May God have mercy on the souls who will step between the ropes at the latest Smackdown exclusive pay-per-view, because per the shows namesake, no one else is going to. The Smackdown brand has once again resurrected an event from days gone by, bringing back No Mercy for a new generation. Ironically, No Mercy was originally also a Smackdown-branded show during the original brand split, so unlike the Cruierweights, this is one old property the blue brand gets to retain custody to. I never thought I’d ever be able to discuss this event again, but after an eight year absence, it has return as Smackdown looks to go 2 for 2 in decent single-branded PPVs. Let’s predict whether or not that will happen.
Jack Swagger vs. Baron Corbin
If you’re actually invested in this feud, I salute you. You have more patience for Baron Corbin feuds than I do. What is it about the Lone Wolf that I can’t get invested in? You know, aside from his bland promo work? Because it’s not like his ring work is terrible; on the contrary, I actually like his signature moves. But to date, I just haven’t really found him that interesting. He’s Apollo Crews if he had his frown turned upside down, started listening to Five-Finger Death Punch, and forgot how to flip. And now he’s going up against everyone’s favorite Miley-haired Kurt Angle carbon-copy, Jack Swagger. I’m also not that interested in Swagger outside of his still-epic entrance music, but he’s not a terrible wrestler. In fact, he’s great at it. He can probably wrestle a good match out of Corbin.
Who I Want to Win: I really couldn’t care less who wins, honestly. I’m probably gonna tune out of this one after they turn off Jack Swagger’s music.
Who Will Win: Baron Corbin probably since he’s so fresh and on the rise.
Curt Hawkins Returns
Curt Hawkins, in case you don’t remember, is a former WWE star who was mainly relegated to the tag team scene. He won the tag team titles once before back when he and Zack Ryder were playing what Miz & Morrison referred to as “Edge‘s groupies”. After that, he formed a team with Tyler Rex that didn’t really go anywhere. Then he got released and went to the Indys, including taking part in that awful TNA/GFW angle. At least he got another Tag Team Title out of that one though. But now he’s back in WWE as a solo performer, doing Tyson Kidd‘s “Fact” gimmick, and facing off against a TBD opponent on Sunday.
Who I Want to Win: Curt Hawkins; I actually want to see what he’s gonna do with his second chance. (That may or may not have been a Nobody’s Angel reference. Unless you remember them, in which case it totally is.)
Who Will Win: Curt Hawkins; he’s the one getting a promoted return here.
Nikki Bella vs. Carmella
Carmella isn’t really my cup of tea. She calls herself the Hottest Chick in The Ring; a bold claim given the many other stunning ladies in and out of WWE right now, but it is a title she does contend for since she is quite beautiful. But in every other category, she just doesn’t do it for me. Maybe it’s the fact that along with only being average at wrestling thus far, her entire schtick is basically a female Enzo Amore with way less charisma and charm outside of a moonwalk. The Iggy Azalea-ripoff theme song doesn’t help, and that’s coming from some one who actually liked “Fancy”. But she has taken steps to making a name for herself in WWE, namely by trying to take the old guard out back and put her down. When Nikki Bella came back, Carmella rained down upon her with rage and hasn’t let up on the longest-reigning Divas Champion since. “Bootleg Nikki Bella” is the name that has been placed upon young Carmella by the original recipe Total Bellas star, so this Sunday is her chance to prove she’s not just a clone and can get the job done without a sneak attack.
Who I Want to Win: Nikki Bella; she’s not gonna let Carmella put her out so easily.
Who Will Win: Either one or two things will happen: Carmella will cheat her way to victory or she’ll let her emotions get the best of her and get herself disqualified, handing Nikki the win.
WWE Smackdown Tag Team Championship
Heath Slater & Rhyno (C) vs. The Usos
Jimmy and Jey Uso finally found a way to win over wrestling fans the world over, including the Internet crowd. All they had do do was – SURPRISE, SURPRISE – turn heel and get angry. Yes, the team of twins containing a member who was starving like Hailee Steinfeld for the “cookie” on Total Divas a number of seasons ago have reinvented themselves successfully in frustrated form, and the Smackdown tag team division has been put on notice because of it. A year ago, this was a team that probably never would have even considered making anyone’s knee crumble as a result of sore losing, but they did just that to Chad Gable recently. Now for the second PPV in a row, they find themselves standing across the ring from the surprisingly entertaining makeshift duo of Heath Slater and Rhyno with the tag team nickels at stake.
Who I Want to Win: Heath Slater and Rhyno; not to cut off The Usos’ momentum or anything, but let’s keep Slater’s Cinderella story going.
Who Will Win: Heath Slater and Rhyno; I’m positive this will be one of those “They’ll lose this time, but win next time” kind of deals.
