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The Birth of the nWo

From Hulk Hogan's shocking turn at WCW Bash at the Beach 1996 to the addition of Ted Dibiase, THe Giant Syxx and more, relive the very beginning of the New World Order.

Austin 3:16 Says I Just Kicked Your Ass

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Wrestlemania 12 Review

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Showing posts with label Unforgiven. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Unforgiven. Show all posts

Saturday, 5 November 2022

PPV REVIEW: WWE Unforgiven 2003

WWE Unforgiven 2003 - Event poster

September 21, 2003
Giant Center, Hershey, Pennsylvania

It's no secret that Bill Goldberg's first WWE run was far from the resounding success the company surely hoped it would be. Still, by the time Unforgiven 2003 rolled around, he'd at least gained enough momentum to challenge Triple H for World Heavyweight Championship. 
Of course, this was during the period when The Game was really starting to cement his reputation among hardcore fans as someone who buried everyone he locked up with in the squared circle. 

Would Hunter's backstage clout see him prevail once again, or would WWE be willing to take one last chance on former WCW star Goldberg?

Let's dive into today's review and find out together, shall we?

Goldberg F***ing Sucks

No, that's not me saying that Goldberg sucks, that's pretty much what Triple H told us in our opening video package.

As clips played of Bill crushing the likes of Hulk Hogan and Bret 'The Hitman' Hart on WCW TV, a voiceover from The Game told us that not only had Goldberg never beaten anybody significant but that he also wasn't fit to be a called a professional wrestler and didn't belong in WWE. 

This was pretty much the same basis for Goldberg's feud against The Rock leading up to their match at Backlash 2003, albeit with the intensity and level of "Goldberg f**king sucks" attitude turned up to 11. 

Honestly, I don't get it. 

I mean, I understand HHH thinking he's better than his opponent, but since Goldberg had debuted in the company, WWE had seemingly spent his entire run telling us that he was a nobody. 

Then they got surprised when the crowds hated him.

WWE Unforgiven 2003 - Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler both called the event and wrestled on the show

Anyway, with that video over, we got the usual crowd shots and pyro as Jim Ross and Jerry 'The King' Lawler welcomed us to Unforgiven 2003. 

Dressed in an Oklahoma Sooners shirt rather than his usual smart-casual attire, Ross told us that he and King were there to not only commentate but also compete. 

Before they locked up in the ring though, there was this:

2 vs. 3 Handicap Tables Match for the WWE world Tag Team Titles
WWE World Tag Team Champions La Résistance (Sylvain Grenier & René Duprée) and Rob Conway vs. The Dudley Boyz (Bubba Ray & Spike Dudely)

This was supposed to be a 3 vs. 3 match with Spike Dudely teaming with his brothers. However, Spike had recently been taken out of commission by  La Résistance. In a   nasty-looking spot, one of the La Resistance members attempted to powerbomb Spike over the top rope to the outside where he was supposed to crash through a table. 

WWE Unforgiven 2003 - D'Von Dudley gains the advantage in Dudley Boyz match with La Resistance

However, he missed the table and clipped the back of his head against it as he crash-landed on the arena floor. 

It looked ugly, and it was no surprise that little Dudley wasn't here tonight.

The match itself was OK, though it didn't make much sense that a match that could only be won by dropping all of your opponents through tables began as a standard tag match with everybody tagging in and out.

It wasn't that this standard tag team action was terrible or anything, but by this stage, the Dudleyz had a very specific formula for their matches which they seemed to go through every single time.

On the one hand, it worked well for them. 

At this stage of their career, the team seemed to have found a comfortable spot as a reliable PPV opener. Indeed, I'm pretty sure we'd seen them open the majority of PPVs they were featured on in 2003. 

The problem was that this Dudley formula was entirely predictable so it made every match feel the same, and not in a good way.

Eventually, Bubba Ray inevitably told D'Von to get the tables. The tables were got, and the action did pick up somewhat, though it really felt like they were just stumbling their way from one table spot to the next with little regard for rhyme or reason. 

In the end, The Dudley Boyz won their 17th tag team championship despite their opponents having a 3-on-2 advantage which didn't do much to make La Resistance look like a credible threat in the future.
Your Winners and New World Tag Team Champions: La Resistancec

Before the next match, we saw a video package for the never-ending Scott Steiner/Test/Stacy Keibler storyline set to the song "Suffocate" by Cold.

Test vs. Scott Steiner (w/ Stacy Kiebler)

These two had last met one-on-one at Badd Blood in June where the winner got Stacy Keibler's managerial services. 

WWE Unforgiven 2003 - Test looks irate as Stacy Keibler embraces Scott Steiner

Steiner had won, but for some reason that didn't end the feud and WWE decided to beat a dead horse by having the same match on an August episode of Raw in which Test had won those managerial services back.

Tonight, Stacy's contract was back on the line, this time with the added stipulation that if Steiner lost, he would basically become Test's bitch boy.

There were times when this felt like the only bad thing I could really say about this match was that it was a fairly average, by-the-numbers singles match with nothing to make it compelling or memorable.

Then there were times when both men looked as though it was their first day at wrestling school and could barely put basic moves together.

Nothing either man did excited or inspired in any way, and it was only when Stacy Keibler got up on the apron and flashed her booty that anybody seemed to care.

Stacy got involved a few more times, eventually aiming to strike Test with a chair but missing and hitting Steiner instead.

Test hit the big boot and this one was over.
Your Winner: Test

Up next, we saw a commercial for Trish Stratus' 100% Stratusfaction release on WWE home video before a video package aired highlighting the Legend vs. Legend Killer storyline between and Randy Orton.

