The Most Memorable Ladder Matches In Wrestling History

Among the countless gimmick match types in wrestling, the ladder match consistently provides some of the most exciting, replay-worthy moments. Ladder matches allow high-flyers to do what they do best by putting their bodies on the line at death-defying heights, while big, strong wrestlers can assert their dominance, and crafty competitors can get creative.

Whether it's a multi-wrestler ladder match or one-on-one, it's a safe bet that each ladder match will deliver a fun spectacle for the audience. The ladder match is so popular that it even has several offshoots. The famous Money in the Bank ladder matches have given wrestling fans countless spots to look back on, while the TLC (tables, ladders and chairs) match comes to mind with its own dedicated premium live event in WWE. There's also the King/Queen of the Mountain match made famous in Impact Wrestling, which sees competitors attempting to hang a championship belt instead of retrieving it.

While those ladder match spinoffs are entertaining in their own right, the classic ladder match itself deserves special attention. There have been dozens of ladder matches in WWE alone since 1992, and other wrestling companies use this match as a staple as well. But of all the ladder matches that have graced our eyes over the years, the following ones have stuck with viewers well beyond their air dates.

Razor Ramon vs. Shawn Michaels at WrestleMania X

To this day, this Intercontinental Championship bout is often considered one of the greatest ladder matches in history, if not the greatest of all time. Shawn Michaels went to battle with Razor Ramon at Madison Square Garden on March 20, 1994, at WrestleMania X in WWF's second-ever ladder match. It was the company's first to be televised, with a previous ladder match between Michaels and Bret Hart happening two years prior at a taping of "WWF Wrestling Challenge."

The ladder in this match was shorter and stiffer than the ones used today, but that didn't affect the match quality one bit. This match was still full of high-flying moves and included a creative finish which saw Michaels stuck in the ropes as Ramon went for the gold. History was made that evening, as those two competitors introduced a brand new match concept to thousands of wrestling fans.

"We weren't aware, at that time, of what we were creating," Michaels said in an interview with Sports Illustrated. "We wanted to create something special and tear the house down. But we never had the depth to think it would be historic or stand the test of time."

Shawn Michaels vs. Razor Ramon at SummerSlam 1995

The first televised ladder match between Shawn Michaels and Razor Ramon was so popular that the WWF decided to run it back one year later on August 27, 1995 at SummerSlam, with yet another ladder match between the two stars.

Michaels and Ramon upped the ante in this rematch by introducing a second ladder. This allowed them to get even more creative toward the end of the match when Michaels, standing on one ladder, superkicked Ramon off the ladder next to it. Michaels followed up this kick by flipping Ramon out of the ring, allowing Michaels to win back the Intercontinental Championship. Afterwards, the two shared a legendary moment when Ramon congratulated Michaels in the ring and held up his hand in victory.

For some, the sequel is the best ladder match between the two, while others prefer the first. Either way, both matches are ingrained in the minds and hearts of wrestling fans forever.

Triple H vs. The Rock at SummerSlam 1998

The fifth ladder match in WWF/E history was also for the Intercontinental Championship. This one was between Triple H and The Rock on August 30, 1998 at SummerSlam. Those two are among the greatest wrestlers of all time, but at the time they were both still trying to make a name for themselves. This match helped put each competitor on the map. It also featured appearances from Chyna and Mark Henry, two legends in their own right who got involved to help their respective cohorts.

Still a heel at the time, The Rock drew "Rocky sucks" chants during this match and frequently responded with appropriately inappropriate "f-you's" toward the crowd. The Rock was part of the Nation of Domination stable which is why Henry accompanied The Rock to the ring for the match. Triple H and Chyna were part of the popular D-Generation X faction, and the two groups feuded leading up to this match, hence the kayfabe animosity between The Rock and Triple H during the bout.

Triple H won this match with help from Chyna, but unfortunately he had to give up the belt shortly after due to an injury. As for The Rock, his popularity soared. The boos faded and cheers followed, and The Rock became a babyface and eventually left the Nation of Domination.

Edge and Christian vs. The Hardy Boyz at No Mercy 1999

If Shawn Michaels and Razor Ramon put ladder matches on the map for singles competitors, then this match showed what tag team wrestling can look like with ladders involved. Edge and Christian and The Hardy Boyz (then known as the New Brood due to their alliance with Gangrel) competed in the WWF/E's first-ever tag team ladder match on October 17, 1999, at No Mercy. The prize was a strange one; the winners would not receive a championship, but rather $100,000 and the managerial services of Terri Runnels.

