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WWE No Mercy 2016: The full rundown and why you should care

SmackDown’s second exclusive pay-per-view looks to up the ante over an impressive first outing with a triple threat championship match, a potential retirement, and more.

A triple threat championship match for the WWE title. A win-or-retire situation for a longtime WWE staple. The first-ever defense of the SmackDown Women’s Championship. No Mercy, the second pay-per-view for SmackDown in the brand split era, will have all of these things on Sunday night, as well as plenty more.

No Mercy will air on the WWE Network starting at 8 p.m. ET, with the pre-show beginning at 7 p.m. Once again, SmackDown has put together a card with fewer matches than the typical WWE or RAW pay-per-view, but that mostly means the matches they do have will be given time to breathe and to tell a story. That was successful at Backlash, and there’s little reason to believe it won’t be successful again.

Kickoff Match: Jack Swagger vs. Baron Corbin

What am I looking at here? Jack Swagger is a former World Champion with a patriotic vibe, so long as you ignore that he pretty recently believed in the power of xenophobia. Baron Corbin is the dude who likes wolves and hurting people, not necessarily in that order. Swagger showed up on SmackDown after his RAW contract ended, and a feud with Corbin began, recently fueled by Corbin’s submission loss where he absolutely didn’t tap out, he was just reaching for the ropes, get your eyes checked, ref, GOD.

Why you should care: Baron Corbin has been built up as a dangerous (and large) heel, and SmackDown has done a quality job of paying off these kinds of builds. It seems unlikely Swagger is going to defeat him in a rematch where Swagger only won because the ref doesn’t understand intent: Corbin should get a decisive or impressive victory here that sets him up for something bigger.

Nikki Bella vs. Carmella

What am I looking at here? Nikki Bella returned from a career-threatening injury — not a storyline career-threatening injury, either, but an actual neck and spinal injury caused by her previous finisher, the Rack Attack — and was almost immediately targeted by Carmella. You’ll know which one is Carmella pretty easily, as she’s covered in leopard print and will likely try breaking Nikki’s neck as soon as possible.

Why you should care: This is a chance for Nikki to get her revenge on Carmella, or for Carmella to prove that she can back up her sneak attacks with in-ring viciousness. Whoever wins this match (or the feud as a whole, if it continues) could be in a good position to challenge the winner of the Women’s Championship match that’s going down later on in the night.

SmackDown Women’s Championship Match: Becky Lynch (c) vs. Alexa Bliss

What am I looking at here? Becky Lynch became the first-ever SmackDown Women’s champ last month at Backlash by defeating the rest of the women’s division in an elimination match. Now, the very redheaded, self-described lass kicker is set to defend her title against the Pixie Hoss, Alexa Bliss. Bliss, if you’re unfamiliar, is a badass beyond her diminutive size, as Lynch recently learned when Alexa threw a desk at her during their contract signing. Also, she might be dressed up like Harley Quinn for some reason.

Why you should care: Becky was the first draft pick for the women’s division on SmackDown, and it’s in part because she’s such a tremendous talent that she can help create new women stars in the division. Alexa Bliss is recently new, as she was in NXT until the brand split draft, and facing Becky is her way of becoming a big deal within the WWE universe. These two have had great chemistry in the build, and it should translate to the ring in this championship match.

SmackDown Tag Team Championship Match: Heath Slater and Rhyno (c) vs. The Usos

What am I looking at here? Heath Slater is the one bragging about the double-wide trailer he now owns because he finally got a job with SmackDown after winning the tag titles with Rhyno. Rhyno is essentially Heath Slater’s finishing move, as the man-beast runs in the ring and gores everyone in their collective path after he’s tagged in. The Usos are former fan favorites and good guys who got tired of crowds turning on them just because they’re cousins with Roman Reigns. Their solution was to go bad and start attempting to injure the legs of their opponents with kicks to the back of the knee, which is probably also what should happen with Roman’s worldview, but only SmackDown is allowed to make sense like this and Reigns is on RAW.

