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Unforgiven PPV Preview
(and Some NewsBites)
September 20, 2002

by Rick Scaia
Exclusive to OnlineOnslaught.com


You know the pre-PPV routine:  previewing Sunday night's big card comes first.  A smattering of news follows.  So if a run-down of Unforgiven doesn't jelly your donut, just skip down to the news, and you'll be fine...


There might not be anything quite as special as Shawn Michaels return performance, but all the pieces are in place for Sunday's Unforgiven to be the Fed's second blow-away PPV in a row.

No fewer than three matches from the as-announced card could end up as Match of the Night (and one not-yet-announced match could be added that would be in the same category), and from a storytelling perspective, the inter-promotional tag match and its stipulations could be wildly entertaining.

For as scattershot as the last few weeks of TV have been (mostly RAW's been weak, while SmackDown's been good), it seems that the right performers and right feuds have been selected to be showcased Sunday night on pay-per-view.  If we can't have a consistently outstanding product, then I guess the right time for everything to gel is when fans plunk down their $35...  that's what we should have this weekend.

So:  let's run down the card for Unforgiven as it stands right now...

TRIPLE H vs. ROB VAN DAM ("World" Title Match)

Of the two matches being contested for halves of the now-disputed world title, this is the one that I think deserves the most attention.  Not only will it be a chance for Rob Van Dam to prove he deserves a main event spot, but it should flat out be a tremendous match.

Just last month, HHH had a killer match against Shawn Michaels.  And in a lot of ways, RVD works the same style of match.  The stuff that worked at SummerSlam for HHH should work again this month.  And though RVD doesn't quite have the same grasp of ring psychology and story-telling that Michaels always displayed, he makes up for it by being in his prime and able to work an even faster-paced, higher-impact style.

Storyline-wise, the issue here stems from HHH being awarded the old "World Title" belt (a mock-up of the old NWA strap) after SmackDown! signed Undisputed Champ Brock Lesnar to an exclusive deal.  Reasoning that RAW should have its own champ, Eric Bischoff simply handed HHH -- who had actually won a match to earn #1 Contender status the week before -- the title.

Challengers began lining up, but there was only one guy that HHH really had to concern himself with.  In a tag match, Rob Van Dam managed to score a pinfall over HHH.  A week later, RVD won a four-way match to earn a shot at HHH's World Title.  Needless to say, it didn't seem like HHH was too pleased with the prospect of facing a guy who had recently pinned his shoulders to the mat for a three count.  

Just last week, HHH took out his frustrations by interfering in a Van Dam IC Title match, creating enough of a distraction to cause RVD to lose the IC belt to Chris Jericho.  Van Dam responded by running in and bloodying HHH prior to the latter's title defense against Jeff Hardy.  [The way the story played out, RVD seemed to be the more heelish... so something odd to keep an eye out for on Sunday will be possible mixed reactions, as some fans might opt to cheer for the more-established HHH.]

That brings us to Sunday, where we'll either see Triple H continue his reign at the top of RAW's roster, or we'll see a new superstar catapulted to top level status.  Should be good.

My prediction:  Gotta go with Triple H.  And no, not because I'm some asshole who thinks HHH pulls all kinds of strings backstage to keep himself on top at the expense of others.  I'm going with HHH because the Fed's already sprung one new guy up to World Champ status, and should be focused on making sure he (Brock) stays there before conducting another experiment/project.  Don't get me wrong, I firmly believe RVD's got the tools to deserve a shot at the top, but this just might not be the right time.


This is the counter-point to the above contest:  here, the young lion is already on top, and he's got to fend off a challenge from an established veteran.

When the undefeated new champ, Lesnar, decided to make himself exclusive to SmackDown!, the Undertaker (who had actually already lost a #1 Contender match) jumped from RAW to SD! to pursue his shot at the title.  Taker overcame Chris Benoit and Kurt Angle in the last match of an elimination series to become #1 Contender.

And then, Paul Heyman started with the mindgames.  Lesnar's agent brought Taker's pregnant wife Sara into the mix, getting under Taker's skin by promising that after Lesnar wiped out the Undertaker, he (Heyman) would "take good care" of Sara, but that he would not be responsible for Taker's unborn child.  Heyman and Lesnar also orchestrated a backstage confrontation with Sara that caused Taker to get counted out of the ring in a match against Matt Hardy.

