Snakes and ladders
MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- On Raw, World Heavyweight Champion Chris Jericho successfully defended his title, but as announced Monday night, the biggest challenges to his reign are still ahead. First, a World Heavyweight Championship Ladder Match at No Mercy against the champion's nemesis, Shawn Michaels. And if Jericho is able to defeat the man who revolutionized the Ladder Match, he'll be forced to face the winner of Batista and JBL's No Mercy match at the next pay-per-view.
The night's first match was an eagerly anticipated Steel Cage Match between CM Punk and World Heavyweight Champion Chris Jericho, which saw the Straightedge Superstar attempt to win back the title he was unable to defend at Unforgiven. The punt in the head that Punk received from Randy Orton a week ago proved to be too much to overcome, however, as Jericho escaped the steel cage, once again slipping away with the title. (WATCH)
By the end of the show, however, Jericho's smile had turned upside down. Just after Raw General Manager Mike Adamle agreed with the champion's suggestion that Batista and JBL face one another at No Mercy in a No. 1 Contender's Match, he announced that Jericho would still be defending his title at the event. To the shock and horror of the World Heavyweight Champion, Shawn Michaels emerged, identifying himself as Jericho's opponent. After having a ladder brought out, HBK mounted it and declared that they would be facing each other in a contest made famous by The Showstopper: A Ladder Match.
Fight for your right
Earlier in the night, JBL handily defeated Tommy Dreamer as part of the ongoing Raw-ECW talent exchange. Afterward, the Longhorn Loudmouth refused to leave the ring until Adamle named him No. 1 contender to Jericho's World Heavyweight Title. Proving the adage that birds of a feather flock together, JBL was soon joined by both the injured Randy Orton and Intercontinental Champion Santino Marella, accompanied by Women's Champion Beth Phoenix. Marella claimed to be the right choice to challenge Jericho and Orton stated his intention to win the World Heavyweight Championship once he's cleared to compete, but both were interrupted by Batista's entrance music.
The Animal came to the ring, offering to beat all of the assembled Superstars in order to get his hands on the coveted gold. Attempting to diffuse the situation, Adamle made his entrance, explaining that a decision on the No. 1 contender would be made later in the evening. Adamle's attempts to calm things down were ultimately futile, however, as a brawl broke out, ending with Batista laying out both halves of "Glamarella." Later in the evening, Adamle made good on his word, agreeing with Chris Jericho's suggestion that Batista and JBL face one another at No Mercy to determine the rightful No. 1 contender.
A friend in need
Just prior to Adamle's dual No Mercy announcements, in the night's main event, Rey Mysterio faced the maniacal Kane, who had addressed the WWE Universe earlier wearing his old mask. Though the Master of the 619 won the match by a disqualification, the Big Red Monster paid the bell no heed, attempting to pull off Mysterio's mask. Before Kane could dishonor the luchador, however, the Ultimate Underdog's tag team partner from the previous week and fellow high-flyer, Evan Bourne, rushed the ring, and assisted Mysterio in chopping the 7-footer down to size. (WATCH)
Continuing to prove that they have not only some of the most impressive bloodlines in the WWE locker room, but also the skills to back them up, the team of World Tag Team Champions Cody Rhodes & Ted DiBiase and Manu faced off against Kofi Kingston, Jerry "The King" Lawler and Good Ol' J.H., who was really Charlie Haas disguised as SmackDown's Jim Ross. Rhodes, DiBiase & Manu went on to defeat their opponents, perhaps in a show of force to Randy Orton, who they shared a cold glance with prior to their match. (WATCH)
All eyes on her
In just her second match since her return to sports-entertainment, Candice Michelle faced Jillian as her No Mercy opponent, Women's Champion Beth Phoenix looked on from ringside. After Candice defeated the tone-deaf songstress, The Glamazon attempted to enter the ring, but was denied by a drop-kick from Candice.
Attempting to soothe his broken heart after Layla ditched him for William Regal, Jamie Noble defeated Paul Burchill in their match on Raw. Afterward, Layla herself came out, and told Noble that she was sorry for not getting rid of him sooner. To add insult to injury, Layla was then joined by her fellow UK-native, and the two left arm-in-arm.
Also appearing on Raw for the first time was Dolph Ziggler, who introduced himself to Mike Adamle, Chris Jericho and Lance Cade. Ziggler also approached JBL as he waited in the ring to be announced No. 1 contender, as seen in the WWE.com Exclusive video. (WATCH)