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No Mercy awards and observations

(Photo courtesy of WWE.com)

Sunday night, SmackDown Live brought a brand-exclusive pay-per-view to fans live on the WWE Network, bringing No Mercy back after a period of inactivity. It was a night filled with title fights and solid wrestling matches.

The main event, which went on first, saw AJ Styles defend his SmackDown World Championship against both John Cena and Dean Ambrose. In other title defenses, Heath Slater and Rhyno retained their tag titles over the Usos, and shockingly, Dolph Ziggler took the Intercontinental Championship from The Miz in a brilliant match.

Other winners on the night included Nikki Bella, Baron Corbin and Bray Wyatt, among others. It was a solid night of wrestling that delivered on action. With that, let’s take a look at the night’s awards and make some observations from all the matches.

Wrestler of the Night: AJ Styles

I could have given this award to Ziggler, but I don’t like doubling up on awards. So, we will go with AJ Styles as the Wrestler of the Night. He opened the pay-per-view besting both Cena and Ambrose, the top dogs on SmackDown. Yes, he did tap to both men simultaneously, keeping the match alive, but he pinned Cena for the third time since coming to the WWE. That is unheard of. Nobody pins Cena that much, especially in that short amount of time.

Match of the Night: Dolph Ziggler vs. The Miz

I am not a huge fan of The Miz’s in-ring ability, but recognize his solid mic ability. However, he and Ziggler put on the best match of the night. The storyline was great, and many people thought it would be Ziggler’s last night on the roster, as his career was on the line. We were just naturally expecting him to lose, and then he won the title. There were false finishes and great build up into the finish. There was intensity and the audience was on the edge of their seats. It made the match easily the best of the night.

Notes and Observations

Pre-show hits/misses

The pre-show was scheduled to have two matches. The first was the debut of Curt Hawkins and the second was an eight-man tag.

The eight-man tag match was a hit. The Ascension and Vaudevillains took on American Alpha and the Hype Bros in what turned out to be a fun match. It’s hard to take the Ascension or Vaudevillains seriously, though, since they never, ever win bouts anymore.

The Curt Hawkins debut was a miss. They are giving him basically the same storyline as they gave Eva Marie, where he’s delaying his debut. I agree that his debut should be when people are watching and not on a pre-show match. He should have debuted on the main card and put one of the women’s matches on the pre-show.

The main event, but not really

So, No Mercy was the first pay-per-view to have the main event go on first. That is the dumbest thing I have ever heard. The main event ALWAYS goes on last. That is where I agree with CM Punk, when he did the infamous Colt Cabana podcast. There’s no such thing as “one of the main events” or “the main event going on first.” The main event is the last match of the night.

So, having the championship go on first was a questionable call. It basically said that the Randy Orton and Bray Wyatt was the main event and more important than the title match. It was a stupid concept.

That said, the triple threat match was great. It had great build up, false finishes and the right guy one, keeping the storyline that Styles continues to one-up Cena. It will be interesting to see where they go from here.

Bella bests Carmella, but do we care?

Nikki Bella has returned to WWE! Just in time for her new reality show, Total Bellas!

Oh wait, I don’t care, and most fans would likely agree. Nikki certainly gets a solid reaction from the crowd, but she’s not even in the top-five for most popular woman in the company. She’s basically using her wrestling fame to push her reality career.

She goes over on Carmella, who I admit, I am not a huge fan of. However, she is the newbie on the SmackDown roster and is clearly in the WWE for the long haul. Bella’s interests lie outside the WWE landscape. Carmella should have come out on top, not that I especially care a ton.

Slater and Rhyno continue to be a great team

Heath Slater and Rhyno are awesome. Let’s just get that on the table right now. They have a great dynamic in that Rhyno is the straight man to Slater’s outlandish character. It’s been one of the best things going on SmackDown. That’s why I am happy Slater’s not getting drafted storyline actually had a payoff.

They put on a very entertaining match with the Usos, whose heel personas revitalized their stale babyface characters. I still think they need to throw about 38 less superkicks, but they work well as heels. The champs, Usos and American Alpha are starting to make the thin SmackDown tag roster fun.

Corbin wins throw-away match

I like watching Jack Swagger wrestle, but he’s been DOA since the Real Americans broke up. He’s had every chance in the world to get over and stay over, but fans just aren’t interested. So, I am happy he is putting over Baron Corbin, but he’s taking TV time away from guys like Apollo Crews and others.

Corbin has a huge future as a top heel in the company and his matches have been getting better. Here’s to hoping that WWE doesn’t screw up his ascent toward the top of the midcard and into the main event.

Ziggler wins the big one

The best match of the night had the most on the line. And boy, did it deliver.

Many thought Ziggler’s career would come to an end Sunday night, as there were rumors that he was going to move to a backstage role. It made the match with Miz feel huge and like it could possibly be the last time they go to see Ziggler perform.

The build up and anticipation were great and Ziggler won the title, giving him a renewed interest by the fans. He is going to be a big star come Tuesday night when he walks out on SmackDown holding the IC belt.

Why did the top contender lose?

Alexa Bliss was supposed to wrestle Becky Lynch. Lynch was legitimately injured and could not compete. Bliss instead took on Naomi. Bliss lost. The top contender lost to a woman not even in the title picture.

I give up.

Welcome back, Luke Harper!

The Randy Orton-Bray Wyatt match was good, brutal and fun to watch. It also represented a match that Wyatt had to win or he’d lose even more credibility than he’s already lost.

He won and it brought back the best in-ring technician in the Wyatt Family: Luke Harper. Harper had been injured and finally made his return last night, distracting Orton and allowing Wyatt to finish Orton for the win.

Harper will now be on SmackDown, and adds more depth to the roster. He’s a great character and worker. He gives Wyatt another option, especially now that Erick Rowan is injured. This should be interested going forward.

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