A surprisingly great PPV coming up this weekend for WWE. No Mercy isn't generally a must-see event coming off the heels of SummerSlam but it definitely is this year. WWE has been forcing the phrase "a WrestleMania worthy match" down our throats for the past month in the build for some of these matches to the point I cringe now each time I hear it....but they aren't wrong.
Brock Lesnar vs. Braun Strowman is the match I thought was going to headline SummerSlam this year and would have no trouble drawing some viewers on a WrestleMania card. And Roman Reigns vs. John Cena is one of the big matches WWE has been keeping in their back pockets for years. It's really surprising to see them burn through both of those matches for a quote-unquote "minor" PPV. It's also a breath of fresh air.
I've been critical of WWE for awhile now on their tendency to plan so far into the future that they disregard their present. Especially coming out of WrestleMania season most years, it often feels like WWE gets into a holding pattern in the summer instead of riding some WrestleMania momentum. It's like they are in cruise control until a month before SummerSlam (like they were this year), rev it up until then, and then coast a little bit more until we start getting to Survivor Series in late November and into the Royal Rumble in January. All with a big end-goal of WrestleMania in the back of their minds.
That's a lot of dead time. It's not like the WWE is tanking during those months by any means, but you can tell the sense of urgency isn't there. That's not the case right now. WWE is throwing their best effort out for a middle of the road PPV in September. I love it. Kudos to them.
It also makes the John Cena vs. Roman Reigns match significantly more interesting. If this Reigns/Cena match was happening at WrestleMania right now, it would feel a little forced. Having it now? I'm pumped. It feels natural and like I'm getting a sneak peak at a big box office movie that shouldn't be out for a couple more months. I have no idea how it's going to go and that's when wrestling is great. I think this eventually leads to a rematch at WrestleMania anyways, but then at least there is some backstory to their feud in April and not just "they started interacting with each other in March so let's have a match in a month".
With the stacked card, let's make some predictions:
WWE Cruiserweight Championship
Neville (c) vs. Enzo Amore
I was 100% against Enzo's move to 205 Live, but it's kinda working. I think ultimately he's too big of a star to stay there but it is a nice change of pace that also gives 205 Live a nice rub. I could see Enzo cheating to win and leading to a pissed of Neville looking for revenge for a couple months, but I think Neville keeps rolling here.
Finn Balor vs. Bray Wyatt
I feel like this is going to be Bray's abyss for the next couple years. He's going to be the guy a main eventer feuds with while he's not in a main event program. It gives that guy something compelling to do for a while and gets him a win while he waits for that next program to open up. Great for the main event in waiting guy, not so great for Bray.
Winner: Finn Balor
The Miz (c) vs. Jason Jordan
I think it's time to start going all in with Jordan. They gave him the big "Kurt Angle Secret" reveal and then seemed to pump the brakes a bit. Which was probably smart to get the audience acclimated to Jason since he was an NXT call-up less than a year ago and spent the rest of his time over on SmackDown. But if you are going to give him a push, then start giving him a push. Give him the IC strap here, defeat Miz in the rematch, and then move to Bray for another win. Keep putting him with relevant guys and see if he clicks with the fans.
Winner: Jason Jordan
RAW Tag Team Championship
Rollins and Ambrose (c) vs. Cesaro and Sheamus
Would seem crazy to have Rollins/Ambrose lose so quickly after reuniting and winning the championships. Just not sure where they go next if The Revival isn't ready to go. Gallows and Anderson have been wasted away to the point where I wouldn't be excited for Rollins and Ambrose to get beat up by them on a couple of occasions just to beat them on the next PPV.
Winner: Rollins and Ambrose
RAW Women's Championship
Alexa Bliss (c) vs. Nia Jax vs. Sasha Banks vs. Emma vs. Bayley
The Bayley inclusion into this match was really strange on Monday. I can't see her factoring into the final decision Sunday but I'll be interested to see if something happens in the match that leads into something else coming out of Sunday. Maybe setting the table for a Sasha/Bayley angle??? Or maybe she was just ready to go and they threw her in, who knows. Alexa pins Emma seems like the obvious choice here for the result.
Winner: Alexa Bliss
John Cena vs. Roman Reigns
Crazy to think that WWE is finally giving us Roman Reigns vs. John Cena and it won't be the main event. We talked enough about it above that we can keep it shorter here. I think Cena finds a way to beat Reigns, holds it over his head for a while, goes on a break to shoot a movie or a TV show or maybe just back to SmackDown for awhile, and then they eventually have a rematch at WrestleMania that Reigns wins.
Winner: John Cena
Brock Lesnar (c) vs. Braun Strowman
You gotta think everything WWE wanted to do with their Lesnar/Goldberg program but couldn't they will try here instead with Strowman. When Lesnar wants to go, he can go. He's changed his style the past couple years to more of a powerhouse brawler but he's still an athletic specimen with an amateur wrestling background. He can do some freaky things athletically in the wrestling ring, and that seems to be the case with Strowman as well. This could get a marvellous match that we rarely get to see with guys of this size. I'm really looking forward to it. I'm just not sure what Strowman does it he wins the championship. A babyface monster as champ? Who challenges him? Just doesn't fit for me. I'll take Brock.
Winner: Brock Lesnar
And to wrap up, a quick update on my weekend plans. I will be Natural Athleteing this weekend in the Wild Boar Challenge in St. Charles, Iowa. Never done it before but apparently it's a 5-mile obstacle course slash mud run. Not sure what it all entails but sounds like a fun time. Here's a preview of the event from WOI Channel 5 news this morning.