WWE Unforgiven 2003 - Shawn Michaels vs. Randy Orton - Legend vs. Legend Killer

Leading into that package, JR told us that Orton may have been the future of WWE. 

In many ways, he wasn't wrong.

Randy Orton (w/ Ric fair) vs. Shawn Michaels 

At first, this match seemed a little underwhelming, but it got better and better as it went on, and, by the time it reached its climax around the 19-minute mark, it was as solid and entertaining as anything you could ask for.

WWE Unforgiven 2003 - Ric Flair looks on as Randy Orton puts a hurtin' on Shawn Michaels

Telling the simple tale of the cocky young rookie trying to take out the respected veteran, this was a captivating match where storytelling and psychology played just as much a part as exciting in-ring action.

In the end, Shawn Michaels took out Orton with the sweet chin music and appeared to get the three-count, only for Flair to put Orton's foot on the ropes at the last possible second.

As HBK's music began to play, Earl Hebner informed him that he hadn't won the match after all. 

Orton then immediately blasted his opponent in the face with some brass knuckles to steal the win.
Your Winner: Randy Orton 

Backstage, La Resistance were busy nursing their wounds when Chris Jericho came in and reassured them that it was all Stone Cold Steve Austin's fault for booking them in the match in the first place.

WWE Unforgiven 2003 - Chris Jericho tells La Resistance their problems are all Steve Austin's fault

Visibly upset with Austin, Y2J promised that he would stand up for them, and the entire WWE locker room, against the bullying, "drunk with power" ways of the Texas Rattlesnake.

Gail Kim & WWE Women's Champion Molly  Holly vs. Trish Stratus & Lita 

Gail Kim was making her PPV debut here while Lita was returning after a year on the shelf with a neck injury. 

WWE Unforgiven 2003 - Gail Kim makes her WWE PPV debut

Together with women's champion Molly Holly and the incomparable Trish Stratus, the two helped to create a pretty decent tag team match.

There was nothing remarkable about this one, and at points, it seemed like the crowd didn't care too much at all, but it was good for what it was. 

The end came with a win for the good girls when Lita hit Molly with a moonsault for the win.
Your Winners: Trish Stratus and Molly Holly

Prior to the next match, we got a look back at the intense rivalry between Kane and Shane McMahon, after which Lillian Garcia ran down the rules of a Last Man Standing Match.

Last Man Standing Match
Kane vs. Shane McMahon 

WWE Unforgiven 2003 - Kane vs. Shane McMahon: Last Man Standing

This was about as good as you were going to get from these two.

Shane McMahon attacked Kane with a chair as The Big Red Machine entered, setting a violent tone for the rest of the match.

What followed wasn't necessarily balls-to-the-wall action, but everything worked, everything made sense, and, most importantly, everything entertained. 

After destroying each other in and around the ring, the two bitter rivals made their way to the entrance and continued to attempt to murder one another until Shane O' Mac got the better of his opponent by swinging a television monitor at his head. 

McMahon then climbed atop one of the video walls that made up the Unforgiven set and leaped a good 20 feet to his doom, ostensibly looking to land on Kane but really just giving us one of those cool Shane McMahon stunts we'd all come to know and love. 

Naturally, Kane moved out of the way and made it to his feet as referee Charles Robinson counted out Vince's kid.
Your Winner: Shane McMahon 

Post-match, Shane was stretchered out to a standing ovation as we saw a million replays of his leap of doom. 

Back in the dressing room, Chris Jericho blamed Steve Austin for Kane being a monster and La Resistance getting their asses kicked.

WWE Unforgiven 2003 - Chris Jericho confronts Stone Cold Steve Austin

Stone Cold invited Jericho to take his best shot, but the former Undisputed Champion instead insisted that he had a much more effective plan to make Austin "crack" by getting in his head and playing mind games with him.

WWE Intercontinental Championship
WWE Intercontinental Champion Christian vs. Rob Van Dam vs. Chris Jericho 

Honestly, I think this was the most disappointing Pay Per View match I've seen since Shawn Michaels vs. Curt Hennig at Summerslam 1993

WWE Unforgiven 2003 - Christian prepares to defend the Intercontinental Championship against Rob Van Dam and Chris Jericho

Much like that match, this one featured competitors who had an abundance of talent and experience and could have -perhaps should have- delivered an incredible match but ultimately failed to.

Of course, it didn't help that the crowds were burned out after seeing Shane's 20 ft leap of death, meaning everything Christian, Jericho, and Rob Van Dam did play out to near silence for the first 15 minutes of the match. Heck, even the announcers sounded bored for the most part. 

After a long and lifeless battle, things finally picked up in the closing few minutes with a couple of entertaining spots that managed to rouse the crowd from their slumber.

Finally, following a lacklustre effort, RVD dove onto Christian with a Five Star Frog Splash, but the champion caught his opponent with the title belt and made the pin to retain the title.
Your Winner and Still Intercontinental Champion: Christian 

Backstage, Mark Lloyd interviewed Triple H, who promised to end Goldberg's WWE once and for all.

WWE Unforgiven 2003 - Marc Lloyd interviews Triple H

This was followed by a promo video for our upcoming Battle of the Commentators which was far more dramatic than the storyline deserved.

Winner is the Raw Commentary Team
Jonathan Coachman & Al Snow vs. Jim Ross & Jerry 'The King' Lawler

I mean, seriously.

I don't mind them doing this kind of storyline, but this is surely a Raw match at best, not the penultimate match on a PPV.

WWE Unforgiven 2003 - Jim Ross is inconsolable after he and Jerry Lawler lose their Raw commentary position in a match against Jonathan Coachman and Al Snow

With no commentary and a dead crowd, Al Snow and Jerry Lawler spent most of the time working a basic match. It was inoffensive but it was also incredibly uninteresting. 

