WWE Unforgiven 2004 9/12/2004

September 12, 2004
Rose Garden
Portland, Oregon
Attendance: 10,000
Buy Rate: N/A
Announcers: Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler

Sunday Night Heat

Maven (Maven Huffman) defeated Rodney Mack in 4:42

Pay Per View

1) Chris Benoit and William Regal (Darren Matthews) defeated Ric Flair (Richard Fleihr) and Batista (Dave Bautista) when Benoit made Flair submit to the Crossface at 15:05

Fun Fact: On 8/23, William Regal out-cheated Ric Flair to pick up a win in a singles match. The next week, Batista got revenge for his mentor by defeating Regal. Later that night, Chris Benoit defeated Flair. It was then determined that Benoit and Regal would join forces to battle the Evolution duo at the PPV.

First off, I love how Batista and Flair came out to Evolution’s theme, showing team unity. Ok, it’s just because I love Evolution’s theme and can listen to it all day long. Yes it’s quite sad to see Chris Benoit go from World Champion to curtain jerking, but hey Benoit was a good soldier and worked wherever you wanted him to. Ever since his match at Summerslam, Batista is slowly starting to gain a following from the crowd. His look, and his growing charisma when speaking are also starting to gain notice with management. Month by month he gets a little more, a little more experience and airtime. Being with Ric Flair 24/7 at this time really helped Batista know how to build the complete package. This was a pretty standard opener as all four guys worked pretty stiff and got their shots in as, other than Batista, you have three guys who have never held back on their shots throughout the years. We have a debut of a new city and state on this night as the home of Portland’s Trailblazers makes its PPV premiere and the crowd is pretty hot for this opener, considering a hero from nearby Western Canada is in the match. The match actually gets a little crazy towards the end as guys are wrestling all over the ring and around the ring before Benoit gets Flair to tap out. Nice win for Regal and Benoit, but all four worked pretty hard. Grade: 2.5

Justin: In his first PPV without the big gold belt, Chris Benoit enters the Rose Garden to a big pop. He forms a unique team with William Regal and you were just waiting for the stiffness to overflow. Flair and Batista team back up here for this interesting opener. The match was pretty standard to start, with everyone doing their usual offense and Evolution gaining some good heel heat. I was really digging the Benoit & Regal team as they worked crisp and stiff in the ring and had complementary styles and just knew how to work. The match had a good old school feel and the ever-improving Batista fit right in to the mold, playing the overpowering monster quite well. The four men worked non-stop throughout with one of the highlights coming with a nice figure-four segment between Flair and Regal. The finish was really well done too as Benoit picks up a much-needed clean win, forcing Flair to tap out. I wish Regal and Benoit would have stuck together for a while longer, but this is pretty much the extent of their run. Regardless, this was a good opener to get the crowd revved up for the rest of the show. Grade: 2.5

2) Trish Stratus (Patricia Stratigias) defeated Victoria (Lisa Marie Varon) to retain Women’s Championship with Stratusfaction at 8:21

Fun Fact: On 8/16, Victoria defeated Gail Kim. After the match, Trish Stratus and Tyson Tomko attacked her, but a mysterious man in drag came out to save her. The mystery person would again help Victoria two weeks later as she teamed with Nidia to defeat Gail and Trish.

Two of the best women’s wrestlers on the roster go head to head for the Women’s Title. Victoria had a pretty hot streak going in 2004, even after losing the title in a match in which she wasn’t pinned. Trish is a hot heel, both physically and in terms of character. It was a much-needed change for her and it makes Raw’s roster more balanced. I actually liked Tyson’s character right now. He wasn’t getting in the way and his usefulness as Problem Solver is exactly what a cowardly heel like Christian needed. Might as well siphon it off to his on-screen girlfriend. These two are really going back and forth and many non-women’s moves, like gutbusters, are used. Victoria always brings a little extra something to the table as well. Tyson’s interference leads to Trish’s finisher and the victory. Then as Tyson gets Victoria in a chokehold, the “mysterious woman” comes in to DDT Tomko. Tomko challenges the crazy “woman” which leads us to our next match. Grade: 2.5

