wrestling / Columns

Top 7 Pro Wrestling Leglocks

August 21, 2022 | Posted by Steve Cook
Steve Austin Bret Hart WWE WrestleManias Image Credit: WWE

If you’re going to be a wrestler of any repute, you need to have a good finishing move. Many opt to use something that will ensure a pinfall. Others prefer to make their opponents submit, as it’s just fun to make your rival quit. Not that I know from experience, but I know a lot of wrestlers feel this way.

One of the best ways to make your opponent quit? Target their legs. If a wrestler can’t stand, their height means nothing. They can’t run or perform high-flying moves. Eventually, the pain caused by a well-timed submission hold may make them cease competing.

Here are the seven most magnificent leglocks.

7. Stretch Muffler

Originally known as the Argentine leglock, this is a move I feel we don’t see enough of. Basically, a wrestler takes their opponent’s leg and wraps it around their head like it’s a towel. It’s especially brutal when a bigger wrestler like Brock Lesnar uses it. Brock’s version was called the Brock Lock, and sometimes he’d just sit on people to make the move even more brutal. It was a good time had by all. Big E used this move a time or two, hopefully he’ll get to use it again someday.

6. Spinning Toehold

If you’ve ever stubbed your toe on the edge of a coffee table, you know just how sensitive toes are to pain. Now imagine somebody grabbing hold of your toe and spinning around with it. Doesn’t sound like my idea of a good time, that’s for sure. Unfortunately, the spinning toehold is one of those moves that’s died off in the past thirty years or so. I can’t remember the last time I saw it utilized on a mainstream wrestling show. Then again, I didn’t see Raw this week. With how much things are changing in WWE these days, maybe somebody busted it out while Corey Graves yelled about it being a wrestling hold.

We all know that the spinning toehold was the signature move of the legendary Funk wrestling family. Dory Funk originated it, then his sons Dory Jr. & Terry used it around the world for multiple decades. Perhaps Dory Jr. & Terry’s lack of sons in the wrestling business explains the lack of spinning toeholds in wrestling today.

5. Rolling Half Crab


To be honest, I always thought the Half Crab was a bit lame. It was half a Boston Crab, why not do the full one, which looked harder to get out of? The only time it really worked was when Lance Storm would use it, mostly due to how he set it up. Lance would grab his opponent’s leg, typically while the opponent was running at him, roll up with it and end up on top of his opponent applying the half crab, which he would call the Canadian Maple Leaf during his time in WCW.

The move was neat, but I never understood the name of it in WCW. Sure, Lance was from Canada, and that’s probably all the thought that was put into it by whoever came up with the name, but it’s not like he twisted the opponent’s legs into something resembling a maple leaf.

4. Liontamer

The Boston Crab was a popular move among wrestlers while I was growing up. Rick Martel finished many a wrestler with it in the WWF. While I appreciated that hold, it was Chris Jericho who really took the move to another level during his early days in WCW. Instead of squatting above the wrestler, Jericho would take his knee and plant it into the back of his opponent. It was one of the things that helped Jericho stand out from the pack during his time with that promotion. Yeah, he was a tremendous personality, but he also had a cool finishing hold that looked like it could finish just about anybody.

It helped that Jericho was competing in the cruiserweight division and had lighter, more flexible opponents to use the hold on. Once he got to the WWF and was typically wrestling people larger than him, Jericho’s “Walls of Jericho” was more of a traditional Boston Crab. He still pulls out that Liontamer from time to time, as we saw in recent weeks against Wheeler Yuta & Jon Moxley.

3. Ankle lock

This one’s great for its simplicity. The wrestler simply grabs his opponent’s foot, lifts and starts trying to twist their opponent’s foot off of their leg. Ken Shamrock brought it to pro wrestling, his status as former UFC Champion and the World’s Most Dangerous Man automatically gave it credibility. Kurt Angle was the next top star to use it on a regular basis, and his status as a former Olympic Gold Medalist gave it more credibility. If you want to be seen as a dangerous shooter, use a well-executed anklelock.

It used to bug me when Angle would keep people in the move for what seemed like hours at a time, and it seemed pretty easy for opponents to kick out of it, at least temporarily. Sometimes it was tiresome, other times it greatly increased the drama in a match.

2. Scorpion Deathlock/Sharpshooter

If you’re a Sting fan, it’s the Scorpion. If you prefer Bret Hart, it’s the Sharpshooter. The difference: Sting wraps his opponents’ legs around his right leg, while Bret wraps them around his left leg. Either way, it’s a hold that’s won & defended multiple championships in almost every wrestling promotion that ever mattered. The Sharpshooter that Bret had applied on him at the 1997 Survivor Series is likely the most famous “submission” in wrestling history.

There’s a great argument to make for this hold getting the top spot. The one weakness I see with it: it’s hard to see the wrestler receiving the hold’s pain unless there’s a television camera. Even if they’re screaming like a banshee, you can’t really see their facial expression unless there’s a camera there, or the hold is a bit sloppily applied. Other than that, this is a pretty kickass leglock.

Honorable Mention: STF

I’ve always liked the STF, invented by Lou Thesz and passed down to the likes of Masahiro Chono, John Cena & Erik Watts. It had a good chance of making this list, but it comes down to technicalities. While there’s a Stepover Toehold in the move, the emphasis is on the Facelock. Some pressure is applied to the knee, but the true pain that leads to one’s opponent tapping out involves the face being locked and the rest of the core being stretched in the hold. So while one of the legs is locked, the move isn’t really considered a leglock.

1. Figure Four

Pretty much the perfect leglock. Utilized by legends like Buddy Rogers, Ric Flair & Eddie Graham, along with countless others. The Figure Four checks most of the boxes of what makes an effective submission hold. There’s a pain factor. The name is perfect, as the opponent’s legs are shaped into a 4. Everybody in an arena can see what the hold does to the wrestler, and how the wrestler reacts to it. The wrestler can’t hide their emotion when they’re stuck on their back screaming to God & everybody. A wrestler using the hold can grab the ropes and apply extra pressure, or grab onto a friend at ringside, given the referee’s back is turned. It can also count as a pinfall if the victim’s shoulders are down.

There’s also the drama involved when the wrestler tries to & eventually counters the hold. How can’t you love a hold where someone flipping over onto their stomach reverses the pressure and changes the match completely? That’s just great pro wrestling. No hold provides quite as much intrigue as a well-executed Figure Four Leglock.

Thanks for reading! If you’ve got thoughts on leglocks, suggestions for future columns or anything else I need to hear about, hit me up on the social media! Until next time, try to avoid getting your leg locked.

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AEW, WWE, Steve Cook