By Ric Vickrey, Columnist
It is with tremendous honor and of humble being that I proudly reintroduce the “Reaching for the Ring” feature here with the family at thegorliiapostion.com. In its previous incarnation I used the platform as an arena to voice my own opinions of various topics throughout the world of professional wrestling. Unfortunately that style wasn’t quite hitting the mark. Don’t get me wrong, I love obnoxiously tooting my own horn but I felt this column should be rooted in a philosophy much deeper than the rambling of a mark with keyboard.
With that being said and the past put to bed it is time to redesign, rebuild and redirect “Reaching for the Ring.” Going forward the full intent of this feature will be to focus on the unforgettable matches, life changing moments, persevering promotions and exceptional talents who blazed the trails, who have become the flag-bearers and those who will someday take the reins.
In this re-debut edition I could not think of a more fitting jumping off point than to look back some very memorable moments involving the WWE spectacle known as Tables, Ladders and Chairs. In this column we will take a walk down memory lane and revisit some awe inspiring moments in both the history of the match and the event by the same name. Moments in which stars reached out for that (brass) ring and seized superstardom:
The Dudley Boyz / The Hardy Boyz / Edge & Christian
When discussing anything Tables, Ladders and Chairs if someone attempts to argue that the end all be all of the concept isn’t where it all began then that individual should have their fan card immediately revoked. It was mounting tensions between these three soon to be legendary teams where the entire match concept began to blossom. A table, a ladder and a chair. All simplistic items that can be found in a majority or households, businesses and establishments around the globe. However, when put into the hands of six maniacal disturbed thrill seekers such as these six gentleman they become extremely dangerous weapons of destruction.
Each team had a distinct tie to the aforementioned objects turned weapon. The Dudley Boyz were longtime known for the grotesque manner in which they brutalized victims by crashing them through tables. The Hardy Boyz were the high flying daredevils of the group. They were known for their venturous style of including ladders into their high-flying arsenal. Finally there was Edge & Christian who were no strangers to taking to low road to assure the task at hand was settled in their favor. They became quite synonymous with the cold hard steel chair. Going as far to create a dastardly maneuver known as the “Con-Chair-To,” a move which involved the two hitting an opponent’s head instantaneously with chairs.
The first official WWE Table, Ladders and Chairs (TLC) match took place at SummerSlam 2000. Wow, it is hard to believe that the Hardy Boyz are still competing as a team all these years later. On this evening with a clear canvas these three teams went in front of a live audience of seventeen thousand plus and painted a masterpiece. These gentleman went to ring as stars and by the time the match had ended everyone involved elevated themselves to legendary status. Experts and fans alike raved about the performance. It was one everyone assumed would last for the ages. That is until these three teams went out and topped themselves in a rematch just eight months later at WrestleMania X-Seven.
El Torito / Hornswoggle
In the spring of 2014 the WWE Universe was engulfed by some of the hottest feuds and storylines that the company had produced in quite some time. Fans were still head over heels in the honeymoon phase with Daniel Bryan’s coming of age victory at WrestleMania XXX in which the ultimate underdog and people’s champion had claimed the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. Three-fourths of the dominate faction Evolution had reformed as Triple H, Randy Orton and Batista entered into war with the young “Hounds of Justice” known as The Shield. Closely following those two major programs the dark and disturbed Bray Wyatt was attempting to best the company’s top man in John Cena. Amidst all these exciting happenings it was at the Extreme Rules event when two of the most unlikely talents on the roster reached out, grabbed that ring and become the talk of the town.
It was a match booked for the pre-show, which typically comes with little fanfare, and billed as WeeLC, a parody of TLC. The combatants slated to square off in this never seen before spectacle where El Torito (standing 4’5 and weighing 105lbs) vs. Hornswoggle (standing 4’6 and weighing 142lbs). The match was booked as a comedy spot on the show complete with miniature tables, ladders and chairs. Even the regular announce team of Michael Cole, JBL and Jerry “The King” Lawler were replaced with pintsized duplicates in the forms of Micro Cole, WeeBL and Jerry “The King” Smaller. Expectations were extremely low as critics and fans expected this match to go down as the worst match of all time. What transpired was a shockingly pleasant surprise. Thanks to the talents of the incredibly athletic El Torito and the hardnosed determination of Hornswoggle all the cheesy cliché props and low brow comedy attraction came together to create an entertaining moment. To this day it is highly regarded as the best WWE pre-show match ever.
In November of 2012 three brash renegades burst onto the scene in WWE. Although they were individually recognized as NXT talents Dean Ambrose, Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns they had not yet been seen working a cohesive unit. The trio unexpectedly arrived at Survivor Series of that year and made an immediate impact by interjecting themselves into the WWE Championship bout which was being contested under Triple Threat rules between CM Punk, John Cena and Ryback. The trio would Powerbomb the latter through the announcer’s table which ultimately led to CM Punk picking up the victory. Shortly thereafter the group would formally introduce themselves to the WWE Universe as The Shield and their sole objective was to rally against injustice. Despite denying any affiliation to then CM Punk the group would regular target and attack those who opposed the “Straight Edge Superstar.” The most noted were continual attacks on Ryback in addition the WWE Tag Team Champions Team Hell No, Daniel Bryan and Kane.
It was then one month following their debut that The Shield would be forced to prove themselves inside the ring as they were scheduled to face Ryback and the Tag Champs in a Tables, Ladders and Chairs match at the December TLC show, an event named after the match itself. This would be the first time the self-proclaimed “Hounds of Justice” would step into a ring on the main roster and not only was it against the stiffest of competition but one of the most dangerous environments the WWE has to offer. What ensued during the match was wire to wire mayhem. All six participants engaged in a battle of epic proportions full utilizing their surrounds to put on the match of the evening. The members of The Shield fully introduced themselves to the main stream WWE audience and in the end pick up an enormous victory. The first of many that would ultimately catapult all three members to true Superstardom and eventual World Championships.