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WWE Unforgiven
September 22, 2002

by Rick Scaia
Exclusive to OnlineOnslaught.com


Well, after the universally-praised SummerSlam last month, the Fed put together a card that -- on paper -- had the potential to deliver the same caliber of in-ring excitement at Unforgiven.

But what we may have lost sight of is the fact that on one of these "off-month" PPVs, there is not as much weight given to give the fans satisfying, decisive, blow off finishes to the matches.  What might have been chalked up as a necessary (perhaps even effective) story-telling device if used in one match turned into an epidemic as unfulfilling screwjobs dominated, especially in the night's top matches.

Still, the in-ring action was frequently outstanding, with Kurt Angle and Chris Benoit living up to reputations as two of the best workers in the business.  The Undertaker/Brock Lesnar main event was easily one of Taker's most entertaining efforts in a long time, too, showing that everybody in every match on the card was busting ass to make sure fans got quality work.

But in the end, Taker/Brock ended with a shitty double disqualification that audibly upset the live crowd as much as it did the folks I watched the PPV with.  Brock retains the title, and probably retains this feud with Taker for another month, too.

Also:  Triple H retained his World Title, when he got an unexpected assist from a heel-turning Ric Flair.

Full results from the just-completed WWE Unforgiven pay-per-view:

  • On a "one time only" appearance of the SD! cruiserweights on the RAW-brand Heat, Rey Mysterio defeated Chavo Guerrero.  Perhaps a notch slower than what you'd expect, but as a warm-up match for the fans, it was more than adequate.  Chavo dominated much of the contest, but Rey rallied and won with a 6-1-9 followed by the West Coast Pop.
  • The PPV opened with an excellent video package getting the history and importance of the two world titles over, and then scooted immediately into an 8-man tag team opener.  Kane, Booker T, Goldust, and Bubba Dudley were victorious over William Regal, Lance Storm, Christian, and Test when Kane pinned Storm following a chokeslam.  A pretty entertaining little match, with some little morsels thrown out to fans (such as Booker T joining Bubba for the "Whassup" spot, and Goldust and Bubba doing Dusty's old flip-flop-and-fly elbow in stereo) in addition to the sound in-ring work.  Good heat from the crowd, too, who early on were into the "USA" chants and stuff like that, but eventually wound up popping for the personalities and spots in the match.  After one of those chainlink car wreck type spots (in which everybody eventually powders out), Kane was along in the ring with Storm, leading to the pinfall.  Good opener.
  • Next up, Chris Jericho managed to successfully defend his IC Title with a win over Ric Flair.  These two seemed to work a lot better together than last month, and the result was a much better match.  Back and forth action had Flair eventually starting to work on the leg (to soften it up for the Figure Four).  But it was Jericho himself who wound up using his own leg as a means to get the win:  after seeming to land awkwardly on an attempted Lionsault, Jericho feigned a serious, legit leg injury.  His performance was enough to convince Flair to back off while a trainer was called in.  But as soon as Flair's back was turned, Jericho was on his feet and attacking from behind.  At that point, Jericho was able to lock in the Walls of Jericho, leaving Flair with no choice but to tap out. A screwy finish, yes, but at this point, it was one that I thought was pretty funny and effective:  Flair falling for an old trick that he himself no doubt utilized in the past was just another indication that he might have "lost it."  Nothing special, but a decent match and a finish that I actually did like.
  • In another rematch from SummerSlam, Eddie Guerrero got a pinfall win over Edge.  It was a nice compliment to that month-ago match, too, as this time, Eddie kept his focus on Edge's head and neck (last month, it was the shoulder) to capitalize on damage he did with a chairshot back on SD!.  The finish had Edge putting Eddie in position for a superplex, but Eddie managed to reverse things by smashing Edge's face into the exposed steel turnbuckle, and then followed up by nailing a stiff sunset-flip from the second rope into a pinning combination.  Really sweet finish that took a kind of stale-feeling rematch and made it seem PPV-worthy by virtue of being really high-impact and also delivering an unexpected outcome.
  • The interpromotional tag match was next, and saw Rosie and Jamal get the win over Billy and Chuck.  It was surprising to me that neither Eric Bischoff nor Stephanie McMahon came to ringside for this one, leaving only Rico (in the corner of Rosie and Jamal) to perform ringside shenanigans.  Left to deliver a straight-up wrestling match, these four didn't exactly blow anyone away.  The crowd was geared up for the post-match stipulations, however, so this also didn't come anywhere near dying.  They went back and forth, and in the end, Rosie hit the elevate-catch-and-grab Samoan Drop for the pinfall win over Billy.  The crowd popped pretty big, but one must assume that it was more for the prospect of Hot Lesbian Action than for any other reason.
  • The first of two world title matches followed, as Triple H managed to defeat Rob Van Dam for the RAW brand's version of the title.  I feel I was kinda vindicated, as there were some mixed reactions to RVD like I predicted, although they were mostly limited to early on.  As the match wore on, fans fell into the normal pattern of popping pretty loudly for Van Dam's trademark spots.  After Van Dam utilized a headlock takedown to control the early stages of the match, HHH came back and was able to take the offensive for a while.  It all built up to a ref bump, after which both Van Dam and HHH got the chance to land big moves that would likely have resulted in pinfalls if the ref had been conscious.  And then, out came Ric Flair,  he grabbed the sledgehammer that HHH had introduced after the ref bump, and seemed intent on blasting HHH (who again had some negative words for Flair during a backstage promo earlier in the show).  Then, Flair turned and hit RVD in the mid-section with the sledge.  Flair hid the hammer and revived the ref while HHH delivered a Pedigree on RVD.  After the three count, HHH seemed unsure of how to react to Flair's actions, but he eventually decided to celebrate with the now-heel Nature Boy.  Another screwy ending, but again, it's one that, if it existed in a vacuum, would have to be deemed an intriguing surprise.  I know I'm curious to see which of the myriad possibilities they explore when Flair explains himself tomorrow on RAW.
