Today is the 17th anniversary of not only one of Jeff Hardy’s greatest matches, if not the best match in WWE RAW history. Jeff Hardy versus The Undertaker in a ladder match for the WWE Undisputed Championship took place in Manchester, New Hampshire on July 1, 2002 and the match still stands the test of time for not only what it did for Hardy’s career, but for setting the mark of what a ladder match should be.
Hardy was just starting to be pushed as a singles star, and while Matt and Jeff had feuded with Brock Lesnar prior to this, the match with Undertaker really served as Hardy’s first major break as a solo act. As we’ve come to expect from him, Hardy put everything on the line in this match and highlighted why he could be a star. Hardy came up on the losing end, but the combination of his effort, a great ring partner in Undertaker and Jim Ross’ commentary made this one of the truly great RAW matches. Ross’ “Climb the ladder, kid! Make yourself famous!” highlights the match and lends to the drama of Hardy’s near win, and serves as one of JR’s most legendary soundbytes.
Hardy came very close to winning this match on multiple occasions, and would later win his first WWE Championship six years later. As much as the match itself did for Hardy, the closing moments were just as important. After Untdertaker won the match, he added insult to injury by hitting a Last Ride before attempting to leave on his motorcycle. It was at this point that we saw Hardy struggling to pull himself up on the ropes, calling for Taker to come back for more because he “wasn’t broken” yet. Undertaker ended up coming back and raising Hardy’s arm as a sign of approval, and you can even make out him saying he respected Hardy’s toughness. Hardy proved he belonged on the big stage, and Undertaker (and WWE) proved you could make a guy in one match, even in a losing effort.
Check out the full match below: