Sunday, October 25, 2015

WWE No Mercy 2002

So... there's a PPV event coming up... and for the first time in a good long while, I'm not particularly inclined to watch it.

Let's be honest here; I wasn't the biggest fan of Brock Lesnar vs. Undertaker when they had their 'Mania and Summerslam matches - other people thought they were the shit, I thought they were shit sandwiches with a side order of piss -  and putting them in a Hell In A Cell match - a match that is severely hindered by PG limitations - isn't going to make me clamor for another one that will most likely end in the proverbial "fuck finish." Seth Rollins vs. Kane is not interesting in the slightest, nor is the guessing game of whether the soon-to-be-abayent John Cena will do the favors or the the 1,291,091,938,471th match between Roman Reigns and Bray Wyatt... I might want to check out Kevin Owens defending the IC title against Ryback, but that might be opening match or even relegated to the pre-show or something.

Now for all intents and purposes, I did PVR the damn thing and I'll probably watch it some time during the week, so chances are you'll still get your usual write-up somewhere down the line, but as far as watching it live, not interested.

So what I ended up doing last Saturday night - aside from other stuff worthy of my time - was pop in an old recording of one of the older WWE PPVs that I had on DVD-R. The PPV in question? No Mercy 2002, whose only real significance is its main event - reigning and defending WWE champion Brock Lesnar facing off against the Undertaker in a Hell In A Cell match.

Now it's time for context building. 2002 was the first year in which WWE divided up its roster into two shows; RAW and Smackdown. RAW was the more "sports-entertainment" oriented brand (as well as the HHH show for the next three years) while Smackdown was the more "wrestling" oriented brand (as well as the only watchable thing to come out of WWE during that three year period.)

Okay, context building over. On with the show.

RAW Tag-Team champions Chris Jericho & Christian beat Booker T and Goldust to retain the titles. There's a freakish moment during the match where Jericho is attempting his springboard dropkick move (where he bounces off the ropes) and in doing so, the second rope breaks. It's both funny and sad at the same time. Sadly, that's about the only noteworthy thing here. The match felt kinda slow, almost borderline boring, but it's alright for a TV match, if nothing else. More like something you'd see on an episode of RAW or something.

Torrie Wilson defeated Dawn Marie via pinfall in a catfight featuring two hot women... and that's about all this had going for it, so make of that what you will. Sadly, more people will probably remember this catfight than the much-ballyhooed

#LOLDivasRevolution tripe contaminating WWE today.

Rob Van Dam defeated Ric Flair with the Five Star Frog Splash... because sure, why not? This could've been on RAW or something because... well, meh. That's all I got here. Really nothing special. Flair has been jobbing to quite a few people in his first year back with WWE. I don't seem to recall him ever getting a notable win over anybody.

Cruiserweight champion Jamie Noble defeated Tajiri to retain the title... yes, the same Jamie Noble who did the J&J Security bit in recent months used to be a Cruiserweight champion back when WWE gave a rat's ass about cruiserweights. The match itself is nothing special, but it was a fun little match for what it was and a good way to kill a few minutes.

World Heavyweight Champion Triple H defeated Intercontinental Heavyweight Champion Kane in a Winner-Takes-All Title Unification Match to unify both titles. This match was the culmination of Katie Vick... the less said, the better. Again, adding context here, HHH was given the old Big Gold Belt of WCW fame and named World champion and this was the beginning of his utterly unbearable reign on top of RAW, where apparently him burying all the potential big stars was best for business. And while some might shit on Cena for doing the same ol' thing, at least Cena gave enough of a rat's ass to pull off a quality match or two out of his own rectum. Watching a HHH match from 2002 to 2005 was much like slitting your own wrists. It was really bad.

Kurt Angle & Chris Benoit defeated to Rey Mysterio & Edge to win the newly established WWE (Smackdown) Tag-Team Championship. For better or worse, this was an awesome, awesome match featuring four of the finest talents that WWE had at their disposal. It is a perfect sampler of why Smackdown was actually worth watching way back when.

WWE Women's champion Trish Stratus defeated Victoria to retain the title... meh. Trish was just starting to get a little better and Victoria was alright. Hard to tell, really.

WWE champion Brock Lesnar defeated the Undertaker in a Hell In A Cell match to retain the title and this really depends on the person watching as to whether you'd call this a good main event or not. As a match, it kinda blew; mostly lots of brawling and occasional international objects thrown in for good measure. Well, that and Undertaker's broken hand (broken prior to the PPV, apparently) suddenly not feeling broken anymore was kinda stupid.

However, as a Hell in A Cell match - a match that is supposed to be this dangerously devastating thing that is supposed to make or break careers - it is an absolutely bloody and horrific affair that demonstrates just how horrific the Cell can be. Brock is busted open, Taker is bleeding buckets a second, so much so that in a particularly gruesome visual, Taker's crimson mask actually drips blood into Lesnar's mouth, which is both a memorable visual and a particularly uncomfortable one.

One thing is certain; their later encounter in a HiaC match thirteen years later won't reach the excessive levels of graphic violence this match climbed... in a way, probably for the best in regards to safety... but then again, it's probably something the match needed more than anything. Hell In A Cell needed that raw feel of being a dangerous place to fight in and every match in the first few years of its existence has delivered on this promo in some form or another. This match was perhaps the most graphic representation of that fact... and nobody needed to be tossed on the top for that to take place.

In retrospect, No Mercy 2002 was something of a mediocre showing, as the RAW side of things sucked the proverbial meat missile while the Smackdown side had an incredible tag-team match and a bloody encounter worthy of Hell In A Cell's legendary status. Truth be told, I highly recall the WWE product around this time becoming pretty terrible overall and watching this show again today only serves to reaffirm the reality that outside of the aforementioned matches, this show really doesn't hold up all that well. Unfortunately, the same can be said for a lot of WWE stuff from this particular period and this was when you had some notable names on the roster.

The Brock vs. Taker match can probably be found on that Hell In A Cell compilation set released a few years ago... but good luck trying to find that tag title match anywhere.

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