The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not reflect the views of WrestlingInc or its staff
•Seth Rollins' babyface turn has been pretty awkward. I think a problem is that the original idea was that The Authority replaced him with Kevin Owens, and that Rollins has an axe to grind with The Authority for turning on him. But Rollins' main complaint so far is that he is upset that the group that was cheating for him is no longer cheating for him; what kind of babyface is that? They had a perfect chance to turn Rollins babyface when he returned from his knee injury, but instead they kept him heel because they felt that they were secure with Ambrose, Reigns and Balor as the new top babyfaces on RAW, but now that two of those guys are no longer in the picture they were forced to turn Rollins babyface. He still has great potential as a babyface, but I don't think this is the correct way to do that turn; it makes me think that he isn't going to be babyface for very long.
•There are a lot of things wrong with the Goldberg vs Brock Lesnar match that I will detail later. But right now it will be interesting to see how they do the match. It will almost certainly be the main event and obviously it will be heavily hyped, so they really can't afford for the match to suck. But Goldberg has a lot of things working against him; he is 49 years old, he is in good shape but is reportedly not nearly as big as he was in his prime, he hasn't wrestled in 12 and a half years, he wasn't a particularly great worker when he was working full-time and he is coming off of double-knee surgery. Brock is a really special performer, but nobody is going to confuse him with Bret Hart when it comes to making his opponent look good. WWE is going to have to pull out a lot of smoke and mirrors to make the match look good; table spots, chairs, maybe some run-ins, etc.
•NJPW's owner Takaai Kidani announced on Tuesday that the King of Pro Wrestling show at the Sumo Hall was the highest attended event for a non-G1 show at the Ryogoku Kokugikan since 2000. NJPW nearly went under the latter half of the 2000s, but due to the star power of guys like Hiroshi Tanahahsi, Shinsuke Nakamura and now Kazuchika Okada, they have crawled back into the black and are doing quite well, even if internationally they are still dwarfed by WWE. The main event match between Okada and Naomichi Marufuji drawing well is a big boon for Marufuji, is normally works for Pro Wrestling NOAH. NOAH has a working relationship with NJPW and is booked by Jado, who along with Gedo is responsible for the strong booking of NJPW over the last few years. The business results for NOAH as a company have been lukewarm, but it seems like there is a future for NOAH guys working with NJPW because Marufuji proved to be a viable draw working with Okada.
•TNA has once again managed to avoid extinction, as they received an influx of cash at the 11th hour to secure funding for Bound for Glory and tapings for the rest of the year; giving them a few more months to secure the long-term future of the company. The main problem is that the company is no longer independently solvent. In the past they may not have been raking it in, but when they were on Spike and even Destination America there was never any of this last-second drama to secure funding like there has been for the last few sets of tapings. Each time someone, whether it was Billy Corgan, Aroluxe, or the unnamed other party who put the money into the new tapings, steps up and saves the company, but the problem remains the same; the company isn't making any money and they need someone to independently finance them to survive. With house show business and Pay Per View business pretty much dead, all they have is TV and their viewership in both the US and the UK crashing over the last couple years, they don't have much money coming from there either. Unless they find a suitable buyer in the next few months they are going to run into the same problem again in January. At this point, unless you have a direct tie to the company, as a businessman, why would you invest in TNA?
No Mercy Review:
AJ Styles vs Dean Ambrose vs John Cena: ***3/4
A good match but probably not as good as it could have been given the talent that was in the ring. I didn't really care for the false finish with AJ submitting to both Ambrose and Cena because WWE did it and then quickly restarted the match without a lot of controversy. If you are going to do a false finish, milk it for all it is worth; have Shane McMahon or Daniel Bryan come down and restart the match (which could lead to a feud between the Ambrose/Cena and McMahon/Bryan). The way they did it the fans might as well have forgotten the false finish ever happened at all. Besides that the match was about what we expected; a lot of high impact moves and near falls with each man thinking they had the match won only to have the pinfall broken up. I'm glad that they protected Dean by letting Styles pin Cena, and they did it in a way where nobody really did the job. In the past it would have been automatic that Dean was going to take the pinfall to protect Cena; and the roles being reversed was a sign of the times.
The match going on first was strange to say the least. WWE was afraid because they knew the ratings for the second presidential debate were going to be huge and they wanted to avoid people switching to that. But with the WWE Network, people can watch the show whenever they want—the only thing that can impact the live viewership is the social media numbers, something WWE really wants to protect. By having the "main event" open the show, it made the WWE Championship look less important and gave fans less of an incentive to watch the rest of the show, especially because there was a lot of filler on this PPV.
