WWF Unforgiven 2001 9/23/2001
September 23, 2001
Buy Rate: .82
Announcers: Jim Ross and Paul Heyman
*** This was the first PPV after the terrorist attacks on September 11. Jennifer Holliday sang America the Beautiful before the PPV opening. ***
Sunday Night Heat
Billy Gunn (Monte Sopp) defeats Tommy Dreamer (Tom Laughlin)
Fun Fact: Tommy Laughlin is a New Yorker and one of ECW’s mainstays. Never one to want a title, and always willing to put people over, Tommy was in ECW from the start of Extreme in 1993. He was trained by Johnny Rodz and made his debut in 1989 in the IWCCW and CWA as TD Madison. He became Tommy Dreamer in ECW and was one of the most rock solid guys in the company both in and out of the ring. He is best known for his lengthy blood feud with Raven and also for playing a major role in the WWF/ECW war in 1997. He won the ECW title once, in 2000, and it was against his wishes as he wanted to go his whole ECW career without ever winning it. He only won because Paul Heyman was running out of options. His reign only lasted a half hour, though, as he would drop the belt to Justin Credible. He stayed in ECW until the bitter end and debuted in the WWF alongside Rob Van Dam on the July 9 Raw.
Pay Per View
1) The Dudley Boys win a Four Corners Elimination match to retain WWF Tag Team Titles. The other teams are the Hardy Boys, Lance Storm (Lance Evers) & the Hurricane (Gregory Shane Helms), and the Big Show (Paul Wight) & Spike Dudley (Matt Hyson)
Big Show pins Lance Storm with a Chokeslam at 6:52
Matt Hardy pins Spike Dudley with the Twist of Fate at 7:57
D-Von Dudley (Devon Hughes) pins Matt Hardy after a Bubba Ray (Mark Lomonica) Bubba Bomb at 14:21
Fun Fact: Thanks to help from two returning stars who we’ll see later on, the Dudley Boys defeated the Undertaker & Kane on the 9/17 Raw in Nashville to win the WWF Tag Team Titles.
Fun Fact II: Gregory Shane Helms started in the smaller NWA with guys like Shannon Moore and Mike McGuire. He also was part of the XPW that the Hardy brothers started in North Carolina. In WCW, Helms, Moore and Even Karagias became “Three Count”, a boy band trio, and feuded with the Jung Dragons, putting on great matches in the dying days of the promotion. He would eventually break away from the group and become “Sugar” Shane Helms, winning the WCW Cruiserweight Title on 3/18 against Chavo Guerrero, a title he would lose to Billy Kidman on the July 5 Smackdown. A Jakked/Metal mainstay, Helms was re-dubbed “Hurricane” Helms. The night after Summerslam, Steve Austin quizzed him about his Green Lantern tattoo and Helms even presented the Alliance leader with a t-shirt featuring the insignia of the Green Lantern comic book character. Things took off from there and Helms began dressing like a superhero and the gimmick began getting over as he donned a cape and would attempt superhuman feats in the ring with Paul Heyman playing it up on commentary. He would win the European title from Matt Hardy on the August 27 Raw.
