Friday, December 22, 2017

Kevin's Random Reviews: WWF Unforgiven 1998

WWF Unforgiven 1998
April 26th, 1998 | Greensboro Coliseum in Greensboro, North Carolina | Attendance: 21,427

With WrestleMania XIV in the rearview mirror, the Austin Era was officially underway and the Attitude Era was in full swing. There were certainly a lot of firsts on this card. This was the first time that the scratch WWF logo was used on a PPV, it featured the first Inferno match as well as the first Evening Gown match and would actually be the first Unforgiven ever. It was also the only one to take place in the month of April.

Surprisingly, the opening video package focuses more on the Kane/Undertaker angle than the WWF Title picture. As is almost always the case in this era, Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler handle commentary. Also, the WWF blimp is in attendance.

Faarooq, Ken Shamrock and Steve Blackman vs. The Nation of Domination w/ Kama Mustafa
Kama was already starting to dress like the Godfather. The Rock had taken over as the leader of the Nation after kicking Faarooq out, so Faarooq wanted revenge. Watching him come out, still in Nation attire, to Shamrock’s theme was classic. Oh my god, Shamrock and Blackman even did the Nation salute with him. Ross was great here at reminding everyone that the Nation had the chemistry advantage. Faarooq brought out a belt and whipped D-Lo with it, which was a highlight. Rock did all of the little things throughout this that just showed you that he had loads of potential. Blackman took the heat for what seems like far too long. Faarooq got the hot tag and finally got his hands on the Rock. While everyone fought outside, Faarooq pinned Rock following the Dominator. 

Winners: Faarooq, Ken Shamrock and Steve Blackman in 13:07
A bit too long though it was otherwise inoffensive. The crowd was mostly hot and the Rock was a joy to watch, making this better than it should have been. I’m also pretty sure nothing came of Faarooq pinning the IC Champion. **

The WWF Champion Steve Austin comes out and demands the timekeeper enter the ring with him. The timekeeper rang the bell early on a prior show apparently, so Austin threatens him if he does it again here. I am not a fan of promos on PPVs, but at least this was short. I do have an issue with Austin showing up here. Your first pop is your best one so why waste it here and not during the match?

WWF European Championship
Triple H (c) w/ Chyna vs. Owen Hart

Chyna got involved in the finish of their match at WrestleMania, so tonight, she was locked in a cage. The angry Owen Hart attacked Triple H on the outside, gaining some revenge before things officially started. Chyna got the old school treatment of having her cage raised high in the air. After his fast start, Owen was slowed down by HHH’s offense. Chyna got something out of her boot and seemed to be trying to file her way out of the cage. After dropping it, she managed to bend the bars because she was still very manlike at the time. Seriously, she was just getting out of Nicole Bass territory. HHH plodded through some dull offense as she got free and hung from the cage. Owen locked in the Sharpshooter just as the cage conspicuously lowered and allowed Chyna to safely hit the floor. It was that damn Road Dogg messing with the controls. The distraction was enough for the referee to miss Owen hitting HHH with a Pedigree. X-Pac ran in and laid Owen out with a fire extinguisher so the future “Game” could retain.

Winner and Still WWF European Champion: Triple H in 12:38
I liked their WrestleMania XIV match more. This one was very dull in the middle points when Triple H was on offense. He hadn’t yet mastered the right way to get in heel offense without it dragging on. The finish featured some classic Russo overbooking and not in a good way. **¼

After the match, Owen Hart is interviewed and cuts his first official “enough is enough and it’s time for a change” promo.

NWA Tag Team Championship
The New Midnight Express (c) w/ Jim Cornette vs. The Rock n’ Roll Express

Why? The New Midnight Express was “Bodacious” Bart Gunn and “Bombastic” Bob Holly, while it is the original Rock n’ Roll Express. They get the Rockers theme music. You could see fans getting up and going to the bathroom or to get food. Nobody cared about this. Even Jerry Lawler can’t bring himself to care, talking about Sable’s panties instead. They worked the kind of match you’d expect from them. Cornette got involved and, while he got what was coming to him, it still allowed his guys to retain with a bulldog. Guess what? The crowd didn’t react at all.

Winners and Still NWA Tag Team Champions: The New Midnight Express in 7:20
Oh man, that was painfully boring. The fans wanted no part of the old NWA at this time so they didn’t care. The New Midnight Express consisted of two guys with zero personality, while the Rock n’ Roll Express were way past their prime. ¾*

Evening Gown Match
Luna Vachon w/ Goldust vs. Sable

I always thought this was a weird match to book. The crowd obviously was more into Sable’s looks here so they want to see her get stripped. That means they should cheer for the heel, which kind of defeats the purpose. Luna held serve, Sable rallied and Marc Mero showed up, eventually distracting her. Luna stripped Sable and her tits looked absurdly huge here. Bigger than usual for some reason.

