WWE PPV Flashbacks: No Mercy (10/20/02) - "Remember the name Katie Vick?"

No Mercy
October 20, 2002
Alltel Arena, Little Rock, AR

In October of 2002, the craziness of the year so far had settled down and each of the brands were now focusing on establishing their own identity. Smackdown became the show more focused on quality in ring action, whilst Raw would be known more for its dramatic and over the top storylines. With their own identities, the brands had established their own championships last month, however the blue brand would once again headline this PPV. Following the controversial outcome of their WWE title match the previous month, Brock Lesnar and the Undertaker would do battle for the gold once more, this time inside Hell in a Cell. On the Raw brand however we were witnessing one of the more infamous storylines in company history, as World Heavyweight Champion Triple H had begun tormenting Kane about his past and a woman named Katie Vick. Lets dive in. Don’t forget to follow me at @Mpmcc91 and send your thoughts while spreading the word about these reviews.

We kick the show off backstage where the Undertaker and Kane are sitting down reflecting on what they had been put through by Lesnar and Triple H respectively. Kane asks Taker how his week was in a funny spot. Cool moment between two men with history now being on separate brands. We then go to the usual video package to open the show, focusing on those two feuds. In the arena, the pyro goes off and our usual broadcast teams consist of Jim Ross & Jerry Lawler from Raw, and Michael Cole & Tazz from Smackdown.

World Tag Team Championship:
Chris Jericho & Christian (c) vs Booker T & Goldust

Alright, we have a few things to talk about before our first match of the night. First of all, the World Tag Team titles are the same tag titles that we have become familiar with over the years as the WWF/WWE tag titles. A new championship that we will see later in the show prompted the name change of the Raw belts. Now at our last show, these titles were held by Lance Storm & Christian of the Un-Americans. Christian is a champion here, but he has a new partner and is no longer a part of that faction. The night after Unforgiven, Christian & Storm actually lost the titles to the surprise team of Kane & the Hurricane (the latter having jumped to Monday nights). Their reign would be brief but included a very good TLC match the following week on Raw in which Kane retained the titles on his own against three teams after the Hurricane was taken out backstage. Despite that defence, the new champions would lose the titles to the new combination of Christian & Chris Jericho the following week. Meanwhile, Booker T & Goldust continued to build momentum with the fans as they chased the tag straps, so they get another championship opportunity here. Now, this was a fine match to open the show as we get a decent tag team opener between four solid workers. The crowd are really behind Booker & Goldust at this point as their act had really caught on, but it wouldn't have made much sense to do another title swap here after the past few weeks. It is a bit weird that they suddenly broke up the Un-Americans to mix up the heel team holding the titles in their chase for the gold though. By the way, Jericho is no longer Intercontinental Champion here, but I'll get to that later on. The match here followed the standard tag formula, with the heels working over Goldust after taking the advantage. Booker eventually gets the hot tag to clean house but he misses the Scissor Kick so the action continues. From there, all four men get their usual spots in as they go back and forth. As the challengers build momentum once more, Christian attempts to use the tag title belt to the champions' advantage, but Booker catches him and fights him off. This leads to Jericho running the ropes on a Lionsault attempt, but the middle rope breaks in what could have been a dangerous spot. Looking to improvise, Y2J recovers and hits a moonsault on Goldust for the champions to retain their titles at 8:46. A fine match to start the show. The accident at the end took away from the finish slightly, but it was out of their control so you can't fault them for it. Booker & Goldust will continue their chase of the titles as the year continues.
Grade: **1/2

In the back, Smackdown's proclaimed "Number One" announcer, Funaki, is standing by with Al Wilson, the recently introduced father of Torrie. Funaki asks why Al was wearing clothes when he was caught in the shower with Dawn Marie. Some basic hype for the upcoming match.