Scott: A fun opener to get the show going. Being that it was twelve days after the attacks, I think everyone was looking to leave reality for a few hours and enjoy a good show. The Dudleys were the bullying heels of the Alliance, and they did their usual formula of power moves and cheating. This is the second PPV in three months that Lance Storm was in a tag team match, and they don’t put him with former Impact Player teammate Justin Credible. Vince must not be high on the former Aldo Montoya and he probably wanted him to put the yellow jock strap on his head again. The match was ok with a decent pace and the crowd was into it. Big Show started wearing the two-strap tights and it made him look a lot thinner than he probably was, but he looked pretty good in the ring. The Hardys had a short stint with singles feuds but will reunite for the next couple of months and they threw themselves around the ring as best they can here. The Dudleys win dirty and the Alliance opens our show with a victory. Grade: 2.5
Justin: The opener to this month’s show is the old trusty tag team staple: multi-team match with the Hardys and Dudleys involved. While these two teams are still quite over and good in the ring, seeing them fight over and over was starting to get a bit stale. At least we have two different teams in the mix to shake things up, but it still boiled down to the Hardys and Dudleys in the end. The most vibrant character in the match was the Hurricane, which is now Shane Helms’s new persona. The shtick was funny and quite over out of the gate and Helms deserves praise for engulfing himself in the role. Paul Heyman was also funny in putting over the gimmick, especially when Hurricane would don his cape and head to the top turnbuckle. Hurricane’s partner, Lance Storm, was crisp as always and he looked really good in there despite taking the first pin of the match. The two exhibited nice teamwork and really could have gotten over as a team if given more of a chance. Spike also looked solid out there and he hit a sweet dive off Big Show’s shoulders out to the floor. Show seems to have settled into a lower mid card role here but his team with Spike works better than the weird team with Billy Gunn. Spike bumped like a monster and the crowd loved him for it and Show stayed over by association. After Show and Spike are eliminated, the Hardys and Dudleys wrestle their usual solid match which Bubba and D-Von win in a good finish. Grade: 2
2) Perry Saturn (Perry Satullo) defeats Raven (Scott Levy) with the Three-Handled Moss-Covered Family Credenza at 5:07
Fun Fact: Saturn had been worshipping a mop with a drawn-on face named Moppy. It goes all the back to May when he bumped his head in a squash match on Heat. Over the weeks, he became more delusional and out of it and eventually took a liking to Moppy. His former valet and presumed lover Terri was tired of being second to Moppy in Saturn’s heart, so she left him and joined Raven, and the Alliance by proxy. Moppy went suddenly missing, and on the 9/17 Raw, Raven says he found Moppy, and proceeds to put him through a wood chipper. The vision of Saturn yelling “MOPPPPPYYYYY” at the Titantron is truly a touching moment.
Scott: This match was all about Moppy. Saturn cared more about Moppy than Terri, so she dumps him for Raven. If I were her I would too. This match, hell this entire feud, was made to humor the bookers. Saturn cares more about a mop with a smiley face on it than a hot blonde diva? I can’t comment on it anymore, simply because it’s stupid and I was so upset at what happened to Raven, who was so over before the Invasion storyline, and now is just an afterthought. Grade: 1
Justin: These two former stablemates put on a basic and decent brawl to cap off a bizarre storyline. Saturn was clearly on the lowest rung of the Radical ladder and after all of the other WCW and ECW defections, he has become a low card comedy act. The Moppy stuff was sort of funny at times, but it clearly became heatless overkill. The crowd is absolutely dead and listless here and I can’t believe how they totally sapped all of Raven’s heat. He was mega over at Backlash but is dead in the water by this point. Both men tried hard to get things going, but it just wasn’t happening. Saturn picks up a surprisingly clean win to blow off the Moppy angle but it doesn’t mean much in the long run. Grade: 1.5
3) Christian (Jay Reso) defeats Edge (Adam Copeland) to win WWF Intercontinental Title with a low blow chair shot at 11:53
Fun Fact: After months of jealousy and teasing, Christian finally turned on his brother on the 9/3 Raw from their hometown of Toronto when Christian gives the IC Champ a one-sided Conchairto after Edge defeated Lance Storm to retain the belt.
