Your SO OF COURSE preview of WWE No Mercy 2017

In this day and age you can’t just “predict” a PPV anymore, you have to account for the capricious whims of WWE’s septuagenarian, sleep-deprived egomaniac owner. You can’t just “preview” a PPV…you have to preview how things should go, in a reasonable and sane world, and then add “so of course…” and explain what Vince McMahon will probably do instead.

Last time on SO OF COURSE it was SUMMERSLAM, and what a…show in the summer it was. Where to begin to discuss the biggest event of the summer? It was six(!) hours long. Other than sleep and a marathon of Godfather parts 1 and 2, there’s not an event, a show, or a spectacle of any kind that should run six hours long. I can barely put up with six hours of WWE each week, and they expect us to sit through a week’s worth of program time in one sitting? With Game of Thrones on? SummerSlam was doomed from the outset. The actual content was schizophrenic, with the good matches being great and the bad matches being terrible. Rusev vs Orton had to be cut for time. It had to be cut for time on a six hour show. It had to be CUT FOR TIME! Shinsuke Nakamura lost a slam-dunk title match to a jobber and Natalya won the Women’s Title because she’s a young, upstart talent that could use a good push. The good was great though, with the main-event being a barrel of fun; too bad it happened after five and a half hours of relative mediocrity.

Smackdown was denied a September PPV event, so it’s up to Raw to carry the torch for network specials this month. What’s in store? Four rematches, a bathroom break, and the two main-events. So if you wanted to watch Game of Thrones Rick and Morty and check in on the show already in progress, you probably won’t miss much. The first two hours will be nothing you haven’t seen on Raw or PPV recently.



Do you know how long Bret Hart and Steve Austin feuded? Austin and Hart feuded from Survivor Series 96 till SummerSlam 1997. Nine months they went at it in various segments, but they only had a handful of matches together. It’s one of the greatest feuds in WWF/E history. Balor and Wyatt have been feuding since July. It’s only been two months but they’ve already wrestled each other more times than Hart and Austin did in 3/4 of a year. And even though the feud is only eight weeks old, it feels like it’s been going on for eight months. The feud should have ended last month when Balor got a clean win. What’s the point of continuing a feud, especially a non-title feud, when the good guy puts down the bad guy? Yet here we are.

What should happen? Balor should win again. Why not? Giving Wyatt the win only forces you into a rubber match to settle a feud that has zero heat and does nothing but give the two men something to do. Here’s an idea: Find something worthwhile—and fresh—for them to do and do that. End this feud.



Jason Jordan is the love child of Kurt Angle and…I dunno but I want it to be Shelton Benjamin’s mama. Despite being one half of what should have been a hot tag team, he was split from his partner and moved to Raw despite his entire career being defined (while in NXT) as “the guy who tried and failed to make it as a single’s star like a million times before finally finding his groove teaming with Chad Gable.” The Miz is a sure-fire Hall of Fame performer and is one of the very best guys to use in a “get your feet wet” first feud that Vince has ever had. Anytime they debut a new superstar they should pair them up immediately with the Miz. He’s great on the mic to help a newbie ease into the pressure cooker of live promos. He’s great in the ring…no really: I didn’t say flashy or remarkable. He’s great in that he’s been doing this for over a decade, has worked with basically everyone, wrestles a safe style that puts the spotlight on his opponent’s move-set and rarely ever makes mistakes. He’s also one of the most consistently-over heels on the roster. Who better to give to Jordan, because he is sinking like a rock on Raw.

These guys wrestled in a tag match last month and they’re rematching here in a singles fight. The match will be most of the same: Miz will work the crowd, use enough shenanigins and outside interference to make the audience think he’ll steal a win and then the babyface will get the W. Los Angeles is not known as a smarky city; if this was Chicago you might have to worry about fans turning on Jordan for the more charismatic Miz. Instead the fans will mostly give this one polite attention and clap for the Jordan victory with relative disinterest. JJ has a chance to win people over and I hope he does…but I also kind of hope he doesn’t and ends up back on Smackdown so that American Alpha can get a real push on the main roster.



