Maybe it's harder to make a guy submit or knock him out than to pin him, but for me no finisher is as clean, elegant, and sensuous as a wrestling pin. Perhaps I'm too affected by the word "pin," with its associations with "nail," "stick," "spike," "screw," and, echoically, "penis." Or it could be the theatricality of suspenseful two-counts or the dirty refs who count too slowly. The idea of controlling a man so as to be able to position him precisely on the mat underneath oneself is another attractive feature, one that isn't matched, in my imagination, by simply incapacitating or punishing him by any means necessary. And compared to other match outcomes, it seems to take longer than its alternatives and maximizes body-on-body contact. Here's why, for all my admiration of pro wrestling, boxing, and mixed martial arts, I find collegiate-style wrestling--or simply rowdy roughhouse--often more satisfying.

Consider the simplicity of the schoolboy pin: legs astride the opponent's torso or neck, sometimes with his legs lifted to the shoulders or sometimes with hands clenching his wrists and forcing them to the floor--such was the position I was in when I had my first wrestling erection in seventh grade, as I bore down on my friend Robin, after we'd watched The Wild Wild West in his bedroom. More surprising at the time, I felt his erection, too. It's a terrific yet underused finisher. For added pain, you can always rest your knees on your opponent's biceps, too.

The cradle is a more masterful pin. You crook one arm on the opponent's leg (or, if you are very strong, both legs) and the other on the back of his neck, and then you squeeze his knee and nose together, tight against your chest and stomach. It's a humiliating hold, perhaps because of its infantilizing effect, hence the name. The cross-body press is another pinning style I like. In pro wrestling, it's this pin that often doesn't pan out for a wrestler, as his opponent can usually power out of the hold by (or, usually, right at) the referee's count of three. It becomes effective--and especially wonderful--when, after a long ordeal, a wrestler has so exhausted his opponent that all he has to do is fall crosswise over the man's sweaty chest--and perhaps hike one of his legs up in the air, to prevent escape--in order to defeat him.

The variations are endless, of course, as illustrated above by our friends at BG East. Knocking a fellow out is great, too, and hurting him so that he cries, "I quit," or taps out can do an ego a lot of good. But pinning a guy is usually more beautiful, it seems to me, not just because it's a more civilized gesture of domination and control, but because it's more challenging and intimate as well.

Up above, from top to bottom, we see Patrick Donovan pinning Brandon Aldrich in Mat Brats 1, Doug Warren pinning Joey Pappaluca in a private bout, Luke Wright pinning Lee Bryan in X-Fights UK 6, Cameron Matthews pinning Kal Curran in Mat Brats 3, Justin Pierce pinning Glenn Scott in Matmen 19, Glenn Scott pinning Justin Pierce in Matmen 19, Jonah Richards pinning Len Harder in Matmen 20, and Dark Rogers pinning Keith Sullivan in a private bout.


  1. You are so good at pointing out the hidden meanings and metaphores behind wrestling terminology: "pin" meaning spike, screw, or penis. The "cradle" used to infantilize the victim. This is poetry dude and way clever.

    1. Thanks. The feeling is mutual. Wrestling Arsenal never fails to inspire.


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