The tenth annual Unforgiven, was held at the Fed-Ex Forum in Memphis, Tennessee, site of the independent match between Hulk Hogan and Paul Wight (aka The Big Show) earlier in that year. Before reviewing the pay-per-view it’s necessary to give some background. Unforgiven came in the wake of the Signature Pharmacy bust which forced WWE to suspend ten wrestlers, some of whom are and were pay-per-view regulars. The meant that even though Triple H and Rey Mysterio had made their comebacks at the previous month’s SummerSlam the card lacked the likes of Mr. Kennedy and Umaga who would otherwise have no doubt been involved in matches. So credit where its due to WWE for being able to put together a decentish looking show when they were working with what seemed like half the roster. Fortunately for them another big name was set to return on the night: The Undertaker…
Length: Approx running time 2 hrs 47 mins
- ECW Championship Match: CM Punk vs. Elijah Burke
- WWE Tag Team Championship Match: Matt Hardy & Montel Vontavious Porter vs. Deuce ‘N’ Domino
- Interview With Rey Mysterio
- No Disqualification Match For Carlito Only: Triple H vs. Carlito
- Maria Interviews Batista
- WWE Women’s Championship Match: Candice Michelle vs. Beth Phoenix
- Todd Grisham Interviews The Great Khali
- Triple Threat World Heavyweight Championship Match: The Great Khali vs. Batista vs. Rey Mysterio
- Triple H Congratulates Batista On His Victory
- World Tag Team Championship Match: Lance Cade & Trevor Murdoch vs. Paul London and Brian Kendrick
- WWE Championship Match: John Cena vs. Randy Orton
- The Undertaker vs. Mark Henry
- Unforgiven 2007 – Post-Match Undertaker Exit
- RAW 17/09/07 – John Cena, John Cena Sr. & Randy Orton Story
Michael Cole: “This is like the modern day David versus Goliath”
JBL: “Yeah, but this David doesn’t have God nor a slingshot.”
(SmackDown!’s commentary team on the size difference between Rey Mysterio and The Great Khali, Unforgiven 2007, 16/09/2007)
The 11th May 2007 edition of Friday Night SmackDown! Played host to third match in the cracking series of World Title matches between The Undertaker and Batista. Following the dramatic title change at WrestleMania XIII and exciting Last Man Standing Match at Backlash 2007, on this night they battled to a draw in a very good Steel Cage. Whilst inferior to their pay-per-view offerings, this match was particularly impressive since Undertaker had just been diagnosed with a biceps injury which would require surgery and around five months off. After the match was over, Mark Henry marked his return from a shattered knee-cap (ouch!) by sneak attacking The Undertaker, in turn allowing the opportunistic Edge to ‘cash in’ his ‘Money In The Bank’ title shot on the injured ‘Dead Man’. In storyline terms, this provided the excuse for Undertaker’s legitimate injury and protected him in defeat. Henry’s attack was so severe that afterwards, ‘Taker was carried out by some druids… Never to been heard from again (sound familiar?). Whilst Undertaker was away, Henry started cutting promos after his squash matches boasting about getting rid of ‘The Dead Man’. Predictably, spooky things started happening complete with mysterious trails of sand, disappearing druids and symbols being set alight by lightening bolts. In a neat touch we also got a series fragmented video clips hyping The Undertaker’s return. Unforgiven marked that return. The upside was that SmackDown! headlined a pay-per-view for the first time since Survivor Series 2006. The downside was the main event sucked. Unfortunately, the main event wasn’t the only problem with this show.
One wrestler who most benefited from the whole Signature scandal was CM Punk. Despite coming up short in one title match after another, the ‘Straight Edge Superstar’ had stayed in the Number One Contenders spot to John Morrison’s ECW World Title for four months since their match for the vacant belt at Vengeance: Night Of Champions 2007 and after Morrison’s name popped up in the list of those suspended, Punk was finally given the gold in a match that was billed as his “last chance.” The show starts off with his ECW title defense against Elijah Burke. At just under twelve minutes, they were given enough time to have a decent match and for Burke to show a more technical/submission-orientated approach than he does on television, dominating with a Boston crab, rolling triple-German suplex and a rather cool-looking leglock in what was one of Burke’s best singles matches to date. Not a bad way to start the show it was acceptable, if not outstanding. As Tazz so rightly says at the conclusion of this match, “You know what they say in life Joey? Timing is everything.”
The slow-burning storyline involving Matt Hardy and Montel Vontavious Porter was one of the most entertaining mid-card angles since the Attitude Era ended as they worked the old “feuding tag team partners” gimmick better than anyone in years. . Their match here against Deuce and Domino was a rematch from three weeks prior when MVP had informed SmackDown! GM Teddy Long that he would win the Tag Team Titles (which he did) with the next person to walk through the door, Matt Hardy. The story here is whether the two rivals can get along long enough to defend their belts ( “Admittedly they’re like Britney Spears and Mother Theresa teaming up”, JBL) and the highlight watching them play a game of one-upmanship trying to outdo each other whilst JBL talks about Nietzsche. Considering Deuce and Domino’s best matches have come against Matt Hardy (with partner or on his own) this match isn’t bad but not the best of the M. Hardy/D&D series either.
