Inducted by SirSam
It is a curious twist in fortunes that I am today inducting Edge & Christian vs. The Hardy Boyz vs. The Dudleyz TLC match at Wrestlemania 17 into the LOP Hall of Fame as just last year I had the pleasure of doing the same for Shawn Michaels vs. Razor Ramon, the spiritual forerunner to what would be the climax of a jaw dropping trilogy of matches between these three young tag teams.
Where the Wrestlemania X masterpiece opened people’s mind to what was possible when wrestlers add a ladder into the ring, TLC II smashed through that door with a chair and Swanton Bombed all our minds through a table.
This match is a spectacle, it is visceral, it is an unparalleled adrenaline rush. It is a match that is made up of some of the most death defying performances we’ve seen inside the squared circle and a match that has left an indelible stamp on the pro wrestling industry that echoes through to today.
Let’s start by talking about the men who put their bodies on the line to make TLC II as it was the trilogy of matches that started with the Triangle Ladder Match at Wrestlemania 16, went through to the first TLC at Summerslam 2000 and climaxed in this TLC match a year after the first that would launch the careers of all three teams, both as teams and eventually as singles performers. The longevity of all three teams is quite stunning as each team would go on to have Hall of Fame worthy runs and are perennial contenders when lists are made of the best tag teams of all time.
The majority of them would also break out to have ground breaking singles runs as well. From the Rated R Superstar, to the Charismatic Enigma, to Bully Ray, to Captain Charisma, to the Broken Brilliance, it is stunning the talent on display at TLC II and all of these acts owe a little to the way these men put themselves on the line in this match.
And put themselves on the line they did.
This is a match that truly doesn’t stop. From the moment the bell rings the action is immediately unrelenting and violent as each pulls out their signature double team attacks and quickly introduce the tables, ladders and chairs that the match is most famous for. To say it is chaotic would be an understatement, from that point bodies fall, chairs ring and tables splinter left, right and center and yet all six men keep getting back up for more.
Mention must be made of the cameos of Spike Dudley, Lita and Rhino, all three served their own purpose in the story: Spike Dudley typically sacrificing himself for his Dudley Brothers with the greatest Bulldog in pro wrestling history, Lita giving it everything against men twice her weight and Rhino changing the game, quite literally carrying his team to victory.
It is impossible to think of this match though without thinking of the absolutely insane spots that have since been replicated but rarely ever topped. Be it Christian falling from the top of a ladder in the ring, missing the ropes and crashing to the floor outside, Jeff Hardy Swanton Bombing off a, “16 foot ladder” through both Dudleyz, Matt Hardy and Bubba Ray falling from the ladder in the center of the ring through a stack of four tables in the entrance ramp, to what has to be one of the most daring and replayed spots pulled off in a WWE ring: Edge’s Spear off a ladder through a dangling Jeff Hardy.
It is a small miracle and also a testament to the skills of these six men that none of them suffered serious injury in the course of this trilogy, despite taking some of the craziest risks the WWE has ever seen.
The reward for that risk has been a permanent place in history of wrestling. These six men would go down as true innovators in the ladder genre of matches, creating the stunt brawl style that would define what is expected in a ladder match from that point onwards. However even amongst its many, many imitators it is hard to find a more breathtaking, more impactful and more memorable match than TLC II.
So on that note it is my pleasure to induct into the Lords of Pain Hall of Fame: Edge & Christian vs. The Hardy Boyz vs. The Dudleyz, TLC Match at Wrestlemania X-Seven, TLC II.