The No Mercy Report Card: Passing the Torch

One month ago Alexa Bliss stood in the middle of several masked duplicates of…herself and I got very excited. She was discussing the lack of Mercy in this upcoming PPV event but no matter how happy it made me, I have to admit that the whole thing felt very far away. I was in the middle of The Biggest Party of the Summer and couldn't be happier at the time so I really wasn't too bothered as to how much Mercy there was or wasn't coming up. Fast forward five weeks and here it is and here I am. With a chocolate treat resting next to my Pepsi Max, I think I’m ready to dive into this PPV extravaganza with two WrestleMania-worthy matches. Its name? No Mercy.

Pre-Show

SmackDown Tag Team Titles To Be Defended On 4/16 WWE SmackDown, And More

Elias vs. Apollo Crews

Before I get started with this wrestling match I must say that this pre-show featured The Miz and Alexa Bliss talking. It was very good. Now onto this wrestling stuff they do but before that I also have to remind you all that Elias is the greatest vocalist in the history of audio. Luckily, he’s also become genuinely good at the wrestling. I absolute adore that Booker and Cole love Elias too as it completely differs from the usual setup with heels and babyfaces. Elias’ pre-match shtick was so tremendous here that it got the crowd to cheer for Apollo Crews and that’s no easy feat.

Speaking of Crews, Titus’ presence has helped him dramatically and he seems to grow in confidence every time I see him. He always shines as an athlete of course and that was no different early here until a brilliant cut off with Elias slapping Crews’ ankle out from under him. ‘The Drifter’ is always nice and aggressive in control, add that to the fact that he’s a big powerful man that moves well and his heat segments become a lot of fun. Crews’ made a big comeback with all his flashy moves and the people seemed to be on his side which is always a cool thing to see with him.

If I was a real broadcast journalist I’d go back and watch this pair’s NXT matches against each other but I’m not so never mind. The finish came when Crews got overzealous, went up to the top rope only to miss which allowed Elias to hit DRIFT AWAY for the pin. Elias has been great on the main roster thus far and good for him, he’s clearly worked incredibly hard to improve and it’s paying off.

Grade: C+

Main Show

Intercontinental Title

The Miz (c) vs. Jason Jordan

Big pop for Miz immediately here and alternatively, quite a few boos for Jordan. This gimmick is unsurprisingly making things rough for Jordan unfortunately. This match started as you’d expect with Jordan having success early as the far more athletic man, almost laughing off Miz’s attempted shenanigans as he went along. Jordan’s babyface shine is always awesome with a ton of cool suplexes of various styles. Miz tried some more shady tricks unsuccessfully but a Miztourage distraction stalled Jordan and suddenly the heat was on. I love the Miz but I don’t always enjoy this portion of his matches. Often feels a little lifeless for me.

The Yes Kicks cost Miz here though as Jordan catches one and launches the champ into the air with a capture suplex. Jordan made his full comeback soon after and once again, this was great due to how fun his offense is. One more subtle thing about Jordan’s performance that I noticed here was how improved his facial expressions are. Those are the little things he’ll take from working guys this good in lengthy singles matches. Booker T constantly doubting his credentials is a nice touch too. Jordan began to really run wild now, suplexing Bo into Miz and Axel on the outside. For a moment people seemed to be on his side…even if briefly.

Jordan soon applied a crossface for a quite brilliant rope break spot but he continued to be in control anyway, firing up again for his big comeback. Bo distracted Jordan and the referee though and this allowed Axel to score a cheapshot which then, in turn, led to Miz’s Skull Crushing Finale for the win. Absolutely loved this match, Jordan’s post-match promo? Not so much but nonetheless, really good stuff from both guys and all with the correct finish too.

Grade: B+

Bray Wyatt vs. Finn Balor

Time for the match without any excitement or buzz: man vs. man. Bray jumped him from behind immediately and slammed him onto the announce table. The ringside doctors were very concerned about poor Finn and meanwhile, Bray grabbed the microphone to call Finn a coward. Finn then responded with that funny angry face that he always does before running back in and immediately flurrying with a plethora of dropkicks. Fun, I guess? Bray soon regained control though, hitting a big superplex as he began to focus on Finn’s injured back. ‘THE EATER OF WORLDS’ was pretty damn great here, getting vicious with his strikes and just generally being very mean.

Finn soon made his comeback and it was fine, all things considered. He sold his ribs well in between moves but it kind of loses its impact when he then goes and does a front dropkick. Balor paid homage to Fit Finlay and trapped Bray behind the apron for some offense. He can’t take advantage though because Bray doing his bridge gimmick apparently absolutely terrified him. Speaking of such, Finn’s scared face was abysmal here and pulled in a frankly embarrassing 0.74 on the William Regal/Alexa Bliss Facial Expression Scale.