Eventually, JR made the hot tag and began beating up Jonathan Coachman while King and Snow brawled on the outside.

At that point, Chris Jericho ran in and dropkicked Ross in the back of the head. 

Coach made the cover, and one three count later, we had ourselves a new Raw announce team.
Your Winners: Jonathan Coachman & Al Snow

WWE Unforgiven 2003 - Marc Lloyd asks Chris Jericho why he got involved in the JR/King vs. Coachman/Snow match

Out in the entrance way, Marc Lloyd asked Jerich for an explanation. Y2J said he'd interfered in the match to get at Stone Cold Steve Austin as the Rattlesnake and JR were buddies. 

This was followed by a final video package for HHH vs. Goldberg and a final bit from JR and King. Ross apologized to Lawler for letting the team down.

King said that he wasn't let down, but then said "I didn't see what happened, but the referee said Jericho kicked you in the back of the head."

Well, erm, if the referee saw that, why didn't he disqualify Coach and Snow?

Plot hole aside, JR gave an emotional farewell before he and King turned their attentions back to the monitors to call their final match together. For now at least, this whole story would be over in a few weeks. 

WWE World Heavyweight Championship
WWE World Heavyweight Champion Triple H vs. Goldberg

(Goldberg must retire if he lose - Triple H can lose the title on a countout or DQ)

This wasn't the worst match I've ever seen, but it was far from the most interesting. 

WWE Unforgiven 2003 - Earl Hebner lays down the law to Bill Goldberg and Triple H

Still rocking the cycle shorts as a result of a groin injury, Triple H did his best to deliver his usual "main event epic" style but sadly, it was a style that was ill-suited to an opponent who lacked the skill and experience to help pull it off. 

The result was a boring main event that this writer ultimately tuned out of, only investing any attention aagain when Goldberg lifted up the champion for a Jackhammer, drilled him to the matt, and ended The Game's  11-month title reign.
Your Winner and NEW World Heavyweight Champion: Goldberg

Post match, Goldberg celebrated with the big gold belt as Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler bid us a final farewell.


A few weeks ago, I reviewed the Smackdown-only Vengeance PPV and said that it was not only one of the best PPVs of 2003, but an all-time favorite of mine. 
So it's kind of surprising that the same company who gave us that show could give us such an underwhelming and disappointing event like Unforgiven 2003. 
Yes, I know, Raw and Smackdown both had their own separate creative teams, but this is still the same company and it's kind of crazy that while Smackdown shows could be phenomenal, Raw-brand events could be so utterly blah. 

Don't get me wrong, the Orton/Michaels and Kane/McMahon matches were enjoyable, but the rest of this show wasn't that great. 

It's not that the wrestling was bad, it's just that most of Unforgiven 2003 was really kind of boring and had nothing that really made you want ot spend your itme sitting in front of the TV watching it.

That's a shame, but hey, at least I get to do another Smackdown PPV soon.

Have you read our latest book? The Complete History of WWE's UK PPV Events: 1991 - 2003? Get yours from Amazon today:

Sunday, 26 December 2021

PPV REVIEW: WWE Unforgiven 2002

WWE Unforgiven 2002 Review - Event Poster
September 22, 2002
Staples Center, Los Angeles, California 

By the time Unforgiven 2002 rolled around in the September of '02, the WWE landscape had evolved even further away from the WWF of old. 

In the midst of her ongoing rivalry with Raw General Manager Eric Bischoff, Smackdown boss Stephanie McMahon had lured WWE Champion Brock Lesnar to the blue brand, locking him in on an exclusive contract which ultimately meant that the Monday night show would have no world champion. 

Looking to solve that problem, Eric Bischoff brought out The Big Gold Belt and declared it to be the new World Heavyweight Championship. 

Not only that, but rather than holding a tournament, a battle royal, or even a single match to determine the new champion, Sleazy E simply awarded the champion to the brand's top heel, The Game, Triple H. 

Tonight, The Game would need to prove whether he was worthy of such a title when he put it on the line against Rob...Van... Dam.

Here's what went down when Unforgiven came to Los Angeles, California. 

A Night Like No Other

WWE Unforgiven 2002 Review - Jim Ross & Jerry 'The King' Lawler called the show
Our opening video package focussed on the fact that this was the first time that two major WWE titles would be defended on a PPV.

First of all, there was the newly restored World Heavyweight Championship.

The video linked the current title to the long lineage from WCW and the NWA, showing stars like Harley Race, Ric Flair, Sting, and Vader all holding the belt before noting how it had been brought back and simply handed to Triple H.

While the company gets a lot of stick for awarding The Game the belt without having to compete for it, I personally think it was a smart move to make Raw’s top heel even more despised.

Tonight, we’d see him defend the Big Gold Belt against Rob Van Dam to see if he actually deserved to be called champion.

Elsewhere, we looked at Brock Lesnar's dominant streak before and after dethroning The Rock at Summerslam 2002 and how he would defend the belt tonight against The Undertaker.

With that, it was pyro and crowd shots galore as Jim Ross and Jerry ‘The King’ Lawler welcomed us to Unforgiven 2002 and our first match got set to start.

00.04.12 - Announcers

8-Man Tag
The Un-Americans (William Regal, Test, and WWE Tag Team Champions Lance Storm and Christian) vs. Booker T, Goldust, Bubba Ray Dudley, and Kane

WWE Unforgiven 2002 Review - The UnAmericans
Before the match even started, JR flubbed his lines and referred to The Un-Americans as The Unforgivens.

That aside, this was a fun opener, even if it did follow a predictable formula.

After a few minutes of proper tag team action which gave most of the combatants an opportunity to shine, the match inevitably broke down into a free-for-all with everyone hitting their signature spots.

