I grew up with pro-wrestling. AS a young child, I remember fondly watching WWF every weekend and seeing colorful characters like Jake the Snake Roberts and The Big Bossman. In the early 90s, my love of wrestling had grown to where I would follow things pretty closely; when the mid 90s hit, there wasn't a week that passed that I didn't watch every WWF and WCW program on the air. The WWF Attitude Era was must see TV for me; Stone Cold Steve Austin and The Rock were favorites; on the WCW front, I was torn between the now, led by a heel Hulk Hogan (in my opinion one of the best moves in his career) and the embodiment of old school wrestling, Ric Flair. WWF would prove the victor by keeping things exciting and unpredictable, by as the early 00s rolled around, Vince McMahon had bought his competition, WCW and ECW, and things would never be the same.
I quickly lost my love for watching the sport and felt things would never be the same. In early 2006, I happened across Raw on TV and decided to see how far things had changed. I was happy to see the storylines had slightly improved, there were still performers giving it their all, but it was still a shadow of its heyday. I casually follow the WWE, mostly for the brief moments were true athleticism is allowed to shine, but rarely do I see much that reminds me of the "good old days." Is it because I'm now an adult and I'm finally seeing how childish the business has always been? I don't think so.
ECW Championship Match: Matt Hardy vs. Mark Henry
Matt Hardy puts his ECW title on the line against former champion Mark Henry. This is a fairly average match and one that had been on TV numerous times. It follows a predictable pattern, but never really drags on.
WWE Women's Championship Match: Beth Phoenix vs. Candice Michelle
Without a doubt, Beth Phoenix is one of the best female wrestlers in the business today, so I was able to come into this match with a bit of optimism. Candice Michelle on the other hand has always been mediocre in my book. This ends up being a brief, by-the-books match. The event doesn't seem to be off to a great start with the second match also being nothing more than mid-card TV quality.
MASK ON THE LINE: Rey Mysterio vs. Kane
An odd feud to say the least, Rey Mysterio vs. Kane ends up being a well-done match. It's your typical Mysterio vs. giant match, but Kane is one of the best big men in history in my book. The pace of the match is well balanced and both competitors do what they do best. I've expressed my qualms with Mysterio not being credible in the main event, but in feuds like this, I think he does great.
#1 Contender for the World Heavyweight Championship: JBL vs. Batista
The briefest way to sum up this match: two hosses brawl. Thankfully this match is extremely short, as neither man here complement each other. I've never been a fan of JBL and Batista is nothing like he was in ring, prior to his 2006 injury. The crowd eats up this match though as Batista is one of the most over wrestlers in the company.
Undertaker vs. Big Show
Now this, is a brilliant contrast to the prior match. Taker and Show are much bigger men than JBL and Batista, but manage to put on a great match. There are some moments of great athleticism and its further proof that despite his age, Taker still gives the crowd their money's worth. The ending is my biggest complaint; it would have worked with any other competitor, but against The Undertaker it makes no sense.
WWE Championship: HHH vs. Jeff Hardy
Jeff Hardy's quest for a world title is nothing new. It seemed throughout 2007 and 2008 Hardy was on the brink of winning the gold, only to screw it up with personal issues. Finally, towards the end of 2008 he entered into a feud with HHH and the fans knew that it was only a matter of time before he took down The Game. The crowd was behind both men, and honestly, it was nice to see a face vs. face feud, since both men gave great performances in their series of matches to close out 2008. This match doesn't disappoint, despite being a tad predictable. The conclusion has booth men going all out and for all the hate he gets, HHH puts over Hardy as a top notch, serious competitor.
Ladder Match for the World Heavyweight Championshp
As I stated in my review for Unforgiven 2008, the Shawn Michaels/Chris Jericho feud is on an entirely different level of quality. It brings back fond memories of intense feuds from decades ago. While the way Jericho comes into the title is a bit blah, it ends up being great fuel for the culminating match in one of the best feuds in recent wrestling history. Michaels is a living legend and the ladder match is one of his signature matches. Jericho and Michaels give the fans the ending to the feud they deserved and the work ethic in this match shows a pure love for the business. The match is brutal, exciting, and a just plain great wrestling. I don't know if in ten years this match would make a Michaels "best of" short list, since he's been in so many great matches over his career, but without a doubt it would rank highly on Jericho's. If I wasn't almost certain that it will make a highlight DVD down the line, I'd say the match is good enough on its own to warrant a purchase of this disk. The finish is satisfying and bittersweet as it definitively ends the feud.
No Mercy is presented in a 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer. As with other WWE DVDs I've seen recently, there is noticeable edge enhancement; most notable during entrances, pixelization and compression artifacts pop up nearly on a regular basis. I honestly haven't been impressed with the video quality of the weekly HDTV feeds and WWE needs to fix things in the future, as this type of quality is very amateurish.
The 5.1 Dolby Digital English audio is suitable for the event. It's a front heavy track with the surrounds mostly there for background audio and entrances. Also provided is a Spanish audio track with alternate Spanish language play-by-play.
Two extra segments are the disc's lone special features. The first is a triple threat match from Smackdown featuring Matt Hardy vs. HHH vs. Chris Jericho. It's an good match and actually much better quality than the majority of this event's under card. The other extra, an interview with The Big Show is mere filler.
WWE No Mercy 2008 is a typical modern WWE event: average to above average filler building up to some solid main event matches. The Jericho/Michaels feud ender is on another level of quality and what makes this PPV memorable. Still there's not enough great wrestling here for the average fan to justify a purchase, as only two matches have any replay value. Rent It.