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OO PPV RECAP
WWE RAW presents
Unforgiven
September 21, 2003

by Rick Scaia
Exclusive to OnlineOnslaught.com

 

It took a month longer than originally planned, but Goldberg has now unseated Triple H as World Heavyweight Champion.  At the just-completed Unforgiven pay-per-view, Goldberg cleanly pinned HHH about 15 minutes into their main event title match.  The match saw Goldberg come back from a sledgehammer shot to the head to hit a spear/jackhammer combo to score the fall.

In other action: Kane was the Last Man Standing after Shane McMahon's 25 ft. Holy Shit Dive off the top of the entrance set missed its mark...  Christian retained the IC Title...  and Al Snow and Coach will (at least temporarily) take over main announcing duties for the RAW brand following their win over King and JR.

Here are the full match-by-match results of the Unforgiven PPV (with additional commentary tacked on in red italics):

  • On Sunday Night Heat prior to the PPV, proper: Christian and Chris Jericho decided to set their differences aside to that they could isolate and eliminate RVD in their three-way match...  due to Spike Dudley's injury, Eric Bischoff made the La Resistance/Dudley Boyz match into a handicap match; then Steve Austin upped the ante by forcing La Resistance to put their titles on the line...  and Maven defeated Stevie Richards.
  • In the PPV opener, the Dudley Boyz defeated La Resistance and Rob Conway in a tables match to win the World Tag Team Titles.  The opening minutes were straight-up wrestling, though the crowd wasted now time voicing their desire to see tables right away.  Bubba fell victim to the numbers game, but eventually made the hot tag to D-Von at about the 8 minute mark.  From there on out, it was pretty much anarchy, with the Duds introducing the first tables shortly thereafter.  However, that backfired, as D-Von was Irish Whipped through a table to be the first "eliminated" (by rule, he continued to participate in the match, however).  Bubba managed to follow that up by cutting the Duds deficit by suplexing Sylvain Grenier through a table.  Then, D-Von managed to work his way back into the match, and together with Bubba hit a spot on Rob Conway that was disturbingly reminiscent of La Resistance's failed table spot on Spike from two weeks ago (Conway was tossed out over the top rope, and went through one table, but came up short and his head blasted a second table that had been set up adjacent).  Now with only one un-tabled member of each team, the Duds teamwork swung things in their favor, and they were able to hit the 3-D on Rene Dupree to win the match at somewhere around the 12 minute mark.  [As impossible as it would be for me to care any less about this lingering storyline, this was still a very effective opener: well worked and with really good heat.  The decision to add the tag titles into the mix also bodes well, if you ask me, as it will force the stagnant tag division into a new direction.  Off to a good start...]
  • Test defeated Scott Steiner to not only retain Stacy's services, but also to force Steiner to become his butler, or something.  We'll see what's up with that element of the story.  This was just about exactly what you'd expect: methodical (read, "attempting to come up with a judgment-neutral synonym for 'slow'") power wrestling, with Steiner looking like he blew at least one spot.  Crowd only really perked up when Stacy got involved, which was probably inevitable given the skirt she was almost wearing, but which also only served to underscore how played the Test/Steiner feud is.  Finish had Stacy attempt to thwart Test by stealing his steel chair (ref had been knocked out)... but once Stacy had the chair, she could not resist the urge to swing it, and unfortunately, Test ducked, and she pasted Steiner.  Test had a good chuckle at Stacy's mistake, then hit the big boot and got the pinfall win.  [Built up to a nicely "busy" and unexpected finishing sequence, but the road getting their was not a pleasant one.  An added minus: the already-spent rivalry ain't going anywhere now that we've got Steiner-as-Test's-man-slave to look forward to.]
  • Randy Orton managed a pinfall win over Shawn Michaels, but only thanks to a dubious decision by the referee to overturn his original decision and restart the match.  Mat wrestling out of the gate, with Orton looking plenty competent, and Michaels looking like, well, himself.  Which is good.  About five minutes in, the psychology of the match became apparent, as some interference by Ric Flair focused on Michaels' shoulder.  Back in the ring, Orton followed up by targeting HBK's left shoulder with various submission moves.  Sadly, this had the effect of grinding the pace of the match to a standstill (I appreciated the concept, but Orton's just got so little submission credibility that his lingering armbars and what not just did not have any real impact).  Of course, Michaels rallied, and got back in the match for some back-and-forth wrestling.  Finish had Michaels hitting the Sweet Chin Music, but he was close to the ropes.  The ref counted the three, but just as as the three count was made, Flair lifted Orton's foot up onto the ropes.  When the ref saw that, he assumed Orton's foot had been there all along, and immediately reversed his call.  While HBK and the ref argued, Flair slipped Orton a set of brass knucks.  When Michaels came back to suplex Orton into the ring, Orton took the chance to pepper him with three quick Savage/Santana-style brass knucks shots to the head.  That was enough to keep Michaels down for the three count.  [This was pretty good, and a very sound old school rasslin' match.  Orton's resthold-based offense during the middle portion of the match was a bit underwhelming, but it added to the story of the contest.  Nothing you'll remember a week from now, but also very little here to bitch about.]