Eventually, Kane chokeslammed Lance Storm for the win, putting an end to what had been a very decent effort.
Your Winners: Booker T, Goldust, Bubba Ray Dudley, and Kane

Post match, Bubba Ray Dudley pulled Old Glory from under the ring and waved it about to the delight of the crowd.

A Pep Talk From Steph

Out in the back, Stephanie McMahon gave a pep talk to Billy & Chuck ahead of their inter-promotional match against 3 Minute Warning.

Steph wanted the boys to do it for Smackdown pride, but Billy Gunn thought it had more to do with Steph not wanting to “French kiss a lesbian.”

Chuck Palumbo assured the Smackdown GM that he and Billy would get the job done and that Eric Bischoff would end up kissing her ass tonight.

WWE Intercontinental Championship
WWE Intercontinental Champion Chris Jericho vs. Nature Boy Ric Flair

WWE Unforgiven 2002 Review -  Chris Jericho faced Ric Flair
Ric Flair
turned up in as fine a form as he was able to here, meaning this match was -for this fan’s money- even better than their previous clash back at Summerslam.

Both champ and challenger went at it hard and fast in a good contest with a neat finish.

Chris Jericho pretended to have injured his knee, prompting referee Charles Robinson to call for a trainer.

Then, when Nature Boy’s back was turned, Y2J blindsided him and made him tap to the Walls of Jericho.
Your Winner and Still Intercontinental Champion: Chris Jericho

Backstage, Eric Bischoff told Rosie and Jamal that he had recruited Rico as their manager for the evening as nobody knew their opponents better than WWE’s resident stylist.

Rico arrived on the scene and promised Bischoff that, when he was done, the Raw GM could grab some popcorn, some Vaseline, and enjoy some HLA.

With that, we swapped over to Smackdown for our next match.

Eddie Guerrero vs. Edge

WWE Unforgiven 2002 Review -  Edge vs. Eddie Guerrero
And so we had our second Summerslam rematch in a row.

Unlike the last match, I wouldn’t say this was better than their previous PPV bout, but it was still fantastic in its own right.

Half of the story between these two was Eddie Guerrero being jealous of Edge’s pretty-boy looks, so he spent half the match trying to break his rival’s face, all while Edge continued to sell the effects of an apparent concussion he suffered on Smackdown.

Eventually, the future world champion made a comeback to give us a thrilling finale to a great match.

Alas, it wasn’t to be Edge’s night. Guerrero got him with a handful of tights to put their PPV record at one win a piece...just like Jericho and Flair.
Your Winner: Eddie Guerrero

Out in the back, Triple H confronted Rob Van Dam and made fun of him for being so cool, calm, and collected before their big title fight.

Hunter then turned his attention to Ric Flair, who was recovering from his match in the background. The World Heavyweight Champion mocked Nature Boy for being a shell of his former self, but before Flair could confront the champ, RVD insisted that he’d rather associate with a “loser” like Flair than an “alleged winner” like HHH any day.

3 Minutes

Prior to the next match, we got a look back at Eric Bischoff interrupting a “commitment ceremony” between Billy & Chuck by revealing himself to be the officiate and then setting Rosie & Jamal on them.

On Raw, Bischoff found himself confronted by a woman’s protest group who he called a “horde of lesbians” before realising that Steph was one of them. She set Billy & Chuck on the attack and thus, tonight’s match was born.

Interpromotional Match
Billy & Chuck vs. Jamal & Rosie (w/ Rico)

If Billy & Chuck win, Eric Bischoff must kiss Stephanie McMahon’s ass. If Rosie & Jamal win, Steph must snog a woman.

Rosie and Jamal had been around since Eric Bischoff’s first official night in charge on the Raw after Vengeance 2002, but this was their first official PPV match.

A good match it was, too.

Nobody was expecting this to steal the show, but it was performed well and had a hot crowd that helped to make it a fun watch.

The more things went on, the more Billy & Chuck looked as though they could genuinely defeat their unstoppable opponents, but interference from Rico led to Billy eating a Samoan Drop to lose the match.
Your Winners: Rosie & Jamal

In the GM’s office, Jonathan Coachman asked Bischoff who he would send to make out with Steph, but Sleazy E simply led a group of three women in a chant of HLA.

This stuff really hasn’t aged well.

Time to Play the Game

Before the next match, we got another look at Triple H being awarded the World Heavyweight Championship and Rob Van Dam winning a four-way elimination match to become the number one contender.

This led to the two having a showdown on Raw where RVD made fun of The Game in a very funny moment.

Pretending to be putting his opponent over, Rob said:

“And you have proved that you really can..spit a lot of water!”

I won’t lie, I laughed so hard at that.

WWE World Heavyweight Championship
WWE World Heavyweight Champion Triple H vs. Rob Van Dam

WWE Unforgiven 2002 Review -  HHH vs. Rob Van Dam
This was an excellent match even if anyone with half a brain could see the ending coming from the moment Triple H made fun of Ric Flair earlier in the night.

Rob Van Dam started off strong, embarrassing The Game by continually out-wrestling him and then taking a bottle of water and mocking his opponent’s pre-match ritual.

It was another hilarious moment, but Hunter clearly didn’t see the funny side and made RVD pay by beating him senseless.

Van Dam made a spirited comeback and legitimately looked to be in with a shot of winning, but then Earl Hebner took a tumble and the predictable happened.

As I’ve mentioned previously, I wasn’t watching wrestling at all in 2002 and I’ve never seen this event before nor heard much about it, but it was blatantly obvious that Ric Flair was going to run in and turn on RVD because he didn’t like that Mr. PPV had called him a loser.

