This weekend the biggest event in sports entertainment really kicks off. Forget the nonsense in Brazil, up in Massachusetts eight WWE stars go toe-to-toe in a bid to climb the ladder and claim the vacant World Heavyweight Championship on Sunday night at Money In The Bank. Sporting weekends do not get much better than this.
While the superstars attempt to cash in on the greatest prize WWE has to offer, we’re also quite keen on cashing in by taking a punt and cleaning out Paddy’s pockets. Unfortunately we haven’t watched wrestling since the late 90’s when Stone Cold Steve Austin was getting run over by Rikishi, Shane O’Mac was jumping off ridiculously tall structures and ‘Mr Ass’ Billy Gunn was the King of the Ring.
Luckily we know how to crunch numbers and back trends – pouring over football and racing stats eventually has that effect on you. So we figured the method will almost certainly work with wrestling, right? We went through the history books and looked at every ladder match in the WWF/WWE from 1992-2014 to find the ideal anatomy of the winner.
[The stats above are from 55 ladder matches (including TLC matches) from 1992-2014 in the WWF/WWE where superstars competed as individuals rather than in tag-teams. It does not include the midget ladder match in 2014 which was won by El Torito as that might skew these otherwise bombproof figures]
The main conclusions
- Being tall is clearly an advantage as you can reach the belt – however anyone over 6ft 6in struggles presumably because the ladder becomes so unbalanced
- Similarly you don’t want to be ridiculously heavy. Nibble athletes are more likely to make it to the top of the mountain while the phrase, ‘The bigger they are, the harder they fall’, has never been more apt than when you’re falling off a ladder in the middle of the ring
- Anyone over the age of 40 has bones too brittle to consistently succeed in this brutal environment, but cocky young upstarts also struggle as they presumably don’t appreciate the danger. Life begins at 30 and that’s the age you want to be
- Experience is never a bad thing. The ladder match is unique and having previously competed in such a match is a massive positive. Only four winners in the last 27 matches have been making their ladder debut.
The champ is here
It’s probably wise to start with the favourite – and that’s John Cena at 8/15. The traders have probably got this match bang on to be fair, and Cena is rightly at the top of the market. He’s competed in four ladder matches as a singles competitor, winning two of them, including a 2012 Money In The Bank ladder match. That’s the only time he was involved in a ladder match with three or more opponents and he came out on top.
At almost 6ft 1in he is the ideal height and despite being eight pounds over the ideal weight is still the leading contender. The biggest question mark against Cena would appear to be his age. It has been three years since a superstar aged 37 or over won a ladder match and years of grueling matches might take its toll on Cena in this brutal contest.
An outside chance of upsetting the odds
At 6/1 Cesaro has caught the eye. The Swiss wrestler competed in last year’s Money In The Bank ladder match so has some experience under his belt going into this year’s contest. At 232lbs he is the perfect weight and at 33 years of age should technically be in his prime for winning ladder matches. At 6ft 5in he is worryingly tall for this contest but at the prices might be worth a small gamble if you’re opposing the favourite.
Similarly Randy Orton ticks those boxes at 11/1. The Viper has won two of the four ladder matches he has competed in in his career, and at 235lbs and aged just 34 he should still be sprightly enough to make the dart to the top of the ladder. Any help from his buddies in Evolution or the Authority would also be quite handy.
No chance of hitting the heights
Kane (13/1) might be the most experienced ladder competitor in this field, with nine matches and two wins, but every other trend is putting him down. At almost 7ft he’s too tall, at 323lbs he’s too heavy, and he’s just three years away from turning 50 which is worryingly old. The Big Red Machine should be settling down with his pipe and slippers and concentrating on making sure his pension is in order, rather than trying to climb ladders and win championships.
At the other end of the scale it’s probably wise to avoid Roman Reigns (9/2) and second-favourite Bray Wyatt at 7/2. Neither man has ever been in singles action in a ladder match and that lack of experience is worrying as, according to the trends, you only have a 33 per cent chance of winning on debut. They might be two who are worth watching and backing at a later date however, because at 29 and 27 years old respectively, they still have a few years before they should hit their ladder match peak.