With so many PPVs seeming far too predictable in recent months, WWE should be given a lot of credit for the booking of No Mercy as many of these matches are quite the opposite. Many of the matchups have solid stories behind them that have left fans wondering how these different conflicts will play out. Lets take a closer look at how the outcomes of each match will effect the landscape of Raw leading into Wrestlemania season, which will be here before we know it.
CRUISERWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP: NEVILLE (C) vs. ENZO AMORE
After so many Cruiserweights endured beachballs and “CM Punk” chants, Enzo Amore has joined the roster and is immediately inserted into the title picture. This could work in Enzo’s favor as it seems like Neville may be one of his only remaining friends in the locker room and the two may have enough chemistry to surprise the live audience with a good match.
Aside from Neville’s slip up against Tozawa, which was mainly booked for shock value, he has been as dominant as anyone in WWE with regards to wins, losses, and the length of his title reign. He has gone through every opponent that has been up against him and this should be no different. Look for Neville to win decisively here to continue his run as Champion and move forward in a different direction. Should there be a shock upset, Neville will have to be incredibly protected as the narrative that has been told provides no evidence of Neville coming up short here.
The way Enzo Amore is booked here will be a very good indication as to where he will fit moving forward. For anyone thinking that he had a chance given his win/loss record on 205 Live, remember that he was Braun’s personal crash test dummy in the No Mercy go-home episode of Raw. It has been well documented that Vince McMahon loves seeing Enzo being thrown around like a rag doll and I expect more of the same here. With fading crowd reactions and all of the backstage drama, one has to wonder how bad will Enzo be made to look?
FINN BALOR vs. BRAY WYATT
When these two were put together in a program it was a very intriguing matchup that has been presented brilliantly so far. The Man vs. Man match concept works perfectly for the story both men have been telling, and new layers of each wrestler’s personality have come out in a big way.
Throughout this conflict Bray Wyatt has been far less community theatre and much more of a sadistic cult leader bent on destruction. What is so interesting about Bray is that this is the first time that he has seemed mentally vulnerable. Typically his opponents are driven to have breakdowns and do things similar to what he did to Goldust and his face paint. Sure, Bray has lost a ton of important pay per view matches, but this one seems so much more important with how it has been built. Should Bray pick up the win his words and prophesies will finally be validated and we can start to take him seriously for the first time in what feels like forever. Should he be defeated, however, I truly don’t know where he goes from here. Bray may proclaim that the pain he inflicts on his opponents is far more important to him than a victory, but in a wins and losses business a man that is so prominently featured needs to come out on top every once and a while.
Bray has not been the only star in this feud as Finn Balor has most certainly held up his end of the bargain. The promo he cut talking about the man who created The Demon and which one is more dangerous was some of his best work in WWE to date, and it really drove home the fact that while The Demon is dangerous, the man behind it is capable of far more. Bray sold it perfectly which built the anticipation of this match even further. A win here for Finn would be a big one and it would prove that he doesn’t need to rely on an alter ego to overcome his greatest challenges. Finn is beloved by the fans so a loss here wouldn’t hurt so badly. The downside in a loss would be that Finn Balor the man is defined down a bit. He is up against someone notorious for losing big matches in Bray Wyatt which would not be a good look.
Prediction: Bray Wyatt
INTERCONTINENTAL CHAMPIONSHIP: THE MIZ (C) vs. JASON JORDAN
“Hey, so we have this new babyface that can’t seem to get over. What should we do?” “Well damn pal, put him with Miz. He’ll get him over!” Sound familiar? In this case, though, I couldn’t agree more with the booking. Miz and Jordan did have a few encounters early on in JJ’s run, but essentially this story only had about 2 weeks to be told and was immediately heated up due to Miz’s fantastic mic work and the ability get under Kurt Angle’s skin.