By "making it personal," the insinuation is that Lesnar and Heyman have given Taker the fuel to up his game so that he's a bona fide threat to the younger, stronger champion.  Lesnar could win a wrestling match, so the thinking goes, but in a fight, Taker's going to be hard to beat.

I'm not sure what kind of match to expect on Sunday.  Clearly, Lesnar's at his best against opponents who will sell his power arsenal and make him look like a monster.  This has never been Taker's strong suit.  But if they get on the same page, they might put together a good "big man" style match, with copious brawling thrown in for good measure.  We'll just have to see...

My Prediction:  all signs point to Brock going over.  The undefeated streak simply should not end at the hands of Taker; and frankly, there'd be nothing all that interesting about a Taker title reign.  Brock puts another veteran superstar down for the count.


Ah, yes.  The match that Undertaker ruined when he jumped to SD!...

This time around, there will be no unannounced third parties jumping in, though.  This is gonna be a straight-up, one-on-one wrestling match.  And smarks around the world are probably popping a pudgie at the prospect.

Not that I'm any different.  This is another of the possible Match of the Night candidates, and if there were perhaps a bit more backstory or something major at stake, it might even be the sort of match you go into thinking "this might be a Match of the Year" in the back of your head.  Benoit and Angle are both just that good.

Alas, the context that this match is happening under probably negates the possibility of something as special as a Match of the Year needs to be.  For one thing, this is just a sort of old fashioned grudge match, with no title or single, memorable issue at stake.  The two just started rubbing each other the wrong way a few weeks back, and though there've been a couple of run-ins and the like since, this is basically just about each of them wanting to beat the other.

And second:  both guys are heels at this point.  That probably equates to a quieter, less-involved crowd, which in turn takes a bit of the sizzle out of any match.  

Actually, although it may rob the match of a shiny glow, the way they've told the heel vs. heel story so far is gonna be an interesting little experiment.  It's almost as though they've put this one in the hands of the fans:  neither guy has been made to look particularly "babyface-ish," so it's up to us to decide who we want to cheer or boo on Sunday.  That's pretty cool.  [My guess: Angle's almost TOO good and entertaining as a heel... so good that I think fans all, deep down, want to cheer him.]

The only thing that's for certain is that no matter how the fans react, these two will put on a clinic.  And for that, I'm sure the fans will react appreciatively.

My Prediction: this is a total pick 'em.  But since somewhere down the line, I think Brock vs. Angle for the title is a total blockbuster of a money feud, I'll say Angle goes over so that he stays positioned higher up on the card.


These two had a heated feud going into last month's SummerSlam.  And when Ric Flair won the match there, Jericho swore that it was not over.  At which point, the feud basically lay dormant for three weeks.

Then, Jericho won the IC Title last week on RAW, and asked Bischoff to sign a PPV title defense against Flair.  Jericho, still steamed over the loss last month, saw Flair down on his luck (he'd just been pinned by Rico, of all people) and figured this would be an easy chance for revenge.  Bischoff made the match.

Because of the last-second nature of the match, the Fed's once again missed the boat on the best way to advance this feud:  by letting both guys talk.  But hopefully, once the bell rings on Sunday, both Flair and Jericho will be on the same page so that they can top the match they had at SummerSlam.  They were sort of awkward and sloppy at time last month, so there's plenty of room for improvement.

My Prediction:  you could look at Flair's loss to Rico and say "well, they did that to make him beating Jericho into a big surprise," but I look at it and say, "this is just the start of the Flair-has-lost-it story."  I think Jericho gets his revenge and successfully defends the title against Flair.

BILLY & CHUCK vs. ROSIE & JAMAL (InterPromotional Match)

It's kind of odd calling this an "interpromotional" match, but again, I'll go ahead an adopt the Fed's chosen terminology (just like I did for the two world titles).  I mean, I guess "inter-roster" or "inter-brand" just don't have the same cache...

At the start of the General Manager Era, if you'd told me that these would be the four guys featured in the first series cross-roster feud, I'd have guessed that the entire RAW vs. SD! concept must have tanked badly.  But I'd have been wrong.

By virtue of being Eric Bischoff's hand-selected henchmen (and by attacking everyone from 80 year old women to midgets), the Island Boyz have gotten over well.  And by virtue of a surprisingly well-conceived gay wedding angle, Billy and Chuck are enjoying a wave of popularity themselves.