Torrie Wilson vs Dawn Marie
Our first match from the blue brand is the start of a feud we will be seeing a fair bit of over the next couple of months. We're familiar with Torrie by this point, but this is the first major PPV appearance of Dawn, formerly of ECW fame. After initially being introduced as Stephanie McMahon's assistant, Dawn would settle into a role on her own. Meanwhile, Torrie Wilson had brought her father Al to a recent episode of Smackdown and introduced him the superstars backstage. Dawn had started up a rivalry with Torrie in a series of lingerie and bikini contests, but also began flirting with Al. This would culminate on the Smackdown before the PPV where Torrie would find her father showering with Dawn. There's a lot more to come down the line as I said. Now, neither of these girls are anything special in the ring, but they are both gorgeous, especially Torrie. That was essentially their role as the real divas division was on Raw. Despite their lack of wrestling ability, these two show some fire as they go at it, and the match isn't awful by any stretch. It was essentially a catfight, and they busted out the usual spot of the ref trying to break it up only to get caught in it. As Dawn gets frustrated with the ref, Torrie uses the opportunity to hit her with a swinging neckbreaker to get the win at 4:40. Fine for what it was meant to be.
Grade: 1/2*

Up next, we go to Jonathan Coachman in the back, standing by with Rob Van Dam prior to his upcoming match. Van Dam mocks Flair's catchphrases and strut. As RVD goes off for his match, Coach notices Brock Lesnar and Paul Heyman arriving with Tracy, a woman who had claimed to have had an affair with the Undertaker. Tracy wants to see Taker destroyed by Lesnar in the cell.

Rob Van Dam vs Ric Flair
The explanation for this match taking place is fairly straightforward, with Flair having cost RVD his world title shot against Triple H last month at Unforgiven. After being on opposing sides in a later tag match on Raw, Eric Bischoff would announce that RVD would get his chance at revenge on Flair at this PPV. The same night that the announcement was made however, Flair would once again interfere in Van Dam's affairs, costing him a lumberjack strap match against Triple H on Raw heading into this show. Now this match is something of a disappointment - RVD has had a number of solid performances over the past year since coming to the WWE, whilst Flair has been rebuilding his confidence since returning to the ring as well, but something just seems off here. Its not a bad match, but it just doesn't live up to what you might expect. Nonetheless, the always popular Van Dam had the crowd behind him as he takes the fight to Flair in the early going, only for the dirtiest player in the game to turn the tide with some low shots and eye gouges. Flair ends up going for the Figure Four, only for RVD to get out of it and the match continues on. Flair eventually decides to go up top but that proves to be his downfall, with RVD stopping him in his tracks and following with the Rolling Thunder. Moments later, Van Dam connects with the Five Star Frog Splash to get the clean win at 7:59. Again, fine for what it was, but I was expecting a bit more here. Van Dam gets his revenge and hopes to get another opportunity to get back into the world title picture.
Grade: *3/4

Backstage, we see Big Show talking to Stephanie McMahon. She leaves as Eric Bischoff shows up and reprimands Show for talking to her. Show complains that he hasn't been on a PPV since July and blames Bischoff for underutilising him. This was setting up a change in surroundings for Show. From here, we go to a video package looking at the prestigious history of the WWE Intercontinental Championship, currently held by Kane, which will be unified with the World title later tonight. Stupid move, but a great package.

WWE Cruiserweight Championship:
Jamie Noble (c) w/Nidia vs Tajiri

After being off the PPV radar for the past few shows, Jamie Noble continues his Cruiserweight title reign here with a title defence against a new contender and former champion in his own right. This essentially started when Noble and Nidia began to have issues stemming from Noble not being around when she needed help. These issues led to a match between Noble and Nidia on an episode of Smackdown, with Tajiri being named as the guest referee. Tajiri was actually supposed to team with Noble in the tournament for the newly created Smackdown tag titles, but Noble had gotten removed from the arena due to his issues with Nidia when it came time for their tournament match. Anyway, with Tajiri as guest referee, Noble would quickly pin Nidia. It would prove to be a set up however, as Tajiri would go to help Nidia after the match, only for her to slap him. This led to Noble blindsiding the Japanese Buzzsaw. As a result, Tajiri turned face by default, and this match was set for the PPV. Noble's had a decent reign thus far as the steadying force in the Cruiserweight division, and what we get here is another entertaining match between two solid performers. Tajiri gets the early momentum with the crowd on his side, but Noble cuts off his offence, which becomes a recurring trend throughout the match as the Japanese Buzzsaw looks to close in on the title. Noble is great in his current act, taunting at Tajiri in trailer trash fashion, while Nidia is a valuable part of the package by proving her worth on the outside, distracting the ref by shoving her tongue down his throat to the advantage of her man. Towards the end of the match, Tajiri looks to surprise Noble with a roll up, but Nidia intervenes once again, holding Noble's ankle to maintain his balance. This allows Noble to get the leverage to pin Tajiri to retain his title in cheap fashion at 8:15. A fun match to showcase the cruiserweights of Thursday nights. Tajiri is upset with the result afterwards and lays Noble out with a Buzzsaw Kick, sending him into Nida in the process.
Grade: **1/2

