Little Rock, AK
Approx 9,000 in attendance
Announce Team: Jim Ross & Jerry Lawler (RAW); Michael Cole & Tazz (SmackDown!)
Champions going in:
WWE Champion: Brock Lesnar
World Heavyweight Champion: Triple H
WWE Intercontinental Champion: Kane
World Tag Team Champions: Chris Jericho & Christian
WWE Women’s Champion: Trish Stratus
WWE Cruiserweight Champion: Jamie Noble
The Undertaker is sitting backstage looking at his cast, Kane walks in and asks him how his week has been. It can’t have been worse than Kane’s, at least Taker wasn’t given an awful necrophilia storyline.
As weak as SmackDown’s writers were at times, they never hit the lows of Raw’s writers. Yes, this is the infamous Katie Vick storyline. Widely considered to be one of the worst wrestling storylines of all time.
World Tag Team Championship
Vitamin C (c) vs. BookDust
Not much build up to the match. Quick run down: Booker called Jericho a sucker, Jericho attacked Booker on Raw, Booker attacked him a week later, now they’re in a tag match. Done.
Jericho is also sporting his goatee and ponytail to maximise the “somebody punch me in the face repeatedly” look. Christian is still rocking the long hair and the singlet and coming out to the ‘At Last’ music, which I always liked. Also of note, Booker T is crazy over. He gets a super solid pop on the way to the ring.
Booker and Christian start the match. Booker blocks a hip toss with a clothesline and hits an arm wrench heel kick then tags in Goldust. Step-over mule kick type move to Christian who tags in Jericho. Jericho takes the “vintage” drop down uppercut, then a butt splash. King suggests calling that move the “gold-butt”.
Christian gets dumped to ringside, and Goldust catapults Jericho onto him.
Back in the ring, Jericho mounts a comeback with a missile dropkick from the second rope for the nearfall. Meanwhile, King jokes about what would happen if the Hell in a Cell structure fell right now and landed on Tazz and Michael Cole: “it’d squash them like bugs!” Then he laughs. A bit morbid Jerry.
Christian misses a dropkick on Goldust, then walks into a powerslam. Jericho gets the tag and tries to stop the babyface hot tag from happening, but Dust counters a clothesline into a neckbreaker then tags in Booker.
Booker cleans house with a super kick for Christian and a leg lariat for Jericho. He goes for the Scissor Kick, but Jericho avoids it, then runs into a spinebuster for two. Sunset flip from the corner also gets two.
Goldust makes a blind tag and double bulldogs the tag champs, then gives Christian the old Golden Globes kick in the corner. Jericho rushes in but gets tripped up into Christian’s groin.
Jericho counters a Curtain Call into the Walls of Jericho, but Booker breaks up the submission and nails a Scissor Kick. Goldust pins but only gets two. Booker lands a big missile dropkick on Jericho, then decides its spinaroonie time, because winning isn’t important here.
Christian runs in with the belt shot, but Booker has it scouted and sends Christian ringside, then brawls with him through the crowd. Jericho goes for a springboard move, but the middle rope actually snaps and everyone panics that the match is about to fall apart. But never fear, this is Chris Jericho. He bulldogs Goldust onto the title belt then lands a moonsault from the top rope for the three count at 8:46.
Props to Jericho for improvising there. It was pretty obvious that the Lionsault was meant to be the finish there, but the moonsault worked just as well. An accident like that could throw a spanner in the works of any match, but fortunately everyone was experienced enough to just continue through the match.
Overall, this was a fun tag team bout. It worked for me. Jericho and Christian would drop the titles the next month at Armageddon, but then BookDust would inexplicably lose them like a night later, and never challenge for the belts again.
While the ring crew panics to fix the ring, SmackDown’s #1 Announcer - Funaki - is backstage to interview Al Wilson. They show videos of Dawn Marie wooing Al over the last few weeks. Al is just a god awful actor. He makes Tommy Wiseau look like Jack Nicholson. He parodies Bill Clinton’s “I did not have sexual relations with that woman” line. WWE, on the ball with current events, as always, parodying Bill Clinton in 2002. Ugh.
