by Solie's UK correspondent Tom Mayne
At least the last one featured all the stars, albeit on a bad event. "No Mercy" was held on May 16, 1999 at the M.E.N. arena, Manchester. What else was happening on this date? A house-show in Richmond, Virginia featuring Al Snow, The Big Show, Shamrock, Owen Hart, The Road Dogg and The Rock. The show opened - Jim Ross said it was one of the most 'eagerly anticipated events in WWF history.' Oh really Jim? Well then, what's the first match? Tiger Ali Singh V Gillberg... Honestly! Maybe it was funny when we first saw Gillberg, but three months later? Gill didn't even have a WWF contact at this moment. Why did they bother flying him over for the riveting 64 seconds of action he gave us? More disturbingly, Tiger Ali Singh, the only man to 'star' and be victorious in all three UK PPVs, tried to elicit a racist response from the audience: 'You think I should be driving a taxi.' By aligning himself with the large Indian community we have in England he was trying to suggest that the normal attitude is that England as a whole bears a grudge against immigrants, and we can see where this thought came from - in the last PPV, Vince joked that the leader of this country would one day be a man of 'Pakistani extraction.'
Moving swiftly passed this embarrassment we had The Acolytes/Viscera V The Brood in what was actually the best match of the night, yet it featured another '"Did you really have to end it that way?" ending as Midian ran down and DDTed Gangrel outside the ring when the referee's back was turned for Bradshaw to get the pin.
Next, Blackman beat the awful Droz with an arm-bar submission.
Mankind cut an interview where he mentioned Davey Boy Smith (JR later wished him a speedy recovery from his back injury), saying that his second ever match was against him in England (crowd cheers). "I'm sorry - that was New England," he quipped (crowd silent- but I appreciated it). Kane beat Midian by disqualification when the Ministry ran in (you can guess the quality of this matchup). Sable made an appearance and was supposed to wrestle but apparently refused, so she sent Nicole Bass to demolish Tori in 26 seconds. Great.
Then we had a match which was hyped as a big thing: Shane McMahon V X-Pac for the European title, which Shane had 'brought out of retirement' for one night only. So let me get this straight, we have a match for a *then* worthless title, a replay of WM15, featuring a non-wrestler. It's cynical booking, thinking that because the title has the word "European" on it, UK fans must be excited. In fairness to Shane he was slightly more athletic than at WrestleMania, executing a flying elbow and a suplex (Wow!), but this was virtually a carbon copy of their earlier encounter, and the only thing which gave it some excitement then - HHH's heel turn - was obviously absent this time, but that didn't stop them running exactly the same ending with Chyna and HHH costing X-Pac the win.
Billy Gunn beat Mankind in a disappointing match. Mankind was limping due to his knee problems and because of an attack by the Ministry earlier in the evening. After eleven minutes of Gunn attacking the knees, he struck a piledriver on a chair (and this wasn't even a no-DQ match); Teddy Long messed up another 3 count (remember Gangrel v X-Pac at Royal Rumble 99?), hitting 3 on an obvious 2. Even the bell rang. Gunn then applied his finishing move (again on the chair) to get the real 1-2-3.
Then the final match; yet another rerun, this time of September 98's IYH XXIV: Break Down match between Austin, UT and Kane, only this time HHH completed the threesome instead of 'The Big Red Machine'. At the start of the evening, The Corporate Ministry had given an interview; Shane was very nervous (he'd probably just looked at the card), stuttering and calling the main event a "No Hold Bars" match (Well done Shane). So yet again, the Austin 'against all odds' card was played, with similar results. HHH and The Undertaker predictably fell out, then the Ministry interfered, bringing out the Brood, Foley et al. UT and his gang brawled with them to the back and Austin made light work of HHH.