That happened, and it allowed The Game to win with a pedigree.
Your Winner and Still World Heavyweight Champion: Triple H

I know HHH gets a lot of stick for not putting people over, but he helped RVD look so damn good here that the mind boggles as to why Van Dam wasn’t a full-time main eventer right after this.

Afterwards, Flair handed The Game his belt and celebrated with him. The journey to Evolution had begun.

The Young and The Restless

Backstage, D’Lo Brown and Billy Kidman were talking about Ric Flair’s dastardly behavior when some dude from The Young and The Restless turned up and started whispering and mumbling so bad that it was impossible to tell what he was saying.

This all led to Dawn Marie appearing and saying the mumbling dude was with her.

Well alright then.

WWE Women’s Championship
WWE Women’s Champion Molly Holly vs. Trish Stratus

After such a big match, the crowd weren’t really into this one. That was a shame, because Trish Stratus and Molly Holly worked hard to give us a good match with lots of creative spots.

After absorbing a fair amount of punishment from the champion, Trish Stratus finally put Molly down to win her third Women’s Championship.
Your Winner and New Women’s Champion: Trish Stratus

After the match, Jonathan Coachman caught up with Trish for a ringside interview. The new women's champion gave an emotional speech in which she talked about how much she loved pro wrestling, the fans, and being the champion. 

Orgy Time

Back in the GM's office. Rico, Rosie, and Jamal celebrated their big victory with a harem of women while Eric Bischoff looked on approvingly like the world's creepiest father. 

Even Rico -who we were all supposed to believe was gay- was having a good time, and suggested they take the party elsewhere.

Everyone left except for two of the women, who Eric kept behind to help him "with a little HLA."

I feel dirty after watching that.

I felt a little better watching the hype video for our next match, recapping the rivalry between Chris Benoit and Kurt Angle

Kurt Angle vs. Chris Benoit 

Despite everything that happened with Chris Benoit, Kurt Angle has often cited him as one of his favorite men to be in the ring with, and no doubt matches like this are the reason why.

Whether it was their bout at Wrestlemania 17, their classic at Judgement Day 2001, or tonight, the duo never failed to put on a pro wrestling masterclass that was utterly enthralling from start to finish. 

We had both men trading the advantage, we had ankle locks and crossfaces galore, and just delivered everything you'd want from a match. 

After a very excellent back-and-forth battle, Chris Benoit rolled up Angle and used the ropes for leverage, which was weird since he was a babyface, but oh well.
Your Winner: Chris Benoit

Out in the back, Undisputed Champion Brock Lesnar and Paul Heyman that they had no problem making their feud with The Undertaker personal.

Lesnar vowed to end 'Taker once and for all tonight.


WWE Unforgiven 2002 Review -  Rikishi as Hildergard
Up next, Eric Bischoff came to the ring with two women in tow. 

That meant that we got Howard Finkle giving us this unique introduction:

"Accompanied by THE LESBIANS, Eric Bischoff!" 

It was awful and yet somehow ridiculously hilarious. 

Bischoff teased having two women (called "Peaches & Cream") make out on their own, but then stopped and invited Stephanie McMahon to the ring.

Then, he had "The Lesbians" give her a massage, and they were almost about to make out when he changed his mind, sent Peaches & Cream packing, and introduced Steph's real make out partner, a big, ugly, old woman who was clearly a man in drag called "Hildergard."

Bischoff couldn't wait to humiliate his Smackdown rival by having her snog Hildergard, but then became surprised and disgusted when Steph proved to be very, very into it.

"What the hell?" exclaimed Bisch, that being the cue for Hildegard to rip her own plastic face off and reveal herself to be Rikishi. 

Naturally, a big, ol' stinky stink face to the Raw GM followed. 

While the reveal and subsequent stinkface were kind of entertaining, the rest of this segment just felt awkward and uncomfortable, not to mention the fact that it took up the best part of 10 minutes of PPV time that people had paid their hard-earned money for.

Main Event Time

Prior to our final match, we got an excellent video package highlighting Undertaker's history as the Phenom of the WWE, Lesnar's history as a bad ass legit wrestler, and their collision course towards tonight's meeting.

WWE Undisputed Championship
WWE Undisputed Champion Brock Lesnar (w/ Paul Heyman) vs. The Undertaker

WWE Unforgiven 2002 Review -  Brock Lesnar faces off with The Undertaker
If you ignore the completely pointless cameo from Matt Hardy (wherein he ran to the ring, was immediately powerbombed, and never seen again), this was a really good main event between two talented, powerful big man.

It was violent, bloody, and out of control, so out of control in fact, that referee Brian Hebner ultimately threw the whole match out as 'Taker and Lesnar simply punched the living daylights out of each other.

While the ending may not be to everyone's liking, this fan thought it worked well, putting Lesnar on the same level as WWE's resident living legend and making both men look unstoppable in the process.

Before the ending, everything else was solid, making this a very good way to end the show.
No Contest

Post-match, the two men continued to brawl. Undertaker eventually got the upper hand and launched Lesnar through the Unforgiven staging as the show came to an end. 

Unforgiven 2002 may not have been quite on the same level as the excellent Summerslam 2002 the month before, but that show had been so good from start to finish that it was always going be difficult to top.

Still, that didn't mean that this event wasn't great in its own right. 

Edge/Gurrero, RVD/HHH, and the main event were all really good matches, though the highlight was, as you might have guessed, Angle/Benoit.

Elsewhere, nothing on the show was bad apart from the whole HLA thing, and overall, this was a very enjoyable 2 hours, 40-something minutes of wrestling. 

Thursday, 4 February 2021

PPV REVIEW: WWF Unforgiven 2001

WWE / WWF Unforgiven 2001 - Event Poster
September 23, 2001
Mellon Arena, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

WWF Unforgiven 2001 was the first World Wrestling Federation Pay Per View to be held in the wake of 9/11.

