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TLW: WWE Unforgiven 2003 Thoughts



30 September 2003

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Well, hello. Welcome to your post Unforgiven edition of the Live Wire - this week, I had a good sleep, and I put that down to what allegedly happened last night. Yes, folks, if you like the usual positive review that I try and give PPVs, then don't read on. Just assume that I didn't like it, and come back next week.

For the rest of you brave souls that are still here, let's get into things - and the couple of matches that were worth watching the show for - and amazingly enough, one of those was the opener - Bubba Ray & D-Von put into a handicap tables match for the Tag Team Titles against La Resistance and Rob Conway.

When Eric Bischoff announced that Spike could not compete, and so the match was now a handicap bout, and Steve Austin topped that by putting the Tag Team Titles on the line, I kinda had a feeling that there would be a title switch, but it doesn't take anything away from the fact that it was a very well put together match.

Say what you like about The Dudleys, but they have found their niche as PPV openers - they don't do anything fancy, they don't try and raise the bar any - they do what they do well, and the crowd just lap it up. Sure, Bubba and D-Von's act might be a little bit stale week in, week out on TV - but in a PPV environment, they always deliver the goods.

And this table match was no exception - everything clicked, right down to the standard formula of D-Von being tabled first, meaning the Dudleys had to bravely fight back against the odds to take the titles that they see as theirs. And the unsung star of this match for me? Rob Conway - for someone who's only been on TV for just about 4 weeks, he looks like a natural - I think he has a big future ahead of him, and the sooner he gets away from La Resistance, the better.

OK, so we have the Dudleys as one of the better matches on the PPV - the only other match that REALLY delivered for me was Randy Orton vs. Shawn Michaels. Even allowing for the fact that the satellite feed dropped for about a minute, this match was hugely entertaining. Easily Orton's finest showing in a singles match, this could be the match that pulls the trigger on the big push for Orton.

Sure, Shawn was basically walking him through it - and covered for when Orton made a mistake and worked the wrong shoulder over on the ringpost outside - but the basic skills are there with Orton, and he was oozing confidence last night. With Flair on the outside, it looks to me like Orton will be heading for the top.

Even the finish of the match, although slightly iffy, was pulled off to perfection - although, it does strike me as strange that the referees have decided that they CAN change the decision all of a sudden, but there you go.

Michaels continues his string of solid PPV outings since his return to the WWE - the new found attitude of his certainly seems to be paying dividends in the ring. But for me, this match was all about showcasing Orton - and we may just have a new star in the making.

Now, those two matches were highly watchable in my mind - Shane McMahon vs. Kane was alright as a random collection of stunts and spots, but didn't really have any flow to it. For example, compare the classic Triple H vs. Chris Jericho Last Man Standing Match from Fully Loaded 2000 to last night's match - no contest. Even the Street Fight from King Of The Ring 2001 between Kurt Angle and Shane had a storyline to it as well as the undoubted brutality.

What we had last night was punch-kick repeated until the next big spot was set up - the chair shots from Shane - the Van Mac-Inator to the ring steps (innovative way of doing that, I must say though) - the boom camera being swung at Kane - the Spanish announce table being thrown at Shane - and eventually, of course, the patented Shane O'Mac Drop Of Doom.

Take nothing away from Shane, he has guts to pull off his big spots, but let's face it - he only does 2 or 3 months a year in the ring, so he has time to prepare and recover - I couldn't see him doing that week in and week out 52 weeks a year - and he's not good enough as an actual wrestler to do without the high spots.

Kane was basically made to look like an idiot by a part time wrestler - Shane only won because Kane moved out of the way - convincing win for someone that should have destroyed him thoroughly. Those pesky McMahons run roughshod all over the wrestling talent again... and people complain about Triple H? All in all, not enough of a match built around a couple of high spots for me. All the match succeeded in doing was ensuring the crowd was basically dead for the remaining three bouts.

Another match that was basically 'there' was the much anticipated (!) Test vs. Steiner contest. Previous matches between the two have been memorable only for Scott Steiner and his attempted leap from the ring which ended in the shortest flight since the days of the Wright Brothers, which didn't fill me with confidence for this one.

Add to that the commentary from JR which repeatedly mentioned how wholesome and kind hearted Stacy Keibler was... it basically pointed out that she would be involved in the ending somehow. Indeed she was as an errant (or was it?) chair shot took out Steiner to mercifully put this one to bed around about the seven minute mark - by which time Steiner was already looking like he needed a day's rest.