It is crazy to think that after this huge reveal of Jason Jordan being Kurt Angle’s son, the way Jordan ended up getting over was two consecutive losses to John Cena and Roman Reigns. After the crowd was clearly not buying this father/son storyline it looked like Jordan had hit a dead end, but his in-ring performances seemed to have put him back into the good graces of both the fans and the office. Jordan has come a long way in a short amount of time but not nearly far enough to score a clean victory over Miz, who has now held the Intercontinental Championship longer than all but two former champions. If victorious, there will need to be some outside interference going awry and a small package applied which would keep Miz protected while starting the build to a rematch. A loss here would not be the worst thing in the world for Jordan who as proven he can get over in defeat. Further, if he were to lose due to the Miztourage getting involved it will show that Vince and his team have confidence in him moving forward. A clean loss will tell quite the opposite story.
The Miz is still on the top of his game, cutting excellent promo after excellent promo and has helped to get steam behind anyone he is working with. In looking at who else the Raw writing team sees fit to contend for the Intercontinental Championship (specifically who was involved in the battle royal on Monday) it doesn’t seem like any one babyface is ready to challenge Miz beyond Jordan. Regardless of whether he wins or loses, Miz will undoubtedly have help from the Miztourage during this contest. The only true terrible outcome here for Miz would be to lose clean in the middle. He has worked so hard to make the Intercontinental Championship mean something that it would be devastating to lose it fair and square to a rookie. What would make the most sense is a Mix victory with an assist from both Bo Dallas and Curtis Axel. It would keep the storyline going and could set up a rematch with Miz’s henchman barred from ringside.
Prediction: The Miz
TAG TEAM CHAMPIONSHIP: SETH ROLLINS & DEAN AMBROSE (C) vs. THE BAR
This matchup is awfully intriguing. We have a classic story of four bonafide stars battling it out to see who is the better team. In looking at this match, as well as the rest of the Raw tag division, it is hard to force anyone else battling for the Tag Team Championships in the near future. The hard-hitting style of The Bar matches up so well with how dynamic both Rollins and Ambrose are and it should make for a fantastic contest.
Similar to the Intercontinental Championship picture, no other team aside from The Goodbrothers have had significant television time lately which would likely mean the finish of this match will set up another meeting between these teams. What will be so important here is to really build up the animosity and competitiveness between all 4 men. They have all done such a great job on guest commentary building up the importance of this match and how much a win would mean to each team. This is a match that could go in so many directions, but all outcomes likely lead to another at least one more.
Prediction: The Bar
RAW WOMEN’S CHAMPIONSHIP: ALEXA BLISS (C) vs. BAYLEY vs. SASHA BANKS vs. EMMA vs. NIA JAX
Given that Asuka’s debut on Raw is already being hyped, you would have to imagine that she will be inserted right into the title picture given her undefeated record and lengthy title run in NXT. Anticipating that she will be introduced as a babyface, it would only make sense that a heel will leave No Mercy with the Raw Women’s Championship. This would quickly eliminate Bayley and Sasha Banks from the equation, and given how happy Banks was to see Bayley return, we may be closer to a heel turn from one of them in the near future, especially with a babyface as impactful as Asuka joining the roster. Emma would also be considered someone with very little chance here because well, the storyline has given us no reason to think otherwise.
Nia Jax has really been positioned well in the last few months and looks to be primed and ready to finally capture gold. If she were to be victorious here it would be very much warranted and an interesting new chapter in the Raw Women’s division. She is edging towards being a babyface with the way she turned on Alexa Bliss weeks ago and is someone who could believably hold the championship for a long period of time if protected and booked properly. The problem here agains is the impending arrival of Asuka. The only path to getting Asuka completely over is to have her win the title shortly after her debut, which would be a terrible lot for Jax if it were her that had to drop it. The most important thing for Nia in this match is to come out looking like an absolute monster with the reason for her not coming out on top being that she was ganged up on by all of the other competitors in the match. Given the size difference and the intrigue of the matchup, Jax vs. Asuka for the Women’s Championship could be Wrestlemania worthy and I am not sure they would go to that this soon.
All of that being said, we are left with Alexa Bliss. If we thought it was fun to watch her avoid Nia Jax at all cost, imagine the stories that could play out with her and Asuka. The stuck up, entitled princess against a legitimate fighter that is known for taking people’s heads off with her kicks and palm strikes. Alexa is also relied upon heavily to carry promo segments which would work in Asuka’s favor, plus Bliss is really good at selling a beating. Bliss has done nothing that would warrant the WWE taking the title off of her at No Mercy, and if the plan is for Asuka to come in hotter than ever, Bliss would be the perfect first opponent for her. If Alexa does come up short she will always have a one on one rematch and the 5 person stipulation to fall back on as an excuse.
