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WWE No Mercy 2017 on Sept. 24 will be the thirteenth installment in the event’s illustrious history, and with what’s on tap between Brock Lesnar vs. Braun Strowman and John Cena vs. Roman Reigns, it could be among the best yet.
In fact, almost every installment of No Mercy dating back to its inception in 1999 has had something special to offer. Granted, some cards were superior to others, but No Mercy has typically been a consistently entertaining event each year.
No Mercy has hosted a number of memorable matches and monumental moments, such as the Chris Jericho vs. Shawn Michaels Ladder match and Brock Lesnar vs. The Undertaker inside Hell in a Cell. This year’s installment should be no different given the current card, though the bar for quality No Mercy shows has been set fairly high by past events.
Look no further than No Mercy 2016, which fans originally didn’t have high hopes for yet ultimately exceeded expectations. It was far from the first No Mercy event to be better than anticipated, but there have also been other shows that didn’t deliver as advertised.
With No Mercy 2017 quickly approaching, let’s look back at the rich history of the pay-per-view and attempt to rank every card from worst to best based on each installment’s overall entertainment value, how—and if— it’s remembered, star power, aftermath, and more.
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- Tiger Ali Singh defeated Gillberg.
- The Ministry of Darkness defeated The Brood.
- Steve Blackman defeated Droz.
- Kane defeated Mideon by disqualification.
- Nicole Bass defeated Tori.
- Shane McMahon defeated X-Pac to retain the European Championship.
- Billy Gunn defeated Mankind.
- Stone Cold Steve Austin defeated The Undertaker and Triple H in an Anything Goes match to retain the WWE Championship.
Oddly enough, there were two No Mercy events that took place in 1999 with the inaugural installment occurring in May of that year and emanating from the United Kingdom.
WWE has produced a slew of phenomenal pay-per-views across the pond over the years (SummerSlam 1992 immediately comes to mind), but this No Mercy event was not among them. In fact, save for the stellar Triple Threat WWE Championship main event, it was a fairly forgettable night.
Despite a win in the night’s opener, Tiger Ali Singh never took off the way officials had hoped, while both Kane vs. Mideon and Nicole Bass vs. Tori were terrible. Billy Gunn was able to score a notable victory versus Mankind, but similar to Singh, his singles push was short-lived and meant nothing in the long-run.
Of course, 1999 in WWE heavily revolved around Stone Cold Steve Austin, so his successful defense of the WWE title being such a gem shouldn’t be too surprising. If nothing else, it closed the evening on a high note, yet fans were still left with a sour taste in their mouths from the atrocious undercard.
Aside from the awesome main event, Shane McMahon and X-Pac’s clash for the European Championship was fun while it lasted, but the rest of this show belongs in the trash.
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- Triple H defeated Randy Orton to win the WWE Championship.
- Mr. Kennedy, Lance Cade and Trevor Murdoch defeated Jeff Hardy, Paul London and Brian Kendrick.
- CM Punk defeated Big Daddy V by disqualification to retain the ECW Championship.
- Triple H defeated Umaga to retain the WWE Championship.
- Finlay vs. Rey Mysterio ended in a no contest.
- Beth Phoenix defeated Candice Michelle to win the WWE Women’s Championship.
- Batista defeated The Great Khali in a Punjabi Prison match to retain the World Heavyweight Championship.
- Randy Orton defeated Triple H in a Last Man Standing match to win the WWE Championship.
How can one show have so much potential going into it yet flop miserably?
In WWE’s defense, they couldn’t have foreseen their then-WWE champion John Cena suffering a serious injury days ahead of the event, causing them to change plans at the last minute. That said, they could have done a far better job with what they had available to them by not devaluing their most prestigious prize.
Technically, this was a historically significant show, as it featured the WWE Championship being defended three times over the course of the night, but it didn’t kick off Randy Orton’s reign on the strongest note in losing to Triple H in decisive fashion in the show’s opening bout. Their Last Man Standing main event was excellent, but everything else on the card was largely mediocre.
The Punjabi Prison match between Batista and The Great Khali should speak for itself. Although the effort was present, there was a reason why the stipulation hadn’t been brought back until just recently.
