October 12, 2008
No Mercy 2008, October 5, 2008, The Rose Garden, Portland, OR
Announcers: The teams of: Jim Ross & Tazz, Michael Cole & Jerry Lawler, and Todd Grisham & Jerry Lawler. Matt Striker is off tonight, apparently.
With the exception of the ladder match there has not been a lot of excitement regarding the buildup for this show. There’s nothing really special or original about the card, but then again, sometimes it’s these types of shows that catch you off guard and deliver big time. Let’s see what we get here.
Opening Match, ECW Championship Match: Matt Hardy vs. Mark Henry (w/Tony Atlas)
Hardy, of course, won the belt back at Unforgiven, but never actually pinned the champ in the process, so naturally we get this rematch. Hardy is over big as usual here tonight. Lawler pulls out some history, noting that he was Henry’s first ever opponent back at IYH: Mind Games in September 1996. Henry takes him down with a shoulderblock and hammers on him. He hits a couple of knees in the corner, but misses a third allowing Hardy to get in some kicks, but Henry manages to comes back and nail a clothesline. He tries a slam, but Hardy slips off and goes to chop Henry’s knees out from under him. He has some success with that working over the leg for a bit until Henry kicks him away, gets up and nails a big boot for 2. Banzai Drop of all things follows that and also gets 2. Henry works on the neck for a bit until Hardy fights back. Hardy ducks a clothesline, but runs into a bearhug. That lasts a bit until Hardy escapes and tries a sunset flip, which he can’t get, but he does manage to avoid Henry’s buttdrop. Henry shoves him back to the corner, but eats boot on the charge. Hardy drops some elbows from the 2nd rope and gets the Side Effect for a close 2.5. Henry blocks a Twist of Fate and hits a splash, but hurts the knee in the process. Delayed cover only gets 2.5. Twist is blocked again, and Hardy gets sent off the ropes. He tries a bodypress, but gets caught. Hardy hammers the knee until Henry lets him go, and then hits the Twist of Fate for the pin to retain at 8:08. Good, strong, clean win for Matt and a good opening match as well. **1/2
Next, we have a face to face interview with HHH and Jeff Hardy. Tonight’s text message poll question is “Who are you rooting for in the HHH/Jeff Hardy match tonight?” HHH notes that he’s voting for Jeff, although he’ll still lose.
Women’s Championship Match: Beth Phoenix (w/Santino Marella) vs. Candice Michelle
This is Candice’s big shot coming back against the woman who put her out of action for several months. And Candice indeed goes right to work with a couple of low dropkicks and a rollup for pin attempts that Beth easily escapes. Corner whip is blocked and Candice ends up slammed in there. Beth goes after the previously injured shoulder, running it into the corner. Snapmare gets 1, followed by a legdrop, and Beth starts stretching the arm. “Candice” chant breaks out indicating either a really hot crowd or that we’re still early enough that they’re not bored yet. She fights out of the hold, but Beth simply hooks her again. Candice then rolls on top for a 1 count to break it for good. She gets a jawjacker, a few clotheslines and a spinkick for 2. Beth comes back with a single arm takedown and goes up, but Candice crotches her. Beth falls into the reverse tree of woe and gets nailed with a dropkick for 2 as Santino pulls her outside to save. Candice dropkicks him through the ropes. Beth stops to berate him for getting involved and gets rolled up for 2. Candice tries an Impaler, but the gets reversed by Beth to the Glam Slam for the pin to retain the title at 4:49. This was reasonably good for a women’s match. *
Rey Mysterio, Jr. vs. Kane
Rey’s mask is now on the line here, and since it would be ridiculous to take it off of him with one week of build, the result is kind of given away here. Rey uses speed to control at first and even dropkicks Kane outside, but Kane is right back in to nail a big boot. Rey rolls out and Kane chases, but Rey catches him with a dropkick coming in. Kane gets a knee and tosses him, but he lands on the apron and springboards in with a dropkick to set Kane in 619 position. Rey goes for it, but Kane comes right out of it with a clothesline. Rey still fights back and gets a rana to flip Kane over and out. Rey tries a dive, but gets caught. He then slips over top and hooks a sleeper, but Kane flips him over the barrier and into the crowd. He then runs Rey to the post and gets him back in. Kane gets a slam and works over the back with some kicks. Boot to the face gets 2, and then he holds Rey