Oct. 12, 2016
WWE No Mercy Review
The top story: In an extremely rare case of the main event opening the show, WWE World Champion AJ Styles pinned John Cena to retain his title in a Triple Threat Match that also involved Dean Ambrose. Styles used two chair shots on Cena to attain the victory.
Also newsworthy: Dolph Ziggler won the Intercontinental Title from The Miz in a match in which Ziggler would've had to retire if he lost. ... Bray Wyatt defeated Randy Orton thanks to a distraction from the returning Luke Harper. ... SmackDown Women's Champion Becky Lynch was unable to compete due to a medical condition. Her title defense against Alexa Bliss was postponed to Nov. 8. Bliss, meanwhile, lost to Naomi. ... SmackDown Tag Team Champions Heath Slater and Rhyno successfully defended their title against The Usos.
Here's a match-by-match look at the show:
Curt Hawkins Promo on the Kickoff Show: Hawkins, who had said on SmackDown that he would step foot into the ring for the first time at No Mercy, meant it literally. Apparently, he didn't say he was actually wrestling at No Mercy. Hawkins announced that he will have his first match on SmackDown. Why do I get the feeling that he's showing up with a pack of matches on Tuesday? As silly as it is, I do like that WWE is making the Hawkins character stand out.
American Alpha and The Hype Bros defeated The Ascension and The Vaudevillains in 9:11 on the Kickoff Show: This was basically a showcase for the two babyface teams, as no one takes The Ascension and The Vaudevillains seriously. American Alpha scored the victory for their side after hitting Grand Amplitude on Aiden English of The Vaudevillains.
WWE World Champion AJ Styles defeated John Cena and Dean Ambrose in a Triple Threat Match in 21:06: There was no explanation for why the main event went on first, but I thought it might be an angle that would lead to a second WWE World Title Match to end the show. That obviously didn't happen, so my guess is that WWE didn't want the match to compete with the presidential debate, which began at 9 p.m. There were high expectations for the match and it more than lived up to the hype. Styles and Cena always deliver on pay-per-view, and Ambrose usually does as well. The match started hot and maintained a fast pace throughout. There were too many cool three-way spots and near falls to count. At the 15:30 mark, Cena had Styles in the STF, and just when it appeared that Styles was going to tap, Ambrose grabbed his hand and prevented him from doing so. Around the 19-minute mark, Ambrose got the Calf Crusher on Styles, and then Cena applied the STF to Styles at the same time. Styles tapped and the bell rang. Both Cena and Ambrose thought they had won, but the referee said neither of them had and the match resumed. Ambrose hit Dirty Deeds on Cena at the 20-minute mark, but Styles pulled the referee out of the ring before he could make the three count. Cena hit an AA off the middle rope on Ambrose, but Styles nailed Cena with two chair shots and covered him for the victory. Great match.
Nikki Bella defeated Carmella in 8:06: Carmella had the advantage for most of the match before Nikki won with the Rack Attack 2.0. Carmella was very aggressive as she targeted Nikki's surgically repaired neck and twice had her in the Code of Silence submission move. The match was fine, but they were placed in the unenviable position of having to follow the Triple Threat.
SmackDown Tag Team Champions Heath Slater and Rhyno defeated The Usos in 10:19: This was a decent match, but I think the wrong team went over. Just because the crowd has gotten behind Slater and Rhyno as a comedic odd couple doesn't mean WWE should keep the title belts on a guy who's been an enhancement talent for years and a past-his-prime former ECW star. The Usos have been rejuvenated since turning heel and they should've won the title to set up a title program with American Alpha. The Usos may very well still become champions, but losing here does them no favors as far as perception. For the finish, Rhyno broke up Jey Uso's leglock submission hold on Slater and Gored him for the win.
