Monday, September 25, 2017

WWE No Mercy 2017 Results

No Mercy was alright. It reminded me of some of the old WWF Raw episodes, where you knew nothing was going to happen, but you got some fake-out title matches, and one or two "main event" level matches that you'd never seen.

It didn't elevate the level of recent PPV shows, though, not by a long shot. The two "Wrestlemania level matches" didn't even remotely live up to the hype. And there weren't any surprising undercard matches that made up for them.

Anyways, here's how it went, and how my predictions shaped up.


Pre-Show Match: Apollo Crews vs. Elias

My prediction: Apollo Crews via pin
Result: Elias via pin

Ah well, it's really not a match of much relevance. Maybe they build a mini-feud off of this, with Titus O'Neil getting back in the ring to fight Elias down the road. And maybe not. No one will care.

Cruiserweight Championship Match: Neville (C) vs. Enzo Amore

My prediction: Neville via submission
Result: Enzo via pin

I'm 0/2 so far. But in looking at the results for this one the day after, it works okay for me. The WWE needs 205 Live to have some more mustard, and Enzo is still pretty over. You can probably get 2-3 more matches out of these two, and then mix in a few other cruiserweights to finally establish your "main event" tier for the show.

Probably it won't work, but Enzo winning is a decent way to try to add some flavor. Of course, I think you could've gotten more out of Austin Aries if you'd given him the title in one of his forty-five matches, but hey, that's just me.

Enzo cheating to win is good going forward, though. Because you don't believe he could win fair. But if he cheats his ass off, who knows?

Finn Balor vs. Bray Wyatt

My prediction: Finn Balor via pin
Result: Finn Balor via pin

Hey, finally got one right. Of course, this match was perhaps the most insanely predictable 15 minutes of my life. Every single moment, it felt like you knew exactly what was going to happen next. You know who gets excited for that? Nobody.

Balor won, hopefully they let Wyatt sit for a while to figure out what to do with him next. Honestly, it wouldn't be terrible to just leave him off TV until January, and then have him come out as a modest surprise at the Royal Rumble.

Intercontinental Title Match: The Miz (C) vs. Jason Jordan

My prediction: Jason Jordan via DQ
Result: The Miz via pin

So I got the interference right, just not the final result. I thought this was actually a pretty good match; The Miz and Jordan actually had some decent in-ring chemistry, and both performed solidly (although I still think The Miz is just way too slow).

But the result made everything feel stupid. Much like the Singh Brothers' boring interference in Jinder Mahal's match against Shinsuke Nakamura at SummerSlam, this felt like the kind of result you would get on Raw, not on show you have to pay to watch.

Oh, and whoever decided that Renee Young should jump in the ring and interview Jordan right after the match should be fired. And banned from wrestling. And get Bonzai Dropped by the ghost of Yokozuna.

RAW Tag Team Championship Match: Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose (C) vs. Sheamus and Cesaro

My prediction: Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose via pin
Result: Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose via pin

Another highly predictable match, I think the WWE did us a disservice in this match though. Sheamus and Cesaro pulled off a number of heavily impactful moves, culminating with Sheamus hitting White Noise on Ambrose, followed by Cesaro POWER-BOMBING ROLLINS FROM THE TOP ROPE ONTO AMBROSE. And Ambrose kicked out.

No. No that's stupid. That's a move to end a match. Having someone kick out of that puts literally the whole show on blast, because it highlights how everything is scripted. "Great move, but it wasn't a finisher, so the guy kicks out." For a company that's all too happy to have matches end in schoolboy roll-up pins, they have a ridiculous aversion to acknowledging the impact of non-finisher moves.

Also Cesaro knocked out a couple teeth on the ring post. Crazy.

RAW Women's Championship Match: Alexa Bliss (C) vs. Sasha Banks vs. Nia Jax vs. Bayley (vs. Emma)

My prediction: Alexa Bliss via pin
Result: Alexa Bliss via pin

Alright, now we're hitting stride, two in a row. Emma did fairly well in the match, a reminder that most women wrestlers these days actually can wrestle. The other competitors were fine, though overall unexceptional. Nia Jax is so obviously on a different planet from the other girls as far as size, but they did an alright job of using that effectively, by forcing the other women to team up to fight her. The four-person power-bomb of Nia onto the floor was a pretty good moment.

The finish was again very Raw-worthy, with Alexa sneaking a DDT on Bayley and getting a quick pin to retain. A fine match, if not a highlight.

