Seeing as we’re now in October, I thought I’d list what I believe to be the six best matches from the traditional October pay per view events of both WWE and WCW. I was considering doing one for ECW Anarchy Rulz as well, but there were only two pay per views with that name before the company went out of business so ECW will have to wait for November before I cover them.
As always, this is just my own personal picks and it isn’t supposed to be some sort of objective list or anything. If I leave out a match that you think warrants inclusion then please feel free to put it down in the comments section below. As with previous lists, I’ll be listing the matches in chronological order.
So without further to do, let’s get to it!
No Mercy 1999
The Hardy Boyz Vs Edge and Christian
This was the final of the Terri Invitational Tournament, where the winning team would earn both $100,000 and also the “services” of Terri Runnels. During the five match series that led up to this climatic sixth contest (The original rubber match had ended in a draw) both teams had gelled really well together as opponents and this was the logical next step to take the rivalry.
This was the first ever tag team ladder match in the WWF, and was incredibly innovative for its time. Both of these teams would go on to raise the bar sufficiently in future clashes (Especially once The Dudley Boyz were added to the mix) but some of the stuff in this match had never been seen before when these four took to the ring.
What I like about it is how the match builds, with every move or spot being one step above the one that came previously. The fan anticipation builds as well, as they start out kind of quiet but are roaring the house down by the bouts conclusion. This is a revolutionary match that was the impetus for a renewed focus on tag team wrestling in the WWF and still holds up as a fun match to watch.
No Mercy 2001
Chris Jericho Vs The Rock
This match had a great story to build it up, with tension growing between The Rock and Jericho over some miscommunications in tag matches. Eventually Jericho earned himself a shot at Rock’s WCW Title and the rivalry only escalated from there. Going in to the show, the big plot point was that Jericho had never won the big one and the question was whether he could finally do it here and win a World Title.
In retrospect, Rock really did a lot for Jericho during this period and seemed to be the only main eventer from the remnants of the Attitude Era who was willing to actually try and make some new stars. He did three high profile pay per view jobs for Jericho during a four month period from October 2001 to January 2002, only for Stone Cold and then Triple H to undo all the good work by marginalising Jericho in future title matches.
This really is one of Rock’s best performances, as he wrestles with real intensity and has some fantastic facial expressions to get across his rising frustration and contempt that he just can’t put Jericho away. There’s also some great finisher reversal/theft going on, with Jericho hitting a Rock Bottom on the People’s Champ and even attempting a People’s Elbow before being thwarted. The match on the whole is just thoroughly well worked and the crowd are into every second of it.
The only down side to it would be that a chair is used in the finish, but as it features long time Jericho foe Stephanie McMahon getting foiled and essentially handing the WCW Title to her nemesis I’ll let it slide as it suits the narrative.
No Mercy 2002
Kurt Angle and Chris Benoit Vs Edge and Rey Mysterio
This was the finals of the inaugural Smackdown Tag Team Title Tournament, which had come into effect during the initial brand split. Benoit and Angle had been forced to tag together by Stephanie McMahon “for the good of the show”, and had been told that if they couldn’t get along they would both be suspended for a year. In reality, Paul Heyman was booking and “Tag Teams Who Hate Each Other” has always been one of his favourite booking tropes, so he couldn’t resist the urge to dig it out of the mothballs here.
Whilst Angle and Benoit had their issues, Edge and Rey were getting along just fine and were starting to gel quite well as team. This all set the table for an interesting dynamic going into the show and made the contest one of the most anticipated matches on the show. This match is classic tag team formula, with the babyfaces shining early on until the heels are able to cut off one of them off for the heat before the hot tag leads to a thrilling series of near falls. There are even two heat segments, just to really give the match that classic old school feel.
With four such talented workers it’s no surprise that everything is executed well but the selling is also on point and really adds to the drama. It’s not by the numbers stuff either, with the match having plenty of logical twists and turns that only add to the enjoyment. The unabashed clean finish is also a big bonus and doesn’t hurt the losing team because the match itself was so competitive. This was on the tip of a lot of people’s tongues when it came to match of the year candidates for 2002, and when you watch this match you can really see why. Matches like this are why I love tag wrestling, because when it’s done well you almost always get an enjoyable match. It really is an art form.
No Mercy 2002
Hell in a Cell
Brock Lesnar Vs The Undertaker
Sticking with No Mercy 2002, we go from one of my favourite tag team matches of all time to one of my favourite brawls. What I love about this match is that it feels like a heated fight between two people who hate one another. At the time I was annoyed that both men didn’t fight outside the cage, but in reality they had to start getting people out of the habit of expecting that in a Cell match and it was the right decision to stay inside.
With fighting outside the cage off the table, the two men instead ramped up the brutality and violence inside it to near uncomfortable levels. Undertaker has a cast to protect a broken hand and he uses it liberally to bust Brock wide open. By the end of the night both men are bleeding however, with Brock’s agent Paul Heyman even joining in as well! This is probably one of Heyman’s best managing performances, as he slices himself open and spends the majority of the match screeching in horror as his meal ticket gets pummelled by an unapologetic Undertaker.
