Unforgiven 2004

Unforgiven 2004
Date: September 12, 2004
Location: Rose Garden, Portland, Oregon
Attendance: 10,000
Commentators: Jim Ross, Jerry Lawler

This is another case of a one match show, which tends to be the case in the HHH era. In this case it’s HHH getting (another) title shot against Randy Orton, who was thrown out of Evolution last month. It’s not exactly a thrilling concept but there’s no escaping HHH’s title hunts of destiny. Let’s get to it.

The opening video looks at Orton being thrown out of Evolution and trying to become the top face in the company by running away over and over. It’s set to Saliva’s Survival of the Sickest, which was the song that kind of finished me with the band. I’m going to be extra sick of it by the end of the show, but that might just be due to hearing about this match all night long.

Batista/Ric Flair vs. William Regal/Chris Benoit

Benoit and Batista start things off as Lawler hopes Eugene is home watching the radio. An early Crossface attempt sends Batista bailing to the ropes, followed by a quick takedown for the tag off to Regal. A t-bone suplex drops Batista and it’s back to Benoit, who gets chopped by Flair. The backdrop has Flair in more trouble (as always) and it’s Regal coming in, only to have the knee taken out.

Flair goes…after the arm for some reason, allowing Benoit to come back in for some chops. An enziguri nails Flair and the Flair Flop takes him down right in front of Batista. He’s done that forever and it still makes me chuckle. Batista comes in a few seconds later and blocks a Sharpshooter attempt so it’s back to Regal. This time Evolution actually takes over, after what felt like a long time. Flair gets in more chops and Batista gets two off a neckbreaker. It’s finally time to go after the knee with Flair slapping on the Figure Four.

Benoit makes a quick save so Batista takes Flair’s place with a chinlock. Regal gets up and sends him into the corner for the break though and it’s a hot (ish) tag to Benoit for the real house cleaning. Everything breaks down with Benoit snapping off German suplexes all around. The Swan Dive connects and the Crossface goes on Flair, drawing in Batista to pick Benoit up for the break. Regal sends Batista over the barricade, leaving Benoit to get the Crossface again to make Flair tap.

Rating: D+. This didn’t have the slightest spark to it and felt like they were all just missing. It’s more an issue that I’ve seen them do a variety of combinations with these same people over and over to much better results. Regal getting involved is long overdue and I’m glad to see him getting a chance on the bigger stages like this. Everyone was missing here though, which is going to happen every now and then.

Christian doesn’t want Tyson Tomko to go to ringside with Trish Stratus for the Women’s Title match. It doesn’t matter as Christian has to go to the ring alone so what difference does it make? Tomko gets to decide, so Trish invites him to her dressing room after the match. Tomko to Christian: “Good luck.”

Women’s Title: Trish Stratus vs. Victoria

Trish is defending and has Tomko with him. Victoria takes her down to start and the champ bails to the floor in a hurry. As Lawler makes it clear that Trish is NOT a s***, she sends Victoria into the corner for some choking on the rope. That’s broken up and it’s a gorilla press gutbuster to send Trish outside. Tomko takes her away before Victoria can dive and it’s a posting to keep Victoria down again.

We hit the armbar for a bit, followed by a hair pull as the offense devolves a few levels. The chinlock is broken up so Trish grabs a spinebuster for two, followed by another chinlock to keep things fresh. The comeback doesn’t take long with Victoria fighting up and hitting the spinning side slam. Victoria gets two off the dancing moonsault but goes with a slingshot dive onto Tomko instead of following up. Stratusfaction retains the title a few seconds later.

Rating: D. The wrestling wasn’t good and it came after an ice cold build that was more about Christian vs. Trish than anything else, even though Christian only came back less than a week ago. This division is still dying for some fresh talent, but that’s been the case for so long now that it’s a feature instead of a condition. They’re trying, but they have no help in terms of build or interest from anyone.

Post match Tomko goes after Victoria, drawing in Stevie in drag for the save. Stevie leaves and Tomko wants him back out here for a match RIGHT NOW.