Backstage, Eddie Guerrero comes across Chris Benoit who warns him that his nephew Chavo is being beat up in a locker room by Kurt Angle. Eddie doesn't believe Benoit, who had formed an unlikely tag team with Angle in recent weeks, claiming Benoit just wants to set him up for an ambush. Eddie mocks the plan before Chavo is sent bursting out of the room with Angle walking out after him, proving Benoit was telling the truth after all. Eddie goes after Angle but is held back by officials (hey, its a Finlay sighting!). From there we got a recap package of Triple H vs Kane and all things Katie Vick.

World Heavyweight Championship vs WWE Intercontinental Championship Unification Match:
Triple H (c) vs Kane

Ah, where to begin. For the second month in a row, Raw's world title finds itself midway through the match line up, which was fine, with the title still being relatively new and all. After defeating Rob Van Dam with Ric Flair's assistance last month at Unforgiven, Triple H has since started up a new rivalry. That rivalry was with a man who had quickly built momentum since returning to action the previous month, the Big Red Machine, Kane. Kane was on a roll coming off our last show, as he would win the World Tag Team Championship with Hurricane one week, and the next defeated Chris Jericho to become the new Intercontinental Champion as well. It was that victory that earned Kane this shot at the World Championship, as Eric Bischoff announced that he would be unifying the I.C title with the World title to create one singles championship for Monday nights. This drew Triple H's attention to Kane, and the following week he and Flair took out Hurricane backstage, forcing Kane to defend the tag titles alone in the aforementioned TLC match on Raw. Kane was successful in the match, but his celebration was cut short by the Game who declared Kane was a murderer. Triple H explained that Kane was responsible for the death of a woman he had been involved with by the name of Katie Vick. Kane accepted that the story was true the following week after losing the tag titles to Jericho & Christian, but explained Vick's death came about in a car accident in which Kane had been driving. Things then got a little disturbing as Triple H alleged that Kane engaged in sexual acts with Vick's corpse. This led to Triple H dressing up as Kane and parodied his story in a skit that was so bad it was both funny and offensive at the same time. Anyway, Kane is out for revenge on the Game and that brings us to this match. Now, despite the over the top build, this match isn't too bad. Its nowhere near as good as the last time these two crossed paths at Judgment Day 2001, but Triple H isn't in as good ring shape here, and his conditioning would deteriorate over the next year before picking back up again. We're in for some interesting Raw main events to come, but there's some highlights nonetheless. Meanwhile, Kane is probably the most over as a face that he has been in his entire career here, but just like last month, it wouldn't have made sense for Triple H to lose his newly created title so soon. The action starts out fairly slow with both men trading blows with the Game ultimately taking control with a neckbreaker. He works Kane over and busts out the sleeper like last month, but as Kane fights his way back into it, Ric Flair runs out. The ref gets distracted dealing with him, so Triple H grabs the title belt and nails Kane for a near fall. Hurricane attempts to run down and make the save for his partner to even things up, but he gets a Pedigree for his efforts. From here, the action goes to the outside, with Kane chokeslamming the champ through the announce table. He then gets the sledgehammer and attempts to use it on Trips back in the ring. Flair prevents this however, and ultimately the Game nails Kane with the hammer and follows up with a Pedigree for another successful title defence at 16:13. As I said, the match isn't as bad as its reputation due to the build, but it was nothing special. The worst part was that it eliminated the I.C title which meant if you weren't a main eventer or in a team, there was no championship for you to go after. Sure, it was the same situation as Smackdown, but they needed to fix that rather than make Raw suffer the same problem. They'd eventually do just that down the line, but a stupid stipulation for now.
Grade: **3/4

