really cool. Also, she hits a backstabber before locking in the Banks Statement which enhances the submission as the back is the part that she focuses on the most, twisting it to the point where it’s almost uncomfortable to watch. Moreover, she adds these little touches to the submission that truly make it epic, like when she’s a babyface, she almost starts crying when she applies the hold and it really sells the gravity of it. And when she’s a heel, well, you only need to watch her match against Bayley at NXT Takeover Brooklyn in which she repeatedly stomped on Bayley’s injured hand to prevent her from getting to the ropes, it was glorious.
And last but certainly not least, is, of course, Daniel Bryan’s Lebel Lock, or Yes Lock, or No Lock. Whatever you might want to call it, Daniel Bryan has used the crossface effectively throughout the entirety of his career. You know a move is devastating when one of the best technical wrestlers of all time uses it as his submission finisher. Daniel Bryan is so good that the Wrestling Observer Newsletter for Best Technical Wrestler is named after him. He’s an amazing man who’s done amazing things with his amazing finisher, his career highlight being winning the WWE title at Wrestlemania by tapping Batista out with the Yes Lock.
Also, a shoutout to William Regal’s Regal Stretch, which could be considered a variant of the crossface and is painful to watch in all the best ways.
Is it a coincidence that the crossface has been the finisher of some of the best wrestlers of all time and that too at the height of their careers? You tell me.