Moreover, both the ECW and WWE Women’s Championship matches were atrocious while Triple H vs. Umaga lasted all of five minutes. Rey Mysterio and Finlay furthered their angle effectively, but it wasn’t enough to salvage the show.
Despite the event emanating from Chicago, this wasn’t one of WWE’s proudest pay-per-views.
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- Matt Hardy defeated Gregory Helms.
- Paul London and Brian Kendrick defeated K.C. James and Idol Stevens to retain the WWE Tag Team Championship.
- MVP defeated Marty Garner.
- Mr. Kennedy defeated The Undertaker by disqualification.
- Rey Mysterio defeated Chavo Guerrero in a Falls Count Anywhere match.
- Chris Benoit defeated William Regal.
- King Booker defeated Bobby Lashley, Batista and Finlay in a Fatal 4-Way match to retain the World Heavyweight Championship.
At first glance, No Mercy 2006 is a pretty passable card, and might be one of SmackDown’s better showings on pay-per-view during the first Brand Extension. However, it simply pales in comparison to other installments in the No Mercy chronology.
The early undercard is nothing to write home about, and Mr. Kennedy vs. The Undertaker was merely the beginning of their long-running rivalry, but business picked up with Rey Mysterio vs. Chavo Guerrero. Their Falls Count Anywhere match was a treat that allowed Mysterio to score a measure of revenge for Guerrero costing him the World Heavyweight Championship months earlier.
Speaking of SmackDown’s top prize, it was defended in an above-average Fatal 4-Way with King Booker narrowly escaping with his title intact. The bout had been built up extremely well in the weeks preceding the pay-per-view and definitely delivered at No Mercy.
Even more entertaining than that was Chris Benoit vs. William Regal, which marked The Rabid Wolverine’s return to TV after a lengthy hiatus. They stole the show with a hard-hitting affair that brought Benoit back into the fold in a major way.
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- Eddie Guerrero defeated Luther Reigns.
- Spike Dudley defeated Nunzio to retain the Cruiserweight Championship.
- Billy Kidman defeated Paul London.
- Rene Dupree and Kenzo Suzuki defeated Rey Mysterio and Rob Van Dam to retain the WWE Tag Team Championship.
- Big Show defeated Kurt Angle.
- John Cena defeated Booker T in Match 5 in the Best of 5 Series to win the United States Championship.
- Charlie Haas, Rico and Miss Jackie defeated The Dudley Boyz and Dawn Marie.
- JBL def. The Undertaker in a Last Ride match to retain the WWE Championship.
While No Mercy 2003 was far from being historically significant, the night’s top matches were what made the show enjoyable.
Paul London and Billy Kidman had a great story going in the midcard around this time on SmackDown that saw Kidman mostly cease using the Shooting Star Press as his finisher. Their No Mercy matchup was an absolute blast, succeeding in telling a terrific story and featuring fantastic in-ring action.
By this point, Big Show and Kurt Angle had already wrestled their fair share of matches against each other, but they had one of their better bouts together on this show. Booker T also helped raise the stock of rising rookie John Cena with an excellent outing over the United States Championship.
Unfortunately, the event went off the rails with the main event, a Last Ride WWE Championship match between JBL and The Undertaker. They attempted to make the most of the silly stipulation, but Heidenreich costing ‘Taker the victory didn’t exactly excite fans as No Mercy faded to black.
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- Tajiri defeated Rey Mysterio to retain the Cruiserweight Championship.
- Chris Benoit defeated A-Train.
- Zach Gowen defeated Matt Hardy.
- The Basham Brothers defeated The APA.
- Mr. McMahon defeated Stephanie McMahon in an “I Quit” match, forcing Stephanie to resign as SmackDown general manager.
- Kurt Angle defeated John Cena.
- Big Show defeated Eddie Guerrero to win the United States Championship.
- Brock Lesnar defeated The Undertaker in a Biker’s Chain match to retain the WWE Championship.
The Hell in a Cell match pitting Brock Lesnar against The Undertaker from No Mercy 2002 is pretty memorable for many reasons, but what some fans tend to forget is that they fought the following year at No Mercy as well in a Biker’s Chain match.
