The SmarK Rant for WWE No Mercy 2008 (I didn’t forget this one, I just couldn’t remember which show came first.) – Live from Portland, OR – Your hosts are Todd Grisham, Tazz, JR, Michael Cole and Jerry Lawler…as the Beaver. ECW World title: Matt Hardy v. Mark Henry Henry gives Matt a clean break to start and then powers him down and pounds him with the clubbing forearms and knees in the corner. He misses a short charge and Matt starts kicking at the knee, but Henry clotheslines him and then levels him with a forearm shot off a charge. Matt goes after the knee again, but takes it to the floor and gets tossed into the stairs like a fly. Back in, Henry fights him off again and puts him down with a big boot for two. Mark goes up with a stomp from the middle rope, and that gets two. We hit the chinlock, but Matt fights up and then promptly walks into a bearhug. Matt keeps fighting, however, and gets the Side Effect for two. Henry powers out of the Twist of Fate and adds a big splash, but he hurts the knee and only gets two. Matt comes back one last time, hitting the knee to escape the powerslam, and finishes with the Twist of Fate at 8:06. Quite decent with the David v. Goliath story working like it generally always does when done properly. **1/2 (Mark Henry was actually showing signs of getting better at this point, although I think the MVP team kind of regressed him.) Meanwhile, HHH and Jeff Hardy do a joint interview backstage, as HHH texts his vote for himself (but he’s rooting for Jeff) and he wants Jeff to be at his best so he can beat the best. Women’s title: Beth Phoenix v. Candice Michelle Candice dropkicks the knee for two and takes her down for a rollup for two. Low dropkick gets two. Enzuigiri (and not a pretty one) and Candice fires away in the corner, but Beth picks her up in a fireman’s carry and rams her into the corner. Candice kicks at the knee in response, but Beth sends her shoulder into the post for two. She works the arm on the mat, thankfully switching from a cross-armbreaker to a wristlock. Seriously, it’s 2008, we’ve all seen UFC and we know that if you really do that move, you break the arm. (Well, except for Alberto Del Rio, who must be REALLY bad at the move. Perhaps he should watch some Ronda Rousey matches.) Candice fights up with a dropkick for two, but Beth blocks a legsweep and faceplants her. Beth goes up and gets knocked down, and Candice dropkicks her for two, as Santino saves. Candice makes the mistake of going after him, and Beth clobbers her, but Glamarella has another argument and Candice gets two. Beth kills her dead with the chickenwing-bomb at 4:50, however. Another notch on the Moolah-Meter. Not embarrassingly bad like the Tramp Stamp side of the division, and that’s enough these days, but Candice looked like an amateur out there next to Beth with her half-assed dropkicks and shrinking muscle tone. ** (She pretty much disappeared after her Playboy shoot, didn’t she?) Meanwhile, Kane once again is angry and very confused. Apparently we all wear metaphorical masks or something. Mask v. Nothing: Rey Mysterio v. Kane Wouldn’t it be fair to make Kane put his mask back on if he loses? (Not for another three years.) Rey wisely dodges Kane to start and dropkicks him to the floor, but walks into the big boot. Rey comes back with a seated dropkick and springboards in with another dropkick, but a clothesline blocks the 619 attempt. Rey tries a rana and gets blocked, but he pulls Kane to the floor anyway and follows with a pescado. Kane catches him and dumps him into the front row. Rey meets the post and they head back in so that Kane can dole out more punishment. We hit the chinlock and Kane boots him down again for two. He follows with a backbreaker submission, but Rey slugs out of it and reverses a sideslam into an inverted DDT. Cole describes it as “swashbuckling”, which is one of the reasons why no one likes him. Kane hammers him in the corner, but Rey comes out with a moonsault press and slugs back. He kicks Kane down and comes off with the top with a guillotine legdrop for two. Kane catches him again with a sideslam for two and looks to finish with the chokeslam, but Rey escapes it and springboards at him with some messed up DDT-like move. Splash gets two. Rey goes up and gets caught coming down, and Kane gets two. Kane misses a boot in the corner and Rey 619’s the leg to put Kane on the floor, but flies into a chair for the DQ at 10:03. Did Kane think the ref wouldn’t see it? Really good crowd heat for what seemed like it could have been another typical big v. little match, thanks to Rey bumping like crazy. *** Meanwhile, MVP demands to see Vickie, but can’t get past Big Show. Show’s “I’ve been focusing on the Undertaker, but if you keep bothering me I’m gonna focus on YOU” is a pretty good heel line. So MVP joins us, pleading his case to the crowd for his mistreatment on Smackdown. Randy Orton interrupts and he’s not particularly impressed with MVP’s skills. Rhodes & Dibiase & Manu join him and the crowd just gets on Cody right away with a “boring” chant, rattling him. Apparently the threesome is against Orton right now