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ONLINE ONSLAUGHT
No Mercy PPV Preview
and More...
October 18, 2002

by Rick Scaia
Exclusive to OnlineOnslaught.com

 

Our business today:  getting ready for Sunday's No Mercy pay-per-view, and then, tossing out a few tasty little newsbites for those who don't like the in-depth PPV Preview thing.  Let's get it on!

No Mercy Preview

In the month since Unforgiven ended in such unsatisfying fashion, the Fed's been on a bit of a roller coaster.  Granted, the coaster seemed to hit a lot of its highs on Thursday nights before plunging to its lowest lows on Mondays... but while predictable, the oscillation still gives one reason to wonder if the Fed really knows what it's doing at all.

But I guess a company that can't figure out that going to a tepid Double DQ draw in a PPV main event is gonna piss people off can't be expected to discern that fans aren't interested in whether or not their #1 Contenders can drive a stick shift or not...

Going into Sunday's show, RAW and SmackDown! have never been more distinctly branded.  SD! is the product that kicks ass and is presenting the two most promising matches on the PPV.  RAW is the product that slapped together a few matches this past Monday, and just hopes to keep up. 

To be fair to RAW:  they've got the horses.  They've even paired them up in a few matches that do have a bit of promise...  they just didn't take the most interesting route to get to this PPV.  

Let's can the chit-chat and just get to the as-announced card for No Mercy...

BROCK LESNAR vs. UNDERTAKER (Hell in the Cell Match for the WWE Title)

Now that I sit down to write this, I realize that SmackDown! wasn't immune to the soap-opera silliness over the last month, either.  It just never quite reached the all-encompassing levels that RAW's did, which made it easier to swallow.

In this case, Lesnar and Taker have their issue going back almost two months now.  Taker followed Lesnar over to the SD! roster, in pursuit of Lesnar's title.  The two fought at Unforgiven last month, only to have their match end in a double DQ when rookie ref Brian Hebner decided he had "lost control" of the match.  That'll learn 'em to send a boy in there to do a man's job!

The rematch, naturally, was set up almost immediately.  Stephanie McMahon added the Hell in the Cell stipulation to ensure that there would be no draw this time around.  And then, the melodrama kicked in.

Lesnar broke Taker's hand two weeks ago.  Then last week, and again last night, Taker used his new cast to bloody first Matt Hardy and then Lesnar.  Paul Heyman lobbied unsuccessfully to have Taker's cast barred from the Cell.

But Heyman succeeded in getting under Taker's (ha!) skin in another way: he carted out a woman who claimed to have had an affair with Taker.  Taker's story:  yeah, he knows her, but it was seven years ago.  Her story:  they were gettin' it on as recently as last week.  Needless to say, that's meant that Taker's now-rocky relationship with his pregnant wife Sara is being presented as a big part of this feud, as something that's distracting Taker from taking care of his in-ring business.

From an in-ring perspective, I'm not exactly sure what to expect on Sunday.  Actually, until the finish, I was pretty happy with the way these two worked together last month.  Lesnar, for the first time, was in the ring with somebody physically bigger than him, and showed us an ability to bump around pretty well for such a big, imposing guy.  And for his part, Taker did his level best to make sure Lesnar's offense looked good, too.

This time around, we add in the Cell.  We're actually celebrating the fifth birthday of the HitC gimmick, which debuted at the October 1997 PPV (then titled "Badd Blood").  In that time, the match has evolved to the point where fans expect (1) one signature bump and (2) brawling on top of the Cell.  But with these two guys, you gotta wonder if those are fair things to expect.  These aren't Mick Foley or Shawn Michaels we're talking about here...

Actually, I'm sure they'll find some way to escape the Cell and brawl on top of it.  But as for the signature high spots?  Well, I think we might be better served to expect a more methodical style of match, focusing on psychology and brutality.  Taker's got his cast to use as a weapon.  The Cell itself is a weapon, and will no doubt contain chairs and other sundry items.  Taker and Lesnar will tell a story tinged in crimson, rather than jump off of high places.  That's my expectation, anyway.

Hell in the Cell naturally instills high expectations, though, and I must admit a markish hopefulness that this thing steals the show. 

My Prediction:  Undertaker will do the job that the internet accused him of being unwilling to do last month.  Lesnar goes over, and moves on to his next foe.

TRIPLE H vs. KANE (World Title  vs. IC Title Match)

It seemed HHH might have unfinished business with Rob Van Dam, after he needed help from a heel-turning Ric Flair to defeat RVD last month on PPV.  But instead, Kane emerged as the #1 Contender after Eric Bischoff decided to contract that IC Title by booking a World Title vs. IC Title match for the PPV.