It was no Satan’s Structure, mind you, but for what it was, it was a good match. Lesnar once again solidified his superiority over Undertaker as a result of interference from The Full Blooded Italians.
John Cena was just starting to break out as a singles star, so his incredible outing against Kurt Angle was crucial in cementing him as the real deal. Even in defeat, he came across like a main event player in the making, and those two have always had tremendous chemistry together.
Nothing else at No Mercy 2003 was nearly as entertaining in-ring wise. Mr. McMahon’s defeat of his daughter Stephanie in the “I Quit” match wrote her out of storylines for several years and Big Show also captured the United States Championship from Eddie Guerrero, even though his reign was a total afterthought.
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- The Legion of Doom and Christy Hemme defeated MNM.
- Bobby Lashley defeated Simon Dean.
- Chris Benoit defeated Booker T, Christian and Orlando Jordan in a Fatal 4-Way match to retain the United States Championship.
- Mr. Kennedy defeated Hardcore Holly.
- JBL defeated Rey Mysterio.
- Randy Orton and Bob Orton defeated The Undertaker in a 2-on-1 Handicap Casket match.
- Juventud defeated Nunzio to win the Cruiserweight Championship.
- Batista defeated Eddie Guerrero to win the World Heavyweight Championship.
No Mercy 2005 is perhaps best known for featuring Eddie Guerrero’s final match on a WWE pay-per-view, as he passed away one month later. He and Batista closed out the show with an awesome display of emotion and storytelling, with Eddie teasing turning on his friend but instead remaining loyal and losing with dignity.
It was a much better bout than the 2-on-1 Handicap Casket match where The Undertaker had the odds stacked against him versus Randy and Bob Orton. That woefully dragged on and on, but thankfully it ended with a cool visual as The Legend Killer seemingly slayed The Deadman by lighting his casket on fire.
Chris Benoit also had his work cut out for him in the Fatal 4-Way for his United States Championship, but unlike Undertaker, he was able to emerge unscathed. That planted the seeds for a Booker T heel turn and their Best of 5 Series that fall.
Meanwhile, the blue brand made an effort to build up their future stars by showcasing the likes of MVP and Mr. Kennedy in short squash matches. JBL vs. Rey Mysterio was also enjoyable, though the mixed tag team match and the Cruiserweight Championship clash were nothing special.
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- The Hardy Boyz defeated Lance Storm and The Hurricane to retain the WCW Tag Team Championship.
- Test defeated Kane.
- Torrie Wilson defeated Stacy Keibler in a Lingerie match.
- Edge defeated Christian in a Ladder match to win the Intercontinental Championship.
- The Dudley Boyz defeated Big Show and Tajiri to retain the WWF Tag Team Championship.
- The Undertaker defeated Booker T.
- Chris Jericho defeated The Rock to win the WCW Championship.
- Stone Cold Steve Austin defeated Kurt Angle and Rob Van Dam in a Triple Threat match to retain the WWE Championship.
If you were a fan of The Invasion, you likely enjoyed this event more than most. Either way, No Mercy 2001 had its fair share of above-average in-ring action and memorable moments.
For months, Edge and Christian had been trading the Intercontinental Championship back and forth, and on this night, their ruthless rivalry culminated in an exciting Ladder match. Edge prevailed as the new champion, laying the groundwork for his future success as a singles wrestler.
The two tag title matches were solid albeit unspectacular, while Test vs. Kane was pretty poor. Thankfully, the final three matches all delivered in spades.
Booker T was one of WCW’s most notable names during The Invasion, so he benefited from taking The Undertaker to the limit in their match. Chris Jericho also proved he could not only hang with but beat The Rock when they collided for the WCW Championship.
The main event, where Stone Cold Steve Austin put his WWE Championship up for grabs against Kurt Angle and Rob Van Dam, trumped everything else on the card and continued The Texas Rattlesnake’s hot streak of spectacular pay-per-view matches that year.
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- The Dudley Boyz won The Dudley Boyz Invitational Tables match.
- The APA and Lita vs. T&A and Trish Status ended in a no contest.
- Chris Jericho defeated X-Pac in a Steel Cage match.
