The Katz Files – Arnie Katz
Unforgiven: Recap $ Analysis!
The Kingfish Arnie Katz reports the highlights and sidelights of WWE’s September pay per view – and delves into what it all means!.
Let’s look at what happened – and why:
The Free-for-All, hosted by Jack Korpella mentioned Jericho-Michaels and then devoted the next 15029 minutes to pushing the three scrambles matches before returning to HBK-Jericho.
“History is guaranteed to be made,” said the voice-over announcer on the open clip of Unforgiven from Cleveland, OH.
Todd Grisham and Mat5t Stryker opened the show to the strains of Motorhead’s “Rock Out.”
Matt Hardy d. Mark Henry, The Miz, Finlay & Chavo Guerrero
ECW Championship Scramble
The Story: Mark Henry will try to beat the odds by retaining his title against four contenders.
My Prediction: What if they turned Mark Henry? He doesn’t have the personality for it, but it’s a cinch they have to do something. Otherwise, the fans might reject the whole concept of this card. If all three matches end with the same champions, it will look like running in place.
Matt Hardy and Mark Henry will fight each other tooth and nail, but neither will quite get the final pin. That honor will go to Ft Finley, with a small assist from his son. The Miz will suffer the pin.
Predicted Grade: C
The Actual Match: Matt Hardy and The Miz started the match. Matt scored a couple of near falls, but The Miz might’ve gained a pin with the Reality Check, if Hardy hadn’t rolled out of the ring. By the time Miz got him back inside the ropes, it was too late for an effective cover.
Chavo Guerrero, the third man, immediately threw Hardy out of the ring and launched a Frogsplash at The Miz to become ECW champion. Jeff came off the top and almost pinned the new champion, but “almost” is never good enough in pro wrestling.
Matt Hardy pinned The Miz after administering the Side Effect.
Marl Henry entered next, accompanied to the ring by Tony Atlas. They all ganged up on the World’s Strongest Man, but he decked them all with Clotheslines. Finally, Mark Henry pinned The Miz after a Running Powerslam.
Henry put Guerrero in a Bearhug. When he saw Hardy climbing to the top turnbuckle, he tossed aside Chavo and then caught Hardy on the fly and subjected him to a Bearhug.
As Henry tried to squeeze the life out of Hardy, Fit Finley, along with Hornswoggle, came to the ring to complete the Scramble.
Finley went right for Henry and, after a DDT, nearly pinned The Silverback. Henry trapped Finley in a Bearhug. Hornswoggle crawled out from under the ring to help his daddy. Henry turned his attention to the little guy, which gave Finley a chance to attack him.
Matt Hardy threw Mark Henry to the outside. Fit Finley executed a Celtic Cross on Hardy and become the newest ECW champion!
With about three minutes remaining, Matt leveled Finley with Side Effect to capture the belt.
Matt Hardy adopted the strategy of trying to prevent last-minute pins. Mark Henry had a good shot at several pins, but each time, Hardy disrupted the covers.
Things got pretty wild in the final minute, but Matt Hardy hung in there to emerge as ECW champion!
Actual Grade: B+
The Kingfish Comments: This was so much better than what I expected that I might have gone a little overboard with the grade. Matt Stryker attributed the concept of the Scramble to Pat Paterson. Whoever originated it, the Scramble could use a little fine-tuning. It might improve the match to have the initial pair wrestle for three minutes, instead of five, and tack the extra two minutes onto the end of the match when all five are in the ring.
Putting the title on Matt Hardy, even for a short duration, makes a lot of sense. He has been right on the edge of winning it, so it was a “feel good” moment for his many fans. From the WWE’s standpoint, putting Hardy on top sets up a new phase of the Hardy-Henry program and also opens the way for challenges by Chavo Guerrero and John Morrison.
A video supported the on-sale date for WrestleMania tickets.
Jeff Hardy congratulated his brother. Matt said that what would make a great night even better would be for Jeff to win the WWE Championship.
Jim Ross and Tazz introduced the night’s poll: Should Big Show have been in the Smackdown Scramble?
The Kingfish Comments: This wasn’t quite as stupid as most of the polls WWE conducts. It was still meaningless, because the vote had no way to affect the show, but at least it was a legitimate question.
Michael Cole and Jerry Lawler took over for the tag team title contest.