  • In a match with no discernable premise, Trish Stratus beat Molly Holly to win the women's title.  The two women certainly put forth a game effort, but there was little heat from the crowd for what wound up being a half-way decent wrestling match.  Trish won with the Stratusfaction bulldog.  Nothing offensive here, but it certainly felt kinda pointless (although I guess it does set the stage for Jazz's comeback in another month or so).
  • Chris Benoit defeated Kurt Angle in a tremendous, unique style of a match.  What I feared would be a dead crowd due to the fact that both guys are heels wound up being a crowd that didn't seem to be really backing either one of the wrestlers, but who were clearly and obviously into the match and cheering for the moves.  Early chain wrestling gave way to some brawling, and eventually we entered the suplex portion of the match.  A "Holy Shit" chant was heard after a Benoit overhead suplex that saw Angle do a full flip to land on his stomach.  And then the closing segment of the match was incredible, with some of the most complex (but seemingly plausible) series of reversals of the Crippler Crossface and anklelock that you could imagine (at times, both men even had their finishes locked in at the same time!).  After a couple different series of moves, Benoit wound up reversing his way into a pinning combination, and used his feet on the ropes to get the three count.  A really cheap way to end what was a tremendous match; I understand the storytelling value of such a thing, but after the previous cheap finishes, this was now starting to be a bit of an annoyance.
  • Eric Bischoff hit the ring to lead the HLA segment.  He had two hot girls with him, and teased fans by having them grope each other for a bit.  Then he brought out Steph, and had the girls grope her for a bit.  But when things were just about to get heated, Bischoff cut them off and told them to leave the ring.  He introduced a fat, vile "lesbo" to make Steph's HLA and even more embarrassing debacle.  Steph wound up enthusiastically smooching the "lesbo," who thusly turned and superkicked Bischoff.  The lesbo unmasked, and yes, it was Rikishi.  A stinkface for Bischoff and then some dancing ensued.  Especially after the Bischoff-as-minister bit, I have a feeling that just about everybody saw the Rikishi in disguise thing coming down Fifth Avenue.  So this didn't work from a "surprise" perspective, and frankly, not from any other perspective, either.  Nothing much entertaining here, though I guess you could argue that Bischoff sending away the hot girls and robbing us all of our HLA and then his subsequent stinkfacing was effective in terms of heeling up his character.
  • In the main event, Brock Lesnar and the Undertaker went to a draw.  Pretty much a brawl, and featuring some really good work by both guys.  Lesnar -- facing a larger opponent for the first time on a PPV stage -- wound up showing us a new side of his skills by taking some really impressive bumps, while Taker did his level best to make sure all of Lesnar's moves looked like a million bucks.  Each man managed to bloody the other, as well.  The crowd was more into Taker and for a more extended amount of time than I can recall, and as the match went on, it all combined to create a bona fide main event, big match atmosphere.  And then, it all went to hell.  Referee Brian Hebner was bumped once, allowing both men to act like they could claim a victory.  Then young Hebner got bumped again.  But he recovered, and gamely tried to separate Lesnar and Taker (who were in the corner throwing punches).  After being shoved aside a few times, Hebner wound up getting pushed to the ground as Taker and Lesnar kept on brawling.  At this point, Hebner called for the bell, apparently having lost control of the match and deciding on a double DQ.  Trust me, this is the finish no one wanted to see.  As surprised as I was with how much I was entertained by the match, there is no way I can sign off on the choice of finish.  This one would even have been a bad idea in a vacuum, and when you toss in the facts that this was a main event (draws in main events are always a dangerous proposition) and that cheap endings predominated in other matches on the show, the end result is a very pissed off crowd.  Boos and I think even a "bullshit" chant were heard.  To bring some closure to the show, Taker tossed Lesnar though part of the entrance set.  Whatever.

Now, I'm sure a lot of smarks are gonna get all indignant and say that this is all Taker's fault and that "refused to do the job" or whatever...  but for as awful and unsatisfying a finish as this was, I doubt using his political clout had anything to do with Taker not laying down for Lesnar.  More likely, bookers looked at the SD roster, saw no one who looked good to be the next victim for Lesnar, and wanted to extend the Taker/Lesnar feud for another month or two.  For some reason, this is the way they picked to do it.  When it does continue and it does end with Lesnar going over, the "Taker refused to job" faction can kindly remove their feet from their mouths.

I've long said that the main event and the final taste left in my mouth goes a long way to coloring my opinion of an entire three hour show.  In this case, it is not a good final taste, and even though I can point to a LOT of good stuff (and I hope that came out in the above recap), the fact is that Unforgiven winds up not wowing me in the final analysis.  The Taker/Lesnar non-finish was the worst offender, but the preponderance of other cheap endings didn't help matters, either.

I'll have more Unforgiven fall-out and more news in a fresh OO tomorrow, and I'm sure we can also count on hearing a PPV rant from Scott Keith, too.


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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