(Here’s the link for the match on the WWE Network: http://network.wwe.com/video/v31366785/?contentId=31366785&contextType=wwe-show&contextId=no_mercy )
The Hardy Boyz and the team of Edge and Christian (along with the Dudley Boyz) reinvigorated the tag team division in WWF/E’s Attitude Era. Their willingness to be thrown off ladders and slammed through tables revolutionized the ladder match as well. Unbelievably, the first ever tag team ladder match was only a taster of the high risk insanity that the two teams would bring to the tag team division. But that taster blew my mind back in 1999. It still makes me gasp and wince almost twenty years on. This match heightened expectations for insane stunts in ladder matches that are still held today. But few ladder matches can match the insanity of the first ever tag team ladder match (and, as an aside, it led to the creation of my favourite wrestling video game, the N64’s WWF No Mercy!).
Simply from the crowd reaction at the beginning, you can tell that these two teams have not made an impact in the tag team division yet. The match isn’t even for the tag team championships, but for the services of Terri Runnels and $100,000. Commentator Jerry Lawler doesn’t let you forget about Terri Runnels “services” in a reminder of the objectification of women in the WWF’s Attitude Era. In 1999, the tag team division was dominated by ostensibly single wrestlers: The Rock N’ Sock Connection, The Big Show and The Undertaker, and Kane and X-Pac. The New Age Outlaws and The Acolytes were the only notable tag team before the Hardyz and Edge and Christian made the rest of the tag team division look antiquated. They truly dragged the division kicking, screaming, and falling off ladders into the 21st Century.
It’s barely moments into the match before the high-risk moves are utilised. Each competitor flings himself to the outside onto people, almost one after another (it’s a favourite spot in Money in the Bank Ladder matches). After that, Christian executes a dropkick onto a ladder into Jeff Hardy, who‘s stuck in the corner by said ladder. Logically speaking, it’s a silly move (surely Christian hurts himself more than Jeff by falling onto the ladder?), but from that point on the wrestlers increase the high risk and big moves. Not long after that, Christian executes a reverse DDT on Jeff from the middle of two ladders. Matt back drops Christian off the ladder after that. And that’s only in the first five minutes! From that point on, the stunts only increase in veracity and complexity (and, of course, insanity).
Almost every spot is a highlight, but my personal highlights are Christian hiptossing Jeff off the top of the ladder, Edge and Christian dropkicking a ladder into Matt’s genitals, Jeff’s leg drop from the top rope and over the ladder onto Christian, and the last few minutes. The two teams reinvigorated the tag team division, but also revolutionised the ladder match. From the first ever televised ladder match between Shawn Michaels and Razor Ramon, ladder matches followed a similar template to that inaugural bout. There were high spots, but the match was more psychologically sound. Edge, Christian, Jeff and Matt Hardy threw psychology and caution to the wind by giving us a high spot every other minute. They temper it just enough to sell each move sufficiently, but never enough to slow the pace down or reduce the insanity. You’ll want to watch this bout more than once.
VERDICT: 9/10. Edge, Christian, Matt and Jeff Hardy revolutionized the ladder match and set the bar high for insane ladder based stunts and spots. A match that will never age badly (and also led to the creation of WWF No Mercy for the N64, the greatest wrestling game ever!)
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Click here for my review of #30 Tully Blanchard vs. Magnum T.A. (NWA United States Title, I Quit, Steel Cage, NWA Starrcade 1985)
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