One of the most unique matches in WrestleMania history took place at WrestleMania 17 in 2001. It’s a triple threat Tables, Ladders & Chairs match between Edge & Christian, The Hardy Boyz and The Dudley Boyz.
Who: Tables, Ladders & Chairs: Edge & Christian vs. The Hardy Boyz vs. The Dudley Boyz
When: April 1, 2001
Where: Astrodome in Houston, Texas
There wasn’t as much of a storyline for this one as there was in the other two. The first match came because of the Hardys and E&C wrestling a ladder match while the Dudleys and Hardys wrestled in a tables match. They put those two together and came up with the triangle ladder match at WM16 that also saw the use of tables.
The second big ladder match between these teams was the TLC match at SummerSlam 2000. That one was the result of E&C beginning to use chairs as weapons, leaving each team with their own weapons of choice. E&C used chairs, Hardys used ladders and Dudleys used tables. There was a different element to this one, too. Each team had a sidekick. The Hardys were managed by Lita, Rhyno had become an ally of E&C while the Dudleys had their “brother” Spike on their side.
All three teams were also billed as “brother” teams. Matt and Jeff Hardy were the only real brothers. The Dudleys were storyline brothers going back to their ECW days in the mid-1990s. As for Edge & Christian, WWE said they were brothers when they started in 1998 and mentioned it for many more years as well. Eventually they stopped calling them brothers because it’s wrestling – you don’t always have to explain things even though we would like them to.
What I Thought Back Then
I had high expectations because of their outstanding tag team ladder match at WrestleMania 16 one year earlier and the first ever TLC match at SummerSlam 2000. Both of those matches were outstanding, but I was optimistic that they would do enough to top themselves.
There was a lot of chemistry between the teams since they worked together so much on television and at live events. That’s why I liked the decision to do the match one more time. It felt like the last time they would do this kind of match because there were breakup rumors going into the match, especially with Edge and Christian.
This match had a different feel to it because the Hardys had Lita involved, Edge & Christian had Rhyno and the Dudleys had Spike, so there were questions about how they would be involved in the match as well. We got those answers during the match.
WrestleMania 17 is such an amazing show with so many matches. I was more excited about Austin vs. Rock than anything else, but I was very interested in this one as well.
Here’s my full review of the match, which was written in 2012.
TLC Match for the Tag Team Titles: The Dudley Boyz vs. Edge & Christian vs. The Hardy Boyz
There was no video package for this match. Tables, Ladders & Chairs surrounded the ringside area.
They Dudleys were face tag team champions and the Hardys were also faces. Edge & Christian were heels.
Dudleys took control early, then the Hardys get a turn until E&C come in with the ladders to knock everybody out. Double nut stomp on Matt (seeing Edge do that to Matt now after the Lita thing is really mean, eh?), but Matt gets back up and tries to climb the ladder until he gets clotheslined by Edge. Edge goes up, Jeff dropkicks him down and the Dudleys get taken out by double baseball slide dropkicks. Matt & Jeff isolate Christian and hit a leg drop/splash combo off the ladders. Dudleys hit the Whassup Drop on Edge. “D-VON GET THE TABLES!” Huge pop for that spot. It was very over. Dudleys get the tables, then with Edge set up on the table, Bubba powerbombs Jeff on him and through the table. Wow! Great spot. The Dudleys then go to the floor and stack up four tables on the floor with two on the ground and two on top of them. All six guys were in the ring. They all climbed at the same time with the crowd going wild. They all got knocked down with my boy Christian taking the worst of the falls by going straight to the floor. He’s the only one that went all the way down to the floor. There’s your KO spot as we get near the halfway point.
