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CALDWELL'S UNFORGIVEN REPORT 9/16: Ongoing "virtual time" coverage of PPV

Sep 16, 2007 - 9:46:05 PM
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By James Caldwell, Torch columnist

WWE UNFORGIVEN REPORT
September 16, 2007
Memphis, Tennessee
By James Caldwell, Torch columnist


They started with an Undertaker-related Unforgiven video package. Classic Buried Alive footage and Misty the Rat made a cross-promotional appearance. The usual Jesus-like imagery of Taker rising again. Except, Taker has risen like 58 times by now.

Joey Styles handled the show introductions with Tazz. No around-the-horn intros with the Raw and Smackdown announce teams. Instead, they're going right to the ECW Title match to start the show. Styles and Tazz have great seats to watch the rest of the show after this match. Instead of going right to the action, they aired a long video package on Punk's journey to the title. Elijah Burke was already in the ring following the video.

1 -- C.M. PUNK vs. ELIJAH BURKE -- ECW Title match

They went through the feeling out process as the fans were getting settled in, then Punk blasted Burke in the back with a swift kick to wake everyone up. And if they weren't awake after that strike, Punk smashed Burke in the face with a knee in the corner. He then nailed a springboard clothesline at 5:00 for a nearfall. Burke decided to recuperate on the outside and he lured Punk into a hard slam off the apron directly onto the floor mat. Back in the ring, Burke then went into a sustained attack on the lower back. He slapped on a Boston Crab and Punk screamed out in pain before finally reaching the bottom rope to break the hold. After that hold, Burke went for a modified Texas cloverleaf, but with an unnatural contort by standing over Punk's head. When Punk wouldn't give up, Burke screamed at him in frustration because he wouldn't quit. Suddenly, and out of nowhere, Punk rolled up Burke with a forward roll to score a three count for the win.

WINNER: Punk in 12:00 to retain the ECW Title. Not a bad way to start the show with solid competition in the ring, but the match stayed in first gear with Burke focusing his attack on Punk's back for several minutes. (**)

Michael Cole and JBL introduced themselves from ringside. JBL opted to fix his hair after appearing on Smackdown with bright highlights. Cole and JBL then broke down the program between Matt Hardy and MVP.

2 -- MATT HARDY & MVP vs. DEUCE & DOMINO (w/Cherry) -- WWE Tag Title match

Matt and MVP couldn't agree on who should start the match, so MVP insisted that Hardy start the match off. MVP then slapped himself into the match to face the Greasers, who are sporting black t-shirts and dark blue jeans for a different look. MVP went to the second rope and started using Matt's trademark scream and hand signal, which Hardy took offense to. Hardy then tagged himself in and did his combo scream and signal before nailing a double axe handle smash. Hardy went for tit-for-tat by doing MVP's dance move and ballin' fade-away shot before dropping an elbow. MVP jumped in the ring in disgust, which distracted the ref, allowing the Greasers to take control with a double team. Hardy tried to make a tag after escaping the beat down, but MVP walked away from the ring in disgust. Hardy kicked out of a double team move, then MVP reluctantly ran back to the ring to stand on the apron. Hardy then ducked a clothesline from Deuce and slapped in MVP, who paused before coming in to clean house. MVP then bounced off the ropes for the ballin' elbow drop, but Hardy blind tagged himself in. Hardy then shoved MVP head-first into Domino to knock him off the apron and he nailed the Twist of Fate on Deuce for the pin and the win. Afterward, Hardy kept the tag title belts to himself before throwing down the U.S. Title to MVP.

WINNERS: Hardy & MVP in 10:00 to retain the WWE Tag Titles. Standard tag match with no one in the arena believing The Greasers had any chance of winning the match. The storyline with Hardy and MVP continues to be one of the more intriguing programs in the company. (*1/2)

They aired a video package hyping the Hall of Fame DVD. Cole and JBL talked about the Khali vs. Batista vs. Rey match. They aired a Mobile Exclusive interview with Rey Mysterio from earlier in the weekend. Um, where was this on Smackdown to, you know, sell a PPV? Rey said he's not 100 percent and he's never felt pain like that before (being Clawed by Khali two weeks ago), but he will be at Unforgiven. Rey said it's just plain over when Khali slaps on the Claw. He said the key to winning isn't breaking the hold, but figuring out how to avoid the hold all together. Michael Cole said some wrestling experts said Rey doesn't have a chance tonight. Rey said he hopes to shock everyone tonight.

