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A moonsault, moonsault press, or back flip splash is a wrestling aerial technique with much of its popularity in American wrestling being attributed to The Great Muta, also known as Keiji Mutoh, despite it being used in North America by "Leaping" Lanny Poffo years before Mutoh came from Japan. It was invented by Mando Guerrero (son of legendary Gory Guerrero and brother to the late, great Eddie Guerrero) in Mexico.
In a standard moonsault, which is generally attempted from the top rope, a wrestler faces away from the prone opponent and executes a backflip landing on the opponent in a splash/press position but facing towards the elevated position. Though this move is generally attempted from the top rope to an opponent lying face up in the mat, myriad variations exist, including moonsaults that see the wrestler land on a standing opponent and forcing them down to the mat. In kayfabe, the move is considered a higher-impact version of a splash, since the wrestler utilizes rotational speed.
As this move wears down the knees of the user (from repeated impacts), wrestlers often do not perform the moonsault for a long period of their career.
A less common variation sees the wrestler perform a moonsault on a standing opponent, with the torso of the wrestler striking the torso of the opponent (albeit upside down), forcing the opponent backwards and to the ground with the opponent on top of them, usually placing the opponent in a pinning predicament. Most of the variations listed below can also be performed on standing opponents.
This is a twisting moonsault in which the attacker stands on an elevated platform, such as the top rope, and performs a moonsault with a 360° twist or multiple twists, landing as if performing a normal moonsault.
The corkscrew moonsault was innovated by female Japanese wrestler Chaparita Asari. Jack Evans often uses the move from a standing position while Kid Kash uses a variation of this move dubbed the Money Roll, which is best described as a twisting Asai moonsault. John Morrison is well known for using this move dubbing it the Starship Pain.
Double jump moonsault
This is a variation of springboard moonsault. This variation sees the wrestler bounces off the middle-rope to elevate himself/herself to the top-rope from where he/she bounces off to perform the moonsault. This version of a moonsault is often referred to as a picture perfect moonsault or double springboard moonsault. The move has been made popular under the name Best Moonsault Ever, or BME for short, by Christopher Daniels.
Kid Kash uses a variation in which he gets onto the middle rope facing the ring, jumps to the top rope and faces the outside of the ring, and then performs a moonsault.
There is also a variation known as the Triple Jump Moonsault where, from a running start, the attacking wrestler jumps to a chair or other elevated platform, onto the top rope and then does a moonsault from there onto his opponent. This move is most notably used by Sabu, the man who helped innovate the move and popularize it in the United States.
This is a double rotation moonsault where another rotation is performed after the initial moonsault. There are two major variants of the double moonsault, an Asai moonsault version and a normal moonsault from the top turnbuckle to the inside of the ring with two rotations. The first rotation is an arc of the back
The first variation, also known as the 720° Moonsault, sees a wrestler who is standing on the apron, with a wrestler on the floor behind them, jump up on to either the first or second rope and perform and backflip as in to perform an Asai moonsault but while in mid air tucks their legs reducing resistance and performs a second complete backflip after the first one, landing on a standing opponent below. This is the more common of the two variants due to the increased airtime of the springboard and height from the springboard to the floor. This variant is closely associated with Jack Evans who popularised it as the Stuntin' 101. Evans is also known to perform a corkscrew version of this variant.
The second variation, also known as a 540° Moonsault, sees a wrestler ascend to the top rope and perform a backflip while tucking their legs. This allows the wrestler to have lesser resistance and continues to rotate after the initial first 360° for another 180° completing the second rotation onto an opponent lying on the mat.
Any move where the wrestler stands on an elevated position, grabs hold of the opponent, and performs a moonsault while still holding on to the opponent, driving them down to the mat.
The most popularly used version is known as a solo Spanish fly or Avalanche Inverted Shiranui which is a moonsault side slam named after the double team variation. There is a variation of this version which is not performed off an elevated position, called a standing moonsault side slam.
Matt Sydal uses a belly to belly version named Cyclorama where he faces his opponent on the top turnbuckle, wraps his arms around the opponent's torso and then performs the moonsault, slamming the opponent down to the mat back first.
Paul Burchill used a standing version of this move which he dubbed "The C4", when he wrestled in his homeland of England. After being signed to WWE, he used it for a while in his pirate gimmick under the name "Walking the Plank". Since that gimmick ended, he has ceased using it.
This variation is also referred to as a sideways moonsault, rolling moonsault, rounding splash, and Original Style Moonsault. The attacker climbs the top rope, or other elevated position facing away from the opponent, instead of doing a backflip as in a normal moonsault, the attacker rotates his or her body off to one side horizontally and lands on the opponent chest first, facing the turnbuckle as in a normal moonsault.
Solo Spanish fly
See: Moonsault slam
This moonsault variation sees the performer jump to the top turnbuckle before then dropping down so that they can split their legs onto the top rope which is coming into that turnbuckle post using the impact of their thighs on the rope to flip themselves backwards and on to a prone opponent. This variation was innovated and made popular by Rob Van Dam, who called it the Hollywood Star Press although the commentators simply called it a split-legged moonsault, the most uncommon variation is from off a ladder which would be called "Nut-sault"
John Morrison uses a corkscrew variation, preceded by a springboard to the top rope which he calls the Starship Pain.
Called La Quebrada in Mexico sometimes shortened to simply Quebrada, this is a move in which a wrestler springboards (bounces off ropes) then executes a backflip and lands on an opponent. It was invented by the Luchador Fantasma de la Quebrada. In the United States, it is also known as a Lionsault, a name adopted due to its usage by Chris Jericho.
When a springboard moonsault is performed onto an opponent on the floor outside the ring, rather than one in the ring, it is called an Asai moonsault, named after the man who popularized its use in modern wrestling Yoshihiro Asai, better known in the United States by his ring name Último Dragón.
TAKA Michinoku popularized a variation of the Asai moonsault called the Uchujin Quebrada. This translates literally as Spaceman Quebrada, conveying the gravity defying nature of the move. From a running start, TAKA jumps to the top rope, rotating 180º laterally so as to land on the top rope facing the ring and proceeds to perform a moonsault to an opponent standing on the floor.
A.J. Styles uses a variation where he performs a quebrada, but instead of impacting the opponent he grabs the opponent's head in an inverted facelock and lands on his feet behind the opponent. He then follows up with an inverted DDT. This move has been called the Phenomenon or Stylin' DDT.
Eiji Ezaki's career ended in October 2001 when his foot slipped during a springboard moonsault attempt and he landed on his head, breaking his neck and leaving him paralyzed. He recently regained the ability to walk.
Also known as a backflip splash. A move in which a wrestler, who is standing next to an opponent lying on the ground executes a backflip and lands on him. Many competitors add something to the move to make it their own before performing the backflip. Some do a dance, while others perform moves like cartwheels to build momentum.