Chris Jericho vs. Shawn Michaels in a Ladder match for the World Heavyweight Championship
We continue on through the fall of 2008 and things feel much different since Unforgiven as we have a new World Heavyweight Champion in Chris Jericho, and while you do feel for CM Punk in that he never really hit his groove as champion, there was no doubt that Jericho has earned this chance to be the top dog. It also does seem weird that Punk is quickly pushed back down to the midcard and that he doesn’t even get a rematch here, but given that Jericho’s feud with Michaels was still really hot it made sense that Michaels get the shot here. Throw in the fact that it was going to be a ladder match and you knew that these two would put on another classic though the bar was going to be high after the war they had back at Unforgiven.
On the 9/8 RAW, Jericho opened the show as he showed off the scars from the Unsanctioned match and said that he was the ultimate winner as since the match was unsanctioned, it wouldn’t be recognized so Michaels won a meaningless match while he left as World Champion. On the 9/15 RAW, Jericho would defeat Punk in a cage match to retain the title and declared that neither Batista or JBL were worthy of a title shot, and GM Mike Adamle announced that Batista and JBL would fight at No Mercy to determine the Number One Contender as Michaels came out and said he would be facing Jericho in a ladder match for the title. On the 9/22 RAW, Jericho cut a promo saying he had won more ladder matches than Michaels has even participated in, and in the main event he would team with JBL and Lance Cade to defeat Michaels and Batista in a handicap match. On the 9/29 RAW, Michaels teamed with Triple H to defeat Jericho and Cade by DQ as D-X took out Cade using a ladder while Jericho watched from the ramp. Given how hot this feud has been all year, it made sense for these two to finally go at it with the World Title on the line and making it a ladder match was also fitting as we would get a definitive end to this feud.
We get a great video package highlighting everything in the feud to this point, and Michaels gets a big pop from the crowd while Jericho was red hot as a heel as he walks under the ladder in the aisle which could be a bad sign for him. The two men have a staredown to start the match and they lock up with Michaels hooking a headlock and he goes behind Jericho, and Jericho turns it around as Michaels hits a pair of back elbows and knocks Jericho down. Michaels ducks a shot and escapes a slam attempt as he fakes Jericho out with Sweet Chin Music and looks to go outside, but Jericho grabs him and Michaels pounds on him in the corner before whipping him into the other corner only to miss a charge as he rams his shoulder into the post. Jericho pounds on Michaels’ back as Michaels blocks a German suplex and Jericho ducks a back elbow, and he hits a Northern lights suplex on Michaels who bridges up and they jockey for position until Jericho ducks a shot. He gets a kick in and pounds on Michaels as he clotheslines him over the top with Michaels landing on the apron, and Jericho hits a springboard tackle on Michaels and stomps on him as he rams him into the apron and slaps him in the face. He whips Michaels into the ladder as Michaels climbs up it and leaps off onto Jericho before pounding on him on the floor, and Jericho reverses a whip and sends Michaels into the post as he grabs the ladder and charges only for Michaels to hit a drop toehold as Jericho lands on the ladder. Michaels grabs another ladder only for Jericho to trip him up and he hooks the Walls of Jericho in the aisle, and he gets back in the ring and tries to pull the ladder in only for Michaels to slingshot the ladder in Jericho’s face. Michaels slides the ladder into the ring and climbs as we see Jericho is bleeding from the mouth and he climbs up behind Michaels, and he pounds on Michaels and puts him on his shoulders as Michaels escapes with a sunset flip and Jericho rolls through. He looks for the Walls again and slingshots Michaels into the ladder though Michaels lands on it and climbs up, and Jericho tips the ladder over and Michaels gets hotshotted on the top rope as Jericho grabs the ladder and jabs it into Michaels’ ribs. He slams the ladder down on Michaels’ back and goes outside as he brings the second ladder into the ring, and he sets it up in the corner and pounds on Michaels in the other corner as both men reverse a whip and Jericho gets a kick in. He whips Michaels inside out in the corner and attempts