Justin: In our second match of the evening, the ladies get a decent amount of time to battle over the women’s title. Trish used the assistance of Tomko to control Victoria with her standard offense. The crowd was a bit quiet here as Victoria’s face pops had begun tapering off since earlier in the year. Trish gets a solid win to continue her dominance. Despite the match chugging along at a slow pace, the work was good and both ladies gave a good effort. Tomko helped Trish win the match, which drew out Victoria’s mystery partner, leading to an impromptu match with Tomko. Grade: 2

3) Tyson Tomko (Travis Tomko) defeats Steven Richards (Mike Manna) with a swinging neckbreaker at 6:21

Scott: What I love about this is that JR says this is the “worst kept secret around” as the crowd was chanting “Stevie…Stevie…Stevie”. Actually Lawler goes “Oh JR just go along with it.” The match is a big time squash to put Tomko over but even worse is the funny double entendre going on between Lawler and JR to give the match something, anything. Unfortunately the crowd could care less and it kind of falls flat. Grade: 1

Justin: Just moments in, Tomko began brutally assaulting the drag queen, eventually revealing her to be Stevie Richards, Victoria’s longtime running buddy. The match was a slow, painful squash that completely killed off what had been a good crowd. Adding to the mess was that the crowd was quite pro-Stevie, as they had been calling for him since the women’s match had started. Unfortunately, he barely got any offense here, as this was basically a time killing extended squash. By the time Stevie got a brief flurry of offense, the crowd was long gone. Tomko cuts him off and picks up the easy win in an awful match. Grade: .5

4) Chris Jericho (Chris Irvine) defeats Christian (Jay Reso) in a ladder match to win vacant Intercontinental Championship when he grabs the belt at 22:29

Fun Fact: On 8/16, Chris Jericho won a tough match against Batista. Edge came down after the match to tease helping Jericho, but instead he stood on the floor and watched Batista beat down Chris. A week later in a title match, Jericho had Edge on the ropes and looked primed to take his IC belt, but Edge ended up getting DQ’d to end the match. After the bell, Edge planted Jericho with a spear. The next week, Jericho wanted a rematch at Unforgiven, but Edge came out on crutches and said he had a groin injury and could not compete. He didn’t mind being unpopular, even in his own hometown, but he had already beaten Jericho at Summerslam anyway. As they debated back and forth, Christian made his return from injury and beat Jericho down in the ring. The segment ended with Edge looking on in surprise while Christian smiled at him. On the 9/6 Raw, Jericho lost a match to Tomko after an assist from Christian. Earlier in the night, Eric Bischoff had stripped Edge of the Intercontinental Title due to the groin injury, which was legit. Christian came out and said the Peeps would riot the streets if the IC Title was not handed to him. Instead Bischoff suggested a match between him and Jericho at Unforgiven for the vacant IC Title and Jericho proposed the ladder match stipulation, which Eric agreed to.

This was a good way to give this PPV a guaranteed high-star match. We’re not really sure what kind of match Orton/Triple H or Michaels/Kane would give us, so you know that if you give these two a ladder and a title at stake it leads to good things. We haven’t seen a ladder match all year; on top of the fact that the undercard was a little light so again putting these two together again was a smart thing to do. Jericho was red hot as a face throughout 2004 and Christian has been a perfect foil for him. The pace of this match was different than in most ladder matches we’re used to. Whereas past ladder matches were fact paced with one crazy spot after another, these two were deliberate in their approach. They were doing some grinding restholds and then a big spot. Jericho missed a Lionsault onto a ladder, and then after a few minutes Christian was hanging over the ring in midair holding the rings around the belt before Jericho threw a ladder at him and Christian fell. Then they’d go around for a few minutes before working another spot. It just seemed like both men took a more deliberate approach than in past ladder matches. Eventually Jericho would climb the ladder, minutes after getting the edge of a ladder jabbed into his back, and grab yet another IC Title, his seventh to this point. A great ladder match that was different than any before it, and actually this becomes the template for future ladder matches. It featured a slower pace, with more space between big spots than before. It is the match of the night and also in a perfect spot on the card as the crowd is hot after that dud of a Tomko/Stevie match. Grade: 4

