Another weekend, another WWE PPV. I didn’t quite think we’d be this early in the run of these before these shows lost their novelty…
Yes, yet-another WWE show, the third in five weeks, saw SmackDown give us their second “brand-exclusive” event, with a much lighter roster than we had four weeks earlier. There was even another enforced change to the card through injury, as an unspecified injury to Becky Lynch meant that she was kept off the card, with the planned Becky/Alexa SmackDown women’s title match being rescheduled for a TV taping in Glasgow, Scotland next month. Shame they weren’t running in Ireland, but at least it’s still going to have a celtic feel to it.
That change saw Baron Corbin and Jack Swagger (an expensive Pete Dunne, apparently) pushed onto the main card, with an eight-man tag match going on the pre-show in its place. As for Curt Hawkins… yep, he was on the pre-show and did indeed enter the ring. He got a load of pyro… then the old Scott Steiner siren, before he announced he’d have his first match on Tuesday… and then he left. Well, we got a prediction right for once!
American Alpha (Chad Gable & Jason Jordan) & Hype Bros (Zack Ryder & Mojo Rawley) vs. The Vaudevillains (Aiden English & Simon Gotch) & The Ascension (Konnor & Viktor)
Aiden English had “HBEG” on his wrist tape, a nod to the birthday of the man who would have been his father-in-law had he still been with us today – Eddie Guerrero.
Gable takes down English early on with a double-leg, and gets a series of waistlock takedowns thereafter. Jason Jordan tags in as American Alpha fend-off a failed double-team from Simon Gotch with a monkey flip and a hiptoss to the Vaudevillains.
Zack Ryder works over English’s arm before Viktor – looking like he’d taken some inspiration from Tama Tonga’s facepaint – came in and took down Zack with a shoulder tackle. Ryder came back with a Bunker Buster neckbreaker as he countered Viktor’s suplex, before Mojo Rawley came in to slap the sides of Viktor’s head.
Rawley gets trapped in the heels’ corner as Konnor comes in and chops away at Rawley, but Mojo takes him down, as Zack flapjacks Viktor. The Vaudevillains come in and take a pair of suplexes, before all four heels get clotheslines to the floor for a scheduled commercial break. Once we’re done with Petula Clark’s “Downtown”, we return to see Konnor holding Zack in a grounded headlock.
Viktor tags in to keep stamping away on Ryder, who’s shown being squashed by the Ascension during the commercial break. Aiden English sings as he tries to hold down Ryder in a rear chinlock, before Zack’s taken back into the wrong corner with English tagging Gotch back in.
There was an awkward spot where Ryder jumped to tag Jason Jordan… who despite being the only man to not be pulled from the apron couldn’t make the tag. After Konnor hit the post with a shoulder charge, Ryder finally made the hot tag to Jason Jordan, who hits an Exploder suplex for a two-count, before we get a parade of spots, with Ryder being lifted into a Rough Ryder on one of the Ascension, ending with the Grand Amplitude on English for the win. A decent throw-away tag match, but can we move on from this pattern of “lets throw all the unused tag teams together” for the pre-show? **¾
WWE World Championship: John Cena vs. Dean Ambrose vs. AJ Styles (c)
So, they moved the main event to the start of the show, a la Saturday Night’s Main Event, all because the WWE thought that people would switch off from the Network for the Presidential debate that was going head-to-head with this. Given that No Mercy was only recently added to the PPV calendar… terrific planning there from WWE!
Everyone tried for their finishers early on as this began as a three-way fight in every sense of the phrase. After the opening burst, we didn’t have too much in the way of “we both fight, and a third man lays down for a while”, as Ambrose cycled between Styles and Cena as he looked for some action. Cena caught a running elbow off the apron, before ramming Ambrose’s back into the ringpost, only for a pescado from Styles to wipe out Cena.
Cena replied with a double German suplex to his two opponents, before a catapult sent Styles into the corner. A swinging slam into a TKO gets Cena an early two-count, before AJ countered an AA with a Pele kick. Styles took down Ambrose and Cena with a simultaneous neckbreaker/DDT after a Quebrada, before backdropping Ambrose to the outside.
A Code Red from Cena got a two-count as he worked over the champion, before going to the well for a top rope AA, only for Style to counter it into a spin-out Torture Rack bomb for a two-count for himself.
