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TLW: No Mercy Thoughts



20 October 2003

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Well, hello. Welcome to the post No Mercy edition of The Live Wire, the column that pigged out on Pot Noodle, nacho chips and Red Bull, and feels kinda... fragile today. Go figure.

Anyway, as PPVs go, it was OK. A lot better than I thought it would be? Yep. A world beater? Nope. Better than the last Raw PPV? Close, but yes. Just. What was good, was good. What should have been terrible was merely bad and there was a lot of ‘alright’ in between. That just about sums it up.

Let’s start at the start. Good place, eh? Keeps it chronologically accurate (that means ‘in order’ for all the people that were actually looking forward to the McMahon match) and all that jazz...

Tajiri and Rey get the honour of starting things off, and why not? A good 100mph Cruisers match can fire up a crowd for things to come - and it seems that the Cruisers now occupy the same slot on Smackdown that the Dudleys do on Raw. Hey, if it works, fine - for one thing it means that they’ll get a decent amount of time.

Rey and Tajiri got about 12 minutes - and filled it very well indeed. Some nice tactics with Rey going for Tajiri’s legs and Tajiri going after Rey’s arms were mixed in with some top notch highspots and kicks, and it was all looking good. That was until the pointless finish... surely running a ‘fans storm the ring’ angle is a bit dumb, given that Eddie had some problems at a house show with a fan?

Regardless, keeping the belt on Tajiri was the right thing to do, and the match lived up to the promise that it had. Can’t help feeling that there the two of them were slightly holding back for some reason... whatever, it was a good match to kick off with.

Could Saint Christopher of Benoit get a decent match out of A-Train? That was what I wondered going into the next match - in the end the answer would turn out to be ‘Yes’ although Benoit would nearly be killed as a result. A botched press slam put Benoit into a position that is extremely dangerous for anyone, let alone someone who has a surgically repaired neck.

Why do all the jumped up midcarders who get a push a) go through Benoit and b) try and drop him on his head? Billy Gunn did similar a couple of years back. Benoit must have walked under a ladder at some point... The match itself was a lot better than I had hoped for - A-Train was made to look a threat by Benoit’s great selling, and some good solid booking. If A-Train could perform on that level every week, he wouldn’t be lumbering about in the midcard...

I thought that the Benoit comeback was timed perfectly and made Benoit look like a million dollars too. For a comeback to mean something, then it makes sense to build the opponent up at the same time. Benoit comes out of this with some momentum, thanks in no part to the commentary of Tazz and Michael Cole.

Let me just go off an a tangent here - last night’s show showed what a difference good commentating can make - Cole and Tazz put on a superb show. They built each match without going over the top, and Cole’s way of asking Tazz what a hold meant, how it could be countered and what strategy should be used by each wrestler was a fantastic tool.

Tazz’s performance last night finally sealed his spot as #1 colour commentator in the business right now - he was smart, eloquent, to the point and even had time to be funny as well. I can’t imagine this show being commentated by JR and the King and being any better - or even as good. Tazz and Cole rule the roost now.

Back to the action, and the Zach Gowen / Matt Hardy showdown finally happened, not before John Heidenreich had shown up AGAIN - how does he keep getting backstage? For all that I don’t think Gowen should be in the spot he has, I can’t take anything away from him - his guts are beyond question. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a moonsault hit as sweetly as Gowen’s.

But to be honest, what does winning do for him? He’s never realistically gonna have a chance of winning any title, something that Matt Hardy will, so why put Gowen over here? The crowd reaction he got doesn’t justify it, and all it succeeds in doing is making Veee one-ah look like a loser. Hopefully, the much vaunted face turn will happen, and Matt can start to work his way up the ranks - he has US Title holder written all over him in my eyes.

The WWE took pity on us and added a bonus match to the seven match card - but then they turned right round and kicked us in the teeth by including the APA in it. The Bashams vs. The APA isn’t exactly a feud that’s been burning down any arenas, yet they still get a PPV slot. The match itself wasn’t that bad, to be honest - the Bashams are looking more and more confident each week, and going by the Heat interview - it looks to me like Doug Basham will be a star in the future.

