Discovering the origin of some wrestling moves can be fun. This is especially true when you can see when the move was a truly important finisher and trace it to when it became oversaturated. One move that was considered one of the most devastating in wrestling was the Burning Hammer.
An Overused Big Match Finisher: The Burning Hammer
This move came to us via Kenta Kobashi in the 90s All Japan but can be traced a few years earlier to Kyoko Inoue and her Victoria Driver. His finishers were the Burning Lariat and the Orange Crush but because of All Japan’s main event style, he was going to need an MDK move (murder, death, kill). You know, a big match finisher or a super finisher.
While in a rivalry with All Japan’s ace Mitsuharu Misawa during the late 1990s, he needed something that could counter him. A booking device as minor as “I need something stronger for this guy” spawned the most dangerous big match finisher in Japanese wrestling.
Also, this is an anime trope. A character will have the skills to pay the bills and more techniques than you can shake a stick at but one opponent forces them to realize that they need something stronger. In Kenta Kobashi’s case, that move was the Burning Hammer and it was used on occasion—such as in big matches.
Kobashi’s career ran from 1988 to 2013: 25 years and a few months. He only used the Burning Hammer seven times and no one kicked out. It was first used in October 1998 during a tag match with Jinsei Shinzaki (Hakushi) vs. Misawa and Yoshinari Ogawa. The move was created as a Misawa killer and he used it two more times on him in 1999 and 2003.
Overuse of the Move
Since it was an MDK move, it guaranteed victory. A wrestler did not kick out of this kind of move. All Japan’s booking made it the most over move in a wrestler’s arsenal. Plus, no one else used it, that’s very important. When he hit it, the reaction from commentary and the crowd was amazing. That is until the 2000s indies arrived.
Early American strong style was based more on All Japan’s style than New Japan’s style. You have to remember; most wrestlers were fans like us and a number of them traded tapes. Dave Meltzer’s ratings for All Japan, NOAH, and All Japan Women’s Wrestling saw those tapes become highly sought after.
The Burning Hammer—and our number one entry—were the sizzle moves. While Japanese match psychology made these moves truly special, some became finishers or signatures once they hit the U.S. Thus, the Burning Hammer became oversaturated. It was Dan Maff’s finisher later into the 2000s and has been used by a couple of wrestlers as a regular finisher since—although altered to be safer.
I mean, that wasn’t the reason for Kobashi creating the Diamond Head but the Hammer had been built up in such a way that eventually he would need something stronger if it ever failed him. For some reason, he used the Diamond Head once and that was on Yoshinobu Kanemura since it was botched.
Check out the clipped version of the move’s on the fly debut below.
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