Weird prize aside, this thrill-ride of a ladder match opened the floodgates for several tag team ladder and TLC matches that involved these four legends. Jeff and Matt Hardy used the ladders to drop crazy high-flying moves like Jeff's over-the-ladder leg drop and Matt's neckbreaker from the top of the ladder. Edge and Christian used a more stiff approach, using the ladder as a weapon to inflict pain on their unlucky opponents.

The Hardys ended up winning as Jeff secured the bag (literally), but this match was just the beginning of exciting follow-up matches to come.

Edge and Christian vs. The Hardy Boyz vs. The Dudley Boyz at WrestleMania 2000

The WWF learned after the No Mercy epic that it had a money maker on its hands with these tag team ladder matches. So what did the company do? It added yet another tag team to the mix. On April 2, 2000, at WrestleMania 2000, Edge and Christian and The Hardy Boyz faced off again in a ladder match, but this time The Dudley Boyz were included to defend their Tag Team Championships.

This match delivered so many iconic moments that are shown in video packages to this day. The most legendary moment that came from this match was Jeff Hardy's famous Swanton Bomb from the top of the ladder onto Bubba Ray Dudley through a table. That moment solidified Jeff's place as one of the best high flyers in wrestling history.

Edge and Christian came away with the titles in this match, but the feud between these three teams was far from over. Those three competed in a TLC match at SummerSlam later that year, and yet again in a TLC match at the following WrestleMania in 2001. Two months later on "SmackDown," Chris Jericho and Chris Benoit were added to the feud to make it a fatal four-way tag team TLC match. All three of the follow-ups were classics.

The Undertaker vs. Jeff Hardy on Raw in 2002

Jeff Hardy made his name as a tag team wrestler in those ladder matches with his brother, Matt, but it was in this match where Jeff showed what he could do as a singles competitor. Jeff took on The Undertaker on the July 1, 2002, edition of "Raw" in a ladder match for the WWE Undisputed Championship. For almost 15 minutes, Jeff went toe-to-toe with Taker and had the WWE crowd convinced with the utmost joy that he would be taking home the title. This match also provided television viewers with some of the most passionate, highlight-worthy calls from commentator Jim Ross.

Unfortunately, Jeff did not take home the gold that night, but he did earn the respect of the WWE audience and Undertaker himself, with the Deadman holding up Jeff's hand in appreciation after the match.

"For Taker to do that for me was just huge for me in general," Jeff told talkSPORT about Undertaker working a ladder match with him. "Especially for my solo career without Matt, it just did wonders for me ... The sign of respect at the end and me collapsing as 'Raw' goes off the air with me looking at my hand like 'did that really just happen?' It was a miracle."

Kevin Steen vs. El Generico at Final Battle 2012: Doomsday

Before they were Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn in WWE, they were Kevin Steen and El Generico. Their names may have changed, but their rivalry has remained steady. If any duo in wrestling encapsulates the term "frenemy" perfectly, it'd probably be these two, as they started feuding around 2007 in the indies and have been on-and-off friends and enemies ever since.

This ladder match took place on December 16, 2012, and was for the Ring of Honor World Championship. It had it all: stiff spots, high-flying action, and a huge moment to close it out. Most importantly, though, Steen and Generico really sold the hatred they had for each other at the time. Steen even literally yelled "I hate you!" at Generico in the final minutes before hitting him with a package piledriver through the ladder and then climbing another ladder to capture the gold.

The New Day vs. The Usos vs. The Lucha Dragons at TLC 2015

With so many athletic and talented athletes, the WWE has perfected the multi-man ladder match. These matches have almost always delivered over the past decade, with a plethora of high spots and highlight reel moments. Because of this, it can be hard to sift through and determine the standout matches. However, among the shuffle, this one was a total banger with one heck of a memorable high spot.

At the TLC pay-per-view on December 13, 2015, The New Day (Big E and Kofi Kingston) took on The Usos and The Lucha Dragons (Kalisto and Sin Cara) in a ladder match for the WWE Tag Team Championships. The New Day and Usos have gone on to be among the best tag teams in wrestling history, but Kalisto's work was actually the biggest highlight in this one. In the back half of the match, Kalisto hit the Salida Del Sol on Jey Uso off one ladder and through another. The move earned an absolutely massive (and well-deserved) pop from the crowd. To add insult to injury, Sin Cara hit Jey with a senton bomb off the ropes immediately following Kalisto's crazy spot.

"I don't know what I was thinking, man," Kalisto said in a watch-along on "WWE Playback" with The New Day. "It felt like forever falling down."

