Wresltemania Challenge: Wrestlemania X

No need to bore you with the b-------, I’m comparing ladder matches!

Wrestlemania Challenge: Wrestlemania X
From Madison Square Garden in New York City
Hosted by Vince McMahon and Jerry “The King” Lawler

Ladder Match for the Intercontinental Championship: Shawn Michaels vs. Razor Ramon

Haven’t seen this one in about eight years so it gives me a good chance to pop in the “True Story of Wrestlemania” DVD and watch it on HD (sort of). Shawn is accompanied by some big stiff named “Diesel”, I bet you that guy won’t amount to s--- and if he does someone will regret it.

Shawn tries to do some cutesy wrestling, counter stuff but Ramon does a half chokeslam/half urinage on him. HBK rallies back with a swinging neckbreaker, however, but gets sent to the buckle. Ramon with a shoulder block but Shawn catches him on a charges and sends him through the ropes. Diesel roughs up Razor on the outside but gets caught by the official like a dumbass and gets kicked out of the match. Good riddance, we’ll never see that guy again. Back to the match and Shawn gets caught with a right hand while he’s protesting and Razor slides back in the ring. Corner whip and Shawn does the somersault sell and Razor clotheslines him over the top. Both men outside and Razor lifts up the protective mat to expose the concrete but Shawn cuts him off and sends him back in the ring. Ramon retakes control and goes for the Razor’s Edge but Michaels’ back drops him over the top and onto that concrete Ramon exposed (serves him right!). Shawn goes after the ladder but Ramon recovers and sends Shawn in the ring. Ramon grabs the ladder and Michaels does a baseball slide onto the ladder and into Ramon’s ribs. Ouch.

Now we’ve got the ladder in the ring and Shawn jams it into Ramon’s midsection again. Shawn with more ladder shots to the stomach and then one to the back, nasty shots too. Ramon leans on the ropes to recover and Shawn casually tosses it on Ramon’s back again. Michaels figures he’s got Ramon hurt enough so he sets up the ladder to climb. Ramon cuts him off and pulls down his pants so Michaels kicks him off and hits the elbow drop from about the fifth step. Michaels with a scoop slam on Ramon and Michaels climbs to the top of the ladder and hits a superfly splash that hurts both men. Michaels recovers first and starts to climb but Ramon pushes the ladder over and Shawn falls into a stun gun (awesome sell too). Irish whip from Razor and they knock heads. Michaels recovers and sets the ladder up in the corner but Razor reverses the Irish whip and sends Michaels into the ladder and over the top. Ramon goes out, and takes the ladder with him. A couple more ladder shots that looked weaker than the ones Shawn did. Ramon sets the ladder up on the ropes and slingshots him into the ladder. Shawn falls back to the floor and the ladder goes with him (it’s the little things that take a bump to the next level).

Back in the ring and Ramon just waffles Shawn in the face with the ladder and Shawn does another somersault sell over the top. Ramon sets up the ladder and is ready to climb as the crowd heat is off the charts. Michaels climbs the top and hits double axe to get Ramon off the ladder, which falls and lands right on Shawn’s back. He probably needs to watch those bumps on he might have back injuries later in his career. Both men recover about the same time and start to climb together. They slug it out at the top of the ladder before Ramon slams Shawn off the ladder and the ladder falls again. Ramon sets up the ladder again and climbs, he slaps at the belt before Michaels dropkicks the ladder and Ramon falls up. Shawn then pushes the ladder over so it lands on Ramon. Michaels with an irish whip, Ramon ducks a clothesline but Shawn hits sweet chin music (not a regular finisher yet). Michaels teases going for the Razor’s Edge but hits a piledriver instead. Michaels grabs the ladder and climbs the ropes to do a suicide fall onto Ramon, with the ladder providing an assist.

Shawn sets the ladder up and climbs again as the crowd is about to riot. Shawn slaps at the belts as Ramon shakes the ladder and then decides to shoulder block and sends Shawn into the ropes with his foot tied up. Ramon climbs as Shawn tries to escape (and gets his arm tied up in the process) but it’s too late as Ramon grabs both belts in what remains a beautiful classic.

(Ramon def. Michaels, ladder climb, *****, still as good as it was 18 years ago. This will always be the definitive ladder match in wrestling).

