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10 Greatest Tables, Ladders and Chairs Matches in WWE History

Erik BeastonFeatured ColumnistNovember 26, 2013

10 Greatest Tables, Ladders and Chairs Matches in WWE History

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    Photo Credit: WWE.com

    On December 15, World Wrestling Entertainment will present the TLC pay-per-view from the Toyota Center in Houston.

    The show is sure to feature some violent, chaotic, wild matches that will continue the legacy of the event. 

    One match guaranteed to take place is the event's namesake.

    The Tables, Ladders and Chairs match has been a staple of WWE events since 2000 and has featured some of the bravest, most daring Superstars in company history sacrificing their bodies for the sake of entertainment.

    Edge, Christian, the Hardy Boyz and the Dudley Boyz are the founders of the match, but throughout the years, everyone from John Cena to CM Punk and even Ric Flair have attempted to climb the ladder to championship glory.

    Who will attempt to cement their legacy with an unforgettable performance in the fan-favorite match?

    We will have to wait a few weeks to find out.

    Until then, join me as I take a look back at the 10 greatest Tables, Ladders and Chairs matches in WWE history!

10. The Undertaker vs. Edge (One Night Stand, June 1, 2008)

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    The Undertaker is one of the last Superstars one would associate with a TLC match, but in June of 2008, he and Edge clashed in the bout with the vacant World Heavyweight Championship hanging overhead.

    The in-ring veterans developed a very smart match that limited the amount of pain and punishment their bodies endured by limiting the amount of big bumps they took. As a result, the match was a smarter, more story-centric one.

    Interference from Chavo Guerrero, Bam Neeley, Zack Ryder and Curt Hawkins added to the story surrounding the match, and the dangerous table bumps by Ryder and Hawkins popped the crowd and added to the chaotic finish.

    The Last Ride powerbomb from Undertaker to Edge and through two stacked tables was phenomenal, and the big bump by Undertaker through the two rows of stacked tables was the match's most memorable spot.

    Edge regained the title while Undertaker took a two-month break before returning at SummerSlam and defeating the Rated R Superstar in a Hell in a Cell match.

    The match itself has no real historical significance outside of the title change, but it did prove that a TLC match can minimize the insane bumps and still be an effective, show-stealing contest.

9. Ric Flair vs. Edge (Raw, January 16, 2006)

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    The sight of a bloodied Ric Flair unleashing his fury on Edge is one of the seminal moments in TLC match history.

    The then 56-year-old Flair was competing in the match type for the first time in his illustrious career and was clearly motivated to leave a lasting impression. He did just that, taking a great deal of punishment, including a superplex from the top of a ladder that was uncomfortable to watch, at the hands of the WWE champion.

    Edge's backward bump off a ladder and through a table at ringside was dangerous and probably unnecessary given how brutal the match was without the huge spots.

    Lita's involvement late in the match was really good and was completely in line with her character. The Figure Four she found herself on the receiving end of popped the crowd and allowed Edge to recover from the aforementioned table bump.

    Like he did in so many of his legendary TLC matches, Edge left with the gold around his waist, but it was Flair who left a lasting impression.

    The future Hall of Famer, called "past his prime" by many, showed great heart, determination and passion for the spot by enduring the physical punishment he did for the sake of entertaining the masses.

    He also proved that, while he may not be able to deliver the standard great matches he did for so much of his legendary career, he still had the tools to deliver a bloody brawl, something that came in handy later in the year when he feuded with hardcore legend Mick Foley.

8. CM Punk vs. Alberto Del Rio vs. The Miz (TLC, December 19, 2011)

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    The 2011 TLC pay-per-view was WWE champion CM Punk's first chance to truly carry a major World Wrestling Entertainment production on his own, without the safety net of John Cena to fall back on. His image was all over the promotional materials, and the main event of the evening featured the Second City Saint defending his title against Alberto Del Rio and The Miz in a Tables, Ladders and Chairs match.

    Punk was the glue that held the match together. As the babyface and champion, he was responsible for driving the emotion of the match. He did his job perfectly and the crowd was into everything he did.

    The Miz, for all the negativity that follows him, was outstanding here as he stole the spotlight from Del Rio and was easily the most hated wrestler in the match.

    The introduction of handcuffs seemed to be a bit much considering the weapons surrounding the ring, but they ultimately played a major role in the tremendous drama that accompanied the finish.

