Ladder Match Reviews 2020: #1

WWE Monday Night RAW #1391 (20/01/2020)

WWE United States Title Ladder Match:

Andrade (w/Zelina Vega) (c) vs. Rey Mysterio

The first ladder match of 2020! Well, the first one that I am reviewing anyhow.

Christ, I have not watched RAW or a full RAW match in years. I was right and very smart to make that decision. My takes on the modern WWE presentation are a rant for another day though. I cringe as I hear Jerry Lawler on commentary. Jerry fucking Lawler, behind the desk in 2020. This is not good. Some people must be really into the habit of watching this show on a weekly basis because I could not subject myself to three hours of this every Monday night. We’re barely past the introductions at this point.

Lawler brings up Mysterio’s son, and it reminds me that Rey won custody of Dominic in a ladder match 15 years ago. The thought ages me terribly, and it would make for a cool titbit if it was mentioned by the commentary team (I don’t think it was).

It’s mere minutes into the match and Rey already looks like he’s in pain with every step and movement that he makes. I can’t quite put my finger on it, it’s just in the way he moves. He looked like he was about to burst when he positioned himself on the top turnbuckle before flinging himself to the outside and onto Andrade. He must be at least 60 years old.

Andrade executes the Three Amigos on Rey in smooth fashion. It leaves a sour taste in my mouth though, as any Eddie involvement with Rey just brings up that horrid 2006 run. It was so, so ill advised. I snap out of it though when Andrade finishes the sequence with a suplex onto a ladder in a nice little callback to the Rey/Eddie ladder match. It’s a tough bump to watch as Rey is at least 67 years old.

There’s a nice bit of storytelling where Rey rana’s Andrade onto a ladder but then goes to the well too many times as Andrade reverses a second one and Rey eats a powerbomb onto a bridged ladder. Stuff like that is neat and gives the match some structure.

The match in general flows fine with a basic story. Rey keeps finding ways to keep Andrade down and out, and it allows the crowd to get behind the underdog on his climbs for the belt. Rey is still the ultimate underdog but he’s also smarter than Andrade, so it makes sense to get the crowd behind him when climbing rather than have him constantly on defence.

Talking of the crowd, they are pretty damn decent for RAW. I HATE dead crowds. I cannot emphasise that enough. It’s the death knell for any match or event for me. I don’t expect the audience to be 100% invested in every match, but if they aren’t at least reacting to the big moments, then you’ve lost me as a viewer.

The crowd noise here is mainly the high pitched shrill of children and women, and it’s great. They’re really behind Rey and his quest for gold. The blokes liven up by going “OOOOHH!” at the bumps and then trying to start “Holy Shit!” chants which all peter out and go nowhere. I’m actually shocked at a RAW crowd being this into the match, it’s a very nice surprise.

Rey and Andrade attempt a YOSHI-TONIC off a ladder that’s a bit messy but props to them for trying such an insane spot, especially seeing as Rey is at least 72 years old. Cheech and Cloudy pulled off this spot a lot smoother but the ladder was smaller so I guess it balances out.

One of the negative aspects of the match, and the WWE Rey Mysterio formula in general, is Rey’s moves magically positioning Andrade where he needs him from leg sciccors and hurricanranas. Usually it’s into the second rope, but in this match it’s to the outside. The worst culprit is when Rey hit’s the 619 and Andrade FLIES to other side of the ring in an unnatural fashion. Was The Rock giving him pointers on this stuff?

There’s then another spot where they play off the Rey/Eddie ladder match with Rey hanging off the belt and catching Andrade in a ‘rana. Unfortunately it goes awry and Rey lands in a painful position on his neck. Again, Rey is 78 years old, it’s a surprise that he can even hang off that ridiculous looking belt-hanging bar, let alone do anything else.

After Zelina stops Rey from grabbing the belt, Andrade finishes it off with his DDT off the ladder and through another ladder. He protected Rey nicely on that and took the majority of the bump himself. It did not look fun.

Almas slowly gets up, climbs the ladder, grabs the belt and that is that. After the match, Humberto Carrillo attacks him and the two have an awkward brawl that kinda finishes off the match on a drab note.

The Verdict:
As far as WWE TV ladder matches go, this was fine. Both guys worked hard and there was some backbone to it. The sloppy moments didn’t help, but Rey is 86 years old so it’s hard to be that negative. You won’t remember it in a few weeks time, but then again that’s 99% of TV wrestling these days. ***

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