Hi folks! Today, we’re looking at the wrestling hand sign, an often overlooked form of identity in the world of professional wrestling. They have been around for decades, yet only a few can say that theirs have become part of the culture.
This list of 20 wrestling hand signs is loosely listed from the least to the most popular. I took little time with the placements, because they aren’t in competition with each other. They connect performers to the fans in a cool, inclusive way. They aren’t to be confused with taunts, which I may do a piece on if people are interested. Let’s appreciate how wrestling hand signs have brought us together over the years.
#20. Allysin Kay’s ‘Pinky’
Likely the least popular on this list is (former Impact Wrestling & NWA World Women’s Champion) Allysin Kay throwing up her pinky finger. She does it more so with both hands during her entrance and while interacting with fans, and sometimes it can be linked like a unique handshake.
Aside from Lita, Allysin Kay is the only woman I can think of who has a hand sign. Trish Stratus would throw up a finger during her entrance, but that was more of a gesture. You never saw her doing that anywhere else. So for now, it seems that Allysin Kay is unique, but who knows if the ‘Pinky’ will ever gain serious traction in the wrestling world.
#19. Edge’s ‘Rock N’ Roll’
I wasn’t planning on including this, but after asking several friends about the subject, it seems that fans take notice of it more than I do. Edge has used the sign for years during his entrance. It is more commonly known as the ‘Sign of the horns’ that was brought to prominence by Black Sabbath lead singer Ronnie James Dio.
Since then, it has become the most commonly used sign by heavy rockers to show appreciation for the music. Dio said that it is not a symbol of the devil, despite the heavy assumptions that it is. Gene Simmons of Kiss has tried and failed to trademark the sign after claiming he was the first to do it. If you’d like to find out more about the Sign of the Horns, it has its own Wikipedia page.
#18. United Empire
Unless you’re a fan of New Japan Pro Wrestling, you won’t be aware of the United Empire. Will Ospreay leads this stable, which also includes Great-O-Khan, TJP, Jeff Cobb, Aussie Open, and more. You may have seen Will Ospreay and Aussie Open wrestling for AEW.
Likely as a counter (or an insult) to the Bullet Club, they introduced a new hand sign earlier this year. It’s reminiscent of a few other signs put together, but the important thing is it promotes unity in a tight-knit group of performers.
#17. Motor City Machine Gun’s ‘Mitten State’
For those who watch Impact Wrestling and Ring Of Honor, you may have had the pleasure of watching the exciting tag team of Chris Sabin & Alex Shelley. Together, they are the Motor City Machine Guns, and they have won many tag team titles over the years. Some fans may not understand why they point to their hand, but there is a simple reason.
If you look at a map of Michigan, its shape is similar to that of a mitten. Now, if you look at where Detroit is, it becomes obvious why Sabin & Shelley point at that exact spot on their hands. Despite both being billed from Detroit, only Shelley is originally from there. Sabin grew up in Pinckney, but it’s not too far away from Detroit, so they can get away with it.
#16. The Big V
If you’re a Star Trek fan, you’ll know the “V” sign was used by Spock and other Vulcan’s as a symbol of peace. It became iconic, and also difficult for some to do. It’s funny finding those people who struggle to do it. Big Van Vader however, used it as a way to intimidate. Many years later, when Viscera was repackaged as Big Daddy V, he adopted the same hand sign.
#15. Matt Hardy V1
Matt Hardy has had many character changes in his long career, but the one that helped to branch him out as a singles star was Version 1.
We’re not here to detail how great that gimmick was, other than saying it probably should have achieved more. The Hardys had their own hand sign, so as a heel, Matt Hardy needed to find something else. With two fingers making a V, and his pinky a 1, putting them together makes it work.
However, one thing that often gets overlooked is that this hand sign is the same used to represent members of eastside gangs. It’s also not far off being the “Shocker”, which isn’t something I can appropriately expand on here.
#14. John Cena & The Dudleys OK/3D
This hand sign has been around for many years in different ways. In wrestling, the Dudley Boyz originally used it to represent their 3D finisher. When John Cena cut away from his rapper gimmick, he began using a lookalike sign, although it’s more commonly used to say “OK” from far away.
However, since those days, the sign has taken on a new meaning. It has come to represent the far right and white supremacy. Because of this, the Anti-Defamation League, a Jewish civil rights organization, added it to their “Hate on Display” database in 2019. Like any form of language, it’s a matter of context. The sign is still commonly used to say “OK”, but it could also be used as a tool of hate.