Dawn Marie vs. Torrie Wilson
Torrie dropkicks Dawn off the apron, then hits a few weak clotheslines in the ring. Torrie runs into a boot in the corner as a “we want puppies” chant breaks out. I miss the times when adults outnumbered the kids in the audience. Dawn hops out to the apron and stunguns Torrie over the top rope. They do some light brawling at ringside, but return to the ring pretty quickly.
"Torrie has already defeated Dawn in a lingerie contest and a bikini contest," boasts Michael Cole. Clearly Torrie Wilson is the superior wrestler in that case.
Dawn gets a camel clutch, then changes it to a standing surfboard stretch, then let’s go for no reason. She slams Torrie and gives her a headbutt to the groin, before devolving into a catfight! They roll over the referee who gets a bit handsy, actually kind of funny spot.
Dawn gets shitty with the ref, then nails Torrie with a clothesline. Vertical suplex gets a two count. Torrie slingshots Dawn into the top rope then hits with a swinging neckbreaker for the win at 4:40.
Bad, bad match. Sloppy and they both looked a bit lost to say the least. And why do the divas get weak finishing moves like a swinging neckbreaker? Surely it’s not that hard for them to learn something simple like a DDT or something.
Backstage, Rob Van Dam cuts a god awful promo and gives us what I imagine is his worst Ric Flair impression. Writers just shouldn’t make RVD do anything like this. He’s never really been able to cut the mustard in the acting department too much, that’s why he’s always better just being himself and shooting from the hip in his promos, not trying to adhere to a WWE script.
Ric Flair vs. Rob Van Dam
Some background to this match: Flair cost RVD the World title at Unforgiven against Triple H. And it seems like that Arkansas crowd didn’t get the memo about Flair’s heel turn.
I like that RVD actually seems to be taking his job partially seriously here. He’s playing the part of pissed off babyface out for some retribution, so it’s good to see him charging straight for Flair, rather than smiling and doing his thumbs routine and acting like what’s happening in the ring doesn’t matter.
They go straight outside the ring and RVD hits his corkscrew leg drop off the apron. Dumb ref moment: Nick Patrick starts counting them out despite the fact that the match hasn’t even started.
RVD hits a flying kick from the top rope and a handspring moonsault for the near fall.
Springboard kick to Flair, who goes hiding in the corner. He manages a low blow undetected by the referee, followed by a chop block. Flair proceeds to work over the leg and start up with the knife edge chops. Meanwhile, JR and the King start talking about the Smack Down storyline rather than what’s happening in the ring.
Flair gets a back suplex on RVD, then slaps on the Figure Four. RVD manages to get to the ropes and rolls onto the apron. He comes back with a slingshot sunset flip on Flair for the two count. RVD misses a dropkick and Flair goes for the second Figure Four, but it’s countered into a small package for two.
Flair goes up top and RVD decides to stop selling the leg because he’s RVD. He runs at Flair and they do the old scoop slam from the top rope routine, as prevalent in 98% of Ric Flair matches. Rolling Thunder only gets two as Flair gets the ropes. RVD connects with a spinning heel kick and the Five Star Frog Splash for the three count at 7:59.
It was what it was. It was cool to see both guys put in the effort, and Flair definitely did his best to keep up with RVD. But the styles couldn’t be any more mismatched. Chemistry-wise, they do nothing for each other. It wasn’t terrible, it just wasn’t great.
Backstage, Big Show talks to SmackDown GM Stephanie McMahon, which catches him some heat with Raw GM Eric Bischoff. This of course leads to Big Show’s imminent trade to SmackDown. Show won the WWE title a month later at Survivor Series.
A small video package goes over the history of the Intercontinental Championship belt, which will be retired tonight (for about six months). I never quite understood the decision to get rid of all the belts. I understand getting rid of the European and Hardcore titles - those belts meant absolutely nothing. But the IC title still had a bit of prestige and point to it at the time.
WWE Cruiserweight Championship
Jamie Noble (c) with Nidia vs. Tajiri
Tajiri starts off with a baseball slide and an asai moonsault outside the ring. Noble fires back with a knee to the back and a scoop slam. Tajiri goes up top, but Noble catches him with a big electric chair drop. He nails a beautiful tilt-a-whirl backbreaker followed by a surfboard stretch with the knee in the back. Tajiri fights out and gets a crucifix pin for two. Noble keeps working on the lower back. Tajiri goes up top and attempts a moonsault, he misses but lands on his feet before landing a beautiful tornado DDT from the corner.
