World Title Ladder Match - Chris Jericho vs. Shawn Michaels 5
Jericho's back in the ring, and HBK is on the top turnbuckle with a ladder...Jericho dropkicks the ladder and HBK falls spread eagle on the top turnbuckle.
Jericho climbs the ladder in the corner, takes Michaels up on the opposite side...superplex over the ladder? Michaels counters and throws Jericho back down...and he'll go elbow drop, but he caught the ladder too.
HBK wants chin music and the crowd - most of them anyway - loves it. HBK goes for it but Jericho turns and decks him with a ladder before he can get it off.
Jericho goes lionsault into the ladder with Michaels beneath. Both men selling hard but still moving quickly.
Y2J sets up the ladder with Michaels underneath it. Jericho climbs up top, but Michaels tips it over and Jericho goes flying outside...awkward landing and Jericho is hard selling a knee injury. Michaels sets up the ladder and can win it...
Shawn gets fingertips all over it but Y2J crawls back in and tips the ladder again, and Michaels goes spread eagle on the top rope.
Now Jericho's going up top...the belt is swinging back and forth where Michaels grabbed it....they'll both climb now, both fighting on top of the ladder...
Here comes Lance Cade! He knocks Michaels off the ladder and the impact takes Y2J off too, but he catches himself with his knee. Sweet Chin Music on Lance Cade!
Jericho's got it...Michaels is quickly back up though!
Trading blows on top of the ladder, they BOTH unhook the belt! Both are holding a strap! And still standing atop the ladder...Jericho leaning back!
Then Jericho lunges forward and headbutts Michaels, who loses his grip and falls off, and it's over! Jericho retains.
The finish was unique even if it wasn't as exciting as other ladder finishes. Though I'm personally disappointed, it's probably the smart move for the company to keep Jericho on top. He'll get Batista next. I hope somewhere down the line, Michaels gets a shot again.
Winner, and still World Heavyweight Champion: Chris Jericho
SESB Rating: 8.7 (HHH/Hardy was more exciting to the finish)
Overall, you got what you expected from Y2J/HBK and a classic, classic finish from Triple H and Jeff Hardy, and a big push for the Big Show. Not a bad night. We'll see where they take it from here.
World Title Ladder Match - Chris Jericho vs. Shawn Michaels 4
Jericho's down on the announce table...and HBK's going to the top of that 15 ft. ladder. High spots are coming....
Jericho's up! He climbs the ladder too...oh....
Back suplex from Jericho off the 15 foot ladder and both men go through the announce table!
World Title Ladder Match - Chris Jericho vs. Shawn Michaels 3
Michaels puts Jericho's knee into the ladder again, and follows up with a figure four! The crowd loves it...Y2J turns it over and Michaels has to break the hold. Then Jericho kicks the ladder into Michaels' face! These guys are doing all the small practical things in the early stages of a ladder match to hopefully build to the major falls later.
Michaels is now selling that injured eye again off the ladder hit...Jericho smashes Michaels' face in the ladder, who sells it hard. Jericho has been busted open inside his mouth from that initial hit the whole time, which gives him a crazy mouth-full-of-blood look. Jericho goes for the belt, Michaels takes the ladder away.
Michaels counters a bulldog and throws Jericho into a ladder who then rolls outside. Michaels has a chance here, which might means we'll see Lance Cade....but instead HBK picks up the ladder and throws it at Jericho on the outside!
Now Shawn goes for that big ladder.
World Title Ladder Match - Chris Jericho vs. Shawn Michaels 2
Most of the crowd behind HBK, but there are a few Jericho hold outs, who's also in that group of heels that get cheered because they're just so great. Michaels goes for chin music right away but no, instead with the Flair chops. Jericho puts Michaels into the ring post on a counter, and a clean shoulder breaker from Jericho takes them both quickly to the outside.
Jericho with an irish whip into the ladder...but Michaels climbs it in stride, turns and hits Jericho with a splash, very nice very early. Jericho recovers and puts HBK into the ring post. Jericho brings the ladder, Michaels with a drop toe hold and Jericho's face into the ladder on the outside. Michaels brings the ladder, but Jericho counters the strike and locks on the Walls of Jericho on the outside! Lots of action early.
