Professional wrestling holds

Professional wrestling holds

Professional wrestling holds include a number of set moves and pins used by performers to immobilize their opponents or lead to a submission. This article covers the various pins, stretches and transition holds used in the ring. Moves are listed under general categories whenever possible.



An element borrowed from professional wrestling's catch wrestling origins, stretches (or submission holds) are techniques in which a wrestler holds another in a position that puts stress on the opponent's body. Stretches are usually employed to weaken an opponent or to force him or her to submit, either vocally or by tapping out: slapping the mat, floor, or opponent with a free hand three times. Many of these holds, when applied vigorously, stretch the opponent's muscles or twist his or her joints uncomfortably, hence the name. Chokes, although not in general stress positions like the other stretches, are usually grouped with stretches as they serve the same tactical purposes. In public performance, for safety's sake, stretches are usually not performed to the point where the opponent must submit or risk injury. Likewise, chokes are usually not applied to the point where they cut off the oxygen supply to the opponent's brain.

Head, face, chin and shoulder

Camel clutch

Professional wrestler Tajiri applies a camel clutch hold on Rene Bonaparte in May 2009.

The wrestler sits on the back of his opponent, who is face down on the mat, and places the arm or, more commonly, both arms of the opponent on his thighs.[1] The wrestler then reaches around the opponent's head and applies a chinlock and then leans back and pulls the opponent's head and torso.[1] A camel clutch can also refer simply to a rear chinlock while seated on the back of an opponent, without placing the arms on the thighs.[2] The move was invented by Gory Guerrero in Mexico, where it was called la de a caballo (Horse-mounting choke).[1]

Stepover armlock camel clutch

The wrestler first stands over a kneeling or prone opponent with each leg beside the opponent's either side. The wrestler then grabs one of the opponent's arms in a stepover armlock, spinning 360° so the opponent's arm is bent with pressure on it, and results in the wrestler facing the same direction as he did before applying the hold. The wrestler, however, would not keeping holding the arm of the opponent, but rather sandwich it between his side of leg and opponent's side (body or waist), or the wrestler can simply trap it under his thigh and used leg. The wrestler then uses his "free" hands and holds the wrestler in a chinlock.


Chinlock Ivanov Sassi

Also known as a rear chinlock this hold sees an attacking wrestler lift his/her opponent, who is lying on the mat face up, to a sitting position. The wrestler then places his/her knee in the opponent's back, grasps the opponent's chin, and either pulls straight back on the chin or wrenches it to the side.

Chekov Preston Chinlock
Reverse chinlock
Randy Orton applying a reverse chinlock to John Cena.

This move sees the attacker kneel behind a sitting opponent and wrap around one arm under the opponent's chin and lock his/her hands. As with a sleeper hold, this move can also be performed from a standing position. Another variation of this hold, referred to as a bridging reverse chinlock, sees the attacking wrestler kneel before the opponent and grasp his/her neck into a reverse chinlock. The wrestler then flips forward to plant his/her feet and bridge his/her back, adding additional pressure to the opponent's neck and upper back.


The claw was a squeezing of the skull, applied by curling one's finger tips using primarily the last two knuckles of the finger, thereby applying five different points of pressure. The focal point is to use gripping power to almost attempt to press one's fingers into the opponent's head as opposed to just squeezing with the flat of ones fingers.

Shoulder claw
Shaun Koen applying the Lion's Claw (Shoulder claw)

Similar to a clawhold, the attacking wrestler applies a nerve lock onto the opponent's shoulder(s) using his/her hands and fingers for a submission attempt, sometimes by the same effect as a sleeper hold. One variant may see the wrestler instead lock his/her hands on the opponent's neck. Another variation may see the wrestler mount an opponent on his/her back and apply the hold for either a pinfall or a submission.

Stomach claw

Just like the original clawhold, the attacker applies a painful nerve hold to his\her adversary's stomach, forcing them to submit or pass out.

Cobra clutch

The wrestler stands behind the opponent and uses one arm to place the opponent in a half nelson. The wrestler then uses his free arm to pull the opponent's arm (the same arm to which the wrestler is applying the half nelson) across the face of the opponent. The wrestler then locks his hand to his wrist behind the opponent's neck to make the opponent submit or lose consciousness as the carotid artery is cut off.

Bridging cobra clutch

With the opponent lying face down, the wrestler sits beside the opponent, facing the same way, locks on the cobra clutch, and then arches his legs and back, bending the opponent's torso and neck upwards.



This neck crank is also known as the Crippler Crossface after Chris Benoit. The wrestler starts by catching the opponent's right/left arm in a leg scissor and then wraps his/her hands around the opponent's face, pulling the opponent's head backwards.

Front chancery

The wrestler faces the opponent while both are in same position (prone or standing). The wrestler then places his/her forearm under the opponent's chin and his/her armpit on top of the chin. The wrestler may also underhook the opponent's arm with his/her free arm.

Front sleeper

The wrestler places the opponent in a front chancery and rolls backwards. This pulls the opponent over the top of the wrestler and onto the opponent's back, with the wrestler ending up lying on the opponent. The wrestler then squeezes the opponent's torso with his/her legs, similar to a body scissors, and arches his spine backwards, pulling the opponent's head forward, and thus applying pressure on the neck and facial region.

Front facelock

The wrestler faces his opponent, who is bent-over. The wrestler tucks the opponent's head in his armpit and wraps his arm around the head so that the forearm is pressed against the face. The wrestler then grabs the arm with his free hand to lock in the hold and compress the opponent's face.

Inverted facelock

The wrestler stands behind his opponent and bends him backwards. The wrestler tucks the opponent's head face-up under his armpit, and wraps his arm around the head so that his forearm is pressed against the back of the opponent's neck. The wrestler then pulls the opponent's head backwards and up, wrenching the opponent's neck.

Bite of the Dragon

This sees a wrestler stand behind an opponent, grabbing them in an inverted facelock on the opponent and having a wrestler trap his legs around the opponent's body for a body scissors. This move can also be used within the ring ropes which makes it an illegal move under most match rules, and the attacking wrestler has to release the hold before the referee reaches a five count or be disqualified

Stretch Plum

The wrestler applies an inverted facelock to a seated opponent and places his far leg between the opponent's legs and pushes his near leg's knee against the opponent's back. The wrestler then pulls the opponent's head backwards with their arms and the opponent's far leg outwards with their leg.

