There are moves in pro wrestling with names that either explain what the move looks like and/or does, or, well, not at all. The piledriver is a professional wrestling driver move that proves the former, as one wrestler grabs his opponent, turns him upside-down, then drops into a sitting or kneeling position while driving the opponent head-first into the canvas. See? A piledriver. The move was created and innovated by pro wrestler “Wild Bill Longson, and its name is derived from the piece of construction equipment called a “pile driver”. See? There it is again. The most common piledrivers are your basic belly-to-back (a.k.a., a Texas piledriver) and The Undertaker’s Tombstone Piledriver, but there exist more intricate variants of the maneuver.
Just from the description of the move, it’s no secret that the piledriver often considered a dangerous maneuver due to the risk of impact on the head and neck compression. When executed correctly, your standard piledriver has the opponent’s head just barely (if at all) hitting the mat. However, when not performed properly, the head will likely not be in the correct position and a serious injury or even paralysis can occur. The most infamous example of the latter took place at the 1997 edition of WWF SummerSlam, when Owen Hart botched a reverse piledriver in his match against Stone Cold Steve Austin, resulting in Austin suffering a broken neck. While Austin was able to continue on to his main event push, the neck injury ultimately led to Austin’s subsequent surgeries and his in-ring retirement in 2003.
The WWE would ban the piledriver in 2000, unless the wrestler has special permission to use the move. In a discussion in 2007, Stephanie McMahon stated in an interview in 2007 that only Undertaker and Kane were allowed to use the move (the Tombstone variant), since they were “two of the stronger guys” on the WWE roster. Many independent promotions and even cities have banned the piledriver; it results in an instant disqualification in pro wrestling matches in the city of Memphis, Tennessee and the country of Mexico, while some promotions in the United Kingdom, the move can result in both a disqualification AND a fine.
- BJ Whitmer’s Injury Proves the Piledriver Is Wrestling’s Most Dangerous Move (bleacherreport.com)
- Of Piledrivers and Men… (rayrhodeswrestling.wordpress.com)
- ROH Wrestler Injured After Piledriver On Ring Apron (dtrtwrestling.com)