Dean Ambrose returned to snatch a sleeperhold on Cena after he’d been pushed out of a sleeperhold from Styles, but Cena fought free and into his Five Moves of Doom, to some audible boos. A German suplex and a chickenwing facebuster (or, as Mauro screamed, “Dodon!”) got a two-count for AJ… before Ambrose pulled out Ryusuke Taguchi’s move as well.
Cena resumes the Five Moves to AJ, before Ambrose cuts him off with an elbow off the top rope. They go back and forth until AJ and Ambrose clothesline each other simultaneously, as Dean’s head rolls into place for what was almost the winning cover on AJ. With both men down, Cena goes for a pair of Five Knuckle Shuffles, as the boos intensified upon landing. An Attitude Adjustment to Styles sees Cena roll the champion out of the ring, before an AA to Ambrose got another two-count.
AJ wriggles out of an AA on the apron, and instead snap-suplexes Cena onto the apron, before a springboard 450 Splash gets AJ a two-count on Ambrose. Styles whiffed on a superkick through the ropes to Cena, then tried for another springboard, with Ambrose kicking him on impact. Styles gets the Styles Clash, but Cena pulled him off of Ambrose and into the STF… but Ambrose grabs the wrist of Styles to prevent a submission, and fights Cena off of AJ.
They teased a double AA, but instead we got a sit-out powerbomb by Cena onto Ambrose, before a crossbody from AJ sees Cena roll through and turn it into an attempted AA. Styles rolls out and gets Cena in the Calf Killer, only for Ambrose to elbow his way in to break up the hold once more. Ambrose then got the Calf Killer on AJ, furthering his one-upmanship, before Cena added in an STF as Styles is forced to give up…
The bell rings, but who won? Both men tried to claim the win, but instead the referee waves it off and the match restarts! Cena counters the rebound lariat with a clothesline of his own, before Ambrose lands the Dirty Deeds out of an AA. Styles pulls the referee out to prevent the pin from being counted, and eventually is taken out with a tope from Ambrose.
Cena finally connected with a top rope AA, but AJ Styles ran in with a chair, using it on both of the challengers, before getting the pin over Cena. Well, as a heel, that finish certainly fit, but in my mind it took the match down just a hair. Aside from that, a bloody fabulous way to open a show, and it has to be up there with the best matches under the WWE/NXT banner all year. ****½
Yay – we’re three weeks away from the next PPV: Hell in a Cell!
Nikki Bella vs. Carmella
This is almost a battle of horrific ring attires, and it started out almost like a mid 2000s Diva’s match, with plenty of slaps and hair-assisted tosses. Carmella’s sent into the barricades with a baseball slide dropkick, before she propels Nikki into the LCD ring apron.
Carmella works over more of Nikki’s neck, including stretching her across the jumbo ring post. A rear chinlock follows, before Carmella yanks Nikki down using her hair, then follows up with a single Bronco buster for a near-fall. Another rear chinlock follows, as does some more yanking back on the neck in the ropes.
Nikki spears Carmella out of the corner, before a series of dropkicks puts Carmella on the back foot. Bella springboards out of the corner with a roundhouse kick for a two-count, before pulling Carmella off the ropes and into a Bella Buster (X-Factor) for a near-fall.
Carmella fought back with a rana out of the corner, then a superkick for a two-count, but Nikki surprises her with a small package for another near-fall. Undeterred, Carmella locks in the Code of Silence headscissors, but Nikki fights free and forearms Carmella to the mat… only to be caught in another Code of Silence.
Nikki crawled her way to a rope break, then hit back with the “Rack Attack 2.0” – the Fireman’s carry into a TKO – to earn the victory. A decent match considering Carmella’s inexperience, but they didn’t have a hope in hell of following the prior bout. **¼
WWE SmackDown Tag Team Championship: The Usos (Jimmy Uso & Jey Uso) vs. Heath Slater & Rhyno (c)
Basic stuff early on as Rhyno and Jimmy Uso worked for a while, before Slater tagged into take down the Uso with a double back elbow. Jimmy fires back with an uppercut, and then tagged in Jey for a couple of slams.
On a side note, the Usos sneakers are so bright, they wrecked the white balance on my TV for a spell.
Another tag and some double teaming from the Usos, before Slater finally tagged out to Rhyno who cleared house on the Usos. A belly to belly on Jimmy sets up Rhyno for a gore, but Jey distracts Rhyno, and followed up with a hip attack for a near-fall.
The Usos worked over Rhyno for a spell, mocking him with “ECW” chants before punching him to the mat for a two-count. A spinebuster from Rhyno gets him some breathing room to tag in Slater, who went to work on Jey with punches and a leaping knee. Jey takes a hangman’s neckbreaker for a near-fall, but Jey replied with a pop-up Samoan drop for a two-count of his own.
