The Undertaker has garnered one of the most decorated careers in the history of professional wrestling. Someone who was a prominent performer in WWE for the past three decades, The Undertaker always stood out as The Phenom of the company. The Undertaker’s tombstone piledriver is regarded as among the best WWE finishers, and the maneuver has a fascinating history regarding how the move received its notoriety in wrestling.
The Credibility Of The Tombstone Piledriver
When discussing the greatest finishers in WWE, many would point to the tombstone piledriver as among the top favorites of all time. Popularized by The Undertaker upon his WWE debut at the Survivor Series 1990 PPV, the tombstone piledriver is regarded as one of the most devastating moves in WWE. Once The Undertaker hit the Tombstone piledriver, one could almost guarantee that his opponent wouldn’t be kicking out of the pinfall.
One of the reasons why the Tombstone piledriver gets looked upon as among the all-time favorites is its credibility. As WWE went out of their way to protect the credibility of the move, it helped The Undertaker be taken seriously as a threat, because not only did the Tombstone piledriver look painful, the fact that hardly anyone kicked out of the move made the maneuver seem more dangerous.
When wrestlers did kick out of the Tombstone piledriver, one could almost guarantee they were on an elite level. That’s why the list of superstars that kicked out after receiving the finisher is limited. For instance, legendary superstars like Brock Lesnar and Shawn Michaels, who’ve got a near-fall after receiving the Tombstone piledriver, have appeared credible by doing so, which showcases how well WWE has protected the move for three decades.
Wrestlers Have Also Used The Tombstone Piledriver
Although best associated with The Undertaker, many wrestlers have used the same variation of the piledriver maneuver that The Undertaker did. No one could forget his half-brother Kane utilizing the Tombstone finisher throughout his career, even though it was more of a secondary finisher in his later years.
Andre the Giant would also use the same variation of the Tombstone piledriver while jumping in the air, doing it back in the 1970s. It’s been said he was the first to do the maneuver. And who could forget the legendary Sting also using the Tombstone piledriver as his signature maneuver, especially during his days in WCW?
But despite this, the Tombstone piledriver is one of the most distinctive finishers in WWE, almost being an exclusive for The Undertaker. However, that didn’t stop some superstars from stealing his finisher while wrestling him, like Triple H hitting the Tombstone piledriver on The Undertaker for the near-fall at the Wrestlemania 27 PPV. Every time someone uses the Tombstone piledriver on The Undertaker, it’s almost always a memorable moment.
The Undertaker’s Evolution Of Finishers
When The Undertaker wrestled his first televised WWE match at the Survivor Series 1990 PPV, the Tombstone piledriver instantly became his signature trademark finisher. Unlike some superstars who change their finishing maneuvers as their careers progress, like Steve Austin changing his finishing move from the Cobra Clutch to the Stone Cold Stunner, the Tombstone piledriver has always been among The Undertaker’s list of finishers.
Although the Tombstone piledriver had always been Undertaker’s finishing maneuver, there was a time when the move was more of an alternative finisher for The Undertaker. When The Undertaker debuted “The American Badass” persona at the Judgment Day 2000 PPV, he added the Last Ride to his list of finishers. Though The Undertaker would continue to utilize the Tombstone piledriver from time to time, the Last Ride maneuver was his go-to finisher for the next three years the “American Badass” persona lasted.
After The Undertaker lost to Vince McMahon in a Buried Alive match at the Survivor Series 2003 PPV, with the assist from Kane, The Undertaker retired his “American Badass” gimmick and returned under the “Deadman” gimmick at Wrestlemania 20, defeating Kane in the process. Because of the return of the “Deadman” gimmick, The Undertaker revised the Tombstone piledriver as his first finisher while keeping the Last Ride maneuver as a secondary finisher for the rest of his career. Whether The Undertaker evolved as the “American Badass” or the “Deadman,” the Tombstone piledriver always remained as a signature piece of his overall character.