Justin: One of the best feuds of the early part of 2004 is renewed here as these former friends go at it in a ladder match for the now vacant IC strap. The crowd was quite into Y2J here as he tries to capture the gold for the seventh time. The match was basic to start but picked up nicely after Christian dropped Jericho with a nice Unprettier on the floor. They would bust out some stiff ladder shots, including a great Irish whip into it by Jericho. These two had great chemistry, so once the stiff shots started being doled out, things picked up. The match was well built and they eventually won the crowd back after the previous debacle of a match had killed them off. I think the length of the match hurt it a bit as it led to slow spots that affected its pacing. Instead of just being a long match, it felt like a shorter match stretched out to fill a set amount of time. Towards the end, Jericho hooked the Walls on top of the ladder but that just set up a nasty fall from the top to the mat by Chris. Jericho would recover and grab the belt to win the hard fought match. The match was solid and filled with stiff bumps, but just felt like it was missing something to push it to the next level. Grade: 3

5) Shawn Michaels (Michael Hickenbottom) defeats Kane (Glen Jacobs) in a No Disqualification match with Sweet Chin Music at 18:02

Fun Fact: This feud goes all the way back to the 6/14 Raw, the night after Bad Blood. Jim Ross moderated a face to face in the ring between Shawn Michaels and Triple H to get them to make amends and end the feud after Triple H won their Hell in the Cell war the night before. As they were about to shake hands, Kane came out and smacked Michaels with a chair. He then crushed Shawn’s throat with that chair, putting him on the shelf as he was taken out in an ambulance. On the 6/28 Raw, Jim Ross asked Kane why he attacked Michaels. Kane said that he was robbed of the World Title at Bad Blood against Chris Benoit because of Michaels. Fast forward to the 8/30 Raw, where Kane announced that GM Eric Bischoff had given a wedding present for he and Lita. That present was that Kane could have any match he wanted for Unforgiven. Lita then came out to inform Kane that it was a present for both of them, so she proceeded to pick Kane’s opponent, and that was Shawn Michaels in a no-DQ match.

Fun Fact II:
On 8/16, the heel Divas through a mock bridal shower for Lita, giving her presents like contraceptives and a Big Red Machine dildo in addition to a picture of a mutant baby. Later that night, Lita and Matt Hardy were able to cost Kane an IC title match against Edge. On 8/23, the demented wedding between Kane and Lita occurred. Despite a Matt Hardy run-in, Kane and Lita were officially wed, per the Summerslam stipulation.

Making this a No-DQ match earlier in the night makes this match much better than it probably would have been. Kane was having a good year as a heel and with Lita as his wife he really drew the ire of fans, and of course the Heartbreak Kid. Michaels was brutally attacked by Kane four months earlier when Kane crushed Shawn’s throat with a chair. The match is typical Shawn Michaels vs. a big power guy formula. Michaels gets his shots in once in a while, and then gets the crap beat out of him, but he gets his 58th wind and we go back and forth. This was a unique match because here are two guys whose careers started before the Attitude Era did. That’s what was great about Shawn Michaels during this second chapter of his career. He missed a lot of the Attitude Era guys when he was absent and now he’s catching up. The match is ok, as Shawn does his usual great job of both selling and delivering. Kane is still hot, even during this real soap opera-esque storyline. Lita is very excited when Shawn wins, even though Shawn probably doesn’t even know who she is. Maybe it was a bit longer than it needed to be, but it was Michaels so I’m fine with it. Grade: 2.5

After a brief hiatus, Shawn Michaels returns here to face off with the man that violently put him on the shelf back in June. Shawn gets a huge pop as the crowd was happy to see him back for sure. They would brawl early, with Kane overpowering Shawn to take control. Lita would spend the whole match rooting against her husband and Kane would repay her by using her to take advantage of the match. Kane would punish Shawn with his usual offensive assault, even drawing blood as Shawn hit his standard blade job halfway through the bout. In one cool spot, Shawn went for SCM but Kane thwarted it and drilled Shawn with a boot to the face. Shawn would come back with a crazy chair shot to Kane and then finally put him down for good with SCM. The match was well done and told a good story. They used the stip to enhance the story and match instead of going crazy and delivering a wild garbage brawl with no psychology. Shawn gets a good pop for the win and he showed that he was back and ready to go once again. And for one night, Lita left ringside with a smile on her face. Grade: 3

6) La Resistance defeats Tajiri & Rhyno (Terry Gerin) to retain World Tag Team Championship after Sylvan Grenier hit Rhyno with the Quebec flag at 9:40

Fun Fact: On 8/16, Rhyno defeated Sylvan Grenier to earn the title shot here.

