Friday, 24 November 2017

DVD Review: WWE Double Feature: No Mercy 2017 & Hell In A Cell 2017

Image Source: Amazon
Written By: Mark Armstrong

Running Time: 381 Minutes
Certificate: 15
Number Of Discs: 2
Studio: Fremantle Home Entertainment
Released: November 27 2017

(Thanks to Fetch Publicity for arranging this review.)

The streak of inconsistent Double Feature DVD sets - with the Raw event generally offering value for money while the SmackDown show being sub-par - finally ends here with the latest release. That's because No Mercy delivers two major main event matches alongside some great action further down the card, whilst Hell In A Cell delivers what it promises with two exciting and memorable Cell encounters book-ending a decent under-card.

Starting with No Mercy, The Miz vs. Jason Jordan is a watchable opener, though Jason's attempts to gain acceptance from the fans as Kurt Angle's "son" take another hit here, both with the result and with the hostile reaction from the Los Angeles crowd. Finn Balor vs. Bray Wyatt is okay but nothing special, but the opposite is true for Seth Rollins & Dean Ambrose vs. Sheamus & Cesaro. Traditionally, the PPV rematch is inferior to the original, especially when the first encounter is a damn good one, but this is another absolute thriller between these four men, and it features Cesaro losing his teeth via a slingshot into the post in a pretty gruesome visual.

The high standards are maintained in the Fatal Five Way match for the Raw Women's Championship, which in my opinion is the best female match on WWE PPV so far this year, featuring a strong effort by all involved. Speaking of effort, John Cena and Roman Reigns graft in their first-time encounter, which despite a quiet early section lives up to the hype (such promotion included some savage shoot-style promos on Reigns by Cena). That being said, I still feel that this should have been saved for WrestleMania; sure, that was the selling point of No Mercy, but this is one of the very few matches that WWE has involving its regular crew which could credibly headline its biggest show of the year. Perhaps they'll meet again further down the road, but had this taken place at Mania, it would have had much more impact.

Moving on, Neville vs. Enzo Amore is a deliberately one-sided match with a shock finish, and the Cruiserweight Championship shenanigans would unfortunately lead to Neville walking out of WWE a few weeks ago (though the rumour mill suggests that he may be back fairly soon). Finally, Brock Lesnar vs. Braun Strowman sadly ends the show on a bum note; it's not a bad match, but it doesn't generate half the excitement that their spots at SummerSlam (and even their promo interactions on Raw) created, partly because the structure of the match prevented this from happening. It feels more like a technical chess match than a battle of two monsters. I didn't agree with those who also felt this match could have main evented a WrestleMania, and on the evidence here, it's a good job that they didn't.

It's a shame, because Strowman had a ton of momentum heading into this card. And while I didn't seriously believe that he would dethrone Lesnar, I thought that the booking would have allowed him to put up more of a fight than he did prior to taking the loss. Hogan vs. Andre at WM III, this wasn't, and it regrettably ends the otherwise sparking No Mercy with disappointment. The Kick-Off Show match between the ever-entertaining Elias and the underrated Apollo Crews is included as a DVD extra.

Onto Hell In A Cell now (which incidentally features some great transitional graphic effects involving a skull), and we open things up with a tremendous doubles HIAC clash between The New Day and The Usos. It has a little too much comedy for such a serious stipulation at first, even given New Day's laid-back personalities, but it soon develops into a great brawl. Though I felt that their SummerSlam showdown was slightly superior, this is still an excellent way to end the WWE tag team feud of the year.

Next up, Randy Orton and Rusev compete in a proper match, making up for their incredibly short meeting at SummerSlam. AJ Styles vs. Baron Corbin vs. Tye Dillinger is a respectable three-way for the United States Title (Tye was only officially added during the Kick-Off Show); it isn't particularly memorable, but it does allow Corbin to finally rebound from his week from hell during the mid-summer where he lost his Money In The Bank briefcase and then a SummerSlam match with John Cena. Natalya vs. Charlotte is just getting going when a DQ finish is pulled out, marking yet another PPV clash between two very talented ladies where the booking becomes a hindrance.

Jinder Mahal vs. Shinsuke Nakamura is a slight improvement on their previous PPV bout, but it's still average at best, and while I disagree with those who say that WWE has "ruined" Nakamura, his chances of winning the WWE Title against anybody not named AJ Styles take a major hit here. As does Bobby Roode's momentum, since his first PPV bout with Dolph Ziggler is run-of-the-mill, and with a finish (babyface Roode holding the tights) that doesn't benefit anybody. Ziggler was once the master of getting his opponent over; given this match and the Shinsuke bout from Backlash, those days seem to be long gone, though whether you blame that on Dolph or on WWE is a matter of opinion.

Finally, Shane McMahon and Kevin Owens collide in a Hell In A Cell match, set up by Owens and Shane's TV confrontations and KO destroying Vince (who is now 72, remember). It's pretty long, but it's better than Shane's Cell match with The Undertaker from WrestleMania 32, and it features Shane's hair-raising elbow off the top of the Cell. Most notably, though, a big surprise at the finish involving Sami Zayn creates a shock finale, and ends HIAC 2017 with a bang. Presumably because this match ran so long, the HIAC Kick-Off Show match between Chad Gable/Shelton Benjamin and The Hype Bros has been cut.

Though the WWE landscape has changed dramatically since these two shows were held (and No Mercy, the least recent of the two cards, was only two months ago, with Hell In A Cell being only seven weeks in the rear-view mirror), this Double Feature set packs in a lot of action and some of the year's more memorable moments, making up for the low moments, and so this is a twin-disc DVD that I would recommend.

Overall Rating: 7.5/10 - Good

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