NO MERCY

October 7, 2007


Say what you will about WWE, but you can’t deny that they’re almost always able to bounce back from adversity and come through in a clinch. 2007 was riddled with injuries, and John Cena tearing his pectoral six days before the show was just another example of that, but WWE still went above and beyond to put on a PPV that the fans would enjoy.


Randy Orton . . . has two good matches in the same night and finally gets himself a little credibility.

CM Punk . . . is in his hometown as the ECW Champion, three guesses how well this night goes for him.

Batista . . . puts his issue with The Great Khali to rest inside the confines of the bamboo double cage.


Vince McMahon and William Regal come out and officially strip John Cena of the WWE Title, and awards it to the man he was scheduled to defend against, Randy Orton. Orton, however, will have to defend it tonight and can choose his challenger. Triple H asks for the title shot and is denied, so he uses some reverse psychology on Vince and gets it. The first match is underway!


RANDY ORTON © vs. TRIPLE H (WWE Heavyweight Title)

While this isn’t the most exciting match, it’s got a number of smart touches that make it worthwhile. The slow pace and short length are both indications that there were other things on the horizon (such as HHH’s scheduled match with Umaga), so a good portion of the match is made up of HHH and Orton trading punches and using various rest holds. Neither of them digs very deep into their move sets, but thankfully, they’re both smart enough to make the few spots that do get used mean something. When was the last time HHH beat anyone with his spine buster? But thanks to the way Orton sold it, it wound up being a hot near fall. Orton has beaten a few more people with his hanging DDT than HHH has with the spine buster, and has done it more recently, but it still takes a clear backseat to the RKO, but it’s another hot near fall here. The superplex, pretty much a prerequisite spot for big WWE matches, winds up getting good heat and is another hot near fall for HHH. The match ending on a school boy after Orton’s blind charge into the corner seems like a bit of a downer after seeing how well they’d been working their mid range and trademark spots, but they’d each attempted their finisher and failed, and it came down to HHH thinking one move ahead and outsmarting Orton.


KEN KENNEDY/LANCE CADE/TREVOR MURDOCH vs. JEFF HARDY/PAUL LONDON/BRIAN KENDRICK

There isn’t anything mind blowing here, but this is an inoffensive waste of eight or so minutes. It’s worked like a typical formula match on fast forward, so there isn’t anything as far as a story goes. The babyface team gets their token run of offense, but it’s nothing special, just typical little guy stuff done at a fast pace. Kendrick gets to play face in peril and takes a few sadistic bumps, and also has the best moment of the match with Kennedy. Kennedy gets surprised by a quick armdrag escape, and Kendrick runs for the tag, but gets cut off as the last second. Kendrick makes the tag, all hell breaks loose, Jeff gets a nice near fall with the swanton on Murdoch but Cade saves. All hell continues breaking loose and Jeff wipes out on his run and drive off the guardrail, Kendrick tries to dive onto Cade and also wipes out on the floor. London gets planted with the Green Bay Plunge and pinned. If this was given more time it could have been quite good, but only if the heels were up to the task, and considering the control segment on Kendrick was basically made by his bumping, there’s no telling if they were up to such a task.


CM PUNK © vs. BIG DADDY V (ECW Heavyweight Title)

It’s bad enough this his had to happen on a show that people were paying to watch, but this also had to happen in Punk’s hometown. Was there really no way to just scrap this, give the previous tag an extra five minutes, and run an angle or something to explain the match not happening? Or actually put on the Dreamer/Punk match that everyone watching ECW on TV thought would happen and wanted to see, and then do an angle where V gets a title shot later that night (they just did that with the WWE Title, why not the ECW Title?). Instead it’s just another case of WWE showing that they don’t care about ECW or the ECW Title. V takes down Punk and uses his size to his advantage. Punk comes back, and knocks V of his feet with a missile dropkick and then Matt Strikes causes a DQ. That’s the whole match. V beats down Punk afterwards. They could have easily put this on TV.


TRIPLE H © vs. UMAGA (WWE Heavyweight Title)

It’s not as good as HHH’s previous match, but this is okay. I know Samoans are supposed to have hard heads and all, but I could do without seeing Umaga no sell two of HHH’s bigger moves, like the DDT and the facebuster. He sells the spine buster well, but not as good as Orton did, and the lack of reaction to the near fall shows that. The match is mostly based around HHH’s ribs, which Umaga hurts after the Samoan drop, and HHH does a really good job selling, and Umaga starts focusing his strikes and his other means of attack on mid section. It’s sort of ironic since the only big move that had any effect on Umaga was the spine buster, but HHH is the one hurting in that area. The finish comes down to the same thing as the last match, HHH thinking ahead, Umaga misses the avalanche and HHH takes advantage of his stunned state and hits the pedigree (with a mediocre bump from Umaga) to keep the title. This achieved it's goal of softening up HHH, and also being somewhat short, but I wish they’d gotten there without Umaga no selling HHH’s key moves. If they wanted to demonstrate his hard head, or play up that Umaga is fresh, there are plenty of alternatives that don’t require that.