Jericho sets up the ladder on the apron but Michaels see-saws it hard into the face of Chris Jericho. Which now and forever causes WWE fans to point out this video on the dangers of that exact scenario.
Y2J wants Walls of Jericho again, Michaels counters and bounces off the ropes and hits the ladder in-ring in stride! Nice again...Y2J tips it over and Michaels is down in the ring. Jericho is busted open on his lip from that earlier ladder see-saw.
More ladder violence leads to a running bulldog attempt that's thrown into the ladder, followed by Jericho's knee getting caught in there. They're not wasting any time.
World Title Ladder Match - Chris Jericho vs. Shawn Michaels
(Triple H is confronted by Vladimir Koslov backstage. This dude is Ivan Drago 2008)
Here's how we got here...
Shawn Michaels retired Ric Flair at WrestleMania in April. He had a short feud with Batista afterwards that Jericho got involved in as a special guest ref, where Michaels faked a knee injury to catch Batista sleeping, then dropped him with the superkick for the 1-2-3.
Jericho commended Michaels for winning hurt, then Michaels dropped him in the ring to prove he wasn't. So Jericho went on and on about how Shawn was a self-righteous liar while Batista destroyed him in a rematch.
Then on Raw, Jericho put Michaels' face into a television screen, setting up the injury angle in their match in July where Y2J busted Michaels open up ugly on his eye. Michaels came to SummerSlam to announce his retirement with his wife at his side, Jericho came out and refused to let him go out as a self-righteous fraud. Michaels tried to walk away after a great exchange about "I may not be some things, but you'll never be Shawn Michaels", Jericho turned to hit him but accidentally hit his wife (and really hit her too). Classic 80s stuff but done very well and fully intense.
Then last month, HBK destroyed Jericho in a non-sanctioned match. However, the main event at September's Unforgiven was a five man Championship Scramble for the world title. When CM Punk was beaten up by Randy Orton backstage, he had to forfeit the belt and his spot in the match...which was filled by Jericho...who stunningly won and became champion about an hour after Michaels beat him senseless.
Don't you love wrestling.
So that brings us to tonight, where they meet again in a ladder match with Jericho's title on the line. Six titles and a lifetime of epic matches between them, you can take Shawn Michaels to the bank on great matches, and when paired with Jericho with a ladder and a title inbetween...this should be special.
WWE Championship - Triple H vs. Jeff Hardy 3
Jeff Hardy off the top rope connects, then goes for a Twist of Fate that's broken, and H destroys him with a clothesline. Still not as many as I thought behind Hardy, which might bode poorly for him as a champion if he wins (and at this point, I'd hate to see the kid win it and then job it away on the first SmackDown).
Jeff Hardy counters Triple H with a facebuster suplex for a loooooong two count. We're moving to the finish now.
Hardy bounces off the corner and goes up high, but Triple H catches him in a slam, two count. Spinebuster from Triple H, and he's still feeling some love. H wants the Pedigree...
Oh we're getting good now...Hardy counters with a slingshot into the top turnbuckle, followed in rapid succession by a Whisper in the Wind and a 2.90 count before a kickout! Hardy again takes him down, goes up top, swanton....but Triple H moves! Pedigree...countered! Twist of Fate!
Swanton again?! YES! Cover him!
Triple H with the cover!
Good stuff right there boys and girls!
A great, great sequence there at the end of the match - Hardy hit both of his finishers in succession, but Triple H still kicked out and, essentially, just rolled over for a quick 1-2-3 counter pinfall.
Jeff Hardy gives Triple H respect after the match...Hardy's going to get plenty of applause too after that finish. But still...oh for five in the title chase.
Winner, and still WWE Champion: Triple H
SESB Match Rating: 8.9 (last two minutes are a 9+, last 30 seconds are a 10)
WWE Championship - Triple H vs. Jeff Hardy 2
Triple H takes control back on the inside and continues to work Hardy's spine methodically. I'm still sold on this crowd going pro-Hardy when we move towards the finish. Triple H with a facebuster off the knee for a two count.