Head and neck rake

The attacker places his opponent in a standing headscissors, then jumps up and down, aggravating the neck area.

Mandible claw

The mandible claw is a maneuver which, when applied correctly against an individual, is purported to cause intense, legitimate pain. The hold is applied when the aggressor places his middle and ring fingers into the opponent's mouth, sliding them under the tongue and jabbing into the soft tissue found at the bottom of the mouth. The thumb and/or palm of the same hand is placed under the jaw, and pressure is applied downward by the middle and ring fingers while the thumb/palm forces the jaw upwards.

Neck scissors

Also referred to as a head scissors, this hold sees a wrestler approach a fallen opponent and sit next to them before turning onto their side towards the opponent and placing their legs on either side of the opponent's head, crossing the top leg after its gone around the opponent's chin. The wrestler then tightens the grip to choke an opponent by compressing their throat. Often, however, an opponent will simply place their hands under the knee of the attacking wrestler and push it up over their chin so they can escape. Another way to escape the hold will see the opponent raise themselves to their feet while still in the hold, forcing the attacking wrestler to a seated position. This in turn uncrosses their legs, allowing the opponent to simply lift their head out.

Nelson hold

Chris Masters applies the Master Lock (wrenching full nelson) to René Duprée.

The nelson hold in professional wrestling usually takes the form of the full nelson, half nelson, or three-quarter nelson. In all three variations, from behind his opponent, the wrestler slips either one or both arms underneath the opponent's armpits and locks his hands behind his neck, pushing the opponent's head forward against his chest. There is also an inverted version where instead of performing the move from behind the opponent, the wrestler stands in front of the opponent and uses the move in the same way as the normal full nelson

Side headlock

Chris Masters applies a standing side headlock on Shawn Michaels

In this hold a wrestler who is facing away from an opponent would wrap his/her arm around the neck of an opponent. This is also called a reverse chancery. Though this is an often used rest hold, it is also sometimes the beginning of a standard bulldog move.

Standing headscissors

The wrestler tucks his opponent's head in between his legs or thigh(s). This hold can be used as a submission hold, or mostly and noticeably transitioned into a powerbomb.

Three-quarter facelock

The wrestler stands in front of the opponent while both people are facing the same direction, with some space in between the two. Then, the wrestler moves slightly to the left while still positioned in front of the opponent. The wrestler then uses the near hand to reach back and grab the opponent from behind the head, thus pulling the opponent's head above the wrestler's shoulder. Sometimes the free arm is placed at the top of the opponent's head.


Short for Stepover Toehold Facelock. This hold is performed on an opponent who is lying face down on the mat. A wrestler grabs one of the opponent's legs, and places the opponent's ankle between his/her thighs. The wrestler then lies on top of the opponent's back and locks his arms around the opponent's head. The wrestler then pulls back stretching the opponent's back, neck, and knee.

Cross-legged STF

The wrestler takes the opponent's legs, bends them at the knees, and crosses them, placing one ankle in the other leg's knee-pit. The wrestler then grabs the free ankle and places its ankle between his thighs. He then lies on top of the opponent's back and locks his arms around the opponent's face. The wrestler then pulls back stretching the opponent's back, neck, and knees.

Muta Lock

The cross-legged, inverted STF, or simply known as the Muta Lock. The wrestler first takes the opponent's legs, bends them at the knees, and crosses them, placing one ankle in the other leg's knee-pit before then turning around so that they are facing away from the opponent and places one of his feet into the triangle created by the opponent's crossed legs. The wrestler then places the opponent's free ankle under his knee-pit and bridges backwards to reach over their head and locks his/her arms around the opponent's head.


Short for Stepover Toehold Sleeper, this hold is a modified version of an STF in which the wrestler wraps his arm around the neck of the opponent in a sleeper hold instead of pulling back on the head of the opponent.


Figure-four armlock

Also known as a keylock. This armlock sees the wrestler grappling the opponent's wrist with his similar hand (for example, if he uses the right arm, he would grab the opponent's right wrist), and with the opponent's wrist still clutched, the wrestler bend the opponent's arm (of the grappled wrist) it towards or behind the opponent's head (both variations are possible). Then, the wrestler passes his other free arm through the "hole" formed by the opponent's bent arm under the bicep, and then catches the opponent's grappled wrist. This would result in the opponent's arm to be shaped into a "4". As the opponent's wrist is grabbed by both opponent's hands, along with the bent arm, this applies effective pressure into the opponent. The maneuver can be executed on a standing or a downed (facing upwards) opponent.

Rope-hung figure-four armlock

The wrestler approaches an opponent lying groggy against any set of ropes, grabs one of the opponent's wrists with his similar arm. The wrestler then pins the arm with the grappled wrist against the second or top rope to the outside of the ring, and passes his other arm from under the opponent's bicep, and grapples the opponent's wrist. The whole maneuver would force the opponent's arm to be bent in the number "4" shape, applying more pressure as the arm is trapped between the second or top rope. The rope-hung figure-four armlock can be also grappled through the bottom rope, if the opponent is lying against it.

Stepover armlock

Also known as a spinning armlock. This armlock variation sees the opponent lying on his stomach, facing downwards. The wrestler grabs on of the opponent's wrists or arms, slightly stretching it towards him or herself. The wrestler then keeps his further leg behind the stretched arm - and with the other leg, steps-over the stretched arm (so now it becomes in front of the arm). From this point, the wrestler would spin along with the stepped-over leg, and so simultaneously bending the arm of the opponent. At his point, the arm would be bent around the leg which was originally behind it before turning. The wrestler can over-rotate or turn to apply more pressure on the arm.

The stepover armlock can be imaged with the spinning toe hold, except that the wrist is held instead of the toe.


Hardcore Holly with an armbar locked on Mr. Kennedy.

The wrestler takes hold of the opponent's arm and twists it, putting pressure on the shoulder and elbow. This may sometimes be preceded by an arm wrench.