Rhyno gets involved as the Usos tried to double team once more, before a powerslam off the top rope by Slater got him a two-count. A superkick from Jimmy nearly takes off Slater’s head, as the Usos kicked out the knee of Slater in preparation for a Tequila Sunrise. Rhyno clotheslines Jey out of the hold, and then got the hot tag from the one-legged Slater… one spear later, Rhyno gets the win and the champs retain! A good match, but not one you’d probably remember the morning after, sadly… **½
Jack Swagger vs. Baron Corbin
Hey, it’s an expensive Pete Dunne! And he looked thoroughly miffed to be here…
Corbin lit into Swagger from the off, before taking a shoulder tackle, then a clothesline to the outside. Swagger drives Corbin into the crowd barriers, then into the announcer’s tables, but he falls into the ring steps courtesy of a kick from Corbin.
Corbin kicks Swagger’s hand into the steps, and it’s that left arm that gets worked over next. A shoulder tackle sends Swagger into the turnbuckles, but this crowd has long since given up on this match, and by proxy, both these guys.
An attempted backdrop sends Corbin into the turnbuckle instead, before missing a corner clothesline and eventually gets taken down with a belly-to-back suplex. Swagger sets up for a Swagger Bomb, and connects for a near-fall, but was unable to go for the ankle lock due to the injured hand. A Deep Six from Corbin gets a near-fall, before a clothesline from Swagger gets the same.
Second time was lucky for Swagger and his ankle lock, but Corbin reached under the bottom rope to break the hold. That led to a poke to the eye as the referee fixed the ring apron, and an End of Days was enough for the win from an utterly unremarkable match. Swagger is beyond damaged goods at this point, and I’d dare say Corbin is on his way to joining him. *¾
WWE Intercontinental Championship/If Ziggler Loses, He Retires: The Miz (c) vs. Dolph Ziggler
Ziggler started by taking Miz into the ropes and looked for an early pin from a superkick and a lariat. After the kickout, Miz slingshotted Ziggler to the outside, before Dolph returned and dumped Miz to the floor with a clothesline.
Miz started to get the advantage after whipping Ziggler into the corner, choking Dolph across the middle rope before moving to a butterfly lock. Ziggler stands up, but gets knocked straight back down with a clothesline, before Miz slingshots him into the bottom rope.
An attempted comeback from Ziggler got cut-off as a superkick was blocked and turned into a backbreaker then a neckbreaker for a near-fall. Miz kept up the pressure with a dropkick in the corner, before starting a mocking “Yes!” chant… but that opened the door for Ziggler to hit back with a dropkick.
Dolph makes a comeback with some clotheslines, then a swinging neckbreaker and an elbow drop for a two-count. After kicking out at two from a sunset flip, Miz tried to steal a win with a roll-up whilst using the ropes, but the referee caught him. That delay allowed ZIggler to sidestep a charge in the corner, before the pair traded roll-ups for near-falls.
A short DDT gets Miz another two-count, as he looked to slow the pace of things by dropping the knee into Ziggler’s legs, before kicking away at his thigh. Ziggler recovers and crotches Miz on the top rope, but a superplex is blocked by the champion, who instead goes for a sunset flip powerbomb, only to end up catching Ziggler in a Figure Four.
Ziggler nearly gets pinned in the Figure Four, but finally grabs the ropes to break the hold. Maryse leaps onto the apron to distract the referee, which allows Miz to rip off the turnbuckle, only to turn around into a Rough Ryder from Ziggler for a near-fall. Miz blocks a Zig-Zag, before sidestepping a dive as Ziggler hits the turnbuckle, before taking a slingshot powerbomb for a near-fall.
Miz imitates Daniel Bryan some more with some kicks, before Ziggler ducks one and replies with a Zig Zag for a two-count. Dolph pulls his way back to his feet, before a superkick attempt is blocked, with Ziggler catching the champion in a sleeperhold. Miz grabs the bottom rope with both hands to break it up, before Maryse uses the spray in the eyes of Ziggler.
A Skull Crushing Finale to a blinded Ziggler only gets a two-count though, and Dolph makes yet another comeback courtesy of a superkick after Miz had pulled his boot off whilst trying to pull him away from the ropes. Maryse signalled to the back, where Kenny and Mikey from the Spirit Squad ran out to cause another distraction… and although Dolph cleared one of them, he fell to another Skull Crushing Finale for another two-count.