on his knee with a backbreaker. Irish whip, but Rey holds on to the ropes. Kane charges and gets kicked, and Rey then gets a crazy looking flipping takedown. Kane still controls though as he is not really putting over any of Rey’s offence. He places Rey on the top rope and goes for the mask, but Rey elbows him away and hits a moonsault. Rey chops Kane down at the knees and gets a springboard legdrop for 2. Back up, he runs into a side slam which gets 2 for Kane. Rey slips out of a chokeslam attempt and gets a springboard something (might have been an armdrag or a DDT, but either way it was botched), followed by a springboard splash for 2. He goes up, but Kane nails him coming down. Corner whip, but Kane misses a knee and goes to the apron, allowing Rey to nail a 619 to the ass. Baseball slide puts Kane on the floor, but when Rey jumps off the top at him, Kane grabs a chair and nails him with it to draw the DQ at 10:10. I guess winning the mask wasn’t really that important to Kane after all. Match was ok, but I didn’t find it to be anything special. And I guess we get a big stip match at Cyber Sunday to settle it for good. *1/2
Now we get an extended talk segment, which may be becoming a staple of PPV’s going forward. MVP tries to get a word in with Vickie Guerrero to no avail, so he comes to the ring to complain about being left off the show. Next, we’re joined by “Mr. Excitement” Randy Orton as he declares himself unimpressed with MVP’s accomplishments. MVP, who’s coming across as the more impressive performer here in my opinion, threatens him, but now Dibiase, Rhodes, and Manu join the fun. They actually get on Orton’s case, while the fans get on Rhodes’ case. They take credit for putting Punk out at Unforgiven and declare that Orton just “picked up the scraps”. Orton couldn’t care less about any of these guys, so he leaves. Even though he’s supposed to be the biggest star of everyone in this segment, Orton completely failed to shine here, and came across like a robot. MVP likes Priceless’ style, but they point out that he’s not second generation and therefore not in their class. He leaves, but says he’ll remember this. CM Punk and Kofi Kingston meet him on the ramp and convince him to go back and attack, but then throw him to the wolves. Punk and Kingston then clean house on the tag champs, which would seem to setup another match for Cyber Sunday. I know they want to get all these guys some face time on the show, but this is the kind of thing Raw and Smackdown are for. Maybe next time they have a stretch of PPV’s all coming three weeks apart like this they should just make a couple of them single brand shows again so everyone can get their matches in, not to mention that the shows can get more buildup time.
#1 Contenders Match: John “Bradshaw” Layfield vs. Dave Batista
Winner here gets a shot at the winner of the ladder match at some point in the future. JBL rams Batista to the buckle off a lockup, but Batista fights back. Corner whip and clothesline hit, and now Batista rams JBL to the buckle. He gets an Irish whip and elbow followed by a big boot for 2. Corner whip, but JBL get the boot up on the charge. JBL tries the Clothesline from Hell, but ends up running right into a spear. JBL rolls out, but Batista is right on him, ramming his back to the apron. He gets JBL back in, but is caught coming in himself and knocked off the apron. JBL works him over outside and gets him back in for a 2 count. Neckbreaker hits and he drops an elbow for 2. He hooks a rear chinlock, but Batista powers up and suplexes out. Batista goes for an Irish whip, which JBL tries to reverse but can’t, so Batista gets a short clothesline. He gets a clothesline in the corner now and runs the shoulder into him. Batista whips JBL to the other corner and nails a powerslam. He tries a spear, but JBL kicks him. JBL comes off the ropes, but Batista catches him with a spinebuster. Batista Bomb finishes JBL off at 5:18. Well, that was short and to the point as they put Batista over strong there. I like it. ** JBL then cuts a promo saying his heart wasn’t in it due to the horrible week he’s had financially, but he’s happy the bailout package has passed so that he can keep all of his possessions and that the world revolves around people like him. I thought that WWE’s political campaigning was supposed to be non-partisan, but they’re clearly taking a side here. Cryme Time then appears on the screen for some reason and they steal JBL’s limo along with all the divas. Sgt. Slaughter’s completely random cameo appearance cracks me up and single handedly makes the entire segment a winner.