We now go back to Stephanie McMahon's office and she persuades Tracy to admit that the allegations made against the Undertaker were false and simply Paul Heyman's idea. Undertaker comes in, having set up the confession with Stephanie and calls Tracy a lying bitch. That would pretty much be the end of that part of the story. We then go to a video package covering the tournament to crown the first Smackdown exclusive tag team champions.

WWE Tag Team Championship:
Edge & Rey Mysterio vs Kurt Angle & Chris Benoit

With the existing tag titles becoming exclusive to Raw, Stephanie McMahon created a tournament to crown a set of champions that would be exclusive to the Smackdown brand. The tournament would take place over the weeks heading into this show and would feature eight teams going at it. One of these teams was the unlikely duo of Chris Benoit and Kurt Angle, who as you will recall faced off last month at Unforgiven. Determined to make her tag division the most competitive in the WWE, Stephanie forced the bitter rivals to enter the tournament together, and forbade them from fighting amongst themselves or otherwise face a six month suspension. As a result, Angle & Benoit actually worked together and formed a dominant team, defeating the duos of Billy Kidman & John Cena and Los Guerreros (Eddie & Chavo) to advance to the finals at this show. Their opponents were a tandem of popular stars on the roster that had been thrown together in Edge & Rey Mysterio, who had defeated the teams of Brock Lesnar & Tajiri and Reverend D-Von & Ron Simmons (formerly known as Faarooq) to get here. These four would be known for having excellent matches with each other on Thursday nights at this point in time, and along with Los Guerreros would affectionately be referred to by fans as the Smackdown Six. They were responsible for making the blue brand must see TV each week as a result of their contests, and this match is no exception. With the talent involved you'd expect a good match anyway, but they got the time and everything fell into place to make this one excellent. The action is hot from the get go, with the fans behind Edge & Mysterio, whilst Benoit & Angle had a fun dynamic as partners that are only getting along because they have to. After some back and forth, Edge gets worked over by the submission specialists, but Rey gets the hot tag after his partner takes some punishment. The action breaks down a bit from there and Rey dishes out some awesome moves, but Benoit & Angle take control once more, this time working over the master of the 619. Its great to see Rey back on PPV after surprisingly sitting out Unforgiven after his memorable debut at SummerSlam. As the match continues with some excellent and exciting action we get an amazing spot where Benoit locks the crossface on Edge, only for Rey to save and break it up with a 619! Angle comes in from there and attempts an Anklelock on Edge, only for his old rival to roll him up for a nearfall that the crowd thought was it. From there, Edge applies an Anklelock of his own on Kurt, but Angle counters into one of his own. Edge taps and we have new WWE Tag Team Champions at 22:03 in Kurt Angle & Chris Benoit. An excellent match that I cannot do justice. Fire up the Network and watch it now - its a match of the year candidate. Angle & Benoit were a good choice to hold the titles first as they were both legit in the eyes of fans and had a fun chemistry going due to their history as opponents. Great stuff all round.
Grade: *****

We now go backstage to the trainer room, where Undertaker is having his broken arm checked. The doctor doesn't want to give him a shot for it, but Taker intimidates him into doing it so that he can go in the cell.

