WWE – No Mercy/Hell In A Cell 2017 (Cert 15)
2 Discs DVD (Distributor: Fremantle Media) Running Time: 171 minutes/ 195 minutes approx.
The latest two-for-the-price-of-one release from WWE Home Video covers the two PPVs that took place back in the wake of Summerslam. Once again, it is necessary to warn anyone in advance coming to these shows fresh that the back cover of this DVD kindly spoils the results of the two title matches. Sigh…
The RAW brand is running the show this year after SD used it last year. The big selling point was the two “Wrestlemania worthy” matches being presented here, in the form of Cena vs. Reigns and Lesnar vs. Strowman. In case you are wondering why they aren’t being saved until WM, well, Vince McSenile is still set on Reigns dethroning Lesnar for the WWE title on the grandest stage of them all and nothing is going to derail his plans for having Roman be booed once again by a stadium full of fans.
No Mercy show took place on September 24th at the Staples Centre in Los Angeles, California drawing 14,000 fans with commentary from Michael Cole, Corey Graves and Booker T, while Graves is joined by someone called Vic Joseph for the Cruiserweight title match. As ever, while my match review won’t contain any results, expect plenty of opinion.
WWE IC Title Match – The Miz (c) vs. Jason Jordan
Having managed to screw up the career trajectory of American Alpha from one of the hottest acts in NXT to an afterthought on SD Live, some bright spark thought they needed to add an extra layer of dirt on the moribund career of Chad Gable and Jason Jordan by splitting the team up then moving Jordan to RAW where he was revealed to be the illegitimate son of Kurt Angle!
Suffice to say, whatever rub this was supposed to have given Jordan hasn’t materialised yet – in fact, it has gone the other way and fans are rejecting him like they previously did Reigns and Cena. It’s a shame as Jordan is a decent worker, demonstrated here against The Miz in a solid opening bout. Crappy ending aside this might have elevated Jordan had he not been lumbered with such a stupid gimmick absolutely nobody buys.
Finn Bálor vs. Bray Wyatt
We need this match again because…? Apparently after all the supernatural tricks and with Wyatt having lost at Summerslam to The Demon, Finn needs to beat Bray again but this time as himself. Bray attacks Finn during his entrance, injuring his ribs to tease an easy victory for Wyatt but Finn may just be a man but he has guts and fortitude and we have a match after all. This was about as good as it was ever going to be but is probably noteworthy for Finn wearing grey trunks and boots. Yup, I’m scrambling here…
WWE Tag Title Match – Dean Ambrose & Seth Rollins (c) vs. Cesaro & Sheamus
This is the infamous “Is There A Dentist In The House?” match. During a spot where Ambrose catapulted Cesaro into the corner, Cesaro overshot the turnbuckle and went mouth first into the support cable pushing his two front teeth UP into his gums!! And he still worked the remaining 10 minutes of the match! Swiss Superman indeed!
Anyway, these duos have shown great working chemistry and after the protracted Part-Shield reunion won the titles at Summerslam, this rematch was granted and was quite a stonker one again, going as far as arguably stealing the show. Solid wrestling, big brawls and insane near falls (one huge spot really should have been the finish) this was a great centrepiece match to have way too early in the show.
RAW Women’s Title Fatal 5-Way Match – Alexa Bliss (c) vs. Bayley vs. Emma vs. Nia Jax vs. Sasha Banks
If we don’t count the WM 32 pre-show this is only Emma’s third PPV match in her entire WWE career. Originally this was supposed to be a Fatal Four Way but Bayley returned from injury earlier than expected and was thrown into the mix. Theoretically this should be a total cluster but the ladies over delivered in what was an action packed bout with big spots – including Nia Jax being powerbombed off the apron to the floor by everyone else – that give everyone a chance to shine and the crowd was into it too. Job done I’d say!
Roman Reigns vs. John Cena
And so to the first of our two Wrestlemania worthy matches and Cena was clearly befuddled to hear the audience overwhelmingly cheer for him since they have a new hate figure know and boy, do they hate Roman. Yet it didn’t take long for many to forget the parity and chant “You Both Suck!” instead! Weird match in that Cena at first didn’t seem to be taking this seriously, teasing a walk out early on whilst Reigns seemed to be phoning it in.