He drops a knee for another two count, and Trips is getting frustrated. Another Hardy chant breaks out and is quickly gone. Hardy counters in the counter, but Triple H locks up an abdominal stretch and they'll take a breather for a few seconds. H uses the ropes like a heel to add leverage. He follows up with a sleeper hold.
Now here comes the crowd behind Hardy....he breaks it off and takes The Game down, and they're still behind him. Hardy reverses another slam and then hits an enziguri, followed by a double leg drop to Triple H, who kicks out...still plenty of folks behind Triple H too.
Hardy sends him outside again...going high risk again? Yep....and this time it connects, flipping high over the top rope and taking both men down on the outside.
WWE Championship - Triple H vs. Jeff Hardy
Triple H is a 12-time world champion, trailing only Ric Flair in wrestling history. Jeff Hardy has been in WWE for ten years, and has wrestled for the world title four times and come up empty four times. He's had personal/substance abuse problems that have led to one dismissal and one suspension in the past, which would make one reluctant to put the belt on him. Still, you have to think that sooner or later he's going to have his night. Is it tonight?
I don't care what the fan poll says, H got the loudest cheer early. Still, if this is close with near falls at the end as it should be, they're going to pull for Hardy.
Here we go...and Triple H goes heel right away! He shakes Hardy's hand, then when his back is turned he levels him and goes for the quick 1-2-3...but Hardy kicks out, of course. Triple H laughs as a quick "HARDY!" chant breaks out and is quieted.
These two guys are almost exactly the same height...but Triple H is a beast, while Hardy is traditionally light on his feet. Lots of counters after the early exchange. Hardy creates some "unique offense" according to JR, because he too doesn't know what to call it, with a leg-extension counter/hurricanrana-looking thing. Both men go to the outside. Then back in, with Hardy going with an over-the-top-rope leg drop for a two count.
The crowd is definitely mixed...Hardy counters Triple H and goes outside on the apron, but Triple H counters and grabs him for what would've been a between-the-ropes Pedigree, but Hardy flips him over the top rope to the outside. Then Hardy goes for a an over the top rope plancha but lands square on his spine, and I bet that hurt.
Big Show vs. Undertaker - Post-Match
Credit Taker, he's hard selling this knockout. He takes forever to walk back up the ramp, is unsteady and glossy-eyed. Big, big night for Big Show...maybe a gimmick-match rematch at Cyber Sunday, followed by Big Show meets the champ at Survivor Series?
The text-message poll results show a surprising 72% of the fans are cheering for Jeff Hardy tonight against Triple H. An opportunity for H to go heel again, which I guarantee you he prefers? Maybe...but I don't think they'd do that, because faces are in short supply on SmackDown and they just moved to My Network. Nonetheless...that match...is next.
Big Show vs. Undertaker 2
It's what you'd expect - slow and physical. Taker gets beaten up on more than I'd expect for a man who's been doing this for two decades. He goes hard into the barricade outside early.
I've never been a Taker fan, but you have to respect the guy. He lays Big Show out on the apron and drops the leg. It's weird to see him as the small guy, but he's definitely shorter and smaller than Big Show and I'm trying to remember the last time these two guys went against each other. (Wikipedia says it was 2006 and has only happened three times)
The pace of this thing surprisingly quickens with multiple counters, and both these guys make each impact seem more powerful than it is. Taker goes for Old School but Big Show catches him, and drops for a chokeslam!...and 'Taker kicks out. I'm fine with this thing going longer, but I'm not fine with Taker cleanly kickout of of Show's finisher and not returning the favor.
They both go for a chokeslam, Big Show wins, Taker reverses it into a nasty DDT that dropped Big Show right on the crown of his head. He barely had enough strength to kick out. Again, not very clean, but at least that looked cool in the process.
Big Show sends Taker into an exposed turnbuckle, then cold cocks him with a stiff right hand (which has been one of his things since he faced Floyd Mayweather at WrestleMania). Taker gets up and Big Show straight drops him again with another right hand. I like this aspect of his character.
Big Show drops him a third time with the stiff right hand, and Little Naytch calls for the bell! Holy crap, Big Show gets a stunning win by knockout! Not the direction I thought they were going to go, but I like it!