And the Challenger

Summerslam 1995
From The Civic Arena in Pittsburgh, Pa.
Hosted by Vince McMahon and Doc Hendrix (amazing that Jim Ross couldn’t have called one of these matches…Geez)

Ladder Match for WWF Intercontinental Title: Shawn Michaels vs. Razor Ramon

This was originally supposed to be Shawn vs. Sid or someone else but the card was so shitty that they decided to put on a good match (or so I heard). Both guys are babyfaces but Shawn was ungodly over at this point to Ramon is sort of the de-facto heel. Shawn’s S&M gear is something to behold. If I had to dress like that I’d find Jesus too. Both guys are at the peak of their asshole ways so they bitch at the official about not raising the belt quick enough and throw about three minutes worth of temper tantrums before a bell rings. They start with a little wrestling reversal sequence and counter each other’s finishers. Not that it would do a lot of good to hit a finisher, then go outside and retrieve a ladder and then set it up and then climb. But whatever. Shawn wins an early slugfest but Shawn takes the first of his sick bumps going right over the post on the on the floor. Ramon goes for the ladder but Shawn cuts him off, back to the ring as Ramon suplex Shawn from the apron to the floor UNPROTECTED! What the f--- man! Shawn’s leg hits the top of the railing (one of the more dangerous bumps he’s taken).

Ramon’s second attempt at the Edge fails and a double clothesline gives us an early break but Ramon gets a fall away slam from the middle rope. We’re five minutes into the match and Michaels’ stupid bump count is at three. Ramon finally grabs the ladder and smartly counters Shawn’s baseball slide in a not-so-subtle nod to their WM X match. Ramon goes for the belt but Shawn saves. Shawn tries to climb and Ramon chases him and drags him down in a nasty way, with Shawn’s leg wrenched inside the ladder. Ramon gets busy on the leg like a mofo to a big pop from the anti-Shawn contingent and does the “Pillman” move with the ladder about a year before it became popular. Shawn is getting Cena heat here as a large group of guys are cheering Ramon while the majority of female screams are going for HBK. Ramon slams Shawn on the ladder with his leg taking the brunt of the blow. Ramon continues a sick assault on the leg to the point of where you can imagine what kind of all-around talent this guy has when he’s not in another world. Shawn tries to fight back but Ramon counters with a drop toe hold and Indian deathlock.

Despite this Ramon still can’t scale the ladder as Shawn catches him with a suplex. Ramon goes flying into the ladder twice and dropped with the flying forearm to a mixed reaction. Bodyslam and a moonsault press off the ladder, splash from the tippy top of the ladder catches nothing but canvas however. They fight at the top of the ladder and a headbutt from Ramon sends them both off and to the floor. Ramon grabs a second ladder and it’s a race to see who can set up their ladder and climb, Shawn appears to be leading the race but Ramon wisely stops his pursuit and opts for a Razor’s Edge instead. Ramon spends FOREVER adjusting the ladder so Shawn grabs his ladder and it’s another race. Shawn kicks Ramon off his ladder but is too far away to grab the belt. Ramon tries for another Edge but a sweet moment of revenge Shawn backdrops him over the top and finally grabs the belt.

(Michaels def. Ramon, 24:56, *****, I bumped that up in case you are wondering. Awesome match and although they used some of the template from the Wrestlemania match, they also did some things differently. Ramon’s very heelish work on the leg was a good pace setter.)

The Decision

Match: Really arguing over which match is better is sort of pointless for me because I had them rated the same and I don’t believe one ***** match is better than another or the other wouldn’t be rated *****. Sidenote is that both Lawler and Hayes are awful on the commentary. DRAW

Storylines: For the Wrestlemania match Shawn was coming off of a suspension and paraded around with another version of the Intercontinental title and calling himself the true champion since he never lost the belt. Simple but always works. The second match didn’t have a storyline, it was just booked so both guys could look awesome. EDGE: Wrestlemania.

Intangibles: The Wrestlemania match is still known as the definitive ladder match in wreslting. I don’t think that will change any time soon since ladder matches are done with more frequency these days and the repeated spots make it harder to reach this level. Wrestlemania really put Michaels and Razor on the map as two of the promotions top guys. Did the WWF miss some of the boat on Scott Hall? Maybe. The Summerslam match solidified Michaels’ place as the top worker in either of the major American promotions, setting up his eventual ascension to world title status. The match it also put Hall in a place to financially capitalize on what was soon to be the hottest period in wrestling. In many ways the Wrestlemania match has less historical value than the Summerslam match if you think about what transpired in the following months. EDGE: Summerslam.

Verdict: This is one of those debates that has staunch defenders on each side and will probably never have a winner. So I’ve decided to choose my side and that side is Wrestlemania.