WM Top 25: #16 – TLC 2, WrestleMania X-Seven

Please check out the original article on Examiner.com, as it features an embedded clip of the final minutes of TLC 2.

“How do you learn to fall of a 20 foot ladder?”

That iconic question posed by legendary play-by-play man Jim Ross put in perspective how tough and dangerous a match like “TLC” really was for the six men participating. TLC, which stood for “Tables, Ladders and Chairs” in this instance, was the crowning concept in the three team feud between Matt & Jeff Hardy, Bubba Ray & D-Von Dudley and Christian & Edge.

In October 1999, live on pay per view, The Hardy Boyz and Edge & Christian battled in the first ever tag team ladder match for the managerial rights of Terri Runnels. The object of the ladder match is to climb the top of a ladder in order to retrieve the Championship belts that are hung high above the ring. Naturally in the course of the match the ladders are turned into successful weapons to use against opponents. At the time all four men were young, hungry athletes looking to catch their first break. With that match, all four men were effectively put on the map and received a standing ovation for their efforts the next night on Monday Night RAW.

By early 2000 Bubba Ray and D-Von Dudley had entered the picture and a three-team rivalry erupted. The teams met in a triple ladder match at WrestleMania 2000 with the World Tag Team Championships on the line. Edge and Christian came out on top in that first encounter. The teams would meet again at SummerSlam in August 2000 with the stakes a little higher, as the ladder match would now include tables (The Dudley Boyz’ weapon of choice) and chairs (Edge and Christian’s favorite) as legal parts of the match. Hence the name “tables, ladders and chairs,” oh my. The teams topped each other in this inaugural TLC match. Edge and Christian won that as well, but still nothing was settled between the three teams, and it was determined that the rivalry would finally end at WrestleMania X-7 on April 1, 2001 in TLC 2.

Knowing that this was the finale of their rivalry the six men really pulled out all the stops in an effort to top their two previous ladder match outings. Each team had their own “second” that also interfered in the match. The Hardy Boyz’ had their manager Lita, The Dudley Boyz brought their little “brother” Spike with them and Edge and Christian had their own personal thug named Rhyno. All nine people were involved in a match that saw wrestlers falling off ladders with reckless abandon, getting put through stacks of wooden tables and generally taking ridiculous and dangerous falls for the sake of the fans’ entertainment. It was essential to have nine people a part of the match so that there were always a couple of people available to carry on the match while the rest were able to recover from taking a potentially dangerous stunt.

Without using too many clichés, the match turned into a human car crash and after the match the ringside area looked like the scene of a tornado as remnants of broken tables, bent and twisted ladders and dented folding chairs littered the ring. Edge and Christian won this match as well, and earned their seventh Tag Championship in the process, making them 3-for-3 in these three team ladder matches.

To this day the three-team feud between these six men is still looked upon quite fondly by fans and is thought of as the last “Golden Age” of tag team wrestling, as since then good tag teams and good tag rivalries are becoming a dying breed. The feud and this match made even bigger stars out of these six athletes, giving them momentum that they are all still riding off of today. These six men reinvented the ladder match completely from the one-on-one encounter it was known for previously. To this day, Matt and Jeff Hardy and both Christian and Edge are viewed as “gurus” of the ladder match; veterans who paved the way for the dangerous matches that would follow in the years to come.

They all gave their bodies to this match for the sake of entertainment. Sure the match was planned ahead of time and the winner was pre-determined, but after watching TLC 2, I dare you to call it “fake.” After all I would just reference you the question Jim Ross asked while broadcasting the event, “How do you learn to fall of a twenty-foot ladder?” You don’t. You just do it and pay the consequences tomorrow.

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