Winner: Big Show
SESB Match Rating: 8.0
Big Show vs. Undertaker
Here's what you do with Big Show, who's the biggest guy in the company and absolutely shouldn't need someone like Vickie Guererro to get to the top (though she's still got that Stephanie McMahon heel heat working every time she speaks):
Let him beat Undertaker tonight. Put him against Triple H or Jeff Hardy at Survivor Series. Put the belt on him. And leave it there til WrestleMania. He doesn't need a gimmick, he doesn't need Vickie (though she can help the heel heat). He's a believeable champion because he's 7'0" 431 lbs. Let Triple H or Jeff Hardy chase him.
But they'll probably job him to 'Taker.
Who still has the coolest entrance in the history of wrestling.
Post-Match: JBL & Cryme Tyme
More filler...JBL takes five minutes to talk about how the financial bailout keeps the rich (like him) rich. Cryme Tyme is no longer getting the massive pop they used to. And didn't they and Cena already bust up his limo?
They party with all the WWE Divas in the spirit of The Godfather. Then Sgt. Slaughter randomly shows up and gets in the limo too. Mickie James also looks out of place with these guys.
So. Much. Filler.
#1 Contender's Match: Batista vs. JBL
Winner will face the winner of tonight's ladder match, though I'm not sure if that's tomorrow night on Raw, in three weeks at Cyber Sunday, or at Survivor Series.
If the ladder match isn't the main event, I'm going to be super pissed. Because if it's not, you won't see a title change. And if Jeff Hardy is going to win, maybe that becomes the main event. But let's not be fooled about what people really want to see most. It's the ladder.
If JBL wins here - which would stun me - you can bank on Michaels winning later. JBL is one of the classic stiff workers in WWE. Batista is hung in that "almost" space...fans love him, but he's about an inch shy of being the guy who can carry the company like John Cena. That said, he did beat Cena at SummerSlam.
Early back and forth exchange leads to a JBL Clothesline from Hell attempt that's countered hard by a Batista spear. We go outside, we come back inside. And now JBL's gonna play offense for a few minutes.
Batista counters a sleeper hold with a slam that puts both men down. An ugly clothesline reversal goes Batista's way - this hasn't been a very clean PPV - followed by a spear attempt that's countered with a boot. But Batista is quickly back with a spinebuster. Followed by a Batitsa Bomb! 1-2-3, good grief, he squashed him!
That was the shortest match of the night. JBL deserved better, perhaps...but the people are happy.
Winner, and #1 contender: Batista
SESB Match Rating: 7.1
In-Ring Interview: MVP
This guy isn't terrible, has decent heat with the crowd...but he's merely the pawn that leads to Randy Orton's appearance.
Orton is, unquestionably, the future of the WWE. He's the heel that still gets that initial crowd pop when his music hits, because people are so excited just to see him, before they remember they're supposed to be booing. That's a very select quality - DX, nWo, Rock and Austin, Edge, Kurt Angle and Ric Flair are the only other ones I've ever seen pull that off.
The people are actually cheering Orton and chanting "RKO!" Orton, remember, has played the full heel for as long as I can remember. But since his injury, he's done a good job of saying what fans are thinking: that CM Punk as champion might've been a joke, that Santino Marella is the biggest joke IC champ in history, etc...now he's calling MVP a joke.
Now here come Team Priceless (Ted DiBiase Jr., Cody Rhodes, and Manu)...this could be some four on one beatdown action, which might actually make them momentary faces.
...but now it appears they're going against Orton.
A few fans start chanting "boring"...which I hope is just directed at Cody Rhodes on the mic and not the whole segment, which has promise. Rhodes doesn't seem to fit with the rest of this crew, though he's not bad on the mic...but he just doesn't look the part. He looks like a babyface. DiBiase is the real future star.
Orton is walking. MVP keeps calling him out, no response. Now we've got a ring full of people that most people really don't care about. And now it is "boring". This segment belongs on SmackDown or Raw, not PPV.
I'm confused by the point of all this.
Now here comes CM Punk...and Kofi Kingston.
And here comes an impromptu match. And this would be a great opportunity for MVP to punk these guys.
Oh, but instead they punk him! They let Team Priceless beat the crap out of him before they jump in later. This is all for naught, lots of filler...but there's six guys with a future out there, methinks.