John Cena vs. Roman Reigns

My prediction: Roman Reigns via pin
Result: Roman Reigns via pin

Really, really bad match. Things started slow as hell right from the get-go, with even the first few punches of the match taking 5-10 seconds each to "recover from" before advancing to the next move...usually another punch. I don't know if someone wasn't feeling well or something, but the whole match was incredibly slow.

The spot of Reigns spearing Cena onto the announce table was alright, but I liked it better when it was Reigns spearing the Undertaker. Some creativity people, jeez.

Reigns wins in utterly boring fashion: Kickout, Spear, Pin, Repeat. And you wonder why people boo this guy.

Universal Championship Match: Brock Lesnar (C) vs. Braun Strowman

My prediction: Brock Lesnar via pin
Result: Brock Lesnar via pin

Look, it was fine. For a standard match between two big guys, it was fine. But after SummerSlam, the excitement for Lesnar and Strowman to put on a great brawl was palpable, and they fell flat. Almost the entire match took place inside the ring, there was no real noticeably "violent" moments, and the two guys altogether did like six different moves.

If Braun's loss brings about some interesting changes for his character, maybe trying to coexist with a manager or some backup, that could be useful. But right now, he just came out looking like he could never beat Brock, so he might as well go home.

Overall: 5/8 (62.5%) Correct

No Mercy was kind of a nothing pay-per-view, but that's been the case for most of the non-big-four shows for a couple years now. Zero run-ins, one match with interference, one other match with some explicit cheating. One big spot, the power-bomb in the tag match, but the fact that it didn't win the match sapped that momentary excitement.

I get that not every PPV can be a winner. I even get that it's important for there to be less exciting PPVs, so that the good ones stand out even more. But when you're asking for money for these shows, and when you're adding an extra 6-8 PPVs every year with the brand split, and when you're talking about either increasing the price of the WWE Network or creating a second tier, you've got to deliver.

Still waiting.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

WWE No Mercy 2017 Predictions

I'm trying a new thing. One of a short list of items that I try to keep up with is the WWE. While I haven't sat down and watched an episode of RAW or Smackdown in years (like, fifteen years maybe), I keep myself tuned in through various websites and a very entertaining recap show podcast, What's Wrong with Wrestling.

I also have a subscription to the WWE Network, and while most of my viewing is of classic wrestling content, the fact that the account provides live access to all current pay-per-views makes it very easy to keep up with the "big events." I've watched each of the PPV shows this year (though almost always on a delay; I normally work Sunday nights), and have enjoyed making my own predictions and seeing how they pan out.

So, because it's fairly easy writing and I've been hurting for content, the goal is to start making predictions for each WWE pay-per-view event, starting with No Mercy.

Here we go.

Pre-Show Match: Apollo Crews vs. Elias

While this match obviously doesn't have the backstory that a lot of the other ones do, I think it could actually be an entertaining battle. Crews is incredibly gifted in the ring, and Titus Worldwide is at least a stable, one of 2.5 in the company along with The Miztourage and whatever association Jinder Mahal and the Singh Brothers might call themselves.

I think it'll be a 10-12 minute match, with Crews picking up the victory. I'd hope against hope that something interesting happens, but that'd just be foolish.

Winner: Apollo Crews via pin

Cruiserweight Championship Match: Neville (C) vs. Enzo Amore

Neville is one of the more entertaining wrestlers in the company. He's agile and violent, and he's a really effective heel right now. Enzo, meanwhile, has spent the past three months getting the shit kicked out of him by various big guys, with a few random 205 Live wins sprinkled in.

The problem here is that Enzo's strongest skill is his ability to take a massive bump and look like he just got murdered. Braun tossing him around, Big Cass smashing in his face, these worked. Against Neville, he's not going to be able to sell that. So does he win?

I don't think so. I believe that Neville being champion is the only thing that lends legitimacy to the cruiserweight division right now. He was able to elevate Akira Tozawa into at least a watchable star, and the WWE needs him to stay as a brutal heel champion to pull a few more 205 stars up to his level. Enzo can be entertaining in a loss; that's been basically his entire career.

Winner: Neville via submission

Finn Balor vs. Bray Wyatt

Oh, god, why?

Look, they're both solid workers, and they put on a decent match. But Bray Wyatt needs to be off TV for like, four months. He needs to lose this match and then disappear to "find his smile." And by that I mean he needs to go reacquire a Family. A cult leader without any cult is just a guy shouting at the moon.

There are so many cool things you can do with Wyatt and a stable, but they won't happen here. So just let Balor win, and get ready for his brief jump up to the main event where he'll get annihilated by the big hogs.