REY MYSTERIO vs. FINLAY

If this had a finish, it would have been awesome. Instead it’s just a decent match, with a killer angle, that’s ruined a bit thanks to some production issues. As expected Rey uses his speed to stay ahead early on, lots of dropkicks and various springboard and slingshot moves. Finlay takes over by fighting dirty and covering Rey’s head with the ring apron, and he follows up by sliding Rey into the post shoulder first. You read that right: Finlay actually SLID him into the post, underneath the turnbuckles. Finlay keeps on the arm with a Fujiwara armbar, and then a hammerlock. Rey gets back in control with an especially nice transition, he escapes the hammerlock by flipping out and at the same time, sends Finlay into the turnbuckle head first. Rey initially goes back to his aerial game, and Finlay tries to get dirty again first by distracting the ref by undoing the turnbuckle and then grabbing his shaleleigh. Rey fights back and gets him into position for the 619, decides to fight a bit dirty himself and gives a Tajiri style roundhouse to Finlay’s head, and then legdrop from the top. Finlay takes a fall from the apron to the floor, lands with a big thud and is motionless.


This where the production comes into play, and causes problems. First off, it’s clear that Finlay protected himself on the way down from the way he plants his hands when he falls. There’s nothing wrong with that, but when they show it on reply three or four times, it’s obvious. Second, when he doesn’t answer and the ref runs off for help, we see Finlay pop up his head, look over, and then go back down. The announcers have to pretend that they didn’t see him, or that it was some sort of reflex. Third, the ref throws the X sign in the air, the one that’s only supposed to be for real injuries and not storylines, like Kevin Nash tearing his knee on RAW. Stopping the match for the medics should be enough to give the idea that he’s hurt. They get Finlay on the stretcher and start to take him to the back, he then jumps off and beats the high holy crap out of Rey. But there’s no finish, Finlay beats up and Rey and that’s it. It might be stretching things a bit, but why not disqualify Finlay? They were both on the floor for longer than ten seconds, so the could use that as an excuse as well. A finish, any finish, is better than no finish.


Vince pays a visit to HHH and lets him know that Orton has evoked his rematch clause for later in the night. And since they’d advertized one initially between Orton and Cena, it’ll be HHH defending against Orton in a Last Man Standing Match.


CANDICE MICHELLE © vs. BETH PHOENIX (WWE Women’s Title)

If nothing else, this goes a bit longer than the ECW Title match, and it’s got a finish. This wildy ranges of adequate, such as Beth getting to do a spot, to sloppy (pretty much anything else). Beth had been mowing down the WWE Women’s Division for a few months, so it’s no surprise to see Candice fighting from underneath, even though she’d upset Beth the month before, it was by a fluke. But they just don’t seem to be able to work together for anything. Their strike exchanges all look terrible, and anything Candice tries looks awful. Early on they try to work the Bob Backlund short arm scissors spot, but Candice loses the hold before Beth is even on her feet. They also try to work the Bret Hart roll up counter to a sleeper, but Candice still doesn’t get it right. When Beth gets something that she can do on her own, like the tilt-a-whirl backbreaker or the press slam, it looks fine. It’s only when they need to work together that it’s bad, such as Beth trying to grab Candice and charge into the corner. They don’t even get the finish right, Beth couldn’t seem to lift Candice up for the Fisherman’s buster all the way, so it looks more like a Fisherman’s vertical suplex. Afterwards, Beth gives a victory speech sounding like she just won some epic match instead of a four-minute affair that looked hugely sloppy at times.


BATISTA © vs. THE GREAT KHALI (World Heavyweight Title - Punjabi Prison Match)

I’m surprised TNA hasn’t tried to use this gimmick match yet, it’s so goofy that it’s right up their alley. Its essentially a cage match, only the cage is made of bamboo, and there’s a bigger cage surrounding it. The object is to escape the whole thing. There’s more, there are four doors in the smaller cage, and they can only attempt to be used to escape once, if there’s no escape after one minute, they’re locked for the rest of the match. If they’re all locked, then the only means of escape is to climb.