Following that announcement, Kane went out and beat Chris Jericho for the IC belt, and promptly cemented himself as HHH's challenger.  And if that wasn't out-of-left-field enough for you, it was at this point that HHH decided to declare that Kane was a murderer.

So this week on RAW, Kane went out and admitted that he knew a girl named Katie Vick, and she died when he lost control of their car after they'd been at a party ten years ago.  But he strongly resented the "murderer" tag.  HHH, for his part, didn't do the wise thing and let the stupid angle drop.  No!  Instead, he forged ahead, claiming he had evidence that Kane, himself, was drunk at the wheel that night, and that his semen was found on Ms. Vick's person.  He went so far as to question whether said semen was deposited there before or after Ms. Vick's death.

Really engrossing, high-brow stuff here, eh?

HA! I was being sarcastic!  Actually, this cements HHH's position as being one half of BOTH of the top two Most Frustratingly Bad Main Event Feuds of 2002.  First, he was there when a potentially outstanding Jericho/HHH match devolved into a divorce saga focused primarily on a puppy dog.  And now this: another world title feud so disconnected from the actual title that it can only serve to devalue the title and to reduce the fans' interest in both men come Sunday. 

Match-wise, I don't know if Kane/HHH has as much promise as Jericho/HHH, but it certainly would stand on its own merits.  Kane's as good as it gets among Big Man wrestlers.  And HHH is extremely versatile, able to grapple, brawl, bump, and dominate with power moves, depending on his opponent.  These two can go out and have a very good match.  The question is, after the retardedness of the last two weeks, will anyone care?

My Prediction:  it's not so important who wins and loses here as it is whether Kane can restore his character.  He needs more "Taker's freakish little brother who kicks ass" and less "going to parties, hitting on girls, and then killing them because he can't drive a stick."  Because I think the RAW creative team is smart enough to realize this, but not quite clever enough to figure out any alternate way of accomplishing the goal (and also in a state of disorganization sufficient that they might randomly try any old thing at the drop of a hat), I'm gonna go out on a limb and say Kane gets the win on Sunday night.

EDGE/REY MYSTERIO vs. CHRIS BENOIT/KURT ANGLE (WWE Tag Title Tournament Finals)

This is the reason to buy No Mercy.  It's flat-out that simple.

When Stephanie McMahon announced her plan to create a new tag title to be exclusive to SmackDown!, I must admit that I had visions of Billy and Chuck versus... well, versus SOMEone.  It's not like SD! had a ton of tag teams firmly established.

Instead, we go through two rounds of tourney action, and we've got these two incredible teams facing off in the finals.  And Eddie and Chavo Guerrero have gotten their act together and are waiting in the wings as another full-time tag team who, quite frankly, kick a lot of ass.  If all these teams stick together, and if a few other makeshift teams work out (Simmons/D'Von, and hey, how about Tajiri/Funaki?), this could be the best tag division we've seen since like 1996-era ECW!  Well, OK, so I hyperbolize...  2000-era WWF was actually about as good as it gets, what with the Hardys, Dudleys, and Edge/Christian all hitting their strides (and the APA and others as a supporting cast).

Storyline-wise, there's not a lot of sizzle to this match.  But that's commonly the case with tournament settings.  Unless you want to go back in time and remember that Rey and Angle had a feud two months ago, just about the only altercations between the two teams came when Edge and Rey ran in during the early stages of Benoit and Angle's semi-final match against the Guerreros (briefly getting the best of Benoit and Angle).  What sells this match is that these are outstanding workers who should put on an incredible match.  And that's enough for me.

My Prediction:  Edge and Rey getting the win would seem logical, since that would free Benoit and Angle up for higher-profile singles stuff while allowing the Guerreros to step up as heel challengers...  but Paul Heyman has shown a penchant for elevating tag teams who don't get along (witness Storm/Candido in ECW), so maybe Benoit and Angle could go over?  Nah, I'll stick with conventional wisdom and say Edge and Rey get the win...

ROB VAN DAM vs. RIC FLAIR

So after getting pulled out of the World Title picture, RVD is left to feud with HHH's mentor, Ric Flair.  It'd make sense and could definitely have been a major selling point of the PPV... except the brain trust at RAW completely dropped the story for three weeks, and then tried to rematerialize it on Monday night.

Coming out of last month's PPV, where Flair cost RVD the title, they could have had a full four weeks of build-up to the RVD/Flair showdown.  Instead, they do nothing, and don't even REMEMBER the PPV when Bischoff, out of nowhere, books this match for Sunday.  Fact is, in whatever three or four paragraphs I write here, I'm probably gonna end up doing more to hype and lend context to the RVD/Flair match than WWE has done in four weeks.