Scott: The “brothers” finally collide, and their first match is very good as Christian gets his first real singles run since debuting in 1998 and taking the Light-Heavyweight Title from Taka Michinoku. Their chemistry as multi-time tag team champions shows here as they mix up brawling with crisp maneuvers. The turn was slow if not obvious throughout the summer, especially after Edge won the King of the Ring as Christian would hold that trophy like it was his own. Then when Edge won the IC Title at Summerslam, Christian “accidentally” speared Christian, but Edge won the title anyway. Then in their hometown, Christian had had enough and turned on Edge. Paul was trying so hard in this match to show that their family ignored Christian and only loved Edge. JR calmly disputed it, and to me this was the peak of their chemistry as an announcing team. Both guys get busted open hardway, Edge under his eye and Christian either a bloody nose or lip. Obviously chairs make it to the climax, and Christian gets the last word in with a low blow and wins his second singles title. A pretty good match, but I think the best is yet to come from them. Grade: 2.5
Justin: Along with his heel turn, Christian also picked up some killer new music and pyro for his entrance. Both men seemed primed for a push and Paul Heyman was clearly pitching Alliance membership for Christian through his commentary as Christian was now one of the few heels on the WWF side. Edge would dominate the battle early and the crowd was squarely behind him against his evil brother. Once Christian took over, he worked snugly with his long time friend and the result as a stiff and bloody battle between the two. You could tell that both men, especially Christian, were trying a bit too hard to justify their singles pushes and the result was a bit of a choppy match but Edge would help keep up a good pace when on offense. The match got better as it wore on and despite Christian’s win, it was clear that Edge had more star power and just looked like a bigger deal out there. Grade: 3
4) The Undertaker (Mark Callaway) & Kane (Glen Jacobs) defeat Kronik to retain WCW Tag Team Titles when Undertaker pins Bryan Clark with a chokeslam at 10:22
Fun Fact: Brian Adams left the WWF in November 1997 as part of the exodus after the screwjob. He would head to WCW and be a part of the NWO. This was Bryan Clark’s first WWF PPV since he lost to Mabel at In Your House #1. In WCW, he originally portrayed Wrath as part of that “Blood Runs Cold” storyline as he and Mortis would endlessly feud with Glacier. That lasts until early 2000 when he hooks up with Adams to form Kronik, a team that was a low rent rip off of the APA as they would often take money in exchange for protection services. They would win the WCW Tag Team Titles twice, defeating Shane Douglas & the Wall on 5/15/00 and the Perfect Event at Bash at the Beach 2000. They make their WWF return on the 9/4 Smackdown when they were brought out by Steven Richards go after the Undertaker.
Fun Fact II: Kronik interfered in the Brothers of Destruction’s title defense on the 9/17 Raw and cost them the WWF Tag Team Titles against the Dudley Boys. They were led by Steven Richards who was looking for revenge on the Undertaker for destroying the RTC back in the spring.
Fun Fact III: This would be both Bryan Adams’s and Bryan Clark’s final WWF PPV appearances. After this horrible showing, the higher ups sent Kronik down to their developmental territory, the HWA, to work off the rust and act as agents for the younger stars. Clark turned down the offer and was released and that was it for him. Adams took the job and hung on a bit longer before also being axed. Adams’ final PPV record is 2-19, with his only wins at Summerslam 1992 and IYH: Final Four in February 1997. Clark’s final record was an even less stellar 0-7. Kronik would wrestle at a couple of shows in Japan in early 2002 but Adams would pretty much retire after that and collect his Lloyd’s of London insurance policy. He would gain a bit of notoriety as Randy Savage’s close associate/bodyguard during Savage’s brief rap career. Adams would sadly pass away on August 13, 2007 from unknown causes at the age of 43.
Scott: This is about as low as it gets for the Undertaker. He brings in his biker buddies and put on a complete mess of a tag team match. Taker at this point in his career looked like a washed-up unemployed biker guy in a bar. He no-sells pretty much everything this year and what makes this match even worse is that no one’s selling for anybody. They take a move and stand around. I’m sorry, I haven’t been this angry during a match since Mabel won the King of the Ring in 1995. Undertaker was dangerously close to flushing his legacy down the toilet, as he’s the only one during the Invasion storyline that wins all his matches and looks like crap doing it. I really feel bad for Kane, who was red hot when 2000 ended, had that all-worldly performance at the Royal Rumble, won the Intercontinental Title, and now is just a flunky for the Dead Biker. However, he’s not innocent of the no-selling, as at one point he and both of Kronik clothesline each other and Kane just gets up and tags Taker. I haven’t graded a match with this in quite a while, but I find nothing redeeming about it whatsoever. Grade: 0
Justin: As a favor to his buddies, Undertaker politicked to have Kronik signed up for a run with the Alliance and a feud with Kane and himself. Unfortunately for Undertaker, Adams and Clark seemed to have no desire to reciprocate the kindness as they half assed their way through a major PPV match. I remember looking forward to this match when it was announced and being really disappointed in the result. Kane seemed to be trying out there, but he was on an island as the other three slugs were working loose and sloppy and seemed to be moving in slow motion throughout. Kronik seemed unmotivated and I wonder if they took the match for granted and assumed their friendship with Taker would ensure their continued employment. After the match, Taker was clearly annoyed with how the match went down and not even he could save Kronik’s heads after this horrible outing. Grade: 1