(Editor's Note: I dunno, seems perfectly natural to me.)

The pair went back and forth for a while after this with some nice spots including some of Bray’s best explosive offense but in the end, it would be Finn who took advantage of his taunting to get the win. This layout did a lot for Finn but not so much for Bray which I guess is the point and has been for most of Wyatt’s career. Very good match nonetheless.

Grade: B

RAW Tag Team Titles

Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose vs. Sheamus and Cesaro

Firstly, I know they’re both over but I have to say that even still, I’m not a fan of the tag champs having individual entrances. Now that I’ve established that pointless opinion, let’s get on with this absolutely incredible wrestling match. The heels cheated immediately for an advantage and Cesaro quickly capitalized by hitting his big swing on the steel steps. This left Dean with a damaged shoulder and the heels began to work on it before Rollins’ made his big hot tag, dive and all. At this point I was wondering if New Day and my close, personal friends Jimmy and Jey Uso had spoiled me as I felt uninterested. That would soon change.

Things really began to get great when Cesaro got color like it was 1999 and was suddenly sporting a crimson mask! (Not really but I may never get the chance to use that phrase again so it is what it is) Luckily Sheamus came in to kill Seth while Cesaro recovered on the outside. I think Sheamus and Cesaro are a brilliant team but one thing I would say is that I find that their control segments can be a little bland and it’s partly why I think I preferred them as babyfaces.

Nonetheless, they really do have their moments and this match was certainly no different with Cesaro smartly removing Dean from the apron just in the nick of time. They definitely have some great tandem offense too which is another reason why I think they shined even more as babyfaces. I understand that they are kind of heels by necessity though. Sheamus’ frustration with the referee allowed Seth to flurry, and things now began to break down as Cesaro caught Seth’s kick and turned him directly into Sheamus’ brogue kick before putting Dean in the sharpshooter and then a crossface.

They had been working the shoulder the whole match which made this rope break spot even more effective. Gripping stuff here. Another great false finish followed with the double Irish Cross and a repeat of the SummerSlam finish almost followed it until Cesaro instead just caught Seth and powerbombed him onto Dean for an absolutely insane false finish that may have been slightly excessive. What wasn't excessive though was the idea of Cesaro trying to make Seth watch Dean’s demise. The babyfaces were a step ahead though and Sheamus ended up hitting his own partner with the Brogue Kick before turning into the champs finishers as Dean and Seth retained. Excellent tag match with a sublime final stretch.

Grade: A

RAW Women’s Title

Bayley vs. Emma vs. Nia Jax vs. Sasha Banks vs. Alexa Bliss

It seems I’m in the minority but personally, I enjoyed the build-up to this match. Regardless of that unbearable debate, this is a lot of talent in one ring. A big brawl immediately broke out because of course it did and Nia quickly squished Alexa with Emma then removing Nia. We were soon left with just Bayley and Sasha and I was a little disheartened by the relatively small amount of interest in their face-off but nonetheless, they had a fun little exchange until Nia re-entered to beat everyone up, even hitting a super dope spinebuster on Emma.

Alexa stopped the pin, though, which led to a really neat spot in which she almost caught Nia in the DDT but Jax just powered out instead. Bliss fought her off with forearms but Nia was destroying everyone and hit a double Samoan Drop on Sasha and Alexa in a big moment that really seemed to connect her with the audience in a big way. Bayley seemed to look slightly uncomfortable here at times and understandably so but she and Jax went back and forth anyway with Bayley securing a guillotine choke….shades of TakeOver: London. This time she wasn't submitting though.

All the other participants were forced to team up and remove Nia which allowed Emma and Alexa to beat up Sasha together. This partnership was destined to fail though as Bliss instantly tried to steal a pin from her which led to an exchange between them. Sasha then entered for a very weird stand-off opposite Emma. Nia was back to kill more people but this time the potential victims were a step ahead and almost ended Nia themselves with a brutal looking powerbomb to the floor. Incredible spot even if admittedly very scary.

With Jax out of the picture, Emma had a chance to shine and she did just that, putting in a strong showing in what was obviously a pivotal match for her career. Bayley and Sasha then both stopped the other from beating Bliss in a nice little tease of tension. This continued until Nia returned for more destruction, hitting her legdrop for a big false finish. However, she’d miss her final corner splash on Bliss which left Bayley to take the DDT and Bliss to score the win and retain the title. Great match here in which the focus was on those that needed it and the right person won considering the match type.

Best of all, Nia got over in a big way and it seems that based on her post-match interview, Bliss came out of this with some heel heat and that while maybe not unanimously, some of the audience wasn't happy with her winning. This is very good for all involved. Great showing for the women here.

