Hello everybody, and welcome to another edition of Reading Between The Ropes. This weekend sees No Mercy hit our screens and, unlike some of the other PPVs aired in the UK, this one is not free for those across the pond. Unfortunately, the state of the card means that this writer will not be ordering what October’s offering from the WWE. It’s a shame because, in the past, I’ve always seen No Mercy as a strong event. It seems things have taken a turn for the worse, however.
Continuing on from Raw’s use of younger guys being thrown in to the mix on the big stage, it seems Smackdown! is doing the same. So, while I refrain from posting a long rant on the misfortunes and utter waste of Matt Hardy on Raw, I will now run down a brief preview of what one can expect to see this evening, if you are indeed willing to order this event.
MNM vs. The Road Warriors and Christy
I’d have much preferred the tag team titles to have been at stake in this match, but instead the WWE feels the new to get some female competition in on this card. Placing Heidenreich in this role was probably the best thing that creative could have done for him and while Animal’s protruding belly says a lot of things, he still has a great interaction with the audience.
I have always liked MNM as a team and I’m disappointed for them that they don’t have quite the exciting array of teams in the tag division to feed off of. They deserve better. But will they be walking out as victors on Sunday? I think not. I see the babyface team getting the win.
Bobby Lashley vs. Simon Dean
I’ve seen very little of Bobby Lashley, and this is his first big test when the spotlight of PPV shines on you. His task will not be made any easier from the fact that I hear reports that Dean has broken his hand and will work the PPV in a cast. Dean is a solid performer, however, it will be impossible for him to muster up any sort of performance with this inconvenience. As we saw with Edge last year, wrestling with a broken hand is very difficult. Oh, and Lashley will continue on his merry way.
Cruiserweight Title: Nunzio vs. Juventud
We could see a title change in this match. I’m delighted to see the title on the line, at least. I just wish the cruiserweights would get far more time on Smackdown!, rather than being stuck on Velocity, a show which has recently become webcast only in the US. That can’t help matters for the cruiserweights, surely? Anyway, I’ll go with Juvi to take this in an average match. I’m not a big fan of either of these guys, really.
Hardcore Holly vs. Ken Kennedy
Kennedy is one of the brighter prospects on Smackdown! right now. What sets him apart from any other green worker is simply his gimmick, however. He is decent on the mic, has a great gimmick, and he’s decent in the ring. However, I question how long it will be until his gimmick grows stale. If it does grow stale, then he’ll have to rely on his wrestling to take him on to the next level. I wish the guy nothing but the best.
Holly is the worst of performers to be paired against on PPV, and I think these two could put together a decent match. I don’t see it lasting an awful long time, but I do see Kennedy continuing his wining streak, but not without a stiff kick or two from ‘Sparky Plugg’ along the way.
JBL vs. Rey Mysterio
I like this pairing. The little and large effect can often work in wrestling, and I’m sure the fans will be solidly behind the underdog come this contest. Rey has scored a win over JBL before, so it makes me consider the prospect that JBL will pick up the win this time. This match will most likely be given a lengthy period to express itself as at least two matches on this card need to fill up the time around a fair number of obvious short matches on this card.
The styles of both these guys could mesh well, and I can see one or two exciting spots in this one making it worth it’s place on the card. As for the winner? Well, as I said before, I think Rey has had some success over JBL in the past, so this time Layfield will take the win.
US Title: Chris Benoit vs. Orlando Jordan vs. Booker T vs. Christian
I don’t believe this is an elimination match, is it? I haven’t heard any official word, but I maybe they will make it one on the night. Perhaps they could make it a tornado tag-style match with all the guys in there at the same time. I guess that depends on how long they want to give it. If they want this to go for a while then it’s best to keep it in a tag format. If they want a quicker match then I guess a spot-fest type tornado style match would be better.
Benoit has been a decent US Champ and he hasn’t held on to the gold for that long. Without the belt he could be left in limbo if they have no plans to move him up the card. I think, for the time being, they’ll keep the belt on him as he’s still relatively early in to his reign.
Handicap Casket Match: The Ortons vs. The Undertaker
I think I’ve grown very tired of seeing Randy Orton vs. the Undertaker, but I’m hearing word that they plan to have the same duo battle it out at Survivor Series. I also hear talk that it will be a buried alive stipulation. Oh boy. How many times has the Undertaker lost a casket match and a buried alive match? I just get the feeling that we’ve all seen this routine before. Undertaker is screwed, he goes away, he comes back. Not exactly groundbreaking.
This will probably be a match that is given too much time, and I doubt poor old Bob Orton’s pace-maker could handle such a marathon. Undertaker matches always seem to stretch out just that little bit too long. Don’t get me wrong, Orton and Undertaker have produced a good (Wrestlemania) and a fairly good (Summerslam) PPV battle thus far, but I just have no desire to see these two fight again. And I’m sorry, but Bob Orton’s introduction to this pairing, and the casket stipulation do NOTHING for this rivalry.
So, who’s walking out of No Mercy as the winner? Well, based on these Internet reports then I have to say the Ortons will win. These rumours that circulate or often turn out to be correct, you know.
World Title: Batista vs. Eddie Guerrero
I’ve really enjoyed the route the writers have taken with this feud. As Mike Steele said in his preview column for No Mercy, however, the same writers must be careful that Eddie doesn’t become too much of a fan favourite again because once he gets those cheers, there’s no turning back. We may well hear a few Eddie chants over Batista tonight.
Eddie will use his cowardice and conniving ways to work the crowd and Batista and I’m sure he’ll do whatever it takes to get the victory tonight. Batista, however, isn’t portrayed as a dumb face, like many often seem to be when suckered in these situations. It seems Batista’s character is a little smarter than that, so a nice battle of wits emerges in this one already.
The psychology will play a key role in this match – perhaps just as much as the in-ring stuff. However, physically it could also be an entertaining affair. I don’t like Batista as an in-ring performer, but in there with a guy like Eddie, I think we could see a decent title match. My heart would love Guerrero to win, but my head says Batista retains.
On a final note, Raw guys are expected to invade No Mercy, so perhaps we’ll see them screw the Undertaker, or ruin the finish of the World Title match. They are the two most likely scenarios. That’s what my head says. My heart would love Edge to show up and try and ruin a segment, only for Matt Hardy to appear and kick his ass, announcing his arrival on Smackdown!.
Until next time,
Mitchell L. Gadd