The Anderson Breakdown – Unforgiven 2006

WWE Unforgiven 2006 –
The Anderson Breakdown

Hey guys… … … … what’s happening?

After the rapid-fire nature of the last few months, it seems like it’s been a legitimate eternity since I’ve reviewed a PPV. It’s probably only been a month since Summerslam, but it feels like it’s been much longer. Summerslam did very little for me though, so hopefully the time off to recharge my batteries will enhance my enjoyment of the PPV.

I can tell you though that, going in, I’m probably 50 times more excited for Unforgiven than I was for Summerslam. Hell, I’d argue that this is a much better card on paper than Summerslam had any prayer of being. Three reasons jump immediately to mind:

1) No Hogan
2) TLC and The Cell (“KeN’s a GiMmIcK MaRK!”)
3) Trish’s send off.

Now, to be fair, there’s a genuinely good chance that Vince and Co. fully intend to ruin my goodwill by burying Trish on her way out, but the optimist in me believes that the WWE is still capable of providing a payoff that doesn’t involve Triple H spitting water or Vince McMahon’s asshole.

A quick note on my last review (Summerslam) before we get started:

I lost about ten emails after the Summerslam column went up. Blame it on Thunderbird. I checked them at work, and when I came home to respond, they were nowhere to be found in my inbox or old mail folder. I have no clue what happened to these mysterious letters, so I wanted to make sure to thank you, fine writers of said lost mail, for the thoughts. I’m sorry I didn’t get back to you, and I want you to know that it’s not because I don’t love you or don’t want to tongue-kiss you in front of your great-grandparents… I just lost the return addresses.

I want also to implore everybody to check out Denny Burkholder’s MMA coverage over at CBS Sportsline when you have the time. He’s a good guy, and he’s a true classic in the net grapplin’ community.

Speaking of the Net Grapplin’ Community:

How about this Inside Pulise V3 re-design?

Huh?

Beautiful, isn’t it?

I only wish that there was some way for Widro to completely envelope himself in the site and model it at some high-end fashion show.

I just had a chance to poke around the new site for the first time, and I’d highly recommend checking out Retro Grading: Fire Emblem column, the Fall 2006 TV preview, and of course, Keith’s new The Trouble with TNA rant. Take a look around, massage the new interface a little bit. We’re literally only hours into the redesign, and I already love it.

Anyway, I fully intended to watch Summerslam at my local sports bar last night, but apparantly, since moving into a fancy new location, Sneakers Sports Bar here in Jacksonville, Florida is now too good to show wrestling. Furthermore, they’re not showing UFC anymore either. I can live with that, because BW3 and Hooters usually show UFC, but Sneakers was the only true local place here in Jax that showed Grapplin.

I’m not happy about this.

Unless Sneakers starts showing wrestling again, I’ll be forced to either A) drive 30+ minutes out to Orange Park to watch each show, or B) drop $40 out of my pocket if I want to watch live (which will not be happening). That’s why I’m asking you, fine long-time reader, to call Sneakers Sports Bar, pretend to be a local, and kindly ask that they resume showing wrestling events. The phone number is: (904) 519-0509. It will only take a minute, and I’ll be extremely grateful. If you do call, drop me an email and let me know what they said.

It was a great place to watch wrestling, and it featured quite the cast of characters as well. Regular occurences on wrestling night at Sneakers included A) Grown men locking holds on each other in front of startled children, B) A drunken, spot-on HBK impersonator, and C) A family who came to every wrestling show, no-sold the PPV, and played Magic: The Gathering instead:

Now, as The Getup Kids would say before they got all mediocre with On A Wire: On with the show!

*Today’s broadcast is sponsored by net piracy, and pirates like you:


We start with an exeedingly mediocre video package. Much like everything else in the WWE these days, it appears to be a variation of the same thing they’ve done for about seven years in a row.

JR and the King welcome us to the show and provide us with a quick rundown of what we’ll be seeing tonight.


