When WWE started the roster split in 2002, obvious goal was to have RAW and Smackdown! be two completely separate but equal shows. It never really quite worked out that way. Smackdown alternated between being the red headed stepchild and the secret gem of WWE but no matter how high or low its quality was, it always seemed to be a second class citizen to Monday Night RAW. If somebody got hot on Smackdown, they were probably gonna get moved to RAW.
That seemed like it might have been on the verge of changing in the Summer of 2005 with the third WWE Draft. RAW and Smackdown swapped champs to put themselves on a level playing field. Smackdown picked up two of the top heels in WWE in Randy Orton & Christian plus picked up Former World Champion Chris Benoit. They seemed to be positioning themselves as the younger, more athletic brand but WWE, at the time, had a weird tendency to move things to a slow, deliberate pace (hmm… the same sort of pace used by a certain son-in-law) sometimes. Heck, Smackdown! was home of the Cruiserweight division, a division that in WCW was known for its spectacular aerial moves. However, in ’05 WWE, the cruiserweights were restricted from using too many aerial moves.
Smackdown! had also been moved to the Friday Night death slot by its TV network, UPN, cementing its status as the B show. Between all of that and just the general, post SummerSlam, pre Royal Rumble/Road to WrestleMania lull (that coincides with football season), this isn’t a pay per view I’m waiting with bated breath to rewatch.
Smackdown! Presents… WWE No Mercy
October 9th, 2005
Live from the Toyota Center in Houston, Texas
Announcers: Michael Cole & Tazz
We open with an ominous video package where Eddie Guerrero talks about his past addictions but explains that his new addiction is being a respectful, upstanding citizen. Batista isn’t buying this! If Eddie Guerrero stabs him in the back, he’s gonna hurt him! The 2 on 1 handicap match between The Ortons and The Undertaker is also hyped. Still seems weird that Cowboy Bob had a pay per view match in 2005.
Michael Cole welcomes us to No Mercy. Some of the greatest athletes of all time have had career highlights in Houston and now it’s the superstars of Smackdown’s turn. Great sports superstars of Houston…Hakeem Olajuwon, Nolan Ryan, Earl Campbell…KING BOOKER!
Intergender Six Man Tag: MNM Vs LOD 2005 & Christy Hemme
And what better way to honor Houston’s rich sports history than with an intergender tag team match. Road Warrior Animal’s mid ’00s WWE run still seems weird. Although I guess not so weird when you consider Sting main evented WWE’s pay per view last month.
Note to WWE: Don’t bring back Animal as the Dudley Boyz’s partner to even the odds against New Day!
Heidenreich has embraced the LOD gimmick, wearing face paint (Although it looks more like something The Misfits would wear than LOD) and spiked shoulder pads. This match happened because MNM injured Animal’s shoulder on Smackdown! Cole starts to talk about Houston’s wrestling history but it’s interrupted by Melina wrapping her legs around Animal’s neck to choke him and Tazz bellowing about how she can put that move on him anytime. Another great moment in Houston wrestling history.
Man. Christy Hemme was terrible. Glad she eventually her niche in the business and doubly glad it was outside of the ring. LOD 2005 wins with a terrible Doomsday Device with Hemme and Animal. Tazz yells that Hemme has to roll Melina over so Melina has her back on the mat to get the pin. Another great moment in Houston wrestling history. Don’t understand why they insisted on putting over a lame LOD retread over a promising young tag team like MNM. *
Eddie Guerrero & Batista angrily and insincerely wish each other good luck in Big Dave’s locker room. Cole & Tazz are flabbergasted.
Josh Matthews hosts LOD 2005 in a live chat on WWE.com. A ripoff of Laura Brannigan’s “Gloria” plays. That’s Simon Dean’s music!
Bobby Lashley Vs Simon Dean
This is Simon’s first pay per view appearance since Royal Rumble ’05 and probably his only singles pay per view match. Simon points out that Houston’s the fattest city in Texas. He has a tray of double cheeseburgers. He’s so confident that he can beat Bobby Lashley that he’ll eat the entire tray of cheeseburgers if he loses. Lashley is making his pay per view debut. Looking forward to seeing the evolution of the Lashley Point! *points* This is a squash with Lashley dominating Dean and even no selling a cheeseburger tray shot to the head. *points* Lashley wins with the Dominator. ** Lashley’s a guy I imagine WWE signed within 30 seconds of them first seeing.