They're going to Hunter vs. Carlito as third mach on the card. Hunter made his elaborate entrance first, followed by Carlito.

3 -- TRIPLE H vs. CARLITO -- No DQ for Carlito only

Carlito tried to jumpstart the match with right hand blows, but Hunter quickly responded with right hands of his own. Carlito slipped out of the ring in search of weaponry, but Hunter pulled him back into the ring and went on the offensive attack. Back on the outside, Carlito swung and missed with a chair shot before Hunter rammed him back-first into the ringpost and rolled him back into the ring to start working on Carlito's back. Hunter played with the referee on an abdominal stretch before Carlito rolled to the outside and surprised Hunter with a ring bell shot to the face. Carlito then choked Hunter with a TV cable chord and hung him over the bottom rope with the chord. So much for WWE never referencing Chris Benoit again. Carlito tried to spit apple in Hunter's face, but Hunter punched Carlito square in the gut to release the apple into the air. Carlito recovered and smashed Hunter in the face with a trashcan repeatedly. He then slammed Hunter back-first across a second trashcan for a nearfall. Hunter then ducked a clothesline and hit a Harley Race knee-smash before hitting a facebuster for a nearfall. Hunter landed repeated fist shots before the ref reprimanded him. Carlito then threw powder in the eyes to subdue Hunter. He tried a chair shot on Hunter, but Hunter ducked and nailed a spinebuster before picking up the chair. The ref took the chair away, which allowed Hunter to low blow Carlito behind the ref's back. He then nailed the Pedigree on Carlito for the pin and the win.

WINNER: Hunter in 10:00. Serviceable gimmick match with enough tricks in the bag to keep the match interesting. No one in the building expected Carlito to win, but there were enough dicey moments for Hunter to create the slightest bit of doubt during the match. Hunter overcomes the slightly stacked deck to continue the rebuilding process. (**1/4)

They aired a video package hyping WrestleMania 24 at the Citrus Bowl in Orlando next year.

Backstage, Maria interviewed Batista for the World Title match. Batista looked down Maria's half-top before cutting a promo about his good friend, Rey Mysterio, and current world champion Great Khali. Batista said he's leaving tonight as three-time World champion.

Before the Women's Title match, they aired a video package on Beth Phoenix's glamazon activities leading to her match against Candice. Ross equated Beth to Bull Nakano. Paging Alundra Blayze.

4 -- CANDICE MICHELLE vs. BETH PHOENIX -- Women's Title match

Candice tried to figure out how to work around Beth's size advantage in the opening minutes. Beth then went to work on Candice's lower back. There was an old Adam Sandler tape where he went around asking people on the street whether someone is lifting weights in the gym or having sex. That's rather appropriate for this match. Beth put Candice up in a back breaker hold and pounded her firsts down on Candice's stomach to try to force a submission, but Candice fought out and hit a neckbreaker to start her comeback. It was short-lived, though, as Beth rammed Candice hard into the corner turnbuckle before landing forearm smashes to the face. Beth then landed a military press and rolled Candice over to make a lackadaisical cover for a nearfall. Beth got lazy on an overhead toss attempt and Candice quickly countered with a crucifix pin for the three count. Afterward, Beth was beside herself in shock.

WINNER: Candice in 8:00 to retain the Women's Title. We have the makings of the female version of John Cena with the booking, just without the hot crowd element. (*)

They aired a video package on the No Mercy PPV in three weeks. Quite a turnaround that WWE is far from prepared for.

Backstage, Todd Grisham interviewed Great Khali and Translator Guy about the title match. TG said Khali laughed heartily after hearing Rey and Batista's comments earlier. Khali was not in a laughing mood, though. TG then pulled out a cantaloupe and put Rey's mask over it. Khali then squashed Rey's head. Batista apparently has a much-larger head than Rey's due to um... natural causes, and TG pulled out a watermelon. Khali proceeded to squash the watermelon. That's a waste of a valuable fruit commodity. TG proceeded to chant, "Khali, Cinnabon" or something like that over and over. Maybe I'm just hungry. Definitely not as catchy as All Hail King Booker.

