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WRESTLING COLUMNS

The Ladder Match Returns To WrestleMania!
March 28, 2005 by James Greasby


The greatest show on earth has come round again. It seems that long since we saw Benoit pick up his first World Championship, or see The Undertaker return, or see Molly Holly get her head shaved bald. It hard to believe that WrestleMania XX was now, over a year ago! However, Molly's hair has grown back, and now the world prepares itself for the 21st edition of WrestleMania! Now, I see many people have written articles about the main events, or how Undertaker is going to lose his winning streak, but the big story amongst all this, is that the Ladder Match is coming home to WrestleMania! No matter who is making a one-off appearance at this year's WrestleMania, the money maker will be the appearance of the ladder, which is why the match has been dubbed, "Money In The Bank", cause it really will be Money In The Bank for the guys at WWE. However, there is something more special about the homecoming of the ladder match to WrestleMania - there will be six individuals competing for a shot at the World Heavyweight Championship. Never has the ladder been surrounding by six men, all fighting for themselves, without the help of a tag team partner. This article will hopefully look into the connection between Ladder and Mania, and provide some sort of insight as to who will eventually climb the ladder and bring down the briefcase.

It all started at WrestleMania 10! At the tenth anniversary of the event, the world witnessed the dawn of new phenomena, the ladder match! On March 20th, 1994, WrestleMania played home to the first WWF Ladder Match. At the grandest stage of them all, Shawn Michaels and Razor Ramon battled it out in a historic Intercontinental Championship match, which is still talked about today. The ladder match was introduced to settle such a bitter rivalry between the two. In the inaugural ladder match, the ladder served more than just a tool for victory. The ladder also served as a weapon, which each man used to obliterate his opponent. After a stunning display of courage, ingenuity and stamina, the end came when Ramon caught Michaels halfway up the ladder and threw himself into it. The ladder went crashing toward the ground, sending Michaels plunging into the ropes - where he became hopelessly entangled. With Michaels unable to stop him, Ramon carefully scaled the battered ladder and grabbed the titles, ending a match for the ages. 19, 444 fans in Madison Square Garden stood on their feet in honour of the first ever Ladder Match.

The next `Mania Ladder Match didn't come along until 6 years after Madison Square Garden, when the boundaries where set even further for the Ladder Match. 3 teams, consisting of the 3 different pairs of brothers, battled it out in a Triangle Ladder Match. On the 2nd April 2000, six men gave it their all for the Tag Team Championships. 18, 742 fans inside the Arrowhead Pond saw The Dudleys, the Hardy Boyz and E&C (Edge and Christian) battle it out in what became the foundation for WrestleMania, which preceded it. Not only were these three teams competing in a match that had never been attempted before, but they were also making their WrestleMania debut. It was the first of their legendary three-way matches, and resulted in the first of a record seven Tag Team titles for E&C.

As mentioned above, the three teams met again at WrestleMania, only a year later. A Triangle Ladder Match, and a TLC later, the Dudleys, Hardy Boyz and E&C, met again at WrestleMania, in TLC II. 67, 925 packed the Reliant Astrodome in Houston, Texas, to witness a further encounter between the three teams. The concept of Tables, Ladders and Chairs, was introduced in the WWF by Mick Foley only months before `Mania, at Summerslam 2000. Yet the teams still had scores to settle, and the fans wanted to see TLC II. Just as epic as their encounter at WrestleMania 16, TLC II, at WrestleMania 17 saw the first time a duo had managed to win the Tag Team Titles at two consecutive WrestleManias.

However, after TLC II, the ladder match hasn't been seen at `Mania since. Although (I'm not sure if this counts), but Vince McMahon used a ladder at WrestleMania 19, to get the leg drop down on Hulk Hogan and put him through the Spanish announcer's table. But the Ladder match will brought back this year, for six men, all with a shot at the World Heavyweight Championship hanging above their heads.

WrestleMania will see history in the making, and a further milestone set in the path of the Ladder Match. We've seen the introduction of the object in question; we've seen 2 men battle with it, 3 teams battling with it, and at TLC 3, 4 teams battle with the ladder. However, at `Mania 21, there won't be any partners; it will be every man for himself! So who looks to be favoured to win the Ladder Match at WrestleMania 21" Chris Jericho" Edge" Kane" Chris Benoit" Christian" Or Shelton Benjamin"

Looking at the six men, the most successful of all them, must be Chris Benoit. After his Main Event win at WrestleMania 20, last year, Benoit looks to be a hot favourite at both `Mania and in Ladder Matches! Going back to TLC 3, he was the last man standing and won the match for himself and Chris Jericho. However the tide has turned a bit on his individual Ladder Matches, making reference to the Royal Rumble and Judgment Day, back in 2001, when he lost to Jericho and Angle, respectively. However no-one can question Benoit's integrity, as he's the only man out of the six to win a Royal Rumble match, back in 2004, so he's got the will to keep going and going, which I imagine will come in handy when getting pummelled over and over again with a ladder.

