|Event||WWE No Mercy 2002|
|Date||Sunday October 20 2002|
|Location||Little Rock, Arkansas, USA|
WWE No Mercy 2002
WWE No Mercy 2002 is a card that stands out in fan’s minds to this day. That is largely due to the bloodbath of a main event between Brock Lesnar vs. The Undertaker. Add to that a great tag team match and other noteworthy attractions, and you have a pretty strong B-level PPV from WWE. It also opens with a humorous segment: Kane sits down next to The Undertaker. Both look thoroughly displeased due to their storyline shenanigans, which I’ll touch on shortly. So, given their plights and their intimidating auras, it was amusing for Kane to simply ask “How was your week?”
WHAT HAPPENED AT THE PREVIOUS TV SHOWS? READ OUR PRE-PPV REVIEWS OF RAW & SMACKDOWN!
WWE World Tag Team Championship Match
Chris Jericho & Christian (C) vs. Booker T & Goldust
Chris Jericho and Christian had just captured the suddenly-renamed World Tag Team Titles from Kane and The Hurricane on Raw. Booker and Goldust had enjoyed a tremendous run as an odd couple pairing, but they had yet to win doubles gold together. A previous title shot at SummerSlam against Christian and his Un-American partner Lance Storm was unsuccessful. But could T and Goldie achieve that goal here at No Mercy 2002? Unfortunately not. The match itself was a hot opener, with some nice near-falls adding to the drama.
The bout did contain one botch that was humorous at first glance, though it could have had serious consequences. Jericho leapt onto the ropes to hit a dropkick, only for the middle rope to snap. Y2J fell to the mat in an abrupt manner. It’s Botchamania at its purest, but thank goodness it didn’t happen when Jericho had attempted his signature Lionsault. Had that been the case, things could have turned out very badly. Ultimately, he was thankfully okay, and he and Christian were victorious when Chris scored the pin over Goldust. Booker and Goldust would finally win the belts two months later at Armageddon.
WHAT HAPPENED AT THE PREVIOUS EDITION? READ OUR WWF NO MERCY 2001 REVIEW!
Torrie Wilson vs. Dawn Marie
This bout would be the first step towards the all-time bad storyline involving these two females and Torrie’s father Al Wilson. Dawn would flirt with Torrie’s father, eventually marrying him just to spite Torrie, before he would kayfabe pass away due to exhaustion from sex. I am not making this up. All of that was still to come at this point here. Even without knowing the rotten story to come, though, this bout was not very good. It was typical of the Divas era with minimal action and a greater focus on T&A. An example is present here as the two girls had a catfight which involved rolling over the incredibly pleased referee. For what it’s worth, this (and the fans applauding the official) was the highlight of the match. Torrie scored the pin over Dawn, though her on-screen nightmare involving Marie was only just getting started.
WHAT HAPPENED AT THE PREVIOUS PPV? READ OUR WWE UNFORGIVEN 2002 REVIEW!
Rob Van Dam vs. Ric Flair
Talk about a styles clash. RVD provides an unorthodox, innovative high-flying approach based around eye-catching flips and hard-hitting strikes. Flair, meanwhile, embodies the traditional old-school technical wrestler, with offence that is basic yet effective. Therefore, seeing these two square off would be intriguing. Flair had cost Van Dam the World Heavyweight Title against Triple H at Unforgiven, so this was Rob’s chance for revenge. The match itself is alright; it’s definitely not a classic, but it’s fun to see these two totally different performers battle one another. It’s also the only time that these two met in singles action, making this a novelty of sorts. Van Dam scored the pin with a Five Star Frog Splash to exact some retribution over The Nature Boy.
Backstage, Eric Bischoff interrupted a Big Show-Stephanie McMahon conversation. At the time, Bischoff and Stephanie were the General Managers of Raw and SmackDown respectively. In the storyline, Show was showing displeasure at his position on Raw, so a jump to SD was a possibility. The giant would switch brands later that week, leading to arguably the most successful push of his entire career. In other words, the big guy made the right decision.
WHAT HAPPENED AT THE FIRST EDITION? READ OUR WWF NO MERCY (UK) 1999 REVIEW!
WWE Cruiserweight Championship Match
Jamie Noble (C) vs. Tajiri
I had totally forgotten that this match even took place here until I rewatched No Mercy 2002 on the WWE Network. Noble’s Cruiserweight Championship reign is remembered more for his outrageous segments with Nidia than his in-ring performances. That being said, he was perfectly capable of having a watchable bout with the right opponent. Tajiri, meanwhile, had seen his role diminish in the previous months, but again the Japanese Buzzsaw could deliver an awesome clash if he was given suitable time. This ended up being a worthy effort, though as noted, I barely remembered it, meaning it’s unlikely to leave a lasting impression. Noble pinned Tajiri after interference from Nidia to retain, but Tajiri struck the champ with a post-match Buzzsaw Kick. Noble’s Cruiserweight Title reign would be ended one month later at Survivor Series by Billy Kidman.