Middle aged backstage interviewer that Smackdown! used that I still can’t remember or find the name of on Google interviews JBL and his new image consultant Jillian Hall. I wish I could forget Jillian Hall being introduced as JBL’s sidekick with the ugly facial growth. JBL says he’s gonna beat Rey Mysterio because underdogs don’t win. Rey Mysterio interrupts and cuts a promo en Espanol. JBL tells him to speak English dammit! Mysterio says he’s gonna make JBL wear a Mysterio mask after he wins then says Hall might need it to cover her growth.
Backstage, Lashley is on the live chat on WWE.com. Him and Josh Matthews chat it up. A friendship that would last to this day in TNA. Smackdown! GM Teddy Long comes in to congratulate Lashley.
Fatal Four Way Match for the WWE United States Championship: Chris Benoit (c) Vs Booker T (With Sharmell) Vs Christian Vs Orlando Jordan
Sharmell gets her own entrance to intro Booker T. Cole talks about how she’s a former Miss Black America and she’s helping Booker revive his career. Seeds are being planted for the King Booker/Queen Sharmell heel turn. Orlando Jordan has lost in embarrassing fashion to Chris Benoit several times since losing the U.S. Title at SummerSlam. He has beaten Benoit’s old rival Booker T a few times, which earns him a shot. Cole brings up the fact that Houston hosted Smackdown two days after 9/11/01, the first large event after the attacks. Ah. 9/11. A national tragedy as catastrophic as Vince McMahon’s steroids trial (according to Stephanie McMahon).
Three out of four of these guys are really good (other is Orlando Jordan) but fatal fourways can easily become clusters, especially if they’re not given a ton of time. This isn’t bad but like a lot of Booker PPV matches from this year, seems like it could’ve been on any random Smackdown! Chris Benoit retains the title after forcing Christian to submit to a Sharpshooter. **1/2 After the match, Sharmell berates Booker T for choking in the big match. More signs of a heel turn!
Backstage, Lashley bullies Simon Dean into eating all of the cheeseburgers. Simon Dean said Lashley’s already won the match! Is he really gonna make Simon eat all of these burgers that were picked off the floor!? Lashley’s gonna make sure Simon lives up to his promise. Maybe it’s just me but Lashley comes across as a dick in this segment. It’s amazing that it took nine years for someone in the wrestling biz to figure out that Lashley was born to play the role of dead-eyed, ruthless monster heel.
Teddy Long congratulates Chris Benoit on his victory. Cole & Tazz talk about how this show is coming from the Toyota Center in Houston. Houston was home to WrestleMania X-7, at the sold out AstroDome. Up next is the pay per view debut of a man who will be a staple of WrestleMania for years to come*, Mr. Kennedy!
*By years, I mean exactly two WrestleManias.
Mr. Kennedy Vs Hardcore Holly
Mr. Kennedy hypes himself up before the match. It’s hard to remember now but Mr. Kennedy was actually kind of a breath of fresh air in ’05. After years of new talent in WWE that spoke softly and mostly let their actions in the ring do the talking (Brock Lesnar, Randy Orton, Batista, and even Cena to some extent), it was refreshing to get a charismatic loudmouth.
He’s facing Hardcore Holly, who wants to shut up the cocky rookie. This was probably the 217th time WWE ran the storyline of “Hardcore Holly wants to shut up loudmouth rookie”. It’s funny. People had been making “This guy is still on the roster?” jokes about Hardcore Holly for ten years at this point! I guess having the “best dropkick in the business” takes you a long way. Just as I type that, Cole talks about said dropkick. This is pretty resthold heavy until it gets to the chop heavy portion of the match. Tazz says at one point that someone’s aereola might have just flown off because of how hard they’re throwing chops then breaks into hysterics. If Bob Holly had the best dropkick in the business then Nick Patrick might have been the loudest referee in the business. Kennedy wins with the Green Bay Plunge. Honestly, I always thought that was a pretty dope finisher. *1/2 I think the guy who sung Kennedy’s 1st theme was the same guy who sang Billy Gunn’s cheesetastic Attitude era themes.
Medical trainer and the refs check on Holly. HE DOESN’T NEED THEIR DAMN HELP! He screams at Jim Korderas. Sylvan Grenier, Smackdown’s Fashion Consultant (talk about a forgettable gimmick), comes down and beats down Holly. Talk about a forgettable feud. Cole says Sylvan should pose for a fashion magazine called IDIOTS INCORPORATED. Is Cole 8 years old?
Lashley continues forcing Simon Dean to eat double cheeseburgers. Simon finds a hair in one.