#13. Orange Cassidy’s ‘Thumbs Up’
It’s a lazy thumbs up. Moving on. This does not require an explanation.
#12. Team Extreme’s Double Finger Gun Salute
I remember doing this a lot as a kid. Usually preceding my poor Swanton Bomb on to whatever soft things my friends and I could find to land on.
The irony of Jeff Hardy pointing his guns to his mouth never crossed my mind until now. I guess we could say that was his way of telling us how little he cared for his body. Like cheating death with his stunts.
#11. “Cero Miedo” (Zero Fear)
Many know this as a taunt because Pentagon loves doing it at every opportunity, but as seen here, it can be done anywhere with two hands. Penta uses the “OK” sign to symbolize zero on one hand, and an M for Miedo on the other.
In matches, he typically does both signs with the same hand, before shoving it in his opponent’s face. This is so heavily ingrained into his character that there’s nothing more to him. It’s all about Cero Miedo.
#10. The ‘One’ Bloodline
One of the simplest hand signs of all time is sticking up a finger to tell everyone you’re the best. It has happened in many sports for decades by athletes at the top of their game.
So, it may come as a surprise to many that nobody in wrestling ever thought to take it on (in this way) before The Usos. Please let me know if anyone else has. Not long after that, Roman Reigns and The Bloodline adopted it for the entire group. Typically used after raising an arm in the air, the finger point is more of a gesture, but as we can see here, it doesn’t need to be that way.
Before this, the only wrestler who pointed a finger in the air was ECW’s Sabu. He pointed to the heavens before every match in tribute to his mentor, The Original Sheik.
#9. Mick Foley / Kenny Omega / MCMG / Bullet Club’s Gun Point
Much like The Hardy’s, several wrestlers have used the gun point sign as part of their characters. Foley discussed the origin of his gesture with WWE Untold:
“It just came from my subconscious. Bang Bang had maybe the most humble of wrestling origins. I dropped an elbow on Nasty Ned Brady in Greensboro, NC. I think it was one day before I lost two top teeth in a car accident. The song from the B-52’s, ‘Love Shack’, went through my mind and I looked up at the camera and said, ‘Bang bang bang, on the door, baby.’ And I never again used ‘on the door, baby.’ The more meaningful and more I believed in the gesture, the better the match was going to be.”
The Motor City Machine Guns use it along with their Mitten State for obvious reasons. With Kenny Omega, he used it more so after becoming ‘The Cleaner’ in New Japan. With the jacket, sunglasses, and ring style, he gradually incorporated more elements from Terminator into his gimmick. This was followed by the catchphrase: “Goodbye and goodnight, bang!” – The use of the gun hand sign has been part of the Bullet Club since the beginning, mostly because of Prince Devitt (Finn Balor).
#8. Andre The Giant’s Open Palm
While rarely imitated, this list would not be complete without the simplistic use of Andre The Giant’s mammoth open palm. Putting their hand against his, many fans will have been blessed with a moment to remember for the rest of their lives. In wrestling, it was one of the first examples of a star using a hand to sell merchandise.
#7. Jimmy Snuka’s ‘ILY’
The ILY sign is commonly used in American Sign Language, and over the years it shifted into the mainstream. During the 80s, ‘Superfly’ Jimmy Snuka used the sign all the time, whether it be at fan signings, during his entrance, or performing his finisher.
It is said to have dated all the way back to 1905. Before Snuka, it was popularized by Richard Dawson, who used it as a sign off for his show Family Feud between 1976 to 1985. For more information, you can read the ILY sign Wikipedia page.
Long before “You Can’t See Me”, John Cena got over with a rapper gimmick represented by Wordlife. This is a nod to other rappers in the 90s, notably the Wu Tang Clan, who are known to have originated it on their song 7th Chamber of the 36 Chambers album in 1993.
What does Wordlife mean? It effectively means “word on my life”, indicating a profound acknowledgment and grasp of a deep and inarguable truth that one believes in wholeheartedly. This played in to John Cena’s character of wanting people to believe in him.
#5. The Acclaimed ‘Scissor’
Anthony Bowens & Max Caster have had a ton of success this year, largely in part to the rise of their scissor hand sign and inclusion of ‘Daddy Ass’ Billy Gunn. Bowens recently told us how the scissor gimmick originated:
Oh my goodness. That is a mixture of Max and I. Actually, I was talking with him about this. One of my favorite things about being in The Acclaimed and having him as my tag-team partner is, one, both of us are so creative, and we’re both open to each other’s ideas. And we’re very good at building off each other’s ideas.
