No hat trick for Intercontinental Championship Ladder Match at WWE WrestleMania 33?
For the first time in three years, it seems WWE won't be having a ladder match for the Intercontinental Championship at WrestleMania.
Somehow in the mix of gimmick pay-per-views focused around one particular style of a match such as Hell in a Cell, TLC and Elimination Chamber, WWE started to get into a habit of including ladder matches onto the card for WrestleMania.
At one point in time, this was the Money in the Bank ladder match, spanning from WrestleMania 21 in 2005 until WrestleMania 26 in 2010 — the only year we would get three people to hold the briefcase.
Jack Swagger had cashed his contract in just two days later, leaving room for the gimmick to graduate to its own special event later on in the year where it’s been ever since, having survived a few other tweaks in the process.
There were rumours that the brand split could have nixed a separate Money in the Bank pay-per-view and it would find its way back home to WrestleMania, but it was recently announced that on June 18th, the briefcase would come back for a SmackDown-exclusive event.
Why the blue brand gets it and Raw doesn’t is still in question, but that is another topic for another day.
When it comes to WrestleMania, though, fans had grown accustomed to a multi-man ladder match and two years ago, WWE brought that concept back as a means to put the Intercontinental Championship on the line.
This was predominantly a means to get as many people on the card as possible who were big enough to compete outside of the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal, but not necessarily so important as to warrant spending actual time to build up to a singles match that would cut into the room for other matches featuring The Undertaker, the WWE Championship and more high-priority concepts.
Following his stellar performance at WrestleMania 30 where he defeated Triple H, Batista and Randy Orton to win the WWE World Heavyweight Championship, WWE’s creative team wanted to make sure Daniel Bryan had a prominent role at WrestleMania 31 but couldn’t quite trust resting the company on his shoulders.
To compensate for this, at WrestleMania 31, Daniel Bryan was awarded the Intercontinental Championship in a ladder match against Dolph Ziggler, Stardust, Luke Harper, R-Truth, Dean Ambrose and the current champion at the time, Bad News Barrett.
The idea would have likely worked out well, but injuries prevented Bryan from being able to truly be the champion WWE wanted him to be, so it found its way to some other people throughout the year before settling down with Kevin Owens.
Injury would strike again for this title around WrestleMania season, though, as WWE started to build up to another multi-man ladder match for the Intercontinental Championship featuring Kevin Owens, Sami Zayn, Stardust, Dolph Ziggler, The Miz and Sin Cara as well as Neville, who would eventually be unable to compete.
Taking his place would be Zack Ryder, who many fans just assumed was the last minute replacement even though he ended up coming out on top and winning the match to become the new champion at least for 24 hours before dropping it to The Miz on Monday Night Raw the following night.
This year, with so many people already having matches in place for them at WrestleMania, it has started to look as though we could be in for the third year in a row where the Intercontinental Championship would be defended in a ladder match, but now that Elimination Chamber is over with and the subsequent episode of SmackDown has aired, that doesn’t appear to be the case.
While nothing is official, we can surmise that Dean Ambrose will defend his championship against Baron Corbin in some fashion, one way or another.
At the moment, the other mid carders who could have been chosen to fill out the numbers of this match don’t appear to be crossing over into their feud with each other.
Unless Dolph Ziggler, Kalisto, Apollo Crews and possibly someone like Kane or Jack Swagger comes back and suddenly starts getting tossed into the mix with the Corbin vs. Ambrose feud, there doesn’t seem to be any reason to believe that this won’t just be a singles match.
WWE could just as easily throw Ziggler and company into the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal and not have to bother with them fighting for the championship, and if that’s the case and it’s just Ambrose and Corbin, there’s no necessity to make this a ladder match to help control the booking of all those people.
The benefit of the ladder match gimmick when you have more than four men in a fight is that it gives it more structure and a centralised point of reference, but that isn’t the case with a one-on-one confrontation.
Ambrose works better as a brawler, for sure, and the way Corbin attacked him and they fought on the stage indicates that something more than a standard match will take place, but there’s nothing ruling out that this will just be a standard, regular affair.
Perhaps WWE plans on keeping things simple with a Street Fight or No Disqualification stipulation where hardware can still be utilised, but the two men aren’t anchored to wrestling around a ladder and keeping that style of a match in play.
Then again, we’ve had plenty of one-on-one ladder matches before—one of which actually took place at WrestleMania X between Shawn Michaels and Razor Ramon.
What if WWE is actually planning on continuing this mini-tradition of a ladder match for the Intercontinental Championship, but with a twist where instead of seven men fighting for the belt, it will just be two?
We know that ladder matches do need something to be retrieved in order to win it, which would rule out everything like Seth Rollins vs. Triple H and whichever big matches aren’t for titles.
It’s safe to assume that even if Goldberg wins the title from Kevin Owens at Fastlane, he and Brock Lesnar won’t be wrestling in a ladder match, nor will Bray Wyatt do the same against Randy Orton.
It would be a lot easier for a match like Roman Reigns vs. The Undertaker to take up the No DQ stipulation just to allow for some flexibility while Ambrose and Corbin are booked in a ladder match to help differentiate the two styles of fights.
One thing seems to be for sure, though: this looks to be a personal feud between Ambrose and Corbin rather than something that will involve many more people, so the tradition from the past two years of having seven men climb a ladder for the Intercontinental title appears to not be returning this year, even if we do still get a ladder match for that same belt, just with two men this time around.
Would you like to see Corbin face Ambrose in a ladder match or some other kind of gimmick? Be sure to drop your thoughts in the comments section below!
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