Edge is the first one to climb, but Spike Dudley runs in and takes him out with the Dudley Dog. Then Spike hits Christian with a Dudley Dog outside of the ring through a table on the floor that was such a cool bump. It was so nice of Christian to set up that table moments before that spot. Now it’s Ryhno’s turn to run-in, so he nails the Dudleys and Hardys with gores with Matt taking the worst of it by taking a GORE GORE GORE through a table stacked in the corner. That allowed Edge to climb once again. Lita stopped Edge and JR actually said “jerking Edge off the ladder” which was funny because of Lita cheating on Matt with Edge years later. Just had to point that out. She gave Rhyno a headscissors that dazed him and then Spike hit Rhyno with a chair shot that sent him into the ladder, knocking Edge off leading to Edge being crotched on the top rope. Bubba & D-Von gave Rhyno the Dudleyville Device (same as Legion of Doom’s clothesline off the top with D-Von hitting a clothesline while opponent was on Bubba’s shoulders). Lita went back in and crushed Spike with a stiff chair shot. Lita ripped off her shirt because that’s how she rolls and then she received a 3D from the Dudleys. The crowd was going wild for everything. Edge and Christian decked Bubba with a chair as Jeff Hardy pulled out that 15 foot ladder (or however tall it is) on the floor. We saw Spike and Rhyno on the tables, so Jeff jumped off of the top of the ladder with the Swanton through both tables! Wow. Impressive once again by Jeff Hardy just like the year before when he did a similar spot to Bubba Ray except he topped it this time by going through two tables. Christian and D-Von climbed up, then they hung onto the belts and fell down. Meanwhile, Jeff got back up to walk across the ladders, but he stumbled on the last one. That would have been tough. Jeff climbed up and hung off the titles, unable to pull them down. Then in the spot of the match, Bubba pulled the ladder out from under Jeff, he swung forward and Edge speared him off a high ladder all the way to the floor! WOW! What an insane bump that was. It hurts just looking at that. That resulted in one of the loudest crowd reactions I’ve ever heard, though. The place just went nuts for it. So did JR: “Oh my God Edge from the 20 foot ladder with a spear on Jeff Hardy! For the love of God Jeff Hardy may be broken smack dab in half!” It wasn’t 20 feet high, it was about 12 feet, but that’s okay. Matt and Bubba fought up on top of the big ladder, but Rhyno came back from the dead to shove the ladder and that sent Matt and Bubba onto those stacked tables (remember when the Dudleys set those up?) all the way in the aisle. Wow. In a match full of sick bumps that could have been the sickest bump of the match. It was a race between E&C and D-Von, but Rhyno assisted Christian by putting him on his shoulders and Christian grabbed the titles giving E&C win the match at 15:44. Edge and Christian won all three of the triangle ladder matches.
Winners and New Tag Team Champions: Edge & Christian
Analysis: ***** You want words to describe that? How about sick, painful, disgusting, amazing, athletic, insane and awesome all at the same time? I don’t care that the concept was done before. It’s not easy to partake in one of these matches. Yeah, this was the third one in the series, but they found ways to make it different. The addition of Rhyno, Spike and Lita added something good to the match that wasn’t there before. The spots in this match were once again awesome as all six guys, plus their three friends, busted their asses to put on a great show. As usual, Jeff Hardy took the most insane bumps with the Swanton onto two people as well as the spear he took from Edge while hanging onto the belts. It was one of the sickest bumps I have ever seen and quite frankly I’m surprised he could walk after that one. I’m always shocked by these guys walking away without major injuries, although Edge did end up having major neck surgery a few years later and as we know it forced him to retire early. Christian was impressive when fell all the way to floor when he was pushed off the ladder. Two minutes after that when Spike came down Christian took the Dudley Dog from inside the ring to the floor through a table. Then of course there was the bump by Matt & Bubba off the giant ladder through the stacked tables on the floor. That was just crazy.
The other thing that sticks out is the chemistry these teams had. They had everything planned out so meticulously and perfectly. It worked in every way possible. I liked the ending of this one better than the other two, which makes it the best of the three. I liked it because it was heels acting like heels, cheating to win a match on the biggest stage of them all. I like that a lot. Also of note is the time of the match. Sixteen minutes is the right amount of time. I’m not docking the quality of the match because of interference. They were part of the match too. Two of them got taken out and the one that didn’t get fully taken out, Rhyno, played a part in the finish because he was a force. It was part of the story. I’ve probably seen this match 10-12 times in my life. As I was writing I knew what spots were coming, but it didn’t get old for me. It never will. It was an amazing performance by six guys who formed three of the best tag teams in the history of the business. They’d end up having a four team TLC on Smackdown in May that was pretty good if you’ve never seen that, but this was the cherry on top in terms of the triangle tag team feud. Paul Heyman said it best when he said they gave us a match that we will never forget.