- Right to Censor defeated Chyna and Mr. Ass.
- Stone Cold Steve Austin vs. Rikishi in a No Holds Barred match ended in a no contest.
- William Regal defeated Naked Mideon to retain the European Championship.
- Los Conquistadores defeated The Hardy Boyz to win the WWE Tag Team Championship.
- Triple H defeated Chris Benoit.
- Kurt Angle defeated The Rock in a No Disqualification match to win the WWE Championship.
Truth be told, No Mercy 2000 may not look like an amazing event on paper, but the key was in its execution, and the full three hours feature some of the best wrestling you’ll ever see.
All right, so William Regal vs. Naked Mideon was total throwaway, but the Steel Cage match between Chris Jericho and X-Pac exceeded expectations and Stone Cold Steve Austin returned to form in his No Holds Barred brawl with Rikishi.
From there, Triple H and Chris Benoit contested an instant classic which served as a turning point in the carer for Benoit and is one of the most underrated matches in HHH’s career. Meanwhile, The Conquistadores (a.k.a. Edge and Christian) could always be counted on for a quality contest with The Hardy Boyz.
After an incredible rookie year in WWE, Kurt Angle achieved the seemingly impossible by beating The Rock in a phenomenal No Disqualification match for the WWE Championship. Those top two matches alone made this a must-see show, and the undercard only adds to the event’s overall entertainment value.
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- AJ Styles defeated Dean Ambrose and John Cena in a Triple Threat match to retain the WWE Championship.
- Nikki Bella defeated Carmella.
- Heath Slater and Rhyno defeated The Usos to retain the SmackDown Tag Team Championship.
- Baron Corbin defeated Jack Swagger.
- Dolph Ziggler defeated The Miz in a Title vs. Career match to win the Intercontinental Championship.
- Naomi defeated Alexa Bliss.
- Bray Wyatt defeated Randy Orton.
No Mercy was discontinued by WWE as an annual event after 2008, but thanks to the return of the Brand Extenstion in 2016, it was brought back as a SmackDown Live-exclusive show that October.
SmackDown had already produced a great show with Backlash the month prior, so the pressure was on for the blue brand to deliver a second straight gem of an event. Ultimately, they didn’t disappoint and most of the matchups left viewers satisfied, specifically the outings for the WWE Championship and the Intercontinental Championship.
Interesting enough, the highly anticipated WWE title Triple Threat with AJ Styles, John Cena and Dean Ambrose opened the event due to the pay-per-view airing opposite of a U.S. presidential debate later that night.
As outstanding as that match was, Dolph Ziggler and The Miz were still able to captivate the crowd when they met for the Intercontinental title where Ziggler’s career was on the line. That was what should have headlined the event, considering Randy Orton vs. Bray Wyatt was a bit of a bore.
At the very least, Wyatt won his encounter against Orton thanks to help from the returning Luke Harper.
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- Matt Hardy defeated Mark Henry to retain the ECW Championship.
- Beth Phoenix defeated Candice Michelle to retain the WWE Women’s Championship.
- Rey Mysterio defeated Kane by disqualification.
- Batista defeated JBL in a World Heavyweight Championship No. 1 contender’s match.
- Big Show defeated The Undertaker.
- Triple H defeated Jeff Hardy to retain the WWE Championship.
- Chris Jericho defeated Shawn Michaels in a Ladder match to retain the World Heavyweight Championship.
WWE didn’t create a ton of new stars in 2008, but the talent on top at that time was unreal from the likes of Chris Jericho, Shawn Michaels, Batista, John Cena, Edge, Jeff Hardy, The Undertaker, Rey Mysterio and many others.
A vast majority of those Superstars were in action at No Mercy 2008, making it a star-studded card from top to bottom. Matt Hardy and Mark Henry opened the evening with a well-wrestled match for the ECW Championship, Beth Phoenix held onto her WWE Women’s Championship versus Candice Michelle, and Kane brutalized Rey Mysterio in their one-on-one outing.
In the night’s main matchups, Batista basically squashed JBL to become the No. 1 contender to the World Heavyweight Championship, which was exactly what needed to happen. Unfortunately, Big Show vs. The Undertaker was much more painful to watch, but Show’s victory did give him credibility as a newly-turned heel.
