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The Katz Files – Arnie Katz
No Mercy: Recap & Analysis!
The Kingfish Arnie Katz reports on important happenings at WWE’s No Mercy and scopes out the Meaning of It All.
No Mercy proved to be another pretty good WWE pay per view, although there weren’t many meaningful developments. Strong wrestling in the two top-of-the-card matches made up for an undercard that was good, but not great.
Let look at what happened at No Mercy — and why:
Jack Korpella, hosting the “Free-for-All,” had a ladder on the set. The emphasis, not surprisingly, was on the ladder match between Michaels and Jericho, though there was also plenty of coverage of the Triple H-Jeff Hardy confrontation.
The “Free-for-All” also included an extensive replay of the Threeway of Champions from last Friday’s Smackdown.
The Kingfish Comments: This proved to be one of the better previews. It didn’t do much with the rest of the card, but it fully explained the WWE and World Championship matches as well as the Big Show-Undertaker match. Showing the match let them avoid running each promo three times.
The announcers welcomed fans to the Rose Garden in Portland, OR.
Matt Hardy d. Mark Henry
The Story: It’s all about the rematch. Matt Hardy beat the World’s Strongest Man for the title at the last pay per view, so he must defend against the former champion at this one.
My Prediction: The “right thing” might well be to put Mark Henry back on top, but WWE almost never lets a former champion win a rematch. Thai means Matt should retain the belt. Yet there’s also a scarcity of challengers for the ECW crown, unless they want Matt to work a program with Chavo Guerrero. Mark Henry needs to look good to protect his credibility, so it might well be a DQ win for Hardy.
Predicted Grade: B-
The Match: Nark Henry’s strength dominated the early going. Again and again, he flung Hardy around the ring as he delivered an assortment of painful maneuvers.
Matt made some headway with an attack on Henry’s left leg, which at least slowed down the big man.
The champion kicked Henry in the head to break out of a bone-bruising Bearhug. He pulled of a Side Effect, but he couldn’t get a pin.
The World’s Strongest Man seemed to be having his own way, but Hardy resourcefully executed a surprise Twist of Fate to pave the way for the winning pin.
The Actual Grade: B-
The Kingfish Comments: The opening match went pretty much as I expected. Mark Henry looked strong enough to justify another mid-card program, maybe against Evan Bourne, and Matt kept the title. His most likely challengers appear to be John Morrison and, less likely, Chavo Guerrero.
Triple H and Jeff Hardy spent a few minutes with Eve Torres. Triple H said that he had voted for Jeff Hardy in the text poll. Jeff wouldn’t go quite that far, but he expressed respect for the champion and his achievements.
The Kingfish Comments: Short of gay marriage, I don’t see how these two guys could’ve put across the point more strongly. WWE took the high road in promoting this match. Fans who could do without a phony feud between two babyfaces got their reward later in this show – a great match.
Beth Phoenix d. Candice Michelle
The Story>: Candice Michelle is back and she wants revenge on the woman who sidelined her. The Glamazon holds the title, so that’s another incentive for the erstwhile Go Daddy Girl, who wants that belt.
My Prediction: I’d anticipated Gail Kim as the opponent for Beth Phoenix, because of her skill in handling larger opponents, but WWE evidently plans to put the strap around the slender waist of Candice Michelle. It wouldn’t be a total shock if Santino Marella tried to interfere and cost his girlfriend the match and the title, because they will want to advance that plot if she is going to be without the championship for any length of time.
Predicted Grade: B-
The Match: Despite Beth’s previous resolve to go to the ring unattended, Santino Morella came with her. This almost cost her the match.
Beth took some lumps after the opening bell, but she got back into contention by targeting Candice’s previously injured shoulder. She got a couple of near-falls, but no pin.
Candice Michelle started an offensive run with a Jawbreaker and then hit a pair of Clotheslines and a Spinning Heel Kick Beth would’ve lost the title if Santino hadn’t pulled her out of the ring. Michelle scored with a Baseball Slide that took out both of them, but she couldn’t translate that into a pin.
Beth Phoenix got so absorbed talking to her boyfriend that Candice Michelle rolled her up. The champion powered out and finished Candice with an inverted sit-out Power Bomb.
The Actual Grade: B-
The Kingfish Comments: Both women performed well, which shows that WWE can work a decent match. It was surprising that Beth Phoenix retained the title, but it may mean that Gail Kim is on the way sooner rather than later,
A fired-up Kane warned Ray Mysterio that the mask he wears as a facade of bravery will be gone after their match.
Rey Mysterio d. Kane via DQ
Mask Removal Match
The Story: Kane’s parking lot attack injured Rey Mysterio and the Big Red Machine has stalked him ever since the Masked Marvel returned to the ring. Kane has focused on Mysterio’s mask and, after some prodding, Mike Adamle has scheduled this match to give him a crack at it.