This is pretty watchable, but it’s not surprising given how basic a match they really have. The bulk of it is mostly the two of them trading punches and then they oversell hugely to create drama for attempts to go out one of the doors. Khali’s chops and punches still look lumbering, but his big boot when Batista charged at him looked good. He manages to be inventive now and then, wearing him out with a leather strap before trying to go for a door, and stopping Batista from going out the last door by pushing it down and pinning him to the mat. Khali actually puts over the big flying tackle pretty nicely to go along with the spine buster and spear. They even try to work in the Undertaker powerbomb from the corner spot, but, thankfully, Khali breaks the grip on it. For all their overselling, nothing seemed to be effective though, because in the end it just boiled down to a race. Khali’s vice grip didn’t do much and after hurting him the door, the ten foot drop off the cage to the mat didn’t stop him that much. Batista just saw how far along Khali was and skipped the middle man by jumping from the first cage to the second cage and climbed out. The jump, admittedly, looked cool, but that and the novelty of the gimmick are the only real value this has. Even the most hardcore Batista fan would be hard pressed to find any value to the match that can’t be seen in their matches with others.


TRIPLE H © vs. RANDY ORTON (WWE Heavyweight Title - Last Man Standing Match)

I remember watching WrestleMania VIII when I was nine, and hearing Gorilla Monsoon call it one of the most history making events ever, due to the two title changes on the show. Fifteen years later, and we’ve got the same title being defended three times, and changing hands twice, in the same show. It shows just how far wrestling has come in the sense of how fast things happen nowadays. This match makes ample retribution for Orton, not only for how quickly he was dethroned as WWE Champion on this night, but also for his disappointing run as the World Champion in 2004, which was also ended by HHH.


This is similar to the last match, in that they oversell a bit, but they also both bring out a ton of cool and brutal looking spots. The match is a spotfest, pretty much by design, so the work between spots is basically them punching at each other. The overselling also works better here, since they’d both already wrestled. The one story aspect to the match is HHH’s ribs being hurt, thanks to Umaga in their match, and Orton, of course, goes right after them. For all of the flak he gets, HHH is awesome here with his selling. He milks the count, but does it the perfect degree so he’s not obviously milking the count. When Orton hits the backdrop suplex on the guardrail, he has a look of agony on his face, and when Orton does the inverted headlock backbreaker (long since a basic Orton spot) HHH sells so well that it seems plausible that Orton could win the match with it. There’s only one time that HHH lets up on the selling, when he catches Orton’s leg as attempted the concussion kick. In a way it makes sense, Orton had put Michaels on the shelf with it, so catching the foot and having Orton at his mercy certainly could cause an adrenaline rush.


The match’s greatness isn’t just made up of HHH’s selling, he also hands out some good punishment himself, and Orton, while not as good as HHH, does a damn fine job of making it seem like he’s all but done. The crowd reaction becomes something akin to Cena/HHH at WM 23, nobody is quite sure who’s winning. It seems odd that it only takes three moves to render Orton nearly as beaten up as HHH is, but it’s three decent sized spots that put the hurt on. The first winds up playing a role in the finish. Orton tries to RKO HHH on the announce table, like he did to Cena, but HHH puts on the breaks and Orton gets put through the table. HHH follows up with a spine buster on the floor, and like he did in their first match, Orton puts it over great. HHH then picks up the steps and waffles Orton in the head with them. HHH tries to continue his assault by grabbing a chair, but Orton turns the tables with a DDT on the chair, and it’s a welcome touch to see him kick HHH in the ribs before doing so. From there on, the match alternates with them trying to raise the bar and see which of them will finally stay down. Orton hits an ugly RKO on a chair, HHH hits a drop toehold that prevents Orton from charging with the steps and bashes him in the head with a chair while it’s on the steps. A pedigree attempt is countered and HHH hits the post. Again, it’s basically a spotfest, but they both do so well milking the count and selling the damage, that it’s worthwhile. Ironically, the finish comes on the heels of the very thing that got Orton in trouble to begin with. HHH tries a pedigree on the announce table, and Orton counters with the RKO and HHH is down for ten. While simply being handed the title and losing it ten minutes later didn’t do any favors for Orton’s credibility, winning it back from HHH in a match like this more than refills his tank. And when combined with the knowledge of his subsequent matches with Michaels and Jeff Hardy during his title run, it looks like Randy Orton might be finally reaching the potential that many saw in him years ago. ***1/2


Conclusion: The two matches with Orton and HHH are the big reason to get this, aside from the women’s match, nothing was actively bad, but more along the lines of underwhelming. I’m going in the middle here, it’s nothing to avoid like the plague, but when watching, it’s best to not have your hopes very high.