WWE’s Raw brand presents No Mercy this weekend, a pay-per-view event they are billing as “WrestleMania caliber.” If we’re judging by the main events alone, they’re absolutely right: One of the few dream matches left in John Cena vs. Roman Reigns, and two of the biggest, most fun to watch guys on the roster in Braun Strowman vs. Brock Lesnar for the Universal Championship.
There’s a whole other card before we get to those matches though, so let’s break it down.
Elias vs. Apollo Crews (Pre-show)
Elias just wants everybody to walk with him, but he can’t get through a single song denigrating his opponent and/or the city he’s in without being interrupted. Titus Brand crown jewel Apollo Crews has built some semblance of momentum as of late, adding another L to Curt Hawkins’ legendary losing streak. The two will collide on the pre-show.
Patrick: Elias has far more momentum and apparent front office backing than Apollo Crews, which is a shame. Not to say Elias isn’t worth it, because his gimmick is brilliant and he gets it done in the ring, but Crews is a once in a generation athlete that is being squandered. That said, I think we all walk with Elias by the end of this one.
Nathaniel: Crews seemed like he was going to be a big deal. He needed some work but he had most of the tools needed for a main roster run. The fans just never caught on which is too bad. Elias wins clean.
Paul: In my opinion, Elias is one of the rare Superstars who has actually improved and excelled since coming up to the main roster. Crews is one of those many wrestlers who has tons of talent, but just can’t seem to ever connect with anyone. At this point, I think that they want to continue building up Elias, so I can’t see any way that he loses here.
Neville (c) vs. Enzo Amore for the WWE Cruiserweight Championship
After an uncharacteristic misstep against Akira Tozawa, the King of the Cruiserweights Neville regained his Cruiserweight Championship at SummerSlam and hasn’t looked back since. Just when it seemed he had the entire 205 Live roster in his hands, though, it suddenly became the Realest Show in the Room with the arrival of Enzo Amore. Enzo’s shaky backstage reputation has turned into a television storyline, blurring the lines between reality and unreality and making him one of the more interesting characters on the show. Is it enough to nab him his first title in WWE?
Patrick: As much as I think Neville is head and shoulders above the rest, Enzo Amore is actually a pretty interesting foil. Instead of going move for move and trying to keep up with Neville, which Enzo obviously cannot, he’s been taking any shortcut he can on his way to earning the title of #1 contender. This means anything can happen, and if Enzo cheats to win the gold, it won’t make Neville look any worse for wear. I predict Enzo steals this one.
Nathaniel: It almost seems like Enzo has been groomed to win here, almost like Big Show’s WWECW title run where he was champ in a place where no one liked him just because he didn’t belong. I don’t see that happening here though. Neville wins in a glorified squash.
Paul: Neville is by far the best thing that they have going in the Cruiserweight division right now, and I would love to see him continue his dominance by keeping the title at least through the Royal Rumble. Unfortunately, I don’t see that happening. I feel like Enzo has looked like a total loser since getting dumped by Cass, so I could see them giving him the win here to try to help him gain some momentum back.
The Miz (c) vs. Jason Jordan for the WWE Intercontinental Championship
After feeling that the Intercontinental Championship and, indeed, its champion weren’t getting the recognition they deserve, The Miz did what he does best: ran his mouth, kvetched, and complained. As a result, Raw General Manager Kurt Angle put together what ultimately became a six pack challenge to determine the #1 contender for the Intercontinental Championship, which was, as fate would have it, won by Angle’s son, Jason Jordan.
Patrick: While the Miz/Angle/Jordan storyline is probably far from finished, I don’t see Jordan coming away with the Intercontinental Championship so soon. The Miz has made that belt his own, and is legitimately one of the greatest IC champs of all time. Jordan will eventually dethrone The Miz, but not this time. Miz wins.
Nathaniel: I think this is the beginning of Jordan turning on Angle. Miz is great, Jordan is trash. I think Miz wins leading to Jordan joining the Miztourage.
Paul: Since last year, Miz has been doing his best to make the Intercontinental Championship seem relevant and important again. Even when he’s given total garbage to work with, he somehow always makes it better. To me, Jason Jordan has never been that great on his own (remember NXT before he teamed with Chad Gable?). I think that WWE clearly wants to push him, but I’m pretty sure that even they’re smart enough to realize that he’s not ready yet. I’ll go with Miz here.
Finn Balor vs. Bray Wyatt
Two of Raw‘s most eerie Superstars squared off at SummerSlam, where Wyatt invoked Balor’s demon alter ego, giving Balor the boost he needed to overcome the Eater of Worlds. This time, though, it’s personal. Billed as “Man vs. Man,” the match will not feature the demon. As Balor asked this week on Raw, though, if the demon is a creation of the man, which one is more dangerous?
Patrick: I wish I was more excited for this bout, but I’m just…not. I’ve been an advocate of Bray Wyatt’s for years now, but I think I’ve finally given up on him. The mismanagement of such an appealing, unique character is discouraging, and unfortunately, I’m starting to feel the same about Finn Balor, whose main roster stint has so far been built entirely around his entrance. There’s much more to him than that. As for this match, in a throwaway feud, 50/50 booking will probably take hold, giving Wyatt his win back.
Nathaniel: I have no patience for Bray anymore. He has become nothing more than a rambling swamp wizard. I actually think there may be plans for Finn down the road. Finn wins.
Paul: Bray Wyatt is the most useless character in WWE right now, and there’s no chance that I could ever predict him to win a big PPV match. Definitely Finn Balor in this one.
Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose (c) vs. Cesaro and Sheamus for the Raw Tag Team Championships
The tag team division on Monday Night Raw has been in complete disarray since two thirds of The Shield captured the championships from The Bar. Cesaro and Sheamus did not take kindly to that transgression — nor did Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson, who have stuck their noses in both teams’ business in recent weeks. Will they be a factor in this championship bout?
Patrick: Anderson and Gallows will probably get involved in some fashion. To what extent, and how it affects the outcome, remains to be seen. There is probably more story to be told for Ambrose and Rollins as tag partners, though, so I think they walk away with the belts tonight.
Nathaniel: At first, fans were excited for the partial Shield reunion. WWE made sure to fix that. Now it’s time to drag out the Ambrose heel turn we all want. Shield retains.
Paul: This is one of those matches that feels like it should be huge, but yet I just don’t care about it. It’s probably because we’ve seen this combination of wrestlers fight each other so many different times that it doesn’t seem exciting anymore. After making such a big deal about this partial Shield reunion, I highly doubt that they would lose the belts already, so I don’t see the titles changing hands here.
Alexa Bliss (c) vs. Bayley vs. Emma vs. Nia Jax vs. Sasha Banks for the Raw Women’s Championship
Much like the tag division, the Raw women’s division has had its fair share of turmoil. Champion Alexa Bliss was betrayed by who she thought was her best friend, Nia Jax, who sees nothing but the gold around Bliss’s waist. Sasha Banks was able to wrest control of the title briefly before Alexa won it back the following week. Bayley made her triumphant return to WWE in her hometown of San Jose last week, and Emma…has won a couple matches and is trying to get some hashtags trending, I guess?
Patrick: The main story here is obviously Alexa vs. Nia. WWE for some reason is nearly incapable of presenting a women’s feud that doesn’t involve the entire roster, though, so everyone else is here for background noise. Hopefully from here we split into some interesting feuds that don’t need the title — let Alexa and Nia feud over the belt while Sasha turns on Bayley, giving us — gasp! — two women’s feuds on the same show! Anyway, WWE seems to think Alexa vs. Nia is a big money match, so I don’t see Nia winning her first championship in a multi-woman schmozz. Alexa comes out of this one by hook or by crook.
Nathaniel: The booking for the women’s division has been horrid. Alexa vs Asuka seems like the way to go. Alexa retains.
Paul: I would love to see Alexa Bliss get a lengthy title run, but WWE seems to love bouncing the Raw Women’s Championship back and forth for some reason. They need to have at least a couple title changes at this PPV, so I think that it’s finally time for Nia Jax.
John Cena vs. Roman Reigns
It may not be for the Universal Championship, but this feud has definitely been the one everyone is talking about. Cena has brought his signature biting wit out in full force, tearing down both Roman Reigns the character and Roman Reigns the man in exciting, fourth wall-breaking fashion. Reigns, for his part, has made some good points of his own, namely around John Cena and his new part time schedule’s hypocrisy. It’s WWE’s two meal tickets in a Mega Powers-like clash for the ages.
Patrick: This is an immensely difficult match to call. I have two rules when prediction WWE matches: Never bet against John Cena, and never bet against Roman Reigns. Barring some tear in the spacetime continuum as a result of the two golden boys going at it, though, we should have a definitive winner. I’ll say Cena wins (lol) to fuel Roman’s fire where he wins a rematch at either Survivor Series or Royal Rumble, setting up a rubber match at WrestleMania.
Nathaniel: First of all, I hate “shoot” promos. I don’t care about merch sales, or Raw ratings, or house show tickets. And no one can convince me that Roman has held his own against Cena. That being said, this is probably the hardest march to call. I also think we are getting a three match series with Cena winning here and Roman taking the next two.
Paul: I could really see this one going either way, but I think that Roman’s first big win over Cena will come at WrestleMania. This will be one of those matches where Roman holds his own, and surprises Cena with how skilled he actually is. He won’t be able to quite get the job done, but Cena will gain respect for him. Also, does anyone want to do an over/under on how many finisher kickouts we get in this match? I say seven total.
Brock Lesnar (c) vs. Braun Strowman for the WWE Universal Championship
The Beast, Brock Lesnar, has almost no physical equal in the squared circle. Almost. Enter Braun Strowman, a man whose path of destruction has been one of the most exciting parts of Raw since WrestleMania. He has absolutely dismantled heavy hitters like Roman Reigns on his way to becoming one of the most beloved Superstars on the roster himself. Will all the momentum he’s built be enough to overcome the reigning, defending, undisputed WWE Universal Champion, Brock Lesnar?
Patrick: The real winners of this match are the fans. This one should be one for the record books. I never in a million years thought I’d say this, but…I think Braun is ready for the world title? Against Brock Lesnar no less? Give Braun the belt after an appropriately brutal match that causes Brock Lesnar to rethink his place in the pecking order.
Nathaniel: When Braun debuted I told a friend that we were looking at a future World Champion and how much that sucked. Now Braun’s time has come and I’m actually looking forward to it. Unfortunately, it’s not happening Sunday. It will be fun and Braun is going to come out looking stronger than ever but we are getting a double DQ to set up a Survivor Series rematch that Brock wins. I’m sticking with Roman beating Brock at Mania.
Paul: Ever since Brock won the title, I’ve thought that he would only lose it at one of the big ppv events. Even though this isn’t typically considered a “big” PPV, they’re building it up so much that I see Strowman taking it here. He’s been so dominant, and he’s so hot right now that it would be the perfect time to give it to him. This is Braun Strowman’s time!