This match was WWE's first ever 5 star match from Dave Meltzer in the Wrestling Observer! It was also WWE's first ever ladder match, the first of many!
This match took place at Wrestlemania 10 and was for the Intercontinental Title. Strangely, two Intercontinental Titles hung above the ring as both Michaels and Ramon claimed to be the rightful Intercontinental Champion.
After Michaels was suspended, Razor Ramon won the vacated Intercontinental Title however upon his return HBK still had the original belt and claimed to be the rightful champion. Thus spawning the ladder match, both titles hung above the ring with the winner, the man who climbs the ladder and pulls them down, being the rightful Intercontinental champion.
Grappl users rate this match at 4.73 after 126 votes. This makes it the 14th highest rated WWE match on the app.
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This match excited wrestling fans the world over. The innovative use of ladders in this match was a breath of fresh air. In fact, it is surprising how many different ways they actually use the ladder in this first ever ladder match.
Even though he did not win this match really did wonders for Shawn Michael's standing in the wrestling landscape.
He used the ladder to great effect to inflict damage on the big man. Along with some well-placed eye pokes, his use of normally illegal tactics was almost double that of Ramon's. It was Michaels that pushed the envelope the most with the ladder.
In fact it could be argued that Michel's loss was a result of misfortune rather than being outmatches. A well-placed ladder push meant Michaels was tied up in the ropes and unable to prevent Ramon claiming the titles.
This match came in at 18:48 which is a decent length for a Wrestlemania match. Michaels and Ramon made the most of every minute of this. Not necessarily, cramming as much in as possible but using the time to tell a deep and rich story.
This match saw a total of only 53 manoeuvres in almost 20 minutes. This meant the action came in at a steady 2.8 per minute. Michaels and Ramon, hitting 28 and 25 offensive moves respectively.
Tide changes in this match came in at a total of 29. This meaning an average of 1.5 tide changes per minute.
Flow of Offence and Tide Changes
This match was a metronomic struggle. Both wrestlers struggled to build momentum as they figured out the new stipulation.
Shawn Michaels was the man that was able to string together the most impactful period of offence. He did this by making use of the ladder and punished Ramon with it in a phase that included 6 strikes using the ladder.
As we can see from the graphic, the rest of the match was only punctuated by a couple more extended periods of offence from a particular wrestler.
Additionally, Ramon won the match very much against the flow of momentum. Michaels had been very much in control and only lost due to happenstance.
Flow of Offence - Periodised
This was a literal up and down match! Both men had their highs and lows but again the graph does show that Michaels bossed this match!
The fist five minutes of this match was a standoff. Both men feeling the other out but also a lot of HBK negotiating Razor's size. Within all of this Diesel was ejected from ringside after interference.
The second five saw the introduction of the ladder with Michaels using it to great effect! This section of the match was almost pure domination from Michaels.
The third five of the match say Razor Ramon flip the script and give Michaels back his receipt. Ramon dealt Michaels blows with the ladder and a huge gaplle onto the ladder.
The fourth and final section of the match saw Michaels hit a Sweet Chin Music and a huge dive using the ladder. However Razor was able to rally to send Michaels into the ropes where he was unable to prevent Ramon capturing the title.
Time in Control of the Contest
Here again we see the extent to which the two men struggled to take control of the match. Over half was categorised as back and forth or neutral.
Michaels did manage to control over a quarter of the match. Most of this can in the second five as Michaels downed Ramon, brutalising him with the ladder.
Despite his size and ability to strike his opponent to the ground, Ramon struggled to keep Michaels down form long.
There were some great uses of the ladder in this match. The drop kick to the ladder as it was perched on the apron that appears in almost every ladder match made it's debut here!
Michaels dived from the top rope while holding the ladder bringing it down on a downed Razor Ramon. There were also grapples and dives utilising the ladder. A first at the time.
Michaels selling. He is a master in the ring. He builds up his opponent like almost no one else. He made Razor Ramon's strikes look devastating.
This is a great match. It is hard to judge it's five star status from the year 2020. But it is, most certainly, enjoyable even 26 years later.
The fact that it is a first time ever ladder match, involves a young pre-legendary Shawn Michaels and the crowd are absolutely into the match really helps this match stay relevant over a quarter of a century on.
The finish is a bit of a let down due to the flukiness of it but everything else really works.