It was slightly fun seeing Shane, HHH and Chyna getting repeatedly bronco-bustered and stunnered by the beer swilling X-Pac and Austin at the end, but it couldn't erase what had been a travesty of a card, one which the WWF never would have had the audacity to put out in America. Not only were half the roster somewhere else, it featured no Hardcore matches, no IC title match, no tag title match, and, the final insult, it lasted only two hours fifteen minutes, of which just over an hour was actual wrestling (if you could call it that). There may have been some bad PPVs in the US, but you simply can't imagine the WWF ever putting out an event like this on American free TV, let alone PPV.
In conclusion, I would state that the main problem of UK-only PPVs is one of its selling points. 'Never before seen in the US' states the "No Mercy" video. But because of this, the WWF doesn't want its main fan-base in America to miss anything, so makes sure that no storylines are advanced and no major titles change hands. In 3 PPVs the only development has been the European title changing hands from Smith to Michaels. But the first PPV showed that even without developments a good card can be drawn up, but the WWF has refrained from even doing this.
A typical English crowd does to some extent respond in a boo/cheer fashion, but this is because fans in the UK are starved of live action, and it is so much more an event when the WWF comes to your town. Yet this does not mean that the fans are oblivious to what a good match or a good card is. Nearly everybody was disappointment by this, especially those who had bought a ticket and made the trip up to Manchester. Even the greatest mark would feel disappointed at, for example, Singh v Gillberg. It is a complete insult by the WWF to put out cards like the last 2 PPVs and expect people to pay for them. 'So don't then...' But people will always do, and it is unlikely that the WWF will change their policy due to the fact that they totally monopolise the market here in the UK. We do not receive WCW PPVs, and WCW rarely tour here.
On a positive note, the production values have actually improved over the three events; the last PPV did, at least, look like an episode of Raw. But the content did seem to confirm the WWF's trend of late - all show and no substance. And it's frustrating because it doesn't have to be this way. Word has it that the WWF are planning another PPV in the UK for October. I, for one, am not holding out much hope... Tom Mayne is a 20 year old student from Manchester, England, who is studying Russian and Czech at Oxford university. He became interested in wrestling when he was about 12, taping WCW's weekly show which was used then as a late-night filler on England's ITV channel.
Fall brawl is on the air from Winston-Salem, North Carolina.
Tony, Tenay and the Brain are the hosts and start right in talking about the main event then switch to Sid Vicious' challenge for the US Title. Now they are hyping the Hotline, then they go to a promo for the first match.
Insane Clown Posse/Vampiro vs. Eddie Guerrero/Rey Mysterio, Jr./Kidman - Well, I still miss Guerrero's attitude, but at least he is in good company. Mystero has dyed his hair blonde for some reason. We get Kidman vs. Shaggy 2 Dope to start. Or maybe not...people keep jumping in and out of the ring - yup, Kidman and Shaggy. The latter gets the early advantage but he seems to be unable to keep on his opponent, preferring to repeatedly pose for his partners between moves. Kidman is on his way back in no time. Rey jumps in to lend a hand then Eddie hits a somersault splash on the clown as well. Rey tags in and Violent J faces him. VJ uses his weight advantage to ground the luchadore and bull him into the enemy corner. Vampiro comes in but Rey out maneuvers him and hits the bronco buster in the corner before Vamp slips away. Now Kidman is in and raining blows on VJ. The clown comes back with a DDT then tags in Vamp who follows up with a powerbomb. Kidman makes a short comeback but Vamp springs off the rope and hits a big tackle. He is being isolated again in the bad guys' corner as Vamp continues to work on him.