My Prediction American promotions have shown a heedless disregard for the traditions of the mask, but I can’t believe they would strip Mysterio of his hood with so little fanfare. So Rey Mysterio will keep his mask, though Kane will get to bat him around pretty severely.
Predicted Grade: B+
The Match: Mysterio came off the top rope and sent Kane sprawling across the middle rope. When he tried the 619, though, Kane whirled around and knocked him out of the air!
Kane caught the Masked Marvel on an out-of-ring Fly, but Mysterio turned it into stunning DDT! Kane threw him over the barricade and onto a chair in the crowd.
The Big Red Machine Bodyslammed Rey Mysterio and then stomped him on the canvas. The 330-lber subjected Mysterio to an over-the-knee Backbreaker. Rey executed a beautiful Moonsault. Kane probably didn’t appreciate it as much as the fans, since he ended up flat on his back.
Mysterio hit some flashy maneuvers, both he couldn’t seem to get Kane down for the needed three-count.
Mysterio connected with a 619 to the back on Jane leg and then a Baseball Slide. When he tried to come off the top turnbuckle with an out-of-ring Cross Body, Kane swatted him out of the air with a hellacious chairshot!
The referee immediate disqualified Kane.
The Actual Grade: B+
The Kingfish Comments: Stripping Mysterio of his mask would have been wrong without much more of a build-up, even though he has previously lost his mask in WCW. In a business that talks a lot about respect, it would be nice if the bookers took into account the symbolism of the mask before yanking it off in cavalier fashion. This time, WWE respected that tradition and should be praised for doing so.
If Mysterio is to lose his mask, it should be at the end of a fierce series of matches and with maximum hype.
MVP went to Vickie Guerrero’s office to complain about being left off the No Mercy card. Big Show stopped him at the door and told him he shouldn’t bother the General Manager on her first day back.
Montel Vontavius Porter came to the ring to complain to the fans that leaving him out was like pinch-hitting for Manny Ramirez.
Randy Orton came to the ring to suggest that MVP consider if there might not be a reason he gets left off the card time after time.
MVP pointed out that, since he doesn’t work for RAW he could ignore Mike Adamle’s injunction and hit Randy Orton.
Cody Rhodes. Ted DiBiase and Mannu came out and began to verbally assault Randy Orton. The crowd chanted “boring” fairly loudly. DiBiase said that Orton should just coast on his reputation, “because that’s all he’s got.”
Randy said he couldn’t take them seriously and left the ring.
MVP jeered after him, but he found that Rhodes, DiBiase and Mannu didn’t want to be friends with him, either.
MVP left the ring, but he said he would remember the conversation.
CM Punk and Kofi Kingston intercepted MVP at the top of the ramp. The trio came to an agreement and ran toward the ring. Kingston and Punk let MVP sail through the ropes into a three-on-one ambush, but then they got into the ring and chased all the heels.
The Kingfish Comments: Clearly, we have witnesses the birth of a new tag team composed of Kofi Kingston and CM Punk. This is a good way to use a very exciting pair of wrestlers who are coming off pushes and who have subsequent lost their championship belts.
It’s harder to fathom what, if anything, WWE has in mind for Randy Orton and MVP. Neither man seems like a good bet for a babyface turn, yet their opposition to major heels sparks some fan sympathy.
Batista d. John Bradshaw Leyfield
Number-One Contender Match
The Story: This is a clash between a man who feels he is the uncrowned champion and the man who wants to regain the heights he experienced when he ruled the roost on Smackdown. They both what a title shot and they also hate each other as a result of a dozen incidents since Leyfield ended his retirement.
My Prediction: Batista will win this and go on to fight Chris Jericho for the title in a main event that should boost the buy-rate of the next pay per view. The Cowboy Financier will look very good in defeat and may lose as a result of outside interference, but he will go down to defeat.
The Match: When JBL went for a Clothesline from Hell early in the match, Batista Speared him so hard he fell all the way out of the ring. The Cowboy Financier got in a couple of punches and brutalized The Animal in the ringside area. He rolled him back in under the ropes, but the cover expired at the count of “two.”
JBL scored with a Neckbreaker-Elbow Drop combo, but it still wasn’t enough to subdue Batista.
Leyfield blocked a Spear, but when he hit the ropes, he bounced into Batista’s grasp for a Spinebuster! The Animal destroyed Leyfield with a BatistaBomb to become the number-one contender.
The Actual Grade: B
After the match, a wobbly JBL said that this was the most traumatic week of his life due to the Wall Street uproar and said that he hadn’t really had his heart in this match. He went on to thank the Democrats for bailing out rich folks like him and getting taxpayers to foot the bill.
