The ladder match between Shawn Michaels and Razor Ramon at WrestleMania 10 is the first one WWE viewers ever saw, but it wasn't the first, even in WWE. The ladder match originated in Stampede Wrestling, and Bret Hart brought the concept with him to WWE and even had an untelevised match with Shawn Michaels in 1992. If things had gone differently, the first WWE ladder match on TV could have been Bret Hart vs. Owen Hart at SummerSlam in 1994. Unfortunately, that was never to be because Michaels stole the match concept from him for WrestleMania earlier that year. In an interview with WWE podcast The Bump, heart retells the story of SummerSlam 1994 and what might have been under different circumstances.
"The only thing we knew was WrestleMania. Everything led into WrestleMania, and then after WrestleMania, we really worked for quite a few months after that," Hart said of wrestling his brother Owen. "We did a lot of tours in Europe and traveled everywhere. We wrestled each other almost every night somewhere. I don't know if we thought it would last until SummerSlam. I always felt bad because if I had known, I was gonna wrestle Owen in a cage… I was the one that had been trying to get Vince [McMahon] for years to let me have a ladder match. And somewhere back in the months earlier, he had me do a ladder match with Shawn Michaels. I could pick anyone; I picked Shawn. I went to Shawn and explained to him what a ladder match was. And they had us put on a match; I think it was Portland, Maine at a TV taping. We had a dark match, and we did this ladder match, and it was all just to show Vince the match, what the concept was."
That's when Michaels pulled the screwjob, and as we all know, it wouldn't be the last time. Hart continued, "Had I known at WrestleMania 10 that Shawn and Razor were gonna steal my ladder match idea, which is what they did, it was just a flat out theft, and I was always kind of disappointed by that because it was my match and I just wanted Shawn to demonstrate it. But I would have loved to have had the ladder match with Owen at SummerSlam, and that would have been like, now we can do a ladder match. And a ladder match would have been a much better concept than a cage match because a cage match is generally a gore match, or it should be anyway. It's usually a blood bath with a lot of blood, and that's what makes a cage match. But going into a cage match with your own brother, I couldn't fathom the concept of both of us bleeding or being in that gory kind of match. We were both wrestling wrestlers. So a cage match, as good as it was, I think it was one of the greatest cage matches, or most people tell me they think it was one of the greatest cage matches, but it should have been a ladder match."
Even though Shawn Michaels ripped off his idea and Bret was forced to fight his own brother in a cage, that doesn't mean it was a total loss. It was still one of the greatest matches of all time, of course, and maybe the greatest cage match ever, as Hart will happily tell you.
"It was a beautiful match. Not taking anything away from how hard we worked that day, and we tried our best to give people the best cage match of all time, and I know a lot of people feel that it was," said Hart. "It all added, I think. Jim Neidhart and Davey [Boy Smith] and the crowd and a couple of my brothers almost getting into it with Jim. I think at the very end of the cage match when they were all trying to get into the cage; I remember one of my brothers was straddling the top of the cage in socks, waving at the crowd. It was his Wrestlemania moment. There's little things in it that, when you look at it from my family and how my family remembers it, it was a very special time. Having everybody there and everybody playing their own little role, from Diana even, Jim the Anvil and Davey Boy, it was a great memory for everybody."