VJ is back in and Kidman starts to make his move. They copllide mid-ring and Kidman tags out to Rey who almost gets a pin on VJ - Vamp rescues him. The fight falls out to the floor where Rey is doubleteamed then rolled back in. Vampiro grabs a reverse chinlock and thei is the first time the match hasn't been all over the ring. Vamp releases the hold and kicks Rey in the back then goes for a butterfly but backs into the wrong corner and allows a tag. Guerrero comes in and takes over. But only for a couple of exchanges - then Vamp comes back and now Eddie is in trouble. The clowns trade blows on him then Shaggy drops a big guillotine legdrop. Eddie comes back and Vamp runs in to slow him down. Eddie is on the mat again as Shaggy climbs to the top only to have Kidman run over and upset his balance. Now Vamp is in again but Kidman is all over him. He downs the Vampire and then hits the Shooting Star to get the pin. Great match!!
The Revolution are in the back with the Internet crew and not too talkative.
Lenny Lane (w/Lodi) vs Kaz Hayashi - Cruiserweight Title match - Kaz has been sporting a beard and mustache lately and seems to have dropped some of his baby fat. Tenay is telling us that Lenny has managed to hold onto the title through numerous defenses - oh really..? Who were those challengers again?? The Champ and his "brother" go into their usual byplay with the crowd before getting down to businesss. Lenny ducks a lock-up then prances around the ring for a bit. Hayashi's response is to kick him in the butt, then they get into it a little more seriously. As soon as Kaz starts to gain some ground, Lenny bails and jumps into Lodi's arms. Kaz splashes both of them from the inside out. Back in the roing he triesto follow up but Lodi trips him from ringside. Kz is still on the offensive but Lenny outmaneuvers him and turns the tables. He stops to quiry the crowd then goes for a cover and gets a two count. Hayashi keeps trying to come back but Lenny seems to have his number and keeps the pressure on despite pausing between moves to strut. Kaz finally suckers the Champ into throwing himself over the top to the floor then splashes him again. Lenny returns to the ring and distracts the referee while Lodi beats up on the challenger.
Back in the ring, Lenny grabs a reverse chinlock and takes a rest. Kaz escapes but Lenny keeps control of him. Kas gets a roll-up and almost gets the pin. They struggle for position and Kaz gets a belly-to-back suplex which shakes them both up. Lenny rushes the corner and misses and Kaz gets a bulldog. He should go for the pin but insteads takes him to the top where they again struggle for control. Kaz gets a Liger bomb and would have the pin but Lodi pulls Lenny's foot onto the rope. Kaz gets a Hurracanranna but only another two count. Lodi gets involved and Kaz again almost gets the pin. He hits a back breaker and goes to the top - but then is distracted desposing of Lodi on the apron. Moments later he is back into the match but has lost the initiative. Lenny gets a face slam and pins the challenger. Surprisingly good match.
Mean Gene is in the ring and invites Sting down for an interview. Sting seems to be a bit dissillusioned with Lex Luger. He scolds Luger and tells him to stay out of his business tonight. He allows that there is no problem between himself and Hogan. Okerlund reminds us that if Sting wins tonight it will be his ninth World Title reign. Sting tells Hogan to be his best because he's coming after that title.
The First Family vs. The Revolution - Hugh Morrus and Brian Knobbs (w/Jimmy Hart) face Dean Malenko and Shane Douglas. I for one don't understand why they have the Revolution feuding with these guys. I mean if you want to put them over, which I assume is the plan - why not put them into the Tag Team Title running or something? This is a no DQ match so all four start as soon as they hit the ring. The First Family are ejected from the ring almost immediately. The match spills out to the floor where members of the audience help hold Morrus while Douglas hits him. Douglkas then runs Morrus into the stairs then uses the same steairs to pummel him. Soon all four are fighting in thesame space for a moment then they switch opponents - Douglas battles Knobbs into the ring while Malenko and Morrus continue out on the floor. Now the match starts to look more like a regiular tag team match as Malenko and Knobbs make their ways to their respective corners.Morrus is being isolated in a neutral corner whjile the two Revolution guys tag in and out.