Cryme Tyme appeared on the Titantron to say that they were taking Leyfield’s limo. They filled the car with a bevy of Divas – and Sgt. Slaughter.
The Kingfish Comments: Are they getting ready to change JBL’s character? All his whining about losing money in the market and so forth suggests that he might soon be the Bankrupt New York Cowboy. I think we could do without JBL’s knee-jerk ultra-conservatism, but I don’t think they will give us that opportunity.
Big Show d. Undertaker
The Story: Edge is on the outs with General Manager Vickie Guerrero and Big Show has injected himself into her simmering feud with the Undertaker. She suspended and reinstated Taker, but her attitude and lack of respect has fired up the Deadman. When Big Show attacked him at Unforgiven, the not-so-gentle giant put himself in Undertaker’s crosshairs.
My Prediction: This is the start of a program, not the end of one. There won’t be a definitive winner, so that Taker and Show can escalate to something like a No DQ or Cage match. The question is: who gets the DQ win? Since Undertaker needs some revenge against Big Show, Show could get the DQ victory – and the in-match beatdown. After the match, Big Show will get in some payback to keep the pot boiling. That’s what could happen, and it would make sense, but this looks like the perfect place for a wild, No Contest or Double Disqualification match. Undertaker goes nuts, Big Show battles back and the ref stops it for blood or something like that.
Predicted Grade: B-
The Match: Big Show and Undertaker exchanged sledgehammer blows both in and out of the ring until Big Show fired his rival into the outer barricade. Taker got some quick revenge by rocketing Show into a ring post.
Back in the ring, Big Show hit a Clothesline, a Bodyslam and an Elbow Drop, but that powerful combination wasn’t enough to stop the Dark Warrior.
Big Show staggered Taker with a Headbutt, but the Big Show Bomb off the middle rope didn’t hit the intended target. Undertaker went Old School, but Big Show caught him and Chokeslammed him! He wasted an opportunity by taking too long to make the cover.
They seized simultaneous Chokeholds, but Undertaker managed to turn it into a DDT! Neither man rose quickly, though.
While Undertaker got a little too involved with the referee, Big Show stripped the cover off a top turnbuckle. Big Show ran Undertaker right into the exposed metal and then flattened him with a roundhouse punch.
Big Show smashed Taker one time for good measure, but the referee called for the bell and gave him the win.
The Actual Grade: B
After the match, a shell-shocked Undertaker lurched to his feet and staggered up the ramp.
The Kingfish Comments: Uncharacteristically, Jim Ross got a bit off the beam in his introduction to this match. First he compared Undertaker to the Sasquatch and then referred to Big Show as “cyclopean.”
By the same token, let’s admit that this was about the worst of my predictions. It just didn’t seem possible that Undertaker would, literally, take it on the chin from Big Show after the giant destroyed him at Unforgiven.
And yet… this feud is not finished. Something will happen on Smackdown to propel this pair into more matches.
The text message vote about who the fans wanted to win Jeff Hardy-Triple H came out a lopsided triumph for the Charismatic Enigma. He got 72% of the vote.
Triple H d. Jeff Hardy
The Story: Can Jeff Hardy finally win the big one? The Game has done a lot to encourage his opponent to stretch to get over the hump.
My Prediction: The specter of Rob Van Dam looms over this match. I don’t think WWE will take the risk of putting someone on top who has a troubled history, including a couple of incidents in the last year or so. WWE doesn’t want a scandal to erupt around their flagship guy, especially with the demographic sliding a bit younger these days.
This creates a problem, because they love Jeff Hardy’s work when he’s on his good behavior. What they’ll most likely do is have Triple H keep the title while Jeff Hardy looks good without snagging the gold. Based on recent matches, Vladimir Koslov will likely get involved, perhaps leading to a threeway or even a fourway match for the title at the next pay per view.
Predicted Grade: A-
The Match: After an opening handshake, Hardy turned away from the Game, who made him pay with a clubbing attack from behind.
The pair engaged in an extended run of chain wrestling that features some ring-rattling take-downs. Hardy hit a Tornado DDT to break the stalemate and Clotheslined the champion out of the ring. Jeff added an out-of-ring Flying Block to desk HHH on the arena floor!
Jeff Hardy went for an out-of-ring Plancha, but crashed badly when the target moved. Triple H, unwilling to win by a COR, pushed Hardy back into the ring, but he couldn’t get the three count.
Triple H worked on Hardy’s back. He punished it with a Backbreaker and then bashed it with three Elbow Drops! Still, it wasn’t enough for the pin.
Hardy went high risk with a second attempt at an out-of-ring Plancha. This one worked. Jeff added a Legdrop, but he couldn’t convert it into a winning cover.