Sharmell yells at Booker for letting Chris Benoit steal a victory from him. Mr. Kennedy pops in to troll them. Booker wants to kick Kennedy’s ass but Sharmell says Booker needs to focus and stop sucking less. Tazz thinks she probably has a point.
Rey Mysterio Vs John Bradshaw Layfield (With Jillian Hall)
JBL comes out. He was originally from Texas but now resides in New York City. Tazz says the people of NYC love JBL. Tazz jokes about Jillian’s growth. Cole says it looks like the cookies Tazz was scarfing down in catering! Cole plugs WWE’s next pay per view, Taboo Tuesday, which comes from Rey Mysterio’s hometown San Diego! At Taboo Tuesday, the fans call the show. Tazz hopes the fans tell Cole to disappear. Me too, Tazz!
Tazz & Cole talk about Mil Mascaras and Tazz claims that Mysterio wrestled Mil Mascaras in one of Mil’s last matches. I believe Mil’s actually still wrestling occasionally. And I thought Hardcore Holly was long in the tooth. This isn’t either guys’ best work but it’s the first match on the show to really have some life to it. A fine big guy-little guy match with Mysterio trying to outsmart and outspeed JBL but JBL overpowering him. Finish comes when Mysterio hits the 619 but JBL recovers in time to hit Rey with the Clothesline from Wall Street. Neat. *** During the finish, I notice a CM Punk sign in the crowd. Punk had recently signed with WWE and started in OVW. Not sure if we heard much from him after that.
Video package for The Undertaker Vs The Ortons. The visual trick of Undertaker scaring heels by wheeling down a casket with a double of the heel in it is cool, which is why WWE seemed to use it once every few years.
Handicap Casket Match: Randy Orton & “Cowboy” Bob Orton Jr Vs The Undertaker
Undertaker gets the full blown druid entrance even though this isn’t a major pay per view or a comeback match for him because it’s a casket match, I guess. Tazz DOES NOT want to be the Ortons right now. This is the first handicap casket match ever, according to Tazz. Doesn’t seem right. It seems like there was one during the Ministry era. At least, it seems like something I could imagine Vince Russo booking. Anyway, Undertaker has to throw both guys into the casket to win.Tazz chuckles at the notion of somebody being buried alive with their father. HILARIOUS! Kind of disappointed that Cowboy Bob isn’t wearing his famous cast.
Cowboy Bob gets tossed in fairly early but just climbs back out. I guess Undertaker has to toss them both in at the same time and this isn’t an elimination casket match. Elimination casket match seems like something Vince Russo would do too. Ortons surprisingly pull off a double superplex even though it probably nearly killed Cowboy Bob. Undertaker puts Hell’s Gate on Bob and throws him in the casket. I guess it is elimination. Randy tries to throw Undertaker in there but gets psyched out seeing his dad in there. He doesn’t want to lock Undertaker in a casket with his old man! Undertaker gets the comeback and almost throws Taker into the casket but Cowboy Bob pops up with a fire extinguisher and Randy hits the blinded Undertaker with an RKO outta nowhere. Undertaker tries to chokeslam The Cowboy into the casket but gets bashed with a fire extinguisher to the head by Randy. Undertaker and Randy fight for a bit inside the casket with the lid closed causing Bob Orton Jr and the refs to wander around in confusion. After lid pops open, Undertaker and Randy struggle for a bit before Randy bashes Undertaker with a chair and Ortons shut the lid quickly to get the win. Probably the weakest match in the Undertaker-Orton series (which had matches that were always at least decent but never quite great) but shockingly decent by casket match standards. Casket matches are almost always overbooked awful messes. This wasn’t too overbooked or awful. **1/2
After the match, Randy Orton takes an axe to the casket and tries to light it on fire. Cole & Tazz tell him to stop it! You made your point! You’re the legend killer. You don’t need to burn a man alive! Randy lights the casket on fire. So much for this not being that overbooked! Some emergency techs run after the casket burns for a minute. Tazz is appalled. ORTON IS A SICK SON OF A BITCH! Fans are in shock. We get a close up of a bored fan. LOL. THERE WAS A HUMAN BEING IN THAT CASKET AND ORTON LIT IT ON FIRE. Before we can process this, the Mexicools theme hits and we hear lawnmower noises.
You know they really should have put another segment in here to make the transition less jarring.
