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January 29, 2012

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Flashback: WWE No Mercy 2005 featuring Eddie Guerrero’s final PPV appearance

WWE No Mercy 2005, featuring Eddie Guerrero

Flashback: WWE No Mercy 2005 featuring Eddie Guerrero’s final PPV appearance

Thinking of killing some time while waiting for some video editing work to finish processing, I popped in a random WWE DVD. I can’t recall having seen this one before as I wasn’t following wrestling from 2003-2005 and just hadn’t gotten around to watching the actual DVD, even years later.

A very eery intro to an Eddie Guerrero-headlined event

The show starts off with a now-chilling introduction video package featuring two feuds: Eddie Guerrero vs Batista & Undertaker vs Randy Orton. Eddie Guerrero. Now, before I get into this, let me say that the one 2005 pay-per-view I have watched (other thanWrestleMania 21 & Royal Rumble 2005, of course) was ECW One Night Stand 2005. I always thought that Eddie Guerrero had a bit of a ‘vacant’ look about him, like he wasn’t himself and never would be again. Hindsight’s 20/20, and perhaps it was just the character he was trying to play. A few months later, though, this same look was present in this video package that turned out to serve as hype for what would be his final pay-per-view match. Coincidentally, this event was on Eddie Guerrero’s birthday.

In this video, a promo was referenced where Eddie Guerrero talked about his addictions and problems, which was probably as off-putting then as the Kevin Nash/Scott Hall match at Halloween Havoc was in 1998. Now, it’s even more uncomfortable to see. Shortly after this, the hype for the Undertaker/Randy Orton angle begins. Their match for this event was a casket match. Now WWE had no idea they’d be losing an active member of their roster within less than a month, and even if they did, I can’t say I’d expect them to not still hold a casket match. Afterall, they held THREE in 2008, less than a year after the Benoit Family died.

Anywho… Wrestling. Where was I?

WWE No Mercy 2005: The Undercard

The first match is a 6-person match between Legion of Doom & MNM. It’s ironic that I enjoyed this match because I turned off TNA Impact earlier in the night because I couldn’t take Christy Hemme’s annoying, terrible ring announcing work. I’d like to add, too, that I’ve always liked MNM, even if I’ve strayed far away from the proverbial John Morrison & Melina fan club in the past year or so. They were a great team in a time when WWE appeared to have a good tag division. Also, I don’t have a problem with Heidenreich calling himself a member of L.O.D., but he should have ditched that stupid, robotic arm gesture. Hemme gets the pinfall after heading to the top for a Doomsday Device in this completely solid opener. Road Warrior Animal will always get a pop.

Up next is Bobby Lashley’s pay-per-view debut against Simon Dean. See, this is what was great about the brand split being enforced. You aren’t overrun with title matches and you get to see some pretty useless matches. Wait, that’s a good thing? Yup. Just like squash matches are good on TV, PPV matches for comedic value help break up the monotony and prevent the viewer from getting too burnt out. The freakishly strong Lashley gets the win, as Rick “Sign Guy” Achberger shows various signs in the front row: “Can someone lend Simon a Hand,” and “Simon, Do 10 Sets of Pushups!” I think I saw another that said “Bobby Lashley is BIG.”

Up next is a fatal-four-way match for the United States title. Sharmell comes out to give the introduction for Houston’s own Booker T. Booker is joined by Christian & Orlando Jordan in challenging Chris Benoit for his title. Great match that could have been a solid main event title match without changing a single thing other than the title up for grabs. They made it a point to make Booker & Benoit’s eventual confrontation within the match a big deal, and even the announcers commented on their history in WCW, which I thought was a great touch. The Best of 7 series between Booker T & Chris Benoit was one of the reasons I got hooked on wrestling as a kid in the first place. Benoit wins and Sharmell & Booker T tease a heel turn, likely setting up the path for the eventual ‘King Booker’ gimmick.

Another pay-per-view debut is up next as Mr Kennedy takes on Bob ‘Hardcore’ Holly. This is another match you wouldn’t expect people to pay for but it’s a nice buffer after an intense, show-stealing United States Championship match. Pretty good match that had a lot of questionable moments. At one point, Holly picked up Kennedy and dropped him, and I’m not sure if it was due to frustration of Kennedy not doing something correctly, or if it was just a drop that was part of the match. After Kennedy hit a Green Bay Plunge from the 2nd rope for the pinfall, Holly sold a rib injury. I really couldn’t tell if it was legitimate or not, even after viewing the match a second time. The Green Bay Plunge looks like it’d hurt pretty badly if screwed up, but it looked like Kennedy pulled it off just fine. This was a surprisingly decent match that broke in a green Mr Kennedy.

…Kennedy.

I spoke too soon–Sylvain Grenier jumped Holly after the match, so the injury was a work. If you didn’t want Sylvain on your screen, you’d be relieved to see Simon Dean once again as he works on a platter of hamburgers throughout the night. If you’re sick of him already, like I was, don’t worry. Mr Kennedy’s back for another segment already. That’s right, three of the most boring and/or obnoxious members of the roster all within 5 minutes of each other. And what’s next? Jillian Hall.