If they'd done the solid storytelling, then we might have something here.  Because although Flair is not the Flair of the late 80s, he's still capable of putting on a show.  And RVD is RVD in his prime.  If they can overcome the style clash (something that has plagued some of RVD's matches), then this could be a very good contest and a big contributor to the PPV as a whole.  We'll see...

My Prediction:  there's absolutely no reason for Flair to get a win over RVD at this point.  Van Dam goes over cleanly, and Flair gets showered up and changed so that he can go out and do his dirty work for HHH later in the show.

CHRIS JERICHO/CHRISTIAN vs. BOOKER T/GOLDUST (World Tag Title Match)

This match was ALSO just slapped together this past Monday on RAW... but actually, it stands out to me as probably the most interesting and promising of all the RAW matches on the show.

That's because, despite the last second pairing of Jericho and Christian and their subsequent tag title win that set up this match, the fact is that Booker and Jericho had a few weeks of established hostilities built up.  This match is a logical progression, and features two of the RAW brands most bankable stars in Booker and Jericho.  Christian (in his role as a tag team specialist) and Goldust (in his role as, um, token weirdo) only add to the overall effect.

There should be good heat both ways, good action in the ring, and the end result should be very entertaining.  Perhaps after No Mercy, Booker and Jericho, two of RAW most under-appreciated performers, will finally get their due.

My Prediction:  this is a toss up.  You don't really expect either Jericho or Booker to be tied down into a tag team situation in the long term.  But as Kane/Hurricane (and the entire SD! tag division for that matter) showed, it's possible to be a tag champ and maintain a singles agenda.  But because they had plenty of chances to put the belts on Booker and Goldust in the past two months and didn't do it, I'll assume that the straps stay with Jericho and Christian on Sunday.

TRISH STRATUS vs. VICTORIA (Women's Title Match)

In the ring, this has been about as brutal a women's feud as I can recall.  Victoria's beat-downs on Trish have been really convincing to the point where even cynical old me feel feels sympathetic towards Trish. I mean, really, how many girls can you remember taking chairshots to advance a women's title feud?

Storyline-wise, Victoria tried to lay out a past where she and Trish were fitness models and both wanted to make it to WWE, together.  Trish wound up looking out for #1 and beat Victoria by a couple of years.  And yada, yada, yada, now Victoria's really bitter and wants to beat Trish for the belt.  It wasn't exactly the best-delivered promo of all times, but it all makes pretty good sense.

So we're left with what could end up being a very solid women's match.  You don't have a Lita with her highspots, and we'll likely have to endure Jerry Lawler's counter-productive commentary (sporting a verbal hard-on works for Terri vs. Stacy, but only undermines the effort of the girls in a match like this), but still... the pieces are there for a surprisingly good match.

My prediction:  I'm still thinking that we're basically just waiting for Jazz to come back from knee surgery, at which point, we move at Warp Eight to a Trish vs. Jazz women's title feud.  Which means the title stays with Trish on Sunday.

TORRIE WILSON vs. DAWN MARIE

Two women's matches on one show?  When was the last time that happened?  My guess is, "Never."

Tazz and Cole oughta let Lawler come over and sit in for this one, since it's definitely gonna be less a wrestling match and more a cat fight.  On second thought, the less Lawler, the better...

The story here: Torrie's dad, Al, came to a show a few weeks back when they were near the Wilson home.  That night, Torrie beat Dawn Marie in a bikini contest.  But Dawn Marie caught Al's eye.  So Al showed up again a week later, when Torrie beat Dawn Marie in a lingerie contest.  But this time, Dawn invited Al back to her hotel room.  And just last night, after Dawn had pinned Torrie in a mixed tag match, Torrie found her dad in the shower with Dawn.  More of that creepy "old guy with hot girl" stuff that never really works, but whatever... this isn't exactly a main event feud, so some silliness is OK.

My Prediction:  this won't be pretty from a wrestling perspective, but it should provide some eye candy, nonetheless.  I don't expect Al Wilson is set to become a full-time character, so in the end, I predict he'll side with his daughter, helping her to defeat Dawn Marie, once and for all.  Then he can ride off into the sunset.

That's it as it stands right now...  seven announced matches.  In addition to questioning some of RAW's storytelling in the last month, I also have to question the construction of this card to some degree. I mean: SD! leaves guys like Eddie Guerrero and Matt Hardy (arguably two of the most valuable performers of the last month) on the sidelines so that they can book a throw-away women's match?  I'm not so sure about that...

Then again, with only seven announced matches, we've got the possibility of adding to the card before Sunday.  I know I was expecting that they'd announce Tajiri vs. Jamie Knoble to be added to the PPV after their altercation last night on SD!... and though nothing's been officially announced, that's still a very viable option.  The story's in place, the match would kick ass, there's no reason NOT to do it!  And like I said, the Guerreros, Matt Hardy, and others are all available, too.

