In my "Notes" posts, these are random observations, written in real time, as I'm watching the event. These posts are not meant to be traditional blog style articles, they are just random lists of observations. I hope you enjoy them and thanks for taking the time to view my website. Any comments can be sent to @NVSportscards on Twitter.
Coming to you from the Golden 1 Center in Sacramento, CA it's WWE No Mercy 2016, featuring Smackdown Live!
The announce crew for the night is led by Mauro Ranallo, and co-hosted by JBL and David Otunga. The Pre-Show panel is led by Renee Young and with her at the table is the Hall of Fame lineup of Booker T, Jerry Lawler and Lita.
There were 2 matches on the Pre-Show, let's cover those first.
Hawkins just announced that he'd have a match this week on Smackdown.
WINNER: NO MATCH
There's nothing here. This match didn't do any team any favors. Hopefully American Alpha can begin their ascent into the title picture soon and get as far away from Pre-Show matches as possible.
WINNER: AMERICAN ALPHA & THE HYPE BROS
Now, on to the main card:
John Cena comes out first, to start the show. There is a very loud and almost respectful chant of "Cena Sucks". Clearly the fans are doing this chant now, as a show of respect to Cena, like when the fans would say "You Suck" during Kurt Angle's entrance theme.
Dean Ambrose received some noticeable boos during his entrance and rightfully so. His character has completely lost it's steam. Before the Draft, Dean perpetually had an axe to grind, but now, he's just there. There's no edge, no lunacy, no unpredictability. It's just Dean, doing the same Tope Suicida dives and the same boring Lunatic Lariat. He needs a breath of fresh air to revive his gimmick. Off the top of my head, I'd say to turn him full heel and team him with Alexa Bliss. They could form a nice duo, with Bliss going after Becky Lynch and Ambrose going after Dolph Ziggler.
Of the 3 men, AJ Styles was the most over, hands down. He continues his forward trajectory with a win in this match, but as I've mentioned in previous blogs, he's running out of quality opponents, if he hasn't already. There were rumors that Orton was next in line for a Styles program, but I don't see how Orton gets there if he loses to Bray, later on this card.
Another interesting note here, is that this show started with the main event. Immediately, I'm thinking that there is going to be some shenanigans to end the match, then another match would be held later in the night, in lieu of there being no women's title defense. And wouldn't you know it, as if right on cue, AJ Styles taps out while Ambrose and Cena have a submission applied to him, simultaneously. Luckily, the ref restarts the match on the spot.
Ambrose was essentially a non-factor in this match, as most of the impact moves were between Cena and Styles. The majority of this match was fairly "paint by numbers" as each man took turns doing their finishers and kicking out of near falls. However, once Styles suplexed Cena on the outside ring apron, this match took a turn for the better. Styles hit an amazing Springboard 450 Splash on Ambrose, then picked up the victory, after hitting Cena with a chair. Overall this was a decent match, but I can't wait until Dean Ambrose is taken out of this main event picture. He doesn't belong there and each passing PPV is highlighting this more and more.
WINNER: AJ STYLES
Once again, Carmella comes out to ZERO response from the crowd. She's a heel who doesn't get booed and a face that doesn't get cheered. I think her only recourse would be to become part of a tag team or go into a feud with Eva Marie. Carmella needs the nuclear heat that Eva generates to help her get a boost and get some kind of reaction from the crowd.
One thing I'll never believe is Nikki Bella as a face. It doesn't fit her. She badly needs to be a heel.
If there are definitive qualities which make the difference between a "Diva's match" and a "Women's wrestling match", then this is the latter. This was the epitome of a Diva's match, full of non-impact moves and meaningless story. Also, could someone please teach Nikki Bella how to do a clothesline? She does this thing were she jumps in the air and barely makes contact with her wrist, but we're supposed to believe that she's taking down her opponent. This one single move perfectly encapsulates everything that was ever wrong and awful with the former Diva's division.
Ultimately, there's nothing here. There's no story and the outcome of the match is meaningless. With Naomi above both Nikki and Carmella, this isn't even a contender's qualifying match.
Nikki wins with what she calls the Rack Attack 2.0.
WINNER: NIKKI BELLA
Heath Slater and Rhyno have an expiration date, but that date is not today. Eventually, they'll split and drop the titles, but in the meantime, Slater is selling merch and dropping catchphrases, so expect a couple more matches like this. One positive note is that The Usos have some real potential as a tag team. However unless they start racking up quality wins, then their gimmick is doomed to be a bust, just like their previous gimmicks. They'll be going after American Alpha next, but everyone can see from a mile away that The Usos will walk away from that feud, with more losses under their belt. Something that could save them and buy some time, would be to go into a feud with the tag team of Bray Wyatt and Luke Harper. The Usos will still lose, but they can make a much bigger impact by losing to the Wyatts, than by losing to American Alpha.
The money with Slater is in his segment work (promos, skits, etc) but tonight was just a plain tag match, and by plain, I mean plain. The lone standout spot, was when Heath Slater ran up the ropes, grabbed one of the Usos and did a powerslam from the top rope. Other than that single move, the rest of the match was pretty formulaic.
