When No Mercy 2016 is looked back on, it likely won't be recalled for a fantastic match or a big moment, but instead, the strange order of the matches.
We've talked before about WWE counter-programming RAW to go up against Monday Night Football, or even “punting” episodes that they knew wouldn't be heavily watched. It's a relatively recent occurrence, but one that's becoming more frequent on Monday nights. What we've never seen before is a pay-per-view that felt the need to radically counter-program against something else. (You can argue that Money In The Bank this year ran long due to counter-programming, though it wasn't radical.) That all changed with No Mercy.
Going up the second presidential debate, WWE took the unorthodox route of putting the WWE title match, the true “main event,” right at the top of the show. This was clearly done so it could finish not just before the debate, but before Sunday Night Football also got going. It was an incredibly unorthodox move, but one with some merit. Yes, it accomplished what it wanted by making sure people saw the match before they flipped away. However, it also succeeded in making sure that a match with a rather perplexing finish didn't go on last, where it could potentially leave a bad taste in some people's mouths (more on that later).
However, putting the top match on the card first wasn't the only odd choice with the order of the show. Dolph Ziggler ended up winning the much-hyped Title vs. Career match against The Miz. He overcame the odds, won the match, and got a huge reaction from the crowd that celebrated with him. It was a completely logical main event if they wanted to shift the WWE title to the front of the show. A great match ending a strong feud, culminating in a powerful moment. Exactly what the WWE wants at the end of their shows. But no, that wasn't the main event either.
Instead, that went to Bray Wyatt vs. Randy Orton. It was a fine match, that ended with a bit of a twist when Luke Harper appeared to help Bray win. However, the moment fell flat compared to the previous highs reached by Dolph Ziggler winning, plus, we had seen a very similar ending when Harper helped Bray beat Roman Reigns last year. If it was something bigger, or more shocking, then you could make a case for it going last. Instead, what was a pretty cool moment got totally overshadowed by what had happened previously and got muted.
All in all, No Mercy was a good show. However, the order could prevent fans from remembering it as fondly as it could have been.
The results of No Mercy:
-AJ Styles retained the WWE title in the triple-threat match. This was a very good match that allowed all three to shine. Toward the end, John Cena had Styles locked in the STF while Dean Ambrose hooked Styles' legs. While both had their submissions locked in, Styles started tapping out. The bell started ringing, apparently erroneously, as the referee waved off the finish of the match, saying that the match had to go to a clear winner. This eventually led to Styles taking advantage of the no DQ aspect of the match, grabbing a chair and hitting Cena with it twice to floor him for the pin. The finish was logical, however, it goes against wrestling precedent. We've seen triple-threat matches end in double pins or double submissions before. Why would the referee take it upon himself to continue the match? However, the result was right, and it certainly could lead to a bigger feud between Cena and Ambrose, which is where it should go.
-Nikki Bella beat Carmella in a match that once again did a good job of showcasing Carmella. She still needs to work on her heel persona a bit, but she's doing a great job in the ring.
-Heath Slater and Rhyno beat The Usos in the upset of the night. The whole build to this seemed to revolve around The Usos feuding with American Alpha, so it seemed logical that The Usos would take the belts here. Now I'm not totally sure where The Usos go in the tag division after taking three straight losses to Heath Slater and Rhyno.
-Baron Corbin beat Jack Swagger after raking Swagger's eyes, and hitting the End of Days. I guess this is the way to continue the feud without giving either the advantage, as now both have disputed wins.
-Dolph Ziggler beat The Miz in probably the match of the night. The two work together so well, and even though the stakes couldn't get any higher than we saw on Sunday night, I'd love to see the feud continue somehow. At the end of the match, Maryse called out the Spirit Squad to interfere, but they were unsuccessful, as Ziggler finally won with a Superkick.
-The women's match between Becky Lynch and Alexa Bliss didn't happen due to an injury that Becky suffered this weekend. However, Alexa Bliss still had to wrestle, as Naomi came out. And surprisingly, Naomi won. They definitely are trying to push Naomi more, but when they're still trying to build Alexa as a credible threat to the title, it seems surprising that she would lose this match.
-Bray Wyatt beat Randy Orton. The match featured some strong brawling in and around the ring. It was a back-and-forth match until the end, when the lights went out and the Wyatts graphic hit. When the lights came back on, Luke Harper was standing in the ring behind Orton. While he didn't touch Orton, the distraction was enough to allow Bray to hit the Sister Abigail for the win. The show went off the air with Wyatt and Harper posing.
Questions? Thoughts? Leave them in the comment section here, email me, or find me on Twitter: @TheAOster. You can also hear my podcast, Jobbing Out, at https://soundcloud.com/jobbingout