Handspring elbow and a roundhouse kick gets a near fall for Tajiri. Modified airplane spin and a beautiful bridged German suplex gets another near fall. Tajiri gets the Tarantula in the corner, but of course has to release before five.
Tajiri goes for the Buzzsaw Kick, but Noble ducks and attempts the Tiger Bomb. Tajiri reverses it with a catapult into the corner and this time connects with the Buzzsaw Kick. Nidia distracts the ref with a makeout session on the apron, meaning Tajiri doesn’t get the pin. Noble lands the Tiger Bomb but only gets a near fall. He goes for it again, but Tajiri counters into a Victory Roll, but Nidia grabs Jamie’s foot and reverses the weight. Noble gets the surprise pinfall at 8:15.
After the match, Tajiri gives Nidia a big sloppy kiss. Instead of attacking him, Noble decides to show him “how a real man kisses a woman”. Tajiri lays them both out with a Buzzsaw Kick then leaves.
It seemed a bit pointless, mostly because of WWE’s obvious disinterest in their own cruiserweight division, but you can’t say they didn’t have hard workers. This was a fun match and Noble and Tajiri had some chemistry together.
We get a funny backstage skit between Angle, Benoit and the Guerreros. It’s sad to watch Benoit and Guerrero in skits now.
World Heavyweight Championship / WWE Intercontinental Championship Title Unification Match
Triple H (c) vs. Kane
It’s worth noting that the video montage before the match left out the more “controversial” elements of the script. You know, Triple H screwing a “corpse“‘s brains out, the enema sketch etc. and focuses more on the “murder” angle, which is weak as piss in itself. Did no one on the writing staff put their hand up and say “guys, I’m not sure if the audience is going to buy one of Raw’s top babyfaces as a necrophiliac”?
Also note, Flair isn’t accompanying Trips out to the ring yet, as he usually would throughout their time together. This was also in the early development stages of Evolution. No Randy Orton and no Batista.
Kane and Triple H get a lock up, and Kane powers Trips into the corner immediately. Trips fires off a right hand, but Kane completely no sells it, then lays into Triple H for a nice early pop from the crowd. They do some awkward brawling and totally botch a weird back elbow in the corner. Sloppy back body drop that almost saw Triple H land on his head. Triple H then totally botches a neckbreaker on Kane, but JR saves it by calling it a “modified neckbreaker”. You know a move is botched or something didn’t go as planned when JR calls it a “modified” version of something.
Kane hits a powerslam for two. Triple H comes back with a facebuster and clotheslines Kane out of the ring. Kane goes for a ringside Chokeslam, but Triple H channels The Nature Boy and lands a thumb to the eye. Slugfest back in the ring, and Trips lands a swinging neckbreaker. If Triple H were Torrie Wilson, he would have put away Kane with that move. Trips goes for two more neckbreakers in a row, I assume to make up for the horrendous first one that they botched.
Kane fights back with elbows, but Triple H channels the power of Arn Anderson and catches him with a spinebuster.
Time to slow this match down hey? Sleeper hold time. And it seems to somehow be working. Kane eventually reverses with a back suplex and a sidewalk slam. He goes up top and lands the flying clothesline. That’s Flair’s queue as he runs to the ring and gets into a scuffle with the ref, who bumps in the mix. Flair brings the world title belt into the equation, before being thrown to ringside. Triple H nails Kane with the belt shot of doom, but some how, some way, Kane kicks out.
The Hurricane runs to ringside and takes it to Flair. “What’s that?” Triple H says, “the crowd popping for a talented midcarder? While I’m in the ring? Not on my watch!” Triple H quickly pauses his World Heavyweight Championship match to give Hurricane a Pedigree at ringside. (Okay, he didn’t actually say that).