Don't get me wrong, there was nothing terrible about the match - but there was nothing memorable either - in fact, there was just a handful of nothing, period. Steiner's usefulness in a big name to put Test over is fast coming to an end, as should this seemingly endless feud. Either move Test on to bigger and better things, or just move the feud to Heat - this just ain't cutting it any more.

And now... NOW we come to the stuff that makes you wonder why you watch wrestling in the first place. BY far the worst match of the year, and unlikely to be topped - the Commentator's match. Now, I'm sure everyone expected this to stink the joint up, but could someone explain to me who took the suicidal decision to run it with no commentary?

I mean, the crowd was pretty much dead anyway, not having a commentary team to cover that over just highlighted the fact that this match sucked. Austin and Bischoff were there - why not put them on the mic, just for one match? Any chances of survival this match had were killed off by the idiotic decision to go with no commentary - honestly, I had to watch this one again on tape this afternoon as I think I fell asleep during it - for the second time of the night!

At least there was a decisive finish - if only to further another storyline with Jericho and Austin - and JR and King know their fate. The cynic in me wonders how long their enforced retirement from Raw will actually last though - stipulations never last long in wrestling, especially where JR is concerned. Bad as JR is, he's a million times better than The Coach.

I'd just like to offer my commiseration's to Al Snow also - his in ring career has finally been buried. If the Kennel From Hell match wasn't a bad enough monstrosity to have on his record, then this just takes the biscuit. Sorry, Al.

You may have noticed I mentioned that this match was the second time I nodded off - the first was during the Intercontinental title match - what should have been a fast paced match filled with near falls and putting the crowd on the edge of their seat just turned into one big snoozefest - I didn't even know who had won until I watched the tape this afternoon.

I put the blame for that on the placement of the match - putting it right after Shane's Big Drop Of Doom pretty much guaranteed that it would be met with silence from a crowd burnt out on what they just saw... I'd like to think that this was just by accident, but again, the cynic in me hears JR talking about RVD as 'a guy that never moans, just gets his head down and gets on with it' one too many times, and thinks that putting him into this kind of match just adds to the 'RVD can't work WWE style' train of thought.

Again, maybe just me being cynical, but this match should have been 10 times better than it turned out. The crowd didn't care, I fell asleep just after Jericho got suplexed over the top rope and woke up just as JR and The King discussed who would be commentating. Joy!

Y'know, if this is the best they can come up with for the Intercontinental title, just go ahead and retire the thing again - it's becoming more and more worthless - hell even, the Women's title might be more prestigious soon.

Although not if Lita is invited back into the title picture. The women's tag match last night was short, pointless, and at some points painful to watch. A big deal was made about Lita's return from injury, but if she botches any more moonsaults as badly as she did last night, she may well end on the injured list soon enough.

I mean, it's widely known that I'm not a Lita fan, and nothing she did last night will sway me towards her camp - but she really should think about ditching the moonsault. She was a couple of inches away from landing square on top of her head, and watching women go out and cripple themselves isn't a high priority of mine.

The fact that she landed the (for want of a better word) moonsault on Molly leads me to think that she'll be shooting for the Women's title now. Now there's a thought that inspires me to keep on watching Raw. By the way, that last sentence? Sarcasm.

Finally, the show came to a shuddering close with the end of an era. Since the 15th December 2002, Triple H has ruled the roost, and held the Big Gold Belt as if it were a hostage. Well, last night the hostage was released - not with a bang, but with a whimper. For a match with such monumental hype, it never lived up to it.

Whether that's down to the fact that Triple H is recovering from injury, or that Goldberg just can't work the longer matches - I don't know. I do know that this match seemed like an anti-climax to what the WWE claimed was one of the most hotly disputed championship chases of all time. Well, news for ya guys - it wasn't. When they start piling on the stipulations the way they did for this match, there's no suspense.

Yet again, the WWE drop the ball on a big angle - Goldberg vs. Trips could and should have been the most heated angle of the year - yet it fizzled out like a damp firework. Kick-starting it once then wimping out for a 6 man match didn't help, even though that set this match up perfectly. There was no drama in the ending of this match, no shock, no inspiring comeback from Goldberg - no selling the Sledgehammer Of Doom for no particular reason just doesn't count, I'm afraid - and really, no point.

When a match has a foregone conclusion, then by the time it gets to that conclusion, it usually disappoints - this match, and indeed PPV was no exception to that. The second Raw exclusive PPV was supposed to have blown the roof off the arena... it didn't.

It was better than Bad Blood, but that's like saying electrocution is a better death than drowning. Of the two brands, Smackdown continues to be the stronger for me - Unforgiven further strengthened that feeling. Roll on No Mercy...

Until next week, fave fun go mad,

Tony Cottam

TWO's Official WWE Unforgiven Thread

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