Unsurprisingly, and for good reason, this meant that the company were flying their star-spangled banner high, with a certain sense of American patriotism underlying their recent programming. 

It also meant that their own All-American Hero Kurt Angle -already serving as the #2 babyface behind The Rock at this point in time- was now perhaps more popular than he'd ever been, serving as the red, white, and blue hero that fans could truly get behind in this time of national healing.

So it was entirely fitting that it would be Angle who tonight would take on an outside threat - not the terrorists- but the leader of the invading Alliance group, WWF Champion, Stone Cold Steve Austin.

It was also fitting that this should all happen in Angle's own home state.

Would goodwill -and a tight ankle lock- prevail? Or would this be one instance where the evil outside force triumphed?

Let's find out by heading down to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania for the last Unforgiven show to be promoted under the WWF banner before the company changed its name to WWE.

WWE / WWF Unforgiven 2001 - Jennifer Holiday sang America The Beautiful

Please Rise for America the Beautiful

With the World Wrestling Federation still in full-blown patriot mode in the wake of 9/11, tonight’s show began with a stirring rendition of America the Beautiful courtesy of two-time Grammy-winner, Jennifer Holiday.

Credit where it’s due, Holiday not only had an awesome voice, she was pretty badass at working the crowd and looked genuinely touched by the applause she received.

From that touching moment, it was on to the violence and chaos of Unforgiven 2001.

Now I Dub Thee Unforgiven

WWE / WWF Unforgiven 2001 - Paul Heyman & Jim Ross called the event
Things got underway properly with a short promo reminding us of the heated rivalry between Kurt Angle and Stone Cold Steve Austin and, to a lesser extent, the ongoing rivalry between Booker T and The Rock.

We’d see all four men in action later in the show, but first, we got our usual greeting from Jim Ross and Paul Heyman.

Ladies and gentleman, Unforgiven was underway.

Four-Team Elimination Match for the World Wrestling Federation Tag Team Championship
WWF Tag Team Champions The Dudley Boyz (Bubba Ray & D’Von Dudley) The Hardy Boyz (Matt & Jeff Hardy) vs. WWF European Champion The Hurricane & Lance Storm vs. The Big Show & Spike Dudley

Having only just recently beaten Kane & The Undertaker for the tag team titles, Bubba Ray & D’Von Dudley our them online in a very fun opening match in which everyone played their roles perfectly.

The early going saw a lot of fast-paced action between The Hardy Boyz, Lance Storm, Hurricane and Spike Dudley, all of which delighted an audience who were so loud you’d be forgiven for thinking you were watching a Rock ‘n’ Roll Express match back in the 80s.

WWE / WWF Unforgiven 2001 - Lance Storm and The Hurricane teamed up in the opening match
Hurricane was especially popular which was interesting, partly because he’d only been doing the gimmick for a few weeks, but mostly because he was an Alliance member and thus technically a heel.

Even Big Show played his part well, sitting on the sidelines before coming in for some crowd-popping clobbering time and letting Little Spike jump off his shoulders to the outside, flattening everyone else in the match.

Show even got the first elimination, catching Lance Storm coming off the top and chokeslamming him into oblivion before Matt Hardy put Spike away to eliminate that team also.

With the two makeshift teams out of the way, that left us with the two established duos to go at it and give us everything you’d expect from a Dudleyz/Hardyz battle.

After an enjoyable effort, the champs hit the 3D on Matt Hardy only for Jeff to break it up with a last-minute Swanton.

Alas, it wasn’t enough, as Jeff and Bubba fell to the outside, a beaten up D’Von draped an arm over Matt to retain the gold.
Your Winners and Still WWF Champions: The Dudley Boyz

WWE / WWF Unforgiven 2001 - Stephanie McMahon flirts with Rob Van Dam
Out in the back, Stephanie McMahon let Hardcore Champion Rob Van Damn know that if there was anything she could do -you know, anything- to help him beat Chris Jericho, then she was more than happy to.

Of course, being The Whole Damn Show, RVD didn’t need anyone’s help, though he did get Steph’s permission to claim the biggest dressing room in the arena for himself.

Back in the arena, Michael Cole interviewed Kurt Angle’s mom and brother about the homestate hero’s championship match against Steve Austin.

Honestly, it was only slightly less awkward than the time Todd Pettingill interviewed The Steiner Brothers’ family back at Summerslam 1993.

Raven (w/ Terri) vs. Perry Saturn

These two had a memorable bout back at WCW Fall Brawl 1998 when they feuded over Saturn trying to free The Flock.

Three years later, they were at war again, this time because Saturn had fallen in love with a mop and dumped the ever-gorgeous Terri in favor of the cleaning appliance, prompting the former Marlena to align herself with Raven and put Moppy through a wood chipper.

The story was so dumb that Jim Ross and Paul Heyman decided to spend more time talking about their history in WCW and the aforementioned freeing of The Flock. It was a smart move.

The actual match was OK, but nobody really seemed to care and even the best spots of the match were played out to almost total silence.

In the end, Saturn got the win and the crowd popped for the first time in the whole match.
Your Winner: Saturn

WWE / WWF Unforgiven 2001 - Lilian Garcia interviews Christian about his match with Edge
Since King of the Ring, Christian had become increasingly jealous of his brother Edge, eventually turning on him in front of their hometown audience in Toronto on Raw.

It had been a well-done story so far and was about to come to a head with Christian challenging Edge for the Intercontinental Championship.

First, however, the future Captain Charisma stopped by the backstage area to cut a decent promo, telling Lillian Garcia that turning his back on Edge was worth it if it meant him becoming our new IC champion.