What They Said
Here’s Bubba Ray Dudley on the guys coming up with the finish of the match. From Talk Is Jericho podcast:
“We got to a heated discussion [or] debate about what was going to be the final bump of the match, whether it was going to be the spear [from Edge to Jeff Hardy] in mid air or it was going to be me and Matt [Hardy] going off the ladder through the four tables. And I wanted it to be the spear and it didn’t wind up being [the last big bump of the match].”
Here’s Bubba talking about the match to Sky Sports:
“I’ve been told many times that TLC II stole the show (at WrestleMania 17). The Dudleyz, Hardyz, and Edge & Christian dealt with the pressure really well. Not only did we get along really well on the outside, but we had incredible chemistry in the ring. We channelled all the pressure into positive energy and put on some matches that people will be talking about for a very long time. So we have some pretty nice accolades to rest on.”
Jeff Hardy had some thoughts on the Spear off the ladder that he took from Edge. From IGN:
“That’s a moment that’s so cool because it’s something I saw in my mind, but to bring it to life, that’s another one of those clips that I’m proud of, even though I’m on the defense on that one. [laughs] There’s not much time to think of anything. It’s almost like a car wreck. It’s like bam! That was unbelievable, I can’t believe that just happened. Once the breath comes back and you can feel your toes move, it’s a good payoff when you can live through something like that.”
What I Think Now
It’s such an amazing match that I have watched dozens of times, but I’ll never get sick of it. The amount of cool spots they came up with was amazing. The fact that they were willing to take some of these massive bumps is a testament to all four of them as performers.
This was the third of their triple threat matches using ladders where Edge & Christian left as the champions each time. I’m not sure if that was planned well in advance or it ended up just fitting the story each time. In this case, I think they just did it to put over the heel tactics of Rhyno helping his buddies get the win.
That spot where Edge hit the Spear on Jeff Hardy off the ladder is one of the most iconic moments of the Attitude Era and, dare I say, all of WWE history. A lot of things could have went wrong there, but they managed to make it work without any problem.
What’s difficult to watch in a match like this are all the chair shots and head shots. Back then, we didn’t know about things like concussions or injuries to the head that led to health problems.
The crowd was loud during the entire match, which is no surprise. The amazing thing about that, though, is they were really loud for Vince vs. Shane McMahon right before this. Often times you might watch a show where the crowd dies a bit after a hot match. Not here. It’s another reason why WrestleMania 17 is so special.
What Happened Next
They did another TLC match in late May with then Tag Team Champions Chris Jericho & Chris Benoit defending the gold against these three teams as well. It was on the May 24, 2001, episode of Smackdown. Great match like usual known as TLC 3 or the “Forgotten TLC” since Benoit was involved.
Edge and Christian broke up as a team a few months after this. Edge got a midcard push as the 2001 King of the Ring winner, which led to him becoming a face after Christian was jealous of him.
The Hardys and Dudleys continued to team quite a bit. Things changed one year later when the first brand split took place, which broke up both teams.
This is one of the greatest rivalries in the history of wrestling. I think it’s the best tag team rivalry in WWE history. You can make a case for other companies all you want, but in terms of WWE there are no teams that can touch these guys in terms of the amount of amazing matches they had together. Using the weapons certainly helped, but it also showed how willing they were to put their bodies on the line to entertain us.
I love watching TLC 2. Check it out if you haven’t seen it in a long time. Even if you have seen it a lot, it’s the kind of match that will never get old.
That’s all for me. Check out the full list of my WWE PPV Review archive right here. Thanks for reading.