WWE Cruiserweight Title Match: Nunzio (c) (with Vito) Vs Juventud (with Psicosis and Super Crazy)
Juventud earned the title shot by winning a battle royal on Velocity, by last eliminating Paul London (who obviously took a sick bump to the floor). Velocity was a show that ran a long time, considering it was never very relevant. Wikipedia tells me it was on from May 2002 to June 2006, which kind of coincides with the period where I was least interested in WWE (Middle & High School mostly. I thought watching pro wrestling would make me look like a nerd. WHAT AN IDIOT I WAS!). Juvy is a guy who came to WWE a few years too late. I’m guessing his legal troubles prevented him from coming over sooner? Plus he got saddled with the embarrassing Mexicools gimmick, which I think was WWE attempting to racial commentary but ended up actually just being super racist. Plus he pretty much refused to work WWE style so I guess he should’ve never went to WWE at all.
Anyway, this is a perfectly fine, not particularly memorable typical WWE cruiserweight match from this era. Crowd is pretty dead since they threw his on right after The Undertaker was BURNED ALIVE (not really) but they pop for Juvy getting the win with the Juvy Driver. **1/2. The MexiCools have won their first championship in WWE! It wouldn’t be their last…no, wait, it probably would be. Hugo Savinovich interviews The MexiCools en Espanol! Viva Mexico! Viva Juventud! Tazz says the Mexicools are gonna celebrate tonight but he can’t handle all of the Coronas and tequilla shots they’ll be doing.
Simon Dean says he’s finished all of the cheeseburgers but Lashley says they’ve found one more cheeseburger! Dean yaks.
Creepy video package for Eddie Guerrero Vs Batista, considering what happened shortly after this show. Eddie’s beaten his past addictions and now his addiction is gaining friendships & respect! Batista ain’t buying it. Eddie Guerrero says Batista is his new soulmate (Take that, Vickie). Batista tells Eddie if he stabs him in the back, he’ll hurt him.
World Heavyweight Title Match: Batista (c) Vs Eddie Guerrero
Batista’s “Batista Unleashed” t-shirt he’s hawking here is one of the most generic looking shirts I’ve seen for a main event level guy. It looks like more thought was put in the MexiCools t-shirt. In fact, come to think of it, Batista might be one of the only main eventers of the past twenty years to not have a t-shirt that was even semi-memorable.
Crowd’s now woken up. Juventud just won the Cruiserweight title, will another Mexican wrestler take the World Title? As a big fan of both wrestlers, this match is a bit of a letdown. Not bad but pacing feels a little bit off. Probably storyline of “Eddie not sure if he wants to resort to his old rulebreaking ways or not” slows it down a bit. Nick Patrick gets knocked down and Cole flips out.l There’s that SICK SMILE on Guerrero’s face! He told everybody! The old Guerrero would be back! Guerrero gets a chair but hesitates to use it. Batista wins with a spinebuster after rolling out of the way of a frog splash. *** After the match, the two men shake hands as Cole & Tazz wonder if Eddie has changed his ways. We’ll find out soon. Or I guess not…:(
Another ho hum effort from Smackdown! It seems like they had a talented enough roster but once again, a timing of bad luck, bad booking, and inconsistent effort doomed them to being the B show. Only a few matches on this show would have felt out of place on an average Friday Night Smackdown! Nothing really here that screamed “Spend $35 (or whatever pay per views cost in ’05) on this!” Batista Vs Eddie Guerrero felt like the first chapter of a story that was sadly unfinished, Undertaker Vs Ortons was a fine penultimate match in the feud, everything else really didn’t matter too much.
Sadly, things would get a lot worse before they would get any better. As we all know, this would be Eddie Guerrero’s last pay per view appearance before his tragic and all too early passing. In a more trivial note, this would be Christian’s last WWE pay per view for over three years. It seemed like he was on the verge of breaking into the main event when he left RAW. One would think getting moved to the B show would make him a big fish in a small pond but instead he was mired in the mid-card his entire, brief run on Smackdown! Not sure why that was.
To reuse an old cliche; the only thing that was certain with the Smackdown! roster was that everything was uncertain.
Next On Ten Years After: We go back to Orlando to take a look at the first edition of TNA’s flagship pay per view, Bound For Glory! Jeff Jarrett defends the NWA World Title against the winner of a 10 Man Gauntlet for the Gold match, AJ Styles defends the TNA X Division Title against his rival Christopher Daniels in a 30 minute Iron Man Match plus the undefeated Samoa Joe takes on Japanese pro wrestling legend Jushin Thunder Liger!