World Wrestling Federation Intercontinental Championship
WWF Intercontinental Champion Edge vs. Christian

Christian! Christian! At last, you’re on your own!

What a theme that was!

Speaking of themes, this was the first WWF PPV in which Edge used Never Gonna Stop by Rob Zombie as his theme.

WWE / WWF Unforgiven 2001 - Intercontinental Championship match: Christian vs. Edge
As for the actual match, while I doubt anyone would consider it an all-time classic (and certainly not an instant one), it was still a very good contest.

After a fired up Edge got his revenge on Christian by beating him from pillar to post, the match turned into a story of the two brothers and tag team partners who knew each other so well that they would constantly trade the advantage and counter each other’s moves.

Things got more heated and more violent until Christian brought in a couple of chairs ready to hit the Con-Chair-to on his brother.

Instead, Edge made a comeback and looked to hit the same move only for the referee to grab the chair out of his hand.

As the champion argued with the official, Christian grabbed the second chair, whacked his opponent in the goolies with it and became -at least for the time being- our new champion.
Your Winner and NEW Intercontinental Champion: Christian

You know, it’s only at this stage that I realised Paul Heyman was wearing an ECW Anarchy Rulz laminate. I wonder if they let him in the arena with that acting as his backstage pass?

Stevie Richards Gets Kronik

WWE / WWF Unforgiven 2001 - Jonathan Coachman interviews Kane & Undertaker about their match with Kronik
I noticed this as Heyman and JR introduced us to a video package introducing our next match.

Stevie Richards had recently attacked The Undertaker in retribution for the American Bad Ass breaking up Right to Censor months back.

The two met on Smackdown, only for Brian Adams and Brian Clarke to appear and attack ‘Taker. That, ladies and gentleman, would lead us to tonight’s Ill-fated WCW tag team title match, but not before the champions, Taker and Kane, stopped by for a few words with Jonathan Coachman.

In a solid interview, Undertaker told Coach he had no problem getting beaten up by Kronik but was more than a little miffed at Richards reminding everyone about the RTC when that was the one thing most people wanted to forget about.

Tonight, he swore that he and Kane would drop Adams & Clarke on their heads.

World Championship Wrestling World Tag Team Championship
WCW Tag Team Champions Kane & The Undertaker vs. Kronik (Brian Adams & Bryan Clarke w/ Steven Richards)

WWE / WWF Unforgiven 2001 - Steven Richards leads Kronik into battle
OK, so before we get into this legendarily awful match, here’s some fun facts.

This was Kronik’s first PPV appearance since WCW Superbrawl Revenge in February of that year.

It was Brian Adam’s first WWF PPV appearance since Survivor Series ‘97 and Bryan Clark’s first WWF PPV since Wrestlemania 10 when he lost to Earthquake in a mere 35 seconds. Of course, that’s not including the Adam Bomb vs. Kwang match that served as a dark match for Summerslam ‘95.

Speaking of Bryan Clark, did you see his mugshot after he got arrested last year? I could barely tell it was the same guy.

Now, onto one of the most famous bad matches of all time.

Was it really all that terrible? And was it really all Kronik’s fault?

I mean, not really.

Sure, it was certainly bad, and sure, Adams & Clark weren’t exactly five-star caliber performers, but at least they were in shape.

Undertaker and Kane (especially Kane) both looked heavy and sluggish, while Kane was visibly hampered by his recent staph infection.

All four men moved at snail's pace. Basic moves like a neck breaker looked like they were being performed by a kid on his first day at wrestling school rather than by veteran performers, and Adams even managed to mess up his shoulder breaker on Kane even though it was one of only five or so moves he had in his repertoire and had done it countless times.

Even worse though, was The Undertaker, who couldn’t even be bothered to make his moves look like they connected. Punches and a knee lift, in particular, landed in the next state over and looked dumb.

So yes, it was bad, but it wasn’t the worse thing you’ve ever seen.

Long-time readers of Retro Pro Wrestling will know that all bad matches are compared to the worst match of all time, Adrian Adonis vs. Uncle Elmer at Wrestlemania 2, and it certainly wasn’t that bad.

I’m also inclined to agree with RD at Wrestlecrap who quite rightly noted that this was nowhere near as awful as ‘Taker’s Wrestlemania 9 match with Giant Gonzales, but yeah, it was still pretty terrible all the same.

In the end, Kane and Taker won and Kronik would never be seen on WWF television ever again.
Your Winners and Still WCW Tag Team Champions: Kane & Undertaker

WWE / WWF Unforgiven 2001 - Tazz speaks to Booker T and Shane McMahon
Backstage, Tazz annoyed his Alliance cohorts Shane McMahon and Booker T by telling them that it would be pretty embarrassing if they couldn’t beat The Rock in tonight’s two-on-one handicap match.

Across the arena, Stephanie McMahon hung around outside RVD’s dressing room, flirting with him through the door and insisting that if he beat Jericho it would be a great birthday present for her and, in return, she’d make his time in the Alliance very -ahem- pleasurable.

Little did Steph know that Jericho was stood behind her. Y2J mocked Steph and her recent boob job then headed to the ring for our next match.

World Wrestling Federation Hardcore Championship
WWF Hardcore Champion Rob Van Dam vs. Chris Jericho

Make no mistake about it, Rob Van Dam had come into his own as a true superstar during the Invasion angle and was by far the most popular member of The Alliance.

Before, I mentioned how The Hurricane was receiving large pops despite his Alliance membership making him a heel by default. The reception Shane Helms got however was nothing compared to the kind of ovation that greeted RVD on every show throughout the invasion.

His popularity could be partly explained by his cooler-than-cool character, and partly because every time he stepped foot in the ring he had awesome matches like this one with Chris Jericho.

