What Is a Ladder Match? Rules? Types & Variations?

What is a ladder match?

Ladder match

Before we get to the rules of a ladder match, it would be educative to take a trip through the history of the match.

Ladder matches have existed in professional wrestling for quite a while, and the first-ever was held in Alberta, Canada in September 1972, hosted by the Stampede Wrestling promotion. 

The aim of the ladder match was to retrieve an item that had been suspended above the ring at a height that can only be reached by climbing a ladder.

The stampede promotion would hold another ladder in 1983 before it was adopted by the WWF’s Vine McMahon under the advisement of Bret Hart who competed in the second Stampede ladder match. 

What are the rules of a ladder match?

Ladder match

Ladder match rules are straightforward but can be altered depending on the storyline or stipulation. 

  • The prize both competitors are fighting for is hung above the ring
  • The ladder can be used as a weapon in the match 
  • The competitor who retrieves the item hanging at the top of the ring is declared the winner

These are the basic rules but there can be alterations depending on the storyline or stipulation.

An example of alterations in the rules is the match between Bam Bam Bigelow and Scott Hotch where after retrieving the taser a winner would be crowned by who successfully used it on their opponent. 

How many people are in a ladder match?

The number of participants in a ladder match ranges from two to ten participants depending on the variation of the ladder match that is scheduled.

Some of the biggest ladder matches have involved only two participants with attention-grabbing storylines that make the audience a part of the journey. 

Ladder match

Some of the biggest ladder matches in professional wrestling were:

  • Shawn Michaels vs Brett Hart
  • The rock vs Mankind
  • The rock vs Triple H
  • Adam cole vs Dominik Dijakovic

Types and variations of ladder matches?

Ladder matches have evolved over time, and through different promotions, several variations have been adopted on the premise of the ladder matches some of them are: 

1. The Money in the Bank Ladder Match (WWE)

In this match, a briefcase holding a contract that can be cashed in against any champion at any time is suspended above the ring and the competitor who grabs the briefcase wins 

Ladder match

2. Table, Ladders and Chairs (TLC) 

TLC is a variation of the ladder match that adopts the use of tables, ladders and chairs as weapons in the match. The audience a lot of times sing chants to encourage the use of either of them in the match. Like regular matches, it is won either by Pinfall or Submission. 

3. Tables, Ladders, Chairs and Canes 

An Asian adaptation of the TLC match but with the additional item (Canes) 

4. Stairway to Hell

The ECW’s variation of the ladder match is quite brutal due to the alteration where the item hung above the ring is not a title or contract but is a weapon that becomes usable as soon as it is retrieved. 

5. Full Metal Mayhem 

This match allows the use of Tables, Ladders, Chairs and Chains 

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