Unforgiven 2002

Unforgiven 2002
Date: September 22, 2002
Location: Staples Center, Los Angeles, California
Attendance: 16,000
Commentators: Michael Cole, Jim Ross, Tazz, Jerry Lawler

This isn’t exactly the most thrilling show in the world as the main events are Undertaker vs. Brock Lesnar for the Smackdown World Title, HHH vs. Rob Van Dam for the Raw World Title and Billy and Chuck vs. 3 Minute Warning in the battle of the general managers. Yeah it’s not a good sign that we’re already doing interpromotional matches this soon on nothing pay per views. Let’s get to it.

The opening video looks at how we have TWO World Title matches tonight and calls the World Heavyweight Title (which it again tries to call the same thing as the WCW World Title) a “symbol of defiance”. So aside from the fact that IT’S NOT THE WCW TITLE, we’re supposed to buy that it’s defiant as it’s held by the most old school guy on the roster? To be fair, the sleeper is indeed pretty defiant.

If nothing else we get to hear Adrenaline all night long. Maybe this show won’t be that bad.

Un-Americans vs. Goldust/Bubba Ray Dudley/Kane/Booker T.

JR calls them the Unforgivens, which is a better sounding name for a stable (not this stable but a stable) actually. Goldust clotheslines Storm and Christian to start and it’s off to Bubba for the Flip Flop and Fly (Bubba with each pelvic thrust: “U! S! A!”) Bubba’s flapjack gets two as the fans are all over Regal, who I guess is officially a member of the team.

It’s off to Booker vs. Regal with the former playing D-Von on What’s Up (not touching that one), meaning it’s table time. The referee is actually smart enough to cut off the table, allowing it to be dropkicked into Booker’s face. That means we’re stuck with the WE WANT TABLES chant as Regal forearms Booker in the face a few times.

Christian comes in and eats a spinebuster, allowing the hot tag to Kane. Everything breaks down as house is cleaned, leaving Test to miss the pumphandle slam. Booker gets in the Spinarooni but gets decked by Christian. We hit the parade of secondary finishers until Kane chokeslams Storm for the pin.

Rating: C. Not a great match but it was a perfect choice for the opener. The whole “let’s fight for AMERICA” is always going to work and the flag being waved post match (you know it’s going to be) is all that needs to happen here. It’s a good example of something simple that did exactly what it was supposed to and that’s perfectly fine.

The flag is indeed waved.

Noted tag team specialist Stephanie McMahon gives Billy and Chuck a pep talk. Stephanie: “This is about pride. This is about respect. This is about…” Billy: “Making sure you don’t have to French kiss a lesbian tonight?” It’s a funny line so Stephanie cuts the laughter because THIS IS SERIOUS.

Intercontinental Title: Chris Jericho vs. Ric Flair

Jericho is defending after losing to Flair last month and wanting to get some revenge. Flair is in black trunks and purple boots tonight for a really odd combination. Some chops look to set up the Figure Four in the first minute of the match so Jericho kicks him outside without too much effort.

Jericho’s missile dropkick gets two and it’s off to the abdominal stretch. That’s enough for Flair to start his comeback (rather soon for that) with chops and a whip into the post. The bulldog takes Flair back down but Jericho tweaks his knee on the Lionsault. Flair ACTUALLY BACKS OFF from the injury and Jericho goldbricks his way into the Walls to retain the title.

Rating: C-. Ok where’s the real ending for this one? I’m not a huge Flair fan but there is no way he’s going to do something like this. The idea is that Flair is losing his touch but I have a major issue believing that Flair would EVER fall for something like this. On top of that the match was barely six minutes long on a pay per view. What else could they have more important than a title match?

Eric Bischoff gives 3 Minute Warning the same speech. Ah yes: the build to the Eric vs. Stephanie feud would indeed be more important than a title match. Bischoff has brought in Rico to manage the team tonight.

Edge vs. Eddie Guerrero

Eddie is jealous of Edge being a pretty boy. Edge is all fired up to start so Eddie gets him into a chase around the ring. Back in and Edge takes over in the corner until a tornado DDT puts him right back down. The announcers bring up the concussion from Thursday so it makes sense to go after Edge’s head. At least he’s not likely to no sell a head injury on his finisher.

