When thinking of punishing WWE finishers, Ahmed Johnson’s Pearl River Plunge, Shawn Michaels’ “Sweet Chin Music” and The Undertaker’s Chokeslam are all high on the list.
A simple standing elbow drop may seem laughable as a WWE finisher, but WWE Icon The Rock has turned the “People’s Elbow” into all his own and helped define his character.
The finisher itself is one of the longest in-ring maneuvers, but it gets the crowd on its feet every time and has evolved into current finishers you see today.
A precursor to the “People’s Elbow” was Hulk Hogan’s leg drop. A leg drop itself is not a powerful move either, but Hulk Hogan built the move up.
After “Hulking Up” against opponents and fighting off any attack that came his way, Hogan would deliver a big boot to an opponent, bounce off the ropes, launch himself into the air and deliver the massive leg drop.
The Hogan leg drop became iconic with the legend and is rarely used today. The Rock however, developed his own version of the move. After joining the Nation of Domination, the “People’s Elbow” developed into what it is known for today.
During The Rock’s time in Vince McMahon’s Corporation group, The Rock referred to the elbow as the “Corporate Elbow.”
The Rock drops his opponent down into the center of ring, usually with a high-dropping spine-buster onto their back.
With a sniff of the air and a strut to stand over their head, The Rock looks, down, kicks his opponent’s arms into their side and the crowd erupts.
The Rock slowly takes off an elbow pad, tosses it out straight in front of him, and looks around. He swings his arms across his body, runs towards the ropes, bounces off, jumps over his opponent, and bounces off the other side of the ring.
He stops suddenly at his opponent’s side and then drops the bare elbow right onto an opponent’s chest. This is the typical drawn out version, but there have been alternate versions that speed up or taunt opponents even more.
Occasionally The Rock even performed a double People’s Elbow with partners like Mick Foley.
After The Rock came a few copy-cat versions of the finisher. The first came from tag-team wrestler Scotty 2 Hotty. Known as “The Worm,” this variation featured Scotty hopping on one leg, doing a worm, and then performing the modified elbow drop on an opponent.
John Cena created a move that has become almost as popular as the “People’s Elbow.” Known as “You Can’t See Me,” Cena waves his hand in front of a dropped opponents face, wriggles his shoulders, bounces off the ropes, dusts off his shoulders, and slams his fist into an opponent’s face.
This move gets a giant crowd reaction, much like The Rock’s “People’s Elbow.” Cena has made it one of his trademark moves, performing it in nearly every match he’s in, and even one time off of a ladder and onto Edge’s face.
With The Rock’s return, the “People’s Elbow” is bound to return, along with a collection of other moves that repeat the same basic process. None may ever have the same emotion, crowd response, or effectiveness that The Rock’s elbow provides.