– If you missed it, you can watch WWE No Mercy here. For the Best and Worst of WCW/nWo Revenge, please read me during the 1990s.
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And now, the Best and Worst of WWE No Mercy, originally aired on October 9, 2016.
Best: LIKE A MAN REJECTING A CONVENT, THEY DON’T WANT NONE!
Welcome to WWE No Mercy, one pay-per-view match followed by a really great episode of Smackdown played backwards.
Up first, because there’s a Presidential Debate happening and we saw what happened last time, AJ Styles defends the Smackdown Men’s Championship (™) against Big Match John and the Master of the Diving Push, Dean Ambrose. As you might’ve guessed, this is the best match on the show. Bound for New Found Glory!
This was the 10-years older, WWE-ready brother of Styles vs. Samoa Joe vs. Christopher Daniels from TNA, which is still probably the best TNA match of all-time. Styles is very good at this, and I like that they kept the pace up and kept the action brisk without like, having Dean Ambrose catch a headlock takeover and lie on the floor in a coma for five minutes. WWE likes to do that. Everybody got a chance to shine here, from Ambrose’s recklessness — including a diving push that came up short and ended up looking like a diving eye rake — to Cena’s freakish but gradually weakening super strength. I love that Cena’s finally over the hill but still one of the best in the world, so he’s lost that unbeatable shine, but can still like, pick up two dudes at once and throw them. I also love that nature is causing him to be a more realistic wrestler. Watch him struggle to get over on that crossbody catch counter he’s done a million times. Dude looked like Scott Steiner f*cking up a moonsault slam.
I like where Cena’s at, even if it gets compromised by him having to leave to shoot reality shows or whatever. With this match going on first, the guy hasn’t main-evented a pay-per-view in like two years. There’s still some stressful sh*t about him, like him pinning Seth Rollins like three times when Rollins was WWE Champion, but that feels more like lazy booking than Super Cena. The closest thing he’s been to “Super Cena” in that time was his United States Championship run, but that was him killing it in 10-15 minute matches against half the roster while holding and by-proxy elevating a secondary championship that became completely worthless the second he dropped it. I don’t think we give Modern Cena enough credit for helping. “We” meaning “me” with arrows around it.
Styles is, without a doubt, the best pro wrestler in the company. Probably still the best in the world right now. From a creative standpoint, he waltzed into WWE with a reputation and managed to completely justify it, adapting to WWE’s style of wrestling and presentation without really compromising what makes him good at what he does. The slingshot to the floor Phenomenal Forearm is an A+. From a character perspective, he’s a top level heel that cheats, but only as a last resort. He’s the best wrestler in the world, right? He doesn’t need to constantly cheat and take shortcuts. He can beat most people straight-up. But guys like Cena occasionally require a steel chair or some other ancillary bullsh*t, so he crosses that bridge when he gets there. Here, he plays it fair the entire match, then waits for Cena to hit the biggest move he’s got and Pearl Harbors him with steel to the gut, Jon Stewart-style. Styles has (1) studied Cena’s tendencies, (2) watched the show before, and (3) won a triple threat in the video games.
Dean Ambrose is the best in the world at being the least important of three guys.
But no, Ambrose was great here, too, terrible dives aside. Everyone went out there and killed it, and I wouldn’t have been upset if they’d jettisoned Swagger/Corbin, Orton/Wyatt and Naomi/Bliss into space and just done this for another hour. Great, great work. ♫ And it’s all downhill from here. ♫
Best/Worst: LIKE MY FAVORITE RAPPER KHIA, NIKKI BELLA IS SCREAMING, “MY NECK! MY BACK!”
I feel so bad for Carmella. She’s getting better, and she’s doing good work in a well-put-together story, and nobody cares. There isn’t a quieter moment on WWE TV than a Carmella entrance. That sh*t is so quiet you can hear ghosts whisper.
The match she and Nikki Bella put together was probably the best match Carmella can do at this point in her career, and that’s not meant to be an insult. The finish made perfect sense, with Carmella locking in her neck-targeting submission finish on a woman with a neck that almost made her retire early. Nikki powers out of it, essentially lifting Carmella’s entire body weight off the mat with the neck, which is either a terrible idea or a strong, clear statement on her not letting her neck problems stop her. Carmella reverses an ALABAMMA SLAMMA MAGGLE attempt into a sunset flip, but Nikki rolls backwards out of it, pops up and levels her with a forearm. If there’s any part of this I didn’t like, it’s that death-ass protected forearm just kinda knocking Carmella down and her popping right back up. Nikki hits the “Rack Attack 2.0” — the new name for her cutter, which is no longer actually a rack, unless you’re doing it Kevin Nash-style — and wins.