WWE World Heavyweight Championship vs. WWE Intercontinental Championship Unification Match
Triple H (C) vs. Kane (C)
At first glance, the big story here is the fact that two belts would be at stake. Especially given Bischoff’s recent “one show, one title” speech. In other words, the IC Championship would be removed from WWE after this very bout. It’s bizarre in hindsight to think that they actually did this. Sure, the gold had reduced in value, but it certainly hadn’t reached the point of fans wanting it to disappear. The title would be resurrected by Judgment Day seven months later, but we were unaware of that when No Mercy 2002 took place. So, the historic context is what makes this match stand out, right? Nope. Nor is it the action, which I’ll come back to shortly.
Instead, everyone recalls this for it playing host to one of the worst storylines in WWE history (this would not be deemed a peak period for plot developments). On October 7, HHH would accuse Kane of murdering a woman called Katie Vick. That statement alone ensures that we will never see a repeat of this tale on WWE television. Even so, things would take an even darker turn on October 14. Firstly, Kane tried to clear his name by suggesting Vick’s death years earlier was genuine, but it had been the result of a car accident. That Kane was the driver, and he had just been to a party, calls his entire backstory into question. After all, hadn’t Kane been locked away for years due to horrific burns, only being released when he declared war on his brother in 1997?
However, fans were more concerned with what came next. HHH interrupted his speech to say Kane was lying, and he then accused Kane of having sex with her dead body. It’s worth remembering that HHH was a heel, and we weren’t meant to take his implications seriously. (Well, Jerry Lawler did, but purely so he could squeeze every last darkly comical joke out of the situation.) But consider this: we’re often told nowadays that we live in an overly sensitive environment, especially when it comes to wrestling. Yet in 2002, when fans were willing to tolerate just about any storyline material, this plot resulted in a record-high number of complaints. The tasteless nature of a fictional character dying, and then potentially being sexually assaulted, was too much even for WWE diehards in 2002 to stomach.
All of this overshadowed the match, which is actually pretty good. Kane is underrated when it comes to putting on an exciting battle, at least during this era. And while many will say HHH struggled during this time period due to injuries, this was one of his better efforts. There would be plenty of shenanigans, namely interference from Ric Flair and The Hurricane, along with ref bumps. In the end, HHH Pedigreed Kane to retain the World Heavyweight Championship and simultaneously retire the IC Title.
I can’t finish talking about this match, though, without discussing its aftermath. The next night, HHH would suggest he had video evidence proving Kane really was a necrophiliac. Cue the most notorious segment in WWE history, with HHH masquerading as Kane to imitate sexual intercourse with a mannequin of Vick. It’s not as graphic as some might have you believe, but it still seems totally unnecessary on a wrestling show, even back then. Many say they stopped watching wrestling due to the low quality and bad-taste nature of this angle. That says it all. If you did stick around, you’ll have seen Kane “win” the feud by beating HHH in a non-title Casket match the next week. I bet that made up for everything that Kane had gone through!
Speaking of bad storylines, Kane’s big brother The Undertaker was trying to escape one of his own. As part of the build-up for his showdown with Lesnar, Taker would be deemed as being unfaithful. Let’s pause for a moment: Undertaker had been married in real-life to a woman named Sara. This marriage had been acknowledged on television previously, but by this point, Sara was pregnant with their first child.
So, Brock and Paul Heyman brought in a lady named Tracy, who accused Taker of cheating on Sara with her. In fact, they allegedly slept together ten days prior to No Mercy 2002, according to Tracy. The idea of a storyline discussing Undertaker (or Kane, for that matter) having sex just seems wrong. Anyway, here Tracy confessed to Stephanie McMahon that she had made everything up, based on Heyman and Lesnar’s influence. Undertaker overheard her confession and shouted “You’re a lying bitch!” You tell her, Taker! Thankfully, this storyline ended here. Based on Katie Vick and Al Wilson, who knows where Taker being unfaithful may have gone.
WHAT HAPPENED AT THE LAST EDITION? READ OUR WWE NO MERCY 2017 REVIEW!
WWE Tag Team Championship Tournament Final Match
Kurt Angle & Chris Benoit vs. Edge & Rey Mysterio
Next up, WWE would crown its first Tag Team Champions for the SmackDown brand. Unusually, the two combos that had reached the final spot were made up of major singles performers, including uneasy teammates Angle and Benoit. It meant, however, that fans would take this seriously, because it had the potential to be an excellent match. If anything, the bout would exceed expectations: it’s an absolute classic. I won’t say too much about this, because it’s one of those bouts that you should see without knowing what to expect.