No Mercy 2008 cements its spot as the third-best installment to date with the world title matches. Jeff Hardy came close to unseating Triple H as WWE champion in a thrilling encounter, while Chris Jericho and Shawn Michaels capped off their six-month feud in an unforgettable Ladder match.
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- The Godfather defeated Mideon.
- The Fabulous Moolah defeated Ivory to win the WWE Women’s Championship.
- The Hollys defeated The New Age Outlaws by disqualification.
- Chyna defeated Jeff Jarrett in a Good Housekeeping match to win the Intercontinental Championship.
- The Rock defeated The British Bulldog.
- The New Brood defeated Edge and Christian in a Ladder match to earn $100,000 and the managerial services of Terri Runnels.
- Val Venis defeated Mankind.
- X-Pac defeated Bradshaw, Kane and Faarooq in a Four corners elimination match.
- Triple H defeated Stone Cold Steve Austin in an Anything Goes match to retain the WWE Championship.
We discussed earlier how abysmal the inaugural installment of No Mercy emanating from the United Kingdom was, so it’s unbelievable to think how big of an improvement this event was mere months later.
Before dissecting the undercard, which featured The Godfather vs. Mideon and The Fabulous Moolah winning the WWE Women’s Championship, it must be noted how that type of ridiculousness was par for the course in the Attitude Era. If the audience enjoyed it, then it’s tough to criticize those contests (along with the four corners elimination match and The Hollys vs. The New Age Outlaws).
More importantly, the show is famous for featuring the Ladder match that kicked off the careers of Edge, Christian and The Hardy Boyz. They elevated tag team wrestling to new heights on this night and tore the house down with their sensational showing.
Triple H and Stone Cold Steve Austin had yet to develop the same chemistry that they did in 2001, but their Anything Goes matchup for the WWE Championship was excellent all the same. Mankind vs. Val Venis was a pleasant surprise as well, which rounded out this strong show.
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- Chris Jericho and Christian defeated Booker T and Goldust to retain the World Tag Team Championship.
- Torrie Wilson defeated Dawn Marie.
- Rob Van Dam defeated Ric Flair.
- Jamie Noble defeated Tajiri to retain the Cruiserweight Championship.
- Triple H defeated Kane to retain the World Heavyweight Championship and win the Intercontinental Championship.
- Kurt Angle and Chris Benoit defeated Edge and Rey Mysterio to win the WWE Tag Team Championship.
- Trish Stratus defeated Victoria to retain the WWE Women’s Championship.
- Brock Lesnar defeated The Undertaker in a Hell in a Cell match to retain the WWE Championship.
Between Raw’s stacked roster and SmackDown’s hot streak of stellar shows at the time, No Mercy 2002 had all the tools necessary to be one of the year’s most entertaining events, and sure enough, it was successful in setting the stage for the future of both brands.
While Booker T and Goldust were still attempting to find common ground as a tag team, the opening match with Chris Jericho and Christian was decent, along with the Jamie Noble vs. Tajiri Cruiserweight Championship match.
A WWE pay-per-view featuring two women’s matches was almost unheard of back then, and Rob Van Dam and Ric Flair had a fine undercard encounter. Triple H vs. Kane was by no means a Match of the Year contender, but it was historic in that HHH unified the World Heavyweight and Intercontinental Championships with his win.
In the finals of the WWE Tag Team Championship tournament, Edge and Rey Mysterio created magic with Kurt Angle and Chris Benoit in producing a phenomenal tag team matchup. Plus, the Hell in a Cell main event between Brock Lesnar and The Undertaker is remembered for its sheer brutality as well as for launching the career of Lesnar as a top-tier talent.
Granted, not everything on the card was flawless, as Torrie Wilson vs. Dawn Marie was deplorable as expected, but it did perfectly sum up how diverse of a year 2002 was for WWE.
Graham Mirmina, aka Graham “GSM” Matthews, is an Endicott College alumnus and aspiring journalist. Visit his website, Next Era Wrestling, and “like” his official Facebook page to continue the conversation on all things wrestling.