Kane sits up in the ring and they slug it out. He gets a powerslam and tries to superplex Trips from the top, but he gets bumped back down. Triple H jumps off and eats boot. Kane goes for the Chokeslam, but Triple H fights out of it. Kane accidentally big boots the referee for ref bump #2. Kane gets dumped to ringside and Triple H leaps on him from the apron, but Kane catches him with a Chokeslam through the (you guessed it) Spanish announce table. He pins him in the ring, but of course the ref is still down, and in comes Flair with the sledgehammer. Kane snatches it off of him though. Trips gets a low blow and counters a Tombstone Piledriver with a sledgehammer to the gut. But Kane still gets in another Chokeslam. He gets the pin but out comes another referee to count it. Flair drags the ref out of the ring so we can get ref bump #3. Flair jumps off the top rope, but Kane catches him with a Chokeslam. Trips recovers and lands the Pedigree for three at 16:16.
A slow, meandering mess of a match that was overbooked to hell. Three ref bumps? Really?? Three ref bumps, a table spot, two run ins, a low blow and a sledgehammer round out this match of skill. I know Triple H’s ring work in ‘02 was garbage and Kane’s not the guy to carry him to an exciting match (that became Shawn Michaels’ job) but man did this match suck. It might as well have been a handicap match too with the amount of interaction Flair had with the match. I can forgive a little run in and tomfoolery on the apron or something. But Flair had so much ongoing impact in this match that it was insulting to the fans’ intelligence to think that he wouldn’t get thrown out of ringside or something. Still, I’m surprised they didn’t go with the stock standard DQ finish. Mess of a match.
WWE Tag Team Championship
Chris Benoit & Kurt Angle vs. Edge & Rey Mysterio
This is the finals of the WWE Tag Team Championship tournament, crowning the first ever WWE Tag Team Champions.
Angle and Rey start things off with some fast paced wrestling. Short arm drag by Angle and a go behind takedown. He slaps Rey over the head a bit, then asks for Edge to get tagged in. Rey refuses and gets a low dropkick and a leg drop on Angle. Flying headscissors out of the corner and a drop toe hold and Rey slaps Kurt around with a taste of his own medicine.
Rey tags Edge, and they go through some nice tight mat wrestling. Edge ends up getting a hip toss, arm drag and dropkick combination, Angle tags to Benoit and they trade arm drags. Some counter wrestling leads to Edge landing a hard knee to the midsection followed by a gutbuster for two.
Benoit comes back with a flapjack for two, then sends Edge into the ropes. Angle lands a cheap shot with a knee to the back. Benoit tries to same spot, but this time Edge hits a running shoulder block through the ropes. Benoit lands a neckbreaker and tags in Angle who gets a chin lock with a grapevine.
Edge gets out of it but walks into a belly-to-belly overhead suplex for a two count. Angle tags Benoit who hits the triple Germans, then cheapshots Rey off the apron. He goes up for the flying headbutt, but Edge meets him on the turnbuckle and delivers a big superplex from the top rope. Edge hot tags Rey who has dropkicks for Angle and Benoit. He lands a springboard guillotine leg drop on Benoit, why don’t you ever see that kind of thing any more?
Edge clotheslines Angle out of the ring and Rey goes for a wheelbarrow, but Benoit counters into the Crossface. Edge comes in and breaks it up. Benoit goes for a back suplex on Rey, but he counters and dropkicks Benoit into the middle rope. He goes for the 619, but Benoit catches him into a powerslam position. Edge comes off the top rope with a missile dropkick and Rey gets the pin for two. Rey goes up top, but Angle comes in with the running belly-to-belly superplex. Benoit only gets a near fall though.
Order is restored and the match continues as a usual tag match for a while longer.
Angle works over Rey with a backbreaker and suplexes. He gets a front facelock, but Rey counters with a back body drop, only to run into a belly-to-belly.
Benoit gets tagged in, he hits a back body drop and a suplex on Rey, but Rey manages to fight back with a headscissors into the turnbuckle post before getting a second hot tag out to Edge while Benoit tags Angle.
Rey gets the Bronco Buster on Benoit as Edge props Angle up top and alley-oops Rey onto him into a Frankensteiner, AMAZING spot. Benoit goes for the flying headbutt on Edge who is pinning Angle, but he misses and hits Angle. Edge gets a near fall.
Edge launches Rey into Angle in the corner while Benoit gets the Crossface on Edge. Edge gets to the ropes but Benoit won’t let go. Mysterio hits him with the 619 but then walks into an Angle Slam. Ankle Lock on Edge but it’s countered into a small package for two. Edge ducks under a clothesline and hits Angle with a Spear, but Benoit breaks up the pin.