Both men pull themselves back up, as yet more attempted inteference led to Maryse and the Spirit Squad being ejected. As they left, Ziggler drilled Miz with a superkick, and that was enough for Dolph to save his career and claim the Intercontinental title. A good match, with Ziggler finally getting a W without looking like a clown in the process. It’s just a shame he had to have a long, long losing streak to get here! ****
With Becky Lynch missing through injury – and the match rescheduled – Bliss was still in action… it wasn’t for the title. Bliss cut a promo, but was cut-off by Naomi’s day-glo entrance
Alexa Bliss vs. Naomi
Yeah, my Amazon Echo is going to have to be turned off for this match…
Bliss started out with a headlock, then a shoulder block takedown, before Naomi took a kick to the head as she tried to hold back Alexa. Naomi chops away at Bliss with the left-right kicks, before a head kick knocked down the number one contender.
A split-legged moonsault from Naomi gets a near-fall, but Bliss hits back with a forearm, only to fall into the Eat Defeat from Naomi. Bliss cuts off a springboard into the ring from Naomi and drops her with an arm whip on the apron for a near-fall.
Bliss worked over the left arm of Naomi for a while, before a weird spot sees our picture distort really badly. As in “that effect when a camera’s filming it’s own output badly”. Naomi fights back with an Irish whip, but it’s reversed as Bliss sends her into the corner, but Naomi tilts the scales once more with a spinning facebuster.
A dropkick from Naomi is followed by the Rear View for a near-fall, but Bliss countered a tiltawhirl slam and caught her with a cross armbreaker… but Naomi rolls forward, and manages to pin Bliss. Given that Alexa’s the number one contender, that has to be a shock… but that wasn’t particularly great… not helped by them being in the proverbial death slot. *¼
Bray Wyatt vs. Randy Orton
They start with a tie-up. Hardly a shock, given how a prior “blood feud” with Orton against Triple H started…
Orton teases an early RKO, but Wyatt rolls to the outside, where he takes his time. Bray works over Orton in the corner, but Randy recovers as they go back and forth. Randy sends Wyatt to the outside, then looks to drag him back in with a rope hung DDT, only for a hotshot from Wyatt to neutralise that.
They go to the outside once more, where they brawl around ringside, with Orton being shoves across the announcers table as he went for another RKO. Wyatt dismantles the ring steps, only to be attacked by Orton, who fired back with a series of clotheslines. After being throw back inside, Wyatt shoves Orton off the apron and into the crowd barriers before mocking the RKO pose.
After Orton returned to the ring, there was more stomping from Wyatt, followed by a back senton for a near-fall. Orton fires back with some punches, but a knee cuts him off as Wyatt regains the advantage. The pair end up on the apron, and you know how that goes in wrestling in 2016… and it’s Orton who takes the apron bump, courtesy of a DDT.
After returning to the ring, Bray gets a near-fall from a clothesline, before going to a rear chinlock as they try to slow the tempo of the match even more. Randy fights back to his feet, but gets slammed back down, before Wyatt spends way too much time setting up – and misses a back senton off the middle rope.
Orton hits back, but they end up going tit-for-tat, before a series of clotheslines take Wyatt back down. Randy misses an RKO, but comes back with a scoop slam for a near-fall, before Bray fights out of a rope-hung DDT, and then nails a crossbody for a near-fall. Bray again sets up Orton for the uranage, but Randy’s attempt to counter leads to him getting a near-fall from a schoolboy.
Wyatt kept pushing on for that uranage, and hits it at the second attempt for a near-fall, before taking Orton to the outside… where Bray set-up for and missed a back senton onto the ring steps. Randy responds by slamming Bray’s head into the announce desks, then into the crowd barriers.
Eventually back in the ring, Orton teases for the RKO, but as he pounded the mat, the Bray Wyatt sting hit and the lights went off in the building. Once they came back up, Luke Harper was face-to-face with Orton, and that distraction allowed Wyatt to hit Randy with the Sister Abigail for the win. A distinctly lukewarm match, but Luke Harper’s return was possibly the biggest story to come from this – even if it means Harper is yet again in a familiar role… **¼
As a show, No Mercy came in with the weakest pay-per-view line-up in quite sometime, and it delivered on that. If you took away the “main event” that ended up opening the show, and the Intercontinental title match, you’d have an utterly forgettable show. Nevertheless, this was just about a passable show, albeit one with two matches that you need to go out of your way to see.