Johnny Nitro vs. Jeff Hardy – IC Title Match

I can honestly say that this is the most excited I’ve been for an IC Title match in months, maybe years. That’s not necessarily saying much, but after seeing Shelton vs. Carlito approximately forty thousand times in the last year, I’m thrilled for a fresh, unique matchup. If their RAW match last week was any indication of what to expect here, I think we’re in for a hell of an opener.

It should be noted that the Unforgiven set is awesome here tonight, and both Nitro and Hardy get awesome entrances, complete with big-time pyro.

Both men feel each other for a few minutes, with the crowd busting in with a big “Nitro Sucks” chant. In a cool little spot, Jeff Hardy and Johnny Nitro start angrily screaming at each other.

It amazes me that we don’t see this more. You don’t see nearly enough trash-talking and forehead-to-forehead intensity in wrestling. It seems like a little thing, but when heated rivals get in the ring in the WWE, you just don’t often get the impression that they genuinely hate each other. Something as simple as yelling at each other from across the ring, instead of the generic WWE “get in each other’s face and be all, ‘Yahblahblahyarrnotreallysayinganythingbuttalkinangry'” spot.

Jeff Hardy takes control of the match and sets up Johnny Nitro for the swanton, but Nitro retreats to the outside. Jeff follows him out with a baseball slide, followed by his vintage run-the-guardrail move.

The crowd’s big into Jeff Hardy here tonight.

Johnny Nitro dropkicks Jeff Hardy off the top rope, and starts going to work on the leg. Huge anti-Nitro chants again.

Nitro keeps on the leg, and just destroys it for about five minutes straight. Melina screams her lungs out after each of Johnny Nitro’s highspots, and dare I say, saps a lot of the heat away from her man in the ring. She’s a great manager most of the time, but she needs to know when not to overshadow what’s going on in the ring.

Nitro just keeps destroying Hardy’s leg though, stopping only to give Jeff Hardy a nice hope spot or two to get the crowd going.

Nitro misses a corkscrew moonsault, and Jeff Hardy hits his turnaround somersault press from the top rope. Nitro goes back to the leg though, and sets Hardy up for a top rope hurricanrana. Hardy holds on though, and Nitro goes crashing to the mat.

Hardy goes up top for the swanton and connects to a HUGE pop.

1, 2, FOOT ON THE ROPE!!!

Man, I would have loved to see Hardy get the pin there.

Nitro recovers though, and goes right back to work on the leg with vicious kicks and a couple of nasty submissions.

The crowd goes all “LET’S GO HARDY! LET’S GO NITRO!”

Jeff Hardy pushes Nitro into Melina, they bonk heads, and he rolls Nitro up!

TWO COUNT!

MASSIVE NEAR FALL.

Jeff Hardy is againt the ropes, and Melina plasters hardy with her boot behind the ref’s back for the three count.

You know, this is a GREAT feud. I’m happy to see it continue, but Hardy was massively over here tonight, and it would have been cool to see the show start off with a big title change. Assuming Cena, Trish, and DX all go over though, I can see the logic in keeping the title on Nitro.

Regardless, a hot, old-school match, and easily the best singles opener I’ve seen on a RAW PPV in a long time. Big ups to the E for giving these guys nearly 20:00 to wrestle as well.

***1/2


Theodore Long is in the balcony watching the show tonight, presumably to see if Cena is coming to Smackdown.


Jeff Hardy runs into Matt backstage. Before they can really say anything to each other, Lita comes into the picture, puts both down, and says she’s going to beat Trish tonight.


Umaga vs. Kane

According to Armando Estrada, Umaga is the only monster in the WWE, and if anyone in the crowd truly believes that Kane is “a monster,” they are as stupid as he is.

As stale as Kane has become, this is — again — at least a fresh matchup. I’m actually looking forward to it, even though JR warns us before the match even begins that it will probably suck.

The match actually starts great with both guys just stiffing the shit out of each other with punches, kicks, chops, and clotheslines. We’re talking stiff here.

The crowd is decidedly pro Umaga, repeatedly chanting “U-MA-GA!”

Umaga levels Kane with the Bulldozer in the corner, but Kane fights back as Umaga tries to hit the Samoan Spike.

Kane just CLUBS Umaga in the corner with about a dozen Vader-like punches.