The match was kept short enough to fill some time, and even allowed Shaniqua to debut her newest tag team... the post match interview provided the night’s funniest moment when she attributed her new figure to “swellings” after Bradshaw’s clothesline from hell - Bradshaw must have clotheslined 90% of the women on the WWE roster...

But up next was the match that the entire night was built around. Rightly or wrongly, it had the most focus on it, and the crowd interaction probably justified it - the Baltimore crowd were all over Vince in this. While it was never going to be a five star classic, Vince and Steph at least told a decent story in their 10 minutes.

The big question now is how long will Stephanie’s ‘retirement’ last? Michael Cole guaranteed she was gone from any McMahon run business forever... which means I give her about 5 weeks before she’s back, or until Survivor Series. The one main thing that this match achieved is that it unquestionably made Vince the #1 heel on Smackdown... and I end up asking what’s the point?

Thankfully, following on from that was a good old fashioned wrestling match. Angle and Cena have built a nice little feud over the past few weeks, and both of them sold this match as a real grudge match. Cena finally showed that he does have the right to be hanging in the main event in the ring, although Angle practically put him over single-handedly.

Memo to The Undertaker - THIS is how you take the win, yet still put the other guy over. Whether or not Cena won - by the time this match had finished, he showed that he was a guy to be reckoned with... again, Tazz and Cole’s commentary just nudged the viewer in the right direction, and as a result, Angle may have taken the win on paper - but both men walked out of this match as winner in the eyes of the crowd.

I noticed a fierce “Let’s go Cena - Let’s go Angle” split chant from the crowd... the Cena face turn may be happening sooner or later, whether the WWE approve or not. Call me what you like here, but the support that Cena is starting to amass reminds me a lot of the way that Stone Cold Steve Austin started out his road to the top of the WWE...

That was easily match of the night, but could Eddie make The Big Show look like a champion? Again, the answer was yes. Big Show put in as good a performance as I’ve seen from him since the stretcher match with Brock Lesnar, and that really benefited the work that Eddie was putting in. I see this match similar to the Elimination Chamber match from SummerSlam - it was there for a purpose - the strained emotions between Eddie and Chavo at the end of the match seem to point to a split between Los Guerreros.

With Shelton Benjamin nearly fit to return as well, losing the tag team titles could be the final catalyst to turn one of them heel - my money would be on Chavo - and have a Guerrero vs. Guerrero match at Survivor Series or beyond. As for the US Title, I’m sure Big Show will defend it a few times before dropping it in a triple threat match somehow. All in all, this was a solid match that didn’t set the house on fire, but served a useful purpose.

Which is more than can be said for the main event. Yet again, the Undertaker is booked to look like a superhuman. It took the entire FBI AND Vince McMahon to enable Lesnar to eventually get the victory? Stupid... what a way to devalue the Champion and the title at the same time. The only bright spot of this match was the return of the Flying Dead Man Outta Control No Hands Suicide Dive over the top rope. No matter how many times you see it, it does still look damned impressive.

Of course, Lesnar got little or no meaningful offence in - Tazz’s keys to victory mentioned that Lesnar need to get his grappling going... exactly when? The only man in that ring that was made to look like an accomplished grappler was the Undertaker and his variety of pinning combinations and submission holds. Of course, it now looks certain that Survivor Series will be built around an Undertaker vs. Vince McMahon match, and this match again will be the catalyst for that.

Ask yourself, though - is it right to use a World Championship match to set up a match between a 40-something and a near 60 year old part-time wrestler? In my books, hell no! But that’s what we had last night. Where does Brock go from here? Who’s the next title contender? Does anyone care as long as Mr. McMahon has a match?

The McMahon family may be the saviour of the WWE financially and creatively - but on screen, they may yet prove to be it’s downfall.

To sum up, it was an OK show. Nothing special, but not Bad Blood level awful either. Hopefully, there IS a plan in place for the next month or so and Survivor Series won’t be a total bust for the Smackdown side. McMahon vs. Taker I can live with if it means we get Angle vs. Cena II , Guerrero vs. Guerrero and Benoit vs. Lesnar.

Until next week, fave fun go mad,

Tony Cottam

TWO No Mercy Discussion Thread

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