Cross armbar

The wrestler sits on either side of an opponent who is lying either prone or supine on the mat, with the wrestler's legs scissoring one of the opponent's arms. The wrestler then grabs hold of the wrist of that arm and pulls it upwards, causing hyperextension of the shoulder and elbow.

Crucifix armbar

The wrestler holds an opponent's arm with his arms, pulling the arm across his chest. He is situated perpendicular to and behind the opponent. The wrestler then holds the other arm with his legs, stretching the shoulders back in a crucifying position and hyperextending the arm.

Flying cross armbar

This variation begins with the wrestler standing on either side of the bent-over opponent. The wrestler then steps over one of the opponent's arms while holding that arm's wrist and then rolls or twists his body in midair while holding the wrist, forcing the opponent down to his back and ending in a cross armbar.

Fujiwara armbar

Also known as a short armbar. With the opponent lying on his belly, the wrestler lies on the opponent's back, at a 90° angle to him, putting some or all of his weight on the opponent to prevent him from moving. The opponent's arm is then hooked and pulled back into his body, stretching the forearms, biceps and pectoral muscles. Variations of this can include clasping the opponent's hand instead of hooking the upper arm, for extra leverage and bridging out, while performing the move to increase leverage and immobilize the opponent.


The wrestler grabs one or both wrists of an opponent and presses it against the back of a standing or lying opponent.

Headscissors armbar

Also know as Iron Octopus. The wrestler wraps his legs around the opponent's head in a headscissors, facing towards the opponent. He then grabs one of the opponent's arms and wrenches in backwards, causing pressure on the shoulder and elbow of the opponent. This can often be performed on a standing wrestler when preceded by a tilt-a-whirl.

Scissored armbar

The wrestler approaches a prone, face down opponent from the side. The wrestler then "scissors" (clasps) the near arm of the opponent with their legs and takes hold of the far arm of the opponent with both hands, forcing the opponent onto their side and placing stress on both shoulder joints, as well as making it harder for the opponent to breathe.

Short arm scissors

The opponent is on their back with the attacker sitting besides him and grabbing the nearest arm. The attacker bends his opponent's arm and reaches through with one of his own. The attacker places one of their legs across the wrist of his opponent, grabbing his own ankle to lock the hold. The attacker pulls up with their arm while forcing the victim's wrist down with their leg, and applying pressure to the victim's arm/elbow. Known in combat sport as the "bicep slicer".[3][4]

Tiger feint crucifix armbar

The opponent begins supine, lying with their back on the bottom or second rope and facing into the ring. The wrestler runs towards the opponent and jumps through the second and top rope while holding on to the ropes, then swings around and grapevines the opponent's arms, applying a crucifix armbar.

Barely Legal

From behind a seated opponent, the wrestler grabs one of the opponent's elbows and pulls it up and backward toward himself. He then bends the wrist and forces the open palm of the opponent's hand into his chest, putting pressure on the wrist.


The wrestler grabs his/her opponent's arm, pulling it around behind the opponent's back. This stretches the pectorals and shoulder joint, and immobilizes the arm. This is a legitimate controlling/debilitating hold, and is commonly used by police officers in the United States to subdue uncooperative persons for arrest.

Bridging chickenwing

Can be also called a bridging wrist lock. The wrestler approaches a prone opponent facing down, lying down on his stomach. The wrestler grabs any of the opponent's arms, and pulls it to his back (this would result the arm to be bent behind the opponent's back). The wrestler then rolls or flips forward into a bridge, applying pressure on the wrist and elbow.

Crossface chickenwing

A chickenwing variation where the wrestler applies the chickenwing to one of the opponent's arms. The wrestler then uses his free arm to wrap it around the neck of the opponent in a "single hand" sleeper hold.

Double chickenwing

Bryan Danielson applying his Cattle Mutilation finishing hold, a bridging grounded double chickenwing

This hold sees the wrestler standing behind the opponent facing the same direction, and then hooking both the opponent's arms under his armpits. The move is noticeable for being used for the tiger suplex.

Bridging double chickenwing

Also known as a bridging grounded double chickenwing. The wrestler approaches a prone opponent facing down, lying on his stomach. The wrestler then stands over his back, tucks the opponent's arms under his armpits. From this point, the wrestler then rolls or flips into a bridge, pulling the opponent's arms and applying pressure on them.

Elevated double chickenwing

This variation of the double chickenwing sees the wrestler wrenching the wrestler up while still holding the opponent in the double chickenwing. The hold is usually transitioned into a chickenwing facebuster.

Wrist lock

William Regal immobilizes Cody Rhodes with a standing wrist lock

Sometimes preceded by an arm wrench, the wrestler grasps the opponent's hand and twists backwards, placing pressure on the wrist. While this can inflict pain on its own, it is most often used as a transition hold, leading into either a hammer lock, an elbow to the held arm, or kicks to the opponent's abdominal area. Another form of wrist lock sometimes known as a figure four wristlock involves the wrestler (after applying the initial wrist lock with the left hand) threading their right arm through the gap the two arms provide, forming a '4', and providing leverage on the wristlock.


Arm-hook sleeper

Also known as the Buffalo Sleeper. The wrestler is kneeling behind a seated opponent. He grabs hold of one of the opponent's arms, bends it backwards overhead, and locks its wrist into his armpit. The wrestler then wraps his free arm under the opponent's chin, like in a sleeper hold, puts his other arm through the arch created by the opponent's trapped arm, and locks his hands. He then squeezes the opponent's neck, causing pressure.

Anaconda vise

CM Punk's anaconda vise

The anaconda vise (also spelled vice) is a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and Judo compression choke.The wrestler wraps his arms around the head and one arm of the opponent and squeezes, choking the opponent. It is considered legal in professional wrestling, although it is a chokehold. This submission hold was innovated by Hiroyoshi Tenzan.

It is also called the arm-trap triangle choke. The vice is done from a position in which the wrestler and the opponent are seated on the mat facing each other. The wrestler sits on one side of the opponent and using his near arm encircles the opponent in a headlock position and grabs the opponent's near wrist, bending the arm upwards. Then, the wrestler maneuvers his/her other arm through the "hole" created by the opponent's bent wrist, locks his/her hand upon his/her own wrist, and then pulls the opponent forward, causing pressure on the opponent's arm and neck.