They aired a video package on the Khali vs. Rey vs. Batista feud. Batista then came out, followed by Rey. Before Khali came out, Rey and Batista shared a few tense moments in the ring.

5 -- GREAT KHALI (w/Translator Guy) vs. BATISTA vs. REY MYSTERIO -- World Hvt. Title match

Rey and Batista went for a double-team attack on Khali, but Khali quickly shoved Rey to the outside. Khali worked on Batista before Rey re-entered the ring. He worked with Batista momentarily before suddenly rolling him up from behind for a quick two count. Batista came up with a shocked look on his face before Rey worked on Batista with high-flying moves. Rey, unfortunately, walked right into a big boot from Khali right after. JBL said they're going home early tonight as Khali went for the Claw on Batista, but Batista fought it off, only to walk into The Chop. Khali slapped on the Claw on Batista, then Rey landed a chair shot to the back on Khali to break the hold. Apparently, it's No DQ in a WWE triple threat match. Khali shook off the chair shot and shoved Rey away. He then threw Batista to the outside and onto an announce table. Back in the ring, it was Rey vs. Batista by themselves and Cole called it David vs. Goliath. JBL said, "But this David doesn't have God or a slingshot." Amen. Khali cornered Rey and drove him hard into the corner before shoving a boot into his throat. Khali then slapped on a nerve hold and Rey gasped for air before breaking the hold with elbow smashes, only to walk into another big boot to the face. Khali applied the Claw on Rey, but Batista broke it up and knocked Khali into the ropes to tie him up.

Batista laid into Khali with right hand blows and the action quickly moved into second gear. Batista went for a Batistabomb on Rey, but Rey countered into a whip to send Batista to the middle rope. Rey dialed up a 619 on Batista before nailing Khali with the 619. Rey hit a seated Sentaun on Khali for a pin, but Batista broke it up and powerbombed Rey on top of Khali's stomach. Batista then shoved Rey aside and hit a spinebuster on Khali for the pin and the win to capture the World Title. And size is rewarded yet again. Batista then celebrated with the belt as the crowd exploded for the title change. Rey was shown pointing to Batista from the top of the entrance ramp as Batista continued to soak up the moment.

WINNER: Batista in 9:00 to capture the World Hvt Title. Really nice title match with the story, not necessarily the in-ring action. Crowd was into the match consistently for the first time tonight and it helped create a dramatic finish. Since the belt is cursed, it will be interesting to see how long Batista holds the belt. (**3/4)

They aired a video package from Raw when Hornswoggle was revealed as McMahon's son.

Backstage, Batista was shown walking with the title belt. Triple H approached him and congratulated him on the win. He told Batista to remember one thing that it's one thing to win the belt, but it's another thing to keep it. Hunter slapped him on the arm and left, then Batista smiled and flexed.

6 -- CADE & MURDOCH vs. BRIAN KENDRICK & PAUL LONDON -- World Tag Title match

Ross was in the zone calling the match with a Southern flair as the wrestlers went through the feeling out process. Cade & Murdoch had control, then the New Rockers made a comeback with quick dropkicks to clear the heels to the outside. K&L followed with stereo suicide dives on the floor. Back in the ring, Kendrick missed with a top rope splash and Murdoch smashed him in the face with a forearm blow. Cade then nailed an overhead slam from the top turnbuckle and had a pin, but London broke up the pin just in time. At 11:00, the action broke down and the ref tried to restore control, but Cade dropped Kendrick with a spinebuster. He then dumped London to the outside before Murdoch pinned Kendrick for the win.

WINNERS: Cade & Murdoch in 12:00 to retain the World Tag Titles. Trainwreck tag match. Fans have to be given a reason to care about London & Kendrick, but WWE hasn't taken the time to focus on that aspect of the character development, which means fans are sitting on their hands while the New Rockers are flying all over the place. (*1/4)

They aired a video package hyping The Condemned DVD release.

They're going with Cena vs. Orton in the semi-main event, as they aired a video package on the Cena vs. Orton feud. Looks like special effects are in order for the Taker vs. Henry main event. Orton came out first for the main event and he stared down Cena's father, who was in the front row. Ross equated the Cena vs. Orton match to Yankees vs. Red Sox or OU vs. UT. October 6 is a'coming. Cena then came out looking pissed and he shoved the title belt into the ref's gut. There was a pause, then the ref called for the bell with both men standing back in their respective corners.