Our current success is like 50/50 with us putting the stuff together. Max played a joke on me once when I did The Acclaimed hand signal. He came from behind and scissored me, and that kind of started there. So, that was his idea, and we’d come up with catch phrases.
I guess I furthered the scissoring thing, went on live television and yelled, “Scissor me, Daddy Ass!” to Billy Gunn, and that took off. Even with National Scissoring Day, it was something that I said almost jokingly, and then he loved the idea. We talked about it, and he expanded on it, and then you guys got what you got (last week), which I think is one of the best segments in professional wrestling history.
We’re very good at feeding off each other, and I’m extremely happy to have somebody who is extremely gung-ho with just about everything. So, a lot of things end up being, ‘Hey wouldn’t it be funny if we did this?’ and the other goes, ‘Yeah, let’s do it.’”
#4. The ‘Four’ Horsemen
We’re getting to the thick end of the list, and I couldn’t help but place the Four Horsemen at #4. Throw up four fingers for one of the greatest stables in the history of wrestling.
There’s not much we can say about this, other than the four finger wrestling hand sign represents excellence, togetherness, and a ruthless desire to succeed. Fourteen wrestlers can say they represented the original Horsemen. The stable left a legacy that spawned other groups like Evolution, Fortune, and the two iterations of Horsewomen in WWE and UFC.
#3. ‘Diamond’ Dallas Page
The diamond was one of the most iconic signs in WCW created by former World Champion, Diamond Dallas Page. Often used as a taunt during his day, it has been used elsewhere as a sign or gesture. In fact, it may surprise some to know that it caused an incident with Jay-Z back in 2005.
Having unlikely watched World Championship Wrestling, Jay-Z began using a sign he called the Roc-A-Fella, which he plastered across his merchandise. However, what he didn’t know was that DDP had it copyrighted, so he ended up having to pay him royalties. In 2018, Jay-Z once again tried to get a hold of it, but it didn’t lead anywhere. DDP later posted the paper of his registered trademark to Twitter, which you can see above.
#2. “Too Sweet” Wolf Head
One of the most well-known wrestling hand signs is the wolf head. While wrestling fans know it for being the “Too Sweet” hand sign associated with The Kliq, the New World Order, and the Bullet Club, many won’t know that its origin is more sinister.
In Turkey, there is a far-right organization called Bozkurtlar, which is translated to Grey Wolves. As stated on its Wiki page, the Grey Wolves is a militant wing of the Nationalist Movement Party, and has been responsible for political violence against the left wing since its formation in 1968. The salutation of the Grey Wolves is a hand sign that the “Too Sweet” emulates. Because the Sign of the Horns looks like it, they sometimes get mistaken for the other.
In 2016, WWE conducted interviews with former and current superstars about the use of the wrestling hand sign. It was stated that Sean Waltman (aka X-Pac) brought it to The Kliq’s attention during a tour of Europe, so it’s likely that he saw somebody using it there:
It should be known that the hand sign is banned in Austria as of 2019, with a punishable offense with fines up to 4,000 Euros. Germany has considered banning it before. In 2020, Turkish President Recep Erdogan flashed the sign of the Grey Wolves, reported as being a violent racist Pan-Turkish group that targets ethnic and religious minorities – including Armenians, Greeks, and other Christians, in pursuit of their dream of a greater Turkey only for Turks.
Luckily for professional wrestling fans, the wolf head has become a symbol of friendship and loyalty.
#1. Stone Cold Steve Austin’s ‘Middle Finger’ Salute
The last wrestling hand sign is the middle finger, which is probably the oldest on the list. In the western world, it is has been known as an obscene, offensive gesture for longer than we know. During the Attitude Era, Stone Cold Steve Austin took the already well-known sign and made it his official salute to everyone who crossed his path.
According to its Wikipedia, the middle finger “was used in ancient times as a symbol of sexual intercourse, in a manner meant to degrade, intimidate and threaten the individual receiving the gesture.” It was also used to ward off the ‘Evil Eye’, a curse that many believed in centuries ago.
Having been used in this way since the late-1800’s, and in movies as early as 1927, this meaning of the middle finger salute lives on over a hundred years later. With WWE being PG rated, Steve Austin’s character was not permitted to use it in on camera in recent years, but the fans of the Attitude Era fondly remember the moments it gave us.
And that’s all for today. It has been interesting to learn more about the origins of some of the most popular wrestling hand signs. Please let us know your favorites in the comments. I hope you enjoyed it! Thank you for reading.
This content was originally published here.