No Mercy 2017 Review

Billed as featuring two WrestleMania-caliber matches (seriously, they wouldn’t shut up about it), it’s WWE No Mercy 2017! Did it live up to the hype? Let’s hit the ropes and find out!

No Mercy Kickoff Show

Elias vs Apollo Crews [w/Titus O’Neil]

I was worried that the IC or Cruiserweight Title matches would get pushed onto the pre-show, because they didn’t advertise any matches that seemed pre-show worthy, so I was glad to see Elias out there with his guitar. This was a slow-paced but solid opener to the show, with Crews showcasing his athleticism while Elias got the heat with his power offense. Elias picked up the win with his Drift Away swinging neckbreaker. Not much to say, other than that I want them to do more with Crews. I really enjoyed him in NXT, but he’s totally lost in the shuffle on Raw and Titus doesn’t seem to add anything to the act.

No Mercy Main Show

The Miz (c) [w/the Miztourage] vs Jason Jordan – WWE Intercontinental Championship

I hate hate hate it when the champion comes out first. People say it doesn’t really matter, and maybe that’s true in the grand scheme of things, but unless your challenger is someone legendary (HBK, Austin, Rock), let the champ go out last so he or she looks special. This was a solid match overall, but people aren’t into the whole Jason Jordan/Kurt Angle storyline, and that definitely hurt it. The finish saw Bo Dallas knocked into the ring and distracting the ref so Axel could land a cheap shot on Jordan, who backed into a Skull-Crushing Finale by Miz for the win. This feud needs some kind of spark if it’s going to continue.

Bray Wyatt vs Finn Bálor

They almost ruined this match last month by having it go on after two absolute crowd-killers, and they almost ruined this one with a “helped to the back” angle following a Wyatt sneak attack where he injured Finn’s ribs. My main issue with this was that Finn was actively walking to the back, instead of being held back by the refs and forced up the ramp. His character would never abandon the fight, no matter how badly he was hurt – he popped his own shoulder back into the socket and wrestled an entire match last year, remember? Another character-breaking moment came when Finn was poised for the Coup De Grâce on the top rope, only to freeze when Wyatt rose up into his crab walk position. Why? He’s seen it, we’ve seen it, everyone’s seen it before. He should have jumped off and stomped him flat.

Storyline issues aside, this was a good match that ended with Finn hitting two shotgun dropkicks to opposite turnbuckles before hitting the Coup De Grâce for the win. I really enjoy both guys, and think they work well together. The size difference between them really helps the story of the match, and allows for cool spots where Wyatt can showcase his power and toss Finn around the ring.

Seth Rollins & Dean Ambrose (c) vs Sheamus & Cesaro – Raw Tag Team Championship

First of all, holy sh*t poor Cesaro and his teeth. I thought he’d lost them completely at first, then thought maybe he’d broken them, but it looks like they were knocked out of place and up into his gums, which I’d assume would be better overall? Unless the roots broke? Can you re-set your teeth? Either way, yeesh. Props to him for finishing the match, not that I’d have expected any less of him.

With that out of the way, this was another match where the champions came out first. And not only that, but they got full, separate entrances instead of the dual entrance they’d been doing on Raw the last few weeks. I suspect that this was done to fill time (more on that later), but why make the babyfaces look like individual stars who are too good to come out together, while the heels are a cohesive unit?

Entrance gripes aside, this was an awesome match, and the crowd ate it up. I loved the double-team spot where Sheamus hit Ambrose with White Noise, then Cesaro powerbombed Rollins onto Ambrose from the second rope for an awesome nearfall. The finish saw Rollins hit Sheamus with a subpar Kenny Omega Rain-Trigger knee (miles better than last time, but still nowhere close to the original) into Dirty Deeds from Ambrose for three. Another great match between the two teams.

Bayley vs Emma vs Nia Jax vs Sasha Banks vs Alexa Bliss (c) – Raw Women’s Championship

I wasn’t really expecting to like this one, because multi-person matches can be hit or miss, but I really enjoyed it. There were some great spots, like the double Samoan Drop by Jax, the double powerbomb/double kick combo on Jax off the apron, and a really smooth floatover DDT attempt by Bliss. I feel like they lost the crowd a little bit after the powerbomb off the apron, but won them back with a nice finishing sequence full of finishers and nearfalls before Bliss hit Bayley with the DDT for the win. Good stuff from everyone involved.

