Thursday, 11 September 2008

WWE Unforgiven on Sky Sports - TV Review

It’s that time of the month again where the three WWE brands band together in order to give us an evening of entertainment, and this time they’re giving us three scramble matches in one night! Yep, it’s Unforgiven, shown live in Britain on Sky Sports, and with the usual list of suspects handling the commentary duties.

The show begins with the first scramble match, this one for the ECW title, featuring champion Mark Henry, Matt Hardy, The Miz, Chavo Guerrero and Finlay. The rules for this (and the other two) scramble matches are simple - twenty minute time limit, two wrestlers start and every five minutes a new wrestlers enters. If a wrestler gets a pin or submission, they become the champion, and whoever is the champion at the end of the twenty minutes, they get the gold. Now remember that, because I’m not explaining it again for the other two scramble matches. To say that this was a good way to start the show would be an understatement. From the moment that Hardy and the Miz stepped into the ring to start things off it was action packed. Even Mark Henry looked good in this one, and that’s something I never thought I’d say. Numerous pins from the various participants saw each and every man crowned champion at one point or another, with things getting really exciting in the last five minutes as Hardy went all out to preserve his final pin, and in the end he did it. Matt Hardy won the ECW title to end a great match full of great performances.

Tag-team action follows, with Cryme Tyme challenging Ted Dibiase and Cody Rhodes for the World Tag-Team Championship. You know, this sort of match is the reason why more emphasis should be placed on the tag-team division. This match had great psychology, a good storyline, and some excellent double team moves from Shad and JTG. Mention must also be made of Rhodes and Dibiase. Rhodes, in particular, seems to have really found his niche since his heel turn. The champions dominated for the most part in this one, taking JTG apart as much as they could, until Shad got the hot tag and cleaned house. The end came when Rhodes reversed JTG’s roll-up so that Dibiase was in the pinning position. But the action didn’t end there. After Rhodes and Dibiase got back into the ring to taunt their now former challengers, a brawl ensued, and a big Samoan fellow came down to help the second generation stars clean house, before raising their hands in victory. A good match here, and the formation of the new stable just adds to the situation.

It’s unsanctioned match time next, featuring the best feud in the WWE at the moment, Shawn Michaels and Chris Jericho. It’s basically an anything goes match. I really can’t speak too highly about this one. Expertly executed by two master story-tellers, this match had everything, and was another of those times where you actually began to believe that these two guys really hated each other. They beat the hell out of each other and hit each other with anything they could get their hands on. We also had a cameo appearance from Lance Cade, helping Jericho to double-team his nemesis. In short it was brutal, but possibly the best performances that Michaels and Jericho have ever given, with the most dramatic moment left for the end. Having elbow dropped Jericho and Cade through the Raw announce table, Michaels dragged Jericho back into the ring and whipped him with his leather belt. He then wrapped the belt around his hand and pounded Jericho’s eye with the buckle - an eye for an eye, as Michaels said. As the Heartbreak Kid did this for a second time, the referee called for the bell, stopping the contest and awarding the match to Michaels because Jericho was in no fit state to continue. But this wasn’t enough for Michaels. He attacked Jericho again, and when the referee tried to stop him, sweet chin music took care of him. But then, as he slumped to his knees, the look on Michaels’ face told it all. If this doesn’t win any match of the year awards, then it will be a travesty.

So following that great match, it was time for the Smackdown scramble match for the WWE title, featuring champion Triple H, Jeff Hardy, Shelton Benjamin, The Brian Kendrick and MVP. As with the ECW scramble, this was a fast-paced, action packed encounter to begin with, with great performances from the first four wrestlers to enter the bout, with numerous pins. But then the final man, Triple H, came into the ring and cleared house, pinning Kendrick to win the title. More pins followed, with both Hardy and Triple H regaining the title, with Triple H getting the final pin after taking MVP out with the pedigree. Despite what some other people may say, this was just as enjoyable as it’s ECW counterpart, with good performances from all five combatants.

So after two good matches in a row, it’s on to the card filler as Maryse challenges Michelle McCool for the Smackdown Divas title. As far as this one goes, it was okay, but nothing special. The problem with this one could have been it’s place on the card, but then again the WWE often treat their women’s matches as card fillers. Maryse basically worked over Michelle’s knee for a while, before the champ took her challenger out with the front suplex sit down power bomb thing. Come on WWE, think of a name for this bloody move.

After the Adamle announces that C.M. Punk won’t be in the Raw scramble, and after the Big Show turns heel by beating the crap out of the Undertaker, it’s on to the Raw scramble match, featuring Batista, John Bradshaw Layfield, Kane, Rey Mysterio, and…..Chris Jericho, replacing the injured champion. So let me get this straight - Punk can’t compete because he’s injured, so they replace him with a guy who was left laying in the ring after taking the beating of a lifetime earlier in the evening. Hey, psychology doesn’t take place in actual wrestling matches, you know. Now while I can’t fault this match for the in-ring action, the third scramble match just seemed to lack the excitement of the others. We got hard-hitting stuff from the three big guys, and some good looking stuff from the returning Mysterio. As the match went on, it dawned on me what was wrong - the lack of pins. Up until Jericho’s entrance there had been just one pin, and the second didn’t come until the final minute, when Batista pinned Kane. But the Animal didn’t emerge as champion. With the match entering the final ten seconds, Jericho sneaked into the ring and pinned Kane while Batista was battling Mysterio. I’m not really sure what to make of this ending if I’m to be totally honest, because it’s obvious that it’s not going to end up with Jericho feuding with Punk over the title.

In conclusion - an enjoyable effort from WWE here, even if the final scramble match did leave me scratching my head a little. I know it will lead to a nice little feud between Punk and Orton, but it just didn’t seem right. Aside from that, good matches all round, and well worth watching again.