a running bulldog only for Michaels to send him into the ladder in the corner, and he slams Jericho and the ladder into the mat as Jericho gets his leg caught up in the ladder and Michaels slams Jericho’s leg down on the ladder. He bridges the ladder on the bottom rope in the corner and hits a kneebreaker on Jericho as he drives his knee into the ladder again, and Michaels hooks a Figure-4 on though Jericho turns the hold around on Michaels who breaks the hold and Jericho kicks the ladder back in Michaels’ face. He slingshots Michaels face first into the ladder and he puts the ladder on the mat as he rams Michaels’ head into the ladder, and he traps Michaels’ head between the legs of the ladder and slams one side down on the back of Michaels’ head. He sets the ladder up and climbs as Michaels tries to tip it over only for Jericho to kick him away as the ladder falls and Jericho lands on his feet, and he stomps on Michaels and puts the ladder on the top rope as he pounds on Michaels in the other corner. Michaels blocks a whip as he sends Jericho on top of the ladder and Jericho falls over the top to the floor, and Michaels grabs the ladder and tosses it on top of Jericho on the floor before going outside himself. He grabs a giant ladder and sets it up at ringside before grabbing another ladder and he slams it down onto Jericho repeatedly, and he clears the announce table off and puts Jericho on the table before climbing up the giant ladder. Jericho gets off the table and climbs up behind Michaels as he pounds on him until both men fall off the ladder through the table in a big spot, and Jericho slides back into the ring as Michaels goes up top with a ladder only for Jericho to dropkick the ladder back at Michaels who gets crotched on the top rope. He climbs up the ladder and pounds on Michaels as he sets up for a superplex only for Michaels to block it and he tips the ladder and Jericho over to the mat, and Michaels sets himself on the top rope and hits the flying elbow as he drives the ladder into Jericho. He sets up for Sweet Chin Music only for Jericho to hit him in the face with the ladder and he slams the ladder down on top of him, and he puts the ladder on top of Michaels and hits the Lionsault as he drives the ladder into Michaels. He grabs another ladder and sets it up as he pins Michaels under it and he climbs up only for Michaels to tip the ladder over as Jericho falls over the top to the floor, and Michaels sets the ladder up and climbs as Jericho slides back into the ring while Michaels grabs the belt only for Jericho to tip the ladder over and Michaels gets crotched on the top rope. Jericho sets the ladder back up and climbs up while Michaels climbs up the other side and they trade blows with Michaels ramming Jericho into the ladder, and Jericho gets his leg caught up as Lance Cade runs down to the ring and grabs at Michaels who dives off the ladder on top of him. Michaels ducks the clothesline and hits Sweet Chin Music on Cade as Jericho regains his balance and climbs up again, and Michaels quickly climbs up the other side and they unhook the belt as they have a tug-of-war until Jericho hits a headbutt with Michaels falling to the mat and Jericho retains the title.
The match itself was excellent as both men worked hard and put on a fantastic title match as well as put on possibly the best match in their feud. Unlike most feuds where it seemed like the matches get worse as the feud goes on, the matches between these two seem to get better with each match and they cap it off here with a great ladder match that doesn’t get talked about enough as one of the best in history. With such high expectations for this match especially after how great the Unsanctioned match was, these two do not disappoint and tear the house down especially having to follow that great Triple H/Jeff Hardy title match. This was also a case where Jericho retaining made sense as he was on such a roll that he deserved a solid run as champion, and Michaels got his main revenge the previous month and he didn’t really need the title at this point. As great as this feud was, this was the right way to finish it off and now we should get these two away from each other as we can move onto Jericho having a new challenger and Michaels taking a step back to feud with someone else. The crowd was red hot for the whole match and Michaels, but are not happy when Jericho wins. Jericho retains the title over Michaels in an instant classic and brings an end to arguably the best feud of 2008.
Final Grade: *****