Arm triangle choke

Or simply called the arm triangle, this choke sees the wrestler wrapping his arm from under the opponent's nearest arm(pit) and across the chest. The maneuver can be used as an uncommon submission maneuver, or a transitioning hold (usually to fall backwards into an arm triangle reverse STO).

Corner foot choke

The wrestler pushes their standing or seated opponent into the turnbuckle and extends their leg, choking their opponent while using the top two ropes for support. This attack is illegal and results in a wrestler's disqualification, should the move not be broken by a count of five.

Double choke

The wrestler grabs his opponent's throat with both hands and throttles him.

Dragon sleeper

The wrestler stands behind the opponent who is either sitting or lying down, places the opponent in an inverted facelock, and hooks the opponent's near arm with his free arm. The wrestler then pulls backwards and up, wrenching the opponent's neck. If the opponent is sitting, the wrestler can place their knee under the opponent's back, adding more pressure.

Figure-four necklock

This neck lock sees a wrestler sit above a fallen opponent and wrap his/her legs around the opponent in the form of the figure 4, with one leg crossing under the opponent's chin and under the wrestler's other leg the wrestler squeezes and chokes the opponent. In an illegal version of the hold, best described as a hanging figure four necklock, the wrestler stands on top of the turnbuckle, wraps his/her legs around the head of the opponent, who has their back turned against the turnbuckle, in the figure 4 and falls backwards, choking the opponent. In most matches the hold would have to be released before a five count.


The Undertaker uses the gogoplata on Edge.

Usually executed from a "rubber guard," where the legs are held very high, against the opponent's upper back. The fighter then slips one foot in front of the opponent's head and under his chin, locks his hands behind the opponent's head, and chokes the opponent by pressing his shin or instep against the opponent's trachea. Wrestlers use a modified version, where they only push the shin into the throat in exactly the same manner, (instead of grabbing their toes and pulling towards themselves) causing the wrestlers to bleed from their mouths.

Guillotine choke

The wrestler applies a front sleeper and proceeds to take the opponent downward and applies a body scissors with the legs. This move is a favorite of many mixed martial arts fighters.

Koji Clutch

The opponent lays face down on the mat. The wrestler lies face up and slightly to the side of the opponent. The wrestler then hooks their far leg across the neck of the opponent. The wrestler then hooks his hands behind the opponent's head, having one arm pass over their own leg and the other under. The wrestler then pulls backwards with his arms and pushes forward with his leg, causing pressure. The name comes from its innovator's name, Koji Kanemoto. This move is commonly transitioned from the Reverse STO.

Leg choke

With the opponent hung over the second rope, facing the outside of the ring, the attacking wrestler hooks their left or right leg over the back of the opponent's neck. The attacking wrestler then pulls the second rope upwards, compressing the opponent's throat between the rope and attacking wrestler's leg, choking them. This move is illegal due to usage of the ring ropes, and results in a disqualification for the wrestler should they not release the hold before a count of five.

Pentagram choke

In this variation of the triangle choke, the wrestler sits behind a seated opponent. The wrestler places one of their legs under the chin of the opponent and pushes up. The wrestler then takes hold of their ankle with their opposite arm and pulls their leg up. The wrestler then places their free leg on the instep of the leg which is already being used to choke the opponent. The wrestler finally takes their free arm, hooks the opponent's arm which is in the vise, and holds their opposite leg from the knee. The pressure is applied once the wrestler compresses their knees together. The pentagram choke creates a complete vise around the opponent's neck, and its name comes from using five sides, whereas the triangle choke only uses three.

Death Star

A slight variation of the pentagram choke. What makes this version different is that usually the wrestler will use their free hand to hold on to their own knee before compressing their knees together to apply the pressure. However, in the Death Star, the wrestler uses their free hand to maneuver under the leg which is first utilized to create the choke, and then take hold of the ankle of the other leg.

Rear naked choke

A grounded version of a sleeper hold with an added body scissors that is derived from martial arts and more recently mixed martial arts.

Single arm choke

The wrestler grabs his opponent's throat with one hand and squeezes tightly. A "goozle" is a single arm choke held briefly before performing a chokeslam.

Sleeper hold

The wrestler applying the hold positions himself behind his opponent. The wrestler then wraps his/her arm around the opponent's neck, pressing the biceps against one side of the neck and the inner bone of the forearm against the other side. The neck is squeezed inside the arm very tightly. Additional pressure can be applied by grabbing the left shoulder with the right hand, or grabbing the biceps of the left arm near the elbow, then using the left hand to push the opponent's head towards the crook of the right elbow.

Straight jacket

Jetta using her stranglehold (right) after performing the double knee backbreaker (left).

Also known as the Japanese stranglehold (Goku-Raku Gatame), criss-cross stranglehold, cut-throat, or a cross-armed choke. The wrestler sits on the back of an opponent who is lying face down on the mat. The wrestler then grabs hold of the opponent's wrists and crosses their arms under their chin. The wrestler then pulls back on the arms, causing pressure.

Three-quarter nelson choke

The wrestler stands behind the opponent, facing the same direction, and reaches under their armpit with one arm and around the opponent's neck with the other arm before locking hands, completing the hold. The wrestler then pulls upwards, forcing their forearm into the opponent's throat and choking them.

Thumb choke hold

The attacking wrestler stands behind an opponent and reaches around the opponent's neck with one arm. The wrestler then extends a thumb and thrusts it into the windpipe or carotid artery of the opponent, cutting off their air or blood supply. The former would not be acceptable in traditional professional wrestling, as all chokeholds that cut off the windpipe are not allowed in the sport.

Tonga death grip

The wrestler darts his hand under an opponent's chin and grabs a hold of a pressure point above the throat, squeezing the nerve. This cuts off the air supply and the opponent fades out, yet this is not considered an air choke as it is not squeezing the windpipe. This hold is unique in that it can be used as a sleeper like submission or, should the "unconscious" opponent end up lying on his back, a pinfall.