Rey Mysterio vs. Kane
The stipulation here is that if Rey loses, he'll have to unmask. I guess we're all forgetting the time he unmasked in WCW, right? Wanna see what he looks like?
(He's the one in the middle)
Kane tries to scare me pre-match with a soliloquy about how beating "everyone's hero" Rey Mysterio - a comment that might've been true three years ago - and unmasking him will expose all of us as monsters. See, cause Kane's supposed to be a monster. He's saying we're a different kind of monster. Shakespearean.
This feud has gone on for like two months, which is about six weeks too long.
Kane makes Rey pay early with a big boot. Then we go outside and quickly back in...Kane takes a drop kick to the spine to set up an early 619 attempt which is shiftly clotheslined. Rey counters a powerbomb attempt and has a chance to do something cool, but his attempt to flip Kane over the top rope doesn't come off well, which draws boos from the Portland crowd.
A sleeper attempt outside sees Rey dumped over the barricade into the crowd. Kane brings him back and sends him into the ringpost outside. Hey, remember when Kevin Nash lawn darted him at a WCW pay per view?
Why is Kane asking the referee to ask Rey if he wants to quit? Do you really think the Kane character should be trying to get an early exit from his opponent? Or talking to the referee at all?
Mysterio is taking a complete beating through the first ten minutes, which makes sense. A mid-ring backbreaker continues the punishment (followed by more referee questioning). Rey punches his way out of it, counters off the rope, and finally does something cool that neither me nor Michael Cole know fully how to describe...he swung completely vertical around Kane's body and then brought him down from behind, which describes about 10% of what actually happened there.
Then Rey goes backwards off the top rope for more momentum. Dropkick to the knee cuts him down to size, says Mitchell Cole. Do we really think Rey is going to lose and unmask? Sideslam counter from Kane, kickout.
Kane's calling for the chokeslam...Rey breaks the hold and takes down Kane in another sloppier-than-usual move. Rey's knee looks banged up...goes up top but Kane simply punches him out of the air.
The pace is quickening for the finish...Kane goes boot to the corner but misses, Rey hits a reverse 619 to Kane's back to knock him out of the ring.
Rey goes off the top rope...and Kane belts him with a chair from outside in free fall! Impressive end, even if it's a DQ finish that the crowd doesn't like. That was the first true "OOOOOOOOOHHHHHHHHHH!" moment from the crowd tonight. Kane walks away, Rey is dead on the outside.
Winner by DQ: Rey Mysterio
SESB Match Rating: 7.4
Women's Championship - Beth Phoenix vs. Candice Michelle
Santino Marella, ladies and gentlemen! Santino makes his way to the ring with BP...no Honk-a-Meter tonight. Yet.
Candice Michelle was part of another legit injury that I saw live back in December, falling off the top turnbuckle and messing up her shoulder and knocking her self senseless, which was more entertaining to watch than I'd like to admit. This match is actually moving faster than the opening bout with the men.
Beth Phoenix - who's the only dominant female athlete in the WWE today and thus should never, ever lose to prove this point and build heat - wisely works the shoulder from the get-go. Seriously...she's not Chyna (or Russia), but she's big...certainly big enough to dominate all the other pretty faces, especially with Lita and Trish Stratus long gone. Not only are there no other big girls, there are no solid athletes or crazies either. All of these other girls are the same.
Beth Phoenix goes top rope but falls...Candice goes to capitalize but Santino pulls Beth out of the ring a little too hard and she crashes to the floor. More discord between the two leads to a near fall for Candice...but that's followed by a swift reversal, her awesome-for-a-girl finisher that I don't know the name of, and a quick 1-2-3. Another sub-10:00 performance that ended the way it should have.
Winner, and still Women's Champion: Beth Phoenix
SESB Match Rating: 7.2 (yes, more entertaining than the men. yes, good for a women's match)
Interview: Triple H & Jeff Hardy
Whoever this girl is, she's just a pretty face. A terrible interview.
And H and Hardy aren't much better. Triple H just isn't as funny without someone else to play off of, and every Jeff Hardy attempt to talk tough always comes up short. Telling Triple H that he'd better focus on the challenge right in front of his FACE!, then making a little head bob move...that sold me.