Grade: B+

John Cena vs. Roman Reigns

It’s time for our first ‘WrestleMania-worthy match’ now as we look to find out if we can see whose time is now. Reigns’ power gave him the early advantage and the crowd responded with “you both suck” chants because of course they did. Cena’s response? To walk off.

OK.

Reigns chased him down though and began to punch him in the face…a lot. Reigns is just battering him here as Cena’s fun and games approach isn’t prepared for Roman’s focused aggression. That seemed to be the story anyway as Reigns was repeatedly too quick and strong for the older Cena.

From there Cena attempted his usual comeback on multiple occasions but Reigns constantly cut him off, be it with a big uppercut or a Samoan Drop. Cena simply couldn't get going. He did eventually apply his STF but that didn't work either with Reigns firing back with a big powerbomb. However, Reigns’ confidence may have got the better of him as he was caught and hit with the AA for a false finish. More false finishes followed including a quite stunning Super AA after Reigns missed his spear and though he’d sold for much of the match, Cena’s experience had once again almost got him the win.

Cena then turned to the announce table for answers but his plans would be unsuccessful with Reigns spearing him through it instead and in the process shoot DDT’ing himself in quite terrifying fashion. He couldn't hit the spear inside the ring though as Cena countered it into an AA and then that hilarious thing where he rolls through for one more but once again Reigns kicked out. Some would argue that this was too far/too much but for me, it was the center of the story as basically, Cena’s greatest hits couldn't close the show against his younger rival. On this night it simply wasn't meant to be.

So shocked by Reigns’ kicking out, Cena was almost frozen and Roman capitalized with a superman punch and a spear for the win. The finish here was quite symbolic when you consider the way Cena lost. It was like he’d finally met his real match. His mirror image, not in look or personality but in pure durability and toughness. Great stuff. The pair shook hands afterwards to seal the deal as far as the passing of the torch but I hope we see these two opposite each other again one day. Loved it.

Grade: A*

Cruiserweight Title

Neville (c) vs. Enzo Amore

This was always going to be interesting in this spot on the show but in hindsight, I think it confused me more than I ever even expected. Neville immediately took control and was easily out-wrestling him early because that’s obviously the story they’re telling and were always going to tell. Enzo had brief spurts of offense but was mostly just beaten up and almost even counted out due to Neville’s dominance. He skinned the cat at one point but was then immediately kicked in the face. Neville was overconfident though--yes this is the match they’re doing--and missed a Phoenix Splash which gave Enzo a chance to hit his Famed DDG.

He tried to follow this up with a dive though and got kicked in the brain instead. A count-out seemed inevitable when Enzo grabbed Neville’s belt and suddenly, the referee stopped counting. Now angry, Neville chased after Amore and seconds later, the referee took the belt, turned away and allowed Enzo to kick Neville right in the GREAT BALLS OF FIRE for the win. Weird, so weird. Not going to pretend I care though. Very unremarkable.

Grade: D

Universal Title

Braun Strowman vs. Brock Lesnar (c)

I assume that tears are streaming down your face as you read this and if so, I agree that it’s a very sad situation. However, I have to be a professional and march forward to cover this match. Braun stuffed two takedowns early but did take a German Suplex only to immediately stand back up. Strowman responded with a big Chokeslam and hit the Running Powerslam for an early false finish. This is great so far. However, things soon stalled. Braun continued to beat up Brock who sold well, including his back giving out on an F5 attempt.

Braun continued to dominate, so much so that Booker T referred to him as a pugilist. Things were still fun at this point but Brock then applied a Kimura and any life just seemed to completely leave the match. The crowd didn't buy it as a finish and Braun didn't really sell it as one. The talking between them wasn't exactly well hidden either and Brock seemed to just lose interest at this juncture. With Brock seemingly tired or just kind of bored, Strowman seemed a little out of sorts and just generally hesitant and unsure of himself.

Either way, Brock finally had some success with Suplex City and Braun responded with two Running Powerslams that garnered little response. Brock then stood up and F5’d Braun for the win. Weird finish and one I don’t particularly agree with but more than that, this match just didn't really work for me. It began perfectly as a sprint but then bizarrely slowed down and never really picked back up. I don’t think either man was at their best here but that happens sometimes, unfortunately. Professional wrestling can be an unpredictable thing in that sense. Underwhelming.

Grade: C+

Final Thoughts

Until the final two matches, this show was perfection for me. I at least liked every match up to that point and even loved a few of them. If the show ends with Cena vs. Reigns it’s an obvious A* grade for me but clearly, that wasn't the case and sadly, the last two matches pulled down the show’s overall quality. Regardless, I thought it was still a very good show that featured some excellent matches that were mostly very well booked and produced.

Grade: A

Please comment your thoughts on No Mercy below or just tweet me abuse @JoeHulbert5 like many others already do. Cheers.

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