Saturday Slam: Powerbombs

Professional wrestling is often compared to a game of chess. Your brain has to be high-wired to consistently be one step ahead of your opponent, staying alert to potential signs of injury, repetitive use of moves to counter, and outwitting any outside interference. In turn, your opponent must do the same.

Truly, wrestling is a savant's sport.

So what happens when you flip the table over and begin beating your opponent silly with the chessboard?

Well, you get sheer power, of course! And that's exactly what's on the table for this edition of the Saturday Slam, because we're talking about Powerbombs!

The history of the powerbomb goes all the way back to ancient Greece, if you can believe that. Various artworks that depict what some archaeologists believe to be the earliest instances of wrestling (as it was one of the earliest Olympic sports in Greece) show holds that wrestlers still use today. One such hold, on ancient Greek vases, depicts what resembles a standard powerbomb, meaning a person dropped onto their back and shoulders (though some argue this could be mistaken for an early Tombstone piledriver as well). In Greek, this was called the "anabastasai eis hypsous," meaning "lift on high." The aim, in early wrestling, was not to obliterate your opponent (your opponent's death would merely result in a disqualification, as opposed to, you know, your own death for the crime of murder), but to simply obtain a fall. This same technique can also be found on ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs, on the walls of pyramids.

The first known televised use of a powerbomb was in a match between Lou Thesz and Antonino Rocca in the early 1950s, where it appeared Thesz was attempting a piledriver (this was proven untrue, it is not known if Thesz ever used a piledriver in his career), but dropped Rocca onto his back and shoulders instead of his neck. Because of this, Thesz is credited with inventing the powerbomb, as he is with many other wrestling moves and holds still used today.

Like a piledriver, it really is nothing more than barbaric power, but unlike a piledriver, there haven't been many issues with people nearly dying after taking one. Your standard powerbomb starts with the opponent taking the move being lifted from a standing headscissors position (bent forward with their head in the attacker's thighs) so they're seated on their opponent's shoulders, and then slammed back-first onto the mat.

The powerbomb is the monster heel's best friend. From Psycho Sid to Diesel to Kevin Owens, if they're a big guy (yes, even you, Ryback), chances are they've used a powerbomb. Not always to finish off their opponents, however, a powerbomb can be an excellent counter to a hurricanrana or a headscissors, and can be used to thwart attacks from off the top rope. Any good move requires versatility, and a powerbomb certainly has that.

No powerbomb is more brutal (and potentially lethal), however, than the Ganso Bomb (or the Originator Bomb). On January 22nd, 1999, Toshiaki Kawada was facing Mitsuharu Misawa for the All-Japan Pro Wrestling Triple Crown Heavyweight Championship (AJPW's top prize). Kawada attempted a standard powerbomb on Misawa, but could not lift him high enough due to a broken arm suffered earlier in the match (Fun fact, he fought through the injury and WON), and inadvertently dropped Misawa straight on his head. This move is considered one of the most dangerous in all of professional wrestling, as the opponent taking the attack is in freefall with no way to protect themselves from the drop on their head.

Despite a rather dangerous cousin, the powerbomb is a staple of professional wrestling, a move often reliable and effective, as well as an efficient counter technique. Sometimes simpler is better, and your basic powerbomb, while not flashy, can certainly get the job done when it needs to... I mean, if the booking allows it, then it's a force to be reckoned with.

But that's another chapter complete! When next we meet, we settle one of wrestling's greatest, age-old debates: What the hell is the difference between a clothesline and a lariat?

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