Calling the Moves – Detailing the Powerbomb (Variations, Videos & Rare Facts)

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Hello and welcome back to the Pro Wrestling Culture Cloud (PW2C)! Rather than listing five random moves, this week’s edition of Calling the Moves will focus on the Powerbomb. Before we start, feel free to take a look at this pro wrestling glossary in order to get more familiar with some terms.

Jack Swagger delivers the Gutwrench Powerbomb


The Powerbomb is a classic move that almost every powerhouse wrestler includes in his arsenal nowadays. The name “bomb” has been attributed due to the noise that is caused when a wrestler is slammed to the mat as it is somewhat similar to that of a detonating bomb. The classic Powerbomb is executed by placing the opponent’s head between the thighs (known as a Headscissor hold) and lifting him from the abdomen. It results in a 270° flip as the opponent sits on the attacker’s shoulders before he is slammed back/head first. As you will see later, the original Powerbomb was slightly different. The Powerbomb can be followed by a Bridge, which means that the wrestler keeps the cover for the pin when he slams the opponent (watch here).

The Powerbomb was a famous move for several decades, but it was closer to a take-down offense than a powerful finisher in its earlier days. On the other hand, it is also one of the most dangerous throws in pro wrestling and caused a significant number of serious injuries when executed improperly. One example is when Brock Lesnar broke Bob Holly’s neck because he was sandbagged and could not complete the lift. The move is also a legitimate throw and is sometimes used in MMA.


1. Ganso Bomb

This is the original Powerbomb, which is the reason behind the use of the Japanese term “Ganso”, meaning “inventor”. It was brought in by the late Lou Thesz and differs from the current Powerbomb because of the Waistlock. In fact, instead of sitting on the attacker’s shoulders, the victim lays head down in -almost- a vertical position before the attacker drops him on the upper back and/or the neck. It should not be confused with the Texas Piledriver, as the two look almost identical. In contrast with the claims that the Ganso Bomb was accidentally invented by a botched Piledriver, Lou Thesz attributes this move to Greco-Roman wrestling’s Front Body Drop. While unproven, he even claims that the throw is illustrated in some Ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics. You can watch this footage to witness its first use ever.

2. Sitout Powerbomb (or Sit-Down Powerbomb)

This variant differs toward the finish as the attacker sits down when slamming the opponent. In kayfabe, the Sitout Powerbomb gives more power and allows the attacker to keep the position and pin his opponent right away. The move is used by several famous wrestlers like Awesome Kong (aka Kharma). As for Batista, his Batista Bomb is not a perfectly executed Sitout Powerbomb since he does not sit with the opponent as much as he rolls back because of the momentum (watch here).

3. Crucifix Powerbomb

Scott Hall is often credited for this variant. Instead of lifting the opponent to sit on his shoulders, the attacker lifts him and grabs his arms, making the opponent lay on the attacker’s own back like a cross. Then, he uses the opponent’s arms to either slam him down (e.g. Scott Hall’s Razor Edge) or throw him in what would be referred to as a Release Crucifix Powerbomb (e.g. Sheamus’ Celtic Cross). Just like Sheamus’ case, the move is prominent among powerhouses who adopt a Christian/antichristian gimmick such as Kevin Thorn/Mordecai.

4. Tiger Bomb (or Tiger Driver)

Yet another innovation by a portrayer of Tiger Mask, the late Mitsuharu Misawa (Tiger Mask II). Instead of lifting him from the midsection, the attacking wrestler holds the bent-over opponent in a Double-Underhook hold, as in Triple H’s Pedigree, and then raises him from the twisted arms. The attacker generally sits with the opponent, which technically makes it a “Double Underhook Sitout Powerbomb”. Similarly to the Crucifix Powerbomb, the Tiger Bomb has a less powerful impact than a straight Powerbomb. You can watch a tribute to Misawa’s Tiger Bomb here.

5. Sunset Flip Bomb

This variant is mostly used by lighter wrestlers and is a recurring spot in Ladder matches. It usually starts by placing the bent-over opponent in a Headscissor hold while the attacker is on a higher position (e.g. top turnbuckle, ladder). The attacker proceeds to move over with a front flip over his victim, briefly placing his shoulders under the back of the opponent and then slamming him to the mat. A standing version, labeled DOA (Dead On Arrival), was used by several TNA wrestlers who portrayed the character Suicide… and by Sin Cara here.


I’ll wrap this up with a video tribute to Mike Awesome’s finisher, the Awesome Bomb. While it is supposed to be a normal -albeit stiff- Powerbomb, the late Mike Awesome has used most of the variations described above, and from all the imaginable positions (on the ring apron, top turnbuckle, on tables…). You can watch it here.

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