The Big Show vs. The Undertaker
Ah joy, the blowoff for the big angle from the last PPV as Undertaker continues his endless feud with Vickie Guerrero. Slugfest kicks things off with Show winning and clotheslining Undertaker out. He lands on his feet though and gets some shots on Show from the apron before dropping him on the top rope. Show knees him back to the floor and whips him to the barrier. He tries to post Taker, but it gets reversed and Show is posted instead. Taker gets him in and drops a leg on him on the apron. In the ring he gets a couple of bodyblocks on Show in the corner. Corner whip is reversed, but Taker gets the boot up and hits Show. Off the ropes, Show nails a clothesline and works Taker over in the corner. Slam and elbow get 2 as does a Russian legsweep. They trade shots for a bit until Show catches Taker in the corner and drops him. Vader Bomb attempt misses and Taker comes back. Punches and big boot in the corner lead to the flying clothesline and a legdrop for 2. Taker tries the Old School ropewalk, but Show grabs him by the throat on the way down and hits a chokeslam for 2.5. They get up and grab each other by the throats. Show swats Taker’s arm away and goes for another chokeslam, but Taker counters with a DDT and gets 2.5 off of it. Taker gets some punches in the corner, for which the ref gets on his case, so Taker chases him away. This allows Show to get the turnbuckle pad off and when Taker comes back to the corner he gets rammed to the steel. Now Show gets the Floyd Mayweather Right Hand From Hell, followed by a second one. Taker is out, so Show connects with one more to the back of the head for good measure and the ref stops it at 10:03 awarding the match to Show. I wasn’t excited at all about this match, but they did deliver something pretty good here, complete with an out of the box finish. For his part, Taker puts it over huge, and the crowd was pretty shocked by it. I like that they’re introducing finishes like this, but I think that my biggest beef with them is going to be consistency. Like in the next match, when I see Jeff Hardy laid out dead, the first question I’m going to ask is “Why does this not get stopped?” Perhaps they are planning it long term, but for this to really work they need to revamp the style of the entire promotion. In the right here right now though, I still consider this match to be pretty good. ***
WWE Championship Match: HHH vs. Jeff Hardy
The poll results show that 72% of the fans who voted are rooting for Hardy. The question they asked is very different from one like “Who do you think will win?”, which probably would have seen the opposite result given Jeff’s tendency to come up short in The Big One. They shake hands, but when Hardy turns his back, HHH jumps him and gets a rollup for 2. No hard feelings, so they go into a sequence of trading holds. HHH gets fired off the ropes and gets a shoulderblock. Back to the wrestling as Hardy gets a side headlock takedown. HHH rolls him up for a 2 count. They get to their feet and a corner whip by HHH leads to Hardy getting a flying headscissors and clotheslining HHH outside. Hardy follows that by coming off the apron with a clothesline. Back in, he gets a slingshot legdrop for 2, and goes back to the side headlock. He gets fired off, but HHH puts the head down and Hardy kicks him. He then charges, but gets backdropped to the apron. Hardy lays in some shoulders from there, but HHH hooks him for the Pedigree. He can’t execute it though and Hardy manages to backdrop him outside. Hardy tries a plancha, but HHH avoids it and Hardy takes a sick bump on the floor. Back in, HHH gets a 2 count, and now goes to work on the back. Backbreaker followed by some elbows gets 2. Hardy comes back, but is soon caught in a facebuster for 2. Kneedrop also gets 2. Corner whip by HHH sees Hardy get the feet up, but HHH still manages to hook an abdominal stretch. He uses the ropes for leverage and the ref catches and forces the break, so he goes to a sleeper instead. Hardy fires him off out of that and gets a clothesline. Spin kick, followed by a legdrop get 2 for Hardy as does a seated dropkick. HHH catches him with a knee and goes for a corner whip, but Hardy reverses and HHH goes over the top and out. He tries the plancha again, and this time it hits. Back in, a 2nd rope clothesline gets 2. Twist of Fate is blocked and Hardy gets sent off and nailed with a clothesline, off of which HHH gets 2. Corner whip is reversed, but Hardy runs into an elbow. HHH comes off the 2nd rope, but gets caught and hit with a reverse suplex for 2. Corner whip by Hardy is reversed, but he jumps up and tries the Whisper in the Wind, although HHH is able to avoid it and slam Hardy to the mat for 2. Spinebuster hits for the Champ, but the Pedigree is countered to a slingshot with HHH hitting the post. Now Hardy hits the Whisper, but it only gets a close 2.5. Slingshot dropkick hits and Hardy goes up, but the Swanton misses. Pedigree is tried again, but countered to the Twist of Fate which hits. Hardy goes up again and this time hits the Swanton, but when he covers HHH by laying on him with his back, HHH cradles him up and gets the 3 count to retain at 17:01. That entire finishing sequence was great, as just for a moment you thought that Hardy might pull it off. HHH did an awesome job here, playing his role of the crafty veteran to Hardy’s young up and comer perfectly. This match had about 10% of the buzz that the Orton/Hardy match did at the Royal Rumble, so while this was definitely not the time to do it, I think they need to put the belt on Hardy at some point. He shouldn’t have a long title reign, and he won’t make a great champion, but it’s a moment that the fans are demanding. Since the moment is all that matters, they may as well go all out and build up to it at Wrestlemania just to make it as big as possible. ****
