The Rock v. Chris Jericho WWF No Mercy 10/21/01
PAS: I came into this match with an open mind, I definitely hadn't seen it since 2001 and may not have even seen it then, early 2000s WWF wrestling isn't a style I love, but was perfectly willing to enjoy something different. This wasn't it though, I honestly thought this was a below average match.
There was some stuff I liked, I really enjoyed Rock's selling and bumping, nothing super violent or athletic but he has great timing and made Jericho's offense look better then it should have. I also enjoyed how he got more peeved as the match went on, this started face v. face and I though the Rock did a nice job conveying how Jericho got under his skin.
Jericho had nice knife edge chops, but otherwise his offense looked pretty awful, he barely got The Rock up when he did his trite "early 2000's do the other guys finisher" Rock bottom, his punches looked awful, he did his stupid no contact bulldog. Meanwhile he was doing some really over the top bumping, flying over the top rope a couple of times with very little contact from Rocky. There were a couple of badly blown spots, including a dragon screw leg whip that was lucky not to tear Jericho's MCL. Rock also had some Diva level chops, he looked like Candace Michele when he would fire back. Also there was a point where a clearly gassed Rock threw on a time killer chinlock which both guys laid in catching their breath.
Finish run is where most WWF main event matches are made, and this had some cool stuff in it, I especially liked Jericho countering the people's elbow with the Liontamer, it was a nifty looking move and nicely took advantage of Rock's cockiness. However they can't just have a finish without legendary all time heat suck Stephanie McMahon coming out and horseshitting all over it. This was 15 years ago and they are still doing this same shit. I guess Jericho fans look at this nostalgically because this was his first big win, but this wasn't good.
ER: I must say I am very amused as I think this is literally the most I've ever seen Phil write about any one match. Phil and I overall agreed on the match itself, but had some major disagreements on moments of the match. I came in to this the same as Phil: either I haven't seen this match since 2001 and don't remember much about it, or I've never seen it. So going in with fresh, 2016 eyes. This is for the WCW title, which is something really dumb that I don't remember happening, and combine that with Charles Robinson's awful softball jersey, I already had a bad taste before the bell. But I actually really liked the match up until the long Rock chinlock, and still enjoyed it after that. Phil mentions they were working face/face, and that's certainly how JR was calling it, but it looked to me like Jericho was working subtle heel throughout. A couple minutes in he slaps Rock which was definitely a different tone than the match had been up to that point, and as the match goes on he brings out more of his mocking slaps, more of his little mocking annoying kicks to a downed Rock, shoving the back of Rock's head with his boot, stuff he only does when he's working heel. The whole time he's doing those things JR is too busy talking about his athleticism and getting in digs at WCW for never giving him a title shot the whole time he was there, 96-99. I thought Jericho looked good through most of the match, much better than the Rock. I have no use for current Jericho matches, but really liked him here, thought he glued this whole thing together nicely. I was really surprised how Rock basically played underdog undersized babyface up until that awful chinlock. Jericho was really dominating him, and I liked Jericho's offense like backbreakers, that great senton, great chops, some stiff low kicks, big hotshot, all of it looked good, and I strongly disagree with Phil that it was the Rock's bumping that was making it look good. Rock was peppering in some fun babyface comebacks, loved his super hang time flying clothesline off the ropes, and his slap style punches were at their peak here (Phil is right about his chops though, yeesh. He looked like a drunk mom feeling a muscular stripper's chest at a bachelor party). Eventually he goes and locks on that never ending, gasping for wind chinlock, and boy that was weak. Jericho had been working heel all match and now suddenly he's in the lonnnnnng chinlock fighting up to his feet. Totally threw things off. End stretch was solid if unspectacular. There were things I liked about it, things I disliked about it. The Stephanie run in was bad but it was weird seeing Stephanie take bumps. Her bump getting pulled into the ring was impressive. Maybe it's because it's been so long since she's gotten any kind of comeuppance, but it was surreal seeing her take bumps.