John Cena vs Roman Reigns

Just so I don’t sound like a total hater, let me get the good points out of the way right off the bat:

  1. The right guy won.
  2. The “IF CENA LOSES WE RIOT” sign in the crowd made me laugh.

Aaaaand that’s it. This match went ridiculously long, and it did so right off the freaking bat. Cena left the ring in response to the crowd’s “you both suck” chants, Reigns caught him on the ramp and hit him, and Cena sold. And sold. And sold. He sold forever! He sold like he was 20 minutes deep into a WrestleMania main event! And that was the story of the entire match – Reigns would hit him with one strike, or move, or what have you, and Cena would sell for like 30 seconds.

What the hell happened here? All I could think of at the time was that right before they hit the ring, Vince grabbed both guys and told them to go long because the main even would be short, and this was how they did it. Looking back at it as I write this, the cynical part of me wonders if Cena was sandbagging the match, since his selling was so goofy and he appears to be on his way out, but I can’t imagine him doing that at this point in his career. Hell, even going back to my original thought, I can’t believe this is all they’d be able to do to stretch the match – Cena could certainly talk Reigns through some more interesting spots to fill time, right? I really have no idea what happened here.

To be fair, they eventually picked up some steam and got the crowd back into the match with some big spots and nearfalls, including an AA from Cena off the middle rope, a spear from Reigns through the announce table, and Cena hitting two AAs in a row. But after all that, Reigns threw a superman punch and a spear out of nowhere for the win. Aside from the bit with the announce tables, I really disliked this match…if it was half as long and filled with action, sure, it would have been a fun brawl. But this was almost thirty minutes, and it felt even longer than that. Both of these guys are capable of good stuff (see their matches with AJ Styles), but I didn’t like this at all.

Post-match, we got an extended farewell from Cena, and a Thank You Cena chant from the crowd, so everyone’s wondering if he’s gone for good. My money’s on no in any case, but if so, what a downer of a match to go out on.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the promo for WWE 2K18, featuring Snoop Dogg. This was slick and stylish, and made both the game and wrestling itself feel really cool. They really need to do more stuff like this.

Neville (c) vs Enzo Amore – WWE Cruiserweight Championship

STOP MAKING THE CHAMPION COME OUT FIRST! Seriously! The crowd was pretty quiet for this one, and it’s not hard to see why, given the way they’ve been building Enzo lately. I like his new “working smarter, not harder” gimmick in theory, but he’s no Eddie Guerrero: Having him constantly hitting people with low blows, winning by pulling their tights, AND spending minutes at a time running them down on the mic is only going to turn people against him. Already you can hear his pops starting to tail off sooner than they did when he and Cass first showed up.

The match itself was fine, at least as far as it went, but the ending was baffling. After being thrown into the timekeeper’s area, and in danger of being counted out, Enzo grabbed the title belt and taunted Neville with it, then dragged the title into the ring and kicked Neville in the groin as the ref took the title back out, then covered him for the pin. He’s not a charming rogue, he’s a douchebag. I don’t know where the story goes from here.

Braun Strowman vs Brock Lesnar (c) – WWE Universal Championship

This match…man, this match should have been incredible. The crowd went absolutely nuts at Summerslam every time Strowman and Lesnar were in the ring together, and again when Strowman destroyed Lesnar with three announce tables, and AGAIN when they clashed the next night on Raw. Strowman is red hot right now…and he lost clean to Lesnar in ten f*cking minutes.

Does it kill him? No, not really, but if there was EVER a time for a DQ or a double countout finish, by God this was it. They could have had them brawl and brawl and brawl on the outside, put each other through tables, and barricades, and everything else, until the ref had no choice but to throw the match out. Then on Raw you could have someone jump the line and challenge Lesnar for the title, and save Strowman/Lesnar II for a big show, or a big stipulation match (cage, cell, no dq). Instead, the guy who walked away from getting crushed by a goddamn semi truck gets hit with an F5 and pinned.

Again, no, he’s not ruined. You can have him keep gaining experience by destroying people for a while and everyone will forget that he lost here, but why in the world would you let your monster keep losing clean on B shows (earlier this year at Fastlane, and here at No Mercy)?

Final Thoughts

This show was completely backwards – a great undercard, but two lackluster main events. They could have easily shaved ten minutes off of Cena/Reigns, which not only would have made that match better, but would have let them throw another fun match on the card. Maybe Matt Hardy versus Karl Anderson to open the show? The crowd would have popped big for Matt (Jeff’s hurt right now, I think), they would have had fun chanting DELETE to open the show, and they might have been a little hotter for Miz/Jordan.

Overall, this wasn’t a bad show by any means, but the top half of the card didn’t sustain the momentum that the bottom half provided.

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