In two Wrestlemania-sized main events, John Cena faces the man who wants to replace him as the face of the company, Roman Reigns, and Brock Lesnar defends his WWE Universals Championship against the monster Braun Strowman…
The Miz (C) (with “The Miztourage;” Curtis Axel & Bo Dallas)
WWE Intercontinental Championship
(Winner via pinfall: The Miz)
(Winner via pinfall: Finn Balor)
Seth Rollins & Dean Ambrose (C)
Cesaro & Sheamus
WWE RAW Tag Team Championship
(Winners via pinfall: Rollins & Ambrose)
Alexa Bliss (C)
Fatal-5-Way for the WWE RAW Women’s Championship
(Winner via pinfall: Alexa Bliss)
(Winner via pinfall: Roman Reigns)
WWE Cruiserweight Championship
(Winner via pinfall, and new champion: Enzo Amore)
Brock Lesnar (C) (with Paul Heyman)
WWE Universal Championship
(Winner via pinfall: Brock Lesnar)
I try not to get bogged down in debates about booking and/or pushes, but it would be remiss of me to not admit that No Mercy 2017 was a head scratcher.
I’ve often written about how New Japan Pro-Wrestling regularly presents shows with weaker undercards, but that those shows become progressively more superb the longer they go on, particularly once the singles matches kick in. With No Mercy, WWE did the complete opposite, delivering a strong opening set of matches, but then completely underwhelming its viewing and live audience with its headline bouts. It should also be pointed out that, going into this show, those headline matches had been built up incredibly well.
Quite how a company can put Lesnar/Strowman and Cena/Reigns on the same card, but leave the viewer with a sour taste in their mouth, is quite the mystery. An even greater mystery is who chose to give both matches the same finish, with the eventual winner just kicking out at a near fall, then suddenly hitting their finisher out of the blue to win. Honestly, this finish was the same, and both times it drew an audible “oh for f*** sake” from me.
The presentation of Reigns and Cena defied all logic. Cena has talked a big game going into this match, and his promos have been intense, but then we get to the match only to see him presented as something of a hasbeen? Reigns was made to look fresher, stronger and more capable throughout, and Cena was made to look less competent than he perhaps ever has been in the past. The defeat, which saw Cena fall to a pinfall following one spear, came immediately after Reigns had just kicked out of two Attitude Adjustments, and made Cena look a joke. Losing doesn’t always matter in professional wrestling, but losing in the manner that Cena did at No Mercy would be incredibly damaging to anyone, and in my eyes they’ve now got some work to do in resuscitating the John Cena character upon his eventual return.
It must be said that the Brock Lesnar and Braun Strowman interactions during their multi-man match at Summerslam 2017 were superb. There was destruction everywhere, and Lesnar’s broken body often laid in the centre of it. The excitement for a title match between the two was at fever pitch, and rightly so, as the teasers had been breathtaking. But then we got to the match we had been waitin for, and WWE gave us nothing that had got us so into the idea of this match in the first place, instead choosing to give us an actual attempt at a wrestling match between the two! Who honestly looked at the fan reaction to these men battling each other at Summerslam, and concluded that an in-ring wrestling contest was what should take place in their 1-on-1?
Both matches were billed as being worthy of main eventing Wrestlemania and, on paper, that was absolutely true. In actuality, Reigns and Cena delivered one of the worst PPV matches I have seen from this company in 2017, all purely because of how they chose to present both men in it (and the lack of actual wrestling, saying that), and Lesnar and Strowman didn’t make a star of Strowman, but instead almost extinguished it. Throw in a weak Cruiserweight match inbetween these two matches, and you get a very drab final 1.5 hours of the show.
A special shoutout must go to the five women who competed in the WWE RAW Women’s Championship match, and the four men in the tag team championship match. Both were hard-hitting, had the crowd invested, and delivered some wonderful spots. They will likely get forgotten by many due to the weaknesses of what followed them, but they were without any doubt the best matches of the night.
All in all, a strong first half, and dire second. WWE should probably count themselves lucky that Reigns/Cena and Lesnar/Strowman didn’t happen at Wrestlemania instead.
Match of the Night
Dean Ambrose & Seth Rollins vs. Cesaro & Sheamus