Friday, 21 September 2007

WWE Unforgiven on Sky Sports - TV Review

A little later than planned due to other commitments, it’s that time of the month again when the three WWE brands and their announcers join forces for the latest pay-per-view instalment, the 2007 version of Unforgiven, featuring the return of the Undertaker, and John Cena renewing his rivalry with “The Legend Killer” Randy Orton, shown here in Britain on Sky Sports.
The show begins with C.M. Punk defending the ECW title against his old rival Elijah Burke. These two had some great matches a few months ago, so a lot was expected of this one. It started off slowly, and there were a couple of mistakes by Burke early on which spoiled the flow of the match, but as the match went on it did get better, but sadly nowhere near the level of their previous encounters. The performances were good, but the atmosphere was lacking. In the end Punk retained the title, pinning Burke with a surprise roll-up. Good, but lacking.
Over to Smackdown, as Matt Hardy and MVP defend their WWE Tag-Team titles against former champions Deuce and Domino. The match begins with the champions continuing their games of one-upmanship with each other, before things go slightly awry and D&D begin to dominate. At one point MVP began to walk away after getting clobbered while on the ring apron, but as he neared the exit, he had a change of heart and returned to the ring, eventually tagging in and cleaning house. However, unknown to MVP, Hardy tagged himself in, used his partner as a battering ram, and got the title retaining pin after a Twist of Fate. An enjoyable match here. Not a four star classic, but enjoyable nonetheless.
Surprisingly, the third match features Triple H against Carlito, with the stipulation that it is a no disqualification match, but for Carlito only. So does this mean that Hunter is only a mere mid-carder now? The one-sided rules in this one were a definite advantage to Carlito, although it didn’t show early on as Triple H dominated before locking in an abdominal stretch, even using the old tricks when the referee wasn’t looking. But Carlito soon made his comeback, using his toys to good effect, but not getting the pin. Not even the powder in the eyes could get the job done. In the end, after the referee had confiscated a chair from Triple H, he connected with a low blow while the referee was distracted, before finishing Carlito off with the Pedigree. As with the previous match, this won’t go down as a classic, but it was enjoyable.
Time for the women to show their stuff next, as the “Glamazon” Beth Phoenix challenges Candice Michelle for the WWE Women’s title. This was another example of how much Candice has improved as a wrestler. Beth dominated the majority of this match with her superior strength, but no matter what she did, she couldn’t get the winning pin, and when Beth lifted Candice onto her shoulders for what looked like a Samoan drop, Candice countered with roll-up for the win to retain the title. The third entertaining match in a row, with both Candice and Beth impressing with their skills.
Back over to the Smackdown side of things, World Champion The Great Khali defends his title in a triple threat match, his opponents being Batista and Rey Mysterio - so basically it’s David v two Goliaths. More evidence that the big Indian is certainly improving as his career progresses. He is limited, but he’s now keeping within those limits. It was a pure power v power contest when Batista tackled Khali, but the best exchanges came when he tackled Mysterio. Of course, when Mysterio came up against the big guy, it was totally one sided, and not even the 619 could do any damage. But in the end, the reign of Khali came to an end. After power bombing Mysterio on to the fallen champion, Batista took him out with a spine buster, getting the winning pinfall to become a three time champion. A good match with a great build-up and story, and so far the best match of the night.
Then it’s time for tag-team action, as Paul London and Brian Kendrick challenge Lance Cade and Trevor Murdoch for the World Tag-Team Titles. JR acknowledges the title change between the two teams during the recent South African tour, so at least that’s something. It’s a battle of power against speed and aerial ability, an entertaining encounter and a good example of tag-team wrestling. Both teams worked extremely well together, despite their different styles. London and Kendrick started the match off quickly, working over Murdoch’s arms, before the big guys came back strongly. Some great action followed, including some great high spots from London and Kendrick, but sadly the crowd just didn’t seem into it, probably because this one took place right after the World title match. The end of this one came during a brawl in the ring. After Cade took Kendrick out with a sit-down spine buster, and then back dropped London over the top rope, Murdoch got the winning pin. As JR said, this was an outstanding match. It’s just a shame that we don’t seem to get many tag-team matches like this at the moment.
The WWE title then takes centre stage, as John Cena defends against Randy Orton, renewing their rivalry. Before the match begins we see Cena’s old man sitting in a ringside seat. This one started as a brawl, and ended in the same way. In between, Orton controlled the match, almost getting a submission with what could be described as a rear naked choke cum sleeper cum chin lock. Cena came back, and as he unloaded with punches in the corner, the referee tried to stop him, but when that failed, he disqualified him, meaning that even though Orton had won the match, Cena kept the title.
But it didn’t stop there. Cena attacked Orton on the outside and applied the STFU, as the old man, who had been dragged over the barrier by Orton, kicked the Legend Killer in the head, gaining revenge for what Orton did to him. If I’m to be completely honest here, the match and the angle afterwards served their purpose in continuing the feud, but in all it was a little disappointing.
Main event time, a superstar returns as The Undertaker takes on Mark Henry. Yep, Mark Henry is actually in the main event of a WWE pay-per-view, and hopefully it’s something we’ll never see again. The Undertaker makes his usual stunning entrance before this one, before we get slow, methodical action, but that’s only to expected when you’ve got two men with a combined weight of over 600 pounds in the ring. And that’s about all you can really write about this match, because it wasn’t exactly inspiring. It seemed to go on for an eternity, before ‘Taker took out Henry with his last ride power bomb out of the corner before getting the pin. And I was grateful for the end of the match.
In conclusion - this is the first WWE pay-per-view I’ve reviewed in ages without having read any other reviews, so I haven’t been influenced by anyone else’s negative vibes, although you’ll think differently in a few seconds.
WWE Unforgiven was decidedly average to say the least. There was only one outstanding match, and while the majority of the others I termed “good”, and some of them were used to further ongoing storylines, this won’t go down as one of the best shows of 2007. As my old teachers used to write in my school reports - could do better.
Before you go, Douglas Nunally of The Wrestling Voice, and one of the many sites that carry this column, asked me to pass on the following information.

TheWrestlingVoice.com is having it's annual voting for its Hall Of Fame. They will be inducting 5 of 15 nominated male workers, 2 of 6 nominated tag teams, 2 of 6 nominated promoters & personalities, 1 of 3 nominated women workers, and (new in 2007) 2 of 6 wrestling matches. Voters will pick 10, 3, 3, 2, and 3 respectively for each category. Voting opened on September 15th and will stay open until October 15th with the Class Of 2007 being announced on October 20th! Even more, with the addition of the matches category, TWV is offering the option of downloading each of the 6 matches that are nominated for this year's induction class. To vote, just simply click http://thewrestlingvoice.com/information/hof/. Please help participate and spread the word as this is the only Wrestling Hall Of Fame out there that relies fully on fan participation & votes.