In 1972, Dan Kroffat was credited with the invention of the “ladder match.” These wrestling matches involve two or more opponents who compete in order to retrieve an object that is suspended above a ladder. These matches are notoriously dangerous, having produced some of the most gnarly injuries in wrestling history. There has been a lot of heavy debate around whether or not these types of matches should even be allowed in WWE. It has become clear, however, that ladder matches need to be banned altogether.
Ladders are precarious. No matter how skilled a wrestler is in the ring, a tall extension ladder introduces an element of unpredictability and danger into a match. Accidents (as well as purposeful acts of malicious intent) are bound to happen. In only the fourth TLC (tables, ladders, chairs) event on WWE in 2002, Bubba Ray Dudley was thrown into a “bulldog” by Chris Jericho, concussing him so badly that he began to ask for his deceased mother.
In 2009, Jeff Hardy sustained two separate injuries due to falling from a ladder during Extreme Rules. The first of which was a result of a bump after both he and Edge attempted to simultaneously jump from one ladder to another. Additionally, he received a broken finger, which happened due to landing awkwardly on his hand after falling from a ladder.
The 2013 Money In The Bank ladder match is another that saw many injuries in one night. One such injury befell Seamus, also known as the Celtic Warrior, after he was knocked down (along with the ladder underneath him) by Rob Van Dam. The labrum in his shoulder was torn completely in half, and he was out of the game for almost half of a year (an eternity in the career of a WWE star).
The height of a ladder isn’t the only thing that makes it dangerous. Numerous injuries have been sustained when WWE stars have utilized ladders as weapons in the ring, whether accidentally or on purpose. In the aforementioned 2013 Money In The Bank ladder match, CM Punk was bashed repeatedly over the head with a ladder by Paul Heyman. Punk required 13 staples in order to fix the massive gash that Heyman left in his head.
The most famous of all injuries that have been endured as a result of ladder matches is that of Joey Mercury. At the 2006 Armageddon PPV, Mercury was competing alongside Nitro for the Tag Team Championships. Jeff Hardy mistakenly swung a ladder directly into Mercury’s face, completely shattering his nose. The injury was so gruesome that Mercury was forced to leave the match early to seek medical attention. Although this was not the last time he would be seen in the ring, this was definitely the beginning of the end for him.
Aside from the danger that can arise from the sheer velocity and mass that ladders bring to a WWE match, some say that these matches have lost their novelty with overuse. The shock value is only present after the first handful of times. After a certain point, the crowd becomes used to the gimmick and is ready to move on to something new. WWE is not meant to be boring, so when there are complaints of a certain aspect becoming overused, there will almost certainly be attempts to come up with a newer, more dangerous trend to follow up. While removing ladder matches from WWE does not necessarily solve this issue entirely, it does provide a jumping-off point for fans and critics alike to talk about the kinds of tricks, props, and effects that can pose a real threat to WWE stars’ safety.
WWE has never been “safe,” strictly speaking, and it would be ridiculous to expect the stars to suddenly begin to wear safety pads in the ring. However, even the most dangerous of sports come with rules and limitations in order to maintain some semblance of order. Professional wrestling should be no exception.
Mikkie is a freelance writer from Chicago. She is also a mother of two who loves sharing her ideas on interior design, budgeting hacks, and DIY. When she’s not writing, she’s chasing the little ones or rock climbing at the local climbing gym.
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