I don't see The Usos winning the tag belts anytime soon, so assuming that Slater & Rhyno drop the belts, I would assume it would be to a team who can then transition those belts over to American Alpha. It would have to be a heel team and no other heels currently fit the bill. My guess is that Bray Wyatt and Luke Harper get involved in the tag division for a couple of months while they slow burn their impending feud with each other, which will probably happen at Wrestlemania 2017.
Anyway, Rhyno hits a Gore and the champs retain the belts.
WINNER: HEATH SLATER & RHYNO
This match was surprisingly good. Baron Corbin is starting to come into his own as a heel and Jack Swagger showed intensity that he hasn't shown in years. Despite the crowd chanting "Boring" at one point, I'd actually recommend watching this match. It was fast paced and did it's job so that Corbin can put together a string of credible wins to propel him towards an eventual title shot.
WINNER: BARON CORBIN
This match had the makings of being a HUGE match, and boy did it deliver. This was easily the Match of the Night, as Dolph Ziggler persisted and beat out The Miz for the Intercontinental Title. There were some obstacles along the way (another macing by Maryse, and a run in from the Spirit Squad, Mikey and Kenny Dykstra). The ref threw everybody away from ringside and with only one boot on, Dolph hits Miz with a Superkick and pins him.
From here, I assume these 2 have a rematch at the next Smackdown PPV, which will be Survivor Series. It could be a team vs team event, which then leads to a single's match at the next PPV after that, which is TLC on December 4th.
WINNER: DOLPH ZIGGLER [NEW CHAMPION]
WINNER: NO MATCH
This was a decent match. Alexa Bliss is undoubtedly one of the best heels on Smackdown. It's a shame that Becky Lynch couldn't compete, because this feud is going to be a great one.
In the meantime, Bliss will get her shot at the title on an episode of Smackdown Live on Nov 8th. If she doesn't win, she'll have to wait her turn as Naomi is probably the new #1 contender for the women's title.
In regards to Naomi, something is still off with her. I don't know if she's being told in the back to tone down her GLOW gimmick, but she definitely has. If you look at her GLOW debut, it's like night and day, compared to her entrance at No Mercy. If WWE is going to push her, they need to let her do her gimmick in full force, which I found out tonight is an homage to The Last Dragon. I thought it was just an EDM / Raver gimmick.
In retrospect, this match shouldn't have main evented the card. The IC title match should have went on last. I don't know if Randy Orton has what it takes to stay in the main event picture. He seems slow and robotic and his personality is better suited as a heel than as a face.
Bray Wyatt is the exact opposite. He is brimming with charisma and personality, but he's being wasted as a heel.
For now, there is still no physical form of Sister Abigail, but at least Luke Harper is back. Harper appeared in the ring after the lights went out and distracted Orton. Bray then hit him with Sister Abigail and pinned Orton to conclude the show.
IMO, this is where Bray's story gets really good. Hopefully he either gets a main event push opposite AJ Styles, or him and Harper reign terror on the tag team division and ultimately win the belts. Good match, but I really look forward to what Bray can bring to Smackdown in the 6 weeks, while we wait until the next PPV.
WINNER: BRAY WYATT
Although this was a good show, it wasn't nearly as good as Backlash. This show was much more predictable, as evidenced by the fact that I nailed every prediction right on the head, except the women's matches, which I assume were changed slightly due to Becky Lynch's current medical situation.
Coming out of this show, I really hope there is a change to the tag division soon, with a fresh injection of new blood or stronger teams. They need a heel team to win the belts and eventually drop them to American Alpha. As I mentioned, I hope that Wyatt/Harper are that tag team.
In the women's division, Alexa Bliss may get a push and depending on Lynch's situation, Bliss may actually be holding the title, this time next month. The easy thing to do would be to put the belt on Nikki Bella, but IMO they can't take the easy road. In storyline, Nikki Bella is not currently in contention for a title shot, as the current contenders are Alexa Bliss, Naomi and the champ Becky Balboa. So, I have a strong feeling that Bliss may be the new women's champ, to which I say, GOOD.
As for the IC Title and the WWE Championship, I think that AJ Styles is going to be tied up in triple threats or garbage tag matches for a little while, while WWE burns off a couple of PPV's to make Styles title reign longer, without actually having to face legit contenders one on one. I don't see Randy Orton being the next contender and depending on the recovery time of Finn Balor, WWE may hold off on Cena/Styles until Wrestlemania. If Balor is healed in time, then I expect him to be Styles' Mania opponent.
So, how does that connect to the IC Title situation? Well, if Styles is busy in triple threats and tag matches, then that means that the IC Title match will probably main event TLC, which is the next PPV fully dedicated to Smackdown (Survivor Series is co-branded). So while this means that we probably won't see a straight up one on one match with Styles defending the belt, it DOES mean that Smackdown can finally bring some prestige back to the IC Title belt. And who better to carry the mantle, than Dolph Ziggler?