Winner: Finn Balor via pin

Intercontinental Title Match: The Miz (C) vs. Jason Jordan

Jordan is a terrible singles wrestler. He had some chemistry with Chad Gable as a tag team, and he's pretty good in the ring. But on his own, when he has to use his own words to generate pops, he's utterly incapable. It takes a special kind of awkward to transcend Roman Reigns in terms of failed promos, and Jordan does it every week he opens his mouth.

Given all that...I expect Jordan to win the match. Shenanigans, probably. My pick is a straight DQ finish where The Miz retains, but it's entirely possible that some failed interference attempt by Bo Dallas or Curtis Axel could cost Miz the match and the title. But it seems wasteful to build up to this match for two months and have Jordan NOT win, even if he doesn't grab the belt.

Winner: Jason Jordan via DQ

RAW Tag Team Championship Match: Seth Rollins & Dean Ambrose (C) vs. Sheamus & Cesaro

Phew, those tag team names are a handful. I miss the days of the Headshrinkers and Demolition and Strike Force and The Rockers. I guess we still have some of that over on Smackdown, with The New Day, The Usos, The Hype Bros, and Breezango.

Anyways.

I really enjoy Sheamus and Cesaro, honestly. I wouldn't mind seeing them get the titles back. They're 'tweener enough that they can feud with anybody, and big enough assholes that they can get heat in any matchup. They kind of remind me of the Acolytes, actually.

But everything with Rollins and Ambrose since SummerSlam has been chaos. Three-way tags, eight-man tags, it's been just silliness. I don't see them losing their first title defense to the same guys from whom they won the belts.

Winner: Seth Rollins & Dean Ambrose via pin

RAW Women's Championship Match: Alexa Bliss (C) vs. Sasha Banks vs. Nia Jax vs. Bayley (vs. Emma)

First off, let's set aside Emma. She's just there to take a few bumps and then take the eventual fall in the match...I hope.

Even without considering the fifth member of the match, I still think it's a tough nut to crack. There are reasons and ways to have each of the other four competitors win and have it make sense. Sasha could win, eliminating the question of why she never got a one-on-one rematch with Alexa Bliss. Nia could definitely win, as we all sort of expect her to win the title at some point. Bayley could win by screwing over Sasha a little bit, beginning the simmer on a feud that culminates in a Wrestlemania match.

But in all circumstances, the most likely result of a championship match is that the champion retains. Especially because it's a big match, with the potential for a complicated series of twists and turns that set up the women's division for the next couple months, I don't think you need a title change on top of that. Title changes should matter, and in this situation, you just don't need it.

Plus Alexa looks so sexy with that belt. Never ever take it away from her.

Winner: Alexa Bliss via pin

John Cena vs. Roman Reigns

The promos between Cena and Reigns have been must-see TV, though at times they were a bit too real for me. I don't want to see behind the curtain most of the time, at least not on the show itself. Still, they were plenty entertaining, and reminded us why we all enjoyed John Cena for a long time.

There's a lot of talk about how this match can set up XYZ at Survivor Series, or the Royal Rumble, or Wrestlemania, and that Cena winning is the best way to do that. I disagree.

Since defeating the Undertaker at Wrestlemania, here are Reigns' PPV appearances:
  • He lost via pin to Strowman at Payback.
  • He lost a five-way match to Samoa Joe at Extreme Rules.
  • He lost an ambulance match to Strowman at Great Balls of Fire.
  • And he lost a fatal four-way for the Universal Title to Brock Lesnar.
He can't keep losing big matches. Even though it's Cena, I think we're in store for a Kickout-Spear-Pin-Repeat.

Winner: Roman Reigns via pin

Universal Championship Match: Brock Lesnar (C) vs. Braun Strowman

The hot internet rumor is that the WWE is angling for a Reigns/Lesnar matchup to headline Wrestlemania in 2018...you know, because it worked out so well the first time around.

Sarcasm.

The reason I brought that up is that people seem to think that Lesnar is likely to win this match in order to keep the Universal title on Reigns or Lesnar, to preserve the title matchup. That's not necessary though; we saw the WWE title move around several times last year in order to serve various storylines. The Wyatt/Orton storyline was ultimately a disaster, but that was going to happen regardless of the WWE title because Orton is utterly checked-out.

All that said, I still expect Lesnar to come out on top. The "main" titles generally don't get moved around without a good reason, and there's no good reason to take the belt off of Lesnar here. Braun can still be a monster without the belt, and in fact, his story becomes more interesting if he's unable to win the title on his own. He could start looking for a manager, or allies, etc. And while I'd prefer for Strowman to win, so that we could get the belt on the show every week, this isn't about what I want to happen. It's about what I predict. That's my pick.

Winner: Brock Lesnar via pin

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