By Robbie Radford @RobbieRadford
The RAW Go Home show before the big upcoming No Mercy PPV emanated from the Sap Centre in San Jose, California. With plenty of drama and big moments, the red brand staked a claim for the stronger brand this week in the ongoing weekly brand war with Smackdown.
Nia Jax defeated Alexa Bliss via pinfall.
Sheasaro defeated The Club and Rollins & Ambrose via pinfall.
Apollo Crews defeated Curt Hawkins via pinfall.
Bray Wyatt defeated Dustin Rhodes via pinfall.
Neville defeated Gran Metalik via submission.
Six Pack Challenge: Jason Jordan defeated Curtis Axel, Bo Dallas, Matt Hardy, Jeff Hardy and Elias.
The show opened with a memorial to Bobby “The Brain” Heenan. The incredibly talented manager and all round wrestling genius sadly passed away yesterday aged 72 years old.
Kicking off the show, Kurt Angle emerged and began to preview the No Mercy card, before being interrupted by The Miz and his ever loyal Miztourage. Rightfully so, The Miz complained that for the second Pay-Per-View in a row, the Intercontinental Championship hasn’t been defended on the big stages. Kurt Angle informed Miz that there’d be a fatal fourway to decide the number one contendership for the Intercontinental Championship tonight. The Miz replied, verbally decimating Kurt Angle in reference to the fact he’s not been there for his son, Jason Jordan.
Not long after, Jason Jordan emerged and demanded both Bo Dallas and Curtis Axel be placed in the number one contendership so The Miz would have no excuses as to who faces him at No Mercy. Shortly after, a brawl ensued as Jason Jordan cleared the ring of both The Miz and The Miztourage.
Nia Jax vs Alexa Bliss
A physical representation of David vs Goliath. The 6’ contender vs the 5’1 RAW Women’s Champion squared off less than six days before No Mercy. Both women received a strong reaction from the Californian crowd, there was even a noticeable ‘Nia Jax’ chant from the crowd in the opening stages of the match. Bliss, after slapping Nia and making a run for it back up the ramp only to be stopped by Sasha Banks, was absolutely flattened by Jax as she ran away from Banks and back down to the ring. In what turned out to be a fairly straight forward match, Jax picked up the victory via Samoan Splash.
As Jax also flattened Banks, Bayley returned, provoking a big reaction from her hometown crowd. Bayley has been off television for weeks with a separated shoulder. After an awkward stand off, Bayley hit the Bayley-to-Belly on Bliss. Throughout this segment you had to wonder where the fourth member of the women’s fatal fourway, Emma, was. This segment proved why the Women’s Division is the confusing mess it’s currently stuck in.
A fantastic promo video ran for the No Mercy main event: Brock Lesnar vs Braun Strowman match for the World Heavyweight Championship. It detailed how Brock Lesnar was described as being the most powerful, dominating and destructive athlete in the WWE, right up until he met Braun Strowman.
Sheamus & Cesaro emerged, they cut a really dull long-winded promo that focused around taking back the Raw tag team championships. Rollins and Ambrose interrupted, insisting that no matter what, they are brothers. Rollins and Ambrose poked fun at what Sheamus & Cesaro was wearing, hilarious. The Club also came down to the ring, the original Good Brothers. Inevitably, a big brawl ensued between all three teams, with the tag team champions standing tall.
Rollins & Ambrose vs The Club vs Sheasaro
During the break, Kurt Angle announced a match between these three warring duos. A fairly standard television match, all three teams got good amounts of offence in on each other. There was a few good spots but the match really began to drag on. In a flurry of confusion, Ambrose hit the Dirty Deeds on Karl Anderson, Sheamus threw Ambrose out of the ring and picked up the pinfall victory.
For some reason, they aired a MiTB match from Wrestlemania 21. They then segued from that into a Roman Reigns vs John Cena video package. The video package, in typical WWE fashion, was incredible. It detailed the rise of both men, with Cena’s beginning in OVW in 2001, Reigns in NXT in 2012.
An interesting segment between Kurt Angle and Dustin Rhodes, yes, Dustin Rhodes. Rhodes didn’t have his face paint on as he asked for another match against Bray Wyatt. Kurt Angle, after a moment’s thought, agreed to the match.
Curt Hawkins vs Apollo Crews
To cut a short story even shorter, Hawkins said that he’d end his 114 match losing streak, he didn’t.
There was a segment where both Brock Lesnar with his advocate Paul Heyman, sat live on the titantron with Strowman also on screen in a different room. Heyman spoke intelligently on behalf of Lesnar, recognising that there was nobody quite like Strowman. Heyman referenced the fact that Strowman stood straight up after a German Suplex. Brock leaned forward and thanked Strowman for backing him into a corner, considering it makes Lesnar even more dangerous. Lesnar then followed it up with his “suplex city bitch” catchphrase as the segment closed.
Roman Reigns emerged to deliver his final thoughts ahead of his match against John Cena on Sunday. As this goes on, this match really could’ve headlined Wrestlemania, this as well as Braun Strowman vs Brock Lesnar.
Reigns had the crowd in the palm of his hand, as he cut a really good promo in the process. He referenced Alex Riley in his promo, even referencing Cena in 2012 calling out The Rock for being a part timer. Talk about having the receipts. Reigns even ended his promo the way Cena did in 2012 by saying “see you on Sunday.. Movie star!”
Another vignette ran for Asuka debuting on RAW.
Bray Wyatt vs Dustin Rhodes (Goldust)
Dustin really brought the fight to Bray, who back peddled for the majority of the match until he caught Dustin with the Sister Abigail seemingly out of nowhere. Immediately after the match, Finn Balor was on the titantron, informing Bray about the origins of the Demon and what it represents. Solid promo from Balor.
As they were ongoing throughout the night, another quick promo for Bobby Heenan ran, which involved various superstars and commentators paying tribute to the Wrestling legend. Following the RAW commentators recalling their favourite memories of Heenan, a promo video ran, highlighting some of Heenan’s finest moments, which you couldn’t really pack into anything less than an hour tribute.
Enzo Amore emerged, only to be decimated by the ultimate babyface Braun Strowman. Thank You Braun.
Neville vs Gran Metalik
Neville was fairly in control of things until he made the poor decision to rip the mask of Metalik, which fired up the lucha libre sensation. Just as Metalik looked to go for the victory, Neville reversed a moonsault before locking in the Rings of Saturn for the victory.
Six Pack Challenge: Matt Hardy vs Jeff Hardy vs Jason Jordan vs Elias vs Bo Dallas vs Curtis Axel
Elias treated us to a song, another should-be grammy nominated song. Elias is becoming a really good heel, week-by-week he’s improving at engaging with the audience and in-ring.
This was a really high intensity match, as it should be with six high performing athletes involved. Every contender got a decent amount of offence in, everybody played their part exceptionally well. Jason Jordan picked up the victory after a neckbreaker downed Curtis Axel.
After the match, The Miz & The Miztourage beat down Jason Jordan with The Miz delivering a Skull Crushing Finale to Jordan to close the show.
Final Word: The show was good in parts, great in other parts and fairly weak in some. I’d say that the majority of the show really heated up things before the PPV on Sunday. No Mercy already had a solid card, now the stories behind the matches are also red hot. The Cena/Reigns and Braun/Brock matches are, as stated above, well worthy of main eventing a Wrestlemania.