The spear has become one of the most impressive and versatile moves in wrestling.
A simplistic shoulder tackle into the gut, it is reminiscent of a spear tackle from American Football or Rugby, something which everybody has felt at some point in their lives.
This gave context to the move. While a piledriver or a Canadian Destroyer looks impressive, fans cannot relate to it.
Very few people (except those who used to wrestle their brothers in the back yard) know how it feels to be choke slammed, but everyone has been tackled by the waist
The move can be hit from anywhere. A wrestler can eat a spear from standing in the ring, jumping from the top rope or even hanging from a ladder, as Edge and Jeff Hardy proved during the legendary ladder match at Wrestlemania X7.
When discussing the iconic spear on Jeff Hardy, Edge said;
“The margin for error was so razor-thin, I still marvel at the fact that we pulled that off the way we did. So much of that is Jeff just trusting me and letting go, and putting, basically, his life in my hands.”And trusting that I would get him as flat as I possibly could, because if he fought it, then we land a whole different way.
The move is incredibly simple yet incredibly devastating. It is a simple move for young wrestlers to master, as it requires very little “smoke and mirrors” compared to other moves.
Very little work is done between the two wrestlers – you simply ram into them at full speed and hope they go down safely.
While the move in it’s simplest form has been a part of wrestling for decades, we can pinpoint when the move was brought into the mainstream as the finishing move of a top star.
The move in itself has been used for centuries for various reasons, but was created by Goldberg in WCW as a signature move to help make him a star.
Goldberg Invented The Spear Finishing Move
The spear was brought into the mainstream pro-wrestling scene by Goldberg on September 22, 1997 episode of WCW Monday Nitro. Established star Hugh Morris made his way to the ring as the local jobber Bill Goldberg stood in the ring. Goldberg had played in the NFL for the Atlanta Falcons.
He was unknown and not even given an entrance, so it was expected the match wouldn’t last long.And it wouldn’t. Goldberg shocked the world by dominating his more established opposite.
Hitting a running spear and a Jackhammer, Goldberg pinned Morris to start his winning streak that would eventually last to 173 wins with 0 losses.The Spear was popularised by Goldberg during this time and was the first time it had been made into a “wrestling move”.
Goldberg certainly had the most devastating variation of it. Due to his limited experience and training, he went back to his days in football and just spear tackled people for real. He was really quite a dangerous wrestler, as we saw when he nearly killed The Undertaker.
Goldberg spoke to Chris Jericho on Talk is Jericho about inventing the spear. He didn’t have a finish at the tim3, so decided in the moment to use a spear tackle that players use in American Football. Backstage, everybody told him to keep using the move as his finisher, which was soon named the spear.
“Walking out against Manny Fernandez, Jamie says ‘What’s your finish?’ I said ‘Finish? What is that, I don’t have a finish.’ He goes whatever you do, do something impactful that people are gonna remember. So I get to the ring. Manny and I are circling. I say, ‘Manny, do you trust me?’ He goes, ‘Yeah’, I said ‘Then at the finish, tuck your head, spread your legs and kiss your ass goodbye.’ I did it, to me it was a natural move. I went in the back, and everybody’s mouths were open, hitting the floor, [they were] going, ‘Whatever you do, do that every single time.'”
While Goldberg invented The Spear in wrestling, others went on to use it in various forms. Rhino in ECW is often thought to have invented the move. His variation was named The Gore but was ostensibly the exact same as Goldberg’s if not a little safer.
Edge in WWE also began using the Spear after Goldberg in WCW. During his tag team with Christian and beyond he used it as his sole finisher. The move helped him win mutliple world championships, beating big stars like John Cena, The Undertaker and Batista.
However, Edge’s spear was generally the worst looking. There was little to no impact on the move, with many fans comparing it to a “running hug”. He has improved it since his comeback in 2021 but those years with terrible spears were hard to watch.
Bobby Lashley redefined the spear whilst in TNA. While he used the move in WWE, he added his own twist to it after leaving the company. A literal twist, mind you, as he spun out of the move just as he made impact with his opponent. Personally, not my favorite but an innovative way to pull off a very normalized move and made it his own.
In the modern day, the spear has been claimed by Roman Reigns. The Tribal Chief has used the move since his days in the Shield, and to great effect.
It has seldom been kicked out of and helped him win both the WWE and the Universal Championships at the same time – the latter of which he has held for over 900 days.
All of these legends who use the Spear, which also includes Big Show, Batista, Christian Cage and many, many more can all be traced back to that one match on WCW Nitro in 1997. Bill Goldberg invented the spear as it is today in professional wrestling.