Why you should care: Slater and Rhyno have been a lot of fun to root for, so if they win, hooray! You get to keep cheering them on as tag champs. If they lose, though, it’ll likely set up an eventual opportunity for a lengthy American Alpha feud with The Usos, and that, my friends, will be dope af.

Intercontinental Championship Match: The Miz (c) vs Dolph Ziggler

What am I looking at here? The Miz is the Intercontinental champ, and he’s wearing expensive and weird clothes that only the Hollywood stars could understand. He’s already defeated Dolph Ziggler in championship matches twice since the brand split, and this after being accused of being a coward by Dolph. So, for this third and final attempt by Ziggler, Dolph had to put his career on the line. And he might actually lose it, too!

Why you should care: Dolph Ziggler has been one of SmackDown’s greatest triumphs in the first couple of months since the brand split, as they’ve rehabilitated his career and made even the most cynical of us care about him and his fate again. It helps that it truly feels like he’s going to lose this match, too, ending his career — maybe just for now, or maybe forever.

A story has been told with Ziggler over the last couple of months where it’s become clear that even he’s not sure if he has what it takes to be successful in WWE. Despite this, Ziggler isn’t prepared to give up or walk away, as this time could be different, it could be the time he comes away victorious. It would be disappointing, in a way, if Ziggler did manage to win here: The best play feels like it’s to have Ziggler lose this, vanish for a bit, and come back with a new attitude and game plan in order to show that he’s evolved and that he’s discovered how to be a new and successful version of himself. Basically, a win on Sunday doesn’t feel as big as it should for the story they’ve been telling: We’ll see if SmackDown agrees, and if the real huge moment for Ziggler is still off in the future.

Randy Orton vs. Bray Wyatt

What am I looking at here? We were robbed of Wyatt vs. Orton at Backlash, as Bray attacked Orton earlier in the night to keep their showdown from happening. Now, though, we’ve had a month of back-and-forth mind games, the latest of which was Orton locking Bray in a storage container, only for Wyatt to have mysteriously disappeared from it by the time Orton went back to check on him.

Why you should care: So, Orton vs. Bray is pretty cool on its own, especially since we should actually get to see them fight this time. There’s a new wrinkle this time, however, or at least, there might be a new wrinkle this time, and it’s worth caring about. Wyatt escaped the storage container with help from Sister Abigail, who we still haven’t seen onscreen, but that’s who he was calling to from within his makeshift prison. Will we finally meet Sister Abigail? Will she help Bray defeat Orton just like she presumably helped him escape Orton’s clutches? If so, who is she, exactly?

So many questions, and no clear knowledge of whether we’ll find any answers to them on Sunday.

WWE World Championship Match: AJ Styles (c) vs. Dean Ambrose vs. John Cena

What am I looking at here? Dean Ambrose lost the WWE World Championship to AJ Styles at Backlash. John Cena had lost to Styles a month prior at SummerSlam, which helped Styles earn an opportunity against Ambrose in the first place. Now, all three are set to face off for the WWE World Championship, and none of them like each other.

Why you should care: The build to this match has been fantastic, with Ambrose (shockingly) pinning Cena clean on an episode of SmackDown. Ambrose ripped Cena for being a part-timer on the blue brand’s post-show, Talking Smack, and Cena responded to those accusations a week later with plenty of barbs of his own for Dean. Styles is mostly sitting to the side and laughing at the two former champs that he knows he can beat, and we’ve gotten to the point in the feud where words have been traded in for fists.

If Cena loses, then it’s even more clear that SmackDown is going to run with a legitimate redemption story for him, where he is, in fact, not quite at the level he needs to be due to his part-time status, just like Ambrose accused him of. If Ambrose loses, he might be out of the main-event scene temporarily, since he would have lost the title and his rematch for it, and there could be a need for some new matchups for, say, Styles.

There’s also the potential for a real feud between Ambrose and Cena here, whether for the title or away from it, as they’ve done a wonderful job of making you feel like they truly do not like nor understand each other. This is a significant match that could help set the tone and direction for SmackDown programming from here to WrestleMania — that’s no small thing, and you don’t want to miss it.