The Invasion is still limping on but has lost whatever momentum it once had. Five titles are on the line here but the majority of them are being fought by and between “WWE” wrestlers. But the line up looks promising on paper so whilst the stakes may be irrelevant there may be a lot to enjoy here… Welcome to No Mercy 2001!
Matt & Jeff Hardy Vs Lance Storm & The Hurricane – WCW Tag Team Titles
We open with the WCW Tag Team titles being on the line. Staunch WWE guys the Hardys’ are the champions but at least they are up against two of WCW’s finest in Lance Storm & The Hurricane, who to add to Lita being at ringside with the champs have Ivory and the dastardly Mighty Molly in their corner. I’ve been watching all the shows leading up to this and I barely recall Storm and Ivory becoming a thing.
The match itself is a great opener. Hurricane completely buys into his character so he’s quite fun and there is lots of good back and forth action. After the inevitable spots between the women at ringside (plus Jeff taking Ivory out) Lita hits her “ever impressive” ‘Rana on Storm and the Twist of Fate/Swanton combo finishes things off.
Backstage William Regal wants RVD to apologise for hitting the Five Star Frog Splash on Stone Cold on Smackdown. RVD isn’t going to apologise but he does promise that he’s not on Vince’s side…he’s on his own side.
Kane Vs Test
I wasn’t expecting much from this one. Kane is Kane and Test, whilst getting a push, is perhaps past the point when a push might work because the HHH/Steph storyline killed his momentum forever. Still, it’s a surprisingly entertaining big man battle that whizzes by without being offensive. For those keeping score, Nick Patrick is tonight actually helping the Alliance guys it seems as he doesn’t DQ Test when he waffles Kane with the ring bell right in front of him. And of course if an Alliance guy is wining there has to be some cheating involved. Test wins via a low blow / big boot combo when Kane is upset with the ref allowing the distraction. Because as I keep saying, virtually every “WWE” loss has to have something to excuse it. Even when the Alliance guys have never wrestled anywhere else except WWE.
Stone Cold and Debra chat backstage before Stacy Keilber asks Matt Hardy about her lingerie. Needless to say, Lita shows up but Matt gets away with it.
No Mercy 2001 | Stacy Keibler Vs Torrie Wilson – Lingerie Match
Who says that Vince didn’t push WCW talent. This battle between the “sexy divas” (as Jim Ross puts it) is over and done in less than three minutes. There’s not really much else to say. Although both to at least try to make the best of it.
No Mercy 2001 | Christian Vs Edge – Intercontinental Title – Ladder Match
The Invasion probably contributed to this long awaited feud falling somewhat flat in execution. They were on the way to the slow burn fall out until the start of the Invasion saw them thrown more back together than they had been but still whilst teasing dissension. Then Christian turned. Then just because the bookers had remembered the Alliance existed and we couldn’t possibly have WWE vs WWE Christian joined them. That said they had a number of good (if, sadly, not great) matches and this Ladder match was one. It can’t hold a candle to their tag team TLC stuff and to be honest at 22+ minutes this one felt a little overlong for what it was, but this was a great effort with the usual big spots and wow moments. Edge won and that was about it, save for the rematches, for Christian’s dreams of being a mega-star.
No Mercy 2001 | The Dudley Boyz Vs Big Show & Tajiri – WWE Tag Team Titles
The WWE certainly likes their “odd couple” tag teams. It’s not as if the WWE roster had just doubled in size this year was it and that tag teams could be considered and well thought out. Show obviously dominates the early going before the inevitablily of the Champions isolating Tajiri and working on him. After a number of teased hot tags, Tajiri brings out the mist but catches the referee full in the face. This means that when Show hits a Chokeslam for the win there is no-one there to make the count. This allows Rhyno to come in and GORE Show before a 3D finishes off Tajiri. Because even though the Alliance guys winning here were in WWE before the WCW buyout and even though they are against two expendable (in general terms) mid-card WWE guys they can’t get a clean win.
No Mercy 2001 | Booker T Vs The Undertaker
As I have said before during this retro rundown, personal circumstances in 2001 (i.e. not always having easy access to Sky TV) means that some of these shows are new. But even though I have definitely seen No Mercy before I had no memory whatsoever of this match. Considering Rock has spent the last two months jobbing to The Rock on PPV and that both he and Test had some form of success on TV against Kane & Undertaker leading up to this (WWE traditionally flip TV results when it comes to the PPC) I had no confidence in Booker at all here. And there were no surprises. To be fair to Taker he at least sells here for Booker which is more than can be said for his matches with most members of the Alliance and definitely when it comes to “non-WWE” guys around this period. And there is even the protecting of Booker’s Scissor Kick when Taker gets his foot on the ropes rather than just kicking out. But this plodding brawl ends exactly as you would expect, with the Last Ride getting the pin.
No Mercy 2001 – WCW World Heavyweight Championship Match
The Rock Vs Chris Jericho
At last there is something to really get your teeth into, even if it’s two WWE guys fighting over the WCW title. It’s a point I keep making, but the logic behind what Shane McMahon can and can’t book in terms of the WCW titles simply doesn’t exist. Anyway, that can’t spoil this match.
It’s a work of beauty. Jericho, though a face, shows increasing aggression without ever 100% becoming the heel. Even when he mock’s the Rock’s moves and even hits his own Rock Bottom. This is great back and forth stuff, with Rock showing more respect to his opponent in terms of selling etc than he seemingly ever did in his feud with Booker T. There’s only one thing that makes this fall short of an all-time classic and that’s the Stephanie McMahon influenced ending. She throws a chair into the ring, ostensibly to help Rock (she REALLY hates Jericho) but Rock doesn’t care and hits her with a Rock Bottom. Whilst the referee tends to Stephanie, Jericho hits the Break Down onto the chair and three seconds later he has won the big gold. Because even though Jericho is in terms of the promotion a “WWE guy” now and even though he isn’t a full on hell yet he still has to have some sort of help to pin one of the true superstars. Post-match, Rock shakes Jericho’s hand.
No Mercy 2001 Main Event
Stone Cold Steve Austin Vs Kurt Angle Vs Rob Van Dam – WWE World Title
It’s a strange time really. Stone Cold is doing his best in the heel role that might have suited him better if it wasn’t part of the Alliance storyline, Kurt Angle is riding a wave of patriotism that might have worked better outside of the Alliance storyline (and might have made him a better heel fit there) and Rob Van Dam is getting over even when he’s not really supposed to be doing (and he will pay for that in the future). This match can’t match the action of the preceding one but it can match the drama…even if a lot of that comes from the, yes, McMahon shenanigans. It kind of made sense I suppose given that Vince had returned to TV and teased an olive branch to RVD and Shane always shows up to irritate me so he wasn’t going to be missing here. In the end, Vince waffles Austin with a chair, we get some false falls which include Shane McMahon running out to break up a pin attempt and as Vince and Shane brawl Austin hits RVD with the stunner to retain. A predictable end, perhaps made all the more dispiriting with the knowledge that it wasn’t really a case of holding off on RVD to make his title win a bigger moment. But hey, that’s wrestling.
I wasn’t expecting an awful lot out of most of this show but on the whole it is a very enjoyable one. The two World Title matches that close the show are fantastic and there’s some solid back-up from the WCW Tag Title and Intercontinental Title matches. It’s a show that generally whizzes by and holds together as a whole quite well.