Ted DiBiase & Cody Rhodes vs. Cryme Tyme
World Tag Title Match
The Story: Cryme Tyme stole the tag team belts. The champions got them back. Now the question is: Can they keep them in the ring against Shad Gaspar and JTG?
My Prediction: The bookers have done a fairly good job of refining the challengers’ act and building them into a legitimate contender for the title. That notwithstanding, I don’t think WWE will want to put the straps on Shad and JTG, despite their tremendous improvement and rising popularity with the fans.
That should lead to a match in which Cryme Tyme works some of their spots and has the clear advantage early in the match, only to have Rhodes and DiBiase crush them and take the win.
Whether or not Randy Orton figures in the storyline is unknown. A little timely interference from ringside might be just the role for him at Unforgiven.
Predicted Grade: B-
The Actual Match: DiBiase’s trunks now say “The Prince of Pro Wrestling.”
After JTG blasted Cody Rhodes with a Standing Dropkick, Shad Gaspar Clotheslined both heels over the top rope. Then Gaspar launched his smaller partner over the top rope like a human missile! It was a well-aimed missile as things turned out, because HTG just about obliterated the champs.
Rhodes and DiBiase capitalized on a missed Back Body Drop to set up Shad Gaspar for some double-teaming. As JTG ran around the outside of the ring, he ducked Rhodes’ Clothesline only to become the victim of DiBiase’s Clothesline! It only translated into a two-count.
The heels isolated JTG and punished him relentlessly. JTG mounted a couple of attempts to break out of the trap. One almost worked, but Rhodes got the tag from DiBiase and cut off JTG before he cold crawl all the way to his partner.
When Rhodes blew a Moonsault, Shad Gaspar finally got back in the match and made both heels pay dearly. He hit a Clothesline in the corner and Snake Eyes on the top turnbuckle. Shad executed a beautiful Back Body Drop on DiBiase, but Rhodes pulled off a DDT. Shad got his foot on the ropes to stop the count.
Just when it looked like Gaspar would pin DiBiase, Rhodes jumped into the pile, shifted things around and emerged with the pinfall victory!
Actual Grade: B+
The Kingfish Comments: This was another better-than-expect match. Cryme Tyme has come a long way since their goofy first run through WWE. This was a good match and you had to love that catapult move, even if the babyfaces didn’t win.
Even though Cryme Tyme suffered a clean loss, this feud could, and should, continue.
After the match, a mysterious wrester hit the ring to help the champs administer a post-match beat down.
We watched Shawn Michaels get his arm heavily taped.
A long video detailed the twists and turns of the Chris Jericho-Shawn Michaels feud.
The Kingfish Comments: The video was very good, but all the videos on the show suffered from over-exposure. It makes no sense to kill the impact during the PPV by showing the videos during the “Free-for-All.”
Shawn Michaels d. Chris Jericho
The Story: Retiring isn’t always a matter of getting your release and packing away your boots in a closet. Ric Flair’s retirement match touched off a whole network of feuds and, now, so has Shawn Michael’s retirement. Chris Jericho and Shawn Michaels were already feuding when Chris smacked Rebecca Michaels in the face, but that kicked it up to a higher level.
My Prediction: There’s no reason to have this match if Shawn Michaels isn’t going to get some pretty major revenge on Chris Jericho. Yet I don’t think this will be the end of the feud, so Jericho will have to do something that leads to one more match, possibly in a cage. That suggests that Lance Cade will figure in the match, though perhaps not until HBK has beaten Jericho within an inch of his life. With aid from Cade, Chris Jericho will score the pin, though they may have to carry him out of the arena on a stretcher.
Predicted Grade: A- (if HBK not injured)
B- (if HBK legit injured)
The Actual Match: Before the match began, Michael Cole said that HBK told him to look up Jericho 6:20. It led to a quote about the walls of Jericho coming down.
Shawn Michaels got an early advantage during an exchange of punches. He capitalized on it by removing his boot and smashing Jericho in the head with it! The fight carried them over the outer barrier and into the stands, where Michaels continued to whale away on Jericho.
They got back into the ringside area, but things didn’t go any better for Chris. HBK rocketed him into a ring post. Jericho bled from the mouth. When Michaels missed a chairshot, Jericho bashed him against the announce table and shot him into that unyielding outer barrier.