Finally he escapes and tags Knobbs in but almost immediately Knobbs is isolated then thrown to the floor where he retakes the advantage by running Douglas into the railing. It is only for a moment, however. They return to the ring and Douglas is back in charge until Morrus and Hart distract him so that Knobbs can blindside him. Douglas falls out to the floor and is beaten on by Morrus befroe being rolled back in to Knobbs who goes to the top, lauches himself and lands right on Douglas's upraised foot. Malenko is tagged in and cleans house. Knobbs trips him form the outside which sets up Morrus foir his moonsault and a surprise pin.
Cut to a promo for the TV Title match coming up.
Saturn vs. Rick Stener - TV Title match - these are two excellent wrestlers but I expect a brawl. Sure enough, Steiner starts righ in battering his opponent in the back of the head. Tony tells us that Buff Bagwell has failed to show and someone else has volunteered to take on Berlyn. They don't tell us who. In the ring, Saturn has regained his composure and is doing some battering of his own but Steiner then hits a low blow which gets him a warning from the referee but accomplishes his purpose. Tenay pauses to point out the the referees are wearing black armbands to memorialize Brian Hildebrand (Mark Curtis) who died earlier this weeek of cancer. Steiner takes Saturn to the floor and roughs him up then rolls him back in, retaining the initiative. He grabs a head vice then rakes the face, then starts in on the left leg with a half crab. Saturn struggles to the ropes to escape. Steiner is forced to break but then grabs it again after dragging Saturn back toward the middle of the ring.
Steiner starts showing off his suplex repetoire but then Saturn escapes and lays in a couple of his own. He gets a quick two-count. Steiner comes back with a power slam but then Saturn comes back with a DVD and gets another two count. He tries for another DVD but Steiner struggles loose and suplexes him then climbs the cornewr. Saturn jumps to his feet and kicks his legs out from under him. They struggle at the top and Saturn is thrown to the mat. He gets to his feet again and is hit by Steiner's top-rope bulldog and pinned.
Okerlund is in the back with Hulk Hogan who says he is tired of people questioning his integrity. I notice that the announcers are wearing black ribbons, except for Heenan who wears a black cumberbun. The announcers still don't know who will face Berlyn in the next match as the German wrestler is introduced.
Berlyn vs. Hacksaw Duggan - well, that's an appropriate choice of opponents for this American hater... Berlyn seems to have no objection so the match gets underway as the German attacks immediately on the bell. Duggan absorbs his offense then turns it around in a flash. The crowds bursts into the "USA!" chant. Berlyn bails and regroups for a bit while Duggan celebrates with his fans. Back in the ring he Berlyn goes for a gut kick but Duggan catches his boot and spins him around. Moments later Berlyn finally gets in a shot then goes to work. They end up trading blows in the center of the ring then Berlyn forces Duggan back into the corner and takes the advantage. He grabs a reverse chinlock on a seated Hacksaw.Duggan escapes and gets a coule of shoulders to the mid-section but Berlyn is tough and fights back to the center of the ring. Duggan starts walking it off and then grabs a front chancillry. They go into an amateur wrestling chain then separate. They trade waistlocks then Berlyn gets a snap mare and they struggle on the mat. Berlyn comes up with the chinlock again.
Duggan struggles to his feet and uses elbow shots to escape then lays in some forearms against the ropes. They separate and Duggan gets a back drop on the rebound. Berlyn bails and then his bodyguard pulls up the floor mat. Duggan rushes in and is bachdropped onto the concrete. Back in the ring, Berlyn gets an easy pin.
Backstage, Bagwell has arrived and is told that he has missed his match. He goes to the ring as Dugganm is still getting to his feet. Berlyn is gone. Bagwell tries to help Duggan but the big guy is not interested in his help.