Benoit gets dumped to ringside, and Rey hits him with a moonsault off of Edge’s shoulders. Yes.
Edge goes for the Edgecution, but Angle reverses it into the Ankle Lock. Edge rolls through and gets an Ankle Lock of his own, but that’s just asking for trouble. Angle gets the Ankle Lock again and this time Edge taps out at 22:03.
Absolutely phenomenal match. One of the best tag matches you’ll find. It goes to show that Benoit and Angle had chemistry as both opponents and as partners. This match basically pays for the pay-per-view.
The Undertaker is backstage where he intimidates a doctor into injecting something into his broken hand, for reasons.
WWE Women’s Championship
Trish Stratus (c) vs. Victoria
Goodluck following that tag match, ladies. This is Victoria’s pay-per-view debut, unless you count her SummerSlam 2000 appearance as a part of the Godfather’s Ho Train. She’s in her crazy, unstable heel persona here.
Lock up, Victoria gets a side headlock takedown. She gets a shoulder block, but Trish comes back with a clothesline for two. Victoria ducks a Chick Kick, but takes a straight boot to the face anyway. The fight goes ringside. Trish hits a clothesline, but Victoria recovers quickly and throws Trish into the turnbuckle post. She launches Trish over the ring barricade and they return to the ring.
Victoria hits a nice looking slingshot senton leg drop for a near fall. They botch a monkey flip in the corner. Victoria goes for a second one, but Trish counters and props Victoria on the top turnbuckle, then hits her with the Stratusfere for a near fall.
Victoria fights back and gets Trish into an overhead backbreaker, but Trish counters it into a bridged pin for two.
Spinout sidewalk slam by Victoria. She goes up top for a moonsault, but Trish counters it with an electric chair drop. I’m pretty sure that EXACT spot was in the Cruiserweight title match like an hour ago.
Trish connects with the Chick Kick for a near fall. Two neckbreakers by Trish, taking a page out of the Torrie Wilson How To Win Wrestling Matches For Beginners Playbook. Is it just me, or have there been A LOT of neckbreakers in this show so far?
Trish goes for Stratusfaction, but Victoria counters with a suplex, but Trish lands on her feet and gets a roll up for three at 5:31.
After the match, Victoria boots Trish down and the ref has to restrain her.
It wasn’t their best encounter by a long shot, but it was still head and shoulders above the SmackDown attempt at a diva match. And they were on in the “dead zone”, between two major matches. They were the designated piss break tonight, unfortunately, a spot that should have been reserved for Dawn and Torrie.
WWE Championship Hell in a Cell
Brock Lesnar (c) with Paul Heyman vs. The Undertaker
The story here really didn’t need the added soap opera bullshit with some chick coming in to accuse Taker of sleeping with him despite being married with a child on the way. Could you imagine this bullshit angle being played with Undertaker in his Deadman gimmick and not as the American Badass? It’d be ridiculous. People are paying to see two big guys whail on each other in a cage, not Days of Our Lives.
Another note, Lesnar “broke” Undertaker’s hand on SmackDown, and it’s now in a cast, which Undertaker used as an effective weapon during the buildup. Heyman tried to have Stephanie ban Taker’s cast, but it didn’t work. So Taker’s going into Hell in a Cell “armed”. (See what I did there?).
Taker misses the first few punches, and Lesnar tries to outwrestle The Undertaker, but that’s not flying in this match. Taker lashes out with the elbows and boots. Lesnar hits a powerslam for two. Undertaker quickly regains control with a cast shot to the gut. Lesnar runs to ringside and tries to find a way out of the cell as Taker stalks him.
They rush back in the ring and Lesnar gets an arm bar on Taker who gets the ropes, but the ref calls for no rope breaks. Taker gets a few big right hands with the cast as he goes running to ringside, busted open. Heyman starts screaming from outside the Cell: “BROCK! OH MY GOD!!! NO!!!!!!!” It’s. Fucking. Gold.
Taker spends the next few minutes working over Lesnar on the cage, throwing him into the cage wall and grating his face on the wall. He launches Lesnar into the cage, then hits him with a clothesline on the rebound for two. Apparently this is falls count anywhere.