Jericho pulled a table from under the ring. He ran it into HBK gut and then set it up in the ringside area. Shawn blocked a Powerbomb, but Jericho surprised him by heaving the Showstoppa over his shoulder to a hellacious collision with the ring post!
Jericho poked Michaels in the midsection with a chair and then slammed it over his back as HBK crumpled to the arena floor.
Jericho hit a Suplex and wedged a chair between the middle and top ropes. He tried to whip Michaels into it, but HBK reversed and sent Jericho into a turnbuckle! Jericho, standing on the apron, tried to Suplex HBK over the top rope onto the arena floor, but Michaels fought off the attempt.
Shawn Michaels connected with a Clothesline that took Jericho right off his feet. HBK followed up with a Flying Elbow to the chest. When Shawn tuned up the band, Jericho dropped to his knees to beg for mercy. Shawn fired a rapid series of punches and then applied a Crippler Crossface! Somehow, Chris powered to his feet and ran his foe into the chair previously wedged between the ropes in the corner.
Jericho downed Michaels and began to target the injured eye. HBK slowly battled back to his feet. Michaels repeatedly fired heavy punches and soon Jericho was the one in trouble. Michaels fought off an attempt to send him careening into a chair and knocked Jericho flat with a Thesz Press. Michaels pummeled his hated adversary, who turned an attempted Piledriver into the Walls of Jericho. HBK got to the ropes, but Jericho at first ignored referee Marty Elias’ plea for a break.
Shawn Michaels grabbed a fire extinguisher and suddenly Jericho reeled away, engulfed by the spray. Chris fell to the mat, covering his face in agony. When Jericho rose to his feet, Michaels whacked him with the empty fire extinguisher! HBK pursued Jericho into the ringside area and hit him with every handy object.
Michaels Suplexed Jericho onto the steel and then fought off a sneak attack by Lance Cade. He turned his attention back to his actual opponent, only to have Cade tale full advantage and smash the injured arm against the ring post!
Back in the ring, Cade held Michaels while Jericho slapped him and dealt a Headbutt in the eye! Cade held Michaels on the mat while Jericho bashed him with the chair!
Jericho went to the top, but Michaels sent Cade into the ropes to dislodge him from his perch. He then played Cade some Sweet Chin Music.
Jericho went to the top, Michaels saw it and grabbed a chair that he hid from sight with his body. He suddenly whirled around and destroyed Chris with a ring-rattling chairshot that sent him through the ringside table! With Jericho lying amid the ruins of the table, Michaels uncorked a series of horrific chairshots.
HBK put Lance Cade on the announce table and, after a while, stacked Jericho on top of him. He leapt from the top turnbuckle and crushed the men and the table! Michaels lugged Jericho back into the ring and whipped him with his belt.
Michaels scored with a belt shot to the eye and punched Jericho repeatedly, always aiming at his eye.
Marty Elias finally got Michaels to cease, but HBK went right back to the massacre. Elias stopped the match and awarded the win to HBK.
Elias [pulled Michaels off his prey only to receive a punch from the out-of-control Showstoppa. Two officials came out to minister to Jericho.
Actual Grade: A-
The Kingfish Comments: I don’t think this is the end of the feud, even though Shawn Michaels theoretically achieved all of his goals and Chris Jericho took a brutal whupping despite HBK’s obvious, serious injury. It’s going to take something major to extend this feud to another ,major pay per view attraction.
One possible scenario would be to have Shawn Michaels come back after his injury and go for Lance Cade. Chris Jericho could ambush him at the end of the match to re-ignite hostilities between them.
A video pushed No Mercy.
Cody Rhodes, Ted DiBiase and their new friend Manu (Afa Jr) celebrated backstage. When Randy Orton joined them, they clamored for his approval.
The third-generation wrestler wasn’t at all impressed. He ridiculed the tag champs and disparaged their performance.
The Kingfish Comments: Randy Orton works the babyface turn tease about as well as anyone. He did it very well again here. Maybe it would be even more exciting, though, if he did turn and join with Cryme Tyme to battle the tag team champions and their new Samoan friend.
With John Cena out for at least three months, maybe WWE plans to have Randy Orton team with Cryme Tyme against the tag title-holders and their new Samoan friend.