Umaga reverses though with a Samoan Drop, but misses with a splash from the second rope. Kane recovers and comes off the top rope with a clothesline of his own.

The crowd is popping big for Kane now too, and they seem to be loving the match.

Umaga charges Kane, and Kane BELLY-TO-BELLY’s Umaga over the top rope.

They spill over into the crowd and continue beating the tar out of each other, ignoring the referee’s count.

Double-countout is the official result, but they’re still fighting.

The crowd isn’t happy.

Regardless, I loved this match for what it was, and it was as stiff as anything you’re going to see in the WWE that doesn’t involve Finlay. I’ll gladly take a rematch.

**3/4


Vince and Shane are in the back, and we see them just long enough for Vince to make a couple of generic comments about how Canada depends on America for everything. The Canucks largely no-sell it.


The Spirit Squad vs. The Highlanders

I don’t really have that much to say about this match. At the risk of sounding like a broken record, though the match wasn’t anything spectacular, it was at least something mildly fresh. I’ll take that.

After a fun, largely inoffensive, 10:00 of old-school tag wrestling, the Spirit Squad beat the Highlanders with a bit of outside interference from the rest of the Squad.

Decent, and the Highlanders were actually a tiny bit over. Credit Canada for that.

*3/4


DX vs. Vince, Shane, and The Big Show – Hell in a Cell

According to JR, Hell in a Cell is “Satan’s Playground.” It is also “20 feet higher” than any previous Hell in a Cell cage used. Though that’s obviously a bit of an exaggeration, it certainly does appear to be one of the bigger single cage structures that I’ve seen. I take it this means someone’s coming off the top of this thing.

As soon as everyone starts brawling, the crowd busts in with MASSIVE “You Screwed Bret!” chants.

They do not appear to be big Shawn Michaels fans.

Michaels slingslots Shane McMahon from the ring apron right into the side of the cage. JR chimes in that, “SHANE MCMAHON JUST ATE CAGE, AND IT SURE DIDN’T TASTE LIKE QUICHE.”

I must have missed the RAW where Shane McMahon declared his undying live for the miniature spinach pies.

Shane is busted open already, and Triple H is on the other side of the ring stabbing Vince in the forehead with a screwdriver.

Michaels and HHH brawl with the Big Show on the outside, throwing him into a steel cage that, says JR, “has no conscience.”

Triple H hits Vince McMahon with a knee drop that literally misses by a yard.

According to JR, this is the 14th Hell in a Cell match. Off the top of my head, I only remember 13. What could I be missing? It’s not the one on RAW either. Oh well.

Michaels and Triple H are now busted open as well.

The Big Show does the Rey Mysterio lawn-dart trick on Shawn Michaels, as everyone else randomly brawls around the ring.

A bloody Shane McMahon sets up Triple H in the corner with a trash can in his face, climbs the opposite turnbuckle, does a few crotch chops, and comes soaring across the ring with the Van Terminator. Say what you want about stealing Van Dam’s move, but Shane actually gets more air than RVD. Then again, Shane does have the added luxury of working one match every two years and showing everyone up with high spots without having to worry about being healthy enough to wrestle the next day.

Shane goes to the outside, sets Triple H up on the ring steps, and catapults him into the side of the cage. Pretty impressive strength from Shane-O.

McMahon tries to pin Michaels in the middle of the ring, but pulls him at 2 and a half. Classy. Just for good measure, Vince McMahon does it again.

Triple H makes the save though and goes to work on Vince. He goes for the Pedigree, but Shane sneaks up behind him and attempts to get him up in an Angle Slam. Shane struggles for five seconds trying to stabilize and balance Triple H on his shoulders, with the crowd going all, “SHANE-O-MAC!” The H-Man reverses in mid-air though, and both men go down.

Vince comes back into the ring and, surprise surprise, drops his pants. The Big Show grabs Michaels and attempts to shove him into Vince’s ass, but Triple H again makes the save.

Vince holds Shawns arms to the mat and signals for the Big Show to come off the ropes with a splash. Right as Show is about to come down though, Shawn kips up, dragging Mr. McMahon right under the Big Show’s splash.