Stevie Richards vs. Tyson Tomko

Stevie comes back out as JR says this is the worst kept secret in wrestling. Tomko punches him in the face and we start the removal of clothing, because that’s what this match is really about due to whatever bad ideas Vince was having at the time. The wig goes off as well and Tomko shoves Richards’ implants into his mouth. Some right hands have Richards in more trouble as his bra comes off.

Tomko…rubs Stevie’s face as JR sounds ready to walk off the show. The fans on the other hand don’t seem to be there as it’s a mixture of light booing and silence. A slam has Richards in more trouble as the underwear discussion continues. Tomko cranks on the neck and then calls Richards a sissy, which seems to fire him up. Richards throws his wig at Tomko to distract the referee, setting up a testicular claw. Some dropkicks in the corner have Tomko in trouble until he hits the rack neckbreaker for the pin.

Rating: WIDANF. For Wrestlers in drag are not funny. I don’t get what WWE sees in this idea and I really, really don’t want to. I would love to have someone explain the point of this whole thing to me or why this needed pay per view time. It really does feel like they threw this out there because Vince would find it funny and nothing more. Lucky us.

We recap Chris Jericho vs. Christian for the Intercontinental Title. Edge was champion but got injured and had to forfeit the title, setting up this match with Christian replacing Edge in a ladder match for the vacant Intercontinental Title. Christian had been put on the shelf after a match with Jericho so this was a perfectly logical move and about as good as they had given the circumstances.

Intercontinental Title: Christian vs. Chris Jericho

Ladder match with the title vacant coming in and no one at ringside. They talk some trash to start until Jericho hits a few suplexes. A trip to the floor lets Jericho throw a ladder at him to no avail so Christian scores with some right hands. Back in and Christian chokes on the ropes so Jericho enziguris him right back down. When all else fails, kick the guy in the head. Another ladder is grabbed and slammed into Christian’s ribs but another big show misses.

They fight into the crowd as JR wants to know the difference between a Peep and a Jericholic. Jericho chokes with a cord but gets pulled into an Unprettier on the floor, which should be enough to win just about any match. Here it’s only enough to get a single hand on the title (those ladders are timely) so Christian ladders him down and puts said ladder onto the top turnbuckle. As expected it’s Christian going face first into the steel instead, with JR saying even barbecue sauce couldn’t make that taste good.

Jericho sets the ladder up but goes into it instead, giving us another double knockdown. A catapult sends Jericho face first into a ladder bridged across the middle rope, followed by Jericho shoving one into Christian’s face for another hard shot. Jericho channels his inner Shawn by riding the ladder down onto Christian’s back and the fans are rather pleased. They’re both hurt so Christian ties him in the Tree of Woe in the ladder and hits a running knee instead of, you know, going for the title.

Christian does climb, so Jericho gets out of the corner and flips him off, which is enough to get Christian down. That earns him a dropkick into the ladder into Christian and Christian sandwiches him in between a ladder. The Lionsault only hits ladder though and Jericho’s knee is banged up pretty badly. Christian takes FOREVER to climb though, allowing Jericho to shake the ladder away, leaving Christian hanging from the belt. The ensuing ladder spot to the ribs and crash are rather snazzy and they’re both down again.

Jericho puts the ladder over Christian and goes up but gets shoved down, just barely saving himself from a crash out to the floor. That’s not enough for Christian to grab the title, but it is enough for him to turn around on the ladder so Jericho can get the Walls on top. That’s STILL not enough for the win as Christian pops up and shoves the ladder over, with Jericho landing tailbone first on the side in a nasty crash. It’s time for the jumbo ladder so they head up at the same time, only to have Jericho pull him down for another double crash landing. Jericho finally (and I do mean finally) gets the title for the win.

Rating: C+. WAY too long here with far too many false finishes hurting things. I’ve seen this match a few times before and it’s the same feeling every time: get on with it already. Jericho winning wasn’t exactly a shock and it took too long to get there. I can understand why they were given this much time if Tomko vs. Richards needed that long in the previous match, but that doesn’t make it much better. The match certainly isn’t bad, but a trimmed down version would have been a lot better.

