Summerslam was a month ago and the Alliance storyline was limping along. Just two weeks prior to this show through the tragic events of 9/11 had put a slightly different slant on this event. It left us with All-American Hero Kurt Angle going for Steve Austin’s WWE Title, in his hometown whilst riding a wave of nationalism. Still, it’s Vince so even in these circumstances you can’t always second guess him… Welcome to Unforgiven 2001, and a Stone Cold terrifying red spinning face.
The Dudley Boyz Vs The Hardy’s Vs Lance Storm & Hurricane Helms Vs The Big Show & Spike Dudley – WWE Tag Team Titles
Bringing the “stars” of WWE, WCW and ECW together for this four way belies the point that we’re still getting yet more of the Dudley’s against the Hardy’s and as excellent as their battles were we are suffering from overkill of that now. This is fought under elimination rules. I wonder if you can guess who we will be left with? I also wonder if you can guess who gets eliminated first? That’s right, the WCW guys Storm and Helms. Big Show gets rid of Storm with a chokeslam before Matt finishes off Spike Dudley with a Twist of Fate. So that leaves the two teams that we always see. And whilst it’s perfectly acceptable wrestling we’ve seen it all before. Dudley’s retain the titles.
Stephanie McMahon is chatting with Rob Van Dam. She’s offering him help apparently. Anything he wants that will help him beat Chris Jericho. All RVD wants is a dressing room large enough for his superstar status. Steph tells him to take any he wants.
In the arena, Michael Cole interviews Kurt Angle’s mum and brother about Kurt’s big match tonight.
Raven Vs Saturn
The set-up for this one is that Raven stuck Saturn’s mop into a grinder to “kill” it. Oh and he has Terri with him at ringside so I guess he stole his girl too. We’re also still mocking Saturn for sustaining multiple concussions. You wouldn’t get away with that these days. The match is absolutely nothing. They brawl for a bit and then Saturn wins with a Twisting Fisherman. If you want to see a better match between these two, seek out WCW Fall Brawl 1998.
Backstage Christian tries to convince Lillian Garcia (or perhaps himself) that tonight’s really big title match isn’t Angle Vs Austin, but him Vs Edge.
Edge Vs Christian – Intercontinental Title
It’s perhaps not either guy’s fault. After all, they were doing the slow-burn breakup angle before the “invasion” became a thing and that meant that Edge & Christian were somewhat thrown back together only to draw out the slow-burn break-up even more. Christian inevitably turned heel on his “brother” and this was the first big singles match. And unfortunately, it’s only good, rather than great. There is an intensity to it and they at least play up to their storied history in that sense but the action never really breaks out and grabs you. In the end, the two both tease one-man Conchairto’s before a low-blow from Christian sets up the win and the title for him. As I say, it’s not a bad match. But it’s far from great. It’s a million times better though…
Unforgiven 2001: The Undertaker & Kane Vs Kronik
I mean why? Maybe Adams and Clarke came cheap. There’s no one who would really want to see this match before, erm, they’d seen it. And anyone watching can’t fail to notice how horribly bad it is. It last’s ten minutes too, perhaps because Taker is mates with Adams. Let’s give them something, rather than, say, Kanyon hey? This is so bad that shortly afterwards WWE bosses told Kronik to report to developmental to “tune-up” or something. They refused. And that was that for their stint in the WWE. Still, at least we’ll always have this classic.
Backstage Taz manages to irk Shane McMahon and Booker T by telling them that it would be embarrassing if they couldn’t beat The Rock in a handicap match tonight. Elsewhere, Stephanie McMahon is outside RVD’s dressing room and is flirting with him through the door. SHE’S OFFERING TO SLEEP WITH HIM IF HE WINS IF THAT HELPS! Lo and behold, Chris Jericho happens to be stood behind her and does his usual “hilarious” Steph is a ho routine.
Unforgiven 2001: Rob Van Dam Vs Chris Jericho – Hardcore Title
RVD is the closest thing the Alliance has to a genuine superstar in terms of the reactions he was getting from crowds at this time. We all know how that went… Of course they actually start with some wrestling which seems pointless before heading to the stunts. It’s a fairly good back and forth though nowhere near the “five star math” that Jim Ross claims. And even in these circumstances, a non-WWE guy can’t get a clean win as we have to have that set up by some Stephanie McMahon distraction. Still, it’s a good match all told.
Unforgiven 2001: The Rock Vs Booker T & Shane McMahon – WCW Title
Oh joy. Shane O’Mac wrestling. And yes, I was sick of him in 2001. This is not a retrospective feeling. This is your typical “Attitude Era” overbooked title match where you can at least say it never gets boring as there’s always something going on. Of course it never really gets going either. But even with Evil WCW referee Nick Patrick, Bradshaw, Test and Mike Chioda and Earl Hebner getting involved there is no real jeopardy here. Everyone knows The Rock will win and he does after the Rock Bottom. And yes, he pins Booker…
Backstage William Regal wants to ban Torrie Wilson from ringside for the next match. Tajiri doesn’t like that. Because Torrie is his manager. Regal relents. We then are at WWE New York where Stacy Keibler is hosting (Why? It’s a WWE venue?) and she shows us a video of her shaving her legs in the bath. Paul Heyman acts as if it’s the sexiest thing he’s ever seen.
Unforgiven 2001: Tajiri Vs Rhino – United States Title
So effectively two ECW stars are fighting over a WCW title on a WWE pay-per-view. Historic! This is more like a TV bout than a PPV in that it lasts five minutes but it’s ok for what it is. Tajiri has the taped ribs coming in, which you know will make the Gore hurt even more! There’s a bit of back and forth before Rhyno chases Torrie around the ring. She breaks a heel and falls before Tajiri avoids a Gore, locks in the Octopus and the Tarantula before Rhyno hits back and gets the gore for the 1-2-3.
Unforgiven 2001 Main Event:
Stone Cold Steve Austin Vs Kurt Angle – WWE Title
Even knowing Vince, there was no way that the result (Kurt Angle lifting the World Title) was ever in doubt here. Maybe if we’d been in a world where the only thing that mattered was Austin getting DQ’d at Summerslam and throwing Angle’s gold medals into a river there would have been some doubt. But here…well let’s just say that Vince was always going to play to the crowd. And in of itself there is nothing wrong with that (we’re not talking Sgt Slaughter in 1990/91 levels here after all). The match wasn’t as “technical” as they could do but it was packed with emotion. Austin had injured Angle’s neck in the storyline and so he quite rightly targeted that throughout (allowing Jim Ross to go slightly overboard in shilling nearly everything as potentially career-ending). But not even the Piledriver could finish him off. Austin went for the Stunner in the end but Angle reversed into the Anklelock and got the clean tap-out submission win. (Although Austin’s hand was under the ropes, so there is your rematch…). Angle celebrates with his family (including Karen) and then the WWE superstars flood the ring to join in. An emotional end.
There’s not too much that REALLY excels here at Unforgiven and so it’s only the main event that carries the day to any great extent. There’s some decent action on the undercard (and some utter dross) but nothing that is really worth pouring over again. Still, it was a great main event…even if circumstances outside the WWE were the main thrust behind the title change.