Before my brother left for the Air Force, we went on a quest to get the latest game, Wrestlemania 2000. It was the WWF firing shots back at WCW/NWO Revenge, and so paving the way for the wrestling genre. This was an amazing parting gift from my brother, I played it everyday after school with my best friend Phil Ogaldez. Life was good and it was fun… but that all changed the day that WWF No Mercy attacked the Nintendo 64 console.
That shit dropped on a cold, dark day in November. Phil and I walked a mile from school to get our copies, literally in a November Rain, from Gamestop. On the trek back home, thunder was sounding off above us and numerous ambulances kept speeding by. Phil looked at me and said, “I bet those folks in the ambulances bought the game and couldn’t handle it!” while jumping up and down and pointing to the still-boxed game.
See, this WWF No Mercy wasn’t just another wrestling video game. Nah, homie there was a science to the mechanics of this. As Savon would say, “There’s physics to this shit.” The game changes you. It’s like Mario Kart but with wrestling. You become this visceral “other” of yourself that feasts on combat, that needs a challenge to hone your skill. The create-a-character option only pushes you further into the darkness of that void. Phil and I spent countless hours creating our characters, our Avatars if you will. This wasn’t a created character, this was us in the Matrix, in our final form. The beautiful thing about WWF No Mercy was the fighting had so many checks and balances. It was literally like learning a martial art in pixels. As far as we were concerned the living room became Stu Hart’s Dungeon.
If my opponent threw a light punch, is my punch faster, or should I block? After the block is successful, do I follow up with a strike, strong grapple, or a light grapple? If they’re expecting a light grapple, I’ll go strong, and maneuver behind them for a rear attack. WWF No Mercy required you to anticipate what your opponent was going to do BEFORE they did it. The ability to use your surroundings was incredible as well, allowing unexpected high risk maneuvers out of nowhere to gain an advantage — I’m talking moonsault off the ropes after an Irish whip reversal catching an opponent off guard. This game was the most physical chess match you’d ever see in your fuckin’ life. We had entered a state where we no longer saw the characters, we were Neo in the Matrix and all we saw were numbers and code.
Phil and I were obsessed with being the best tag-team players ever, so that co-op mode hotline never stopped ringing. On the most difficult level, with our skills sets down to zero just to make it harder for ourselves, it was still too damn easy. Don’t even get me started on how great the double-team moves were, we had that shit timed down to a capital T. Throw an opponent off the ropes, leapfrog over them, turn around to face the incoming opponent. As Phil slides into the ring from the outside, hit that A button as the opponent bounces off the rope and runs right into the Dudley Death Drop aka The 3-D! The greatest tag-team finisher to ever created. We were having fun but in truth we were always preparing ourselves if someone ever thought they could step to us.
That day came when in school one kid Jay was goin’ around talkin’ about how he was the best in No Mercy. How he couldn’t be beat. A friend of ours knew Phil had the game so he told Jay “I bet $20 that Phil could beat you.” Phil accepted. After school he told me what was about to go down and we set the terms. It would be a singles match at my place, created characters, no weapons. Phil and I started training for this shit day in and day out. My mom would come home and the apartment would be pitch black except for the screen reflecting off our faces. We were preparing ourselves for war. Jay and his boy walked with Me, Phil, and our other best friend, Elvis, back to my place. What proceeded to happen was ten minutes of Phil embarrassing this guy on the sticks. Making the match suck on purpose, gettin’ Jay in the most boring submissions holds just to embarrass him, then breaking the hold purposefully before dude’s character was about to tap out.
You know when you’re watching someone struggle and feel embarrassed for them? You know that feeling? Good, cause I don’t, so at least someone felt something for the ass-whooping he caught. In frustration to his loss, Jay challenged me and I’ma tell you right now I beat this dude in under 4 minutes. Right before I went for the pin, he dropped the controller in disgust with himself and said, “I don’t want to play anymore.” This guy lost $20, gave up, and I kept his created characters as trophies. That’s what getting beat in No Mercy does to you, it breaks your fucking spirit. There was no competition and that pissed me off. I told Jay “Man get the fuck outta here” because he wasn’t eating, breathing, and living that shit like us.
I’m talkin’, my mom in the kitchen with that Pyrex, stove on high & whippin’ work (she was making lemon squares), Dutch in my mouth blowin smoke in the living room (it was actually an extremely hot pizza roll), DMX’s verse on Limp Bizkit’s Rollin’ remix knockin’ (at a reasonable level) in the background and the clip (rumble pack) shaking so hard it falls out the fucking burner (N64 controller). Y’all don’t know about this life!