They told the story that the “younger” Reigns (only eight year younger) was stronger thus easily out powering Cena so he had to use his “veteran” tricks to survive which is basically his Five Moves of Doom (© Scott Keith). The rest of the match was the usual near falls and big moves that has become Cena’s “big match” template while Michael Cole (with Vince in his headset) gave Cena the proverbial verbal BJ.
WWE Cruiserweight Title Match – Neville (c) vs. Enzo Amore
Not that this match had any chance of following the previous one but even the newest addition to the Cruiserweight division Enzo Amore, complete with his ambiguous behaviour could create any real interest in it. Announcer Vic Joseph (no, me neither) said Neville has held the CW title since the Royal Rumble, so Akira Tozawa’s one week reign ahead of Summerslam has been erased from the history books already.
Oh the match? Yeah, well it happened, there was a clear style clash and Neville, who worked as hard as he could here while Enzo flopped about (leaping top rope DDT aside), was gone from the company two weeks later. Apologies for the slight spoiler but it is contextually relevant.
WWE Universal Title Match – Brock Lesnar (c) vs. Braun Strowman
After Braun no-sold a German Suplex on RAW then proceeded to annihilate Lesnar, there was a lot of anticipation that the Monster Among Men might actually tame The Beast in a match of pure carnage. However there was little carnage here and the two brutes had a straight up match. It was a hard hitting and rather bruising affair of big power moves but certainly not a main event worthy display of destruction fans were hoping for.
Surprisingly, for a show that on paper didn’t have much going for it, featuring rematches from Summerslam, lazy multi-person bouts and two apparent marquee match ups given away far too early, No Mercy exceeded expectations and offered a perfectly enjoyable card of wrestling – to a point at least.
Opinion will be divided on this but Cena vs. Reigns just wasn’t as epic as it could – or should – have been and despite the build up of cocky Cena schooling the upstart Reigns on the mic, there was no sense that the torch had been passed at all. Elsewhere the Cruiserweight division might have a major name boost in Enzo Amore but his comedy shtick doesn’t work for what is supposed to be the “wrestling” brand.
Braun Strowman might be able to physically match Brock Lesnar but as a valuable star attraction, that boat sailed long ago and this vice like hold on the Universal title until Wrestlemania so Reigns can Conquer the Conqueror is doing nobody any favours, least of all the undercard cards who have nothing to work towards in the interim, since Miz is also glued to the IC title.
In summary – status quo aside this is a fun show that proves WWE can still get it right on occasion, but the blinkers still need to come off.
Best Match – Dean Ambrose & Seth Rollins vs. Cesaro & Sheamus
No Mercy Kick Off Match – Apollo Crews vs. Elias
Rating – ***
Hell In A Cell
Last year it was RAW who got to hold the giant steel cage extravaganza that is Hell In A Cell, but the dice this year has rolled in favour of the blue brand. The central feud driving this card is the bitter dispute between Kevin Owens and Shane McMahon in the latest iteration of the Wrestler vs. Authority figure angle that has been played to death over the past 20 years.
The 2017 Hell In A Cell show took place on October 8th at the Little Caesars Arena in Detroit, Michigan in front of 13,000 fans (the vast amount of empty seats shown on camera expose any “sold out” claims) with commentary from Tom Phillips, Corey Graves and Byron Saxton. As ever, while my match review won’t contain any results, expect plenty of opinion.
Smackdown Tag Title Hell In A Cell Match – The New Day (c) vs. The Usos
A feud that has produced a number of show stealing matches under a myriad of different conditions and stipulations, these two teams bring it to a close here. Xavier Woods and Big E are representing The New Day while Kofi Kingston remains locked outside the cage. Remarkably Kofi stays out there letting his team mates fend for themselves in this brutal encounter.
It began with a slight comedic tone due to the New Day’s rainbow coloured kendo sticks and use of musical instruments as weapons (including a cowbell because… well, you know the gag) but then it got vicious once the Usos starting to fire back. Some serious damage was done to both teams and it is fair to say this was a pretty rocking and conclusive end to a great rivalry.