Triangle choke

The wrestler grabs hold of one his opponent's arms, wraps his legs around the opponent's throat and arm in a figure four and squeezes. Different promotions have different rules regarding the legality of this maneuver. The justification for its legality is that, like a head scissors, it uses the legs rather than the hands to perform the "choke".

Two-handed chokelift

Also known as a Neck-Hanging Tree a wrestler grasps an opponent's neck with both hands then lifts them up and then slams them. This is a transition hold for moves such as the two-handed chokeslam and the chokebomb.

Body locks

Bear hug

Chris Masters applying a bear hug on Shawn Michaels.

A wrestler stands in front of an opponent and locks his hands around the opponent, squeezing him. Often he will shake his body from side to side, in order to generate more pain around the ribs and spine. Frequently used by powerhouse style wrestlers, this rather simple to apply hold was used by heels and faces alike.

Waist lock

A wrestler stands behind the opponent and then wraps both of his/her arms around him/her in a reverse Bear hug, sometimes clutching his/her hands together by the wrist for added pressure. This usually sets up a German Suplex or a front mat slam.

Body scissors

A wrestler approaches a sitting opponent from in front, behind, or either sides. The attacking wrestler then sits next to the opponent and wraps their legs around the opponent, crossing their ankles and then tightening their grip by squeezing together their thighs or straightening their legs to choke the wrestler by compressing their torso. This hold is often used in conjunction with a hold applied to the head or the arms in order to restrain the opponent and makes them want to tap out.

Back and torso stretches

Abdominal stretch

The Big Show locks John Cena in an abdominal stretch.

Also known as a Cobra Twist, this hold begins with a wrestler facing his opponent's side. The wrestler first straddles one of the opponent's legs, then reaches over the opponent's near arm with the arm close to the opponent's back and locks it. Squatting and twisting to the side, flexes the opponent's back and stretches their abdomen. This move can also be applied to a seated opponent.

Boston crab

This typically starts with the opponent on his back, and the wrestler standing and facing him. The wrestler hooks each of the opponent's legs in one of his arms, and then turns the opponent face-down, stepping over him in the process. The final position has the wrestler in a semi-sitting position and facing away from his opponent, with the opponent's back and legs bent back toward his face.

Bow and arrow hold

The wrestler kneels on his opponent's back with both knees, hooking the head with one arm and the legs with the other. He then rolls back so that his opponent is suspended on his knees above him, facing up. The wrestler pulls down with both arms while pushing up with the knees to bend the opponent's back. It's often confused with the surfboard stretch.

Gory special

The Gory special is a back-to-back backbreaker submission hold.[5] It was invented by Gory Guerrero in Mexico.[5] The wrestler, while behind the opponent, facing away from him in the opposing direction, hooks his arms under the opponent's. From this position, the wrestler lifts the opponent up, usually by bending. This move can be used as a submission hold or can be used for a neckbreaker slam, or a facebuster takedown.

Octopus hold

The wrestler stands behind the opponent and hooks a leg over the opponent's opposite leg. The wrestler then forces the opponent to one side, traps one of the opponent's arms with their own arm, and drapes their free leg over the neck of the opponent, forcing it downward. This elevates the wrestler and places all the weight of the wrestler on the opponent. The wrestler has one arm free, which can be used for balance.


Bryan Danielson with a surfboard on TJ Perkins

Also know as Romero Special. The surfboard hold first sees a wrestler stand behind a fallen opponent, who is lying stomach first to the floor. The wrestler places one foot down just above each of the opponent's knees and bends his or her legs up, hooking them around his or her own knees; at this point the wrestler grasps both of his opponent's wrists (usually slapping the opponent's back in an attempt to bring the arms in reach), and falls backwards while compressing the opponent's shoulder-blades and lifting him or her off the ground. This can see the wrestler fall to a seated position or go onto his or her own back, lifting the opponent skyward, which will increase pressure on the opponent but put the wrestler in risk of pinning his or her own shoulders to the mat.

Another version of a surfboard which is most often applied by a standing wrestler against a prone opponent—but may also be applied by a seated wrestler or against a seated or kneeling opponent—sees the wrestler grasp both of his opponent's wrists, while placing his or her foot or knee on the opponent's upper back, pulling back on the arms to compress the opponent's shoulder blades.

Cross-armed surfboard

This version of a surfboard sees a standing or kneeling wrestler take hold of both of a kneeling or seated opponent's wrists and cross them over, applying pressure to both the opponent's arms and shoulders. Sometimes the wrestler may place their foot or knee on the opponent's upper back in order to exert even more pressure.

Lotus Lock

The wrestler grabs the opponent's arms and wraps their legs on the outside of them, so the wrestler's feet meet at the back of the neck of the opponent.

Leg locks

Ankle lock

Kurt Angle counters Shawn Michaels's Sweet Chin Music into an ankle lock.

In this toe hold maneuver a wrestler will grab the opponent's foot and lift their leg off the ground. With one hand the wrestler will grab either the toes or the outside of the foot, then with the other wrap the ankle to create a "hole" for the joint. A grapevine variation sees the wrestler applying the ankle lock hold and then falling to the mat and scissoring the leg of the opponent. This stops the opponent from rolling out of the move and makes it harder for him/her to crawl to the ropes but lessens the pressure that can be applied. The move can be executed from a kneeling position or a standing position.

Argentine leglock

Technically known as an Over the shoulder single leg boston crab and commonly known as a Stretch Muffler. The wrestler stands over a face-down opponent lying on the ground. He lifts one leg of the opponent and drapes it over his neck. He then uses his arms to force the shin and thigh of the opponent down, thereby placing pressure on the opponent's knee.


Karl Harker performing a cloverleaf

Also popularly known as a Texas cloverleaf, the wrestler stands at the feet of his supine opponent, grabs the opponent's legs and lifts them up. The wrestler then bends one leg so that the shin is behind the knee of the straight leg and places the ankle of the straight leg in their armpit. With the same arm, they reach around the ankle and through the opening formed by the legs, and lock their hands together. The wrestler then steps over his opponent, turning the opponent over as in a sharpshooter and proceeds to squat and lean back. The hold compresses the legs, flexes the spine, and stretches the abdomen.