After a WWE Mobile-exclusive interview with Rey Mysterio where he puts over the Khali Vice-Grip as a guaranteed finisher we go to the most predictable match of the year between Triple and Carlito. Memphis has seen its share of wacky gimmick matches which placed the babyface (normally Jerry Lawler) at a disadvantage. The only problem here is that despite the stipulation meaning that everything was in his favour, Carlito (sporting his new short hair-cut) still looks outmatched against ‘The Game’. So much for extenuating a wrestler’s positives and hiding their weaknesses, even the commentary makes the son of Carlos Colón look rubbish in comparison: “Triple H, a future Hall Of Famer against a current Hall Of Shamer in Carlito, who in addition to being a former Intercontinental Champion his biggest ‘claim to fame’ is spitting in people’s faces!” (Jim Ross). To be fair to WWE (again) this was around the time Carlito had apparently asked for a contract release so maybe they just wanted to make him look bad. Regardless, this is basically an extended squash match and whilst on the one hand, the short-cuts make it a better match than a regular singles bout might have been between these two (probably the second best match of the night). The stipulation here actually makes Carlito look even weaker. “Carlito’s a Carribean Garbageman tonight” cracks JR when Carlito uses a dustbin and Carlito uses various weapons to momentarily slow ‘The Game’ down but it’s for no avail as Hunter is portrayed as one step ahead of him physically and mentally from start to finish (‘The Game’ treated Carlito like a Government mule! He Pedigreed Carlito’s face right into the canvas! Carlito’s face spent more time on the canvas than Rembrandt!”, Jim Ross).
The bout for the Women’s Title was your classic story of a larger, stronger, unstoppable Monster heel against a smaller, lighter underdog babyface who has to use her quickness. Highly unusual for the Divas ‘Division’ where weight is never mentioned, much of this match was built around the fact that ‘The Glamazon’ outweighed the Champion by fifty pounds (muscle). Phoenix had won her title shot at SummerSlam and the focus of the build-up and the match itself was to put her over as “the strongest Diva in the entire WWE, an American version of Bull Nakano a former WWE Women’s Champion.” (Jim Ross). She’s no Bull but here Phoenix shines in the role of the intelligent, ultra-confident ‘uber-Diva’, whilst Candice does a good job getting for sympathy. The result is a good basic match that turned out to be one of the better matches of the night. This was turning into an interesting rivalry before Candice’s shoulder injury sidelined her.
Following a promo where World Champion The Great Khali (that still doesn’t sound right) crushes a cantaloupe and a watermelon with his bare hands, and a preview package making Khali out to be an unstoppable Monster heel (the second in two straight matches) we get the Triple Threat Match for said World Title. Several steps up from the complete stinker between Batista and Khali at SummerSlam, mainly because Mysterio is in there to keep the action moving and bump around for the big guys, Batista and Mysterio had some good exchanges in their brief time as opponents and also where both babyfaces work together against the giant. To his credit, Khali looks good when he’s hitting his trademark spots like TheBigBoot, Giant Chop and Khali Vice-Grip but there are still some awkward bits in-between in which Khali squares off against Batista. The fact it was on the short side actually worked well here because they kept things moving result a watch able if not spectacular match and arguably the best bout of Khali’s title reign. Not that that is saying much.
After a recap of the angle from the previous Raw where we finally found out the identity of Vince McMahon’s illegitimate son (and what an anti-climax that turned), things pick up with the World Tag Team Title Match. This was the best televised match these teams had against each other (fittingly on pay-per-view) and you can see that all four had their PPV working boots on. A slice of 1980s highflying pretty boys versus old school Southern-style heels, this is a nice match with some good teamwork. Refreshingly it was given enough time to develop and builds nicely to the finish. Cade and Murdoch again show what a good working team they are whilst in this longer match setting London and Kendrick play the babyface role really well here as JR compares LonDrick to the Rock N Roll Express and the (Midnight) Rockers and the Redneck Wrecking Crew to The Andersons and the Texas Outlaws (Dusty Rhodes and the late Dick Murdoch). I’m surprised they didn’t do more with both teams after this.
Considering you reading this are considering watching the DVD, I normally try to avoid giving away match results unless their obvious or its absolutely necessary to the review. This is one case where it’s necessary. John Cena’s WWE Championship defense against Randy Orton marked the one year anniversary of him winning the title from Edge in a TLC match. Whereas that match was a strong contender for WWE’s ‘Match Of The Year 2006’, this bout will go down as the most disappointing major match of 2007. Following their very good match in the main event of SummerSlam this looked like match needed to save the show. Would Cena’s epic title reign end one year after it began? At the time a lot of people seemed to think the timing was right and with its placing on the card a heel victory seemed likely.
