Today, WWE will hold their annual Money in the Bank event. The match the extravaganza is named after, the Money in the Bank Ladder Match, is always a highlight on the wrestling calendar. Not only does it provide the thrills and high spots that are expected in such a match, but allows for one talent to be thrust into the main event picture. For a second, imagine a wrestling world without the Money in the Bank match, or even a regular ladder match. That could very well be the case if not for a little-known match between Dan Kroffat vs Tor Kamata in the historic Stampede Wrestling Promotion.
A Brief WWE History
Shawn Michaels’ epic encounter with Razor Roman over the Intercontinental title at Wrestlemania X is considered by many to be the first ever ladder match. While it was the first on WWE television, it was not even the first the company ever staged. For that we go back to July 21st 1992 in Portland, Maine. On that day, Bret Hart battled Michaels and the Intercontinental championship was the prize once again, in a non-televised encounter. It was later released on “Coliseum” home video. It has long been rumored that Hart himself suggested the idea to Vince McMahon back in the early 90s. Hart was used to seeing ladder matches, since his father’s Stampede Wrestling in Canada had been putting them on for years.
The First Ladder Match
Stu Hart’s promotion was the site of the elusive first ladder match. Details are fuzzy, but let’s take it back to December of 1972. Dan Kroffat, a Canadian hero, and Tor Kamata, the evil foreigner, had been drawing great houses for the promotion. When attendance started to fade as the months went by, Kroffat began to brainstorm ideas to bring the fans back. He came up with the idea of an object being suspended above the ring, and the competitors using a ladder to reach it in order to get the victory. However, the object they were grabbing was not a championship, but a bag of money. The Hart patriarch loved the idea and the ladder match was officially born.
The bout was a huge hit, drawing large crowds back to the promotion. Not only was it a draw because of its uniqueness, but because of Kamata’s was willingness to take bumps off of the ladder. Kamata consequently became a pioneer, and many future ladder match participants would take this concept to new heights, sometimes literally. Eventually, Kroffat thought to put even more juice into the match by making it for Stampede’s North American Heavyweight Championship. Another novel concept, as a large majority of ladder matches have been contested over championships.
Stampede would go on to have many more of these matches including Jake “The Snake” Roberts against Big Daddy Ritter (The Junkyard Dog) and Bret Hart vs Bad News Allen (Bad News Brown), before the most famous graduate of Stu Hart’s dungeon brought the concept to the WWE.
So, when you’re basking in the thrills of the Money in the Bank ladder match today, just remember that you have a little known Canadian star to thank.