  • Backstage: La Resistance are nursing their wounds when Chris Jericho walks in and blames Steve Austin for them losing their titles.  By the time Jericho is done, La Resistance have subscribed to his newsletter, and are fired up to help Jericho do whatever it takes to eliminate Austin as GM.
  • Trish Stratus and Lita defeated Molly Holly and Gail Kim.  Lita came out of the gates roaring, but quickly tagged in Trish so she could play a little Robert Gibson.  However, while Trish was getting her ass kicked, double-team style, as Molly and Gail cut the ring in half, Lita actually took the worst shot of the match when Molly yanked her off the apron to prevent her from tagging in (Lita's head smacked the apron, and she came up bleeding badly from the mouth).  Ever the trooper, Lita eventually got the hot tag... and from there it was a short journey to the finish, which had Trish and Gail powder out so that Lita could hit an inverted Twist of Fate and then a moonsault for the win.  [Good work all around, but especially from Trish and Molly.  Lita's return match saw her focus on a more limited, but solid-looking repertoire, and I'd guess from the finish here that the story will be that Lita pinned the women's champ and will be looking for a title shot soon.]
  • Kane defeated Shane McMahon in the Last Man Standing Match.  Shane did not wait for his own entrance, instead running out during Kane's to attack with a steel chair.  That served him well for all of about 2 minutes, until Kane took command.  Their brawling went outside the ring, and Kane decided to introduce the steel ring steps.  After a few minutes of decimating Shane with those, Shane actually managed to rally, and set up for Holy Shit Spot #1, which was a coast-to-coast Van Terminator, drop kicking the steps into Kane's face.  That move might have been enough to keep Kane down for the 10 count, except that the ref had been bumped, and was not there to count.  So the match eventually continued.  The brawl moved to the entrance set, where Shane was tossed into the steel "Unforgiven" logo.  Kane then tried to toss the Spanish Announce Table off its mini-stage and onto Shane, but Shane dodged it and staged a rally.  He even took the camera crane and smashed it into Kane (breaking the camera's lens in the process).  He followed up with a DDT on the former Spanish Announce Stage, and then it was crazy time.  Shane climbed 25 feet up on top of the entrance set, and tried to drop an elbow on Kane.  But Kane dodged, and Shane fell through the stage.  As the crowd chanted "Holy Shit," the ref counted to 10 and awarded the decision to Kane.  After the match, Shane did the stretcher job, and got a standing ovation from the crowd.  [A fun brawl; spot-tastic, sure, but way fun.  Shane is insane for reprising the same bump he took in that match against Big Show a couple years back, but hey, if it gets me on the edge of my couch, I guess he's doing something right.]
  • Backstage: Chris Jericho interrupted Steve Austin's personal PPV viewing party, and reiterated his belief that Austin's a terrible GM.  Austin invited him to take his best shot, but Jericho was not falling for that.  Instead of provoking Austin physically, Jericho promises to "crack" Austin via other, more subtle, psychological means.    
  • Christian retained the IC Title by outlasting Chris Jericho and pinning Rob Van Dam in their three-way match.  The opening minutes were all about Jericho and Christian teaming up to take out RVD, their alliance lasting far longer than the cynical announce team thought it would.  About 5-6 minutes in, however, Christian took a powder following a senton from RVD, leaving Van Dam and Jericho to do more than 5 minutes on their own.  Good stuff, as you'd expect, building up to Jericho locking in the Walls of Jericho.  When RVD could not escape, Christian finally rose from the dead to break up the hold so he'd not lose his title.  From there, the Jericho/Christian alliance pretty much went south, and the closed with several more minutes of back-and-forth brawling.  The big spot in the match: RVD set up to back superplex Jericho, but Christian interrupted, and stepped underneath them to turn it into a double-stack powerbomb/electric chair move.  That spawned another "Holy Shit" chant, and deservedly so.  RVD also hit a unique "double stack" move when he Frog Splashed both Jericho and Christian at the same time.  Finish saw RVD toss Jericho to the outside, and then go for a Frog Splash on Christian.  But Christian had grabbed his IC Belt, and got it and his knees up so that RVD crashed into them.  With Van Dam stunned, Christian pounced and got the quick pinfall.  [Match was a bit slow at the start, with the announcers having to cover for the lack of heat by saying "Fans are stunned by what just happened to Shane McMahon."  But it picked up really nicely, and the closing five minutes were tremendous and featured the night's best work.]