Instead they opted for a cheap finish DQ after just seven minutes, twenty one seconds of disappointing action (following the angle in which Orton assaulted John Cena Sr. when he was in the audience on Raw I expected this to be much more intense). Given less time than the Tag Team Title match which proceeded it and approximately the same amount of time as the Women’s Title bout this was ridiculously short for what was the most hyped match from the Raw brand and the match that many had bought the event for. The show may have been free on Sky Sports for those of us in the UK, but I felt bad for anyone who paid $40 to buy this on pay-per-view in the States or anyone who buys the DVD just for this match. Adding insult to injury, the Last Man Standing rematch between these two for the next months No Mercy pay-per- view is announced literally seconds after the match. Even forgetting the fact a pay-per-view main event was used purely to advertise a future match, the DQ seems out of place because it doesn’t seem like Cena has done anything violent enough to warrant it. If you want to promote a match with “no disqualification rules” for the next month then at least have him FU Orton through the ECW announce table or something! The action before then isn’t anything to write home about either: this is your basic TV-style match with the added bonus of watching “Mr. Cena” (billed by Ross and Lawler) is in the front row at Unforgiven for the second yearin a row to see if his facial expression changes (“Mr. Cena – has he changed an expression?”). Frustratingly, the match ended just when it was getting interesting. All things considered, this was by far Cena’s worst PPV match of 2007.
Following that anti-climatic ending to a match, we get an anti-climatic ending to the show. After being half of the greatest finishing sequence in Royal Rumble history , followed by some quality tag bouts alongside Batista and even better matches against him The Undertaker was on his best run of strong in-ring performances in a decade. It is ironic then, that he should return in the kind of plodding ‘Big Man’ match he spent a lot of his early career having to endure. Predictably, the pre-match video package and The Undertaker’s entrance are a great atmospheric experience. Equally predictably, the match isn’t. Once you got past the spectacle this was never going to be much of a match. Not the worst match either have been involved in but as far as pay-per-view main events go this was one of the worst in years. Granted ‘Taker returned in great shape (so much so that you can almost believe Bradshaw when he says “This man is ageless, Michael”) but there is only so much he can do and the audience seem disinterested to the extent JBL has to excuse the lack of reaction from the live crowd by claiming they are in shock at Henry dominating. To be fair, the result of the previous match didn’t give them much of a chance: Ric Flair in his prime would have struggled to revive the audience after the proceeding debacle. The audience gets back into it for the finish and the (predictable) Undertaker victory sends the fans home with a babyface win.
Aesthetically everything about this DVD is based around The Undertaker from cover, to main menu to the pay-per-view itself where the opening video is a complete version of the various fragmented videos (with the sign for Death Valley, druids, the black horse and funeral wagon) used to hype Undertaker’s return leading up to the event, concluding with the image of ‘Taker having ‘risen’ in the desert.
This DVD contains a whopping two extras. One-The Undertaker leaving the ring.. Admittedly his exit is pretty cool, but you would expect something better. The other extra is a video package lifted from the following night’s episode of Raw giving a recap of the incidents of Randy Orton assaulted Mr. Cena (three weeks prior) and where Mr. Cena returned the favour at Unforgiven.
And that’s it no interviews with wrestlers. Nothing.
TheBigBoot’s Best Match: World Tag Team Championship Match: Lance Cade & Trevor Murdoch vs. Paul London & Brian Kendrick ***¼
TheBigBoot’s Most Memorable Quote: “What Matt Hardy couldn’t do in fifteen minutes, MVP did in three seconds! That’s why he is the captain of the team… Look at this Michael, tell me that’s not Prime Time. Half man, half amazing, half Tag Team Champion – the only man who can be three halves. He’s like Fed-Ex: he always delivers. Carryin’ SmackDown! Its like watching Muhamed Ali against Cleveland Williams in his prime – MVP Bom-Ba-Ye! MVP Bom-Ba-Ye! The greatest athlete to ever set foot in that squared circle, Michael and we’re getting call his match! How glorious is that?” (JBL, Unforgiven 2007, 16/09/2007)
In the weeks that followed Unforgiven was universally panned for the ending to the WWE Title match, basically an excuse to set up their next pay-per-view match… Which never happened due to Cena’s torn pectoral muscle (a lot of unfortunate injuries in this review!). This result, which would have been fine for a televised match, may have soured some on the event as a whole but even without it this was a mediocre offering. The final two matches, the ‘money matches’ on the show no-less, aside nothing is horrible but there is very little you would want to watch again. This turned out to be one of those shows where the undercard was more interesting than the main events and the ‘lesser’ bouts such as the World Tag Team and Women’s Title matches worked better than the big ones because they actually surpassed expectations. I’ve sat through cards that were worse but few that were more disappointing.
If you are a diehard Undertaker fan who’ll collect anything to do with him or someone who buys every WWE event on DVD then chances are you’ll buy it anyway. For everyone else, there are plenty of better DVDs on the market. As an episode of Raw or SmackDown! this would be just about fine. As a pay-per-view it is dire.
Points: 2.5 / 10