Eddie wraps his legs around Edge’s shoulders (picture a victory roll position but with Edge on his back) and cranks on the head for a pretty unique looking hold. We hit the more traditional front facelock for a bit until Edge gets in a hard right hand to put both guys down. They slug it out from their knees with the Canadian getting the better of it and the faceplant connecting for two.

Eddie’s hurricanrana is countered into a sitout powerbomb for an even closer near fall. The Edgecution is only broken up with a foot on the bottom rope and Edge is getting frustrated. That means a dropkick to give Eddie an opening and he takes a buckle pad off. Edge goes up top but gets knocked into the steel, setting up a sunset bomb to give Guerrero the pin.

Rating: B+. Edge is looking more and more comfortable in the ring every single time and that’s quite the thing to see. He’s turned into a near main eventer in front of our eyes and Eddie Guerrero is the perfect choice to make that work. This was the best thing on the show so far and I can’t imagine much giving it a run for its money.

HHH goes in to see Rob Van Dam and rips on him for not having enough heart. Flair is sitting next to them and HHH says Ric used to have the heart that he’s talking about. Van Dam would rather hang with Flair than HHH and that’s about it.

Long recap of 3 Minute Warning vs. Billy and Chuck because we haven’t seen the wedding video in days at this point. We see the women’s protest too as we need to make it clear that Stephanie outsmarted Bischoff and got the last laugh.

3 Minute Warning vs. Billy and Chuck

Rico gets in a kick to Chuck’s head to start so the Samoans can take over, leaving Cole to explain the stipulations AGAIN because it’s the most brilliant idea ever and you’re too stupid to get it through your head. Chuck can’t get out of the corner as Jamal kicks him in the face for two.

A chinlock keeps Chuck in trouble as this isn’t exactly lighting the world on fire so far. The very slow and rather uninteresting beating continues because no one in this match knows how to properly take over. Rosey misses a moonsault and the hot tag brings in Billy to clean house.

Naturally he’s dumb enough to ram the Samoans’ heads together and so much for Billy and Chuck being on offense. Chuck breaks up Jamal’s top rope splash and gets in a superkick, only to take one from Jamal. Billy makes the mistake of going after Rico and a double Samoan drop finishes him off, turning 3 Minute Warning into huge faces as the HLA chants begin.

Rating: D. And that’s it for the match, until Stephanie and Eric get to come out and do the real stuff later. The problem here is there’s no particular reason for these guys to hate each other as it’s all about the bosses. Bischoff pays the Samoans and Billy and Chuck are now on Stephanie’s side because they’re all from Smackdown. That’s far from enough of a reason to care but WWE doesn’t get that because apparently Eric and Stephanie are just such fascinating characters.

Bischoff has his lesbians ready to go

We recap HHH vs. Van Dam. HHH was handed the Raw World Title and Van Dam won a four way to get the shot. Since the match was set, HHH has cost Van Dam the Intercontinental Title which should mean a new champion but of course that’s just not going to happen.

Raw World Title: HHH vs. Rob Van Dam

Van Dam is challenging. They start slowly and there’s a good chance this is going to be a long match. Rob slips away from a hammerlock and slaps HHH in the face to get the frustration going. We hit the headlock on the mat to keep HHH in trouble so he bails outside. Back in and Rob takes some water to mock the spitting pose. With the mat soaked, let’s go back to that headlock.

They trade some rollups into a bridging backslide spot but instead of doing that, let’s hit the headlock AGAIN. Rob finally hits a kick to put HHH on the floor and that means a big flip dive but the champ gets out of the way. Back in and a catapult sends Van Dam’s throat into the bottom rope, setting up a neckbreaker for two. The jumping knee gets the same and it’s time for that freaking sleeper.