WWE Women's Championship:
Trish Stratus (c) vs Victoria

Just like last month, the final Raw match of the night features the Women's Championship, as the new champion is set to defend against a newcomer to the roster. Victoria was actually introduced a couple of months back on Sunday Night Heat, when she showed up as a deranged individual and attacked Trish. Victoria claimed to have a history with Stratus going back to her days as a fitness model, and alleged that Trish had slept her way to the top. When Trish won the Women's title at Unforgiven, Victoria set her sights on that title and attacked Trish at any possible opportunity. The two would face off in a title match on Raw, but Victoria would get herself disqualified by attacking Trish with a chair. That essentially brings us to the rematch here, with Trish out for revenge on the psychotic contender. Speaking of Trish, she's pretty much grown into a solid performer by this point after really growing from someone that didn't have much ring experience a year ago. The fact that she's in there with a talented woman like Victoria only adds to this match, which is an example of the growing division on Monday nights. Despite this being Victoria's first PPV appearance, in the short time these two go at it, you can tell there's a chemistry there that will be built on down the line. The announcers really put Victoria over as well, as a woman that posed a threat to Trish's title reign like nobody else on the roster. The women's division was one area that Raw was ahead of Smackdown at this point, and while its not the greatest match in the world, this was a solid showing for two of the key players. Victoria dishes out her offence for much of the match, but Trish hangs in there and in the end catches the challenger in a roll up to retain her title at 5:31. The match was there to cool the crowd down before the main event, but it was decent enough. This feud will continue as Victoria nails Trish with a kick to the head, cutting her celebration short.
Grade: **

With the main event coming up, we cross to the World restaurant in New York, where Rikishi is standing by. He talks about his experience in Hell in a Cell when Taker threw him off it at Armageddon 2000 to put over the danger of the match type. He says he hopes Lesnar knows what he's in for and picks the Undertaker to win. We then go to a video package for the match.

WWE Championship - Hell in a Cell Match:
Brock Lesnar (c) w/Paul Heyman vs Undertaker

Now we come to the match that made the mess of a main event last month worth it. Of course, at Unforgiven, the match got out of hand as these two fought to a double DQ. It was clear that the Undertaker's issues with Brock Lesnar were far from over at that point, and Lesnar would interfere in Taker's match with Matt Hardy later that week on Smackdown, putting a beating on Big Evil. Lesnar would attack Taker again the following week, which led to Stephanie McMahon giving him a rematch for the title at this show inside Hell in a Cell. Lesnar would break Taker's arm and Heyman gloated about this. The following week, Lesnar and Heyman decided to play mind games with Taker to make the rivalry even more personal, bringing out Tracy who we saw earlier in the show. Taker confronted her, but Tracy claimed that he had been sleeping with her despite Sara being pregnant before slapping him. Taker said the allegations made against him were false and had no idea who Tracy was. Sara did not believe him however, so Taker admitted the following week that he did know Tracy, but had not seen her since before he and Sara met, at which time they had a relationship. Later that same night Taker looked for some retribution and assaulted Lesnar, and busted him open with the cast on his broken arm. This led to Stephanie McMahon announcing that the Undertaker would be allowed to compete in Hell in a Cell while wearing his cast, and the two competitors got into a final brawl on the Smackdown before the PPV. The whole Tracy part of the storyline was a bit convoluted and not really necessary in my eyes since the feud was already personal going back to the advances on Sara the previous month. The build here could have been all about the broken arm and it would have been fine. Nonetheless, it was worth it in the end, as what we get here is a very memorable main event. Back at Unforgiven, people complained about Taker seemingly not wanting to job to Brock, but as I alluded to in that review, that was all bullshit as Taker puts the next big thing over huge in the blow off match here. This is a very bloody war and is right up there with SummerSlam as Brock's best performance yet. Taker's injured hand was a big part of the match and Brock targets it right away from the outset of this one. Nonetheless, the cast proves to be an advantage to Big Evil as he uses it against Brock as a weapon. There's lots of blood as I mentioned, with Taker busting Brock first before grabbing Heyman through the cell mesh and busting him open as well, getting some revenge on the champion's agent. From there Brock went back on offence and continued to relentlessly hone in on the injured hand of his opponent. The cell itself and the ring steps are brought into play, and Taker does a massive blade job as Lesnar nails him with the steps. From there the action picks up into high gear as Taker launches his comeback and both men go for their big spots. Taker hits a chokeslam and Last Ride, but neither is enough to keep Brock down. Digging deep, Taker goes for the Tombstone, but Lesnar counters and nails his opponent with an F-5 to pick up a clean victory over the American Bad Ass at 27:18. A great effort from both men, and if Brock wasn't legitimised by beating the Rock in August, this match definitely did just that. An intense brawl that ends this rivalry with Taker due to take some time off, whilst Lesnar had an interesting change ahead. Brock remains undefeated and a dominant force on Thursday nights as the top guy in the company. Not bad for a rookie. He climbs the cell to celebrate on top as we end the show.
Grade: ****