Winner: Luna Vachon in 2:36
Not much to write about here. I’ll give them small points for trying and having the crowd somewhat invested. ¼*

Sable, pissed that she was stripped, attacked Luna after the match. She chased her under the ring and reemerged with Luna’s bra and panties. Side note, but Sable really had no ass.

More time for promos as Vince McMahon, Gerald Brisco and Pat Patterson come out. They say nothing of importance at all. Vince promises that he isn’t there to screw Austin.

WWF Tag Team Championship
The New Age Outlaws (c) vs. LOD 2000 w/ Sunny

The Outlaws brought out “Dean Smith” but it was just a blow up doll in a UNC shirt. Get it? It’s a blow up doll. They’re edge and cool because of that. While the actual feuds between these teams had been good, the matches left a lot to be desired. This followed that pattern. Most of what the teams did was kind of just there and came off as lackluster. The crowd was totally dead but finally got into it near the end as LOD did the hot tag stuff. Gunn used the title for offense but LOD no sold it for the most part. Hawk hits a German and gets the three count. OR SO WE THOUGHT! As they celebrate with the straps, the Fink announces that the Outlaws are still the Tag Team Champions since both guys had their shoulders down at the same time.

Winners and Still WWF Tag Team Champions: The New Age Outlaws in 12:13
Holy crap, that was boring. That’s three straight matches that don’t even crack a star. LOD’s time of value had come to an end and the Outlaws were never great in the ring. ¾*

After the match, LOD 200 murder the referee with the Doomsday Device. The replay shows that Road Dogg’s shoulders were down and Hawk’s didn’t seem to be.

The recently returned Jeff Jarrett is out to perform. They’re still trying to get the country singer gimmick over. Tennessee Lee, the former Col. Robert Parker, is his manager. Jarrett performs with a band whose name I missed. Steve Blackman shows up to attack Jeff but takes a guitar to the head from Lee and then gets put in the Figure Four.

Inferno Match
Kane w/ Paul Bearer vs. The Undertaker

The visual of the ring surrounded by flames was pretty awesome. Undertaker was daring as he hit Old School and the flames shot up while he was in midair. Whoever handled the timing of that did their job well though they did get ahead of themselves a few times. Even though their matches weren’t always the best, the comparison between the two brothers was always cool. Kane sitting up was so new for the Undertaker to combat. Kane got crotched up top and I have no idea how his foot didn’t catch fire. The second rope suplex that followed was certainly a highlight. Kane got tossed outside and tried walking out but Vader showed up to stop him. They’d have a match at the next PPV. As they got near the ring, Undertaker got to do his awe-inspiring dive onto them in the coolest moment of the match. Undertaker went after Bearer, eventually hitting him with a drum from the Jarrett concert. It looked lame. Back at ringside, Undertaker hit Kane with a chair, backing him to the flames, where his arm caught fire.

Winner: The Undertaker in 15:57
I actually liked this more than their WrestleMania match. The work itself was similar but the spectacle of the first ever Inferno match added to this. Also, both guys have some serious balls to work a match like this considering a lot of their spots came close to the fire. ***

WWF Championship
Steve Austin (c) vs. Dude Love

Dude Love attacked before the bell. That set the stage for a brawl, which is exactly what this match turned out to be. The fight moved up to Jarrett concert setup again where Austin hip tossed Dude off of it and onto concrete. Can’t be a high profile Foley match without a big bump. With Austin in trouble, Mr. McMahon strolled out with his stooges. JR pretty much hates them on commentary. Vince took a seat at ringside and nodded to the timekeeper. That worked since they hyped the last time Vince sat at ringside being the infamous Survivor Series 1997. Vince just nailed everything in this match. He goaded Austin into chasing him in the aisle, giving Dude Love an opening. Dude applied an abdominal stretch and Vince shouted for the bell to be called but it didn’t. Foley wasn’t done taking bumps as Austin suplexed him outside and his legs banged into the steps. Since it’s the Attitude Era, we got a ref bump. Dude got the Mandible Claw on but Austin fought it off. Things moved outside where a chair came into play. Austin hit it into Dude’s face twice before picking it up and going to whack him with it. Vince was trying to lift Dude and ended up taking the brutal chair shot on his own. Austin nailed a Stunner on Dude inside and counted the three himself. His theme even played. However, he actually lost by DQ.

Winner via disqualification: Dude Love in 18:52
A damn good main event that played perfectly off of the red hot angle going on. Lots of back and forth, some big bumps, story advancement and some really enjoyable brawling. A worthy main event.***¾

Overall: 3/10; Poor. Honestly, this show is kind of indicative of the Attitude Era in general. A fair amount of story advancement, a hot main event, reason to tune in the next night and a trash undercard. Everything before the final two matches is an easy skip. Hell, even the Inferno match isn’t must see. There is some novelty in seeing HHH and the Rock a few months before their star making rivalry but that’s about it. Also, the time spent on promos and the concert wasn’t really good either. Only watch the main event. Next time on “Kevin's Random Reviews”, I take a long look at Survivor Series 2003!