Randy Orton vs. Rusev
The Viper beat Rusev in 10 seconds at Summerslam, Rusev got his win back on TV in the same quick time after Orton had just faced Aiden English, so we have this rubber match. Bad sport Orton gate crashed the Rusev Day celebration on SD which is a real dick move but in Vince’s addled mind this makes Orton a hero! Remember when Rusev was a monster heel back in 2014 BC (before Cena)? That should tell you all you need to know about this match.
WWE US Title Triple Threat Match – AJ Styles (c) vs. Baron Corbin vs. Tye Dillinger
Because of a victory over Corbin on SD, Dillinger was added to this match on the pre-show in an embarrassing skit only Vince thinks amusing. Solid work throughout from Dillinger despite never being seen as a threat while Corbin did his back man stuff. As ever Styles was the star of the show showing his versatility in working a straight style with Dillinger whilst bumping for Corbin.
The formula was largely the usual one man stays down on the floor while the other two go at it, but they did have the foresight to include some three way spots (avoiding the Tower Of Doom spot for once), mostly with the two smaller guys ganging up on Corbin. A bit too long but entertaining for what it was.
Smackdown Women’s Title Match – Natalya (c) vs. Charlotte Flair
Despite having great chemistry these two have together they set a very high bar with their paradigm shifting match in NXT, which they have yet to equal on the main roster, partially due to the different booking/match layout philosophies between NXT and the main roster.
That said, this was another well worked match that featured some nifty wrestling and limb work by Nattie and convincing selling of the injured leg by Charlotte (up until the moonsault spot at least), but the cheap ending – perhaps designed to keep both ladies strong – came too soon, just as things were starting to pick up where the drama filled final stretch usually begins.
There was a Fashion Files skit which took place on the original show that has been edited off here, presumably because the three-and-a-half hour run time in its uncut form wouldn’t have fit on this single DVD without significant picture quality loss – not that we’re missing anything of any value in the first place.
WWE Title Match – Jinder Mahal (c) vs. Shinsuke Nakamura
Considering how much of a bust their match at Summerslam was, a rematch should be relegated to TV but with no-one else ready to challenge Mahal, Nakamura gets a second go on PPV. It’s not really Nakamura’s fault but he is used to being in top of the card long matches and against guys who can work and Jinder doesn’t fit that mould. Same match as last time with a similar finish yet WWE still can’t seem to understand why Jinder is a lame duck champ and how they’ve killed Nakmaura’s lustre.
Bobby Roode vs. Dolph Ziggler
The former TNA and NXT champ Bobby Roode made his main roster debut on the SD after Summerslam as a face despite being heel for his NXT run but his Glorious music and entrance was over so I suppose it was inevitable. Ziggler has been in a funk for a while and his latest gimmick is to claim being the best in-ring performer, yet spent weeks on TV mocking ring entrances of other wrestlers. Now, he comes out to no music at all. Oh yes, the match – well, it was there.
Falls Count Anywhere Hell In A Cell Match – Kevin Owens vs. Shane McMahon
Since the idea of the cage/cell is to stop people from getting in or out and interfering in the match, adding the Falls Count Anywhere stipulation makes zero sense; but then again, Shane O’Mac can’t seem to have a match without falling off high structures so in the long run I suppose there is a method to their madness after all.
For almost 40 very long minutes this match sauntered along with Owens doing his best to draw heat and make Shane’s god awful punches look somewhat effective amidst the usually hardcore shenanigans and shortcuts to get a pop from the crowd. The excursion to outside the cell and onto the top shouldn’t be a surprise – you can tell the fans were waiting for this to happen all night long – whilst the finish was a huge shocker!
Keeping the cell matches to just two and bookending in the show with them was a smart move that paid off in terms of sustaining interest in an already overused concept, unlike the RAW show last year where they essentially did the same thing across three cell matches. The under card was solid if a little uninspired in places with Summerslam rematches but everyone worked hard, despite knowing the real draw were to the two cage matches.
That said, I personally still don’t see any value in having a near 50 year-old Shane O’Mac killing himself in main events while a roster of younger and better talent are forced to sit on their hands doing nothing. But then again I don’t have an out-of-touch father with no faith in his locker room or understanding of the modern wrestling scene booking the shows.
Gripes aside this show was solid enough, over achieving in some areas, coasting along in others and WAY too long but far from being an outright stinker.
Best Match – New Day vs. The Usos
Rating – ***
Man In Black