Lesnar is all bloodied up now. Taker gets the leg drop over the apron, then goes up on the top rope and lands an awkward looking knee drop.
Heyman tries reaching through a hole in the cell to grab Taker, it looks pretty hilarious. Taker just boots him through the cell wall and Heyman ends up blading. Taker grabs him by the tie and yanks him into the chainlink wall over and over again. Lesnar launches himself at Taker, but misses and hits Lesnar through the side of the cage. Taker rushes at Lesnar but he gets thrown into the cage wall. Heyman passes his belt through to Lesnar. He ties it around Taker’s cast as Heyman holds the other end through the fence. Lesnar gets a steel chair and beats the hell out of Taker and Taker’s cast.
The belt ends up breaking and Lesnar keeps on the attack of the hand.
In the ring, Lesnar finally gets the cast off of Taker’s hand and works over the hand. Taker sells quite nicely. They go up on the top rope and Lesnar uses the support beams of the cell to swing kick Taker a bit. Taker hits a low blow and Lesnar falls off the ropes. Taker then comes crashing down with an elbow drop (with the bad hand of course).
Undertaker boots Lesnar back to ringside, then hits him with a suicide dive. Lesnar recovers and uses the steel ringsteps a few times on Taker’s head, and Taker bleeds. And I mean, bleeds. Like, Ric Flair bleeds. Like, JBL at Judgment Day 2004 bleeds. If someone bled like this in WWE in 2014, it wouldn’t just be a quick match stoppage while they clean up the blood, the match would just be canceled. Wouldn’t surprise me if Taker needs some serious stitches after that.
They slug it out in the ring, Undertaker calls for Old School, but Lesnar arm drags him off the top rope. Lesnar goes for the F5, but Taker counters into the Chokeslam (with the broken hand) for a near fall.
Lesnar goes for the Last Ride, but obviously gets countered.
Taker hits with the running DDT for a near fall. He then calls for the real Last Ride. Lesnar counters with shoulder blocks in the corner. He goes up for some mounted punches, but Undertaker comes out with the Last Ride. He gets the pin, but Lesnar gets a hand on the bottom rope for the rope break. Oh, so rope breaks are a thing now? They weren’t a thing at the start of the match. Ugh.
Taker goes for the Tombstone Piledriver, but Lesnar reverses it into the F5 for the win at 27:18.
After the match, Lesnar climbs to the top of the cell to show off his dominance over Taker who looks on with a bloodied face from the ring.
Okay, I have to gripe about the hand. If I had a broken hand, I don’t think I’d be able to Chokeslam a 300-pound guy like Lesnar. It’s not that hard to swap hands and Chokeslam him with the left hand instead right? Is a little selling too much to ask for?
Other than that, I loved this match. It was every bit as brutal as it needed to be. I liked the story with the cast, how Undertaker dominated the earlygoings, but the tide of the match changed when he was “disarmed”. It was great. One of Lesnar’s better rookie year matches. Be forewarned, it was gruesome, all participants bladed (including Heyman), and Taker looked like he lost A LOT of blood.
Still, great Cell match, very underrated in my opinion. It’s aged well to me.
There’s a lot of chaff and a lot of badness on No Mercy. Some of it was okay. The Raw tag match and the Cruiserweight title match were both fun, and Flair and RVD wasn’t terribad or anything. The main offenders of this show are the World title match and the SmackDown diva match. The rest just feels more like filler than subtance?
The first-ever WWE Tag Team Championship match, and the Hell in a Cell main event, make this event worth watching. Two great matches and some enjoyable enough matches outweigh the two really bad matches.
Overall Rating: 6/10
Vitamin C def. BookDust via pinfall to retain the World Tag Team Championship
Torrie Wilson def. Dawn Marie via pinfall
Rob Van Dam def. Ric Flair via pinfall
Jamie Noble def. Tajiri via pinfall to retain the WWE Cruiserweight Championship
Triple H def. Kane via pinfall to retain the World Heavyweight Championship
Chris Benoit & Kurt Angle def. Edge & Rey Mysterio via submission to become the first-ever WWE Tag Team Champions
Trish Stratus def. Victoria via pinfall to retain the WWE Women’s Championship
Brock Lesnar def. The Undertaker via pinfall to retain the WWE Championship