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What did No Mercy prove about WWE?



As usual, the post-WWE pay-per-view social media reaction garnered mixed results. Part-time champion Brock Lesnar defeated Braun Strowman, one of the most performers on the roster, so somehow that ruined the entire three hour event, which isn’t realistic at all.

But, what did No Mercy indicate for the direction of the WWE product?

Jason Jordan had a solid showing against The Miz, something that theoretically would go toward establishing him on his own since he departed from the tag team scene on Smackdown. However, the reaction to him recently has generated boos from the crowd. It must be made clear, these boos have nothing to do with his ability in the ring, but rather the lackluster reveal as Kurt Angle’s son a few months ago on Raw. The reason being, the writing team built up a major angle for weeks, only to have the reveal be an illogical storyline that had zero impact on the direction of the brand. At the time of the reveal, Jordan wasn’t featured or had a major standing on the Smackdown brand. He went from relative obscurity to a major reveal.

In retrospect, it almost seems like the writing team set up a surprise in an attempt to boost ratings for the short-term without any clear resolution. Maybe Jordan was a last-minute decision because management didn’t have any other options. Plus, his sudden push on Raw after the previously mentioned obscurity on SD gives the impression that Jordan is getting an entitled push, and we all know how well that worked for Roman Reigns.

There’s no doubt that Jordan has the talent bell-to-bell, and if anything, is lacking from a character prospective. That said, the best way to get the most from the lackluster reveal would be to set up for a heel turn where Jordan explains that he swerved Angle in an attempt to further his career. That would actually take the illogical reveal and use it as a way to progress his character.

Bray Wyatt/Finn Balor was a solid match-up, but it repeated a pattern often seen with Wyatt’s angles. His mic skills are used to build up a contest and then he does the job. That’s not to say that Finn doesn’t deserve the push or the victory, but what does it say for Wyatt after losing two pay-per-view matches in a row? The feud is essentially concluded and it did nothing for Wyatt. Bray is a performer that stays over because of his mic work, not the way he’s booked.

The problem is, that’s essentially the only thing Bray was used for during the majority of his WWE career, he gets others over. Even his WWE title run was brief and relatively uneventful before he dropped the title to Randy Orton. The argument could be made that Wyatt hasn’t looked strong since he was paired with Harper and Rowan. Consider the other two aren’t doing anything, perhaps the trio should be reunited again.

Bray Wyatt is a dynamic performer that connects with the audience, but if he doesn’t get an angle that actually elevates his status, his effectiveness going forward will be diminished. It’s disappointing to say, but Wyatt is almost used as a glorified jobber.

The tag team title match delivered a quality bout and was possibly the best match on the show. While the writing team certainly earns most of the criticism it receives, No Mercy proved that tag team wrestling is reaching a high point again, which hasn’t been the case for more than a decade. Cesaro and Sheamus have done extremely well as a pair and are arguably the best tag team in the WWE. Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose are two of the best in-ring workers in the company, and their skills have translated to the tag team scene. Plus, the New Day and The Usos had a great series of bouts on SD so it’s good to see an emphasis on tag teams again.

The women’s title match was great. However, it exposed that the flaw of the division is with the writing, not the wrestling. The 50/50 booking and title switches for an extended period of time diminished the importance of the belt. Instead of the “women’s revolution” being a long-term plan, it was used simply as a marketing tag line. Somehow, the writing team managed to book Bayley’s character into the ground, while Sasha’s star quality was minimized. Nia’s in-ring work continues to improve, but her persona remains indifferent. Emma remains irrelevant. Alexa Bliss has done well establishing herself as a believable villain, but without well-booked babyfaces to challenge her, it becomes a moot point. All the said, the competitors did very well in the match, which proves the problem is not their in-ring ability.

Enzo defeated Neville to win the Cruiserweight title, which shows how much WWE brass values the status of the belt. Enzo spent the last several months complaining and getting smashed on Raw. But, he goes to 205 Live and wins the title almost immediately. What statement does that make about the rest of the Cruiserweight division? After Cass turned heel, Enzo was exposed as one-dimensional in almost every aspect. Without Cass to do the in-ring work, Enzo does the same promo every week and then a sloppy match. You have to wonder if he will remain popular after his standard promo becomes stale?

The Roman Reigns/John Cena match and the main event appear to be linked, at least in my view. Roman Reigns was booed at No Mercy, but as usually done at pay-per-views, the audio level of the crowd was lowered in an attempt to quiet the hostile reaction. “Big Dawg” kicked out of four AA finishers to defeated John Cena. It was no surprise that post-match, Cena raised Roman’s hand and offered an endorsement. In theory, Reigns earned the respect of his “harshest critic,” as was set up with the worked-shoot promos in the previous weeks.

It’s almost unbelievable that WWE brass continues these “superman” type comebacks when those fuel the resentment toward Roman Reigns. Does anyone in the office really think that Roman kicking out of four finishers will change the fan reaction to him? One of the many reasons the audience rejects Roman is that management tries to insult their intelligence. The whole “hey, look Roman must be really good because he keeps kicking out” might’ve worked in 1993, but not today when it’s commonly acknowledged that the product is a scripted show.

Braun Strowman has done extremely well and he’s amazingly agile for someone of his size. In a complete contrast to Reigns, Braun got over spontaneously with the crowd. His presentation and performances made him one of the most over stars on WWE TV on a weekly basis. The dominating push that Braun was given created an anticipated bout with Brock Lesnar, the former UFC heavyweight champion that was pushed as a monster almost continuously since he returned to the WWE over five years ago. Lesnar “conquered” Braun after one F-5 so basically the dominating push to set up the match was used to eventually further cement Brock as the unstoppable monster.

So, where’s the link between the two matches?

The reason Roman kicked out of four finishers, and Braun wad pinned with one F-5 is simple. This is all being used for an eventual Reigns vs. Lesnar rematch at WrestleMania 34, where Roman will win the title again. The anointed champion will be the one to slay the unstoppable monster to further shoehorn his push at the top guy in the company.

As I wrote last week, the WWE owns 95% of the market for sports entertainment in the United States, and if Vince McMahon wants fans to watch Roman Reigns as the top guy then they will watch him. Unless it affects revenue, and it won’t, why should WWE brass change their plan? They want Roman Reigns to be the next guy to attend all the corporate events, and no amount of boos is going to change that. Revenue is the bottom line and WWE brass recently touted record-setting profits. Vince McMahon doesn’t care if people pay to boo or pay to cheer Roman Reigns, as long as they keep buying tickets and network subscriptions.

It’s almost comical that the amount of fans that complain after pay-per-views still continue to subscribe to the network. At this point, the WWE plan is clear, Roman Reigns is going to main event WrestleMania for several years. Everyone that follows the product can see that so how it is surprising when he beats John Cena?

Don’t get me wrong, the cringe-worthy Roman Reigns push isn’t exactly the best TV, but everyone knows what to expect when they watch Raw. There’s no competition to challenge WWE and if the general public wants to watch professional wrestling then they will watch Raw. Are there best choices for the next top guy in the WWE? Probably, but does it matter? No, because until it effects revenue, there’s no reason for management to change their plans.

What do you think? Comment below with your thoughts, opinions, feedback and anything else that was raised.

Until next week
-Jim LaMotta

E mail | You can follow me on Twitter @jimlamotta

image credit – WWE

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