Like I said, the best compliment I can give Smackdown right now is that it makes sense, which feels like a revolutionary thing for main roster WWE TV. Raw hasn’t made sense in 15 years. Carmella was the scrappy upstart who kept getting one over on the “vennern” former champion, and now Nikki’s forearmed and Rackedly Attacked her into oblivion. A to B and now we’re at C. That’s how you do it, even if nobody lost their minds watching Carmella get comeuppance.
Alexa Bliss vs. Naomi was very similar. It’s a good, logically put-together match without a lot of heat, mostly because Becky Lynch went to the hospital with a-pun-dicitis and wasn’t cleared for the announced title match that was so important it made it into the No Mercy opening video package.
I’m going to formally lean toward Worst for that one, though, even though I understand why it happened. WWE loves to have surprise replacement babyfaces win even when they shouldn’t, and that’s what happened here. Alexa Bliss is the #1 contender who is supposed to have a title match tonight. Since she’s not getting it, she’s announced as the title contender for the November 8 Smackdown in Glasgow, Scotland. If she’s the current and announced future title contender, she should, you know, win this match, right? Instead, Naomi outsmarts her and pins her out of her own submission.
And like I said, I get it. Giving Naomi a win is fine, because you could argue that Bliss was preparing for Becky and not Naomi and therefore was at a disadvantage (which she can heelishly complain about). Plus, it gives Bliss something to do for a couple of weeks until Becky’s feeling better. Still, it would’ve been pretty great to see Bliss spend a month beating people with armbars as a f*ck you to the champ she claims is ducking her.
Best: LIKE PAUL WIGHT’S NAVEL, NO MERCY’S MAIN EVENT IS IN THE MIDDLE OF THE SHOW!
Yeah, here’s the match that should’ve gone on last. No question. If Smackdown has improved any two wrestlers since the brand split, it’s improved Dolph Ziggler and The Miz.
Ziggler isn’t dramatically different, but having him be self-aware enough to understand how flailingly helpless his character is has given him a likeable edge, and developed him from paper-ass challenger at SummerSlam to an actual, tangible thing at No Mercy. Here he’s wading through the afterbirth of a bunch of failed championship challenges, and putting up his career for another shot at the IC strap. Getting to end Ziggler’s career permanently is the one thing that’d convince Miz to give him the shot. Miz is backstage like, asking for Dolph Ziggler’s paycheck to be added to his when he beats him. Just a cruel, up-his-own-ass dude.
We’ve said it a lot, but Miz is doing the best work of his career. It’s like that concussion he got at WrestleMania 27 has finally, completely healed, and he’s able to be as good as he was then plus five years of maturity and experience. Like Ziggler explains in the post-No Mercy Talking Smack, Miz has grown from a character who talks a lot of sh*t and gets beaten up to one who talks a lot of sh*t and completely backs it up, and I can’t tell you what a difference that makes, not only for his character, but for his in-ring confidence. He is very clearly a great in-ring performer now, something we couldn’t have said when he was f*cking up figure-fours on the reg.
The match is built around the rivalry itself — specifically as we’ve seen it unfold in the ring — featuring numerous callbacks that serve to update and refresh a feud that, as Ziggler puts it, we’ve seen “a million times.” Spoiler alert, Dolph: we’ve seen all your matches a million times. But yeah, this one is the culmination of everything we’ve seen, from Maryse trying to spray Dolph in the eyes to the exposed turnbuckle, to the Spirit Squad interference and the payoff to Dolph’s constant superkick attempts. Maryse and the Squad get ejected, and Dolph uses the confusion to FINALLY hit one of those kicks and win the match. There’s even the nods to Miz’s weird self-confidence issues, with him trying to blatantly cheat throughout the match and just assume he’d get away with it, and the callbacks to him insultingly pulling out Daniel Bryan’s moves. Everything happens in this match for a reason, so much so that the flaws in Dolph or Miz’s games become secondary. Dolph is still Dolph — and we probably should’ve had a little more drama after the big ejection got the crowd hot — but here, it works. Putting Ziggler in the right context and the right moment makes him absolutely as good as he says he is.
This going on in the middle of the show so Bray and Randall Keith could stink it up in the main is the worst part of the show.
And you know? This could all be for nothing. How many times have we said this is the moment when Ziggler focuses and becomes a huge star? How many mid-card title wins does one guy get in his career? The most Dolph Ziggler thing would be for him to follow this up with a non-title loss to Miz on Smackdown, right? And then it’s just depressing business as usual.