Cloverleaf with armlock

An armlock variation of the cloverleaf that is similar to a single leg Boston crab with armlock. This hold begins with a supine opponent lying face up on the mat. The attacking wrestler then seizes one of the arms and proceeds to walk over the opponent while continuing to hold the arm, forcing them to turn over onto their stomach. The wrestler then kneels down on the opponents back, locking the opponent's arm behind his knee in the process. The wrestler then reaches over and bends one leg so that the shin is behind the knee of the straight leg and places the ankle of the straight leg in their armpit. With the same arm, the wrestler reaches around the ankle and through the opening formed by the legs, and locks his hands together as in a cloverleaf. The wrestler then pulls back so as to stretch the legs, back and neck of the opponent while keeping the arm trapped.

Inverted cloverleaf

In this variation of a cloverleaf instead of turning around when turning the opponent over, the wrestler faces the same direction as the opponent to squat and lean forward to apply more pressure to the legs, spine, and abdomen.

Leglock cloverleaf

This variation of the cloverleaf sees the wrestler, after crossing one of the opponents legs over the other in a figure four shape, lock the over leg behind their near knee before placing the straight leg under their armpit and turning over. The wrestler proceeds to lean back pulling on the leg under the armpit. This keeps the over leg, now under, locked while putting pressure on the leg and stretching the legs and back.

Rivera cloverleaf

This variation of the cloverleaf sees the wrestler hook the legs like a cloverleaf but weaves his hands through to clasp his other hand and also hooks the ankle sticking out with his leg (which ever one it is) into his kneepit.

Cross kneelock

With the opponent lying face down on the mat, the wrestler grabs hold of shin of one of the opponent's legs and wraps his legs around the leg. The wrestler then twists the leg, hyperextending the knee. Very similar to the grapevine ankle lock, with the only difference that the wrestler wraps his arms around the shin, and not his hands around the ankle of the opponent. Commonly used as a counter to an attack from behind. The wrestler flips forward down on to his back, placing his legs around one of the legs of the opponent on the way down, and thus using his momentum to drop the opponent forward down to the mat. The move can be also applied by running towards the opponent and then performing the flip when next to him

Damascus head-leglock

The wrestler forces the opponent to the ground and opens up the legs of the opponent, stepping in with both legs. The wrestler then wraps his legs around the head of the opponent and crosses the opponent's legs, applying pressure on them with his hands. The wrestler next turns 180 degrees and leans back, compressing the spine. This hold applies pressure on the temples, the calves, and compresses the spine.

Figure-four leglock

The wrestler stands over the opponent who is lying on the mat face up and grasps a leg of the opponent. The wrestler then does a spinning toe hold and grasps the other leg, crossing them into a "4" (hence the name) as he does so and falls to the mat, applying pressure to the opponent's crossed legs with his own.

With enough strength and willpower, the wrestler on defense can flip himself (and also their opponent) over onto their belly, which is said to reverse the pressure to the one who initially had the hold locked in. If the referee is distracted, heel wrestlers may grab onto the ropes while executing the move to gain leverage and kayfabe inflict more pain.

An inverted variation exists more recently used by Shawn Michaels where the wrestler takes one of the opponent's legs, turns 90 degrees, then grabs the other opponent's leg and crosses it with the other, puts one foot in between and the other on the other leg, and then bridges over. A wrestler may counter the figure four by rolling over on to their stomach, which applies the pressure on the original applier's legs. This counter to the figure four is often called a modified Indian deathlock or sometimes referred to as a sharpshooter variant. While the hold applies kayfabe pressure to the knee, it actually can be very painful to the shin of the victim.

Haas of Pain

This modified inverted reverse figure-four leglock variation sees the wrestler cross one leg of an opponent over the other and stand on the crossed leg, then take hold of the free leg and lay down on his back, raising the opponent's legs up into the air and causing pain to their legs and lower back. The name is derived from Charlie and Russ, the Haas Brothers, who innovated this move.

Inverted figure-four ankle lock

This submission hold involves a combination of the Figure-Four Leglock and the Ankle lock. However, instead of locking the opponents legs in a "4" shape, the attacking wrestler crosses one of the opponent's legs over to the other leg. Then the attacking wrestler grapevines the other leg and performs a key ankle lock submission hold.

Inverted three-quarter figure-four leglock

The opponent is lying face down on the ground. The wrestler kneels over the opponent's thighs with his left leg between the opponent's leg, then bends his opponent's left leg around his left thigh. After that he places the opponent's right leg over the opponent's left ankle and puts his own right leg under the opponent's left ankle. Finally, he puts both of his feet over the opponent's right foot and presses on it.

Kneeling figure-four leglock

The opponent is down on their back with the wrestler standing over one of their legs. The wrestler applies a spinning toehold, crosses the opponent's legs and kneels on them.

Modified figure-four leglock

This version is a variant which sees the opponent face up with the wrestler grabbing the opponent's legs, puts his own leg through it and twists them as if doing a sharpshooter, but instead puts his other leg on the foot of the opponent nearest to him, drops down to the mat and applies pressure.

Reverse figure-four leglock

The wrestler using this move stands over the opponent with the opponent face up and grasps a leg of the opponent. The wrestler then turns 90 degrees and grasps the other leg, crossing them as he does so and falls to the mat, applying pressure to the opponent's crossed legs with his own.

Ringpost figure-four leglock

The opponent is either downed or standing next to one of the ring corner posts. The wrestler exits the ring to the outside and drags the opponent by the legs towards the ringpost, so that the post is between the opponent's legs (similar to when somebody 'crotches' their opponent with the ringpost). The executor then stands next to the ring apron, on the outside of the turnbuckle/ropes and applies the figure four leglock with the ringpost between the opponent's legs. The performer of the hold then falls back while grabbing the opponent's legs/feet, hanging upside down from the ring apron. The ringpost assists the move, creating more damage and leverage to the opponent's knee.

