The rules of a WWE Ladder Match are simple; you climb the ladder and retrieve whatever is dangling above the ring; a championship belt, a contract, a bag of money, or in the case of MITB, a briefcase. For maximum drama, the wrestlers will usually climb the ladder as if
a) They are crippled with arthritis, or
b) This is the first time they’ve ever seen a ladder, and they’re not sure how it works.
But slip-and-fall drama of a ladder match, one question has always perplexed us… just where do the WWE get their ladders? Like their tables and their chairs, ladders in the WWE just seem to appear from under the ring, as if it were Mary Poppins’ handbag; reach in, and you never know what you’ll find.
So where do these ladders come from? Does the WWE make them themselves? Is there a team of McMahon cousins out the back making ladders ?
First thing to check when tracing the ladders used by WWE is the type of ladder used; it has treads on both sides, unlike the single-sided ladder you bought in Woodies and use once a year when getting the Christmas decorations out of the attic.
A Google search of double-sided/ twin-sided ladders available in the USA brings us to the website of Werner ladders, which is the place to visit if you need to be higher off the ground than you currently are. They do double-sided ladders which sure do look like they could be used in a Ladder match; these two construction workers practically look like they could be reaching for an out-of-shot title belt;
Werner do every type of ladder you’ve ever seen, including this one;
Which sure does look familiar;
That’s the ladder match that started it all, Shawn Michaels vs Razor Ramon for the Intercontinental title in a thriller at Wrestlemania Ten. Further proof? Skip forward a few years and you’ve got the Hardy Boys clocking D-Von Dudley with this snappy blue number;
Which is totally this 8ft fiberglass beauty, right down to the yellow top tread;
A further search of Werner ladders/ WWE revelas that the two companies have crossed paths several times, with former WWE champion Rey Mysterio appearing at Werner meet-n-greet events;
… and even featuring in a commercial for the company, wearing Werner-branded wrestling gear while beating the crap out of a construction worker.
So it’s safe to assume that Werner supply WWE with their ladders, including the ones used during the dawn of the Attitude era, when the Hardy Boys and Edge & Christian had the first tag team ladder match at No Mercy 1999;
BUT WAIT! That last ladder is black, not orange or blue. What gives? Werner doesn’t seem to sell black ladders, and there’s a good reason; standard safety regulations for most building equipment states that anything that goes on a site should be high-vis (hence the yellow/ orange ladders). So where do the black ladders come from?
It’s simple; the WWE just buys up any ladder they want, and get some lackeys to spray-paint them whatever colour they want (black during the “cool” Attitude era, silver in today’s sleek PG13 world).
By the time the Dudleys/ E&C/ Hardy Boys triangle ladder match at Wrestlemania 16 rolled around (a point in time at which all six wrestlers just said “f*ck it, who needs the ability to walk anymore”), they had stopped spraying the ladders entirely black, instead leaving the steps silver.
It’s this iconic ladder that remained throughout the era-defining TLC matches which contributed to some of the most thrilling scenes ever witnessed in a wrestling ring, including Jeff Hardy’s death-inviting leaps off an especially massive ladder, dubbed a “20ft high steel ladder” by legendary redneck commentator, Jim Ross.
But hold on JR; let’s just take a look at that statement; a “20ft high steel ladder”? Time for some Mythbusting.
- Number one, Werner doesn’t make ladders in steel; you have a choice of aluminium, or fibreglass. Two reasons for this; one, steel would be far too heavy a material to make ladders out of. Way too difficult to maneuvre, transport, etc. There’d be workplace comp claims all over the place.
- Number two, steel conducts electricity, so there’s no way you’d be able to get that onto a building site; Health & Safety would chase you away and tell you to come back with a fibreglass or aluminium one. Checking the stats on Werner’s site shows that the aluminium ladders are rated a bit higher for load bearing, so given the weight of some of the wrestlers involved, we’ll assume that’s what gets used the most.
As for the “20ft high” portion of JR’s statement? Well, every rung on a ladder is spaced one foot apart, so by counting the rungs we can easily see just how high the ladder is. Usually, matches use an 8ft ladder;
But every so often, they’ll bring out a massive ladder for high spots, such as when Jeff Hardy performed his infamous Swanton onto Bubba Dudley at WM16;
Oh, and one last thing; we have no clue where they got this beast from, but we want one.