WWE held their No Mercy pay-per-view last night from the Rose Garden in Portland, Oregon. While I will be the first to admit that the pay-per-view seemed like it could end up a throwaway effort with a lot of talking and some questionable booking, the final three matches of the show made it a very good effort from the company. Below are my thoughts in the order in which they occurred at last night’s pay-per-view.

The show opened with Matt Hardy vs. Mark Henry for the ECW Championship. Creative had to be careful in this match as they did not want Henry to come off as weak although it was way too early to do another title change. I felt that goal was accomplished with a good paced match for an opener that saw Hardy steal the win to retain his title. Mark Henry’s size limits what he can do in the ring but I felt that he had a good showing against Hardy. The crowd was hot for the opener which is always a plus.

Candice Michelle came into last night’s pay-per-view off some of the worst matches of her career, showing a considerable amount of ring rust. Last night she proved that those matches were a fluke as she looked much better in her match for the Women’s Championship against Beth Phoenix. Candice worked her quick, almost high flying style against the more powerful Beth Phoenix and looked very credible. This match not only continued the Glamarella angle but made both women look well. Beth got the win and retained her title which I felt was the right outcome.

Prior to his match with Rey Mysterio, WWE did another cheesy backstage promo with Kane. This reminds me so much of what TNA did with Black Reign Dustin Runnels that it makes my stomach hurt. Kane was finally starting to get momentum this summer and they’ve turned this into another kid-friendly cartoon angle. As for the match itself, Mysterio proved just how awesome that he is with all of his high spots and versatility. The outcome was very predictable with Kane getting disqualified as obviously Mysterio was not going to lose his mask and they didn’t want Kane to appear weak.

The backstage stuff between MVP and Big Show was kind of out of the blue but it led to MVP coming out and complaining about not being on the No Mercy card. This led to Randy Orton coming out, making the segment even more random, with Orton dressing down MVP. Finally Priceless and Manu came out along with Kofi Kingston and CM Punk later in the segment which led to a big brawl. It appears that something is in the works for Survivor Series between Team Orton and Team Punk although we’ll have to wait a couple of weeks to see what happens. Some wrestling fans may not be happy with the talking segment on the pay-per-view although I did not have a huge problem with it because No Mercy is a B-level pay-per-view and they obviously wanted to keep some of the names not featured on the card in the spotlight.

JBL vs. Batista was the worst match of the night. Creative booked JBL to be inferior to Batista, with him getting on the mic after the match and admitting that his heart was not in it. Obviously they scripted the promo to try and salvage JBL as a main eventer, but a lot of his momentum was killed last night. Batista has made it well known that he wants more of the spotlight and it looks like WWE is willing to give him what he wants. It seems like only a matter of time until Batista wins the World Championship and he made JBL look like a job guy last night. I liked the segment with Cryme Tyme after JBL’s rant with all of the divas getting in his new limousine. Not only did it give the divas a chance to get shown on pay-per-view but they had Sgt. Slaughter get in the limo decked out in full G.I. Joe gear which made it that much more funny.

Big Show had his best match since returning to WWE last night against the Undertaker. A lot of people may take a bout like this for granted but I truly appreciate just how good these big men made the match look. It’s not easy for a match featuring two giants to appear believable and realistic but last night’s match was and it was a lot of fun to watch. The live crowd didn’t like it, but I enjoyed the MMA style knockout finish with Big Show losing it on Undertaker. I didn’t expect Undertaker to lose clean and he didn’t but it would have been the wrong move to put him over clean as it would have stopped the angle in its beginning stages.

Say what you want too about Jeff Hardy but he is a big asset for WWE. His match with Triple H last night was one of the best bouts that I have seen on a WWE pay-per-view all year. Hardy changed it up a little bit, utilizing more mat wrestling but the slow build made for one heck of a go-home sequence. Hardy hit Twist of Fate and the Swanton Bomb, even losing his shirt, but Triple H was able to steal the win by reversing Hardy’s pin. I liked how it was booked in that Hardy could hit his finishers yet Triple H was still able to defy the odds. Jeff Hardy shaking Triple H’s hand after the match was a nice touch to keep both as faces. It looks like Hunter will move on to something with Vladamir Kozlov but Hardy remained credible as a top guy on SmackDown.

The match of the night and one of the best matches of 2008 was the ladder match main event between Chris Jericho and Shawn Michaels. Michaels is absolutely insane for working a ladder match with his triceps injury but he delivered yet another clutch performance. Jericho lost a tooth early on in the match but it didn’t affect his spots and made the match that much more believable. It looked like Jericho tweaked his knee after landing on it after getting thrown off a ladder to the outside, but I have not heard of a serious injury. Great work by both as the match stole the show with Chris Jericho retaining. I completely expected Jericho to retain not only because it’s too soon for a change but because of the uncertainty of Michaels working with a semi-serious injury.

In conclusion No Mercy was a very good pay-per-view. The final three matches alone made it worth the $40 price tag. The only bad thing on the entire event was Batista vs. JBL because Batista was booked to be so dominant. Candice Michelle was really the only question mark on this stellar card and she more than delivered in the Women’s Championship match. Triple H vs. Jeff Hardy and Chris Jericho vs. Shawn Michaels were two of the best matches that you will see this year. An event like No Mercy goes to show just how a company can have straight up wrestling matches without goofy gimmicks and put on over two hours of very good wrestling. People backstage knew that WWE delivered last night and I could not agree more.

Richard can be contacted at richard [at] grayinternet.com

Richard Gray is a professional wrestling journalist and frequent contributor to Rajah.com. He has been covering the world of professional wrestling since 1999 and has had the opportunity to cover ground breaking stories such as the demise of ECW, the WCW buyout, the Benoit tragedy, Bobby Lashley leaving WWE, and more. For more on Richard check out his web site, Wrestling News World.

– “Richard Reacts” Archive By WrestlingNewsWorld.com’s Richard Gray