This was a real challenge for Brock at the time as he’d never had to work this style of match before, but he rose to the occasion and excelled in the brutal environment by viciously attacking the Undertaker’s hand with weaponry and even trying to tear the cast off with his teeth. This was also a much needed good match for Undertaker, as he’d not especially set the world on fire when it came to the in ring aspect of things for a while and was still carrying a lot of resentment in the smark community for his conduct during the invasion.
Here he sold big for Brock and put him over clean in a great main event. The closing image of Brock standing atop the Cell, title in his hands, whilst Undertaker stares up at him back in the ring, suggested a changing of the guard in the main event scene. Sadly the next challenger for Brock after having such a great match was the Big Show, but hey the thought was there at least.
No Mercy 2008
Triple H Vs Jeff Hardy
We skip ahead six years to 2008, by which time WWE had gone through a lot of changes. For instance, Jeff Hardy had both left and returned to the company during this time period. Leaving in 2003 due to being burnt out and beaten up, Jeff had gone to TNA for a while whilst also trying to get his band up and running. After a less than stellar period in the #2 company, Jeff returned to the WWE in 2006 and quickly established himself as not only one of the better in ring talents but also as a very popular act with the fans.
This led to him finding his way into the WWE Title picture, which brought him up against Triple H. Triple H was enjoying somewhat of a career renaissance as a worker during this period. After suffering a second quad tear in early 2007, he returned leaner and less swollen at Summer Slam 2007, and it was definitely for the better when it came to mobility and his general overall health.
This match is all about the wily veteran Triple H trying to overcome Hardy’s exuberance to retain the title. Both men tell the story well and the crowd are really into the action. Despite Hardy being the sentimental favourite, Triple H still has his fair share of fans in the arena and it makes for an exhilarating atmosphere.
Triple H wrestles this match a lot in the vein of “Touring NWA Champion”, in that he isn’t an outright heel but he also does everything he can within the rules to win, whilst also taking a lot of offence from Hardy to make him look like a credible challenger who could take the title. The fact the end result of the match is Triple H just managing to catch Jeff with a cradle for the last gasp win only enforces this feeling.
At the time I was unhappy that they didn’t switch the belt here, but looking back this could have been a tad too early for the win and Jeff definitely came out of this one stronger. The problem was they didn’t give it a couple of months to breathe before going back to it, which meant Jeff had to fail a few more times before finally getting his hands on the brass ring. His next title shot after this should have been the one where he won it. Aside from that though, this match is worked pretty much perfectly and tells a fantastic story.
No Mercy 2008
Shawn Michaels Vs Chris Jericho
We started the list with a ladder match and we’ll end it with one also. As I mentioned in my Six of the Best for Unforgiven, Jericho and Michaels were in the midst of a fantastic heated feud during this time period after Jericho had accidentally clocked Michaels’ wife with an errant punch. Michaels had beaten Jericho so severely at Unforgiven that the referee had been forced to stop the match.
However, Jericho’s night wasn’t done and he ended up sneaking into the World Title match at the close of the show and nabbing the title. Michaels was seen as the #1 contender due to his previous win and a ladder match was set for No Mercy, with the aim being that this match would end the feud once and for all. Both men waste no time picking things up where they left off at Unforgiven by pummelling one another with reckless abandon.
Jericho takes such a beating that he actually loses a tooth, although I’m sure that wasn’t the game plan going in. Being that WWE’s PG era had begun by this time; no one ends up wearing a crimson mask here but both men are so vicious when it comes to attacking with the ladder that it isn’t needed anyway. There are some inventive spots here as well, such as Jericho kicking the ladder whilst it rests between the turnbuckles so that it swings around and clocks Michaels in the face.
Just as happened at Unforgiven, Michaels trainee turned Jericho lackey Lance Cade runs down again to help out and costs Michaels the match at the climactic moment. I do love the finish of the match itself, with both men having a tug of war with the belt that ends with Jericho butting Michaels to knock him down and grab the belt for the victory. This is well worth a watch if you’ve never seen it as it’s not just an exhibition of spots but a fight with real needle between two men who you believe hate one another
Triple H Vs Chris Benoit (No Mercy 2000), Kurt Angle Vs The Rock (No Mercy 2000), Kurt Angle Vs Rob Van Dam Vs Stone Cold (No Mercy 2001), Kurt Angle Vs John Cena (No Mercy 2003), Paul London Vs Billy Kidman (No Mercy 2004), William Regal Vs Chris Benoit (No Mercy 2006), Dolph Ziggler Vs The Miz (No Mercy 2016)
Well thanks for reading! I hope you enjoyed this trip down memory lane and please feel free to add your own opinions in the comments section below.
I also write for a website called Gaming Respawn. My last article was on Aladdin for the Super Nintendo and you can read about it right HERE. The site is always looking for new writers and are especially looking for more wrestling content, so if you’d like to stick your oar in the river then you can find out more by clicking HERE.
There’s other great content here on the blog as well. For instance, Maffew has posted his most recent review of ECW on Sci-Fi, which you can read by clicking HERE.
Thomas Hall has recently done a write up for Judgment Day 2004. If you’re interested in seeing what he thought of Eddie Guerrero Vs JBL 14 years on you can find out by clicking right HERE.
And Le Grand Fromage himself, Scott Keith, recently posted a new Wrestling Observer Recap from way back in 1994, which you can read by clicking right HERE.
Take care all and thanks for reading!