Triple H d. The Brian Kendrick, MVP, Jeff Hardy & Shelton Benjamin
WWE Championship Scramble
The Story: This is Smackdown’s scramble, with four guys who want gold challenging the man who has it, HHH.
My Prediction: The men to watch in this one are Jeff Hardy and MVP. Neither of them will pin Triple H, but one could well emerge from the scramble with the title after pinning one of the other challengers just before time elapses.
Triple H will pin MVP early in the match, possibly with some help from Hardy. Triple H will kick out of an attempted pin at the bell, only to lose the title when MVP puts Jeff Hardy’s shoulders to the mat for the three count.
Predicted Grade: B+
The Actual Match: Jeff Hardy and Shelton Benjamin started this Scramble with a nice demonstration of very athletic chain wrestling. Neither seized the upper hand until Benjamin sent Hardy face first into a turnbuckle. Hardy came back with a Bodyslam and then scored with a Standing Legdrop. It didn’t add up to a pin, though.
The Brian Kendrick came in next He soon got involved when he busted up a Suplex attempt on Jeff Hardy by Shelton Benjamin and knocked Shelton into the ringside area. Jeff Hardy hit a Release Suplex on The Brian Kendrick and, for now, is the WWE Champion.
Benjamin hit Pay Dirt on Jeff Hardy, but The Brian Kendrick broke up the pin before the third count. Kendrick hit his version of the Acid Drop and scored the title-winning pin.
MVP roared into the ring. He went for Shelton Benjamin with a huge Uppercut. He launched into the Drive By Kick, but The Brian Kendrick intercepted him!
Very pleased with himself, Kendrick strutted around the ring until Shelton Benjamin crushed him with a Fallaway Slam! When Benjamin went for a Powerbomb, Kendrick turned it into a devastating Huracanrana.
Triple H didn’t waste a lot of time getting to the ring. He hit two quick Clotheslines and an Atomic Drop on The Brian Kendrick. HHH hit a Spinebuster to a Pedigree and pinned Kendrick to take the title with about four minutes left in the match.
Triple H destroyed Benjamin in the ring side area by stampeding him into the ring steps! Jeff Hardy came back to life, rolled MVP back into the ring and put him away with the Twist of Fate to become champion!
Hardy blocked another Kendrick Acid Drop and powered him, face first, into the canvas! But when Hardy went to the top, The Game sent him sprawling. Triple H zeroed in on Kendrick, dished out a Pedigree and won back the title!
The Brian Kendrick seemed pretty much out of it, which made him an easy target for Jeff Hardy’s Swanton Bomb. Hardy covered for the pin.
The Game tried a Pedigree, but Jeff Hardy tossed him over the top rope. Jim Ross said, incorrectly, that it eliminated The Game, momentarily forgetting that it wasn’t a Battle Royal. Hardy tried an out-of-ring move, but he ended up flat on his back at ringside.
Jeff Hardy willed himself back into the match. He staggered MVP with an Electric Chair and a Flying Cross Body on MVP! Hardy executed a Swanton Bomb on Kendrick.
Triple H pounced on MVP and pinned him as the match ended. At the same time, though, Hardy pinned The Brian Kendrick at virtually the same time.
Actual Grade: B+
The Kingfish Comments: The finish is likely to be disputed on the next episode of Smackdown Triple H will get the decision, but it will fuel another Hardy-Game showdown, presumably at No Mercy.
Backstage, Randy Orton engaged CM Punk in conversation long enough for Cody Rhodes, Ted DiBiase and Manu to attack him.
Michelle McCool d. Maryse
Diva Championship Match
The Story: Michelle McCool beat Natalya to win the title, but this time faces a distinctly different challenge in the form of the manipulative vixen with the intriguing accent.
Prediction: I sure hope they deliver my half-pound hamburger with everything and a side order of French fries while this match is underway. It’ll be surprising if there is anything to report beyond the fact that McCool will keep her title in a semi-squash, so I’ll be able to concentrate on the really important stuff – those crispy slices of bacon and slices of cheddar cheese. Wait, that’s not right, is it? Of course not! I’ll be focusing on the burger, too.
This should’ve been a bra and panties match or a Waterbed Pillow Fight. Then they could dispense with the silly idea that Maryse can wrestle.
Predicted Grade: F
The Actual Match: They shoved each other around the ring without showing much of a repertoire. Maryse had a nice gold outfit.
