Behind door number one sits CM Punk and his Anaconda Vise, a crushing submission maneuver that clasps itself around a Superstar’s head and constricts it like a jungle snake, compacting his cranium until he screams in pain and taps in humbling defeat.
Behind door number two lies Daniel Bryan and his “Yes!” Lock, a torturous hold that Bryan adapted from the legendary Gene LeBell. This contorting human torture contraption combines the mixed-martial arts omoplata with a crossface that attacks both the neck and shoulder joints with equal precision, leaving Bryan’s victim squirming for salvation from two angles until they tap while Bryan’s obnoxious screams of “YES!” rattle in their ears and reverberate off of the arena’s walls.
They are two of the most ignominious ways a Superstar can face the final bell in a match, and at WWE Over the Limit this Sunday, there’s a very good chance the WWE Title will be decided with one of them. But which hold wins out? As Punk and Bryan prepare for their long-awaited face off for the ultimate prize (HISTORY: CM PUNK VS. DANIEL BRYAN), WWE.com takes a look at each submission hold, its strengths and weaknesses, and a few choice testimonials from the Superstars who’ve been locked in its clutches. Ponder which one you’d prefer while you’re at it, too. As a wise man once said, you must choose. But choose wisely.
The sensation of having one’s head crushed by their own arm is a remarkably unpleasant one, as many of CM Punk’s opponents can attest to. Punk’s Anaconda Vise submission hold – a deviation of the ju-jitsu arm triangle – is a combination of amateur wrestling tactics and some of The Second City Saint’s own ruthlessness, and it has helped him both win and retain the WWE Championship on several occasions. To lock in the devastating maneuver, Punk positions himself across his opponent’s body like he’s throwing in a headlock, putting pressure on the victim’s chest so they’re unable to wiggle free. The Voice of the Voiceless then traps his opponent’s forearm so they’re unable to roll through and reverse, snaking his tattooed arms around their head and upper body, squeezing until they surrender (and sometimes for a few minutes after, if he’s looking to make a point).
“It’s multifaceted and can be applied in different ways,” Punk told WWE.com back in November, before he used the Vise to capture the WWE Title from Alberto Del Rio at Survivor Series. “Because I have control of my opponent’s head, I can beat up a guy’s neck, his shoulder or his arm. That’s why I like it.” (PHOTOS: DEL RIO VS. PUNK – WWE TITLE MATCH)
The hold tends to leave an indelible mark on any Superstar who suffers it as well. Before Punk used it to win the WWE Championship from Del Rio, he infamously trapped The Essence of Excellence in the Vise for several miserable minutes, forcing him to grant Punk the title opportunity in the first place.
Announcer Michael Cole was another one of Punk’s more memorable victims, literally squealing for mercy after all of five seconds in The Second City Saint’s clutches. “Obviously the Anaconda Vise is a devastating submission hold. I wouldn’t say it’s quite as effective as my An-Cole Lock, which I used on J.R. – a WWE Hall of Famer, by the way – last year,” Cole told WWE.com, while also conceding that it could well be the deciding factor of the WWE Title Match at Over the Limit. “Being stuck in that move was one of the more humiliating moments of my career. I’d say if Daniel Bryan gets caught in that, he’s going to have his work cut out for him.”
As for The Miz, who is among those who’ve also tapped to the Vise, WWE.com reporters found him in a rare state when questioned on the move’s effectiveness: speechless.
“We don’t need to talk about that,” The Awesome One said of his past encounters with Punk’s submission.
Like we said: it leaves a mark that can’t be measured.
Imagine, if you will, having your arm torqued behind you at a violent angle, with the weight of a 210-pound man resting upon your shoulder. You try to wiggle free, but mercy eludes you as a pair of arms clench in an iron grip across your face, pressuring against your nose and cranking your neck back. And, as if your situation couldn’t be any worse, all you hear in your head is furious screams of “YES!” as Daniel Bryan cranks up his aptly named “Yes!” Lock and you’re left with no choice but to tap.
“It’s painful to say the least,” WWE Tag Team Champion Kofi Kingston said of the maneuver, which Bryan infamously trapped him in for minutes on end a few weeks ago on Raw SuperShow. “First of all, the way Daniel Bryan will do it, if you look, when he grabs your face, he has his knuckles turned in. So imagine someone’s knuckles grinding in your face. Pretty uncomfortable.”
In stacking his own maneuver up against the Anaconda Vise, Bryan wasted no time in extolling the virtues of his weapon of choice.
“It just puts more torque on the person’s body,” the No. 1 contender told WWE.com. “It attacks both the shoulder and the neck. Don’t get me wrong, the Anaconda Vise is devastating. Just not as devastating as the ‘Yes!’ Lock.” (WATCH: DANIEL BRYAN’S TRAINING REGIMENT)
Kingston went on to embellish the crux of Bryan’s move is the helplessness it inspires, as well as the debilitating mind games of the No. 1 contender that demoralize his victims into submission. “You can’t do anything about it, because you only have one arm,” Kingston said. “It’s painful on so many levels, and the fact that he’s yelling in your ear full blast, it’s not a pleasant move to be in.”
In other words: Is it painful? Yes! Is it humiliating? Yes!. But will the “Yes!” Lock win Daniel Bryan the WWE Championship at Over The Limit?