More La Res…and more throwing up in my mouth. I absolutely can’t stand this team and I can’t believe this French Canadian gimmick is still going on. No Jacques or Jean-Pierre and certainly no Johnny Polo. Tajiri and Rhyno were slapped together to challenge the champions. The match is dull, with typical formulaic action. Cheating by Sylvan, the måuch less talented of the team gets La Res the win and they retain their titles. Let’s just move on. Grade: 2

Justin: After two intense matches, the crowd was fairly quiet here for this tag title bout. Rhyno and Tajiri were a unique team that had a good connection with the fans and it is too bad they weren’t given a better push together. There really isn’t much else to say here. The match was OK as La Res roll on with another win and another PPV title defense. Instead of creating a new and successful face team, Rhyno and Tajiri are jobbed out and left to float in midcard limbo. Grade: 1.5

7) Triple H (Paul Levesque) defeated Randy Orton to win World Heavyweight Championship with a Pedigree on a steel chair at 24:44

Fun Fact: The night after Summerslam, Randy Orton successfully defended his World Title in a rematch with Chris Benoit. After the match, Evolution came out to celebrate with their Champion. Batista hoisted Orton onto his shoulders as Triple H was giving him the thumbs up. Moments later, Triple H’s smile vanished and he changed the thumbs up to thumbs down. He then told Batista to drop Orton to the mat. Ric Flair and Batista proceeded to beat Orton down and Triple H busted him open, telling him Orton would have gotten nothing without Evolution. The following week on 8/23, Triple H demanded that Orton hand over the World Title or pay further consequences. Orton proceeded to spit in Triple H’s face and paste him with the World Title belt. GM Eric Bischoff then announced this match for the PPV. The following week on 8/30, Eugene defeated Triple H in a Summerslam rematch thanks to an Orton RKO. Finally on the 9/6 Raw, after Orton defeated Kane in a steel cage match to retain his World Title, Evolution came out and attacked Orton in the cage.

Our main event pits teacher against student. Even though it wasn’t that clear as day, you knew when Orton won the World Title at Summerslam that logic would dictate he’d be thrown out of Evolution. Sure enough the next night Triple H throws Orton out and demands that the title be handed over to him. Orton spits right in the Game’s face and says this is his title. The face turn stemmed from the positive cheers he was getting at Vengeance against Edge. Vince and the writers saw something, but instead of letting it matriculate and grow, they hot-shotted the title immediately and had Orton beat Benoit not once but twice in consecutive nights. Triple H didn’t get one win against Benoit. That’s how much they really liked Orton and the possibilities of him as a babyface. Unfortunately everything went too fast for Orton and losing this match certainly didn’t help matters. The match is ok, as both men who’ve never faced each other are feeling each other out trying to get some chemistry. This loss definitely shunted Orton’s momentum, and he never really gained it back. If anything Batista was starting to get the same kind of burgeoning support and by the end of the year Orton is passed. The match goes downhill when the referee is bumped and then Evolution comes in and it’s a big three on one assault. Then Coach comes out to referee and Orton lays him out too. Twenty-five minutes is pretty long for this match also as Orton is still relatively new to the main event scene. I guess fighting off Evolution for the last seven minutes was supposed to get Orton some sympathy but unfortunately I’m not totally sure it helped after holding the title for only one month. Triple H is back on top and the Age of Orton lasts just one month. Grade: 2.5