Show looks mortified.

You know, this cage is HUGE.

DX goes to work on Shane, with Triple H hitting the spinebuster for good measure.

Triple H wedges Shane’s head inside of a steel chair, and Michaels comes flying off the top rope with an elbow drop onto the chair.

Shane starts spitting up blood!

Michaels starts warming up the band, but the Big Show pulls him out of the ring.

Show tries to hit HHH with the steps, but Triple H blasts him in the stomach with a chair.

Sweet Chin Music on Show by Michaels!

Vince McMahon crawls back into the ring, looking completely desperate. Michaels and HBK corner him, pull down the Big Show’s trunks, and shove McMahon’s head “deep in the crevice” of the Big Show’s ass.

JR: “MR. MCMAHON’S HEAD, LITERALLY UP THE BIG SHOW’S ASS!”

Triple H grabs the sledgehammer, HBK warms up the band, and Vince gets LEVELED. Michaels hits the superkick, and the HHH breaks the sledgehammer right over Vince’s head.

It’s an easy three-count from here.

The crowd pops huge for DX, the cage comes up, and both of the McMahons look dead. Shane in particular looks scarier than any wrestler I’ve ever seen in my life. He looks like an accident victim. The look in his eyes is just dead-on creepy. He looks gone.

Well, if this is how this thing ends, with DX finally “killing” the McMahons, it was a hell of a way to finish off the feud.

****


After a promo for Wrestlemania 23 at Ford Field in Detroit, we are treated to a beautiful Trish Stratus career highlight video.


Trish Stratus vs. Lita – Women’s Championship Match

Above all else, this is the reason that I went out of my way to see this show. Trish Stratus is a class act all the way, and though others might feel differently, in my opinion, Trish Stratus is the most valuable “Diva” in WWE history. She was an awesome face, an even better heel, and one of the few shining spots of RAW over the last few mediocre years. Though it’s sad to see her go, it’s nice that she’s leaving while she’s young and healthy.

Before Trish even comes out, a “Thank You Trish” chant breaks out.

Trish gets a huge pop when she comes out, as the camera cuts to dozens, maybe hundreds, of Trish Stratus signs in the crowd.

The crowd busts into another “Thank You Trish” chant, as we see a young Asian man in the crowd nearly in tears as he chants.

Lita bails to the outside, so Trish comes soaring off the apron with a Thesz press.

Both women brawl back and forth for about five minutes, with Lita dominating most of the offense.

Trish hits the Matrix off the top rope on Lita!

Hits the Trish Kick!

TWO COUNT!!!!

The crowd wanted three.

HOLY CRAP!

TRISH WITH THE SHARPSHOOTER!!!!!

CROWD’S GOING NUTS!!!

LITA TAPS!!!!!!!!!!!

!!!!!!!!!!!!

CROWD IS GOING APESHIT!!!

Trish celebrates with the title, and the crowd gives her a well-deserved standing ovation for a great career. JR and The King join in, as does Lillian Garcia, who has tears streaming down her face.

Trish blows kisses to the crowd and waves, and we cut away to a Smackdown promo.

An awesome moment, and an awesome end to a great career. Well worth the price of the DVD alone.

***


Teddy Long is again show in the balcony, and in typical WWE fashion, they keep the camera on him about 30 seconds longer than they should, leading to incredible, incredible awkwardness for all those involved or watching at home.


Todd Grisham is in the back with Randy Orton, who immediately digs into Trish Stratus. He calls her a “bitch,” and says that absolutely nobody cares that she is retiring.

It’s just a promo, and of course it isn’t true, but come on now, that was totally unnecessary.


Randy Orton vs. Carlito

Another solid match, though like the tag match, there really isn’t much to say about it. Carlito is slowly coming into his own as a legitimate top-level guy though, and even though Orton brought down the match quite a bit by association, it was still an entertaining way to spend 10 minutes.