Now to address the things I disagree with Phil on:
1) Phil says Jericho "barely got the Rock up" when he gave him a Rock Bottom, but I honestly have no clue how it looked any different than any rock bottom delivered by Rock or anybody else. Rock jumped into it. That's how everybody takes the move. It looked like the most normal Rock Bottom. Jericho took a rock bottom through a table later in the match, that looked exactly like this one, only through a table. Very confused by what he saw that I didn't see.
2) Phil says "his punches looked awful", but for the life of me I only remember one very brief moment of the match where Jericho even used punches. It was when he was rolling Rock over and had him in a kind of side mount, and threw only a few. And from that position (a tough position to throw nice worked punches from if you're not Lawler), they looked about average. I don't think he threw a single punch the rest of the 25 minute match. He did throw a bunch of chops and a couple of elbows, and his chops were far better than I ever remember them being, and the elbows (one in particular) landed great. Calling out a couple punches like that during a transition moment as awful seems like a major nitpick.
3) Phil says "he was doing some really over the top bumping, flying over the top rope a couple of times with very little contact from Rocky". I don't see the reason for complaint here. Jericho took two big bumps to the floor. The first was a traditional WWE heel bump in the corner. Rock backed him fast in the corner with punches, had him whipping his head back, did the dramatic pause and Jericho bumped to the floor off that final big punch. It's the same way Perfect did against Bossman, Michaels did against Undertaker, Ziggler did against Kane. Now the running thread of those guys is that they are all guys Phil hates, doing an athletic style of bumping that he also hates. But it's a cannon heel bump in the company, and one that never fails to get a huge reaction for the babyface. It felt appropriate here, and while I understand a criticism of the style itself, it feels unfair to criticize Jericho for the bump as it's almost surely exactly how the Rock wanted him to take it. Jericho was putting over the offense of a superstar. The other bump is even weirder to criticize, as it was from Jericho getting thrown over the top after Rock uses his Irish whip momentum against him. Jericho comes off the ropes, Rock runs along side him and tosses him over. Pretty normal Royal Rumble kind of bump. Phil states that Rock barely touches him, but I fail to see how that's Jericho's fault. His job was to come off the ropes, run in a straight line, and go over the top. Rock's job was to act like he was throwing him over. Should Jericho have called a split second audible? "It doesn't feel like Rock has a believable grip on my head, better not go over the top". That's a call nobody can make in that little time. You assume the other guy is doing his part, and go through with the moment as planned. Something tells me if Jericho had slowed to so that Rock could better throw him, he would be criticized for that as well. It just comes off odd to me to praise Rock for "making Jericho's offense look better than it should have" but then turn around and criticize Jericho for doing the same with "barely any contact from Rocky".
4) Phil says "There were a couple of badly blown spots" but I genuinely did not see one thing that looked botch, let alone badly blown. When I think of badly blown, I think of those time stand still moments, where both guys are lost, or have to stop doing what they're doing. Nothing close to that happened here. The ending was a little clunky with Jericho trying to hide a chair but the chair not playing along and getting hung up on the apron, but nothing else looked "badly blown" to me. The dragon screw did look rough, but it didn't look like a botch. It looked more like Rock didn't properly follow through on it, leaving Jericho nowhere to bump. If the complaint had been about how pointless the dragon screw was to the match, I could agree with that. It was merely there to set up Rock's famously awful sharpshooter and meant nothing to the rest of the match. That's the one he mentioned, and I honestly have no clue what the other move could even be. Nothing looked "badly blown" here.
PAS: Not close, the Puro tag has just as much heat, just as many charismatic wrestlers and actually contact on the moves landed. I admit the tag won't hold this title forever, but this isn't the match to beat it.
ER: So, I liked the match more than Phil - and disagreed with him wildly on specific moments in the match - but our verdict is still the same. I thought this was a decent match, maybe even a good match. But our current champ was much better to me.
Labels: Chris Jericho, The Rock