before they do the obvious “swerve” and have them join the Age of Orton. (Hey now, it was LEGACY as it turned out, not Age of Orton.) I like Manu’s Big Show Lite look better than his crazy samoan look. (He definitely wasn’t long for the promotion.) MVP tries to get on board with the second generation, but they show disdain for anyone without a famous father. MVP decides to leave, but now CM Punk and Kofi Kingston join us and ask for his help in brawling with the New Kids. And they punk him by sending him in first and leaving him to take a beating, but then join him and clean house themselves. Did I switch over to RAW or something? JBL v. Batista They slug it out to start and JBL loses that one, and Batista puts him down with a clothesline. Boot to the head gets two. Batista slugs away in the corner, but runs into a boot. JBL sets up for the Clothesline from New York, but Batista blocks him with a spear and JBL rolls out to recover. Back in, JBL slugs him off the apron and they brawl outside and back in. JBL gets two and takes over. Neckbreaker and elbow gets two. JBL hits the chinlock, but Batista suplexes out and wins a slugfest, then puts him down with another clothesline. Corner clothesline follows, into the running powerslam. JBL blocks a spear with a big boot, but Batista is in no mood and finishes with the spinebuster and Batista bomb at 5:15. No screwing around there. I had no beef with this. **1/2 JBL, from his position counting the lights on the mat, asks for the microphone and complains about the bad week he’s been having. And then he gets his heat back by cutting a hilarious promo about how great the bailout is for him because it costs everyone $10,000 per household and he gets to keep his penthouse apartment and millions of dollars. I sense some subtle political commentary from the WWE. And then it gets sillier as Cryme Tyme and Sgt. Slaughter steal his limo in the back. Big Show v. Undertaker JR, apparently trying to one-up Michael Cole, calls Big Show “cyclopean”, apparently having missed out on Show having both eyes. Slugfest to start and Show clotheslines UT to the floor, but gets necksnapped. They brawl on the floor and Show gives him some good shots to the ribs and sends him into the railing, but Taker comes back and puts Show into the post. Taker pounds him on the floor and adds the guillotine legdrop, and they head back in. Taker hits him with a corner clothesline, but gets mowed down by a clothesline. Show throws hands in the corner, again working on the ribs, then drops an elbow for two. Back to the ribs and he adds a legsweep for two. Taker fights from his knees, but Show knees him in the head to put him down and pounds away. Taker fights up, but Show headbutts him down again…and goes up? Pump splash misses and Taker fires back again and hits the flying clothesline. Legdrop gets two. Old school ropewalk, but Show catches him with the chokeslam for two. Taker ducks the knockout punch and tries his own chokeslam, but Show counters that, so Taker DDTs him instead for two. Kudos to Show for taking that bump. Taker slugs him down in the corner, but Show takes the turnbuckle off and rams Taker into it, and knocks him out cold with three punches at 10:03. Now there’s a finish you don’t see every day. Unless you’re Kimbo Slice. (In all fairness, Slice goes down after one.) This was quite good, as if you’re gonna have two 300 pound guys out there, might as well have them beat the hell out of each other. ***1/2 Show’s ending rabbit punch is why MMA refs would stop the match BEFORE he got a chance to hurt his opponent. As a WRESTLING finish, though, it worked. (And Show has been riding that punch as a finisher ever since!) Smackdown World title: HHH v. Jeff Hardy HHH gives the handshake and then clobbers him from behind, getting two. He starts working on the arm, but Jeff flips out of it and takes him down with the headlock. HHH wins the battle for a hiptoss, but Hardy takes him down with another headlock and hangs onto that. HHH elbows him down to break, but Hardy gets a flying headscissors and puts the champ on the floor with a clothesline. He follows with a dive, but HHH directs him into the floor instead. Back in, Jeff slingshots in with a legdrop for two and it’s back to the headlock on the mat. HHH backdrops him to the apron to escape, but Jeff tries a sunset flip, which HHH blocks with a Pedigree attempt in an “Ooooooh” moment from the crowd. Jeff backdrops out of it, but then tries a flip dive and splats on the floor. HHH lets the count run and then tosses Jeff back in, for two. Backbreaker and he drops elbows on the back, for two. Jeff fights up, but a facecrusher gets two. HHH drops the knee for two. He works Jeff over in the corner, but runs into a boot, then recovers with the abdominal stretch as he goes old school heel. And he even uses the ropes, but gets caught. So he switches to the sleeper, but Jeff takes him down to escape and then follows with a mule kick for two. Seated dropkick gets two. He whips HHH right to the floor and this time gets his tope con hilo, as JR is all about the baseball analogies tonight. Back in, a