Unless Vince pulls a WrestleMania IX and puts his big money maker(s) Cena vs Reigns in the middle of the show, we’re looking at the first two hours being nothing but rematches (of rematches). These two teams met at SummerSlam (et al) where the Almost Shield won the tag belts. This makes Rollins the one member of the Shield to be tag champs with both other guys. The SummerSlam match capped off a series of Raws where the four men wrestled each other over and over, and now we have the rematch which comes after weeks of the four men wrestling each other over and over. But that was on cable TV so it doesn’t count. You get to pay an extra $9.99 to watch it when it “matters.”

What should happen on Sunday is what should have happened last month: Dean Ambrose should turn on Seth Rollins, go all-in as a heel and find some spark for the first time in a year or so. In fact I said in the SummerSlam preview that…

I’d have them play it straight and then win the titles and THEN have Dean attack Seth, making it an awkward situation where the champs hate each other. Maybe Seth would refuse to defend the titles in a rematch, so Dean competes 1-on-2 and wins by cheating, then when Seth has his own 1-on-2 match, Dean would interfere and cost them the title. Just a real jerk move like that. The feud should persist on and off forever, like HBK and Undertaker or Rock and Austin.

Well they won the titles and I’m still hoping for an Ambrose heel turn. Maybe this Sunday?



Here are the women being featured and their odds of winning in a sane world:

Alexa Bliss – the current champ who won the title back from Sasha Banks after losing the title to Sasha Banks. 100%, she should win.

Sasha Banks – the former champ who lost the title to Alexa after beating Alexa and then promising she wouldn’t lose the title right back to her (she did). 0% she should not win.

Nia Jax – the womonster among women. She’s there to eat the pin which means she won’t because that’s too obvious and we can’t do what makes sense if it makes too much sense (#WWELogic). Still though, 0%, should not win.

Emma – Uber talented, hated by someone for what I’m sure is some stupid reason and so is circling the drain toward her the inevitable day when her contract is up. 0%, she should not win.

Bayley – Returning from injury after months being so terribly handled as a character her tearful “goodbye for now” speech was met with jeers and boos from the audience (and not the “please don’t go” boos either; these were the “please go faster” boos. Not Great Bob). 0%, she should not win. In fact she’ll probably eat the pin since she’s the most fragile character right now and WWE loves throwing water on a grease fire.

So if you’re keeping score the only clear and obvious wrestler who should walk away with the title is Alexa Bliss and that’s for one reason only: Who is the one person who you’d love to see get her face knocked off by Asuka? It’s Bliss, the tiny, cocky, condescending (delightful) heel. It’s a match made in Heaven and with Asuka coming soon, Bliss retaining doesn’t just make “too much sense” it’s the only thing that makes “any” sense.



Enzo’s entire career shtick has always been “tiny person talks a big game and gets beaten up by normal or large-sized person.” Now after a year and a half doing that, he’s taken a step down to the elementary school to pick on people his own size. He’s now property of 205Live, which just means he wrestles people who are “fast” instead of “big” and “flippy” instead of “poundy.” The end result is the same though, a loss. Enzo is the guy you can trot out there to lose week after week after week and as long as he gets the chance to cut a 5 minute promo beforehand, the fans will never grow bored of it. He’s like if the Brooklyn Brawler and The Miz had a love child and it never grew beyond the size of the average 4th grader.

Prediction? Neville of course. He’s the reliable hand and until someone comes along that both WWE and the fans see as the next top babyface to carry around the purple belt, Neville should just hold it like a miniature Triple H circa 2003.



Remember when John Cena and Batista had a random SummerSlam match with no proper feud or storyline other than “hey, we’re the two biggest guys on Raw and Smackdown, respectively. Let’s fight!” It was bizarre seeing the two biggest guys on Raw and Smackdown, respectively, fighting for the first time ever on WWE TV and the match not taking place at WrestleMania. Sure they eventually had their WrestleMania feud, but it just felt at the time like Vince was worried the 2008 SummerSlam needed a little extra something but instead of telling good stories and building proper feuds in the months preceding, he just mashed a giant PANIC button and decided to give away a WrestleMania main-event-worthy money match as the number-two match on the second (or third) biggest show of the year. It was foolish and short-sighted.

