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    Friday, January 6, 2017

    #FinisherFriday (1/6/17): The Original Magic Killer

    Happy 2017, Henrinites! Welcome to the first edition of Finisher Friday for the year—your favorite space to talk about the magic behind some of the greatest finishing moves in the industry.

    One thing we've discovered in the comments people leave on Facebook is how much love the Magic Killer finisher of Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows gets.

    And really, we totally understand. It's an amazing move that legitimately looks like it could kill a bloke.

    Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows(Bullet Club) - Magic Killer

    Seriously. Just ask John Cena, who took this sick bump onto the exposed entrance ramp back when #BeatUpJohnCena was a thing.

    Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows - Magic Killer

    So what's the Magic Killer? 

    Otherwise known as an elevated assisted snap neckbreaker, it's a move that viewers intuitively know to be both a match-ender, and potentially even a career-ender. Gallows first lifts his opponent up as if to execute a vertical suplex, but then drapes his legs over Anderson's shoulders. The two men take a moment to allow the victim's full weight to settle on his neck, stretching it out before they simultaneously whip into a combined neckbreaker-sideslam drop.

    Even without the elevation, a neckbreaker in itself is a deadly move, but not just in a literal sense of "breaking a neck." Let's take a look at how the human neck is built.

    Structurally, the human neck is a pillar of vertebrae stacked up to support the skull, which in turn contains this pretty delicate organ you may have heard of called the brain. The brain, in order to relay sensory and motor signals to the rest of the body, has a bundle of nerves called the spinal cord sheathed within the vertebrae extending all the way down the spine, where it branches off to control the different muscles and organs of the body.

    So what's at risk, really, when you apply rotational torque to the neck (as Gallows is doing above) isn't just broken vertebrae or cervical dislocation. The spinal cord housed within the bony structure itself is vulnerable to either being twisted, damaged, or even outright severed. The impact of landing is just secondary in this case; it's the trauma being applied to the upper neck that's really doing the job.

    Why does this matter? 

    Star Wars junkies know that one reason Darth Vader is so reliant on his suit to survive is that he himself has his C-1 and C-2 vertebrae (the top two vertebrae connecting skull to spine) completely broken from an unnamed injury—a condition that generally causes complete paralysis or even death due to the vulnerability of the spinal cord at this portion of the neck. No wonder it's often called the worst neck injury possible.

    Who's your father now, Vader? 

    And that's exactly the part of the neck a spinning neckbreaker attempts to damage, as opposed to a traditional hangman's neckbreaker. Brutal.

    Thanks to the elevation from Anderson's half of the move, every muscle and ligament in the victim's neck is stretched out, preventing them from buffering against Gallows' spin.

    The OG Magic Killer 

    What more recent fans may not know is that Anderson and Gallows didn't actually innovate the move during their Bullet Club days in NJPW.

    The move was already notorious even prior to the Bullet Club through the efforts of Giant Bernard & Tyson Tomko during their monster gaijin run in the mid-2000s. Known before as the Tornado Plex, it made its way as a finisher through further tag team iterations like Tomko & AJ Styles and Bernard & Gallows.

    TNA: AJ & Tomko Beat The LAX

    But even prior to that, it was the initial finisher of four-time WWE Tag Team Champions La Resistance as early as 2003-2004. Their move was called Au Revoir, and was used to pin such ring legends as Ric Flair.

    Their version was slightly different from how it re-emerged in New Japan, with an inside-out execution to the neckbreaker portion of the move. This gave their take on it slightly less torque on the neck, but more up-and-under velocity on the slam. Their agenda wasn't so much to break an opponent's neck as it was to knock the breath out of them for a three-count.

    Which isn't to say taking the move was still a cakewalk, however. Any time the neck is involved in a move, there's always a little bit of fear out there. Just ask Tyson Kidd, who still can't wrestle after his freak Muscle Buster accident. La Rez eventually transitioned to using a double spinebuster as their finisher, and we don't know why. Au Revoir was one of the true scary finishers around at the time.


    So there you have it, smarks. A breakdown of the visceral danger from the Magic Killer, as well as a quick look at its historical mainstream North American roots.

    Which version did you like better—Gallows & Anderson's brute force Magic Killer snap neckbreaker variant, or La Resistance's inside-out Au Revoir version? Let us know in the comments below, and we'll reveal the results next time around.


    Mark De Joya (@MDJSuperstaris a brand strategist by day, but dreams of being the Vince McMahon of the Philippines by night. With 18" arms and a 385-pound raw deadlift, he is also the official bouncer of the Smark Henry offices.
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    Item Reviewed: #FinisherFriday (1/6/17): The Original Magic Killer Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Unknown
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