A grab aerial (空中ワイヤー, Midair wire; also known as a grab air or zair) is a technique introduced in Super Smash Bros. Melee that allows a character to use their extended grab implement as an aerial attack or tether recovery (wall grapple in Melee). Grab aerials are performed in the same way as grabs, either by simply pressing the grab button while in the air, or by holding a shield button and then pressing an attack button.
Grab aerials quickly extend forward and strike opponents with weak damage and knockback (except Lucas's in Brawl, which doesn't hit opponents). They tend to have more range than other aerials, which makes them useful for spacing (especially out of a short hop) and surprising opponents with their high speed, and are sometimes effective for starting combos. Despite their name and input, grab aerials cannot grab opponents, though attempting one while holding an item will drop the item instead. All grab aerials except Luigi's can be also be used as a tether recovery or wall grapple, though they cause helplessness in Melee if they fail to attach to a wall.
Grab aerials are considerably more useful in Brawl and onward than in Melee due to their lack of ending lag, the absence of L-canceling and the existence (only in Brawl) of the landing lag glitch which affects other attacks. Prior to Ultimate, characters with it can cancel an air dodge with a grab aerial, which in Brawl and SSB4, allows one to use a grab aerial or tether recovery without dropping a held item. Starting in Brawl, grab aerials do not cause a character to go into a helpless state, allowing for repeated usage more easily, as well as being able to safely use the move off of the stage for edge guarding.
In Brawl, if a character uses their grab aerial right before getting KO'd off the upper blast line, the KO blast will be seen with the usual colourful explosion seen on other blast lines, but it will be facing upwards off the screen, and appear small and incomplete.
In Smash 4, all grab aerials have 8 frames of landing lag. If they are used by pressing a shield and attack button at the same time, however, they will instead have the landing lag of an air dodge (which lasts 21 frames); as such, using grab aerials to cancel air dodges is riskier when close to the ground.
List of grab aerials
Grab aerials are one of the few attacks in the Smash series that are not universal. The characters that possess a grab aerial also possess a tether grab.
|In Melee, it has high lag and low damage, but in Brawl and Smash 4 it can be used to start combos and the final hit has much more knockback. In Brawl and early versions of the 3DS version of Smash 4, it can combo into a DACUS at medium percentages. Link no longer has a grab aerial in Ultimate, but both of his doppelgängers still do (see below).|
|Lucas||Rope Snake||It deals no damage in Brawl, but can be used to move Lucas a bit faster in the air. In Ultimate, it is involved in a special double jump cancel tech specific to Lucas.|
|Luigi||Poltergust G-00||It can damage opponents like all other grab aerials, but it is the only one that cannot tether to ledges. Unlike other grab aerials, Luigi's grab aerial acts like a projectile, as the plunger doesn't retract back into the Poltergust and instead stays out and slowly falls down, with its hitbox still active. Notably, the projectile will still be launched if Luigi lands before firing it in the air.|
|Grapple Beam||Considered to be Samus's best spacing move in Brawl. In Melee's NTSC versions, it can be canceled by dropping Bombs. It acts as a strong combo tool in Ultimate thanks to leading into dash attack consistently.|
|Toon Link||Hookshot||Short range compared to Link and Samus's grab aerials, although due to Toon Link's short height, it is easier to hit grounded opponents with. Very useful for setting up an up smash and other options.|
|Young Link||Hookshot||Interestingly, his Hookshot in Melee shares the same model as Link's (just like his grab), making it look rather large when used by him. In Ultimate, it combos into options such as dash attack.|
|Zero Suit Samus||Plasma Whip||As a grapple, it behaves almost identically to her Plasma Whip. Can be used for edgeguarding opponents. Does not exist in Brawl.|
Link's tether recovery narrowly missing the ledge in Brawl.
Samus using her grab aerial offensively in Brawl.
|Attacks in the Super Smash Bros. series|
|Standard ground attacks||Neutral attack · Dash attack|
|Tilt attacks||Forward tilt · Up tilt · Down tilt|
|Smash attacks||Forward smash · Up smash · Down smash|
|Aerial attacks||Neutral aerial · Forward aerial · Back aerial · Up aerial · Down aerial · Grab aerial · Glide attack|
|Throws||Grab · Pummel · Forward throw · Back throw · Up throw · Down throw|
|Get-up attacks||Floor attack · Edge attack|
|Special moves||Neutral special move · Side special move · Up special move · Down special move · Command-input move · Final Smash|