There are matches that steal shows, earn awards and captivate audiences.
Then, there are the rare matches that go on to define eras.
The Tables, Ladders and Chairs match for the WWE Tag Team Championships at WrestleMania X-Seven, featuring Bubba Ray and D-Von Dudley defending their titles against the Hardy Boyz and Edge and Christian, is one of those rare matches.
On one April night, in one of the signature bouts of that year's WrestleMania card, the six Superstars encapsulated everything that fans loved about their rivalry and continued to evolve the popular gimmick match in the process.
The match was wildly chaotic; involved run-ins from Lita, Rhyno and Spike Dudley; and capped off one of the greatest eras for tag team wrestling in WWE history.
This Dec. 15, World Wrestling Entertainment will present a pay-per-view extravaganza that owes its very existence to the matches popularized by the six originators mentioned above.
As fans prepare for the epic Tables, Ladders and Chairs match between John Cena and Randy Orton in two weeks, let's take a look back at the bout's greatest incarnation.
The 2000 edition of WWE's SummerSlam pay-per-view featured a brand new match concept.
The Hardy Boyz, the Dudley Boyz and Edge and Christian had spent the majority of the spring and summer embroiled in various feuds with other teams. During those feuds, they utilized weapons that would become associated with them throughout the remainder of their careers.
Edge and Christian used chairs to assault their opponents. In particular, their vicious "con-chair-to" did tremendous damage to any Superstar unlucky enough to be on the receiving end of it.
The Dudley Boyz finally connected with the WWE audience early in 2000 when they began putting female talent through tables. Despite the fact that it was a despicable act, fans loved the sheer violence of it and found themselves cheering for the "half-brothers from different mothers."
Matt and Jeff Hardy became stars thanks to their performances in ladder matches. Fans jumped at the chance to see the brothers perform their high-risk, daredevil-like offense from 15 or 20 feet in the air.
The teams' SummerSlam match would incorporate all of those weapons into one amazing, unforgettable match, won by the villainous Edge and Christian.
On the March 5, 2001 episode of Raw, the on-again, off-again rivalry among the three teams would kick into full gear when the Hardys defeated the Dudleys to capture the tag titles. Two weeks later, on March 19, Christian and Edge won the titles from the Hardys then proceeded to lose them later in the evening to the Dudley Boyz.
During this time, Extreme Championship Wrestling closed its doors, and both Rhyno and Spike Dudley made their debuts with World Wrestling Entertainment, the former siding with Edge and Christian and the latter with his half brothers, the Dudleys.
Factor in Lita's association with the Hardys and all of the elements were in place for one of the craziest, most memorable contests in WWE history.
Astrodome in Houston, Texas
April 1, 2001
Jim Ross and Paul Heyman
In front of 67,925 fans, three of the greatest teams in professional wrestling history gave all of themselves for the glory of a show-stealing match at the biggest show of the year and the entertainment of millions watching around the globe.
Rhyno, Spike and Lita all played pivotal roles in the match with Rhyno having a direct impact on the outcome.
As was the case anytime the three teams did battle in a Tables, Ladders and Chairs match, Edge and Christian would leave with the titles around their waist.
What is there left to say other than TLC 2 was the greatest Tables, Ladders and Chairs match in WWE history and one that is highly unlikely to ever be topped.
In his 2004 autobiography, Adam Copeland on Edge, published by Simon & Schuster's Pocket Books division, the future Rated R Superstar says of the match:
This match had a lot of ingredients that helped make it a tasty morsel for anyone watching. I would like to think the fans got their money's worth in that match alone, not to forget all of the other amazing matches that took place that night.
Matt Hardy, in brother Jeff and his 2002 autobiography, Exist 2 Inspire, also published by Simon & Schuster, was more analytic in his feelings for the match.
Psychology-wise, TLC II was the best of all the big gimmick matches. We were worried that there was nothing we could do that would come close to the previous TLC. But we knew that the run-ins from Lita, Spike Dudley and Rhyno were going to make it a little different. Considering the fact that we had nine bodies and a bunch of inanimate objects, that match was pretty sound.
TLC 2 brought to an end the legendary three-team rivalry that was a major part of World Wrestling Entertainment during its most successful period.
The Hardys, Edge and Christian and the Dudleys revolutionized professional wrestling through their ability to tell stories among the chaos, violence and destruction that were those classic TLC matches.
Edge and Christian would split later in 2001, each going on to varied degrees of success in the weeks and months that followed. The Dudleys and Hardys would continue to amass tag titles throughout the end of the year and competed in several matches against each other, including a steel cage match to unify the WWE and WCW championships.
Both teams would be split up by the summer of 2002, thanks to the brand extension.
Tag team wrestling would never again reach the heights it did prior to WrestleMania X-Seven; though, today's tag division has produced several excellent matches over the last six months.
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