Standing figure-four leglock

The opponent is down on their back with the wrestler standing over one of their legs with one foot placed on either side of the leg. The wrestler plants his foot in the knee of the opponents other leg and then bends that leg at the knee over the top of the first leg forming the figure four. The wrestler then bridges back.

Indian deathlock

The wrestler lifts up a leg of a face-up opponent and wraps one of their legs around the other leg before dropping to a kneeling position, thus locking the opponent's leg behind the wrestler's knee. The wrestler then reaches over and grabs the opponent's far leg and places it on top of the trapped foot of the opponent. The wrestler then performs a forward roll while maintaining the hold. This forces the opponent onto his or her chest while the wrestler ends in a sitting position facing the same direction as his or her opponent. From here the wrestler can reach forward and perform many upper body submissions as well.

A standing version can also be applied which sees a standing wrestler place one of his legs between the legs of a face-down opponent and then bends one leg behind the leg of the wrestler, placing it on top of the knee pit of the opponents other leg. The wrestler then picks up the straight leg of the opponent, bends it backwards to lock the other leg in the knee pit and places the foot in front of the shin of the standing leg in the knee pit, thus locking the leg.

Inverted Indian deathlock

With the opponent on his back, the wrestler standing beside him, sits with his leg over and between the opponent's legs (often using a legdrop to the knee). Then places the opponents far leg in the knee-pit of the near leg, finishing the submission by putting the opponents ankle on top of his own ankle and rolling both onto their bellies and pushing back with the wrestlers ankle


Also called a straight legbar, the basic kneebar is performed similarly to an armbar by holding the opponent's leg in between the legs and arms so the opponent's kneecap points towards the body. The wrestler pushing the hips forward, the opponent's leg is straightened, and further leveraging hyperextends the knee.


The opponent starts supine. The wrestler steps between his opponent's legs with one leg and wraps the opponent's legs around that leg. Holding the opponent's legs in place, the wrestler then steps over the opponent, flipping him over into a prone position. Finally, the wrestler leans back to compress the legs and hurt the knee. The move was made famous by Bret "The Hitman" Hart and Sting.

Spinning toe hold

The wrestler using this move stands over the opponent who is lying on the mat, face up and grasps a leg of the opponent. The wrestler then turns 360 degrees over the leg twisting it inward. A wrestler will repeatedly step over the leg and round again to twist the knee, and ankle joint even more.

Transition holds

Some holds are meant neither to pin an opponent, nor weaken them or force them to submit, but are intended to set up the opponent for another attack.

Arm trap

This is when a wrestler holds both the opponent's arms under his own, from here the opponent is left prone and unable to counter or move away from the wrestler. The arm trap is mostly used to strike a headbutt.

Arm wrench

The wrestler takes hold of the opponent's arm or wrist and turns around completely while twisting the arm over the wrestler's head, resulting in the opponent's arm being wrenched. This may lead to an armbar, a wrist lock, the wrestler pulling the opponent onto his shoulders in a fireman's carry, an Irish whip, or a short-arm maneuver, such as a clothesline.


Technically known as a double underhook. The wrestler and the opponent begin facing one another, with the opponent bent over. The wrestler approaches the opponent and reaches under the opponent's shoulders, then threads their arms up and around the opponent's torso, with their hands meeting in the middle of the opponent's back or neck (essentially an inverted full nelson hold), and tucking the opponents head in their armpit. The hold in itself is not popularly used as a submission move, and is more commonly a set-up for various throws, drops or slams, but it can be applied from various positions that cause it to become one.


The wrestler stands in front of and facing a bent over opponent and places them in a gutwrench waistlock or a standing headscissors. The wrestler then flips the opponent up and over so the opponent is lying face up on the back of the wrestler. The wrestler then moves his hands to the upper arm or wrists of the opponent, holding them in position, and spreading the arms of the opponent (as though they were being crucified), hence the name. This is mainly often a set-up for a crucifix powerbomb or a spinning crucifix toss.

Reverse crucifix

The wrestler stands in front of and with their back to a standing opponent. The wrestler then leans backwards and seizes the opponent around the waist, pulling them forward and upwards so they are lying across the shoulder of the opponent, facing downwards. The wrestler then takes hold of the upper arms or wrists of the opponent and spreads them, holding the opponent in place.

Electric chair

A transitional hold in which an attacking wrestler hoists an opponent up onto his shoulders so that they are both facing in the same direction. It is often used to set up various drops and slams in singles competition. However it is more often used in a double team maneuver, known as a Doomsday Device, another wrestler uses flying attacks to knock opponents off the shoulders of the wrestler. Like many transition holds, the defensive wrestler often uses the position to perform a variety of counter moves, most notably the victory roll. Another counter of the electric chair position is the wrestler twisting over the opponent's shoulders so now they are facing the opposite direction, and from that position, the wrestler would backflip to hit a hurricanrana.

Fireman's carry

Mr. Kennedy holds Hardcore Holly in a fireman's carry, prior to executing a rolling fireman's carry slam, otherwise known as the Green Bay Plunge

The wrestler bends over with the opponent standing to the side of the wrestler. The wrestler then pulls the opponent's arm over his/her farthest shoulder and distributes the wrestler's body over his/her shoulders while having the other hand between and holding onto one of the opponent's legs and stands up. The opponent is draped face-down across the wrestler's shoulders, with the wrestler's arms wrapped around from behind. It is a key component of several throws, drops and slams.

There is also a variation, in which the opponent is held diagonally across the wrestlers back with their legs across one shoulder and head under the opposite shoulder (usually held in place with a facelock). There is a third variation in which a wrestler lift his opponent across his shoulders and then proceeds to slam his opponent to the mat.

Gorilla press

A transition lift many throws, drops and slams can be performed. It became a popular technique for larger and stronger wrestlers as the lift is seen to emphasize their height and power.


A set-up for many throws and slams, this sees the attacking wrestler put a bent at the waist opponent to one side of him, reach the near hand around and lock his hands around the waist. A common move out of this transition can be a powerbomb or a suplex.

