The WWF can prove to be a weird dichotomy at times. Take last night’s Unforgiven pay-per-view event from the Mellon Arena in Pittsburgh, for instance.
Hard to imagine that the same company that booked a classic main event that saw Kurt Angle capture the WWF World Heavyweight title from Steve Austin also booked that terrible Undertaker and Kane vs. Kronik mess of a match. Hard to imagine why Lance Storm, a wrestler of considerable skill and talent, had to sell and do the job to the Big Sloth (AKA Big Show) on the same card that produced another great RVD match, this time with Chris Jericho. Hard to imagine how we were spared the nausea of sitting through another Rock interview where he refers to himself endlessly in the first-person while we were force-fed a healthy dose of the irritating Stephanie McMahon in the show’s major storylines.
Storm putting over Show, the brutal WCW tag match and Stephanie’s ridiculous implants notwithstanding, the WWF’s Unforgiven was a solid pay-per-view and an excellent follow up to their SummerSlam event from last month.
A few observations before I get into the main event. Big Show, Brian Adams and Bryan Clark all proved tonight why they have absolutely no business making a living in wrestling. They are huge, lumbering oafs that couldn’t put on a decent match if their lives depended on it.
It bothers me that these three, who don’t feel the need to properly sell their opponents’ offence, are depriving far more deserving wrestlers of a spot on the WWF roster. One has to question what exactly Jim Ross, WWF Senior Vice-President of Talent Relations, was thinking when he signed Kronik earlier this month. Do these guys have pictures or some scathing dirt on ‘ol J.R.? Must be, because I can’t explain what on earth Ross, an otherwise keen judge of talent, sees in these guys.
Such a statement will no doubt ruffle the feathers of the Don Callises of the world who feel reporters and fans who have never stepped one hob-toe in the ring are not qualified to comment on the work rate of pro wrestlers. Let’s be realistic here: Big Show, Adams and Clark are so brutal it doesn’t take years of travelling the road as a wrestler to see that, only a clear sense of the obvious.
Some other quick notes from last night: Rob Van Dam is over… Who did Perry Saturn piss off to be saddled with that moronic ‘moppy’ gimmick?… The Hurricane’s shtick is hilarious but he should tone it down a bit. It would be a shame if people lost sight of the fact that Shane Helms is a terrific wrestler… Why does Shane McMahon bop up and down like that?… I miss Chris Benoit and Eddie Guerrero… Lance Storm is being terribly misused. It’s a crime against wrestling logic when a wrestler of his calibre is jobbed out in the opening match.
As for “Stone Cold” Steve Austin and Kurt Angle they managed to top their performance last month at SummerSlam by staging another great title tilt. Angle attacked Austin as he was coming down the ramp way to start the match as the two brawled towards the ring. Austin quickly grabbed his belt and headed for the back. Angle chased him down the ramp way and threw Austin down to the floor. They fought their way back down to ringside where Angle started to remove the floor-mats in order to give Austin a pile-driver but the ‘Texas Rattlesnake’ blocked it. Austin then executed three consecutive gut-buster suplexes on the Spanish announce table.
Austin tossed Angle back into the ring and started working him over before spilling out to the floor and giving Kurt Angle’s family, who were sitting front row ringside, the finger. Angle caught Austin with three consecutive German suplexes before scoring a near-fall after a DDT.
Then came my favourite portion of the match. Angle picked Austin up and hit him with the Stone Cold Stunner for a two-count. He then tried his Olympic Slam but Austin reversed it and executed his own for a near-fall. Nice spot and great psychology where they executed each other’s signature moves.
Moments later, Austin gets Angle in a pile-driver and drives his head into the mat and scores a two-count. Austin then motions as if he’s going for the Stunner but Angle catches Austin’s leg in mid air and forces him down and quickly applies his ankle-lock on Austin and forces him to tap out.
After the match, Kurt’s family jumps into the ring and puts him on their shoulders as The Rock and the rest of the WWF locker-room come down to congratulate the new champion.
A fantastic match that had it all: great psychology, sequences that flowed seamlessly from Point A to B to C, a compelling storyline and a superb, surprise ending that played out very well on television. Kudos to Kurt Angle and especially to Steve Austin for selling it so well.
The next WWF pay-per-view is No Mercy on October 21st.
WWF Unforgiven 2001 Results
The Dudley Boys (champions) vs. Lance Storm & Hurricane Helms (challengers) vs. The Hardy Boyz (challengers) vs. Big Show & Spike Dudley (challengers) in a four-way elimination match (WWF World Tag Team Title Match)
- Decent opener. Nice sequence saw Spike Dudley deliver a plancha off the shoulders of Big Show from the ring down to the floor on the Hardys. Big Show pinned Lance Storm following a choke-slam at 6:51. Matt Hardy pins Spike at 7:56 following his Twist of Fate neck-breaker. Moments later, Matt executes an absolutely breathtaking moonsault from the top turnbuckle down to the floor on top of the Dudleys. (The Great Muta himself would have been envious.) Back in the ring, Matt scores a near fall but the Dudleys hit 3-D. Jeff breaks it up with a Swanton, but Bubba executes a Bubba Bomb on Matt with and D-Von rolls up Matt for the pin.
- Winner: …and still WWF World Tag Champions… The Dudley Boys at 14 minutes and 15 seconds.
- Match Rating: 6 / 10.
- RVD arrives backstage and looks lost. The inflated Stephanie runs into him and offers him her managerial services for the night and RVD turns her down.
- Michael Cole interviews Kurt Angle’s mother Jackie and brother Dave at ringside.
Perry Saturn pinned Raven (w/ Terri)
- This one was booked last night on Excess. Pretty stiff match as Saturn appeared to potato Raven a few times after Raven busted up Perry’s left eye. Saturn won it with a twisting Fisherman’s Suplex. Nice finish that came out of nowhere but it couldn’t save an otherwise dull match.