5) Rob Van Dam (Rob Szatkowski) defeats Chris Jericho (Chris Irvine) to retain WWF Hardcore Title with the Five Star Frog Splash at 16:33
Scott: Now I can cleanse my pallet from the bad taste of the previous match with two athletic risk-takers who actually get off the ground and sell each other’s moves. The issue here is that RVD is being asked by ECW owner Stephanie McMahon-Helmsley to take out the obnoxious Lionheart. Van Dam has made a big splash in the WWF with a third straight victory to start his PPV career. Just like the Edge/Christian match, these two guys go all out and one of them gets busted hardway, as Jericho’s eye gets cut on a move. Both men beat each other silly with chairs and ladders. One of the cool spots has RVD on top of the ladder about to hit Jericho with a move, but Y2J gets up and throws the chair at RVD’s face. They also look as spectacular missing moves as they are hitting them. Stephanie gets involved and RVD retains his title. Jericho detours from the Invasion slightly to begin a very competitive feud with the first guy he talked to on WWF TV over two years ago. As for RVD? Well he’s rewarded with a main event match himself next month. This was a great athletic brawl that gets this PPV back on track after the debacle of our previous match. Grade: 3.5
Justin: Coming off the debacle that was our last match, RVD is set to gain revenge on Y2J as a favor to his boss. Many expected these two to put on a great match and those people were not disappointed as both men went all out to try and deliver a classic. The crowd seemed split at times, but at others they were clearly leaning towards RVD. The bout was mat based to start but things really began picking up as they brawled out to the floor and around the ring. The story within the match was RVD’s shoulder as Jericho injured it and then attempted to tear it apart. Jericho would take a stiff kick from RVD and be busted hardway and that only added to the action and heated atmosphere in this match. Steph would finally get involved and end up costing Jericho the match, but both men looked good throughout and the crowd stayed into it all the way through. Grade: 3.5
5) The Rock (Dwayne Johnson) defeats Booker T (Booker Huffman) & Shane McMahon in a handicap match to retain WCW World Title when he pins Booker T with the Rock Bottom at 15:23
Fun Fact: The night after defeating Booker T for the WCW Title at Summerslam, the Rock starting mocking Booker by having a midget come out dressed just like him calling him Booker Wee. Booker was the subject of many barbs, including the Big Show dressing and mocking the Book. So on the 9/4 live Smackdown from Toronto, Shane McMahon tells Commissioner Regal that even though Rock is a WWF guy who’s the WCW Champ, the WCW Title is under the Alliance’s jurisdiction, and so Shane puts together the aforementioned handicap match. On the 9/17 Raw, Test and Stephanie beat the Rock in a handicap match to soften him up for this bout.
Scott: I really enjoyed the Summerslam match between The Rock and The Book, and I think a rematch between these two by themselves would have been fine. Now you would think that Shane McMahon would be in this match to take an insane amount of bumps, be generally annoying and either eats the pin against Rock, or help Booker regain the title. Instead he factors nowhere in the decision and Booker ends up eating the pin and Rock retains the title. Aside from that it was a very entertaining match as Rock is on top of his game and kudos to Booker T for adjusting from the slow, plodding WCW style of main events to the fast-paced, storyline driven style of the Attitude Era. The crowd is very pro-Rock, but they do pop when Booker does his Spinarooni, which means he could be turned at some point and the fans may go for it. As a complete package, it was a lot of fun and well paced, but it was a little long and the ending made no sense, for if Shane wasn’t in the match to be involved in the decision either way, then why is he in the match at all? Grade: 2.5
Justin: After taking a tough loss last month and a few weeks of ribbing, Booker was back in the ring across from the Rock and trying to regain his beloved WCW Championship. Rock was super over, as expected, and looked great in the ring as usual. The majority of the match saw Booker and Shane control the Rock with double teams, all of which were conveniently ignored by referee Nick Patrick, who was clearly biased and called out by JR was acting that way. The heat segments were lengthy but Rock’s selling and Shane and Booker’s relentless offense kept them entertaining. The pace picked up quite a bit when Rock started his comeback and the booking kicked in. Test would be the first to interfere, helping his buddy Shane and attacking Rock. Mike Chioda would finally come out to try and balance things out and WWF senior referee Earl Hebner would be there in the end as Rock put Booker down one more time. I agree with Scott in that Shane should have definitely taken the pin here to help keep Booker strong, but then again, losing to the Rock is never anything to be ashamed of. The match was fun and a bit overbooked, but still entertaining to watch. Grade: 2.5
6) Rhyno (Terry Gerin) defeats Yoshihiro Tajiri to win WCW United States Championship with the Gore at 4:50
Fun Fact: Tajiri defeated Kanyon on the 9/10 Raw in San Antonio to win the US Title. After the match, Rhyno came out of nowhere and Gored Tajiri on the top of the ramp. His ribs were taped coming into this match. Tajiri was also being accompanied by Torrie who, while still a member of the Alliance, began a relationship with the man from the Orient.