    Late in the match, Miz handcuffed Punk to the middle rope, forcing him to watch as he and Del Rio scaled the ladder. With each rung they climbed, the champion's reign came closer and closer to its end.

    Punk, not ready to hand over his title to either of his opponents so easily, tore apart the turnbuckle and escaped his predicament.

    All three men fought atop the ladder, and after some brilliant exchanges that saw Punk and Miz knock each other to the mat, the champion delivered GTS to his rival, climbed back up the ladder and retrieved his title.

    It was a crowning achievement for Punk and the first successful pay-per-view title defense in what became a 434-day title reign.

7. John Cena vs. Edge (Unforgiven, September 17, 2006)

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    The year 2006 will forever be linked with the rise of the Rated R Superstar, Edge, to the main event and his subsequent star-making feud with John Cena.

    On January 8, at the New Year's Revolution pay-per-view, Edge cashed in Money in the Bank and won his first WWE Championship. He lost the title back to Cena in short order at the same month's Royal Rumble show and what looked like an outstanding feud with the top star on Raw came to a premature end.

    Fast-forward seven months and Edge captured his second title, this time defeating Cena and champion Rob Van Dam in a triple-threat match.

    With Van Dam suspended following a marijuana arrest, Edge was left to resume his feud with Cena.

    At SummerSlam, the top heel in the sport defeated hometown boy Cena in Boston. A rematch, a Tables, Ladders and Chairs match, was booked for Edge's hometown of Toronto with the stipulation being that Cena would leave Monday Night Raw if he lost.

    With the odds stacked against Cena, he rose to the occasion in his first TLC match and hung in, move-for-move, with his more experienced opponent.

    Cena's STF to his opponent, using the ladder, made for an impressive visual. His big bump off the ladder and through the announcers' table drew a huge pop from the pro-Edge crowd in Toronto, but Cena recovered nicely and planted Lita, Edge's on-screen girlfriend and WWE's resident sexpot, with the Attitude Adjustment.

    The challenger delivered the same move later in the match, only this time it was to Edge and it was off the top of a ladder and through two stacked tables. The spot is one of the greatest and most dangerous in the long history of the match, and it single-handedly elevated the match from being "very good" to "great."

    Edge took several high-risk bumps and really went out of his way to make Cena look great.

    It was a near-classic match that lacked drama, thanks largely to the idiotic stipulation placed on it prior to the Unforgiven pay-per-view.

6. Jeff Hardy vs. CM Punk (SummerSlam, August 23, 2009)

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    The summer of 2009 saw CM Punk undergo a character change that saw him become a heel for the first time in his WWE career.

    He did so at the expense of Jeff Hardy, who was arguably the hottest babyface in the sport and the breakout star of the SmackDown brand.

    After two consecutive pay-per-view bouts, one of which saw Hardy capture the World Heavyweight Championship from Punk in Philadelphia, a TLC match for the title was announced for the main event of SummerSlam.

    Hardy was his normal, daredevil self, taking plenty of risks and wowing crowds with his ability to crash and burn for entertainment's sake. One such crash was a rather low-key bump that looked like it hurt more than any major bump later in the match did.

    Only a few minutes into the match, Punk unfolded a steel chair and set it up. He grabbed Hardy in a side suplex and dropped him down on the weapon. Unfortunately, Hardy did not hit the flat seat. Instead, his spine caught the back edge of the chair, sending pain shooting up and down his body.

    Hardy punished Punk as well, but it seemed like every time he tried a high-risk maneuver to maybe put Punk away, the Chicago native headed him off and took back control.

    By night's end, Punk scaled the ladder and retrieved the World Heavyweight Championship, ushering in his third reign with the gold.

5. World Tag Team Championship TLC Match (October 7, 2002)

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    The fall of 2002 saw the return of the Big Red Monster Kane, who suffered from a torn bicep earlier in the year and was sidelined during the summer.

    He almost immediately found himself in the main event picture when he defeated Chris Jericho for the Intercontinental Championship and, by proxy, earned a World Heavyweight Championship match against Triple H.

    In the meantime, he teamed with The Hurricane to capture the World Tag Team Championship.

    On a special episode of Monday Night Raw, dubbed "Raw Roulette," it was determined that the duo would defend their titles in a Fatal 4-Way Tables, Ladders and Chairs match. The challengers were the teams of Bubba Ray and Spike Dudley, Chris Jericho and Christian and Rob Van Dam and Jeff Hardy.