7 -- JOHN CENA vs. RANDY ORTON -- WWE Title match

After a pause, Cena's nostrils flared up and he charged Orton in center ring. Cena landed right hand blows, which the haters booed. Orton fled to the outside and Cena ran him over with a hard clothesline in front of his father. Back in the ring, Cena tried to slap on the STFU, but Orton escaped to the outside. Back in the ring, Orton cut off Cena with an uppercut, setting up Orton for a nice spike DDT while holding Cena horizontal across the middle rope. Orton then settled into a trademark headlock as the fans did the dueling chants of "Let's go Cena" vs. "Let's go Orton". Cena then fought off Orton and started clubbing away on Orton in the corner with right hand blows. The ref tried to intervene several times, but Cena tossed him away. Eventually, the ref called for the bell, DQ'ing Cena. The fans booed in unison.

Afterward, Cena had pause after seeing what happened. He then tried to attack Orton more, but Orton slingshot him across the top rope. Orton then dragged Cena's father over the railing to the outside. He lined him up for another punt to the head, but Cena cut Orton off with a spear. He then slapped on the STFU and screamed at his dad to kick Orton in the head. Mr. Cena paused before kicking Orton straight in the face. Security escorted Mr. Cena to the back, while Cena stood over Orton. Ross, anticipating the negative feedback to the match, said it was a controversial ending to the match.

Backstage, Coach berated Mr. Cena for getting involved. He said Mr. Cena showed up because he knew John could not beat Orton tonight. Coach said Cena got himself intentionally disqualified, so he's booking a re-match. It will be no pinfalls, no count outs, and it will be Last Man Standing. Just not tonight, rubbing more salt in the wound for people who spent $40 on a non-finish. John then grabbed Coach by the jacket and told him that if he messes with his dad, he messes with him. John shoved Coach down to the ground, then hugged his father. Coach collected himself while the Cenas walked off.

WINNER: Orton via DQ in 8:00; Cena retains the belt. Just a really cheap finish to a title match that was supposed to be the centerpiece of the PPV, especially if a paying customer only watches Raw and this was the main event he or she paid to see. Really weak to use a non-finish to set up the next PPV title match on the current PPV. This would have been perfect for a TV main event when non-finishes can be used as a means to an end, but not when people are paying $40. (*1/2)

They showed a video package on the Undertaker vs. Mark Henry feud. Mark Henry then came to the ring for the main event. After his music stopped, there was a long pause before the lights went down and the druid humming began. Various burning symbols were elevated in the air before Taker made his magic show entrance. Before the bell sounded, Henry and Taker went face-to-face. Taker took an extra step or two forward and Henry took two steps back. Taker landed a right hand and the bell sounded.

8 -- THE UNDERTAKER vs. MARK HENRY

Taker nailed right hand blows in the opening minute, then he went for the Old School top rope walk, but Henry cut him off. Henry then slowly set up a superplex and connected. Henry was slow to follow up, so Taker landed a flurry of rights to the gut and clotheslined him over the top rope to the floor. Henry took advantage of the spot where Taker chases the ref away and landed a low blow kick. He then took Taker into the ring and landed consecutive big splashes off the ropes. The third splash only resulted in canvas, as Taker moved out of the way. Henry took control again with a reverse whip into a lift-up slam of sorts. Henry became confident, but Taker sat up and grabbed Henry by the throat. He hit an Old School top rope clothesline before hitting a chokeslam in center ring. Taker covered Henry and did the Tombstone pin, but Henry kicked out. Taker then ran into a bear hug, but Taker easily escaped by running into the corner turnbuckle. So much for the work on trying to get over the bear hug. Henry tried a corner mount for punches to the forehead, but Taker countered into a Last Ride powerbomb for the pin and the win.

WINNER: Taker in 12:00. Slow, methodical, at times boring main event. Satisfying conclusion for hardcore Taker fans, but not enough to make up for a lackluster PPV offering. (*)

Replay recommendation: Don't bother. One of the weaker semi-main event and main event combinations this year. Undercard wasn't strong, and we'll see plenty of re-matches on free TV and in three weeks at No Mercy.

We welcome your 1-10 score and comments on this show for a "WWE PPV Reax" feature in the Torch Feedback section of PWTorch.com. To contribute your thoughts on the PPV, click here.


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