Harlem Heat vs. The Windham Brothers (w/Curt Hennig) - World Tag Team Title match - The Rednecks are down one at this point so they don't have quite the strength in numbers as usual. Kendall faces Booker to start and just ducks a kick to the face, bails out then comes back in and takes the advantage. He tags in Barry who is almost immediately challenged. Booker turns the tables and tags in Stevie who hits an inverted atomic drop then turns and ejects the invading Kendall. Moments later Barry gets the tag and Stevie is on the receiving end for a bit. The Windhams are tagging in and out and showing us some good coordination as Stevie continues to be isolated. Kendall gets a two count after a double clothesline. Barry is tagged in again and gets powerslammed but thumbs the eye of Stevie to retain the advantage. Booker is tagged in and turns the tables on Barry. Hennig jumps on the apron but Booker knocks him off then is knocked to the floor where Kendal and Hennig open up on him. Back inside again and the Windhams are in charge once more. Kendall grabs a reverse chinlock.
Booker escapes anmd gets an axe kick but Barry runbs in on a blind tag and levels him with a lariet. Booker is tossed out and roughed up some more, then tossed back into Barry for a scoop slam and a two-count. Booker has been effectively isolated for quite a while now. Stevie has to rescue him from a possible pin. Kendall is in and keeps the pressure on but then rushes to the corner only to have Booker float over and roll him up for a two count. The Windhams double up to retain control. Barry is in and gets a reverse chinlock - but Booker gets to the ropes and escapes. Kendall hits a lariet from the second ropes anfd goes for a cover but they are too close to Stevie who reaches in and breaks it up. Now Stevie runs in and starts fighting the Texans as Booker is recovering. Stevie gets brained with the cowbell but a melee has broken out on the floor and the referee is distracted. Booker gets loose and jumps to the top, hits a missle drop kick on Kendall and gets the pin. Harlem Heat are the new Champs!
Chris Benoit vs. Sid Vicious - US Title match - even the ring announcer has to repeat Sid's bogus 79-0 winning streak as he is introduced. This has not been a good night for the Revolution so far. This is their last chance to pick up a win. Benoit surprisingly bulls Sid into the corner and then even more surprisingly gets a clean break. Why is Charles Robinson refereeing this match? He has been blatantly partisan in the past few weeks. Benoit goes on the attack but is repelled by his opponent's bulk. He bails and regroups before slowly returning to the ring. Back inside, Sid grabs him by the throat and drapes him over the ropes. Benoit escapes and slides under him then catches a raised boot and gets a dragon screw leg whip. He follows up with a drop-kick to the knee, He grabs an Indian Deathlock but Sid reaches up and rakes his face to escape and then starts pummeling him again. He gets a running start then beats him in the corner. He rushes in again but misses, Benoit slips outside and smashes his leg into the post then rams the steps against the leg. Sid falls to the floor and Benoit puts the boots to him then sandwiches his leg between the steps and post and drop-kicks it! Back in the ring, Benoit goes for a lariet but is caught in mid-air. He slips away from a slam and gets some offense but then goes for a crucifix and is Samoan dropped. Sid is slow to get up and has to walk it off a moment before going back on the attack. He grabs a cobra clutch then elevates the Champ and drops him on his back. He gets a two-count. Sid is surprised but recovers and grabs a trapezius nerve hold.
They are in see-saw mode for a bit then Benoit gets a crippler crossface. But Sid manages to stand up and get to the ropes. Sid is out of it and Benoit goes for his diving head butt but misses. Sid gets the big Powerbomb and takes the pin. Sid is the new US Champ.
Diamond Dallas Page vs. Goldberg - this is a return match from last fall's Halloween Havoc main event. That time both guys were babyfaces - now things are a little bit different... Page comes out on his own but you can bet that won't last long. Goldberg enters and Page leaves the ring for a moment then returns. The referee pats him down and finds a chain then finds a roll of coins in his hand! Page attacks using the referee as a shield but Goldberg is ready and knocks him to the floor. Page returns and they lock up -Goldberg grabs a side headlock, is thrown off and takles Page to the mat. Now Page grabs the side headlock but his opponent shrugs him off. Page turns and jawsa at the crowd. He comes back and grabs the headlock yet again and is thrown ofgf then shoulderblocked out of the ring. There is s slight Goldberg chant - pagfe tells thenm to shgut up then starts to leave through the crowd. But Goldberg follows and drags him back. Back inside, Page turns the tables for a moment but Goldberg downs him - then Page pulls another weapon out of his tights and brains the monster. He puts ther boots to him on the mat then chokes him against the bottom rope. The referee counts to four and Page is forced to release the hold.