This was a show that emphasised the fact that at the time Smackdown was the better brand in the WWE. There was nothing terrible on the Raw side of the fence, but the two matches that this show should be remembered for both came from Thursday nights, with a bloody encounter in the cell that put over the dominant monster, and a classic tag team match between four of the best performers on the roster. The World title match was decent enough, but like last month it would have had no business closing this show (especially with the awesome WWE title match we got this time around). That would change in time for next month's show thanks to the debut of a new concept, but for now the blue brand is rolling ahead on all counts. This was, for all intents and purposes, a two match show, but those two matches took up a sizeable portion of the PPV, so thats not necessarily a bad thing. The undercard was fine, but there was nothing that you have to go out of your way to see there, unlike the two matches I've just raved about. Overall, an above average show thanks to Smackdown.

Three Stars of the Night:
1. Kurt Angle & Chris Benoit - had a fun dynamic going and picked up the win in an excellent tournament final.
2. Edge & Rey Mysterio - credit has to go to their opponents as well. Great match.
3. Brock Lesnar/Undertaker (tie) - a bloody war that once again established Brock as the guy on Thursday nights. Taker played his part in doing that.

Yep, thats six guys, but it would have been too hard to decide. Like last month, they all come from Smackdown.

FINAL GRADE: 7.5 out of 10

What I do here is add the three stars of the night with each review so as to keep track of who we can say overall is the greatest PPV performer to any given time. First place scores 3 points, second 2 and third 1.

Steve Austin = 111
Bret Hart = 83
Shawn Michaels = 70
The Rock = 67
Triple H = 62
Mick Foley = 38
Kurt Angle = 38
Undertaker = 31
Chris Jericho = 29
Randy Savage = 28
Hulk Hogan = 25
Chris Benoit = 22
Owen Hart = 21
X-Pac = 18
Edge = 18
Jeff Hardy = 16
Diesel = 15
Matt Hardy = 14
Ultimate Warrior = 13
Vader = 13
British Bulldog = 12
Christian = 12
Ted DiBiase = 10
Razor Ramon = 10
Vince McMahon = 10
Ric Flair = 8
Jim Neidhart = 7
Bubba Ray Dudley = 7
D-Von Dudley = 7
Rob Van Dam = 7
Jerry Lawler = 6
Dynamite Kid = 5
Arn Anderson = 5
Roddy Piper = 5
Mr Perfect = 5
Marty Jannetty = 5
Bob Backlund = 5
Shane McMahon = 5
Brock Lesnar = 5
Ricky Steamboat = 4
Ax = 4
Smash = 4
Bobby Heenan = 4
D’Lo Brown = 4
Rikishi = 4
Kane = 4
Greg Valentine = 3
Tully Blanchard = 3
Tanaka = 3
Bam Bam Bigelow = 3
Sato = 3
Jake Roberts = 3
Hakushi = 3
Yokozuna = 3
Savio Vega = 3
Ken Shamrock = 3
Chyna = 3
Eddie Guerrero = 3
Brutus Beefcake = 2
Paul Orndorff = 2
Andre the Giant = 2
Rick Rude = 2
Sgt Slaughter = 2
Jeff Jarrett = 2
Rey Mysterio = 2
Jesse Ventura = 1
Texas Tornado = 1
Tito Santana = 1
Virgil = 1
Scott Steiner = 1
Rick Steiner = 1
Lex Luger = 1
The Roadie = 1
Billy Gunn = 1
Bart Gunn = 1
Marc Mero = 1
Flash Funk = 1
Animal = 1
Hawk = 1
Taka Michinoku = 1
Test = 1
Big Show = 1
Dean Malenko = 1
Scotty 2 Hotty = 1
Rhyno = 1

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