No Mercy was this last weekend and had a couple of the most high-profile matches of the year on its card: John Cena vs. Roman Reigns and Braun Strowman vs. Brock Lesnar. Did they deliver, let’s run through the show match by match.
Apollo Crews vs. Elias
After the last few pay-per-views, I kind of decided to skip this one’s pre-show. I mean, I had in on in the background but I was definitely more focused on Destiny 2 and watching the live recording of this week’s Irrational Passions. The reason for this, aside from not knowing who was in the kickoff match until it was actually happening is pretty much because if I watch all of the hype packages here in the pre-show, I have to watch them again in the actual pay-per-view and that’s just kind of boring.
I’m sure the match was fine but there was no story behind it. Just a couple of guys thrown into a match. With Elias being the one who more routinely gets screen time with his dumb little “sing insults to the crowd on an out of tune guitar” gimmick, it was no surprise he got the win here.
Intercontinental Championship: The Miz vs. Jason Jordan
A solid enough match to open the night but it was clear that people’s enjoyment of heel Miz was somewhat muted by the presence of Jason Jordan and his failed “Kurt Angle’s son” gimmick. I predicted Miz would retain his title here but maybe set up a rematch down the line and that’s pretty much what happened. The Miztourage’s numbers came into play and Jordan took the pin after some outside interference. Then he had a post-match interview where he floundered a bit but said he’d hope for a rematch. So we’ll probably see them face off again with the Miztourage barred from ringside or something for Jordan to get the eventual win and push.
Finn Balor vs. Bray Wyatt
Well I’m glad Balor won (even if I predicted that WWE would screw me here with a Wyatt win). There was a lot of really good wrestling in this match but ultimately it’s just too difficult to give a crap about the “feud.” So it’s extra annoying that it seems to STILL be continuing after this week’s Raw. The only real difference between this and the SummerSlam match was that apparently Mortal Finn Balor isn’t immune to Wyatt’s arched back pose weirdness like Demon Finn was. But we already knew that based on Wyatt’s surprise that it didn’t do anything at SummerSlam so the whole sequence of this feud has been dumb.
My buddy (and eternal Portillo’s bet winner) predicted that we’d see the Wyatt family reunite and lead into a feud between them and the Balor/Bullet Club. And that’s probably about the only thing that will make me care about this feud.
Raw Tag Team Championship: Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose vs. Cesaro and Sheamus.
Match of the night. Easily. And that’s without Cesaro busting up his teeth when he was slingshot into the ring post (the replay of which will haunt my nightmares). But the fact that he continued to wrestle for another ten-ish minutes - combined with his epic beach ball destruction skills - has him near the top of my list for wrestler of the year.
Lots of great back and forth throughout the entirety of this match. Dean kicking out after Rollins was super powerbombed onto him probably makes them a little bit overpowered as that seemed like a finisher. Really great stuff though as they continued to fight on and ultimately take out Cesaro following a trio of finishers (an accidental Brogue Kick, Rollins’ knee thing, and Dirty Deeds) to put an end to Cesaro’s very bad night. It’ll be interesting to see where the retaining champions go from here.
Raw Women’s Champion: Alexa Bliss vs. Sasha Banks vs. Bayley vs. Nia Jax vs. Emma
Well I definitely don’t know why Bayley was added back into this match. I guess to flesh out Alexa Bliss’ “I’ve destroyed the entire division (before Asuka comes in and wrecks shop)” push. But it wasn’t really needed since she’s already shown she cleared Bayley by taking the title from and retaining against her in the past. But whatever.
Nia Jax got to look strong and once again the story was about how it took all four of the other women working together to get her out of the action for a bit. Ultimately, Bliss took the win after a DDT to the returning Bayley in an ending that felt kind of lackluster but there were a few nuggets sewn throughout like a potential feud between Bayley and Sasha Banks.
John Cena vs. Roman Reigns
As predicted, this last month or so has basically served to be a passing of the torch kind of moment to once again try and pass off Roman as WWE’s main guy. And once again it fell flat with the audience booing his eventual win (since he kicked out of FOUR AAs, including one from the second rope). If Reigns doesn’t have the charisma to sell a spear/Superman punch defeating Cena, he doesn’t have the charisma to be the company’s top guy. Underwhelming. And then underlined by Cena’s long goodbye, the “Thank You Cena” chants, and the conversation on Raw Talk about whether or not he was retiring.
You can just keep telling us Roman is the top guy, WWE. You have to show us WHY he is, and the fact of the matter is that he’s not. There are a handful of other guys that can perform better and your audience continues to see through every single attempt to put him over.
WWE Cruiserweight Championship: Neville vs. Enzo Amore
Fuck this match.
Obviously thrown in a the filler between the two main events, this match was 99% Neville kicking Enzo’s ass and then a single low blow to take out Neville and make Enzo the new Cruiserweight Champion?
Credit where credit is do though. Enzo continues to suffer the onscreen hazing for his apparent backstage heat to the point that it’s genuinely uncomfortable now to see Braun Strowman and literally the ENTIRE Cruiserweight division come beat him down on Monday night. Boy can sure as hell take a beating.
And with him getting a clause that basically means everyone who attacked him has forfeited their title opportunity, I’d almost love to see 205 Live basically ignore Enzo and get all of the Cruiserweights fighting over a new belt or something.
Universal Champion Brock Lesnar vs. Braun Strowman
Another match that had such potential but suffered from creative’s decision to keep the wrong guy on top. Despite showing us time and time again these past few months what a dominant force Strowman was, he went down here to a single F-5. The fact that Lesnar won clean just continues to build him up as some unstoppable beast (which of course is utter bullshit when you remember Goldberg took him out in a minute and a half last year).
So they seem to just be gearing up for the long-rumored showdown at Wrestlemania between Lesnar and Reigns: the bland beast who’s never around and the bland guy who nobody wants.
WWE could have given Strowman a chance here but they passed the wrong damn torch.