  • Al Snow and Jonathan Coachman defeated Jerry Lawler and Jim Ross to earn the RAW lead announce job.  Snow and Lawler started, and did about 4 minutes of punchy-kicky, which was just not getting it done.  Also not helping: no makeshift announcers, meaning that all we had to listen to were the mostly-quiet crowd and the random non sequiturs from Coach and JR standing on the apron.  Oh, and also to my incredibly witty running commentary (applies only to those who were in my living room).  When Snow has Lawler beat down, Coach gets cocky and tags himself in.  He's able to hold the edge for a little bit, but Lawler eventually rallies, and then decides to "hot" tag JR (actually, fans did pop for the tag, so maybe those are unfair quotation marks...).  Ross came in and went all Slobberknocker all over Coach.  However, the ref became distracted by Snow and Lawler brawling on the outside, meaning he did not see Chris Jericho run out and dropkick JR in the head, and then put Coach on top of JR.  All the ref saw was Coach making a cover, and so he counted it.  Jericho was interviewed on his way back, and he said that this was all part of his plan to crack Austin.  [Not pretty, folks.  I guess if I thought there was anything permanent about Coach and Snow taking over, then maybe I'd get interested in the storyline side a bit...  but that's not happening either.  As it stands, the Jericho/Austin element is more interesting and engrossing than anything involving the announcers.]
  • After a Goldberg/HHH history package, King and JR were back at the commentary table, where they almost tearfully said that they'd try really hard to call the HELL out of the main event, since it's the last time they'll ever get to call a wrestling match.  Big time oversell here, if you ask me.  
  • Bill Goldberg pinned Triple H to win the World Heavyweight Title.  Stalling early from HHH, who, despite the title-changes-hands-on-count-outs-and-DQs, made frequent visits to the outside to break Goldberg's momentum.  HHH finally did decide to give it the old college try and managed to gain the edge for a bit, but that turned around when the brawl went outside.  HHH went into the steel steps, and came up bleeding.  Goldberg stayed on offense, until a ref bump gave HHH the chance he needed to go to his trusty sledgehammer.  He plastered Goldberg with a shot to the head, but before he could follow up, Goldberg popped back up.  Triple H walked right into a spear, and then Goldberg set him up for the jackhammer.  The ref came around just in time to count the three.  Goldberg is your new World Champion.  [HHH must still be hurting pretty bad, because at less than 15 minutes -- a good amount of that early stalling -- this was about as anti-epic a PPV main event as we've seen lately.  Acceptable would be the strongest positive adjective I'd attach to this match, though the clean finish was an added bonus and puts Goldberg in the best possible position as he starts his reign.  But mostly, this felt like 2 guys going through the motions, heading towards an inevitable conclusion.  I never really felt any drama, and as already outlined, they weren't exactly in position to cover for that with breath-taking athleticism like what we saw out of Angle and Lesnar three days ago.]

I think that summing up Unforgiven can be best done like this: it was almost exactly what I expected.  In terms of match outcomes, I picked 8 out of 8; but more importantly, my concerns about certain matches falling flat or not delivering were also bourn out, while I was generally entertained by the matches that I thought would be solid.  The exceptions: the tag title match wound up being more fun than I'd thought, while Michaels/Orton was a bit less exciting than I'd have hoped.
 
A show meeting expectations can be a good thing...  but the truth is, my expectations for Unforgiven were not all that high.  I joked about it, but truthfully, I wound up feeling like this past week's SmackDown! had not just two wrestling matches superior to anything on this PPV, but also more of that intangible "big show" atmosphere that you really need to have when you're asking fans to plop down cash for a show on Sunday night.  Now, keeping in mind that I thought SD! was flat-out awesome, falling a bit short of that is nothing to be ashamed of...  it's just an odd quirk of scheduling that WWE would upstage itself with a killer free show so proximate to an utterly adequate PPV.

More thoughts and fall-out tomorrow in my regular OO column.

E-MAIL RICK SCAIA
BROWSE THE OO ARCHIVES

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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