WWE Smackdown Women’s Championship
Becky Lynch (C) vs. Alexa Bliss
Alexa Bliss vs. Becky Lynch has the perfect blueprints for a perfect feud if you just look at their character backgrounds. After ditching the glitter and Disney Fairies tu-tu, Alexa Bliss really broke out as one of the meanest women on the locker room. She became a savage bully who, despite being microscopic-sized compared to her peers and co-workers, enjoy slapping around and putting down anyone she saw fit to. And to jack from Bobby Roode here, it was glorious. She became the snobby blonde heel we didn’t know she was capable of being, complete with the best facial expressions in the game. This made her the perfect villainous foil for underdog Becky Lynch, who was easily the most bullied and taken-advantage-of woman in wrestling prior to winning the SD Women’s Title last month. (For the record, that “Most Bullied and Taken-Advantage-Of” crown now belongs to TNA’s Allie.) Turned on by practically everyone she trusted, she could only learn from her mistakes and grow as a character, and that she did. She stands up for herself now more than ever before. But that hasn’t stopped Bliss from trying to make her feel worthless at every turn, verbally or physically. For any storyline currently on WWE, this one perhaps makes the most sense and gives this match an interesting story to expand upon.
Who I Want to Win: Becky Lynch; no offense to Five Feet of Fury, but Becky’s title reign just started and I’m not ready for it to end.
Who Will Win: Becky Lynch, but I am hoping this doesn’t end the feud though because again, I feel like they can really go places with this thing.
Randy Orton vs. Bray Wyatt
Bray Wyatt hasn’t been legitimately scary in a long time. In fact, after his admittedly entertaining segment with The Rock and John Cena at WrestleMania this year, you could say WWE scrubbed away all of his monster aura with a bleached sponge as hard as they could. But this is 2016 Post-Brand Split Smackdown, and The Eater of Worlds has been given a chance to start anew and rebuild his reputation…..with less family members, but that’s just more of a creative opportunity. In the wake of Randy Orton‘s return, Wyatt decided to target the Viper and suck out all the venom, leaving an empty flesh cell of tattoos and over-tan. But lately, Randy Orton has been more than willing to challenge Wyatt at his own game, like a victim from Saw suddenly deciding they won’t put up with Jigsaw‘s crap anymore. I wouldn’t call their feud one of the top reasons to watch Smackdown, and as far as fantasy-based angles in 2016 go, this isn’t Lucha Underground or the Broken Universe of Deletion and Obsoletion, but at least it’s a feud that both men can work with, and after being postponed at Backlash, this anticipation for this match is still there.
Who I Want to Win: This is gonna be a shock since I’ve lost all interest in Bray Wyatt, but let’s give Wyatt the win here.
Who Will Win: Randy Orton, because at this point, I prefer to play it safe and assume Wyatt will lose on a PPV cause he does it so much.
WWE Intercontinental Championship
The Miz vs. Dolph Ziggler
The Miz and Dolph Ziggler are two former World Champions who don’t even seem like former World Champions. During The Miz’s World Title reign, he feuded with a commentator and played the third wheel of his own WrestleMania main event feud. And neither of Ziggler’s reigns lasted long enough to be even THAT level of noteworthy. And while The Miz has risen to the occasion and proven himself to secretly be one of WWE’s best villains many times over, Ziggler’s career reeks of mediocrity, so much so that they were able to put together an entire smear campaign video about it to mock him with on Miz TV recently. Because of this, Ziggler is willing to toss his career in the grinder if it means one more shot at a mid-card belt he’s already held four freaking times. Because hey, if you can’t get it done on the main event, why not settle for the bronze medal over and over again? After numerous losses to the former Chick Magnet, The Show-Off and former cheerleader actually expects things to be different this time, and there’s a chance that it could be. If not, he might as well mail ROH his resume now.
Who I Want to Win: The Miz; let the guy continue to make history will Ziggler curl up in the corner listening to Five For Fighting and Mary J. Blige songs while figuring out his next move.
Who Will Win: Dolph Ziggler; I know it’s been reported his contract is running out, but he signed a new one at the last minute before and he could again to give this feud it’s happy ending.
Triple Threat • WWE World Championship
AJ Styles (C) vs. Dean Ambrose vs. John Cena
Anyone else still really giddy to say out loud that AJ Styles, former posterboy for the TNA Originals, is actually the WWE World Champion? That seemed like an impossibility a decade ago, but it’s become a very welcome reality as it brings Styles’ trophy case full circle: WWE, TNA, NWA, New Japan. He’s easily one of the most dominant wrestlers of his generation. But that doesn’t mean he’s on the good side of the most dominant sports entertainer of his generation, John Cena. In fact, the two have been at odds since late-spring. This rivalry has become so big that Big Match John can apparently receive a title shot without even fighting for it, his only point of contention being “I’m one reign away from tying Ric Flair“. Then there’s the man who Styles beat for the title, Dean Ambrose, who also has his issues with Cena; namely that he’s relegated himself to being a part-timer recently due to his ever-increasing schedule of acting, award show hosting, morning show hosting, reality show hosting, reality show promoting, commercials, and other outside projects that make you wonder if he ever sleeps. Cena feels he’s earned those rights (and he honestly has) and that Ambrose is still figuring things out. This program has given us some of the best promos of the year in wrestling from Styles, Cena, and Ambrose on Talking Smack and in the ring, but can it translate to one of the best matches too?
Who I Want to Win: Definitely AJ Styles; he’s been on a roll lately and it should stay that way at least until the end of the year. Or better: until WrestleMania.
Who Will Win: AJ Styles; Cena’s set to resume his outside projects soon and I don’t see Ambrose winning it back at this stage yet, so this is Styles’ to win.