ECW Championship - Matt Hardy vs. Mark Henry
After a terrible opening package that operated on a Leave it to Beaver theme, we kick the night off with the ECW title match, live from Portland.
Tonight's theme song is brought to you by Metallica off their new CD, which has been heavily pimped by WWE and ESPN...and I've gotta tell you, I like the little short thirty second bursts I've heard of it. That might become the first post-napster Metallica purchase I make.
I don't watch ECW Tuesday nights on Sci-Fi - who I'm striking against until they put season four of Battlestar Galactica back on the air - so I'm not sure who the giant black dude that comes to ring with Mark Henry is. Crowd always pops huge for the opening match, so they're loving Matt Hardy right now. Two guys with simple names and M.H. initials. We'll go with the old "The World's Strongest Man" nickname to refer to Mark Henry.
I also think he's got an elephant print on the back of his unitard. I mean, whatever works for you.
In fact, Todd Grisham (...wait, Todd Grisham? What happened to Joey Styles?) tells me that Flex Magazine recently said Henry was the second strongest man to ever walk on the face of the earth. My trip to Flex's website reveals no answers as to the obvious "Who's number one?" question, but does reveal that they too have a story highlighting Barack Obama. It's his thoughts on steroids, not his workout plan. And I didn't read the article...but I'm gonna guess he's against them.
Slow match as expected...keep wondering if they'll do that classic "OMG he picked up The World's Strongest Man!" finish.
This big dude on the outside has a shirt and tie on...with the sleeves cut off. I think we've seen that somewhere in the WWE annals before...
Matt Hardy gets limited offense, targeting his legs, but Henry is mostly dominating. Henry catches Hardy in a bear hug, and we'll slow down even more. Sunset flip but Hardy can't turn him over, but TWSM misses a leg drop. Hardy goes top rope and connects, then hits a Side Effect!...kickout.
Henry counters a Twist of Fate attempt, followed by a splash...but Henry's selling a knee injury hard. Hardy with a late kickout...Todd Grishman is not quite cut out for this gig, methinks. Maybe with more time...
Hardy's up and reverses quickly into another Twist of Fate...and it's over folks. Less than ten minutes start to finish, but the last couple were good.
Winner, and still ECW Champion: Matt Hardy
SESB Match Rating: 5.8
- John Cena, Randy Orton and Edge - three of the five most important stars in the WWE - are injured and on the shelf. We might see Edge come back tonight, and we've seen Orton on Raw for several weeks, though he won't be cleared to wrestle until next month after his broken collarbone. But even with the depleted roster, WWE has done a nice job setting up tonight's action and moving the storylines forward. Both title matches are intriguing. The business is supposedly hotter right now with the SmackDown move to My Network TV last week.
- At the same time, ratings and attendance for WWE are both way down. This has always been a fluctuating business, and I think they're doing well with what they have right now as stated. With WrestleMania XXV looming in early April, maybe they'll be able to carry some momentum forward.
- Tonight, other than wanting to see Shawn Michaels win the title one more time, we could see Jeff Hardy's first title reign begin. The other names seem to just be thrown together - the Big Show's current gimmick as Vickie Guererro's lackey is totally ridiculous - and there are entertaining guys right now who aren't on the card, like Santino Marella, so I hope we get them some face time tonight.
- Though I'd love to see a DX title reign with Michaels and Triple H winning, I think Jericho is too solid as the heel right now for them to take the belt off him. And I just don't see Triple H - who's been champion ever since he came to SmackDown - dropping the belt to Jeff Hardy on a non-classic four PPV (ie, Hardy's first title win will probably come at the Royal Rumble, WrestleMania, SummerSlam or Survivor Series).
Check back with us at 8:00 PM EST for match-by-match coverage of tonight's PPV event.
The lineup for tonight:
World Heavyweight Championship - Ladder Match
Chris Jericho vs. Shawn Michaels
Triple H vs. Jeff Hardy
Big Show vs. Undertaker
#1 Contender's Match
Batista vs. JBL
Rey Mysterio vs. Kane
Matt Hardy vs. Mark Henry
Beth Phoenix vs. Candice Michelle