Looking at individual wins in Ladder Matches, Chris Jericho has won the most, on his own, out of the 6 opponents. As mentioned above, he beat Chris Benoit at Royal Rumble 2001 and at Unforgiven last year, against Christian. He has to be considered a hot favourite in this match, and at the end of the day, it was Jericho who came up with the match. So for Jericho to come up with the concept of Ladder Match with 5 other guys, says that he's got the passion and skill to win such a difficult match.

The only wrestlers in this match to have been involved in the 2 Tag Team Ladder matches at WrestleMania are Edge and Christian. Together, these two were the most successful tag team in WWE. However these guys are against each other on April 3rd, and will their tag team success together play against them" Who knows them better than their own brother" It should be interesting to see how they interact with each other in this match, especially given Edge recent run of results lately, and Christian's connection with problem solver, Tyson Tomko. Looking at these two athletes, one can bring a mention to No Mercy 2001, when these fought in a Ladder Match. It was Christian who won the match, regaining the Intercontinental Championship. To come back to TLC 2002, not everyone had a tag team partner in that match. Hurricane had been taken out before the match, meaning that Kane had to go it alone. However Kane still won the match and retained the Tag Team Championship. Although that's the only Ladder Match Kane has ever fought in (on PPV), how do his chances fair against 5 other men" Being the tallest and heaviest athlete in the match may play a strong factor in this match. Kane looks a strong contender in this match, if Gene Snitsky can keep away from the ring.

And last but not least, is Shelton Benjamin, the dark horse of the match. Shelton Benjamin has only been in one Ladder Match, which was back at Judgment Day 2003 against Eddie Guerrero and Tajiri, which Shelton lost. So his experience of ladders isn't great, but he's got the agility and stamina for a Ladder Match of this magnitude. And bearing in mind that he beat Triple H twice last year, it would be interesting to see what would happen if Shelton Benjamin got a title shot.

From the history behind the Ladder Match at `Mania's gone by, it should be a very interesting match. And then add to that the actually competitors of the match, which are six of the greatest athletes on the RAW roster, are just the right ingredients for a match to go down in history. Saying six of the greatest, this one admission that Mr Bischoff has made, Where is William Regal in all of this" Surely an ex Intercontinental, European, and current Tag Team Champion should be booked in the match, but I suppose Regal and Tajiri will have a Tag Team Title defense. I can't wait to see these guys coming over the pond in late April; I'll be at the Hull Arena, on the 24th April, so see the lads do war!

In conclusion, the six man, "Money In The Bank" match at WrestleMania 21, will set a milestone for ladder matches, and be a match for the ages, to be compared with the match at WrestleMania 10, 16, 17. I'm looking forward to this match, more than the main events, which I don't think are the best the WWE has to offer. Should be good to see Austin back, and Undertaker become 13-0, but the next contender for the World Heavyweight Championship and winner of the six man Ladder Match has to be... Chris Jericho. Thanks for reading, and hope you enjoy WrestleMania 21!

by James Greasby ..


Jose Perez wrote:
Will the people who write articles (and this author is not the first) please stick in their brain that the first WWE Ladder Match was Bret Hart vs. Shawn Micheals.
Malcolm Marc Audette wrote:
Just a note that Kane hasn't competed in a PPV ladder match. The TLC match he won was the main event of the second RAW Roulette show. Also, regarding Bret and Shawn Michaels having the first ladder match, I can't find any house show reports to validate that, and if I did, it still wouldn't count, as it wasn't available to the general WWF fan population. If Mr. Perez (or anyone) would like to point me to a reference to this match, send it to ProRes_CEO@hotmail.com. By the way, I'm also rooting for Jericho at Wrestlemania.
Anthony Mcmullen wrote:
The first ladder match that has been recorded is Bret hart vs. bad news Allen. Now if you bothered to check out the history of the ladder match on this site, you would know that, so check your facts before putting your finger to keyboard. And it doesn't matter how many people got to see it, it is still the first ever ladder match.
Laura G wrote:
I love ladder matches and this was interesting to read but I thought I needed to mention that didn't Edge beat Christian to become the new Intercontinental champ at No Mercy 2001 in that ladder match" Either way I still hope Christian wins!
Jose Perez wrote:
Will people please accept the fact for once and for all, that the first WWE Ladder Match was Bret Hart vs. Shawn Micheals.
wrote:

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