It’s unreal how over Rey Mysterio is, was, and probably always will be, despite playing a face for basically his entire career. (WCW doesn’t count, because did anyone really care about Rey after he lost his mask? Did anyone even know who was a heel around then in WCW? It changed weekly. Sounds familar…) This was an excellent match from two always-solid performers who will undoubtedly have a place in the WWE Hall of Fame one day. Rey Mysterio can have a four-star match with virtually anyone, and John Layfield’s performances as both Bradshaw and his reinvention as JBL are each Hall of Fame worthy separately! Wrestlers get inducted, though, not gimmicks, so he’ll only go in once. Just saying, though, he had a great career. He’s always reminded me of Stan Hansen, who should realistically go in before him, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Hansen didn’t go in at all.

Anyway, the modern Stan Hansen wins with the Lariat from Hell. Up next is the Casket Match between Undertaker and Randy Orton. …And Bob Orton. Who would pay to see this? Well, I guess it has its old-school appeal to it. I will admit that it appears they did a great job building towards it, using mannequins (or look-alikes?) in caskets as part of the back-and-forth ‘mind games.’

The actual match was exactly what you might expect: a brawl-based gimmick match that the ‘dainty’ Randy Orton didn’t quite ‘fit’ in. Bob Orton, in his street clothes, actually did a pretty good job with the basics, like elbows, back bumps, and helping set the Undertaker up for a slow comeback to wake up the otherwise dead crowd. From a wrestling standpoint, this match was terrible, but from a storytelling standpoint, it was completely effective. I’d imagine this sold pay-per-view buys just as much (if not more) than Batista vs Eddie Guerrero did, so I’d call it a success (taking the entire storyline into consideration). The spot of the match might have been the superplex on Undertaker from the Ortons. Bob Orton played up the old-school mentality by going for a pinfall, not understanding these ‘new-fangled gimmick matches. The Ortons got the win in a match that was longer than it needed to be, but given that it was a main event match, the people who paid to see it got what they paid for.

Naturally, the fun wasn’t over, as the casket was pushed up the ramp and onto a trapdoor so it could be doused with ‘gasoline’ and lit in fire. Cole and Taz sell the gas fumes and cough while the kid in the audience directly behind them looks perfectly fine, and waves his arms at the camera. Why write such ridiculous horse shit that you can’t truly back up? Only the dumbest people in the audience could believe that the Undertaker was actually set on fire.

Up next is a demonstration of World Wrestling Entertainment’s pride and joy: racial stereotyping. The Mexicools (Juventud Guerrera, Psicosis, & Super Crazy) come out on their ride-on lawnmowers as Juventud challenges Nunzio for the Crusierweight Championship. Nunzio, of course, of the F.B.I., the Full-Blooded Italians. Nothing to report here other than the obvious. The Cruiserweight Championship matches stole the show nearly every time they were on pay-per-view, yet they felt the need to phase it out. They really need to bring it back, especially if Sin Cara sticks around. He’s the key to popularizing the division again, just like Rey Mysterio had done. Juvi wins the title here in a great match, and cuts a promo in Spanish afterwards. Love it. Meanwhile, Simon Dean is working on his last burger, and I’m sure everyone viewing at home truly gave a shit.

It’s main event time, meaning the Cruiserweight Title was a buffer match comparable to the Women’s or Divas’ title in recent years. The match was solid, as one might expect. I know it was always a popular thing in the internet circles to claim that so-and-so ‘carried’ their opponent, but let’s face it: that’s just sour grapes and the reluctance to give someone credit when they finally have a good match with someone. Can working with someone uber-talented improve the match? Of course. But despite what anyone thinks, Batista’s best matches weren’t good because he was ‘carried,’ they were good because he’s not THAT bad, first of all, and because he worked with people who were complimentary to his style. That’s quite different from being ‘carried.’

What we saw in this match was a great blend of Eddie Guerrero’s technical prowess meshed with Batista’s raw power. One spot saw Batista lift Guerrero into a bear hug from a mount position, which was pretty impressive. Eddie Guerrero worked this match as a heel who wasn’t a heel. Not quite a tweener, not quite a face, not quite a heel. His character going into this match was that of a heel who was having a change of heart (or was he?) and was having conflicts with his conscience and whether to screw over one of his best friends (Batista) or not. After his defeat a the hands of Batista, in a post-match handshake Eddie Guerrero seemingly turns face, but… …doesn’t. Batista turns his back and Eddie Guerrero smirks. Batista turns back, and the smirk is gone. This match told this story more than effectively and I have to wonder if Eddie Guerrero worked a bad match or told a single bad story in the ring in his whole career, because I can’t recall one.

What’s your favorite Eddie Guerrero moment?

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