The second SmackDown Live pay-per-view of the year goes head-to-head with Debate Night; so will it be the battle that steals the show? SmackDown has delivered complete unpredictability, and tonight’s No Mercy show promises a few potential swerves.
The pre-show kicks off with the debut of Curt Hawkins – He literally “steps foot in the ring” to his “Face the Facts” gimmick voice over entrance, in “San Francisco”… talk about heat. As fireworks send him packing triumphantly, he has an announcement to make before he leaves: his first match will take place on SmackDown this week.
“Everyone has to get in line, but they’re trying to figure out where that line forms,” JBL ironically reflects on the messy state of the tag division, manifested in an eight-man-tag of jobber teams, and American Alpha. Everyone still loves Ryder, The Ascension are somewhat relevant again, and Alpha are plodding along.
“For the first time ever, the main event will kick off the main show”, Mauro excitedly reiterates. The stare-off is intense, and the crowd is hot.
Ambrose brawls from the onset, with big bump after big bump. Styles hits a stunning neck breaker/DDT combination on both men, just in case you forgot that he’s the best in the world right now. Every man locks in a sleeper hold early on, and the match is already a million bucks. In between their slumbers on the mat, all three men work in perfect synchronicity.
But Styles gets what’s due, and he taps to both Ambrose and Cena. That would suggest that the match is over, you know, given the standard rules of a Triple Threat. But the match goes on, and AJ wins with a chair shot and pins Cena.
The grudge match of the month, Nikki Bella vs Carmella. Carmella is dominant for the most part. But Nikki is resilient; the influence of her superhuman partner perhaps. Practically out of nowhere, Nikki picks up the win with the Rack Attack 2.0.
The Usos aren’t concerned about their opponents tonight. Their new characters are exactly what the SmackDown tag division needs. Heath Slater and Rhyno are unprecedentedly over with the fans, but Jay calls them out: “I got kids too.” Jay and Jimmy work tandem on Rhyno, as Slater watches on helplessly. Slater gets the hot tag, and shows his fighting spirit, with a power slam from the top rope. Jay locks in his Tequila Sunrise submission, but Rhyno saves the day and retains the titles with a Gore spear. Why? Because.
The “Real American” and the “Lone Wolf” fight for relevance, in the match that no one asked for. Corbin is aggressive early on, crushing Swagger’s hand between the steps and ring post. But Swagger counters, dropping Corbin’s face into the turnbuckle before picking up the pace momentarily. Swagger puts on the ankle lock, yet Corbin is able to pull up the apron to distract the referee. Corbin pokes Swagger in the eye and finishes with a massive End of Days.
Next up is Miz vs Ziggler, and the main event scene is most certainly askew in a ratings war with the US Presidential Debate. There’s a strange atmosphere in the ring as Ziggler settles in. These two have made each other key attractions to SmackDown Live; absolutely anything can happen, and a technically profound match will always ensue.
Miz continues to rub salt in the wounds of Daniel Bryan, implementing his moves in spite. Mauro reminisces the great retirement matches in the career of Shawn Michaels, and the sentiment feels right. When Miz locks in the Figure Four, the end seems terrifyingly near. But he makes it to the ropes, and Maryse interjects. Ziggler won’t lie down, and pops a Rough Rider, tweaking his leg on the landing. Off-balance, Miz thrusts him into the turnbuckle, and follows up with a slingshot sit-out powerbomb.
After a few close finishes, Maryse finds a moment to spray Ziggler in the face – Miz capitalises with a Skull-Crushing Finale, but Ziggler gets a foot on the rope. Miz accidentally rips of Ziggler’s boot, inviting a Superkick and giving new meaning to “the show must go on”.
The Spirit Squad run in, but are quickly dismissed by the referee along with Maryse. Ziggler makes the most of the distraction, finishing with the Zig Zag and celebrating, all with one shoe. Ziggler ends Miz’ reign at 188 days, and the Intercontinental Title finally feels real again.
The news is officially broken to Bliss during the pre-show that Becky will not compete at No Mercy due to injury unrelated to competition. Bliss will compete for the title in Glasgow, Scotland on the 8th November. Alexa will instead have a match with Naomi. Bliss is fierce, and this is probably what she needed heading into the scheduled title match. But no – she suffers a setback as Naomi picks up the win by pinfall. A slight booking faux pas, is quickly brushed aside as Bliss is halfway down the ramp in fury. It makes you wonder what the original plan was.
Orton continues to make a mockery of the “New Face of Fear”, who seems to be anything but at this time. Bray is more so estranged, or delusional. Is Orton overcoming Wyatt? Or is Bray connecting with something beyond the games?
The match is back-and-forth, moving round the outside early. Despite poor booking, Bray has all the potential to be the wrestling “God” he proclaims himself to be. Bray keeps Orton isolated for the most part, in a debilitating slow match in comparison to the rest of the card. Yet it’s purposeful, returning an air of confidence to Bray that has since been absent.
The momentum changes when Orton escapes a running Senton on the steel steps, before taking matters to the announce table. He hits his signature draping DDT and gets the crowd rallied up, when the lights go out and Luke Harper returns to guide his leader to victory.
Wyatt leaves looking feared, finally picking up a big pay-per-view win, with Harper over his shoulder. A beautiful scene, to end a pretty solid No Mercy.
(Images via: WWE)