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[2008-10-05-WWE-No Mercy] Shawn Michaels vs Chris Jericho (Ladder)

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Chris Jericho vs. Shawn Michaels - 10/05/2008 - Ladder Match

 

Shawn Michaels retired Ric Flair in dramatic fashion at Wrestlemenia in 2008. Batista didn't like that, and HBK had to fake a knee injury to beat Batista. Jericho didn't like that, and called HBK out on it. He didn't like the fact that Shawn Michaels could get away with anything, and still be cheered by the fans. However, nobody liked Chris Jericho. This led to the feud that really carried the WWE from Judgment Day 2008 until it culminated at this Ladder Match at No Mercy. HBK's wife even took an elbow to the jaw building the most heated rivalry in the company for quite some time. Chris Jericho has stated in interviews that this was his favorite feud, and that this particular match is his favorite. Chris Jericho came into this match as the World Heavyweight Champion, and he truly carried himself as such during this timeframe.

 

You get a true heel/face dynamic as the match starts. The belt hangs above the two of them as the crowd cheers for HBK and boos Y2J. They work this match at a pretty quick pace. HBK gets his left shoulder thrown into the post, which leads to a nice looking Jericho shoulder block from the top rope knocking HBK to the ground off the apron. Jericho whips him toward the ladder on the outside, but HBK reverses with a crossbody off the ladder. Jericho gets back on top with more attack of the left shoulder. Jericho gets busted open hard-way after a blow to the mouth with the ladder from HBK. The match continues and Jericho eventually goes for a reverse bull dog that is reversed by HBK throwing him into the ladder. Jericho's right knee gets tangled up in the ladder, so HBK follows up with a ladder shot to the left knee then a figure four. Jericho gets creative coming out of that with a quick kick to the ladder that is in the corner and this causes the ladder to swing around and hit HBK in the face. Jericho then goes to work on HBK's head with the ladder with a pretty brutal closing of the ladder onto the back of HBK's head. They go back and forth with the ladder during this time with some pretty stiff shots. Eventually, HBK climbs the ladder on the outside to hit the moonsault on to Jericho through a table. Jericho gets up in time to stop him, but they both end up going through the table. They took some time here to sell the impact and break up the fast pace. They eventually make it back into the ring with some back and forth action until HBK hits an elbow off the top rope through the ladder onto Jericho. Michaels does a great job here selling the pain in his arm and fatigue from the match as he sinks into the corner to deliver sweet chin music. He is greeted by a ladder to the face from Jericho. Jericho pins HBK under the ladder in attempt to secure his victory, but once he gets close the top, HBK powers the ladder up and causing Jericho to fall off the ladder and outside of the ring onto the ground. Jericho immediately goes back to selling left knee after the fall to give the feeling of legit injury. The chants kick in for HBK as he slowly climbs the ladder with fatigue, but Jericho makes it back in time to return the favor by knocking HBK off the ladder landing his left knee on the top ring rope. Jericho begins his slow climb, and then HBK. They meet at the top trading blows. Lance Cade interferes on the behalf of Jericho when it looks like HBK is getting the upper hand because Jericho's left leg becomes trapped in the ladder. HBK hits sweet chin music on Cade and heads back up to claim the title. Jericho meets him at the top and this leads to tug of war with the belt, as they each grip each side. Jericho eventually gets the best of HBK with some serious looking headbutts, and HBK falls to the ground in defeat. A great ending to WWE's best storyline of that year. ****1/2

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World Heavyweight Champion Chris Jericho vs Shawn Michaels - No Mercy 2008

The feud so hot that they simply had to put the strap on Jericho. Jericho really floundered when he initially came back in 2007 and this feud saved his career and established him as a main event draw for the rest of his career. Up until this feud, Chris Jericho was a song & dance man. He was great on the stick and very charismatic, but he did not do much in the way of having those truly great matches and hot feuds. This feud with Michaels changed his career and his legacy. I remember at the time clamoring for this feud to extend to Mania. In retrospect, I think it should have been Jericho defending against the chasing John Cena. Have Cena win in his big return match, but drop it back to the nefarious Jericho to set up the heated rubber match at Mania. I always felt like Jericho was Cena's personal job boy. He was on such a roll would have liked to seen more. Anyways on to the match...

I had watched this match a lot back in the day because it was on one of the many DVD sets I bought in the pre-Network days. I always remember that king-sized Jericho bump takes on the ladder. I remember thinking this was potentially one of the best ladder matches I have ever seen. I think it falls just short of HBK/Razor Summerslam '95, but this is still a tremendous physical match. Characteristic of many HBK Ladder Matches is the creative yet organic use of the ladder. It begins with Jericho trying to send HBK into the ladder, but he jumps onto it and uses it as a springboard to reverse crossbody Jericho. The match continues the heated exchanges of the previous matches, but it does seem dialed down compared to the Great American Bash and Unforgiven. Those felt more like bar fights. This felt more like a car crash ladder match built around BIG ladder high spots. For example, Shawn dove onto the ladder causing it catapult into Jericho's face busting his lip (and maybe cracking his tooth?). This is similar to spot that broke Mercury's face.  I thought they did a great job creating meaningful transitions with the ladder. Michaels control segment on Jericho's knee began with Jericho missing a move and wrenching his knee into the ladder. I thought the knee work was some of the best of the match. It was short and I wished it a more integral part of the match. The best part was again the transition when Jericho kicked the ladder in such a way it spun around and hit Michaels RIGHT IN THE INJURED EYE! It was killing me that there was no blood. Cmon! Alright I just got to let it go. Jericho did a great job targeting the eye. Again, it was the ladder and Michaels sending Jericho into the turned the tide. I thought they took a little long on the HBK/Foley Mind Games spot through a table only to do it from a ladder. It didnt look quite as cool either. I HATE when people do offensive moves on ladder. Elbow drop and Lionsault. Stupid, stupid, stupid. Put the ladder under your opponent! I liked the ladder stopping Sweet Chin Music, did something (Michaels' head or the ladder) hit Jericho's face. He came up clutching his face and his tooth was chipped. Then comes the crazy the spot where Jericho takes that insane bump from the top of the ladder to the floor. I would have shit a brick in my pants if that happened to me. Cade comes to Jericho's aid. SWEET CHIN MUSIC! It is a race to the top. Tug of War over the belt was a great finish. I love the headbutt to the injured eye to give Jericho the win. 

I feel like this match is more of a standalone match than a continuation of the feud. There was less sense of personal anger and hatred in the match. The eye injury was not a central focus. It got brought and it was used, but it was not the crux of the match. Like you can say the headbutt to the injured eye is what won the match for Jericho, BUT it was not presented as such. I dont know if it was because the heel was going over and they did not want to glorify it too much. I feel like the Unsanctioned Match is the true climax to the feud and this was just tacked on after the fact. This match excels at creating meaningful big time ladder highspots that are memorable and are consequential in the match. I have this a notch below the Bash and Unforgiven matches, but this is still a great capoff for the best blood feud in WWE history. ****1/2

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From what I've read, Shawn critics act like he was worse than Tiger Jeet Singh in this match. One reason I'm assuming is because he did his usual Shawn Michaels flashy stuff rather than fight. But this wasn't a bloodfeud match because the bloodfeud portion of the feud had reached a logical conclusion at Unforgiven. His performance was exactly what it should have been for the kind of match they had here. 

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