Triple H blocked a Whisper in the Wind and scored with a Spinebuster! Hardy countered a Pedigree by catapulting The Game into a turnbuckle! Hardy then hit a Whisper in the Wind, but he still couldn’t keep those massive shoulders on the mat.
They blocked each other’s holds until Hardy hit a Twist of Fate and came off the top turnbuckle with a Swanton and press. Somehow, Triple H reversed the cover and stole a quick win to keep his championship gold.
The Actual Grade: A-
The Kingfish Comments: The reversal of the cover wasn’t the best way to end the match, that’s for sure. It didn’t look very good and it seemed a disappointing anti-climax after some of the great action.
They may argue that Jeff Hardy came “soooo close” to winning, but that’s got to be wearing thin. After all, they sold the idea that he has always fallen a split-second short of victory. Isn’t this just another example of that? I’m not sure fans will buy rematches without a very strong premise.
As Triple H walked toward his dressing room, Arn Anderson offered his congratulations. A little later, Vladimir Koslov did the same, but there was no warmth in his compliments.
The Kingfish comments: This little scene erases any doubt about who will next challenge the Cerebral Assassin.
Shawn Michaels d. Chris Jericho
World Heavyweight Championship
The Story: The feud that began at WrestleMania over the circumstances of Ric Flair’s retirement, may be heading for its final confrontation. The title is at stake in this ladder match, but the gold is secondary to the personal animosity that blazes between these two stars.
My Prediction:: Chris Jericho will climb the ladder and snatch the belt after a hard-fought match in which Shawn Michaels puts the champion through the wringer. Lance Cade is sure to be involved and, most probably, will take a fearsome beating from his one-time mentor.
Predicted Grade: A
The Match: Shawn Michaels went for Sweet Chin Music right near the start of the match, He missed by about a foot.
The first use of a ladder occurred in the ringside area. As the two battled, HBK climbed the ladder he had positioned on his way to the ring and leapt off onto Chris Jericho!
HBK climbed the ladder first. Jericho came up behind him and carried Michaels off on his shoulders. They did a couple of roll-throughs, each struggling for control, but neither gained any advantage.
Chris catapulted Shawn against the ladder in the ring, but HBK actually landed on the rings and started to climb! Jericho put a stop to that by knocking down the ladder.
Jericho used the ladder in the ring as a battering ram and as a club, but you could see he was tasting his own blood when he left the ring to get another ladder.
After taking some ladder damage, Michaels stampeded Jericho into one and then applied a Figure-Four Leglock. Jericho knocked the ladder against the ropes and it hit HBK on the rebound to break the hold!
The World Champion used the ladder like a scythe to punish Michaels and then began working his way to the top, toward the belt that hung above the rung. It looked like the Showstoppa was finished, but he summoned the strength to get to center-ring and knock over the ladder!
After Michaels successfully weakened Michaels as they fought in the ringside area, he cleared off the top of the announce table and positioned a ladder next to it. After placing Jericho on the table, he began to climb. He didn’t notice, however, that Chris got off the table and jumped to the ladder. Jericho came up the ladder after the challenger and both men crashed through the table. A couple of instant replays showed that Jericho actually took the brunt of the impact.
Shawn knocked over the ladder just as Jericho reached the top. The champion landed hard in the ringside area and HBK added a Flying Elbow. It looked like Shawn hit the ladder on his way down, though. Though he tuned up for Sweet Chin Music, he obviously had a hard time standing, much less trying to complete the move. Jericho clobbered him with a ladder!
With Michaels lying on the canvas, seemingly helpless, Jericho put the bottom rung on the ladder on HBK’s throat and ascended the rungs. With one mighty heave, HBK toppled the ladder and sent the champ to a violent meeting with the arena floor!
Shawn Michaels climbed. Out of nowhere, Lance Cade ran into the ring. He climbed up right behind Michaels, who turned away from his goal to fight his former student!
Chris Jericho crawled back into the ring and, on shaky legs, began to climb. HBK went up the other side of the ladder. They exchanged punches, but neither could dislodge the other.
It turned into a tug-of-war over the precious gold. Suddenly, Chris Jericho lunged forward and stunned Michaels with a Headbutt! HBK fell to the canvas as Chris Jericho snatched the ladder off the hook and claimed the title.
The Actual Grade: A
The Kingfish Comments: This one lived up to its hype, but it wasn’t exactly a satisfying end to the feud. Yet it’s hard to see what kind of match they could have after something like this. Perhaps GBK will take out his wrath on the ungrateful Lance Cade while Chris Jericho moves into his program with Batista.
Predicted Overall Grade for No Mercy: B-
Actual Overall Grade for No Mercy: B
That’s it for today. I’ll be back tomorrow with another installment of the Internet’s fastest-rising daily wrestling column.
— Arnie Katz