clothesline from the middle rope gets two. Twist of Fate is reversed into a clothesline, however, and HHH gets two. Hardy charges and hits elbow, but HHH comes off the middle and gets caught, allowing Jeff to hit a gourdbuster for two. Jeff tries the Whisper in the Wind, but HHH powers him down for two in kind of an ugly spot. MAIN EVENT SPINEBUSTER and HHH sets up to finish, but Jeff reverses the Pedigree into a catapult, and Whisper in the Wind gets two. Mule kick in the corner and Jeff goes up, but he whiffs on the swanton and it’s KICK WHAM…Twist of Fate? Wow, not many people get to reverse the Pedigree. Jeff pulls off that miracle and hits the swanton, but HHH cradles for the pin to retain at 17:00. Ooooh, so close. See, kids, never leave your shoulders down. I was way into this one and thought they were gonna pull the trigger there for a second. **** RAW World title, ladder match: Chris Jericho v. Shawn Michaels Shawn overpowers Jericho and teases the superkick, but Jericho evades him. Shawn charges and hits the post, and Jericho hits a northern lights suplex, which leads into a pinfall reversal sequence in a match without pinfalls. Jericho clotheslines him to the apron and puts him on the floor with a nasty springboard shoulderblock. He tries whipping Shawn into the ladder, but Shawn climbs it and uses the momentum to hit a cross-body. Jericho sends him into the post again and charges with the ladder, forcing Shawn to counter with a drop toehold. Shawn gets his own ladder, but Jericho takes him down with the Walls of Jericho and brings the ladder into the ring. Shawn see-saws it into his face, however, and sets it up for the first climb attempt, as Jericho now appears to be down one tooth. Hey, that’s BLOOD. Someone alert Vince. Jericho pulls him down and catapults him, but Shawn grabs the ladder and climbs again, so Jericho brings the ladder down. Crude but effective. Jericho beats on Shawn with the ladder, then whips him into the corner, but Shawn reverses him into the ladder and brings it down on his knee. Shawn puts the ladder in the corner and adds a kneecrusher onto it, then goes to the figure-four to really kill the knee. Jericho reverses out and then kicks the ladder into Shawn’s face for good measure, then catapults him under the ladder. And then we get an incredibly brutal spot, with Shawn’s head getting sandwiched in the ladder, and Jericho climbs. Shawn stops him, so Jericho sets up the ladder in the corner and then gets reversed into it. They brawl to the floor and Jericho gets the worst of it, as Shawn drops ladders on him and BRINGS THE HATRED~! Sportsmanship is nice, but sometimes you just need a good vendetta, ya know? Shawn puts Jericho on the table and climbs a monster ladder, but Jericho follows and you know it’s gonna be good. And indeed, it’s a backdrop suplex through the table, taking both of them out. Shawn emerges first from the wreckage and sets up with a ladder on the top rope, but Jericho recovers and dropkicks it back at him. They fight on top and Jericho climbs the ladder and sets up for a superplex, but Shawn pushes the ladder over to escape, leaving it on top of Jericho. Flying elbow onto the ladder follows, and the laws of physics say that’s a dumb move. Luckily Shawn suffers less damage and he sets up for the superkick, but Jericho counters by smashing him in the face with a ladder. I love this match. So Jericho also gets goofy by Lionsaulting Shawn under a ladder, which again hurts him worse. Jericho sets up the ladder and pins Shawn underneath, but Shawn has the POWER and pushes the ladder over, sending Jericho to the floor as a result. This seems to leave things free and clear for Shawn to win, but Jericho pushes the ladder over just as Shawn starts undoing the belt. Jericho takes his turn at climbing now, but Shawn follows him up for the slugfest on the ladder, which results in Jericho falling back and getting hung up in the rungs. Lance Cade runs in to save his meal ticket, and Shawn stops to go after him with a superkick and they battle for the belt on top. The belt is freed and Shawn hammers away in desperation, but Jericho headbutts him and falls off with the belt to win at 22:22. That finish with both guys having a tug-of-war for the belt was something else, man. Match of the year thus far, there I said it. ****3/4 And what I loved was that they didn’t try to out-crazy the previous ladder spots, but merely took the existing ones and made them more bitter and hateful. More blood (or at least intentional blood) would have been nice, too, but it didn’t hinder the match for me like it did with the Edge-UT Hell In a Cell deal. The Cade run-in really wasn’t needed, though, and that deducts the 1/4* if you’re playing along at home. So yeah, the last three matches comprised basically half the show’s running time, which makes this one an overwhelming thumbs up. Especially surprising given how lackluster the show looked on paper, but the big matches delivered and I’m happy. (That was a hell of a double main-event!) Don’t forget to check out Dungeon of Death, available in bookstores everywhere (and Amazon) on October 28!