By David Dodgson @DodgeeWriter
Issues to Address on the Road to No Mercy 2017
No Mercy is just a few days away and the card looks stacked – Brock Lesnar v. Braun Strowman and Roman Reigns v. John Cena are both huge main events (‘Wrestlemania calibre’ to quote Michael Cole) and have fans eagerly anticipating Sunday’s PPV event. However, these two mammoth match-ups cannot hide some issues on the undercard that WWE should have addressed soooner.
The Inconsequential Title
With less than a week to go and there had been no match announced for the IC title. The Miz hasn’t had anything more than one-off challenges for his belt since he ended his feud with Dean Ambrose. There was no match at Summerslam with The Miz left to take part in a six-man tag in front of an empty arena on the pre-show. Jason Jordan has not emerged as a viable contender with his story taking a side-turn as he now fights valiantly but loses against top-level talent. Jeff Hardy’s title shot turned out to be just one match and he is now back to the tag team scene. The Miz had a heated confrontation with Enzo Amore last week but he is challenging for the Cruiserweight Title. So where does that leave The Miz and the IC belt? This week’s RAW saw a hastily thrown together six-pack challenge with Jordan and the Hardys involved but it was too little too late in terms of an effective build. Why not simply have Jordan win the battle royal a few weeks back and then build the rivalry from there? Or give us a surprise and have Elias take on the Miz? Too many side-stories mean this match is of little consequence.
Give Bliss a Miss?
Another title suffering from a lack of direction is the RAW Women’s title. Alexa Bliss was a huge breakout star on SDLive after the brand split, especially as she engaged in a rivalry with Becky Lynch. On RAW, however, there hasn’t been the same spark yet. She is a great heel and her on-screen persona fits the role perfectly but she has yet to have many great moments on RAW. Her rivalry with Bayley was flat, and saw Bliss involved in one of the worst WWE TV segments in recent memory (“Bayley – this is your life”) and her matches with Sasha Banks have also lacked spark despite the back-and-forth with the title. Neither Nia Jax nor Emma have been built particularly well as challengers with Emma not even appearing on RAW this week. Now we have Bayley added to the match but rather than add excitement, it just adds to the sense of lazy booking and the most likely outcome seems to be Bliss retaining or Banks recapturing. Whichever it is, WWE needs to then commit Bliss to a one-on-one rivalry and give her a chance to shine again instead of letting the entire Women’s division freewheel until the arrival of Asuka.
Credible Cruiserweight Contenders
I guess we are now used to the fact that the title match is the only Cruiserweight division bout that we are likely to see at a RAW PPV (unless there is a six-man tag thrown onto the pre-show). One issue with the division, however, that has been a recurring theme in 2017 is where the number 1 contenders often come from. Enzo Amore is the latest in a long line of wrestlers to be put into that slot immediately after arriving on the brand. It all started with Neville himself who returned from injury and almost immediately challenged Rich Swann for the belt. It happened again with Austin Aries who jumped right into a programme with Neville (and then sadly jumped right out) and now we have the same with Amore. It doesn’t say much for the other cruiserweights that any new face who shows up goes straight to the front of the line, especially one who then only appears on TV to get beaten down all too easily by The Miztourage and Braun Strowman. Any challengers from within the division have never felt like a credible threat and even when Tozawa took the title off Neville, it was only for a matter of days. Post No Mercy, WWE need to focus on building someone like Cedric Alexander, Jack Gallagher, or Tony Nese into a credible challenger to Neville.
Too many rematches
This has been an issue in WWE for quite a while now but the remaining two matches were both featured on the Summerslam card – Rollins & Ambrose v. Sheamus & Cesaro and Bray Wyatt v. Finn Balor. For the tag titles, it is the over-used ‘rematch clause’ that has brought us back to the same spot and for the Wyatt-Balor match… I have no idea. Summerslam felt like a perfect end point for their rivalry. Balor emerged victorious, we got to see the Demon return, and everyone was happy. Why bring this up again now? And why not have a different tag bout? Rollins & Ambrose against Anderson & Gallows or the Hardys with Seamus & Cesaro interfering for example to add some heat to their eventual rematch other than it being just a rematch. Some variety would be nice. Both of these rivalries need to come to a close to allow for new storylines to emerge for the remainder of the year. Alas, it would not surprise me if we see either of these match-ups again on RAW soon or at TLC…
Don’t get me wrong – I am sure No Mercy will feature great matches and memorable moments (especially with what we now know Braun Strowman is capable of). All the performers mentioned above have the potential to deliver great matches and, of course, there may be additions to the card and fallout on next week’s RAW. Even so, with so much focus on the two main event matches, the other bouts have lacked the right build. The best we can hope for is a stronger undercard build for TLC.