Baron Corbin defeated Jack Swagger in 7:29: Swagger, who sold an injury to his hand most of the after getting it smashed between the steps and the post, got the Patriot Lock on Corbin at the 6:45 mark, but Corbin made it to the ropes. Shortly thereafter, Corbin poked Swagger in the eyes while the referee wasn't looking and then followed up with End of Days for the win. The match wasn't bad but the crowd wasn't invested.
Dolph Ziggler defeated Intercontinental Champion The Miz to win the title in 19:42: I can't say this was a better match than the Triple Threat, but it was equally as great and the crowd was super hot for it. It's hard to take retirement stipulations seriously in pro wrestling, but the fans really seemed to buy into the fact that this might be the last time they see Ziggler if he lost. Not only was the action outstanding, but the selling and facial expressions of both guys were top notch. The match was laid out really well. There were some fantastic false finishes, and interference by The Spirit Squad only added to the chaotic drama. The first false finish occurred near the 14-minute mark, when Miz shoved Ziggler head-first into an exposed turnbuckle and followed up with a slingshot powerbomb. Ziggler came back a minute later and hit the Zig Zag for a near fall. In a callback to previous Ziggler-Miz matches, Maryse sprayed something in Ziggler's eyes, and Miz hit the Skull-Crushing Finale, but Ziggler got his foot on the bottom rope at the last second. At 17:45, Miz grabbed Ziggler's foot and inadvertently pulled his boot off. Ziggler nailed him with a bootless superkick and made the cover, but the Spirit Squad's Kenny and Mikey came out to distract the referee. After Ziggler knocked them off the apron, Miz hit the Skull-Crushing Finale again. I thought that was the finish, but Ziggler kicked out and the crowd went nuts. After the referee ejected Maryse and The Spirit Squad, Ziggler hit another superkick for the victory, which got a huge pop. This program has done wonders for both men's careers. Miz has turned a corner as far as the fans accepting him as a legitimate threat and a good worker. Ziggler, meanwhile, had become stale and fans seemed to have given up on him since he loses so frequently, but as long as this isn't yet another stop-and-start push for him, Ziggler may have finally broken through the glass ceiling once and for all. Let's just hope this isn't one of those deals where the babyface gets a big, emotional title win on pay-per-view and then immediately loses the title on TV.
Naomi defeated Alexa Bliss in 5:23: There were two women's matches on the show and both of them followed show-stealing matches. Must feel like old times for Nikki Bella and Naomi. Naomi won when she reversed Bliss' Cross Armbreaker into a pin. Since Bliss is the No. 1 contender, I didn't expect her to lose but I like that she did. Naomi has been overlooked for years, so why not inject her into the title picture?
Bray Wyatt defeated Randy Orton in 15:40: It goes without saying that Wyatt and Orton are bigger stars than Dolph Ziggler and The Miz, but the Intercontinental Title Match should've closed the show instead of this. There was more interest in ZIggler-Miz, it was a better, more dramatic match, and it had a send-the-crowd-home-happy ending. Earlier in the show, Orton was backstage looking into a mirror when his reflection became distorted. That was beyond corny. The powers that be in WWE will just never get it right with the Wyatt character. I'm fine with the supernatural stuff with The Undertaker and Kane, but it actually makes Wyatt less scary than he should be. Wyatt dominated the match, which had a methodical pace. There was a painful-looking spot near the 14-minute mark when Wyatt went for a running senton on the ring steps but Orton moved out of the way. Orton appeared to be on the verge of winning as he prepared to hit the RKO, but then the lights went out and the Wyatt graphic appeared on the screen. When the lights came back on, Luke Harper was standing in the ring. Wyatt took advantage of the distraction and hit Sister Abigail for the win. It's great to see Harper back, but now that Erick Rowan is out with an injury and Braun Strowman is on Raw, it's feels like the Wyatt Family lite.
Final thoughts: No Mercy had two of the best matches in WWE this year, and that alone makes it a show worth going out of your way to see. A couple of the matches (Jack Swagger vs. Baron Corbin, Naomi vs. Alexa Bliss) were a bit lackluster, but it was a fine show overall.
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