Sometimes professional wrestling matches are things of beauty - technical masterpieces that leave the viewer in awe of the contestants' skill and athleticism. They are able to prove to even the untrained eye that pro wrestling can truly be an art form.
This was not one of those matches.
Make no mistake about it, folks. The first official Tables, Ladders, and Chairs match was little more than a spot-fest combined with gore porn. The smart fan in me is supposed to hate this type of match. Although there was a long build, there was no real storyline involved. The match psychology consisted of little more than "I go here for my spot, lie down for a while and go over there for my next spot" and the in ring action was simple and violent merely for the sake of violence.
Hell, I don't think there was even a single actual wrestling move used.
But by Gawd it was awesome.
There was no real buildup to TLC 1, but little buildup was needed. Edge and Christian were the Tag Team Champions and the "Chair-men" of the WWE. The Hardy Boyz were spot monkeys with a fondness for utilizing ladders to achieve great heights. The Dudley Boyz were complete brutes, and screams of "D-Von, get the tables!" were ringing in arenas and backyards throughout the country. So Commissioner Mick Foley set up a match that featured all participants' favorite weapons, tables and ladders and chairs.
More history and complete video after the jump...
The match instantly opened with a brawl, and immediately we're reminded that this isn't the PG-WWE that we're used to. Bubba Ray quickly took a chair thrown at his face, and he suffered around a half a dozen headshots throughout the course of the night. The impact these wrestlers experienced was unlike anything that can be seen today. TLC may still exist in name, but hardly in spirit. Gimmick matches today tend to be slow, precise and plodding.
TLC 1 was balls-to-the-walls from bell-to-bell.
The pace in the match didn't slow down for a second, which was made a bit easier by the fact that there were six guys in - and out - of the ring. Calling the match were Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler, at their absolute primes. And with a crowd of over 18,000 strong filling the Raleigh Entertainment and Sports Arena, it is still impossible not to feel the energy as you watch, even a decade removed from the event.
Going through and listing the spots throughout the match really wouldn't do it justice. Nor would telling you who the winner was, but in some ways it doesn't even matter. The match was filled with nasty bumps from men fighting over championship titles that actually meant something to them.
It is an era that has passed it's time, and for good reason. Pro wrestlers shouldn't be killing themselves for our entertainment. The bar was set too damn high, and the only place to go was down. As the match came to a close, though, and all participants were limping away to tend to the bumps, bruises, and presumably broken bones, Lawler said with a chuckle, "You gotta love the WWF."
You know, "King"? Yeah, you kinda do.