PHOENIX — When the WWE Universe shifted the power into the capable hands of elected special guest referee "Stone Cold" Steve Austin, our fans made the single most significant Cyber Sunday decision that enabled Batista to defeat Chris Jericho and become the new World Heavyweight Champion. (EXCLUSIVE VIDEO | PHOTOS)
Since being summoned to Raw in the 2008 WWE Draft, The Animal has hunted the World Heavyweight Title in a new Monday night jungle among countless equally hungry predators. His astounding fourth World Heavyweight Championship reign comes after months of perseverance that paid off in a big way at WWE's most interactive event of the year.
The slithering champion knew it was going to be a bad night as soon as the glass shattered, harkening the arrival of the Texas Rattlesnake -- the man Jericho recently boasted about beating to become the first-ever Undisputed Champion years ago. Things got worse when Stone Cold manipulated the rules so that if Jericho got himself disqualified or counted out, he would lose the title. But, though 74 percent of our fans' votes set Austin as the Superstar in the stripes, his fellow candidates (as well as John "Bradshaw" Layfield) took control themselves and played critical roles in the crowning of the new champion.
Austin became incapacitated and Jericho suddenly found himself covering a fallen Batista. This drew out Shawn Michaels as a quick stand-in official ... until HBK refused to count.
Despite losing No. 1 contendership to Batista at No Mercy, JBL was determined to play his hand, too. The Longhorn Loudmouth blasted Michaels, then targeted the challenger and connected the gold title with his rival's skull. In the midst of this mayhem, recuperating former WWE Champion Randy Orton also slipped into the ring to thwart The Animal, assaulting Austin who just got back to his feet.
Instead of causing further damage, however, the Legend Killer found himself victimized by the Texas Rattlesnake's bite: A Stone Cold Stunner, the move recently named the No. 1 finishing move of all time in WWE.com's Top 25.
The challenger then quickly captured Jericho and delivered a powerful Batista Bomb that planted the conniving champion. Austin's levy of physical justice on Orton didn't keep him from his duties, as Stone Cold hit the mat in time to render a full three-count and raise the triumphant paw of The Animal.
With that hand -- which, ironically, was also raised by Austin in the main event of last year's Cyber Sunday -- Batista gripped redemption against Jericho, but more importantly, the Raw brand's coveted gold.
He has chased the World Heavyweight Championship for 10 months, across two brands and now -- at last -- it is once again The Animal's kingdom.