And now we have John Cena and Roman Reigns having their first one-on-one match…ever? Is that right? It’s at least their first since Roman was christened “the next John Cena” so this has that same Batista vs Cena vibe to it. Only it’s not happening at WrestleMania or SummerSlam. This is the co-main-event (number-two match) of the company’s September show. They didn’t even hold off till Survivor Series. They’re doing this at No Mercy.

The kicker here is the politics and fan responses to both men. Back in 2008 Cena was the unquestioned bigger star, but WWE had a good reason to give Batista the win. They needed to artificially inflate his significance in the company since he was one of the few guys they had who could carry a house show marquee. So even though Cena was the “favorite” to win, it was obvious in hindsight that Batista needed it more, despite Cena being the clear “present and future” face of the company.

But what about Roman vs Cena?

Conventional wisdom says Roman needs the win just as Batista did in 2008. That’s true he does, but Roman’s been anointed the next top guy, having already main-evented the past three WrestleManias in a row (a feat matched by Hogan, Austin, Rock, Triple H and John Cena). So the guy who needs the win is also the guy who is favored? This isn’t some scrub he’s wrestling; this is John Cena. None of this  feels right. If Roman wins, what has he gained? Validation? Are we going to end with some contrived handshake arm-raising thing like Rock did to Cena at Mania 29, or worse, like Rock did TO ROMAN REIGNS at the Royal Rumble a few years ago? That would be terrible.

So what do you do? Do you give Cena the win? You absolutely can’t: Cena is the guy Reigns is replacing; to give their big one-on-one win to Cena would cut the legs right out from under Reigns. It would be devastating, especially since fans are firmly in Cena’s corner here. This is a match that has no good finish. No matter who wins it’s either going to feel wrong or be wrong. It’s the Kobaishi Maru match with stakes that are way too high to stick on a B-PPV. Had this been delayed to WrestleMania we could see it as a proper torch-passing moment. Instead it’s just a Football Season feud and no matter what it’s going to either anger the fans or hurt the creative.



Here was my prediction for SummerSlam’s main-event:

Lesnar going crazy, Joe trolling him with random headlocks, Strowman randomly throwing people into other people, and Roman getting lost on the way to the ring. Joe steals the title when Strowman cheap-shots Lesnar. Joe deserves the title. Joe needs the title. Give Joe the title.

I was close at first: Joe took everyone to headlock city. Strowman literally threw dudes into other dudes and while Roman didn’t get lost on the way to the ring, Lesnar was forced to leave the match for a time. I wanted Joe to walk away with the gold but in my heart of hearts I knew it wouldn’t happen. Lesnar retained and now we have the hossfight of the century on our hands.

Strowman is the first guy Lesnar has ever wrestled with the giant-size and quickness and ferocity to give Lesnar realistic-looking fits. Big Show was always too slow and lumbering to be much of a threat. The Undertaker was always too methodical and rarely ever “threw” people around. Strowman however is a wrecking machine. He also happens to be the most popular babyface on the roster despite not being a true babyface. I can’t for the life of me figure out why Vince won’t just pull the trigger on him. Considering how his lust for big men is legendary, Strowman is the best one he’s had in ages, yet Vince is fixated on Roman Reigns.

So what should happen? Strowman should eat Lesnar’s lunch. It should be a flip of Lesnar’s WrestleMania 30 match with Undertaker, where everyone saw Taker get the better of Lesnar week after week and then when the match came it was annihilation. Everyone has enjoyed seeing Strowman get the better of Lesnar here and there; I mean this…

brought about a near-orgasm across the interwebs.

The match just needs to be two kaijus throwing hands, crashing into buildings, with US fighter planes circling over head and terrified onlookers too awe-struck to look away. And in the end, the most over big man Vince has on his roster—a guy who oozes charisma and knows how to work his character to connect with the live crowds—should walk away with the shocking win of the year. No one is saying Braun winning would be foolish; everyone is saying it’s unlikely.

This is where it’s okay to swerve, Vince, because you’re swerving into a good place, not a brick wall…


Oh well there’s always NXT.

Here’s to Sunday.


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