Lady of the Lake

This is a move used to trick an unsuspecting opponent. The wrestler sits down, crosses his or her legs, tucks their head into their chest and wraps one arm around their ankle (so they are effectively rolled into a ball). The wrestler then extends their remaining arm between their legs and then waits. The opponent, ostensibly confused, normally takes the offered hand, at which point the wrestler rolls forward and into an arm lock.


The wrestler sits on top of the opponent's torso, facing their head, with his legs on either side. When the opponent is facing down the position is referred to as back mount. Various strikes to the opponent's head are often performed from this position.


The wrestler stands behind his opponent and bends him forward. One of the opponent's arms is pulled back between his legs and held, while the other arm is hooked, then the wrestler lifts the opponent up over his shoulder. From here many throws, drops and slams can be performed. A double pumphandle exists, where the second arm isn't hooked, it is also pulled under and between the opponent's legs.


A rope-hung move sees the opponent trapped either over the top rope or between the top and second rope. From that position, the wrestler could execute many moves while the opponent is hung over/between the rope(s), like for example a DDT or a neckbreaker.


Facing his opponent, the wrestler reaches between his opponent's legs with one arm and reaches around their back from the same side with his other arm. The wrestler lifts his opponent up so they are horizontal across the wrestlers body. From here many throws, drops and slams can be performed.


This transitioning move sees the wrestler first grabbing one of the opponent's arms, and Irish whipping him. As the grabbed arm is fully extended, the wrestler could then go for any attack, hold or sweep. This hold is usually used to go for a clothesline.

Stepover toehold

The wrestler approaches the opponent who is lying stomach-first, facing down. The wrestler traps one of the opponent's ankles between his or her thighs (as seen primarily before applying an STF). From that point, the wrestler can apply other holds to the opponent, for example a fujiwara armbar or a three-quarter facelock.

The Matrix

This is an evasion performed by bending over backwards into a standing bridge, such as when Neo does a similar move near the end of the first Matrix movie) to avoid a clothesline or any other attack.


The wrestler stands facing the opponent. The wrestler bends the opponent down so they are bent facing in front on the wrestler's body. The wrestler reaches around the opponent's body with their arms and lifts them up, spinning the opponent in front of the wrestler's body, often to deliver a slam or most commonly a Tilt-a-whirl backbreaker or a Pendulum backbreaker. Usually performed on a charging opponent, this can also be a transition hold for counter attacks that sees the wrestler hit many throws and drops like a DDT or headscissors takedown.


This move is achieved when a wrestler wraps a forward-facing opponent's legs around his waist (either by standing behind an opponent who is lying face-first on the mat or by catching a charging opponent), then the wrestler would apply a gutwrench hold and lift the opponent up off the ground into the air, then either continue lifting and fall backwards to wheelbarrow suplex, or forcing the opponent back down to the mat to hit a wheelbarrow facebuster. This can also can be a transition hold for counter attacks that sees the wrestler (who is being wheelbarrowed) hit many throws and drops like a DDT or a bulldog and rolling pin combinations.


Armpit claw

The armpit claw was a squeezing of the muscle in the front of the armpit with the four fingers dug into the armpit and the thumb pressing into the front of the shoulder. The opponent's arm would bend at the wrist and elbow, and his fingers would curl into a claw. The hold caused great pain, causing the opponent to submit or to lose all control of his arm and hand, at which point the referee would call for the bell.

Collar-and-elbow tie up

The collar-and-elbow tie-up is one of the mainstays of professional wrestling, and many matches are begun with this move. It is a neutral move, but it easily transitions for either wrestler to a position of dominance. It is performed by approaching the opponent and putting one hand on the back of the opponent's neck while holding the elbow of the opponent's arm that is holding his own neck.

Giant swing

The wrestler takes hold of a supine opponent's legs and pivots rapidly, elevating the opponent and swinging the opponent in a circle. The wrestler may release the hold in mid-air or simply slow until the back of the opponent returns to the ground.

Skin the cat

This defensive maneuver is used when a wrestler is thrown over the top rope. While being thrown over the wrestler grabs the top rope with both hands and holds on so that he ends up dangling from the top rope but not landing on the apron or on the floor. The wrestler then proceeds to lift his legs over his head and rotates his body back towards the ring to go back over the top rope and into the ring, landing in the ring on his feet. The wrestler can also perform a head scissor hold or a type of kick to strike an opponent on the inside to throw him over.

Sunset flip

Eamon O'Neill performs a sunset flip out of the corner on Phil Powers

This move commonly sees an attacking wrestler dive over an opponent who is facing him/her, usually bent over forwards, catching the opponent in a waistlock from behind and landing back-first behind the opponent. From that position the wrestler rolls forward into a sitting position, pulling the opponent over backwards and down to the mat so that he lands on his back into a sitout pin position. While being held on the shoulders of an attacking wrestler in a position where this second wrestler is straddling the head of the attacking wrestler while facing in the other direction; as if they were riding off into the sunset.

Tree of Woe

This involves a wrestler suspending an opponent upside down on a turnbuckle, with the opponent's back being up against it. To do this the opponent's legs are then hooked under the top ropes, leaving the opponent facing the attacking wrestler, upside down. Often an attacking wrestler will choke, kick, or stomp the opponent until the referee uses up his five count. The technique is also used to trap an opponent while the attacking wrestler runs at them and delivers some form of offensive maneuver, such as a running knee attack or a baseball slide.


  1. ^ a b c Guerrero, Eddie (2005). Cheating Death, Stealing Life: The Eddie Guerrero Story. Simon and Schuster. p. 9. ISBN 0743493532. 
  2. ^ Ellison, Lillian (2003). The Fabulous Moolah: First Goddess of the Squared Circle. ReaganBooks. p. 163. ISBN 9780060012588. 
  3. ^ "How to perform the Bicep Slicer". 2006-11-29. Retrieved 2009-12-21. 
  4. ^ Breen, Jordan (2008-03-04). "Ad Santel and Catching Our History". Sherdog. Retrieved 2009-12-21. "...submitting him both times with short-arm scissors, more contemporarily known as a bicep slicer" 
  5. ^ a b *Guerrero, Eddie (2005). Cheating Death, Stealing Life: The Eddie Guerrero Story. Simon and Schuster. p. 9. ISBN 0743493532. 

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