Dolph Ziggler vs The Miz: ****1/2
The best match of The Miz's career and from a storytelling standpoint the best match in the company this year. The reason it worked so well was because it had real character; a real heel getting actual heat and a babyface the fans believed in and the match had real stakes. In the past this might have been just an above-average match, but in this day and age where getting that kind of organic crowd reaction is so rare this match really stood out. They used every trick in the book to make you believe that Ziggler was going to lose; Miz used the exposed turnbuckle, they did the hairspray spot, the Spirit Squad came out; but they made Ziggler look like superman by having him kick-out every time. The finish with Ziggler going over got a really big pop from the audience, by far the biggest pop of the night, and capped off one of the most memorable matches of 2016.
Randy Orton vs Bray Wyatt: **1/4
This match should almost certainly not have closed the show; if they wanted to have the WWE Championship match open the show they should have had Ziggler and The Miz close the show. The crowd that was hot for most of the show was pretty flat for this match, and it wasn't surprising because it was boring and felt like a regular SmackDown match except for the return of Luke Harper at the end. Wyatt has just become a tired heel, and bringing back Harper doesn't move the needle at all because it is just the same old character and storyline. Wyatt's abstract personality means that he is prone to weird character development and moments of complete outrageousness. Perfect example of this is the mirror spot with Orton earlier in the show; where Orton looked in the mirror and it appeared that it was morphing Orton's face. This is an old spot that has been used in the past; but it is so stupid. If Orton is looking in the mirror and sees his face being twisted; and the fans see Orton's face being twisted, that does not mean that Wyatt is getting in Orton's head. What it does mean is either A: Orton is looking at a trick mirror that does that to everyone or B: Everyone, including the cameraman and the fans, are crazy as well because we all saw his face being morphed. It's just a strange thing for them to do.
Rhyno and Heath Slater vs The Usos: ***
I thought this was kind of sleeper match that ended up being better than I expected it to be. The action was pretty good, and the crowd was more into it than I thought they would be. The Usos are good heels, they work the crowd pretty well and come across as real guys that have a big chip on their shoulders. Heath Slater, amazingly is still over with the live crowd and the fans really believe in him; and Rhyno does a good job as the muscle behind Slater's charisma. I think eventually The Usos should be the tag team champions because of where their characters are at, but right now Rhyno and Heath Slater still have something the fans want to see so WWE would be smart to get all they can out of them.
Nikki Bella vs Carmella: *1/4
This match had the potential to be really, really bad but they kept it simple in the ring and did whatever they could considering Carmella is such a green worker. There was only so much they could do and the match probably should have been about five minutes instead of eight.
Naomi vs Alexa Bliss: ¾*
I have no idea why they jobbed Bliss out here to Naomi, especially when they already announced that Bliss is going to get her title shot at the next PPV. The only thing that could make sense is that they want to add Naomi to the title match and make it a Triple Threat, which I really hope they don't do because they have gone really overboard with the Triple Threat matches lately. The match itself was not very good, their timing was off in a lot of spots and there was no heat for the match from the audience.
Baron Corbin vs Jack Swagger: *
If you ever watch an old WCW PPV you will end up finding a couple of matches on each show that are just impossible to get invested in. They feature wrestlers like Steve McMichael, Horace Hogan, Brian Knobbs, Scotty Riggs, etc. This match reminded me of those kind of matches in that it was pretty hard to care that much about these guys even if they had a good match, which they most certainly did not. Clearly WWE sees a lot in Corbin but I find it hard to believe that it is going to work out. Aesthetically he has a good look and a cool entrance, but he just doesn't have the charisma to make up for his mediocre wrestling skills.
Overall the show would have to go down as average. It had two good matches and a great match, so the highlights of the show are pretty strong, but as a complete show it was lacking in a lot of areas. The mid-card matches were very poor and the main event was weak thanks to WWE rescheduling around the presidential debate. There is a lot more talent on SmackDown then what they gave us tonight, and I'd like the next PPV to make better use of the talent beyond the main event.
Must Watch Matches:
Katsuyori Shibata vs Kyle O'Reilly: ****1/4 – NJPW King of Pro Wrestling
Kenny Omega vs Hirooki Goto: ****1/2 – NJPW King of Pro Wrestling
Kazuchika Okada vs Naomichi Marufuji: ****3/4 – NJPW King of Pro Wrestling
This was easily one of the ten best matches of the year.