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.
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.
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