Or, or, this new Smackdown could keep working for him and he and Miz can finally reach their Perfect Forms. Let’s keep our fingers crossed.
Best, But: CALL HEATH SLATER AND RHYNO THE ORTHODONTIC DEVICES, BECAUSE THEY’RE RETAINERS!
This is one of those matches that you’re fine with, but it feels like a missed opportunity.
I think everyone predicted an Usos victory here. Heath Slater and Rhyno are a great team, and shout-out to a world where Heath Slater gets hot tags, but the culmination of their story was winning the Smackdown Tag Team Championship tournament. The underdogs prevailed, Slater got his job, etc. Meanwhile, the Usos turned heel and instantly became a hundred times more interesting than they’ve ever been. Sure, they dress like fashionable toddlers — they for real could be Brad and Angelina’s adopted Samoan twin boys — but they’re finally (finally) compelling. Plus, they’re already feuding with American Alpha, and we all know all championship roads lead to Chad Gable. So wouldn’t it make sense to have the Usos cheat to win here, maybe take out Slater’s leg to put his Job Performing Abilities in question, and win the titles?
Instead of that completely reasonable thing, Slater and Rhyno just … pin them and retain. Which again is totally fine, because Slater and Rhyno rule. But like, what’s next? Are they just Smackdown New Day, where they’re gonna keep the tag belts so long we lose interest in tag belts existing at all?
A supplemental Best to Heath Slater riding Rhyno around backstage, though. That should’ve been the first thing they did. Rhyno should have to piggyback him from show to show. We should see vignettes of them like, on the freeway.
Worst: LIKE A GAS STATION THAT WON’T BREAK A DOLLAR, JACK SWAGGER IS UNCHANGED! MAMMA MIA!
For real, how are you gonna do a story about Jack Swagger leaving Raw and showing up on Smackdown to make an impact and keep him exactly the same? Nobody cares about Jack Swagger because “Jack Swagger” in quotation marks is terrible. Give him a hard reboot, maybe a new attitude, maybe some new moves, boom, you’ve got something. He’s not a bad wrestler. He’s just Jack Swagger, and throwing him into the f*cking sun couldn’t get him heat. “He gets to actually wrestle a little bit before losing” isn’t much of a relaunch.
Like I said, this is the most Smackdown-ass pay-per-view in all the best and worst ways. Like, if this exact match happened on Tuesday you would’ve forgotten about it by Monday. Don’t book shows in the Upside-Down, guys.
Worst: CALL US A BASKET OF DEPLORABLES BECAUSE WE’RE STARTING TO GET CONCERNED ABOUT WYATT POWER!
The main event (somehow) is Bray Wyatt taking 15 minutes to beat Randy Orton when he should’ve just cut him in the opening seconds and knocked him unconscious. It’s an absolute stinker in the worst Randy Orton kind of way, which mostly centers around taking 7 1/2 minutes to tell the story, “Randy Orton is stomping.”
It ends with the SHOCKING RETURN of Luke Harper. Smackdown signed a guy who has been Bray Wyatt’s subordinate for 95% of his WWE career and really only ever shows up to teleport into a ring and distract people so Wyatt can unfairly win, and gets shocked when he teleports into the ring to distract Randy Orton so Wyatt can unfairly win. What’s next, a WWE.com feature about how Erick Rowan has started wearing a sheep mask?
I don’t even have much to say about this, other than (1) it’s nice to have Harper back, because he’s always been the best actual wrestler in the Wyatt Family, and (2) they shouldn’t have main-evented a pay-per-view with Randy’s lazy garbage. No Mercy: Like a period of uncomfortable indigestion followed by a rancid fart after a great meal.
Best: Top 10 Comments Of The Night
ic title midshow and wwe title opener… did f*cking quentin tarantino direct no mercy?!
I’ve now seen the only politician I want to see this evening.
Fake underwear fighting seems like it’ll be the less ridiculous thing to watch tonight.
Can we stop the screeching during the Code of Silence?
Can the ref please stop the match and make Carmella tuck her pockets back in?
The Real Birdman
Otunga acting like Carmella wasn’t a hairdresser before all this
Bray: “You can’t beat me!”
Randy: *Puts on Kane’s mask*
Smackdown solves EVERYTHING in the ring, while Raw is Total Stephanie featuring Grampa Foley.
who wears short jorts?
She wears short jorts
King of Smark Style (Copyright Pending)
That Miz face is all of us here at With Spandex Commenting Section.
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