Long before finisher kick-outs became the norm, these four delivered a spectacular match based purely on their wrestling abilities. And the Little Rock crowd were very impressed and demonstrated their admiration throughout. In the end, Angle managed to submit Edge to the Ankle Lock, crowning himself and Benoit as WWE Tag Team Champions. If you can tolerate watching Chris Benoit wrestle, this is a must-see contest. Edge and Mysterio would win the belts in a Two Out Of Three Falls rematch a few weeks later.
I should note how the fan perception about what WWE did best and what it did badly was changing here. For years, storylines and angles were of such a high quality that matches almost took a back seat. By 2000-2001, the bouts themselves were on an equal level with the tales that were instigating them. But as evidenced by the likes of Katie Vick, WWE was starting to make real errors with its storytelling. Meanwhile, the wrestling (at least on SmackDown) had reached such heights that fans were becoming more interested in the action than the plotlines.
I mention this because this would influence the idea of fans judging performers on their move-sets and assumed wrestling ability rather than their suitability to draw interest from fans as an attraction. It’s just fascinating, because that seemingly small change essentially alters how main event stars in the future would be treated by supporters. Might John Cena or Roman Reigns have achieved unparalleled stardom if fans hadn’t focused so much on their in-ring repertoires? Who knows.
WWE Women’s Championship Match
Trish Stratus (C) vs. Victoria
Here, we have the signs of another ongoing change in WWE. We have already discussed the terrible Torrie-Dawn story, which was based largely on titillation. In this match, though, we have two perfectly-capable performers, who happen to be female, delivering an enjoyable contest. And it was not due to T&A (despite Trish once managing that tag team), but due to their abilities in the ring.
It wasn’t obvious at first, but it would eventually change how fans reacted to Bra & Panties matches and similar segments. Those angles would be ratings-grabbers in 1998, but by the mid-2000s, they had become a nuisance. Especially when seeing bouts like this and realising what the WWE women could achieve. Trish rolled up Victoria for the win to retain her belt, but Victoria attacked her after the bell. Stratus would lose the gold to Victoria at Survivor Series before regaining it in a three-way clash at WrestleMania XIX.
WWE Championship Hell In A Cell Match
Brock Lesnar (C) vs. The Undertaker
Finally, we have the blow-off to the original Lesnar vs. Undertaker feud. Their run-ins over the previous two months, including a controversial match at Unforgiven, would culminate inside Hell In A Cell. At this point, some fans still questioned Brock’s suitability as WWE Champion due to the rapid-fire nature of his push. But he and Taker almost over-delivered here with an absolutely brutal battle. Undertaker was the king of HIAC in WWE at that point, and he dominated the early going, which included him busting Brock open badly. With Heyman yelling from outside the cage, Taker grabbed his tie and dragged him into the Cell wall. Cue Heyman also bleeding heavily. At this point, it seemed like Undertaker had a chance of being the first man to pin Lesnar in a WWE ring.
But Brock rebounded by striking Taker hard with a set of steel stairs. This impact would bust Taker open to a truly gruesome degree; his blood-smothered face is a shocking sight. From there, Brock targeted Taker’s right arm, which Brock had broken a few weeks earlier. Taker was wearing a cast, but Lesnar ripped that off and destroyed his hand further. Taker did mount a comeback despite losing blood at an alarming rate. But in the end, Lesnar reversed an attempted Tombstone Piledriver by almost throwing Taker onto his shoulders for a match-winning F5. It looked brilliant, and it was smoother than when Lesnar would do the same thing at WrestleMania XXX.
Lesnar celebrated by climbing onto the Cell roof and posing while holding the WWE Title, having conquered a true WWE mainstay. This was the first HIAC match to really avoid a big bump while still being a violent brawl that could live up to its hype. I was disappointed at the time due to the lack of a major spot, but it’s an incredible fight to rewatch nowadays. These two would of course feud again several times in the future. And they would even collide inside Hell In A Cell again in 2015.
WHAT HAPPENED AT THE FOLLOWING TV SHOWS? READ OUR POST-PPV REVIEWS OF RAW & SMACKDOWN!
WWE No Mercy 2002 is a very entertaining card, with its two best bouts being contenders for the best WWE match of the whole year. The tag clash is superior, as it’s simply superb, but the main event is a truly epic war. The rest of the event is up-and-down, reaching its depths due to the horrendous storylines of the day. Even so, for the WWE Tag Team Title and Hell In A Cell bouts, you absolutely should check out this show.