Thursday, 9 October 2008

WWE No Mercy on Sky Box Office - TV Review

It’s that time of the month again where World Wrestling Entertainment move on to pay-per-view, with Jeff Hardy challenging Triple H for the WWE title, and Shawn Michaels challenging his nemesis Chris Jericho in a ladder match for the World title. It’s No Mercy, shown live here in Great Britain on Sky Box Office.

The show begins with title action, with Mark Henry, accompanied by his buddy Tony Atlas, challenging Matt Hardy for the ECW title. *SARCASM ALERT!!* Well, this was one I was really looking forward to. As per usual, Henry was his usual, plodding self, and it was only the expertise of Hardy that saved this match from being a total stinker. But then again, Matt Hardy could probably have a good match with a broomstick. It was the usual power stuff from Henry, with Hardy targeting his giant legs, with Hardy retaining the title, countering Henry’s cross body block catch by hammering away on the strongman’s leg, causing Henry to drop him so he could execute the twist of fate. Maybe this little feud will come to an end now, because I’m pretty sure that there are far more people on the ECW roster who could have a better match with Hardy.

Time for the divas next, with Beth Phoenix, accompanied by her main squeeze Santino Marella, defending the Women’s title against former champion Candice Michelle. I’m kind of surprised that this match was second on the show, considering that they normally use the diva matches as filler material. So have the WWE creatives been watching some TNA Knockout matches recently, because right from the start this one was pretty bloody good. Candice has really improved since the last time I saw here, and Beth, well, is Beth. You get good stuff out of her every time. The story of this one saw Beth target Candice’s previously injured shoulder, with Candice playing the role of the underdog to perfection, fighting a tough battle against the much stronger opponent. However, it wasn’t enough, with Beth getting the pin with her variation of the power bomb. Very good match this, and good to see Candice back…and her front.

The proverbial David v Goliath battle follows, with Rey Mysterio facing the massive challenge of Kane. Considering the size disparage between these two, this one could have been a stinker. Thankfully it wasn’t. As always, Mysterio is at his best playing the plucky underdog, and Kane is at his best playing the evil monster. Their differing styles gelled extremely well, and made for a good match that had twists and turns throughout. This was just one of those matches you couldn’t take your eyes off, hoping that the little guy would come out on top against his evil nemesis. He did, in a way. As Kane slumped over the barricade, wounded by Mysterio’s attack to his legs, the masked one climbed to the top rope, only to be met by a steel chair as he came down, earning the big red machine an immediate disqualification. A good way to end the match, and to keep the feud fresh for another day.

After a lengthy in-ring segment MVP, Randy Orton, Ted Dibiase, Cody Rhodes, Manu, C.M. Punk and Kofi Kingston, it’s back to the action, with Batista facing JBL to determine the number one contender for the World title. Those of you with long memories will remember the matches these two had a few years ago, and they weren’t exactly mat classics, with JBL admitting that they didn’t exactly click in the ring. Well, things were a little better this time around. Although this was nothing more than a brawl, with a couple of rest holds thrown in for good measure, it lived up to it’s lofty status, although it didn’t last as long as I thought it would. There was one slightly dodgy moment, but in the end Batista took care of the money man with his trademark Batista bomb. The Animal continues to look good, and it showed in this match.

Another rivalry that’s been renewed continues next, with the Big Show taking on the Undertaker. These two big behemoths really laid into each other, with hard shots as they brawled around the ring, mixed in with the odd wrestling hold. As with the previous match, this one also lived up to it’s status, and the fact that it was little more than a slug fest didn’t detract from my enjoyment. Everything about this match was just so right, and in the end, after exposing one of the turnbuckles and ramming the Undertaker’s head into it, Show used his new weapon, his big right hand, to knock the dead man into the middle of next week, knocking him out, with the referee stopping the match after the third concussive blow. Boy, was this good, and I wouldn’t mind getting a re-match after this one.

Main event time #1, as Jeff Hardy challenges Triple H for the WWE title. This was one of those matches you just couldn’t help looking forward to. This one certainly lived up to the hype. The excitement and great action began from the moment the opening bell sounded, producing a match with two men who were perfect foils for each other. Back and forth from the outset, the action never let up, and again this was one of those matches you just couldn’t take your eyes off, it was that damn good. Tons of great action, with a simple finish. After Hardy finally took Triple H down with the twist of fate, and followed it up with the swanton from the top rope, Hardy was just a second away from winning the title when the Game countered Hardy’s pin attempt with a pin of his own. This may not be the best match of Triple H’s career, but it certainly is the best match of Jeff Hardy’s career, and if this doesn’t get a match of the year nomination then there’s no justice in this world.

Main event time #2, as Shawn Michaels challenges Chris Jericho for the World title in a ladder match. With what happened in the previous match this one had a lot to live up to, and it delivered in that respect. While this may not have been the greatest ladder match of all time in WWE history, it must certainly rank as one of the best. The rivalry that has been built up between these two over the past few months once again made you think that these two really hated each others guts as they tore into each other, using the various ladders to good effect. It was another of those matches you just couldn’t take your eyes off, and you’ll have to forgive me for using that particular line again. So it was after what seemed like an eternity of great action, and after some timely interference from Lance Cade, that Jericho, after a tug of war struggle with Michaels at the top of the ladder, grabbed the belt after head butting Michaels to win the match. What a great match, a match worthy of those involved, and another match of the year candidate.

In conclusion - apart from the monthly appearance of Mark Henry, No Mercy has to go down as one of the best WWE shows of the year. Apart from the opener, the matches ranged from good to great, with the two main event matches definitely worthy of their status, with four wrestlers putting on what could be career defining performances. So congratulations all round to all those involved, for showing that Vince McMahon and his band of merry men are still capable of putting on a tremendous show.