Scott: This match is a quick spell between the two main event matches. Tajiri was getting seriously dicked around here, as he is very over with the crowd but is continuously getting jobbed out to various people from Steve Austin on Smackdown to Rhyno here. Couldn’t they have had Billy Gunn here, or some other WWF schmuck, instead of a solid performer that deserves a push? Rhyno has actually had a very good, if quiet, 2001 for himself. He had a Wrestlemania appearance, was the Hardcore champion, and now US Champion. The match wasn’t much, in fact if it wasn’t for a few kicks, Rhyno dominated. Grade: 2
Justin: The crux of this match was Tajiri’s injured ribs and Rhyno zeroed in on them and punished Tajiri from bell to bell. The crowd was a bit flat once again and I am assuming they were just burnt out from the last two matches, both of which were long and emotional. Ever since they turned around mid ring and hooked up with WCW, all of ECW’s heat seems to have evaporated. They were very close to their hometown here in PA, but the crowd doesn’t seem to care about two of the main ECW players from the final years. Rhyno was crisp and stiff as always and was a ball of energy out there. He takes a nasty kick to the face when he attempts to gore Torrie, but that was about all the offense Tajiri could muster and the gore would put him down. The story within the match was good and Rhyno was kept strong, but the crowd just wasn’t into it. Grade: 2
7) Kurt Angle defeats Steve Austin (Steve Williams) to win WWF World Title with the Anklelock at 23:12
Fun Fact: The night after Summerslam, the Alliance held Stone Cold Appreciation Night. Despite being on top of the world, Austin was still paranoid about his belt and being loved and admired, so his running buddies decided to honor him. There were many memorable moments during the ceremonies, including the debut of Austin’s famous “What” catchphrase. It was derived from a real life running joke between Austin and Christian and Austin decided to bring it to the WWF stage. That night, he used it while dressing down Tazz for not wearing a WCW, ECW or Stone Cold shirt in support of the Alliance. On a future show, he would proceed to whip and humiliate Tazz with his belt for further insubordination. After receiving a few gifts and being hilariously serenaded by the whole Alliance, Kurt Angle made his move. Out of nowhere, Angle’s music fired up and he drove a milk truck to the ring. Reminiscent of the beer bath Austin had given Vince McMahon and the Corporation prior to Wrestlemania XV, Angle doused the ring and the Alliance with gallons of milk that he sprayed from a hose. The crowd went batshit insane as Angle pounded cartons of milk on top of the truck and JR screamed about “Milk-a-Mania running wild”. It was a classic moment and elevated Angle another notch on the face ladder. In the ensuing weeks, Austin would steal Angle’s prized gold medals and toss them off a bridge. The next week, Angle kidnapped Austin, hogtied him and drove him to a bridge. Austin had been standing in the back of his truck yelling “I’m the King of the World!” when Angle pasted him with a metal pipe. On the bridge, he kept threatening Austin and made him cry and beg for his life. Austin was pretty funny as he pleaded for his life, but Angle would have the last laugh as he shoved him down into a kiddie pool and Austin flailed around until his blindfold came off. Austin would get one last shot in when he dropped Angle with a stiff piledriver on the floor, injuring his already dicey neck heading into the match.