Lita answers Kane’s door and says she hopes Shawn Michaels crushes Kane’s throat tonight. Kane comes out and laughs at her ranting, saying this is now a No DQ match. He’s going to destroy Shawn and Lita has to watch from ringside. We even get a rather forced kiss for luck.

Jericho says he feels like a king. Edge comes up to say he’s coming for the title, because Jericho knows he can’t beat him.

We recap Kane vs. Shawn Michaels. Kane put Shawn on the shelf a few months ago and has since managed to win Lita in marriage. Lita then used an open contract to set up this match with the hopes of Kane getting hurt just as badly. The injury is only brought up at the end, almost as an afterthought.

Kane vs. Shawn Michaels

No DQ and Lita has been dragged out with Kane, which I’m sure won’t go badly at all. Shawn wastes no time in going after him and Kane is knocked out to the floor with some right hands. Kane misses a charge into the post to make it even worse but manages to uppercut him out of the air back inside. Shawn knocks him outside and even skins the cat back inside because he still has it.

That’s enough for a dive and Lita talks some trash, allowing Kane to hide behind her like a true heel should. A shot to the face puts Shawn down and Kane slams him onto (not through) the announcers’ table. The second slam puts him through instead as the slow pace begins. Shawn gets a boot up in the corner but walks right into a side slam to take him down again. We hit the neck crank with Lita playing cheerleader, much to Lawler’s continued confusion.

Another slam sets up another neck crank, followed by a clothesline to stay on the neck. Shawn fights up and grabs a DDT for the required breather, setting up the more required forearm into the nipup. Since it’s just a forearm, Kane sends him over the corner and out to the floor for a ram into the steps. That means some blood but Shawn kicks a chair away. Kane kicks Shawn away as well though and it’s right back to the floor.

Shawn posts him this time around and knocks Kane down with a single right hand. The top rope elbow gets two but a big boot cuts off Sweet Chin Music. Kane nails the top rope clothesline but Shawn low blows his way out of a chokeslam attempt. One heck of a chair shot knocks Kane silly, though he still gets up first. Lita pulls the chair out though and that’s enough for Sweet Chin Music to knock Kane out for the pin.

Rating: B-. Not too bad here and while a rather lengthy eighteen minutes, it didn’t feel long like the previous match. Shawn got his revenge in a violent enough match though it was nothing that we haven’t seen them both do better before. That’s likely it for this mini feud, though you can imagine Kane and Lita continuing for a good while.

Post match Kane yells at Lita, as expected.

Shelton Benjamin is coming back. I didn’t know he left but apparently his last televised match was three months ago. Who knew?

HHH reminds us of how great he is and promises to take Orton out. All of Orton’s success is because of him and tonight, HHH is taking it all away. Somehow this takes the better part of four minutes.

Tag Team Titles: Rhyno/Tajiri vs. La Resistance

La Resistance is defending and hopefully Tajiri is healthy tonight. The challengers charge into the ring with Tajiri not being able to keep up with Rhyno for an unintentionally funny moment. Grenier shoulders Tajiri down for an early two as the announcers argue about being prejudiced. Tajiri is right back up with some armdrags into an armbar. Conway comes in and gets the same treatment so it’s off to Rhyno to miss a charge in the corner. You can see the empty seats now and that’s rather telling about the importance of this match.

Rhyno knocks Conway down and brings Tajiri back in for more kicks. Something like a DDT drops Tajiri and the champs start their cheating ways. A backbreaker keeps Tajiri down as this is as thrilling as you would have expected. The announcers give up trying to make the match sound important and talk about Orton vs. HHH instead.

Tajiri gets up a kick in the corner so Rhyno can clean house again. A belly to belly and spinebuster get two each on Grenier with Conway making the save. The hard kicks from Tajiri have the champs in trouble and the Gore gets two with Conway putting the foot on the rope. The referee isn’t happy, allowing a flag shot to Rhyno to retain the titles.

Rating: D-. Again, the match goes longer than it needs to and loses a lot of the crowd (what little they had of it) in the process. This could have been on any given Raw, though it would have been bad on there too. The build was fine enough, but it’s not like this was ever going to be anything more than a match filling time on a card. It’s a thing that happens on every show, but when it feels like most of the matches on the show are just filling time, it become a major problem.