Maryse tried for a Sunset Flip. Michelle rolled through and decked her with a Low-Altitude Dropkick in the best spot of the match.
Michelle McCool hit her version of the Implant Buster and put the match out of its misery.
Actual Grade: D
The Kingfish Comments: My pizza was good, so I didn’t mind the match too much. If I hadn’t had the pie, though, I probably would be saying that stuff like this is a disgrace and an insult to fans and professionals alike.
The fan poll went 77% to 23% against the inclusion of Big Show in the Smackdown Scramble.
The Kingfish Comments: Assuming that this was the actual result, it shows that WWE needs to do a better job of leading its fans. The logical response would be that Show was jobbed by Vickie and should’ve been included. If the fans indeed voted that way – and, yes, I am a skeptic – it shows pretty good sense. Big Show would have been a distraction in the match.
Mike Adamle came out to tell fans that C< Punk might not be able to answer the bell for the Scramble. Adamle said he would pick a worthy replacement if the champion can’t participate.
The Kingfish Comments: This must be fallout from Shawn Michaels’ injury. Pulling CM Punk out of a match in which the World Heavyweight Championship was at stake is a pretty radical idea. Few fans like title changes in which the champion doesn’t lose by pin or submission; not having him in the match is certainly new territory.
The Judgment of Undertaker
Big Show, toting a few new pounds around the middle, came to the ring to talk about his disappointment he was when Vickie Guerrero left him out of the Smackdown Scramble. Without actually referring to the result of the poll, he brushed that aside and asked fans in the arena to indicate whether he should’ve been in the match or not. When the crowd backed inclusion, he thanked them.
Vickie Guerrero walked out to the ring to chastise Big Show for ignoring her instructions and making a scene at the pay per view. “It’s just that you’re a big, dumb giant,” she said. “Get out of my ring!”
The house lights dimmed and a group of hooded acolytes carried a coffin to ringside amid much smoke and chanting.
Undertaker appeared on the Titantron. He told Vickie that the coffin would be her final resting place. He wanted to know whether she would get in it voluntarily or would he have to put her into the coffin by force.
The Smackdown General Manager tried to escape, but Big Show compelled her to stay in the ring and await Undertaker’s judgment. The Deadman entered the ring and advanced toward Vickie Guerrero, held there in the unbreakable grip of Big Show.
Undertaker walked up to Vickie. Suddenly, Big Show fired a sneaky punch right over the GM’s head to nail Taker!
Big Show attacked with punches and vicious Headbutts. He soon had Undertaker down in the ringside area. The Deadman threw a couple of right hands, but the Giant picked him up and slammed him against the ring post! Show dropped Taker face first across the edge of the coffin.
Big Show hit another Headbutt and whipped his victim into the ring steps!
The barrage of punches and Headbutts continued when Big Show again brought Undertaker back into the ring. Big Show connected on three Elbow Drops. Taker rose only with the greatest difficulty. No sooner did the Dead Man regain his footing than Big Show knocked him down again!
Big Show held Undertaker as Vickie Guerrero slapped him.
The two conspirators left the ring together.
The Kingfish Comments: This was an over-long piece of misguided weirdness. It went on so long despite near silence from the fans that it seemed like one big space-filler. They should’ve done what they wanted to do in about half the time and included another actual match on the card.
I’m sure there’ll be some sort of explanation for Big Show’s behavior on this week’s Smackdown, but fans needed that explanation right then to make any kind of sense out of what went on between Big Show and Undertaker.
A swerve should be unexpected, not rabbit-out-of-the-hat illogical in terms of the pro wrestling show. There doesn’t seem to be any reasonable motive for Big Show to have attacked Undertaker, who was also left out of the Scramble, or to ally with Vickie Guerrero, who kept him out of the match in the first place.
William Regal tried, with little evident success, to get Mike Adamle to add him to the Scramble.
Chris Jericho d. JBL, Rey Mysterio, Kane & Batista
World Championship Scramble
The Story: John Cena was slated to be the fifth man in this free-for-all. His injury caused the insertion of Rey Mysterio into the match, much to the displeasure of Kane. For whatever enigmatic reason, the former masked monster wants to destroy the pride of 619.