It's not the less thrilling "on-paper" PPV line-ups that I can recall... but there's at least one guaranteed blow-away match, the always intriguing Hell in the Call gimmick, and the omni-present possibility of adding a match or two to the card as it stands.  So all is not lost.

Check out the show on Sunday night.  Or barring that, just come on back to OnlineOnslaught.com for a full recap immediately after the show, in the 11pm (eastern) hour.

Quick Friday NewsBites

  • Last night's SD! easily bested RAW this week, but was not the sharpest it's been...  I gotta wonder about putting the Steph/Lesnar/Taker thing on last.  It was a minor point at best, no matter how hard they tried to hype the importance of the Cast Decision.  It's almost like they didn't trust Benoit, Angle, and the Guerreros to headline a show, which is BS.
     
    The show drew a 4.6 overnight rating, which is down a statistically-insignificant one-tenth of a point from last week's overnight number.  And of course, the overnight number is insignificant for another reason:  because on Monday, we'll have a final rating to report on, which usually bears little resemblance to the overnight rating.
     
    Complete results from SD! can be had right here.
     
  • It seems just about everyone in the explored universe is thinking the same thing right now:  Katie FICK became Katie VICK because it's going to be revealed that Triple H's "source" of his Kane info will wind up being... brace yourselves for a shocker....
     
    SCOTT VICK.
     
    That's right, the former "Sick Boy" of Raven's Flock has been working dark matches, and is apparently ready for prime time, so a ton of readers put two and two together, and came up with a scenario in which Scott comes in as Katie's brother seeking revenge on Kane.
     
    Hell, it makes about as much sense as anything else in the whole Kane/HHH thing, so why not?  Then again, why?
     
  • Lennox Lewis was asked by the Toronto Sun about rumors he was in talks with WWE recently, and he admitted that yes, his people have been talking to the Fed.  But he denied that the talks were heading towards a Lewis/Lesnar shootfight.
     
    Rather, Lennox Lewis says he's been in talks to perhaps be a special referee on a pay-per-view.  That makes a lot more sense than the shootfight thing.  Though I gotta wonder just how many people would give a shit about Lennox Lewis refereeing a wrestling match.
     
    I mean, really, it's maybe one step up from Vinny Pazienza refereeing the Brawl For All finals a few WrestleManias ago!
     
  • As reported on Wednesday, Billy Gunn's injury has been confirmed as a shoulder separation.  Surgery may be required, and we'll know more soon.  More than likely, Jim Ross will have the absolute latest on Billy in his weekend WWE.com column.
     
  • A few readers caught Stephanie McMahon's appearance on the Howard Stern show and passed along some highlights.  
     
    There wasn't really anything notable, just some PPV hype and Chyna-bashing, along with the Stern show's usual Lawler-esque fifth-grade-caliber fixation on all things sexual.  Most the readers who heard the show and mailed me about it said Steph was commendably and charmingly frank in answering Stern's questions.  Among the revelations:  sex with HHH is apparently a fun and frequent diversion, Steph isn't too interested in bondage or anal sex, and she does her level best to maintain hairlessness from the eyebrows down, if you catch my drift.
     
    Howard, apparently, was quite smitten by the end of the interview... 
     
  • It seems as though Trish Stratus has won the WWE's Babe of the Year contest, defeating Stacy Keibler in the finals.  That's back to the back wins for Trish.
     
    The contest is supposedly determined by popular vote, though in wrestling, you can't exactly trust that the fix isn't in...
     
  • Lastly today: a couple of reader requests.
     
    First... Ivan from NJ has set up a Fantasy Basketball League on Yahoo.  He invites all OO Readers to join.  The league ID # is 67307, and the password is "boriqua".  
     
    And second: fellow Daytonian Adam Gutschmidt has an extra copy of Judgment Day on DVD, and would like to sell it.  This is the show with Austin's last PPV appearance as well as Hogan/Taker and Jericho/HHH (Hell in the Cell).  If you'd like to buy, e-mail Adam at gutscham@notes.udayton.edu.
     
  • It was exactly one year ago today that WrestleLine shut down, and I set the wheels in motion to launch OO as its own website. If you want to see how I'm commemorating the anniversary, click here.
     
    Otherwise, I'll see you again on Sunday night, with No Mercy results!

 

E-MAIL RICK SCAIA
BROWSE THE OO ARCHIVES

Rick Scaia is a wrestling fan from Dayton, OH.  He's been doing this since 1995, but enjoyed it best when the suckers from SportsLine were actually PAYING him to be a fan.


  
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