The crowd really seems to be taking to Carlito lately, and his wrestling ability seems to be improving by the week. In fact, he’s almost become the anti-Orton. Unlike Carlito, Randy seems to have no connection whatsoever to the audience, and even though he’s got the pefect look, he just doesn’t seem to have that *it* factor in the ring to go along with it.

The match ended with Carlito going for a springboard shoulderblock off the top rope, only to have Randy Orton turn it into an RKO in mid-air.

Good stuff.

**1/2


John Cena vs. Edge – TLC Match

For those who haven’t been following the build that closely, if John Cena loses this match, he agrees to go to Smackdown for three years. Though common sense seems to dictate that there is no way John Cena should go to Smackdown right now, Triple H is getting ready to branch off as a top RAW singles babyface, so I wouldn’t be completely shocked to see such a thing happen.

Man, the crowd LOVES Edge tonight here in his hometown of Toronto.

Jerry Lawler stupidly claims that it’s the “first time he’s ever heard anyone cheer Edge,” which would be fine if Lawler hadn’t have personally called dozens, maybe hundreds, of Edge’s matches when he was a babyface.

Cena’s out, and the crowd f*cking HATES him. Cena’s facial reaction to the boos is just classic as well. I totally understand the logic of keeping Cena babyface for a long time to come — I actually agree with it — but when they finally turn this guy loose as a heel, it’s going to be ON.

For reasons that partially escape me — a lot of it has to do with location — this match has one million times the “big match feel” than the Summerslam main event did. I’m totally stoked, and if this match doesn’t hit at least ****, I’ll be shocked.

As the crowd goes absolutely crazy, the referee attaches the belt to a hook, and it is slowly raised towards the sky.

The King: “You know JR, we really shouldn’t be surprised by this reaction here tonight.”
JR: “I never said I was surprised, King.”

Edge slaps Cena RIGHT across the face, and things break down into a wild brawl.

Edge wastes no time finding a chair and swinging right at John Cena’s head. Cena ducks though, and the chair hits the turnbuckle.

Edge sets up two chairs in the ring facing each other and attempts to suplex Cena onto them. Cena reverses and attempts his own suplex, but Edge reverses into a reverse DDT right onto the chairs.

Edge grabs a ladder, but Cena knocks him off before he can come anywhere near the belt. Edge lands on his feet though, levels Cena, and screams, “THIS IS MY MATCH.”

Edge lays Cena across the middle rope in the 619 position, goes to the outside, and places a ladder across Cena’s face. He then comes flying off the guard rail with a dropkick, driving the chair right into John Cena’s face.

Cena eventually fights back though, hip-tossing Edge into a ladder propped up in the corner. When he does, we’re treated to a shot of about five little kids chanting “Cena!”

Cena tries to FU Edge over the top rope and through two tables, but Edge fights him off.

You know, I’m sure I could be forgetting something, but has John Cena ever even been in any kind of table or ladder match before?

Cena sets up a table in the middle of the ring and attempts to superplex Edge through the table. Edge reverses though and attempts a sunset powerbomb through the table. He comes up short, but whips Cena into the corner and catches him with a powerslam right through the table.

Before the replay can even begin though, Edge gets a running start, runs up the ladder in the corner a la Shelton Benjamin, and dives out of the ring onto John Cena. Really cool spot, but it’s scary how one missed step could have resulted in a broken leg or ankle.

“Let’s go Cena … CENA SUCKS!” from the crowd.

Edge attempts the one-man conchairto on Cena, but Cena sweeps his leg.

Crowd HATES that.

“YOU CAN’T WRESTLE!” says the crowd.

John Cena opens a ladder, sandwiches Edge between it, and slams it shut.

In an AWESOME spot, while Edge is still sandwiched inside of the ladder, Cena slaps on the STFU. AWESOME, AWESOME stuff. Edge taps, and for a split second, the crowd goes DEAD SILENT, forgetting that submissions don’t count in this match.

Cena grabs the ladder again, FU’s it right on to Edge, and does the old “You Can’t See Me.”

He stops though before hitting the five-knuckle shuffle, climbs WAY up the ladder, and comes flying off with the fist drop.

Cena starts setting up another table, but as he turns around to pick up Edge, Edge grabs a steel chair and just PLASTERS Cena across the head.