Rob escapes (because it’s just a sleeper) and comes back with his usual, including a slingshot dive to graze HHH. Some kicks set up the ref bump and the Pedigree is countered into a slingshot. Rob scores with the Five Star but there’s no ref, allowing HHH to get the sledgehammer. Van Dam kicks it into his face, drawing out Flair for the SHOCKING heel turn, including a sledgehammer shot to keep the title on HHH.

Rating: D+. This was your standard HHH match of the time: long, dull and with a pretty obvious ending. I mean, I know all of the signs pointed to Van Dam winning the title here but that might mean HHH isn’t the most important wrestler in the world. You know, with his manly sleeper and all that. The Flair stuff was obvious too as you don’t have someone come out for anything but a heel turn. Nothing to see here but that’s what you have to expect in this era.

D’Lo Brown and Kidman talk about what just happened when an actor from the Young and the Restless comes up for a completely worthless cameo. Dawn Marie comes up to take him away. It really is as random as it sounds.

Women’s Title: Trish Stratus vs. Molly Holly

Molly is defending and they trade wristlocks to start. Trish stops a charge in the corner as Lawler wants to take Molly’s virginity. They head outside for nothing interesting and it’s time for some choking back inside. As expected, Lawler moves right back to HLA because he hasn’t talked about it in all of five minutes. Trish gets in her first major offense with the bulldog followed by the Chuck Kick for two. Molly comes right back by putting Trish in the Tree of Woe for a handspring crash, only to get caught in another bulldog to give Trish the title in a very sudden ending.

Rating: D. What in the world was the point of this aside from filling in some time? It was a short match and didn’t go anywhere because the Women’s Title hasn’t meant anything in a LONG time. Trish was definitely one of the best in the division at this point but when you have Torrie and Nidia getting so much TV time, this doesn’t exactly mean anything.

The lesbians celebrate with 3 Minute Warning and Rico. Bischoff will pay for their night out. Why would the LESBIANS be interested in this? Actually never mind as Eric holds two of them back for later.

We recap Chris Benoit vs. Kurt Angle which is basically an argument over who is the better submission wrestler. Does Benoit vs. Angle need a story?

Kurt Angle vs. Chris Benoit

It’s an intense lockup to start with both guys falling out to the floor. Back in and they hit the mat for some technical stuff that no pairing could do better. With that going nowhere, it’s off to a long pinfall reversal sequence and you can tell the fans are respectfully silent instead of bored silent.

Angle slips out of a Crossface and bails to the floor as the fans give them a round of applause. Well deserved indeed. It’s off to a waitlock on Benoit for a bit before he sends Angle shoulder first into the post twice in a row. That’s enough defense for Kurt so he pops him over with a belly to belly.

Kurt can’t follow up though and it’s time to roll some German suplexes, only to have Angle reverse into a series of his own. Benoit starts snapping off even more of his own and Angle reverses AGAIN into his second series. Chris slips out of the Angle Slam and gets in one more with Angle getting flipped over onto his face.

Angle doesn’t stay down long though as he pops to his feet and runs the ropes for the super belly to belly. The ankle lock is reversed into a tombstone shoulder breaker of all things and Benoit hits the Swan Dive for a delayed two. The Crossface goes on but Kurt grabs the ankle lock while still in the hold for the break. How smart is this guy?

Angle gets the regular ankle lock before switching over to a Crossface on Benoit. Ever the villain, Kurt puts the rope away with his boot and gets yelled at by the referee, allowing Benoit to break the hold. One more rollup with Benoit’s feet going on the ropes for the surprise pin.

Rating: A-. Awesome stuff here and a nice callback to Wrestlemania XVII with Angle using the tights to pin Benoit after a submission battle. Benoit cheating to win makes sense as he’s doing the same thing Angle was doing earlier so it’s not exactly the dirtiest move in the world. It’s not like these two having a great match is any surprise but it’s one of their better efforts.

Lesnar isn’t worried about Undertaker.

It’s HLA time with Bischoff bringing out the lesbians. He’s scoured the country to find the best choice and introduces the ladies as Peaches and Cream. The girls give us a preview but Bischoff cuts them off before they can kiss. Bischoff brings Stephanie out and Lawler of course points out how hot she is (to be fair, he’s not wrong).