Neighbor dropping a dime on you and the police knocking on the door talkin’ bout there’s a noise complaint, Me telling’em, “I’m just playing WWF No Mercy with my friend,” and them saying, “Wait you’re just playing a video game? That’s it? *sigh*…Y’all have a good night. Sorry to disturb you,” NO MERCY SO STRONG EVEN HAD POLICE ON THE PAYROLL!! [Notice there were no parenthesis around anything in this portion of the rant because that shit ACTUALLY happened with the police.] What do you know about your partner being on the ladder scrappin’ against an opponent and your boy shouting, “Take us out! Do it! DO IT!” and you hit’em with a flying dropkick JUST BECAUSE IT MADE THE MATCH LOOK MARVELOUS?! That’s on me! You ain’t ever had to live with that weight on your heart! Fuck you know about that struggle? Seeing out the corner of your eye your partner hoisting someone up on their shoulders outside the ring and instead of grabbing the belt from the top ladder you dive to the outside with a back flip trying to knock’em down?! Huh? What do you know about that shit? That’s trust motherfucker!
Being there to save ya boy from tapping out? Trust! Knowing the exact angle to hit the Twist of Fate so ya mans and dem can finish’em off with a Swanton Bomb? Trust! Your Mom comin’ in from her 9 to 5 askin’ if you marinated the chicken and did the dishes, and ya boy helped you just so you could have more time to play? TRUST! Y’ALL muhfuckas don’t know shit about loyalty. No Mercy always served as the perfect nostalgia for me and my friendship with Phil. But as the Smackdown series became more prominent and no successor was ever made, No Mercy faded into the background. I went to college and moved away. Phil and I are still the best of friends but mostly communicate through texts as we’re both adults now and bills are a final boss with infinite lives.
It wouldn’t be till years later, while at my friend Big Mike’s place that his youngest son Diggler would ask me if I wanted to play WWF No Mercy. I was shocked that he had the game but had to explain to him, “Listen, I become another person when I play this game… I’m a different man now, *looks at my hands* I can’t be that monster again. But I will train you.” What proceeded to happen was me training Diggler through the roughest beat down ever, while telling him when to block, evade, and grapple. All the while talking that shit to him at the same time,
Me: Dude, you better hope your mom doesn’t walk in here cause if she sees this stomping you gettin’ she might love you less.
Big Mike: Omar, he’s seven.
Me: … and?
I then proceeded to have Diggler as my tag partner as we faced his dad and Nick, another friend of the family. I literally beat them both back-to-back while instructing Diggler when to hit the moves. I remember continuous “What the fucks?” being said by both Mike and Nick as I kept shouting out to Diggler, “Block. Hit. Double attack. Hold A. HOLD IT! UP+B MANEUVER! YES! YES! PIN HIM! DO YOU SEE IT YET?! DO YOU SEE? DO YOU SEE THE NUMBERS? DO YOU SEE THE CODE?” I thought I was done with No Mercy then but I was called into action again, this time by a young fellow writer/performer named Mega. We were discussing how hard we ride for that game and I don’t remember who started it, or who issued the challenge first, but what I do know is for a year straight we were talkin’ that shit to one another online just waiting for the day we’d be able to settle who would win in No Mercy. It felt like we were in an actual WWF feud and it was glorious. The entire angle was the old guard vs the young gun.
Mega: Dear Omar Holmon, the last time I lost in WWF No Mercy, I was answering test questions, IN PENCIL. Relax.
Me: What the hell is losing? That a new dance or something? There’s a way to lose in that game? I never saw that. That’s something I never unlocked man. You got me there.
September 15th, 2013 at a Brooklyn house party, on an N64 and WWF No Mercy provided by our friend Jive, Mega and I finally faced off. I was back to my training regimen at Big Mike’s before this. I came early to create my character. Mega went straight with Benoit and this kid was fucking AMAZING. I went left he went left, I moved in for a grapple he evaded, he threw a kick, I hit R button for the block. I was so impressed that I’m shouting, “Nice” “Good… goood!” at Mega because finally after all these years I’ve found someone to give me the exact competition I was looking for. His talent and fighting technique were fluid and meticulous. The entire match had us like:
Mega forced me to go back to the old Omar, a brick of lemon squares chopped and bagged on the kitchen counter Omar, 2 B’s and 4 A’s on the report card Omar, puttin’ on the right song in the background before I called my crush on the landline Omar. I was back on my ol’ final form dumb shit and I had Mega to thank for that. He helped me realize I wasn’t haunted by the monster WWF No Mercy made me… I missed it. We faced off in silence without talkin’ any trash to one another because the respect was that strong. If we are being technical about it, which is to say if we are being Bret The Hitman Hart about it, that was the most fun I ever had playin’ that game.
I walked away feeling like Rocky after he returned to the ring and got all the stuff out of the basement so to speak. I got Mega on two with my created character but regular wrestler to wrestler he got me and then we decided if we ever played again, it’d be as a tag team. See that’s what No Mercy is all about man. It either cripples your soul or helps you grow, all depending on the passion you put in. No other wrestling game had heart like WWF No Mercy. There was always something to learn from the game, something new to see and the best part of that was revealing it to those that thought they done see it all from us, the few that knew they had see it all.