Two A-frame ladders sit in the center of a wrestling ring, a championship belt suspended above them, just within reach of the highest rungs. Two unbelievably large men with comic book muscles and spandex pants, already battle weary, race to be the first to drag himself within belt-grabbing distance.
“You don’t want to create an environment where it’s a horse race up the ladder,” an offscreen announcer cautions, but that’s just what’s happening. Christian is the first to the top, and he begins grasping for the belt that represents the 2001 intercontinental title, rocking the ladder beneath him, needing just an inch or two more height. This delay gives Edge just enough time to catch up. Edge grabs Christian by his long, sweat-soaked hair and begins punching him on the top of his head. Then Edge hooks an arm around Christian’s chest and drags him off his ladder, throwing himself to the mat in the process. Both men land and begin to writhe in pain. Earlier in their careers, they’d been partners, a seven-time championship tag team. Sometimes, they’d even been brothers.
“Once you get an inanimate object like a ladder involved,” Christian, aka Captain Charisma, says in a 2009 interview with the Current, “anything can happen. There’s just really no way to prepare for a ladder match. You just have to expect the unexpected.”
Back in the ring in 2001, Edge kicks his legs, holding his lower back while Christian just lies there, ominously still.
The screen splits to simultaneously replay their fall; a new camera angle reveals that Edge has landed badly, tailbone first, “compressing his spine,” as the announcer says. “It’s hard to say who has the real advantage. It seems like Edge, but I’m not so sure.”
Edge rolls over and crawls to the base of a ladder, begins pulling himself up, hand over hand. His legs dangle shakily beneath him, as though he’s using the ladder to hold himself up. Just as Edge struggles to the top and begins stretching out to grab that belt, Christian regains his feet and grabs Edge by the leg. Christian lands a vicious punch to Edge’s kidney, and he doubles over, resting his head on the top rung. Christian grabs him and pulls him to the canvas. “Gosh almighty,” the announcer exclaims. “That’s some high impact. … I’ve seen car wrecks that are more genteel.”
As a team, Edge and Christian famously took on the Hardy Boyz in a four-man ladder match, a bout that helped launch their careers. “That’s one that really put us on the map,” Christian recalls. “That’s when we started being associated with ladders.”
This time, Edge is the one who isn’t moving. Christian climbs out of the ring, and pulls two folding chairs out from beneath it. Christian, the announcer reminds us, is the “master of the one-man con-chair-to” a modified version of a two-man move he’d made famous with Edge, the man whose lifeless head Christian now lifts to slide a chair under. The other chair Christian hoists above his head, ready to slam it into his former partner/brother’s face. But it’s been a ruse; Edge jerks to life, kicking the chair from Christian’s hand. Once they’d each held a chair and slapped them together simultaneously, sandwiching an opponent’s head between them.
But in 2009, Christian’s moved on. “I’ve won the tag team championship nine times,” he says. “Seven times with Edge, once with Chris Jericho and once with Lance Storm. Now I’ve set my sights on new goals. I’m focusing on my career as a single star.” •
Christian puts his championship belt at stake in a ladder match with Shelton Benjamin at the WWE’s Tables, Ladders, and Chairs match on Sunday, December 13, at the AT&T Center. Tickets range from $20 to $250 and can be purchased at ticketmaster.com/wwe.