The girls take their tops off and remove Stephanie’s jacket for her as Lawler is on the verge of losing it. They rub Stephanie’s back but Eric has had it with the foreplay and tells them to get this going. Actually never mind as Bischoff has changed his mind and sends the lesbians away. He’s found a special lesbian for Stephanie and it’s……Rikishi in drag, which Bischoff somehow doesn’t see.

Bischoff calls “her” Hildegard and says she’s done prison time. Stephanie gets into the kissing and of course it’s Rikishi, which is actually treated as a surprise. A superkick puts Eric into the corner and for some reason Rikishi is wearing a bra. Bischoff gets the Stinkface as I try to figure something out: in theory, Stephanie put Rikishi up to this (or Rikishi is a cross dresser) so how complicated was this plan (and why were the original lesbians there in the first place other than tormenting the crowd) and how blind is Bischoff?

Like, did Stephanie figure out that Bischoff had this whole thing set up and then get Rikishi to do this as a backup plan? And Bischoff just saw the massive Samoan “woman” and had NO QUESTIONS ABOUT THIS??? Anyway Rikishi and Stephanie dance as Cole says “Stephanie rocks!” and Tazz says this is the funniest thing he’s ever seen.

The other major problem here: even though Stephanie’s team lost, she gets her revenge in all of an hour and a half. This is after she had the wedding go bad and got revenge for that four days later on the next show. If WWE wants her to be this major hero who stands up for the people, it might help if she was in distress for more than a week at one point or another. She’s always got the answer to everything, making it feel more like a sitcom than a show I’m supposed to believe is real.

We recap Undertaker vs. Lesnar with the music video treatment. Basically Undertaker has been around forever but has never faced anything like this. Lesnar is undefeated but never gotten beaten up before.

Smackdown World Title: Brock Lesnar vs. Undertaker

Lesnar is defending. We start with the big power lockup with Undertaker shoving Lesnar all the way out to the floor. It happens again so Lesnar kicks the steps while Heyman does some coaching. Back in and Brock starts kicking him into the corner, only to get caught with Old School.

Heyman gets kicked off the apron but the distraction lets Lesnar drive Undertaker into the corner to take over. A hard powerslam stays on Undertaker’s ribs and it’s off to a waistlock to keep up the focused attack. Undertaker sends him outside but Heyman is right there with the distraction so Lesnar can get in a belt shot to take over again, drawing some blood in the process. Back in and Undertaker boots him in the face twice in a row for two straight near falls.

We get a ref bump and OF COURSE Undertaker hits the chokeslam a second later for no count. Cue Matt Hardy to take a quick Last Ride but Brock scores with the spinebuster for two. The ref gets bumped a second time (now that’s just excessive) so Heyman throws in a chair which is kicked straight into Lesnar’s face. Two big chair shots to the head put Lesnar on the floor as Brock is busted too. Back in and both finishers are countered so they brawl into the corner, giving us a third ref bump (same ref too) for the REALLY lame double DQ.

Rating: D. There was a good power brawl buried underneath the ref bumps, the chair and the pretty worthless Matt Hardy cameo. Then there’s the ending, which doesn’t do anyone any favors and is clearly only there because Undertaker didn’t want to do the job. Just too much stuff messing up what should have been an F5 for the pin but that’s not how Undertaker rolls around here.

Undertaker throws him through the set to end the show.

Overall Rating: D+. There’s good and bad stuff on here but unfortunately the bad stuff is also the important stuff and that’s not something you can get around. The two World Title matches were both big misses and that’s too much for a great Benoit vs. Angle match and a strong Eddie vs. Edge match to overcome, especially when you add in the whole Stephanie vs. Eric thing.

Like it or not, that’s the biggest story in the company right now: the battling general managers. They’re supposed to be fighting over brand supremacy but no one has given us a reason to care about either brand in particular. Then again that never stopped anyone from running with an idea before and it seems that we’re going to be stuck with this one for a good while to come. It’s all about the big angle and if people don’t like it, that’s just too bad. There’s enough strong stuff on here but it really needs some major editing and re-writes to make it a good show.

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