Justin: Well, quite a bit has happened since our last PPV outing. At Summerslam, Randy Orton fulfilled his destiny and defeated Chris Benoit for the World Heavyweight Championship. The next night, an angry Triple H kicked him out of Evolution for taking his gold and going against the plan. Many, including myself, thought they did Orton a great disservice by turning him face and having him booted from Evolution like a bitch. It instantly made him look weak and stupid. Many were hoping that he would stay heel, usurp the Evolution leadership role and take out the Game. That would have made him a strong Champion and kept him in the heel role that had brought him up to the main event level. Instead, he now has some hackney-eyed destiny gimmick and felt like a forced top-level face. Still, Orton was charismatic enough to make it work if booked correctly. This match would tell the story and show which direction Orton’s reign would head. Orton would fire the first shot and it was an attempted attention getter as he smacked Hunter across the face and then spit at him. Hunter would take control and punish the knee of the champion, trying to break him down and wear him out. The crowd stayed with them, but they were up and down throughout the match, mainly because it slowed down while Hunter worked the knee. As Orton battled back, he sent Hunter into the post with a slingshot and we were given one of the most useless bladejobs I have seen in a match. There was really no need for Hunter to bleed here. The match didn’t call for it at all and it just smacked of desperation, something we have seen from the Game before during this run. It added nothing to bout and was just blood for the sake of blood. Orton did a nice job of selling the knee and looked to be primed for the win when his former stablemates hit the ring and saved Hunter. The referee would go down during the fracas and that would lead to the Coach coming out to take over and further stack the deck. Batista would hit the ring and plant Orton with a spinebuster for a good near fall. Orton looked strong here as he took out Coach and ran off Evolution. As much as his face turn was butchered, Orton could have made a statement here and came out looking like a strong champion if he ran off Evolution and polished off the Game with an RKO. Alas, it wasn’t in the books and instead Hunter caught Orton with a low blow and dropped him with a Pedigree on a chair to win back his big gold belt. The match was just OK and I expected more, but it just didn’t click. I am guessing they figured Orton could be screwed out of the belt here and then have a hot chase for the title, but the problem is he looked like a bitch and never gained full momentum in the role. This could have been a big win, but instead he falls flat and now he has lost his arrogant persona that had rallied the fans behind him in the first place. Vince could have had his next Austin, but he turned him into a lame face and then quickly neutered him so Hunter could take his belt back. There were many ways this could have gone, and this was really one of the worst one to choose. Grade: 2.5

Final Analysis:

Scott: This was a pretty blasé show that backs up Summerslam. Three matches either close to or over twenty minutes may have been a bit much, but the undercard was herky jerky. The opener and the women’s match weren’t bad, but the Stevie Richards/Tomko nonsense killed the energy of the crowd. Shawn Michaels put on a solid performance as always but the ladder match is the centerpiece of the show. The pace is different than past ladder matches and would be the ladder match template from here on out. The main event was ok and a bit forced for twenty-five minutes, but it had its bright moments. I was a bit disappointed that Shelton Benjamin was not on the card as they had been really pushing him hard since being drafted to Raw earlier in the year. I don’t know when I’ll ever like a La Resistance match. I absolutely hated the gimmick and their in-ring work. What a fall for Chris Benoit. Sure he’s facing Evolution and it continues the Triple H feud I guess but to go from World Champion to curtain jerking must sting a little. Overall it was a show that was right down the middle, not too bad but not too great either. Grade: C+

Justin: Since the calendar turned to 2004, Raw had been red hot on TV. Their weekly shows had been compelling and featured really great in-ring work. On PPV, however, things have been a bit shakier. Here, we get seven matches and all are given a decent amount of time to tell their stories. Unfortunately, only two matches were really good and the rest were average or worse. I am not sure why there was such disconnect between TV and PPV but there it was. Randy Orton has now become the top face of the brand, but his balls have quickly been cut off as Hunter ascends back on his throne. Shawn Michaels made a triumphant return and will give a much needed energy boost back to Raw. Chris Benoit has been shunted to the mid-card after a really good title reign throughout the spring and summer. His team with Regal was a unique one but they are also quickly disbanded for no good reason. The ladder match was good, but not great and that really could have been a show stealer had it delivered on its potential. The rest of the show was just kind of blah, and that was capped off with a blah main event. After such a promising start to the year, Raw is starting to taper off as 2004 is inching towards a close. We will see next month if they can regroup and turn things around, both for the show and their fallen champion. Final Grade: C-

MVP: Chris Jericho & Christian
Runner Up: Kane & Shawn Michaels
Non MVP: Stevie Richards & Tyson Tomko
Runner Up: Randy Orton

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