Scott: Our main event is a Summerslam rematch. This time we’re in Kurt Angle’s hometown, and the crowd is at a fever pitch. Last month the pacing of the match was frenetic, as both men were on fifth gear from beginning to end. The pace here is much slower as Angle really beats the hell out of the Alliance captain throughout this match. In watching this bout a couple of times, Stone Cold really doesn’t get much offense at all in this match. Angle has been more vicious in this feud as a face than he was in any of his feuds as a heel in 2000 or early 2001. He has attacked Austin with some fervor. What I liked about this feud is, although it is the backbone of the Invasion, this war didn’t even need it. Angle wants to be Champion again, and Austin wants him eliminated. The climax of the match highlights the feud, as Angle gets Austin in the Anklelock and he taps out, and the 13,000+ in Steel Town go insane as the WWF and Angle’s family come out to celebrate in a great moment. The fact that Austin was grabbing the apron under the bottom rope when he tapped would end up being irrelevant in the long run. This was a happy ending to a good, not great, match that ends an average show. Grade: 3
Justin: Kurt Angle comes out to a huge pop in front of his hometown fans as he looks to regain his WWF Championship. His neck was weary and that would be the focal point of the match. It was made clear by JR and Heyman that Angle had not been cleared for action and that William Regal had taken full responsibility in case anything happened to Kurt in the bout. It was a slugfest early but Austin would intermittently take control when he would land some shots in on the neck. Angle would end up shoving Austin off the ramp as payback for Austin shoving him off the ramp on Raw leading up to this show. Angle would get more payback when he repeatedly ran Austin’s head into the steel post, just like Austin had done to him at Summerslam. Austin would fight back and slam Kurt down on the announce table three times in a row. He would then proceed to work the neck some more, but Kurt would return the favor and attack Austin’s historically bad neck as well. After another stiff piledriver and a flurry of offense, Angle would get the Anklelock and the tap to take back his title for his family and the WWF. Many people assumed that Angle got the title back as a feel good story coming off the 9/11 attacks, but I think this was the plan all along. The match was booked around Angle’s revenge for all the torture Austin had put him through and it took place in his hometown in front of tons of family and friends. I really enjoyed the match and the psychology of the neck work by both men. The crowd was into it all the way through and both men busted their asses from bell to bell. Grade: 3.5
Scott: An overall average show with a couple of really good matches, but nothing outstanding. The tag team opener is entertaining, but the Dudleys survive. The Perry Saturn storyline is funny, but pales compared to the rest of the show. It also annoys me that Raven went from hot upper mid-carder to Moppy murderer. The first battle between Edge & Christian saw the upset win and a solid stiff match. I’m not commenting again on that Taker/Kane vs. Kronik match because I’m no-selling the no-selling. Right after that, though, we got back on track with an awesome hardcore title match and then two entertaining World Title matches with a US Title win for Rhyno in between. The show is very balanced and not in a good way. Instead of a nice cache of balanced matches we have a lot of great stuff and a couple of absolute dogs. The Invasion storyline continues to chug along but unfortunately it’s being more diluted because of the influx of guys to the Alliance and the fact one of their top guys, Rob Van Dam, is insanely over. So after being red hot in July, by the time we get to our next PPV the storyline was starting to lose legs. We also begin a great rivalry that again has nothing to do with the Invasion at all. As for this show, it’s about in the middle. Final Grade: C
Justin: This show was definitely the definition of middling. There were a few rough spots and a few great moments. The RVD/Jericho and Austin/Angle matches were fantastic and well booked, but the rest of the show was an example in treading water as guys began trading off wins where other guys were buried for no reason. Booker didn’t need to eat the pin in his match and Tajiri could have been a bit more protected, but neither loss ended up being a major detriment to either guy. The Dudleys and Hardys war was getting a bit stale, but it would continue to rage on a bit longer. It was nice seeing Christian pick up a big win and title, but Edge was clearly the bigger star of the two and that would overshadow Christian’s reign. The crowd was up and down all night and that went right along with the action. JR and Heyman were solid as always, but you could tell the Invasion angle was getting a bit tedious and could have used a shot of energy. Too bad they had wasted the ECW portion of it way back in July, because they could have dragged it out and pulled that ace out of their sleeve around now when things were starting to flat line. The show was still fun to watch, but not nearly up to the standards of other shows this year. Final Grade: C
MVP: Kurt Angle
Runner Up: The Rock
Non MVP: WCW Tag Title match
Runner Up: Saturn & Raven