While the four should be able to have a decent little match, the truth is that this basically amounts to an extension of the Eric Bischoff vs. Stephanie McMahon feud.  I'm sure both will be at ringside, helping to turn what might otherwise be a tepid wrestling match into an intriguing Sports Entertainment Segment.

Also helping will be the match's stipulations.  If Billy and Chuck win, Bischoff will kiss Steph's ass.  If Rosie and Jamal win, Stephanie will be forced to get it on with another girl for some Hot Lesbian Action. 

[Lingering question:  who will be the other girl?  Using another diva is probably not a good idea, and although WWE.com is running a poll asking if fans would rather see Britney Spears or Jennifer Anniston or Pink or another slew of famous babes get it on with Steph, I seriously doubt the Fed's got any of them lined up for the gig.  Using my powers of deductive reasons, combined with my innate sense of what will appeal to wrestling fan, I think they oughta take advantage of being in LA and sign up an adult film actress or two, and cart them out for the PPV audience.  Trust me, if Bischoff shows up on Heat with a porn star or two in tow (instead of just using the hired "lesbians" from UPW, which is another option, since they're based in LA), it will send the audience into a frenzy.  Might even sell another PPV or two.]

My Prediction:  it's the first real match for the Island Boyz, so from that perspective, I think they oughta win to keep their bad-ass rep alive for as long as possible.  And from a storytelling perspective, c'mon, don't tell me the HLA pay-off isn't bigger and better than the ass-kissing one.  And the Fed usually does try to send the fans home happy...  gotta go with Rosie and Jamal for this one.


This is another re-match from SummerSlam, but in this case, these two will have to REALLY bust ass to improve upon their previous effort: last month's psychology-laden contest was quite good.

These two have found themselves on opposite sides of the ring just about every week since SummerSlam, too.  First, they faced off in a match during the #1 Contender elimination series (Eddie won, avenging his PPV loss).  And in the last two weeks, they've split in tag matches.  Through it all, they've tried to play up Eddie's "jealousy" over Edge's popularity.  The latest twist had Eddie trying to ugly-up Edge's pretty face with a chairshot last night on SmackDown!

There's not a whole lot else to say about this, other than that if past matches are any indication, then we're in for another possible Match of the Night treat.  They were good last month, and they've only had more opportunity to get comfortable working with each other since.

My Prediction:  Eddie's seemingly gotten the better of this feud in the interregnum between PPVs, so now that we're once again looking at a pay-off match, my guess is that Edge wins.


Though not a pure re-match from SummerSlam, this match does have its roots back a month or so.  Booker and Goldust had themselves a tag title feud against Storm and Christian, and now it's blossomed into this.

First, Kane returned and prevented Test from burning an American flag, evening the sides at three apiece.  Then, the UnAmericans added William Regal to their ranks, necessitating another move by the odd coupling of patriots.  Bradshaw was originally the fourth man for this team, but an injury has put him out of action.  Bubba Dudley was hastily written into the storyline on Monday's RAW.

Given the talents on both sides in this match and given the crowd heat that should exist for the UnAmericans (if the past is any indication), then this should be solid.  Certainly not a blow-away match, but a fun and entertaining one that should be a bit more "old school" in nature.  The UnAmericans are using just about the oldest school trick in the book to get heel heat, so bringing out some of the tried and true tag match formulas will fit right in...

My Prediction:  score one for the good guys.  Kane, Booker, Goldust, and Bubba go over.

The Fed's only officially announced these seven matches, at least as of Friday early afternoon.  But there will likely be one or two more added.

I know I heard tell of a women's title match possibly on the PPV (Trish challenging Molly), and it might just be that the women's match that was scrapped from RAW robbed them of their premise for the PPV showdown...  in that case, they might do whatever angle was scheduled for RAW on Heat, and use it to set up the women's match on the PPV.

Even more enticing is the prospect of a Cruiserweight Title match being added.  Rey Mysterio pinned Jamie Knoble in a mixed tag match on SmackDown!, which would have to make his a top contender to Knoble's strap.  The two would have a killer match if given a PPV stage upon which to work.  Only problem is that Knoble as the champ is a lot more interesting then Mysterio; Rey's been playing with the heavyweights, and might be a bit of a "division killer" if he got the title.  You'd almost have to do some kind of screwjob win for Knoble to keep things right, but that would only add fuel for an on-going feud...