My Prediction: The Animal will do some pinning, but won’t be winning when time expires. Kane and Mysterio will square off against each other, kicking off the action part of their ridiculous feud. Batista will Spear Leyfield, but Punk will make the cover to steal the match and keep his title.
Predicted Grade: B+
The Actual Match: Batista and John Bradshaw Leyfield started off the Scramble. The Animal used punches to bull HVL into the corner and a series of Shoulder Blocks to make his stay there most unpleasant. Leyfield attacked on a break to return some of the pain to its originator. Batista jolted JBL with a Clothesline as he roared out of the corner and nearly got the match’s first pin!
Batista trapped the Cowboy Financier in the Figure-Four Leglock and poured on the pressure. It took Bradshaw a long time to reach the ropes and he walked a little awkwardly after that.
They fought in the ringside area. At first Leyfield’s punches gave him the edge. Batista revered a whip to send the self-made millionaire into the ring steps!
Kane entered the match and went right at Batista, He whipped The Animal into the corner, but fell victim to a Clothesline as Dave came out of the corner. Kane, the freshman, took advantage to attack Batista without let-up, including a tremendous boot to the chin!
Kane rocked Batista with a Sideslam after sending him into the ropes. The Big Red Maniac went to the top, but Air Kane landed on nothing but canvas. Kane went for a Chokeslam, but JBL proved to be The Animal’s unlikely rescuer. Leyfield went for the Clothesline from Hell against Kane, who calmly ruined that plan by Chokeslamming him. Kane scored the pin to become World Heavyweight Champion!
As Kane took the offensive against Batista, battering him from turnbuckle to turnbuckle, Rey Mysterio entered the match! The Masked Marvel targeted Kane with a barrage of Low-Altitude Dropkicks and succeeded in bringing down the big man. Rey went for the pin, but the count stopped at “two.”
Rey Mysterio kicked Kane out of the ring, but Leyfield jumped him from behind. Mysterio ducked a Clothesline from Hell and responded with a ring-shaking Huracanrana! Rey Mysterio tried to get JBL with a 619, but Kane’s fist got in his way.
Kane focused on Mysterio, which left him wide open for Batista’s Back Suplex. Batista let Mysterio climb on his shoulders and the Masked Marvel came off with a Diving Headbutt that would’ve made Harley Race proud. Somehow, Kane avoided the pin.
Batista wanted to do the same trick again. This time, though, Mysterio flipped backward and nearly pinned his friend. Just shows that there are no true allies in a Scramble.
JBL got a second wind and attacked Batista. He then went after Kane. Batista, meanwhile, almost pinned Mysterio after a Short-arm Clothesline.
Instead of CM Punk, a battered, bloody and bedraggled Chris Jericho limped to the ring!
Jericho had just entered the ring when Batista struck. He flattened him with a Spear and stunned him with a Bodyslam! Batista then turned his attention to Leyfield. He Speared him, but it didn’t translate into a pinning cover.
Mysterio blasted Kane with a 619! Batista tried to take advantage of it, but Jane broke out of the press, because Mysterio broke it up.
With Mysterio lying in the ringside area, courtesy of Batista, John Bradshaw Leyfield caught Kane with the Clothesline from Hell! Kane recovered and backed Batista in the corner and worked him over with less than two minutes remaining in the match.
Kane wanted to use the Chokeslam, but Batista got off first with the Spear! Batista hit a Spinebuster and pinned Kane!
With time about to elapse, Rey Mysterio came off the top turnbuckle in one final effort to pin Batista. While they were occupied, Chris Jericho pinned Kane!
Chris Jericho, looking about half-dead, was the new World Heavyweight Champion!
Actual Grade: B
The Kingfish Comments: This was the poorest of the three Scrambles, though it was certainly watchable and entertaining. The elimination of John Cena from the mix had a major effect on both the booking and the quality of the match. Keeping Punk out of it, whatever you think of the storyline, had a negative impact on the match, too.
Putting the belt on Jericho opens several possibilities. The first thing will be at least one rematch against CM Punk. Then it could be Batista or, if he is healed, Michaels.
Predicted Overall Grade for Unforgiven: B-
Actual Overall Grade for Unforgiven: B+
That’s it for today. I’ll be back on Monday with another installment of the Internet’s fastest-rising daily wrestling column. I’ll have the recap and analysis of Unforgiven and you’ll be able to laugh at my predictions.
— Arnie Katz