Thursday, 26 February 2015

The Ladder Match

Image Source: Amazon
Written By: Mark Armstrong

Running Time: 539 Minutes
Certificate: 18
Number Of Discs: 3
Studio: Clear Vision Ltd/Silver Vision
Released: September 17 2007

Prior to this release, match compilations of specific stipulations had been rare. The Ladder Match began a successful series of format-based DVDs, but it also set a very high bar (no pun intended); The Ladder Match is all about action, and this release is one of the best WWE DVDs ever.

Beginning with a Stampede Wrestling bout between Jake Roberts and Big Daddy Ritter (Junkyard Dog), the first WWF/WWE bout is Bret Hart vs. Shawn Michaels from 1992 (originally released on a 1993 video called Smack 'Em Whack 'Em). The landmark Shawn Michaels vs. Razor Ramon match from WrestleMania X is surprisingly not here (it would be on the sequel), but their SummerSlam 1995 rematch is featured and is a classic in its own right. We then see Triple H and The Rock put on their best match to date at the time at SummerSlam 1998.

Although the match quality has been high so far, the next bout is where the compilation truly begins. Edge & Christian vs. The Hardy Boyz from No Mercy 1999 was an unbelievable stunt match which changed the stipulation and tag team wrestling forever. Their hostilities increased when The Dudley Boyz joined the feud: whilst the Triangle Ladder Match from WM 2000 isn't here, their two TLC bouts from SummerSlam 2000 and WrestleMania X-Seven are featured and are all-time classic stunt wars. In between is WCW's answer, a three-team Ladder bout from Starrcade 2000 which is pretty exciting in its own right, and a Chris Jericho-Chris Benoit match from Royal Rumble 2001.

TLC 3 from a 2001 SmackDown! is slightly less spectacular but a worthy addition nonetheless. From there, we get singles bouts between Edge and Christian (No Mercy 2001), Rob Van Dam and Eddie Guerrero and The Undertaker and Jeff Hardy (both from Raw episodes in 2002; the latter bout is very dramatic), and Chris Jericho and Christian (Unforgiven 2004). Mixed within those scraps is TLC 4 from the original Raw Roulette in 2002, a seven-person production of chaos and major moves which still stands as one of the best Raw matches ever.

Disc 3 begins the modern era of the stipulation with the original Money In The Bank match, a superb platform to not only showcase spectacular stunts (step forward Shelton Benjamin) but to also provide an opportunity to launch main event careers (in this case, Edge). We then get good-to-great singles bouts between Eddie Guerrero and Rey Mysterio, Edge and Matt Hardy and Jeff Hardy and Johnny Nitro. There are also Edge's two 2006 TLC bouts against Ric Flair and John Cena, and the compilation-ending four-team Ladder match from Armageddon 2006, a tremendous collision overshadowed by a very gruesome injury to Joey Mercury.

At the time, only the aforementioned omissions and two subsequent MITB clashes were missing, making this a more than worthy round-up of classic Ladder and TLC matches (and subsequent DVDs would handle almost all absentees from this release). This is all about the stunts, the drama, the carnage, the "OMG!" moments - in short, The Ladder Match is all about capturing the elements that have made Ladder and TLC bouts so exciting, from the E&C-Hardyz-Dudleyz series to Money In The Bank, and the DVD definitely excels at that.

The DVD needed the WM X and, to a lesser extent, the WM 2000 bouts and later MITB showdowns to be truly complete but, even without those matches, this is a brilliant wrestling DVD which rarely has a dull moment across its entire running time. If you don't already own The Ladder Match, buy it today!

Overall Rating: 9.5/10 - Classic

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