Now the Goldberg chant is rising in volume. We se now that Page has brass knucks and is using them judiciously to keep Goldberg on the mat. He grabs a reverse chinlock/sleeper and Goldberg is prone for a moment before fighting back to his feet again. Page releases the hold so he can beat down on his opponent but Goldberg sucks it up and punches Page down. They crisscross and Page gets a flying DDT. As Goldberg rises Page tries to run him down but Goldberg is too large for that. The rest of the Triad run in and attack with weapons but still Goldberg comes back. He knocks them both down with a double clothesline then spears Page and Jackhammers him for the pin.
Hulk Hogan vs. Sting - World Title match - Michael Buffer performs the introductions. A sign in the crowd seems to say something about the WWF but actually reads "The World's Worst Federation". Sting and Hogan are brought out then Bret Hart is introduced to wish both competitors well. Buffer gets his name right this time (not Bret Clark!) Hogan runs a circle around Sting twice before they lock up. They grapple to the corner and roll around and around with neither getting the advantage. Hogan gets angry claiming Sting failed to break. They have some words but keep it calm for the most part. They lock up and Hogan goes for a roll up but they are in the ropes. They lock up again and Hogan grabs a full armdrag and twist but Sting reverses it to a hammerlock. The first part of the match is purely scientific...Hogan is wrestling!! Then he backjs Stiung into the corner and lifts his knees a couple times then whips to the other side and hits a clothesline. He drops Sting and drops an elbow then goes for a pin but doesn't even get a one count. Sting is on his feet again. They lock up Greco Roman style then Hogan knees the gut ofd his opponent. He gets a suplex but Sting pops up and howls. He attacks Hogan, backs him into the corner and strikes down on his from the second rope, then whips him and clotheslines him to the mat. They fall out to the floor and trade fists. Hogan runs Sting into the rail twice.
He punches Sting then gets punched back and now Sting gets some rail shots then drops Hogan onto the railing. They trade rail shots then Hogan chokes Sting with a TV cable as the latter lies on the apron. Back inside he gets a belly-to-back suplex then grabs a reverse chinlock. Hogan has dominated most of this match to this point.He raises Sting up then pumnmmels him on the back of the neck beforee grabbing an abdominal stretch. Sting escapes but HOgan rolls him up and gets a two-count - then does it a second time. He rakes Sting's back then mounts the second rope and strikes down on him, then bites his forehead! He reminds the referee that this is for the title. Sting escapes and avoids a clothesline then comes back with a body block. He runs Hoigan to the corner and hits two Stinger splashes then misses on the third attempt. Hogan gets the boot to the face and the leg drop - but DDP is in the ring and attacks the referee then hits a Diamond Cutter on Hogan. He rolls Sting on top but Hogan kicks out. Page drops the referee. Bret Hart runs in and attacks Page and drives him away, then Luger runs in. Hogan knocks him out of the ring and here comes Sting with his baseball bat! Hogan turns to Sting and says "See?" Sting seems to agree but then he hits HOgan in the gut with his bat then knocks him down and pins him. Sting has turned and joined Luger and he is the new World Champ!!
I'll be back tomorrow night. Until then...
At least that's the way I see it...
Editor, Solie's Wrestling Newsletter
This page is a personal tribute and is in no way connected to any of the wrestling promotions mentioned on it. It is dedicated to the Dean of Wrestling announcers, Gordon Solie.
Copyright 1999 - Jump City Productions