Like the E/C match from earlier, this one may not be in anyone’s top five matches of all time, but it was still incredibly good and utterly compelling from start to finish.

Exactly what you’d imagine a match between these two to be like, albeit even better thanks to the freedom afforded to them by hardcore rules, this was easily the best match on the show so far.

However, like all good things, this one had to come to an end, and did so when Stephanie McMahon distracted her nemesis Y2J, giving RVD the chance to plant his opponent and flatten him with a match-winning frog splash.
Your Winner and Still Hardcore Champion: Rob Van Dam

WWE / WWF Unforgiven 2001 - The Rock faced Booker T for the WCW title
No one gets as high as Rob Van Dam,” said Paul Heyman as we watched the replay of the five-star frog splash. 

Heyman absolutely knew what he was doing with that line.

Out in the back, Shane O’ Mac reminded Booker T that the most important thing was simply bringing the WCW title back to the Alliance regardless of who won. Clearly, we’d see some dissension in the ranks tonight.

Prior to that match, we got another video package that featured Rey Mysterio’s old WCW theme music as the soundtrack.

World Championship Wrestling World Heavyweight Championship Handicap Match
WCW World Heavyweight Champion The Rock vs. Booker T and Shane McMahon

Sadly, this one was pretty disappointing.

Sure, it had its flashes of excitement and the crowd certainly appreciated the big moments such as The Rock popping up to his feet and stopping Shane in his tracks just as he was about to land a ‘Shane-O Elbow,’ but between those moments were long -and I mean *long* periods were very little of note happened.

WWE / WWF Unforgiven 2001 - The Rock faced Booker T for the WCW title
Things picked up as the match went into the finish, but by that point, the whole thing had dragged on for what felt like an eternity so it was almost impossible to give a crap.

In the end, The Rock won this mediocre contest with a rock bottom. That was bad news for Booker T. Despite having an extra man on his team, a clearly biased referee (Nick Patrick) working in his favor and a run-in from Test, he still wasn’t able to win the match, making him look like a chump.
Your Winner and Still WCW Champion: The Rock

Backstage, we were reminded of the bizarre storyline in which we were supposed to believe Torrie Wilson had it bad for US Champ and William Regal’s assistant, Tajiri.

In Regal’s office, The Commissioner declared that he’d been thinking of banning anyone from being at ringside during Tajriri’s match with Rhyno in order to prevent shenanigans.

Understandably upset, Tajiri and Torrie tugged on Regal’s heartstrings until he gave the WCW beauty permission to accompany her man to ringside.

Speaking of WCW beauties, over at WWF New York, we were supposed to believe that WWF had simply allowed Alliance member Stacy Kiebler to saunter into the venue and occupy the stage despite the two factions being at war.

The former Miss Hancock showed us a video of her shaving her legs in the bath which was set to Sunny’s old theme music. Paul Heyman nearly had a heart attack at the very sight, acting as if Stacy was, I don’t know, visibility masturbating rather than just tending to her personal grooming routine.

Look, I’m not saying Stacy wasn’t stunning, but I’m not sure if a woman shaving her legs is really as hot as Paul E. made it out to be.

World Championship Wrestling United States Championship
WCW U.S. Champion Tajiri (w/ Torrie Wilson) vs. Rhyno

WWE / WWF Unforgiven 2001 - Rhyno faced Tajiri for the US title
So, here we had two men who (at the time) were best known as ECW stars fighting for a WCW title on a WWF PPV.

Though the match was clearly designed to provide a little breathing room between the two main events, it actually proved to be a fun match in its own right.

Relatively short and to the point, this enjoyable little battle came to an end when Rhyno gored Tajiri into oblivion to claim the gold.
Your Winner and NEW US Champion: Rhyno

Finally; after one last hype video, it was onto our main event.

World Wrestling Federation Championship
WWF Champion Stone Cold Steve Austin vs. Kurt Angle

The outcome of this match was always a foregone conclusion.

Kurt Angle was the All-American babyface competing in his home state just weeks after 9/11 with his family sitting in the front row, so there was no way he was losing tonight.

WWE / WWF Unforgiven 2001 - Steve Austin defended the US title against Kurt Angle

Thankfully, Angle and Austin made us forget about that for a while by telling a compelling story centered around both men’s previous neck injuries.

From a technical standpoint, this wasn’t as great as it could have been, but the story and psychology more than made up for it.

After a good effort, Angle made Austin tap to the ankle lock and won the match. However, Stone Cold visibility had his hand under the bottom rope.

No doubt this would be brought up the following night on raw.
Your Winner and NEW WWF Champion: Kurt Angle

Post-match, a short-haired Karen Angle led the Angle clan into the ring to celebrate with the new champion. 

Then, The Rock led the entire WWF roster to the ring to congratulate Angle.

It was a surprisingly emotional ending to the show.

And so, the All-American Hero had prevailed against the leader of the evil, outside invading force in a move that should not have surprised anybody.

Sure, the outcome of tonight's show may have been a forgone conclusion, and there wasn't much in the way of game-changing moments, but that doesn't make WWF Unforgiven 2001 a bad show.

You could argue that the underwhelming Rock/Booker T match, the Kronik disaster and nothing matches like Saturn vs. Raven made it a bad show, but that would perhaps be a bit overly harsh.

The main event, the hardcore title match, Edge vs. Christian, and even the opening multi-man tag match were all enjoyable enough to save Unforgiven from being a complete waste of time.

Not the best show in the world then, but certainly not the worst. 

Retro Pro Wrestling

New reviews of classic WWF/WWE events recalling every moment from Wrestlemania 1 - 30. You'll also find reviews of WCW, ECW, TNA and the occasional indie event, along with a look at old school magazines, merchandise and more.