Prediction: Alexa Bliss
JOHN CENA vs. ROMAN REIGNS Finish!!!!!!!
While the WWE does throw out the phrase “Wrestlemania Worthy” far too often these days, this match most certainly fits the bill. It is quite confusing to see this match happening at No Mercy but starts to make more sense when realizing that this will be the company’s final chance to rack up Network subscribers before the end of the third fiscal quarter. These two polarizing figures will go head in a match in which the booking of the offense, defense, and finish will be so incredibly important.
John Cena has definitively won the verbal battle between he and Roman Reigns in the weeks leading up to this match, but eventually the bell does need to ring. At this point in his career I am not sure how much protection Cena needs in a match like this, especially if the plan is for him to go away for a bit to produce non-wrestling projects. He did drop the United States Championship to a returning Del Rio quite quickly so anything is possible.
To be fair, regardless of how much trash talk there was in the weeks leading up to this match both men could sustain a loss and come out of it just as loved or hated. With Reigns building up his resume while working toward his planned Universal Championship with Brock Lesnar at Wrestlemania it would make sense for him to go over and add Cena to the list of legends he has defeated. Cena could also easily get one over on The Big Dog and prove that he still can compete at a high level. How the finish of this match is booked with shape the foundation of WWE for years to come. And while these two will certainly square off again after No Mercy, the victor will earn the ultimate bragging rights until that rematch happens. Either way, this is going to be fun.
Prediction: Double Disqualification
UNIVERSAL CHAMPIONSHIP: BROCK LESNAR (C) vs. BRAUN STROWMAN
In a true battle of the giants, Braun Strowman will finally get his hands on Briock Lesnar that has the potential to be one of the best matches of the year if executed properly. Heading into a leaner title defense, we usually have a good idea of whether or not he will come out on top based on his opponents and the story leading in, but this one is truly up for grabs.
Brock Lesnar has been positioned quite differently heading into No Mercy. Instead of Paul Heyman giving “spoiler alerts” about how his client will be winning his match, he has spoken so highly of Strowman and talked about what a threat he poses to Lesnar. Whether it be a reverse psychology game or just a shift in narrative, it is definitely a different direction. Even though Lesnar has run roughshod through the heavyweight competition, a victory over Strowman would be a massive boost for The Beast. With the expected Wrestlemania main event of Lesnar vs. Reigns, this would be a huge momentum boost looking stronger than ever. Should Lesnar lose Heyman couldn’t say they did not see Braun coming or that they took him lightly. This, however, could be the first loss Lesnar could take without any protection and make a full comeback from. Losing to a man of Strowman’s size, regardless of your own track record, is nothing to be ashamed of. There would always be a rematch where Lesnar proves he can still hang with the best.
Braun Strowman’s rise to the main event scene has been booked so brilliantly it would almost seem criminal for him to leave No Mercy without the WWE Universal Championship. He has been protected, won big matches, overcame Roman Reigns on several occasions, and seems primed and ready to take down one of the most dominant forces in WWE history. A win here would show just how much confidence Vince and company has in Strowman. Remember, not just any old wrestler gets to pin Brock on WWE television. Like I mentioned above about Lesnar not being ashamed of a loss to someone like Strowman, the same could be said if the opposite happened. The difference here is that while Lesnar has years and years of success under his belt, Strowman doesnt have nearly enough to fall back on and this entire push would seem to fall just a bit short. While Heyman will be on the outside it is very unlikely that he will interfere, so something like an injury or a serious misstep would have to be included in the finish to protect Braun as much a possible.
Aside from Wrestlemania, I am not sure I have been this excited about a WWE pay per view event all year. I hope everyone has a great weekend and enjoys the show!
NOW CHECK OUT THE PREVIOUS COLUMN: PPV OUTCOMES & IMPLICATIONS – SUMMERSLAM: Fatal Four-way, Jinder vs. Nakamura, New Day vs. Usos, Styles vs. Owens with Shane
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