G5: No Mercy, John Cena, Mae Young Classic, more

1. Brock Lesnar beat Braun Strowman. Roman Reigns ran roughshod over John Cena. Did WWE No Mercy live up to expectations?

David Dunn:
I felt like the undercard over-delivered while the main event didn’t quite hit the mark. Lesnar and Strowman tore the house down at SummerSlam but left something to be desired in Los Angeles. John Cena vs. Roman Reigns seems to have been more historically significant than, I think, any of us realised as we were watching it though, so for that reason alone No Mercy will have inherent replay value.

Grady Hooker:
I think so. It isn’t about the match outcomes, it’s about what happens bell-to-bell, and No Mercy was full of great matches from almost every single wrestler on the card. There, of course, were some winners that I would have preferred to be the other guy, but as is the constantly shifting entertainment that is wrestling, you don’t always get what you want.

Richard Butler:
Those were big matches but I’m not sure they had the results we wanted. I guess we’ll have to wait a bit longer to see how it all plays out.

Mister J:
I think No Mercy went pretty much as expected. Even with the couple of top tier matches, I went in with low expectations (as I do most WWE pay-per-views that aren’t WrestleMania these days) and I was rewarded. The show itself was on the high end of fine. Will it be a show that I call one of the best in 10 years’ time? No (though I will admit the Reigns vs. Cena match may be historic). Will it be a show that maybe I wouldn’t mind seeing again in 10 years’ time? Yes, it probably would be. As far as wrestling goes, I don’t think that’s a bad thing.

 

2. If No Mercy was the end of John Cena competing on a full-time schedule, what has been Cena’s crowning achievement in 15 years with WWE?

David Dunn:
I’ll remember Cena as a star-maker—which mightn’t be a common opinion. Despite his record-equalling 16 world title reigns, Cena was just as instrumental in establishing a plethora of other WWE Superstars. CM Punk’s captivating WWE title reign in 2011 came about while feuding with Cena. Daniel Bryan’s big win at SummerSlam 2013 was against Cena. AJ Styles and Kevin Owens – two of the most popular WWE Superstars today – had their first big rivalries with John Cena. Cena elevated WWE Superstars to his level.

Grady Hooker:
The whole damn thing. He has been doing it at the top level for 15 years and been the flag bearer for a generation with all sorts of charity and humanitarian efforts. I always suck at picking out specific matches, so I’m gonna cop out with this one and just pick a recent moment when he won the WWE Championship and tied Ric Flair’s record.

Richard Butler:
Becoming a 16-time champion has to be his biggest achievement in the ring, and his epic charity work outside of it.

Mister J:
I think John Cena’s crowning achievement is his cementing his reputation as the guy who carried the company for the last decade… as the guy who brought wrestling back into the mainstream, and as the guy who seemed to always do what was best for business. As much as anyone, there was a time when I hated John Cena, I could not stand him. He not only won me over, he convinced me of his sincerity, of his ability, and his drive. I saw him have a match with CM Punk at a house show in Brisbane, and the two of them worked liked it was WrestleMania. They had a pay-per-view quality match, and they did so, for the crowd. John Cena was already on the path for me, but on that night he also became my favourite wrestler in WWE. The only real crossover guy in the last decade, and one of the few guys that truly deserves every success he has worked to achieve.

 

3. Competitors from the Mae Young Classic have started showing up on WWE NXT. Is there anyone from the tournament you’d like to see in WWE who hasn’t inked a contract yet?

David Dunn:
Tessa Blanchard really stood out to me. Despite only having one match, Blanchard looked phenomenal against Kairi Sane, and helped start Sane off on the best foot possible heading towards her eventual win. She’s got a pretty busy independent schedule but I could see Blanchard fitting into the NXT landscape with ease. I hope she arrives at Full Sail eventually.

Grady Hooker:
There is always so much talent in these tournaments because there is no restrictions. Obviously I’d take Dakota Kai if she wasn’t signed, but I’ll opt instead for Candice LeRae and Toni Storm.

Richard Butler:
The Four Horsewomen of MMA. I know they didn’t wrestle, but they did appear.

Mister J:
The talent in the Mae Young Classic was off the charts (as the kids may have once said, and possibly still do), not the least of which for the inclusion of New Zealand’s own Dakota Kai, and Australia’s Rhea Ripley. But as for the unsigned talents, it has to be Ronda Rousey and her Four Horsewomen of MMA, and of course Toni Storm – who shone every time she stepped into the ring. From the reactions she received, and the matches she had, if Toni Storm isn’t signed to a contract in the very near future, I will be very surprised. (Bonus points to Kay Lee Ray, and Piper Niven as well.)

 

4. WWE Network has surveyed subscribers about potential upgrades to the service, including carrying the likes of New Japan or Progress Wrestling. Which of the suggested options interest you?

David Dunn:
Adding NJPW or Impact Wrestling is an incredible, if almost impossible option. Capitalising on the relationships WWE has with ICW and Progress Wrestling, however, to add some of their content to WWE Network would be excellent. UFC has expanded Fight Pass (its WWE Network equivalent) to include a multitude of regional MMA organisations, and it’s something WWE could learn from.

Grady Hooker:
All of them! I’d take the scripted shows (comedies and dramas) as well as all of the other companies’ shows. Not to give WWE a monopoly, but to give some of the other promotions more exposure to a casual audience. Ignoring the shows, the thing that got me the most hyped in the entire survey is the ability to download content and watch online as that should be a thing for every video client.

Richard Butler:
Seeing shows like Progress or ICW that have recently featured NXT talent would be cool and showcase talent most people wouldn’t have seen before.

Mister J:
A new TV-14 rated show would be interesting in today’s climate. Though I have doubts they could even pull it off, or want to. In its day ECW happily thumbed its nose at convention, and took the best of Mid South Wrestling, Memphis, Mexico, and Japan and made it into its own “extreme” entity. But half of what they did, I don’t think WWE would have the stones to do now, and to be honest, I’m not sure the audience would know what to make of it if they did. Time has moved on. That being said… I would love to see regular content from ICW and Progress. Though to be fair, I’d be happy if WWE just updated their back catalogue of shows from their library more often.

 

5. Chris Jericho’s fourth book, No Is a Four-Letter Word, hit shelves late last month. Which wrestling authors do you consider ‘must-read’?

David Dunn:
I’m partial to anyone who’s written the book on their own, with minimal input from a ghost writer. That means Mick Foley and Chris Jericho are at the top of my list. I’ve got No Is a Four-Letter Word ready to join Jericho’s three other titles on my bookshelf. I really enjoyed Daniel Bryan’s autobiography too, and would happily read more from him.

Grady Hooker:
I no do books good. Wrestling books are something I always think I should get into, but just haven’t found time to do it yet.

Richard Butler:
Mick Foley. I’m also reading some autobiographical wrestling comics by Squared Circle Comics, and the Headlocked comic books that IPW’s Liger contributes to are great too.

Mister J:
My favourite wrestling book of all time remains The Wrestling by Simon Garfield, a loving look at the years of UK’s World of Sport. Aside from that, Mick Foley’s Have A Nice Day, Heath McCoy’s Pain and Passion: The History of Stampede Wrestling, Box Brown’s Andre the Giant: Life and Legend, Dave Cameron’s 70 Years at Ringside: A History of Wrestling in New Zealand, and Greg Oliver & Steven Johnson’s great Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame series (specifically ‘The Heels’ and ‘Tag Teams’) are the start of a great wrestling library.