Last night, Monday Night Raw hosted No Mercy, the flagship show’s first brand-specific Pay-Per-View since Great Balls of Fire in July. On paper, it had potential to be one of the greatest events of the year with two “WrestleMania worthy” matches in Brock Lesnar vs. Braun Strowman for the Universal Championship and the dream match of John Cena vs. Roman Reigns, among others. All around, the show was pretty good, but of course, not everything could live up to expectations. Let’s take a look at what WWE did well and what could have gone better.
Roman Reigns Defeats John Cena
The big story going into the clash between Roman Reigns and John Cena was that it takes the franchise of WWE (John Cena) and pits him up against the man who could take over that role, Roman Reigns. In the promos leading up to the match, Cena was shutting down Reigns at every opportunity, which makes sense because Cena has had 15 years of perfecting his promos while Reigns has mainly been a silent badass. Reigns’ main point was that no matter how much Cena talks, he cannot back it up against the Big Dog. At No Mercy, Reigns proved this to be true.
Going into the match, it seemed like Reigns had to be the favorite to win. He had not won a notable Pay-Per-View match since WrestleMania and if he is truly going to be the face of WWE in the future, he needed the win here. Then, Cena started getting into the swing of things. He hit Reigns with everything he had, including four Attitude Adjustments (one being from the second rope) and the STF. After Reigns kicked out of the fourth one, Cena realized that maybe he is not what he used to be. Reigns got back up, hit the former 16-time World Champion with a spear, and took the torch right from his hands.
In an interview on Raw Talk right after No Mercy, Cena acknowledged his defeat and noted that this signifies Reigns as the next “guy.”
The Tag Team Division Delivers Again
On both Raw and SmackDown, the tag team divisions are in a weird place. Looking at both title feuds, the build has been pretty lackluster and almost thrown together in the weeks building up to the Pay-Per-Views. When the actual matches happen though, none of that matters because they are stellar. The New Day and The Usos proved this on the SummerSlam Kickoff Show and The Bar proved this against Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose last night.
Before we get into any reason why the match was great, major props have to be given to Cesaro for competing in most of the match while his two top front teeth were jammed up through his gums. The Swiss Superman (living up to his nickname) was slingshot into the turnbuckle and slammed his mouth into the steel ring post.
Now onto the match. Sheamus and Cesaro have gone from being a team that only Mick Foley wanted to masters of tag team wrestling. Their chemistry is incredible and it is amplified when it is against Rollins and Ambrose. Both teams were firing on all cylinders throughout the whole match and the champions only retained after the challengers made one mistake. That shows that these are two elite teams in WWE who only have room to improve.
Here is a list of things that were pretty good at No Mercy, but weren’t necessarily the best parts of the night:
- The Raw Women’s Championship Fatal Five-Way Match was just about as good as possible, with all women looking great and Bliss using her smarts to retain her title.
- Finn Balor and Bray Wyatt put on a surprisingly interesting match with a pre-match attack. Balor won and cemented himself as a big-time player again after returning from injury months ago.
- Apollo Crews and Elias Samson had a good match on the Kickoff Show that could be the start of something bigger.
Brock Lesnar Retains the Universal Championship
If you look at the entire WWE roster, there is only one man who has arguably had a better year than Roman Reigns: Braun Strowman. Strowman went from “another big guy” to the MVP of Raw every week, creating dozens of memorable moments and putting on surprisingly good matches. All of this is why him losing to Brock Lesnar at No Mercy was a huge letdown.
During the match, it seemed like Strowman was going to dominate the Beast Incarnate to score his first title reign. He threw Lesnar around for a few minutes until the former UFC Heavyweight Champion locked in the Kimura Lock, turning the tide in his favor. Lesnar then kicked out of a powerslam and followed it up with a pretty weak F5 (just one, by the way) to retain the title. Hopefully, they can have another match because this failed to live up to their clash in the Fatal Four-Way at SummerSlam.
Enzo Amore Steals the Cruiserweight Championship
Before things get too negative, there are always decisions that seem bad at first that could blossom into greater things. For example, look at Sheamus and Cesaro, as mentioned above. This might be the case here with Enzo Amore becoming the new Cruiserweight Champion, but time will tell. As for now, this seems like a bad decision.
It is a well-known fact that Enzo Amore isn’t as talented as the rest of the 205 Live roster, which is why he needed to cheat his way to becoming a champion. The Cruiserweight Division is known for having the best technical matches of the week and with Amore as the champion, that won’t happen as often. The trade-off could be that the roster gets character improvement.
The match itself wasn’t too good, either. Neville was toying with Amore for the whole match and especially since it followed Reigns vs. Cena, it felt way too slow-paced for even a throwaway Monday Night Raw match. Things never really picked up the way a normal Cruiserweight match does and one low blow ended the match.
Overall, No Mercy was a pretty good show that had great matches and important moments. Even though there were some duds, it is one of the best Pay-Per-Views that WWE has put on this year.
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