Wednesday, March 21, 2018

WWE Unforgiven 2002

So if you're following this on tap, we're skipping Summerslam 2002 since I want to save that one for the eventual Summerslam recall week and since we've already touched on No Mercy 2002 a couple years ago and I want to forgo doing Survivor Series until later down the line, next week will be jumping straight to Armageddon 2002.

In any event, we're a month after Summerslam. Brock Lesnar is WWE Champion and exclusive to Smackdown, leaving Eric Bischoff's RAW GM Eric Bischoff to pull out the old WCW World title (a.k.a. the Big gold Belt) and give it to Triple H... and now he's World Champion. We haven't reached the point of diminishing returns just yet, but we're not that far off.

The team of Booker T, Goldust, Kane, and Bubba Ray Dudley defeated the Un-Americans (a group of Canadian folks comprising Lance Storm, Christian, Test, and Englishman turned temporary Canadian William Regal... that last bit may have been made up) when Kane pinned Storm with a chokeslam. This was just a thing that happened; something to get the largely American audience in a good mood in possible anticipation of receiving a somewhat mediocre show. Honestly, I've got little to say here other than "Un-American" sounds really stupid for a name, but were something of a "hot" issue... just not that hot because Lance Storm wasn't able to build enough fences.

Nobody is going to get that.

Intercontinental champion Chris Jericho defeated Ric Flair to retain the title with a finish that baffles me. At some point, Jericho blows out his knee and the ref calls for a timeout. Just as Flair closes in to check on Jericho, Jericho traps Flair in the Walls Of Jericho for the submission win. The reason I find this baffling is because it seems somewhat out of character for Flair to show that kind of concern. After all, isn't this the sort of thing he himself would've pulled off had he been in that situation. I suppose the seriousness of the moment could've potentially disarmed any possibility of this being a worked bit, but the ending simply didn't work for me because it felt out of Flair's character.

Eddie Guerrero defeated Edge in a pretty savage match where Edge is basically fighting off a concussion-based injury at the same time he's having this match. It's the sort of situation that would seem impossible in modern-day WWE and the fact that concussions were very much a story element in a wrestling match at the time may be somewhat discomforting for some viewers. However, it played into the story they were trying to tell and it was a compelling match. So big props.

3-Minute Warning (comprising Rosey - the future Super Hero In Training and Jamal, the future Umaga) defeated Billy (Gunn) and Chuck (Palumbo) in a match following a much publicized gay wedding that turned out to be a publicity stunt and got crapped on by GLAAD. Because God forbid someone uses a supposed gay relationship to get more eyeballs onto their product... now everybody does it and it gets them headlines... but I digress.

Anyway, the match itself is plodding and unexciting. You have two Samoan power guys against two white muscle guys and the end result is just boring shit. 3-Minute Warning were at the best showing up whenever somebody mentioned "3 Minutes." In fact, you know what would've been a fun little gimmick? These guys having matches that lasted precisely three minutes long. The matches no doubt would've been the shits, but it'd be a fun little thing to do at least.

I guess I should mention the stipulations to this match; if Billy & Chuck won, Uncle Eric would've had to kiss Stephanie's arse... fun stuff. And if 3-Minute Warning won, then Nipple H would have to perform "Hot Lesbian Action." "Hot Lesbian Action" was a thing where women in skimpy clothing would do... something. Rubbing, gyrating.... I don't know. And apparently they were lesbians... except who knows if they were actually lesbians and not just nicely-dressed strippers or something. This whole thing is making me question everything in the universe. In any event, those were the end results we were supposed to get if the respective team won.

What we got instead was Rikishi in drag and blackface, making out with Steph and giving ol' Bischoff a big ol' Stink Blackface. The circumstances leading up to this "funny" payoff is so convoluted and outright R-worded that I am not even going to dignify this tripe any further.

World Heavyweight Champion McSon-In-Law defeated Rob Van Dam with an assist from Ric Flair (the same Flair who fell for Jericho's possum playing bit) to retain the title. This was RVD doing his usual flippy stuff while looking quite stoned and McSon-In-Law trying in vein to come off as a second coming of Flair with all those sleepers while putting half the audience to sleep. Way too long for what little they were trying to accomplish and unfortunately, this is one area in the game (no pun intended) where Triple H has most definitely NOT improved over the years.

Trish Stratus defeated Women's champion Molly Holly to win the title. And I try so desperately hard to find a reason to be invested in this match. No, really, I tried really, really hard. But sadly, I just can't. At this point in the game, Trish isn't as good as she would eventually turn out to be and Molly tried her damndest to make it worthwhile. Maybe if this had been two years later... maybe... oh well.

Chris Benoit defeated Kurt Angle with a roll up and the ropes for leverage in a match featuring some great mat and submission wrestling that comes from two of the best in that field. These two guys work so well together and I honestly think these matches helped Angle build on his impressive repetoire. It's only unfortunate that these matches will never be spotlighted on WWE anymore, given what happened since.

The match between WWE champion Brock Lesnar and the Undertaker ended in a Double-Disqualification. This would turn out to be the only upset in Undertaker's feud with Brock Lesnar, as he would not gain a single victory over Brock Lensar until Summerslam 2015... in fact, I do believe a streak was broken along the way... but I digress from this fascinating contest that just sucks the proverbial meat missile. From what I've heard, the finish came about because Undertaker didn't want to do the job and that's why this match sucked. Mind you, a good finish wouldn't have saved this shitfest, but it would've been a fine close to a bad match. Then again, this bad finish lead to the following month's No Mercy getting that brutal (in a good way) Hell In A Cell match that I honestly liked better, so whatever.

Unforgiven 2002 has its high points (Benoit vs. Angle and Edge vs. Eddie) marred in a sea of mediocre garbage. At best, a lot of the matches are forgettable and at worst, the really bad shit is really bad. Still, two good matches that are worth checking out is not a total loss and as bad as things were here, we still haven't scraped the bottom of the so-called barrel.

For the old predictions post from 2002, click here.

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