    The amount of talent in the match was breathtaking, and the fact that five had been involved in ladder or TLC matches in the past helped fuel fan anticipation.

    An injury angle prevented Hurricane from working the match, however, and Kane was forced to go it alone if he and his partner hoped to retain the titles.

    The match was every bit as crazy, wild and unpredictable as one may imagine. Rather than settling for storytelling or building to the high spots, the seven competitors involved left nothing to the imagination.

    Hardy was shoved through a table, Jericho applied Walls of Jericho to Van Dam atop a ladder and Kane caught Y2J with a huge chokeslam off the ladder.

    Despite a huge numbers disadvantage, Kane climbed the ladder and grabbed the belts, completing one of his finest performances.

4. TLC III (SmackDown, May 24, 2001)

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    On May 21, 2001, Chris Jericho and Chris Benoit defeated Stone Cold Steve Austin and Triple H to win the WWE Tag Team Championship in one of the greatest Monday Night Raw matches ever.

    Doing so drew the Canadians heat from Mr. McMahon, whose Two Man Power Trip had lost the gold. In the process, Triple H tore his quadriceps and ended up sidelined for months.

    In an attempt to both punish Benoit and Jericho and to get the tag titles off of them, McMahon announced a Fatal 4-Way TLC match for the May 24 episode of SmackDown.

    The match featured the new champions defending against tables specialists the Dudley Boyz, masters of the ladder the Hardy Boyz and chair-swinging duo Edge and Christian.

    With all of that talent, fans were guaranteed an exceptional match. Add in tables, ladders and chairs, and they may very well have been looking at a Match of the Year candidate.

    The Superstars did not disappoint, delivering one of the best matches in SmackDown history and one of 2001's finest bouts.

    The Benoit spot, where he dove off the top rope and through a table after Matt Hardy rolled out of the way, was amazing. With that said, given how badly the Rabid Wolverine was in need of neck surgery at this point, it became a bit scarier to watch.

    Late in the match, Jericho took a page from his January 2001 ladder match against his tag partner Benoit and locked Edge in the Walls of Jericho atop one of the ladders.

    Benoit grabbed the belts and won the match for his team.

    The champions went on to challenge Steve Austin for the WWE Championship in a Triple Threat Match at King of the Ring in June.

3. TLC I (SummerSlam, August 27, 2000)

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    At WrestleMania 2000 on April 2, 2000, Edge and Christian, the Dudley Boyz and the Hardy Boyz stole the show with an absolutely breathtaking Triangle Ladder Match that established all three teams as the future of tag team wrestling in North America.

    Edge and Christian captured the titles in that match and turned heel shortly thereafter. They went on to become one of the most entertaining acts in the company while the Dudley Boyz became one of the most popular, thanks to their penchant for putting wrestlers and divas alike through tables.

    The three teams went their separate ways for most of the spring and summer, engaging in separate feuds with other teams. As SummerSlam approached, however, they came together again for a match that revolutionized the industry and, some nine years later, led to a pay-per-view that shared its name.

    With tag champions Edge and Christian repeatedly ducking and dodging the challenge of both teams and on several occasions bashing them with steel chairs, WWE Commissioner Mick Foley booked the very first Tables, Ladders and Chairs match for the summertime spectacular.

    The six Superstars picked up where they left off earlier in the year, diving off ladders, crashing through tables and whacking opponents with chairs.

    At one point, wildly popular women's champion and Hardy's associate Lita made her way to the ringside and was promptly struck down with a spear from Edge. It was doubly vicious in that, when Lita hit the ground, the back of her head smacked off of a ladder.

    Ouch.

    Despite the match taking place in the Hardys' home state of North Carolina and a hot Dudley Boyz team, the heel champions were able to retain their titles.

    A month later, at Unforgiven in Philadelphia, Matt and Jeff took the titles from Edge and Christian in a steel-cage match. Why the company decided to do the title switch there rather than at the much more prestigious SummerSlam show is a mystery.

    The TLC match was a legitimate five-star classic and laid the groundwork for every one that came after it.

2. Ryback & Team Hell No vs. The Shield (TLC, December 16, 2012)

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    The December 16, 2012, match between Ryback, Kane, Daniel Bryan and The Shield came from out of nowhere to steal the TLC pay-per-view.