We recap HHH vs. Randy Orton, which is all about Orton winning the title that was supposed to belong to HHH. In other words, it’s been a month of “THIS IS MY COMPANY BECAUSE I’M HHH” and a failed attempt to turn Orton into the top face by just having him go against HHH. The problem is that Orton has spent most of his time running from Evolution in a smart but not inspiring move. There isn’t much of a reason to cheer Orton, which is a different situation than booing HHH. The second part is easily accomplished, but it turns into more of no one getting cheered, which isn’t a good place to be.

Raw World Title: HHH vs. Randy Orton

HHH is challenging. Feeling out process to start with Orton calmly taking him into the corner and slapping him in the face. Lawler says HHH isn’t happy because he made Orton. JR: “Easy there Dr. Evil. I think Mr. and Mrs. Orton had something to do with it.” Point to JR on that one. Orton shakes HHH off and slaps him in the face again, followed by the spitting sequel. There’s a backdrop to make it even worse for HHH and we’re already in the chinlock.

Back up and HHH gets sent outside with Orton following, though JR isn’t sure about the plan. They head back inside in a hurry with HHH nailing a chop block. So much for JR’s analytical skills. An attempt at a crotching around the post sees HHH get pulled face first into the post but it doesn’t stop him from going after the leg. Another chop block keeps Orton down and a knee to the knee in the corner makes it even worse. A leglock goes on for a bit, followed by a facebuster to slow things down a bit more.

Some elbows to the leg set up the Figure Four, which makes a lot of sense in this case. HHH grabs a rope because he knows how to be a villain, though the crowd doesn’t seem to agree with the style here. The referee catches him grabbing the rope though and that means a break, followed by a thorough verbal castration. Orton shoves him into the corner with HHH’s head hitting the post to bust him open. Right hands in the corner stay on the head and Orton’s always good dropkick gets two.

A DDT drops HHH for two more but the sleeper is countered with a belly to back. HHH goes up for the most obvious dive into a raised boot I can remember in a long time to give Orton a breather. The high crossbody gets two and Orton throws him outside. Back in and the RKO is countered into a ref bump as I begin to sigh. Now the RKO connects for no cover as Flair runs in to get punched down. Batista gets in a few shots but misses a charge into the post.

HHH cuts Orton down with a low blow and here’s Coach in a referee shirt for the near fall. The lack of a pop on the kickout is as telling of a sign as you’re going to get. Orton punches Coach down and Batista is right back in with a spinebuster with Coach counting two (better reaction this time, but still not great). Orton backdrops out of a Pedigree and RKO’s Coach (all in one movement for a cool sequence). Flair takes one as well and it’s a low blow to break up the Batista Bomb. HHH is back up though and cracks Orton in the head with a chair. The slow motion Pedigree onto the chair makes HHH champion. Again.

Rating: C+. Well of course he did. It was clear that Orton wasn’t working as a champion (for various reasons) but the fans aren’t going to get behind him as the uncrowned champion after he loses the title to another soul crushing HHH win. It feels like another case of HHH showing everyone who runs Raw because he, yes he, is the only person who can fix all of Raw’s problems despite being a big source of their problems.

The match itself was actually pretty good, albeit slow and with a bad ending. As has been the case with almost everything on the show tonight, it felt like the match was being stretched out for the sake of filling in the show, which isn’t a great feeling about the main event. The crowd didn’t care and that was the case with so much of Orton’s time as champion. If they don’t care about him being champion, they’re not going to care about him losing the title.

JR is disgusted to end the show.

Overall Rating: D. Just a completely lifeless show here which never got off the ground, despite some matches being pretty good. The problem here was how little there was to care about, which has been a problem for a long time. It’s felt like a matter of time before HHH got the title back since the second Orton won it and now that’s where we are: right back where we were, waiting on the next big name to challenge him. I’m sure Orton will get a few more chances but it’s not like it’s going to matter for the time being. Orton didn’t work as champion, and now we’re right back where we were before Wrestlemania. Lucky us.

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