WM Top 25: #7 – The Ladder Match, WrestleMania X

Please head over to Examiner.com to check out the full article, including the final minutes of Ramon-Michaels from WrestleMania X.

Every once in awhile a new concept comes along in professional wrestling that is actually revolutionary and changes the scope of the game. The ladder match was one of those concepts that brought something new.

The origin of the ladder match can be traced back to the early ‘70s, when Dan Kroffat introduced the match to the North American audiences. He and Japanese wrestler Tor Kamata battled in a ladder match in Calgary, Alberta’s Stampede Wrestling with the prize being a wad of money at the top of a scaffold. Bret Hart, who was the son of Stampede’s promoter Stu Hart, battled Bad News Allen in a ladder match in 1983.

It was Bret Hart who would bring the idea to the World Wrestling Federation and pitched to WWF head honcho Vince McMahon. Hart and Shawn Michaels a ladder match for Hart’s Intercontinental Championship in the fall of 1992 as a trial run for company officials. The match was highlighted in an issue of WWF Magazine during that time period and was released on home video.

The concept of the ladder match was put on the shelf until early 1994 when the WWF needed something special to end the rivalry between Razor Ramon and Shawn Michaels. Michaels had been stripped of the Intercontinental Title for controversial reasons and Ramon won the vacant Championship after a battle royal and one-on-one singles match final. When Michaels returned from his hiatus he began carrying around his own version of the physical Intercontinental belt, claiming he was the rightful champion as he hadn’t been defeated for the belt.

It was determined that the only way things could be settled between these two would be in a ladder match at WrestleMania X. Both men’s physical Title belts would be hung above the ring and the only way to retrieve them would be to climb a ladder and pull them down; no pinfalls, submissions, count outs or disqualifications. With no rules it meant that the ladder could come into a play as an offensive and defensive weapon for Michaels and Ramon to use on each other.

Michaels and Ramon were given an open platform; a canvas to paint a picture of greatness. They were able to set the bar for future ladder matches that were sure to come after. The two real-life best friends trusted each other enough as friends and professionals to create some truly amazing spots and stunts involving the ladder. The inanimate object became a “third man” in the match and allowed for moves that just aren’t possible with two men. When the smoke cleared Ramon stood atop the A-frame ladder hold both gold belts, the undisputed Intercontinental Champion.

Even though Michaels and Ramon didn’t invent the ladder match and weren’t the first to compete in it either, they are often the ones who get the credit for the being the match’s forefathers. After their match, the ladder match would lie dormant for over a year before these two would have a rematch at SummerSlam ’95, with Michaels coming out on top that time.

Shortly thereafter the ladder match slowly become more commonplace and became a game of “can you top this? by those involved. What started as a battle of two men battling over a championship belt or some other prize that hung above the ring became a battle for two teams or three teams or four teams to fight over the Tag Championships (like TLC) or a chance for a variety of singles superstars to fight for a Championship contract (like Money in the Bank.)

Today the ladder match has become as commonplace in the pro wrestling industry as a headlock these days, but one cannot forget the match that started the trend. Sure Dan Kroffat started the concept and Bret Hart brought it to the main stage but it was Michaels and Ramon who set the stage for those to follow. And it just so happened that they did it on the biggest platform available.

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