    The match was structured brilliantly.

    It started at a moderate pace and built gradually to the insane spots and frantic pace that popped the audience late in the match.

    The most memorable spot of the match saw Ryback toss Seth Rollins off the top of a ladder and through tables that were set up near the entrance.

    Elsewhere, Roman Reigns showed explosive fury, spearing Kane through the guardrail that separated the timekeeper's position from the rest of the ringside area.

    Daniel Bryan was his typically great self, carrying the majority of the actual ring work. He and Rollins were responsible for taking the majority of the big bumps.

    Ryback, Reigns and Kane brought some outstanding power and high-impact maneuvers that looked even more impressive with Rollins, Bryan and Ambrose selling them.

    The match was the coming out party for The Shield. Fans of Ambrose and Rollins from their independent days knew how talented they were, and there was definitely a presence about Reigns that helped keep him while he evolved as an in-ring performer.

    Ryback did not get enough credit for his performance in this match.

    He was the top babyface and he did an admirable job of delivering the big power spots that helped fuel the match and tell the story.

    The only negative thing surrounding the bout was that it happened so late in the year that it was ineligible for the majority of the year-end awards.

    With all due respect to Triple H versus Undertaker from WrestleMania XXVIII, which was an outstanding match and told one of the greatest stories in that event's long and illustrious history, this was a better match. It featured five young talents determined to leave an impression and make an immediate impact.

    The match blended story and action seamlessly and achieved its greatness, with an insanely hot crowd to boot, without the hype and grandeur from which Triple H and Undertaker benefited.

    Regardless of whether one agrees with this writer's opinion or not is an argument for another time.

    The match, unlike the TLC bouts that preceded it, introduced the big, powerful guys to the mix and utilized their strengths to its advantage. The bumps looked that much more impressive knowing it was a massive man such as Ryback or Kane instigating them.

    The smaller workers were the glue that held it together, and that mixture of different types of performers helped make it a wholly unique, exciting and interesting match.

1. TLC II (WrestleMania X-7, April 1, 2001)

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    The greatest Tables, Ladders and Chairs match in WWE history took place at the greatest pay-per-view event in company history, WrestleMania X-7. 

    Edge, Christian, the Dudleys and Hardys renewed their rivalry just in time for the Showcase of the Immortals and the second incarnation of the revolutionary TLC match they founded some eight months earlier.

    The teams traded the tag titles leading into the show and, in this instance, Bubba Ray and D'Von were champions entering the match.

    The closing of ECW introduced a few new elements to the match and enhanced the overall story tenfold.

    Spike Dudley had joined his half-brothers in WWE and, shortly thereafter, former ECW heavyweight champion Rhyno made his debut, siding with longtime friends Edge and Christian.

    With Lita always by the Hardys' side, the potential for outside interference and crowd-pleasing spots involving the three seconds was high.

    The match, like the ones at SummerSlam and the previous year's WrestleMania, contained the same breathtaking spots but introduced a new one that became one of the most iconic snapshots in WrestleMania history.

    With Jeff Hardy hanging from the ceiling via the ring, the steel cable supporting the tag team championships, Edge climbed a ladder and caught him with a spear, taking him down 20 feet to the ring. It was an outstanding moment that left the audience stunned.

    The introduction of Lita, Spike and Rhyno earlier in the evening resulted in some outstanding spots, including Lita destroying Spike with a chair shot, ripping her shirt off and turning straight into a 3D from Bubba and D'Von.

    Like their two previous high-profile matches had ended, Edge and Christian picked up the win and the titles, thanks in large part to Rhyno, who hoisted Christian up the ladder.

    Despite the fact that the three teams once again did battle in the match just more than a month later, their bout at WrestleMania X-7 was very much the end of an era. By the time the following year's event rolled around, Edge and Christian were broken up and the tag team division was decimated.

    TLC II was a perfect storm, a five-star classic that defined an era of tag team wrestling that may never be seen again. It was the culmination of a year-long story that saw three very different, ultra-talented teams grow together as performers and develop a chemistry with one another that left fans always wanting more.

    The match built upon everything that had happened in the previous matches and added new elements to ensure it was different and unique.

    It worked, resulting in the perfect Tables, Ladders and Chairs match that, for this writer's money, will never be equaled or surpassed.

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