WWE HOME VIDEO’S LATEST DOUBLE FEATURE SHOWCASES RAW’S NO MERCY AND SMACKDOWN’S HELL IN A CELL. BUT DID BOTH DELIVER IN THE RING, AND WHICH WAS THE BETTER SHOW? MATTHEW ROBERTS TAKES A LOOK.
No Mercy, as the hype went, gave us a “Wrestlemania calibre” main event (that didn’t actually main event) in the form of Roman Reigns vs John Cena. Given the dearth of possible marquee matches as WrestleMania season rolls into view you could say they would have been better saving it for there. Perhaps they were worried that both men would be booed out of the building on the grandest stage of them all. Perhaps mid-term Network subscribers needed a timely boost. The build-up had been something different, even if John Cena “shooting” on the deficiencies of the Roman Reigns act/character didn’t exactly do the man who is supposed to be the future of the WWE any favours. The match was a good WWE main event style effort. For all the criticism directed at both men, when it’s big match time they generally deliver in the ring. Quite what the match achieved, however, is open to question. Even more so when Reigns transitioned into a Shield reunion and Cena disappeared only to re-emerge as part of Team Smackdown for Survivor Series. It’s almost as if it was only ever intended to be a one-off boost for numbers, with no intention of making anything more of it.
Of the rest of the card, only Brock Lesnar vs Braun Strowman had any form of “marquee match” feel about it. A feeling that subsided as the match played out, given that not even the unstoppable Braun was protected from the usual Lesnar formula. It was competitive enough, but didn’t really do anything to elevate Braun beyond being yet another Lesnar victim. Again though, as Braun carried on in the weeks after on largely the same trajectory he was on before this feud what does it matter?
The undercard offered great action in parts. The Tag Team title match between Seth Rollins & Dean Ambrose and Sheamus & Cesaro was an exciting affair and there is no denying the chemistry the two teams have displayed throughout their feud. The Five-Way Women’s match was a choice effort too, even if it was dispiriting to see the returning Bayley be the one to lose the pinfall.
Finn Balor and Bray Wyatt had a decent match, albeit one that never really got going. It may well have been the best bout of their elongated feud but that’s not that much of a compliment. It’s tempting to flag up the issues with WWE booking when things like this don’t quite click but on a night when both men should have been doing their best to stand out from the crowd they didn’t quite deliver.
The Intercontinental Title match between the Miz and Jason Jordan was decent for what it was, but the only thing it really achieved when all was said and done was to once again reinforce that a Kurt Angle’s son babyface gimmick is not going to get Jordan over like the WWE would like to. That match, however, was a million miles above an abysmal Enzo Amore and Neville Cruiserweight Title match. Many will have sour grapes about the match purely because of who won but it was a shoddy effort that merely served to highlight Enzo’s deficiencies in terms of being an in-ring figurehead of the Cruiserweight division.
Smackdown attempted to show their superiority with Hell in a Cell. Anyone who knows me will know my aversion to Shane McMahon in a wrestling ring so a show mainly built around him wrestling, in a gimmick match nonetheless, is never going to be something that is at the top of things I’m most looking forward to. Of course I would never deny the effort the man put in and his Hell in a Cell match with Kevin Owens was no different. Many will have enjoyed it, some will be like me and wonder what the point of it all was (a feeling boosted when he returned to Smackdown a few weeks later, to no fanfare and virtually ignoring the injuries he had apparently suffered during the match). At least the finish, and the reuniting of Owens and Sami Zayn gave us something new to look forward to in the weeks to come. The match itself was probably over-long, but offered the kind of thrills and bumps you would expect from a Shane ‘O Mac match. For better or for worse.
The show was bookended by Cell matches, and the opener between Uso’s and The New Day was the better of the two and was the best match of the night by a mile. Indeed it is the standout bout of this double feature set. The two teams have undeniable chemistry and had put on a number of great matches in and around this one This felt like a feud that required a Cell match and the two teams showed the requisite hatred throughout an absolutely barnstorming match. An epic culmination to a great feud.
The undercard dropped off considerably in terms of quality but had plenty to entertain viewers. The Three way clash over the United States Title between AJ Styles, Baron Corbin and Tye Dillinger was fun and Charlotte and Natalya were having a good battle over the Women’s Title until the disappointing finish.
The rest of the show was mildly disappointing. Whilst few would have expected much from Jinder Maha’s title defence against Shinsuke Nakamura, we might have hoped for better than what we got. Mahal’s lack of suitability as a headliner is plain for all to see but it would be also fair to say that, well, motivation might have been in short supply for the challenger. The latest chapter in Randy Orton and Rusev’s over-blown feud was passable without ever really threatening to be anything more. The major disappointment was the Bobby Roode / Dolph Ziggler match. Maybe the latter really has given up trying to shatter that glass ceiling.
Despite the “WrestleMania calibre” hype, No Mercy was pretty much business as usual for WWE on PPV. Some good, some bad, some indifferent. Overall though there was enough quality action to put this in the thumbs up territory. It was arguably a more consistent show than Hell in a Cell but it was the Smackdown show that had the best match overall. And if the action in-between the two Cell matches sometimes dragged there was still enough to make the show, and this set as a whole, worth revisiting.
The extras add the kickoff matches from both shows. Elias against Apollo Crews is typical Raw filler; Shelton Benjamin & Chad Gable against The Hype Bros is a surprisingly entertaining effort that is an enjoyable watch.
Photos courtesy: Fetch, Fremantle Media, WWE
Format reviewed: DVD
Thank you to our partners, WWEDVD.co.uk and Fetch for providing our review copy of Hell in a Cell / No Mercy which is available on DVD in the UK from Monday 27 November. You can buy your copy from WWEDVD.co.uk now by clicking here