By NICK TYLWALK AND DALE PLUMMER
HERSHEY, Pa. — As the adage goes, if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. The WWE may have laid an egg at Badd Blood, its first Raw-only pay-per-view, but it responded with a much better effort Sunday night. Unforgiven played to a legitimate sellout crowd at the Giant Center in Hershey, PA, delivering a show that was short on surprises but solid on entertainment value.
The fans were alive for the opening match, no surprise since the WWE’s cameras haven’t visited Hershey since 1997. The Dudley Boyz’ tag team title win might have been popular, but the high point of the night occurred in a match where the fan favorite ended up on the losing end. Shane McMahon’s plunge from the top of the Unforgiven set was breathtaking in person, earning the Boy Wonder a standing ovation when he was carted out after the match.
Former SLAM! Wrestling contributor and current Giant Center employee Aaron “Hank” Henry said McMahon practiced the fall from various heights for about 90 minutes the night before the event. Even so, it was the kind of spot that could have led to serious injury if everything wasn’t exactly right.
Goldberg capped off the night by capturing the world heavyweight title – which he held several times in its previous incarnation as the WCW title – in a decision that sent most of the fans home happy. Numerous “Goldberg” chants throughout the event suggested that the WWE is doing a better job getting their new champ over with the fans, but it was also clear that not everyone has embraced the man many blame for ending Bret Hart’s career.
SLAM! Wrestling TV writers Dale Plummer and Nick Tylwalk were on hand and had the following observations, quips and other nonsense to share:
- If you are going to make a sign, use a thick marker or make big letters. Ballpoint pens and thin-tipped markers don’t translate well onto the television screen. The chances of a close-up of your sign are slim and none so write big!
- Stop walking signs behind the floor seats during matches. The first time we saw it was cool; now it’s just annoying.
- Speaking of signs, be original. Two signs that stand out from Sunday: A “Do NOT read this sign” sign, and “Papa John’s Delivery Union Local 316”. Now that’s funny stuff. “I’m an assclown”, while it may be true, isn’t funny.
- This is for the WWE. When the announcers are talking as a segment, can we please have audio in the arena! I see J.R. and King on the Titantron; I would really like to hear what they are saying.
- Another note for the WWE. I know there’s a brand split, but I also know the bottom line is hurting. You could have gotten another $25 out of me if Smackdown! merchandise was available. I will have that Cena shirt!
- I expected the small “Goldberg sucks” chant that came from the east end of the arena during the main event. I did not expect people in the west end to direct a “you screwed Bret” chant towards Earl Hebner. Please, people, we’re nowhere near Montreal.
- Chris Jericho’s feud with Steve Austin heated up with Y2J’s interference tipping the scales in the announcers’ match. I know it’s a long way off, and I’m just thinking out loud here, but could we be building towards Jericho-Austin at WrestleMania XX?
- The Shane-Kane match should have been the last match before the main event. It’s really unfair to ask anyone to try to follow Shane’s stage dive, and the Intercontinental three-way just had the life sucked out of it.
- I’ve never seen a pay-per-view live from as close as I was on Sunday, and one of the things that stands out at close range is the subtle things some of the performers do to get the crowd involved. D-Von Dudley, Victoria, Stacy and especially Ric Flair and Shawn Michaels all made an impression on me.
- There was some pretty amusing stuff standing outside the arena after the show listening to people trying to buy the souvenir chairs you get if you buy a ticket in the first five rows on the floor. Those tickets cost $202 folks – I’m thinking a $20 or $30 offer isn’t going to get it done.
Dale Plummer is the SLAM! Wrestling Smackdown! reporter and Nick Tylwalk is the RAW reporter.