Was Bret Hart vs Shawn Michaels the first ever ladder match in WWE?
The ladder match is one of the most famous and exciting match types in WWE. It oozes excitement, as two (or more) superstars fight to grab an object hanging from the ceiling by fighting each other off and climbing the ladder to try and win the match
The match quickly became a fan favourite and has evolved into crazier and more exciting variations of the bout. From the three-way tag team ladder matches featuring The Hardys, Dudleys and Edge & Christian, to the multi-man Money in the Bank ladder matches and beyond, the ladder match has evolved from it’s maiden voyage.
However, did you know that Bret Hart brought the ladder match into WWE from Canada, and chose Shawn Michaels as the man to perform the inaugural match for Vince McMahon?
Bret Hart Brought The Ladder Match From Stampede Wrestling To WWE
WWE would have you believe that the first ever ladder match in history took place at Wrestlemania X. However, two years prior to the event Bret Hart brought the stipulation to the WWE. He had been inspired by his father Stu Hart, who had booked the stipulation with Bret in their hometown promotion Stampede Wrestling.
Hart had been trying to get the match booked in WWE for years, according to his book “Hitman”. He had spent years convincing Vince McMahon to bring the ladder match to WWE and wanted to convince him that it could be a huge deal if built correctly.
After years of trying, Vince McMahon finally caved. At a 1992 TV Taping, he allowed Bret Hart the opportunity to showcase the match and show him just how good it could be. He was allowed to pick any opponent he wanted and opted for a man who would later come to define his career and intertwine their destinies together – Shawn Michaels.
The match was just to show Vince the concept of the ladder match and clearly impressed him. He would book it for Wrestlemania X, but would instead replace Bret Hart with Razor Ramon, a move which the former WWE Champion resented the chairman for.
In his book, Bret Hart wrote;
“I was the one that had been trying to get Vince for years to let me have a ladder match, and somewhere back in the months earlier, he had me do a ladder match with Shawn Michaels. I could pick anyone, I picked Shawn. I went to Shawn, explained to him what a ladder match was, and they had us put on a match in, I think it was Portland, Maine. It was a TV taping but we had a dark match and we did this ladder match and it was all just to show Vince this match, what the concept was. Had I known at WrestleMania X that Shawn and Razor were gonna steal my ladder match idea, which they did, it was just a flat out theft, and I was always kind of disappointed by that because it was my match and I just wanted Shawn to demonstrate it.”
Bret Hart vs Shawn Michaels main evented multiple pay per views and became two of the biggest stars in wrestling. Both men have since ascended to legendary status and are revered as two of the greatest wrestlers to ever live.
Bret Hart vs Shawn Michaels was WWE’s First Ever Ladder Match
The first ever ladder match in WWE history was Shawn Michaels vs Bret Hart. This match was taped before a TV taping, but fans (apart from those in attendance) never had the opportunity to view the match. However, it was recently released by WWE, giving fans a glimpse of the inaugural ladder match which inspired so many legendary bouts that came over the next 30 years.
The match saw Bret Hart defending his WWE Intercontinental Championship against Shawn Michaels, who was one of the top up-and-coming wrestlers of the day. He was already regarded as a top worker in WWE and was poised to reach superstardom in just a few years time.
This match was an incredible one which, while seeming basic today, was as innovative in it’s day as any match could be. Superb psychology mixed with excellent ladder spots make this match a must watch and would have garnered a huge rating from Dave Meltzer had it taken place on TV or Pay Per View.
A Ladder Match Was WWE’s First Ever Five Star Match
WWE has been given many five star matches by Dave Meltzer over the years. He has awarded 15 WWE matches five stars or more in WWE, with the most recent being the incredible Cody Rhodes vs Seth Rollins match from Hell in a Cell 2022. However, the first match ever to get the famed rating in WWE was the ladder match at Wrestlemania X, also involving Shawn Michaels.
However, instead of pitting Shawn Michaels against Bret Hart, Vince McMahon opted to show Razor Ramon against Shawn Michaels. Both men competed for the Intercontinental Championship, both claiming to be the rightful champion with an undisputed champion being crowned at the event.
Scott Hall, as Razor Ramon, walked out with both title belts at the event, much to the dismay of HBK. However, Michaels would soon ascend to the top of WWE and win multiple WWE Championship, although Bret Hart still remained upset that he was not included in the first ladder match on WWE pay per view.
While Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels are considered two of the greatest in-ring workers of all time, it is a shame that Hart was omitted from this match and was one of many ways he was screwed by WWE in his career.