Main Event, World Heavyweight Championship Ladder Match: Chris Jericho vs. Shawn Michaels
This should end up being the blowoff here as there’s really nowhere else to go after this. It’s been the best feud of the year in any case though. They trade hold to start with Shawn getting a shoulderblock. He ducks a clothesline and goes for Sweet Chin Music, but Jericho avoids it. Corner whip and Shawn charges, but he hits the post shoulder first. Suplex sees Shawn bridge out and try a backslide, but pins don’t count here. Jericho knocks him down and clotheslines him to the apron. Springboard shoulderblock sends them to the floor. Jericho whips him to the ladder, but Shawn jumps on it and dives back at Jericho. Shawn goes to whip Jericho to the post, but it’s reversed and Shawn hits instead. Shawn avoids a shot with the ladder by using a drop toehold to send Jericho crashing face first into it. Shawn now tries a ladder shot, but Jericho hooks the legs and flips Shawn over to the Walls on the floor. He can’t win it like that of course, so he lets it go and gets the ladder in the ring. While he’s pulling it through the ropes though, Shawn teeter totters it right up into his face. Jericho loses a piece of his tooth and gets a nice bloodied lip as a result. It would look even worse the next night on Raw. Shawn sets the ladder up and climbs, but Jericho recovers enough to get him down. He goes to slingshot Shawn into the ladder, but Shawn lands on it and goes for a quick climb, but Jericho reacts quickly enough to make the save by tipping it over. He nails Shawn with the ladder a couple of times and then sets a second one in the corner. Corner whip is tried, but is reversed all the way back to the original corner with Shawn hitting. So Jericho just tries to ram Shawn to the ladder, but Shawn counters this and Jericho hits instead. His legs get hooked in the rungs, so Shawn just pulls the whole thing over to send Jericho crashing down. Shawn sets a ladder in the corner between the bottom and middle ropes and drops Jericho knee first on it. He then hooks a figure four, but Jericho reverses and the hold gets broken. Jericho kicks the ladder so it swings around and hits Shawn in the face. He then sandwiches Shawn between a ladder, and sets it up to climb. Shawn shakes it, but Jericho comes down on his feet. He sets a ladder on the corner and tries to ram Shawn to it again, but it’s again reversed and Jericho takes the brunt of it. Jericho goes to the floor, so Shawn just throws a ladder down on him. He sets one up on the floor, nails Jericho a few times and preps the announce table for usage. He puts Jericho on the table and climbs, but Jericho recovers and makes it on to the ladder as well. Suplex sends them both crashing through the table and necessitates a slow crawl back to the ring. Once there, Shawn goes to ride a ladder down on to Jericho, but Jericho stops that and crotches him. He tries a superplex with the ladder between them, but Shawn hits some punches and knocks the ladder over, and then follows up with the flying elbow. He tunes the band, but is still selling big time. Jericho manages to pull a ladder in the way to counter the kick. He drops the ladder on Shawn a couple of times, and then hits a Lionsault onto the ladder, which is on top of Shawn. He climbs, but Shawn tips it over sending Jericho right out to the floor in the nastiest bump of the match. Jericho is immediately screaming about his knee, but it appears to be worked. Shawn goes to climb as Jericho slowly makes his way back. He manages to make the save just in time and in knocking the ladder over he crotches Shawn in the process. Jericho climbs now as Shawn comes up the other side. They have a slugfest, which Shawn wins as he knocks Jericho back and he gets hooked in the rungs. Shawn appears to have it won, but Lance Cade runs out and stops him, distracting Shawn long enough for Jericho to get free and climb again. Cade is taken out with Sweet Chin Music allowing Shawn to climb back up. The belt gets unhooked as the pull back and forth on it. Crowd is super hot for this finish. Finally Shawn pulls Jericho forward with Jericho nailing an inadvertent headbutt. Shawn falls back, while Jericho pulls the belt down to retain at 22:19. Amazing job by these guys. I’m only about 80-90% sure that this match deserves this rating on its own as there are maybe a few nitpicky reasons why it should be lower, but taking into account how great this feud has been overall I’m going to say what the hell, they deserve it; let’s go with *****. Great blowoff to the feud although it’s kind of a shame that it means we don’t get any more from them.
Ok, so a ***** match makes it an automatic thumbs up regardless of the rest of the card, but that rest of the card also delivered big time. The undercard ranged from acceptable to very good, and surprisingly so in the case of Taker/Show. Our ***** main event is then complimented by a **** semi-main which is always a great deal. And another thing I liked about this was that you can see the direction they’re heading in a lot of things. For example, instead of using a week of TV to establish Jericho’s next contender, they did it here so they can now just focus on the build to it. So for No Mercy 2008, we have a big thumbs up, and a high recommendation to catch the show if you haven’t already.