- Winner: Perry Saturn at 5 minutes and 6 seconds.
- Match Rating: 2 / 10.
- Christian is interviewed by Lillian Garcia. Christian lets the world know he doesn’t have any regrets about turning on Edge.
Edge (WWF Intercontinental Champion) vs. Christian (challenger)
- The former tag-team partners brawled up the ramp towards the back to start off the match. They eventually made their back to the ring where they exchanged some nice moves. Once again, their appeared to be hard-way blood in this one as Edge had a bloody gash under his left eye and Christian appeared to have a bloody nose. Christian grabbed two chairs from the floor and was going to set Edge up for the Solo Conchairto but Edge fought it off and ended up with a chair. The ref pulled the chair away from Edge allowing Christian to nail Edge in the pelvis with a chair and scoop him up for the pin.
- Winner: …and new Intercontinental Champion… Christian at 11 minutes and 52 seconds.
- Match Rating: 7 / 10.
- Jonathan Coachman interviews Undertaker and Kane (mostly Undertaker).
Undertaker and Kane (WCW World Tag Team Champions) vs. Kronik (w/ Steven Richards) (challengers)
- Oh God. I can’t even begin to describe how bad this was but I’ll give it a try. All four guys were absolutely brutal in there, lumbering around like the big, useless stiffs they are. Taker delivered a knee-lift on Brian Adams that showed so much light that you could see clear through to the Pennsylvania state line. Adams and Clark no-sold just about everything Taker and Kane threw at them. This one mercifully came to an end when Taker pinned Clark following a choke-slam. Richards came into the ring after it was over and was choke-slammed for his troubles by Kane.
- Winners: …and still WCW World Tag Champions… Undertaker and Kane at 8 minutes and 52 seconds.
- Match Rating: 0 / 10.
- Backstage, Tazz wishes Booker T and Shane McMahon luck in their handicap match against The Rock.
- Elsewhere, Stephanie returns and talks to RVD outside his locker-room door. She tells him tomorrow it’s her birthday and the best present she could get would be for RVD to beat Jericho. Jericho appears behind Stephanie and starts jawing with her.
Rob Van Dam (champion) vs. Chris Jericho (challenger) (WWF Hardcore Title Match)
- Very good match between these two great workers. It started out rough as they missed a few spots and the mat sequences weren’t as crisp as you’d expect, but they quickly settled down and put on a great contest. RVD tried a spinning guillotine legdrop from off the apron but Jericho moved and Van Dam crashed into the outside rail. Jericho pulled out a ladder from under the ring and nailed RVD with it a few times. Jericho attempted a Lionsault but Van Dam nailed him with a spin kick, busting him open under his right eye. The two then found themselves on the top of the ladder and Jericho executed a version of Tajiri’s tarantula move. He tossed Van Dam off the ladder and went for a splash, but crashed to the canvas instead. Stephanie ran down to ringside and climbed up on the apron to offer RVD her help. Jericho tried to hit her with a chair but RVD hit the Van Daminator on him. RVD then climbed the top rope and hit the five-star splash for the win.
- Winner: …and still WWF Hardcore Champion…Rob Van Dam at 16 minutes and 27 seconds.
- Match Rating: 8.5 / 10.
- Backstage, Booker and Shane discuss the upcoming match against The Rock.
The Rock (champion) vs. Booker T and Shane McMahon (challengers) (WCW World Title match)
- Shane bounces down to the ring in the pseudo-hip hop shuffle he’s got going for himself, proof that, at least in this case, white men can’t dance. They take it to the floor where Booker slingshots Rock into the ring-post. Minutes later Shane goes to nail Rock with the title belt but hits Booker instead. Shane clotheslines Rock and then motions for the People’s Elbow but Rock recovers and hits the Rock Bottom on Shane and catches Booker with a spine-buster. Test runs in from the back and tosses The Rock to the floor and floors him with a boot to the face but is quickly chased back to the locker-room by Bradshaw. WCW ref Nick Patrick picks up The Rock and throws him back into the ring, hopeful either Booker or Shane can score the pin. Shane goes for the cover but a WWF referee runs down to ringside and pulls Shane out to the floor just as Patrick was in the middle of his count. Booker flattens the ref after he knocked out Patrick. Booker turns around and the Rock hits the Rock Bottom. Senior WWF official Earl Hebner runs down to make the count as The Rock scores the pinfall.
- Winner: …and still WCW World Champion… The Rock at 15 minutes and 23 seconds .
- Match Rating: 7 / 10.
- Backstage, Commissioner William Regal talks to Tajiri and Torrie Wilson.
- Stacy Keibler is over at WWF New York. They show a video of Stacy shaving her legs in a bubble-bath. Heyman has to be restrained by J.R.
Tajiri (w/ Torrie Wilson) (champion) vs. Rhyno (challenger) (WCW U.S. Title match)
- OK match, just a bit short. Rhyno chases after Torrie but gets kicked in the mush by Tajiri for his troubles. Tajiri get Rhyno in an Octopus submission hold before applying the tarantula. Rhyno gets out of it and eventually Gores Tajiri to win the title.
- Winner: …and new WCW U.S. Champion… Rhyno at 4 minutes and 46 seconds .
- Match Rating: 5 / 10.
“Stone Cold” Steve Austin (champion) vs. Kurt Angle (challenger) (WWF World Heavyweight Title Match)
- Winner: …and new WWF World Heavyweight Champion… Kurt Angle at 23 minutes and 40 seconds .
- Match Rating: 9 / 10.
- Total Event Time: 2 hours and 45 minutes.
- Overall Event Rating: 8 / 10.