Zack Ryder vs. Dolph Ziggler vs. Kevin Owens vs. The Miz vs. Sami Zayn vs. Sin Cara vs. Stardust at WrestleMania 32

Speaking of multi-man ladder matches, welcome to one of the most fast-paced, perfectly-booked ladder matches in WWE history. This WrestleMania 32 ladder match for the Intercontinental Championship on April 3, 2016, kicked off the show and stole it as well. Everyone had a chance to shine — Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn duked it out constantly, Owens powerbombed people off ladders, Zayn jumped through a ladder, Zack Ryder dropped an elbow off a ladder, and Sin Cara dropped himself on top of Stardust (Cody Rhodes) through a ladder.

Though the rest of the match is a brilliant spot-fest, the ending is what's most memorable. The crowd watched in horror as they thought The Miz would grab the title, but fan-favorite underdog Zack Ryder had other plans. Ryder pushed Miz off the ladder and shockingly took the title for himself, giving him his big WrestleMania moment. The end result was even sweeter knowing that Ryder wasn't initially booked for the match — he was a replacement for the injured Neville (known outside of WWE as Pac).

The crowd was delighted by Ryder's win, responding with one of the most thunderous pops in recent memory. Afterward, Ryder was treated with another special moment as he was able to celebrate his victory in the ring with his dad.

Michael Elgin vs. Kenny Omega at Dominion 6.19 in Osaka-jo Hall

There have only been two ladder matches to date in New Japan Pro-Wrestling, so when the company does do one, you know it's an important occasion. It was exactly that at Dominion 6.19 in Osaka-jo Hall on June 19, 2016, when Michael Elgin took on Kenny Omega for the IWGP Intercontinental Championship. It was the first ladder match in NJPW history, and was originally supposed to feature Hiroshi Tanahashi instead of Elgin.

Unfortunately, Tanahashi pulled out due to injury. But sometimes when things go wrong in pro wrestling, they end up going right after all. Elgin took the place of the injured Tanahashi, and Omega and Elgin put on an epic despite having such a short build leading up to the match.

While most ladder matches are high-flying, this one was more stiff. Elgin and Omega repeatedly launched each other into ladders, even breaking a couple in the process. And those who watch New Japan know that their ladders and tables are much more unyielding, so it took some work in order to break them. Omega even hilariously tried to climb one of the broken ladders to no avail, drawing laughter from the live crowd.

Elgin came away with the belt at the end of this 33-minute clinic, and this went down in history as one of the best ladder matches to occur outside of WWE.

The Young Bucks vs. The Hardys at Supercard of Honor XI

Almost two decades after their first legendary ladder matches in WWF, Jeff and Matt Hardy continued to put on crazy, show-stealing ladder matches in the indies. This time their star power earned them top billing at Ring of Honor's Supercard of Honor XI on April 1, 2017, against The Young Bucks, another one of the greatest tag teams of all time.

This ladder match was for the ROH World Tag Team Championships, and it lived up to the hype. The younger Young Bucks delivered most of the high spots this time around. The most notable spot was the domino effect of Nick Jackson getting pushed from one ladder to another, and then to the top rope where he bounced into a front flip onto Jeff Hardy through a table.

Although The Hardys (known as "The Broken Hardys" at the time) couldn't quite match the death-defying stunts they pulled off in their earlier years, they still sold a hard-fought bout and took plenty of damage along the way. They ate superkicks, went through tables and took ladders to the face. The match ended with both of The Hardys being kicked off the top of a ladder, leading to a Young Bucks victory and The Hardys crowning The Young Bucks as the best tag team they've ever faced. This match was one of the pass-the-torch wrestling moments that fans love.

Adam Cole vs. EC3 vs. Killian Dain vs. Lars Sullivan vs. Ricochet vs. Velveteen Dream at NXT TakeOver: New Orleans

This ladder match comes from one of the most consistently-good live events from start to finish, and maybe the best NXT event in history. The NXT TakeOver: New Orleans event on April 7, 2018, kicked off with a six-man ladder match to crown the first-ever NXT North American Champion, and featured the debut of Ricochet. This match was so huge that it drew "this is awesome" chants from the crowd before anyone threw a single punch.

The action in this match was impeccable — Ricochet hit a shooting star press off the ropes within the first minute and a half; Killian Dain and Lars Sullivan destroyed everyone, including each other, with their size and strength; Velveteen Dream hit elbow drops all over the place, including off the top of the ladder. In the end, Adam Cole took home the gold as NXT's inaugural North American Champion.

It's a shame that several of these stars didn't stick around for long in WWE. Nonetheless, this match will live in the hearts of wrestling fans, and NXT fans in particular, for a long time. It deserves to be rewatched over and over again.

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