In any case, even the seven announced matches have a lot of promise.  And unlike last month's SummerSlam, there isn't a single clunker (remember Taker vs. Test?) muddying things up.  There's no reason to be anything less than optimistic for any of the matches on the card!

Check out Unforgiven on Sunday night... or otherwise, just come on back here to OO at some point in the 11pm hour, when I should be posting my recap of the night's events!


  • Last night's SmackDown! was another solid effort.  The pacing of a show that has a non-match main event like last night's did maybe takes it down a notch, but on the whole, there wasn't much to complain about.
    The tag team main event was good, and I think Matt Hardy and the Hurricane absolutely stole the undercard.  Fans can chant what the want, but right now, Matt is easily the more entertaining Hardy.  [Of course, part of what makes his character work is people chanting "Jeff is better" or "We Want Jeff," so keep it up, folks!]  
    The mixed tag opener was really good, too.  The combination of Rey's talent and the way they've packaged/promoted him has created a monster.  Did you hear the dead silence during the final spot: the crowd just hushed as they tried to digest what Rey was gonna do, and then they popped like mad when he finally reversed his way into the sunset-flippy, power-bomby type of move for the pin.  Crazy.
    You can view full results of the show right here.
  • The overnight rating for SD! came in at 4.6.  That's down just a tad from last week's overnight of 4.9 (which wound up translating to a very respectable 3.7 final rating), but considering that the new Survivor started up and that there were some pre-emptions, it's not too shabby at all.
  • The new ring announcer last night on SD! is a guy named Jason Roberts.  He's worked for a bunch of indies and also did work on FX's Toughman show.  But don't get used to him just yet:  Tony Chimel was just on vacation, and will resume his usual duties next week, and Jason will fade into the background.
  • Check this out:  a guy named Brian Solomon has posted a very interesting commentary to WWE.com.
    Actually, he doesn't say anything that hasn't been said on the net before.  But it's remarkable that he's saying ON WWE.COM.  That's wild.
    Basically, he says SmackDown! is kicking RAW's ass because it is embracing WRESTLING.  That's the core of the product and what makes it different from everything else on TV, and it should be embraced.
    The commentary kind of reminded me a bit of some of the things I said in the first part of a column I wrote about one year ago...
    And if you really like this sort of thing, then check out Will Parrish's latest Big Column o' Fun.  It just might be one of the best columns ever published here on OO.  [Yeah, I know: "Like that's saying much..."]
  • Nicole Bass' case (alleging that she was sexually harassed and wrongfully fired by WWE) is currently being heard in a New York court.  Vince McMahon was actually on the stand yesterday, and testified that Bass was fired because she was a substandard in-ring performer.  I believe he used the phrase "two left feet."
    I don't know how the Fed's defending against the sexual harassment claims, but I think they can pretty easily prove that Bass was fired for the very valid reason that she wasn't very talented.
    The case should wrap up reasonably quickly, and we might have a verdict as early as next week.
  • In a recent MSNBC interview, Jesse Ventura -- who is apparently through with politics after his term as Minnesota's governor runs out in January -- apparently claimed that he would be interested in a return to wrestling.
    Don't know if he meant as a commentator/manager, or actually as a wrestler, but according to a few readers who saw it and mailed in, he did acknowledge that he'd need a lengthy period of time to get back into good shape.  Leaves me to question:  in shape for what, exactly?
    Hey, I'd love to have Jesse back behind the mic (especially if Lawler keeps pushing the envelope of obnoxiousness), but in all honesty, even in his prime, Ventura wasn't exactly a good worker.  His talent was always being able to talk circles around people...
  • Eric Bischoff will be on Fox SportsNet's "Best Damn Sports Show Period" tonight, no doubt promoting Sunday's PPV.  Check it out if you can...
  • I think that about wraps it up.  Hope everybody enjoys the weekend and then gets to enjoy Unforgiven.  I know I'll have a busy-but-fun time the next few days.  Heading up to Chicago for a bachelor party, and how cool is it that we arranged to have Guided by Voices playing up there tomorrow evening?  That's a hell of a way to start off a night on the town, if you ask me...
    See you with the Unforgiven recap on Sunday night, and then a regular OO on Monday...


Rick Scaia is a wrestling fan from Dayton, OH.  He's been doing this since 1995, but enjoyed it best when the suckers from SportsLine were actually PAYING him to be a fan.

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