Edge lays Cena across a table, opens up another table, and lays it on top of Cena. As he climbs to the top rope, Cena pops up and knocks him off the top rope and into the security wall.

Cena goes under the ring and grabs another ladder.

JR: “That’s a big ass ladder.”

Cena sets up the ladder and does a MEGA slow climb up the side.

Edge scales the other ladder though and spears Cena right off the side of the ladder!

Edge attempts to climb the tall ladder, but Cena crawls up, grabs him for the FU, and throws him right into a ladder.

Cena grabs a chair to finish off Edge for good.

His chairshot is pretty weak, bordering on Hogan/Lance Storm territory. Jim Ross even points this out, saying that “Cena might not have gotten all of that chair shot.”

Cena climbs to the top of the ladder and has his hands on the title!

Lita’s out!

Lita’s out!

Lita pushes the massive ladder over and John Cena goes CRASHING backwards, a legitimate 15 feet down through a ringside table.

That was SCARY.

Cena looks like his shoulder might be hurt.

He’s back in the ring though to stop Edge!

Lita hits Cena with a chair, but Cena falls into the ladder and knocks Edge OVER THE TOP ROPE THROUGH TWO TABLES.

Another nasty landing.

FU on Lita by CENA!

Cena could get the win here, but he’s setting up tables instead! Two stacked on top of each other.

He’s going up the ladder, but Edge is too!

They’re both at the top!

HOLY CRAP!

CENA’S GOT HIM UP FOR THE FU ON TOP OF THE LADDER!

AND HE THROWS HIM RIGHT THROUGH TWO STACKED TABLES.

CENA’S GOT THE BELT = NEW WORLD CHAMPION.

The crowd is PISSED.

He hugs his Dad, and walks out with the belt to a chorus of boos.

As Cena gets to the top of the ramp, he turns around, looks out over the crowd, and soaks in the sheer, unadulterated hatred of over 15,000 Canadian fans. Cena’s facial expression, to steal his own line, seems to say, “You can’t see me.”

Just a stunning match, and a testament to how incredible John Cena has become. I mean this guy was totally, completely out of his element here, and he rose to the occasion like no other. This man has dealt with some downright hostile crowds this year, including Chicago for the Hall of Fame and Mania as well, and he’s handled it like a total pro. Better than Hogan. Better than Austin. And dare I say, better than the Rock.

Cena’s still got a lot of areas that he can improve on, but he is, absolutely without question, the MVP of the entire company right now. People were upset that Cena got number one in PWI’s semi-kayfabed top 500 list this year, but Cena is so far ahead of everyone else in American wrestling right now, Joe included, that nothing else would be right. Whoever is making the call to protect him, and make sure that his matches headline each PPV (as opposed to the McMahon/DX nonsense), thank God for them. I only hope that Triple H’s singles run doesn’t kill Cena or ruin his momentum.

In the same respect, Edge totally carried his end of the match here tonight as well. He’s great in this quasi babyface/heel role, and likewise, I hope Triple H’s singles turn doesn’t hurt Edge as badly as it did in the beginning of the year either.

For the first time in ages, I felt like I was looking at the future of the WWE — or part of it — during that main event. Great stuff, and my interest is officially renewed for the time being.

****1/2


Closing Thoughts:

A killer single-brand show, and for my money, easily the best RAW brand PPV since last year’s Vengeance. Johnny Nitro and Jeff Hardy put on an opener that took me back to better times in the E (2000-2001), Umaga and Kane stiffed the hell out of each other, and the McMahons and DX were actually placed properly on the card.

Trish had her emotional happy ending, Carlito rose to the occasion, and John Cena and Edge absolutely tore the house down.

What more could you ask for, really?

In fact, this should have been Summerslam.

A great show, and definitely worthy of a DVD purchase when it comes out.

Thanks again for reading, thanks to Widro, Daniels, and the rest of the IP staff for working so hard on this KILLER re-design, and look for me in the crowd tonight for the Jags-Steelers game.

Your buddy in grapplin,

Ken

KenAnderson242@aol.com

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