The Saturday Slam: Shooting Star Press

It's no secret that in professional wrestling, there is very little room for error when executing moves, especially if you fancy aerial offense. It takes an astounding amount of cooperation from both sides, as the attacker must know when the receiver is ready for the move in order to execute it, and the receiver must be ready to protect the attacker from the harsh impact. You ever notice when Seth Rollins pulls off a suicide dive, or when Sami Zayn executes a tope con hilo, the receiver always makes it look like they're attempting to catch their opponent? This is so they don't fly over or through the ropes and onto the floor, straight onto their necks. If professional wrestling is a dance, then a Cruiserweight match is ballet en pointe.

So what are we given when the only task the receiver has is to lay flat on the mat, and the pressure is largely on the attacker NOT to botch the move? Well, we get this week's topic, the Shooting Star Press.

What may be considered the most impressive move in professional wrestling is also considered one of the most potentially lethal. True, the shooting star is a spectacular maneuver, it can be graceful when executed properly. It takes a hell of a lot of balance, timing, and perfection to pull one off successfully. However, that may also be the move's Achilles heel, as the slightest mistiming, or the smallest of distances off could be dangerous to the attacker. An off landing could potentially break their necks, and possibly even injure the receiver given wherever the attacker lands on them, if they land on them at all. Regardless, as we do every week, let's dissect this move and discover what exactly the appeal of transcending to outer space is. And to start, we look to Japan, to one of wrestling's biggest icons:


(Seen here, in all of his glorious splendor. He was glorious before GLORIOUS was glorious.)

Keiichi Yamada, better known as Jushin Thunder Liger, is the man we have to thank for inventing the shooting star press. Liger debuted the maneuver in a match against Masakatsu Funaki in August of 1987, in his early days with New Japan Pro Wrestling. Liger found inspiration for this move from a similar move performed in the manga Fist of the North Star (What specific issue, I could not tell you, for I am not an avid manga reader). Being one of the most influential Junior stars of NJPW, the shooting star press, through Liger's influence, became the go-to final move for many Cruiserweights, including Billy Kidman, Ricochet, Adrian Neville, and perhaps the best executor of the move today, Matt Sydal.


(LOOK AT THAT. Absolutely flawless.)

The shooting star press sees the receiver lying supine on the mat. The attacker climbs to the top turnbuckle, leaps forward, executing a backflip in midair, and lands on their opponent's chest, often followed by a cover. One reason why this move is so dangerous is because the backflip, as stated earlier, takes such precision to execute, and from such a dangerous area of the ring. One wrong move could spell disaster for either wrestler, sometimes both wrestlers.

The most infamous example of this came from Wrestlemania XIX (19), on March 30th, 2003. Any wrestling fan can recognize this moment. Brock Lesnar, in a match for the WWE Championship against Kurt Angle, took to the top rope in an attempt to secure a victory after two unsuccessful attempts with the F5. Seeing Brock Lesnar attempt a shooting star press was unbelievable in itself. It's what happened after that people cringe. Lesnar mistimed the move, as Angle was about half the ring's length away, and landed square on his NECK, legitimately concussing himself, and leaving him stunned, forced to improvise the finish of the match.


(No witty comments here, this was nasty to watch.)

What should have been an iconic Wrestlemania moment nearly turned tragic. However, while some criticize Lesnar for attempting a move he should have no knowledge of performing, what many fans may not know is during his time in Ohio Valley Wrestling (WWE's previous developmental territory), the shooting star press was Lesnar's regular finishing move. Say what you will about Lesnar, and we all have plenty to say, but in his prime he was a mad athletic beast.


(Here it is executed PROPERLY, albeit still missing the full target. More a shooting star headbutt than anything else.)

Another incident occurred on an episode of SmackDown in 2004, where Billy Kidman accidentally gave Chavo Guerrero a legitimate concussion as a result of a botched shooting star press (This would be used in a story to incite a heel turn from Kidman and a feud with then tag team partner Paul London). Because of these two incidents, the shooting star press was placed on a temporary ban in 2005. I don't think Kidman should feel too bad, though. He's no stranger to botching his signature maneuver...


(Seven Year Itch? Not quite, how about Seven Year Ruptured Stomach...)

One more bit of information before we close. While the shooting star press is the name of the move we're highlighting today, the term "shooting star," when used in wrestling, at least, refers to any move executed after a backflip from an elevated position. Mainly leg drops and elbow drops are performed out of a shooting star, but there have also been shooting star sentons and even shooting star DDTs.



(The shooting star in action.)

And, of course, we must highlight a special variant of the shooting star press: The Red Arrow, a shooting star press performed from a CORKSCREW, and the signature move of WWE''s resident objector to gravity, Adrian Neville. Perhaps the greatest athletic feat in wrestling today, though that can be contested, of course.


(Beauty comes from many angles, truly...)

As much as I adore the Cruiserweight style, I realize the very real danger it possesses. We can watch these amazing feats of athleticism and be impressed, of course, but not many fans appreciate the risk it involves, nor do they appreciate the amount of fortitude it takes to wrestle such a high-risk style nightly. I do hope after reading this, and any other issue of the SS, that people can stop an recognize that these moves and holds, while seemingly mundane, are just as big a part of a wrestling promotion as the wrestlers themselves.

Because after ten issues, I'm not stopping yet.

But, that is issue ten in the books! When next we meet, we'll be perched up top for just a little longer, as we've already seen the stars, but we've yet to see the moon. Until then, Cagesiders!

And hey, if you enjoyed THIS particular rambling, check out the other issues of the Saturday Slam!

Issue #1: Piledrivers

Issue #2: Powerbombs

Issue #3: Clotheslines V.S. Lariats

Issue #4: Sharpshooters

Issue #5: Hurricanranas V.S. Frankensteiners

Issue #6: Pin Variations

Issue #7: Frog Splash

Issue #8: Neckbreakers

Issue #9: Spears

The FanPosts are solely the subjective opinions of Cageside Seats readers and do not necessarily reflect the views of Cageside Seats editors or staff.