With the first NXT UK Supershow just around the corner, Matthew Roberts steps into the TWM Time Machine and goes back twenty years to look at a previous WWE show on these shores, No Mercy 1999.
For five or six years from 1997, the WWE brought PPV’s to the UK. Not in the SummerSlam 1992 sense, where the shows were part of the existing canon, but as special shows that were generally not shown in the USA (until a later point, at least) and were generally available only on Sky Box Office. No Mercy, from the Manchester Arena, was one such event in the May of 1999.
On paper the line-up looks pretty anaemic, apart from the main event, and it seems as if the usual “it’s in the UK so most of it doesn’t really matter” vibe would be fully in place. That theory is borne out by the execution.
It starts with a Shane McMahon promo, which I was as bored of then as I am 20 or so years later. Mind you, at this time Shane was drunk on power, having “taken over” from Vince (on screen – come on now…) and merged the Corporation and The Undertaker’s Ministry. It achieves little beyond making Shane’s match with X-Pac later in the show a No DQ one. Still, when the opening match turns out to be Tiger Ali Singh against Gillberg I almost found myself wishing we had Shane back. Though it may only last about a minute, that is still one more minute of Singh or Gillberg than I ever want to see.
Things could only get better from here, even with Viscera in a match; that it pits him as the Acolytes (Farooq & Bradshaw) the Brood (Gangrel, Edge & Christian) at least means some genuine talents are in there. Sadly however, Farooq isn’t Ron Simmons anymore and Edge & Christian are at a very early stage of their careers and unable to carry their opponents to anything that worthwhile. That it descends into outside interference, courtesy of Mideon and, him again, Shane McMahon, just makes it even more pointless and at fourteen minutes it’s at least seven minutes too long considering who is in it.
But then again, it doesn’t have Steve Blackman or Droz in it. Both had definable characters (which is something that was taken for granted in this era, and something that could be very useful today if any of the WWE’s top brass is paying attention) but whilst this is perfectly solid in terms of the in-ring stuff it is, quite frankly, boring.
But then again, it’s not a Beaver Cleavage promo video. If you’re new to wrestling fandom and never heard of him, don’t bother googling him. At least the Mankind interview that follows has some relevance to the evening’s action.
But then again, at least Beaver Cleavage isn’t a Kane Vs Mideon match that ends once again with the Corporate Ministry interfering. It’s a five minute match that feels as if it’s taken up fifty of your time.
But then again, at least that isn’t a Nicole Bass match. There’s an interesting side note to the match between Nicole Bass and Tori (which, yes, is dreadful) in that Sable’s ringside appearance was by all accounts her last appearance with the WWE for four years. That that is about the only thing of note to happen so far this evening should tell you a lot.
That I’m actually thankful for a Shane McMahon match being next should tell you a lot too; his European Title defence against X-Pac isn’t very good, is a sub-par rehash of their previous WrestleMania match and once again ends in yet more outside interference (this time by Triple H). Still it is the best thing on the show so far by a country mile.
Another Mankind interview is next, purely to set up an attack by the Corporate Ministry (we’ve not seen much of those guys tonight, have we?). Why this couldn’t have been done during his previous interview is beyond me. We must have been running short. That it provides an excuse for a barely mobile Mick Foley (who came into the evening with a legitimate injury) suggests that his match with Billy Gunn isn’t going to be a great one and…news flash…it isn’t. Foley in his prime would have struggled to get something watchable out of Gunn and on one leg he has no chance. And as it’s Billy Gunn and as it’s the ever giving Foley, Gunn goes over clean.
If ever a main event needed to save a show it might have been tonight. And on paper, a Triple Threat for the World Title pitting Steve Austin against Triple H and The Undertaker might seem to be something that could. And indeed, for what it’s worth, it is the “best” and most heated match of the night. Which still doesn’t make it very good. And if you didn’t think it would end with the Corporate Ministry running in you either haven’t been paying attention or have no idea how 1999 WWE worked.
People who insist that the WWE is worse than ever in 2019 really should be made to watch events like No Mercy 1999. I’m the last person who would claim that 2019 WWE is anywhere near “perfection” but I’d be astounded if they put on a PPV/Network special in the next twelve months which is anywhere near as downright dreadful as this. Even if you are someone who for some reason thinks The Coroprate Ministry was the greatest thing in professional wrestling history, this is one to avoid like the plague. It might give you an appreciation, however, that despite what a lot of people might tell you the current Monday Night Raw is nowhere near the worst thing the company has ever given us.