Ringside Shadows #73: The World's First Unforgiven Preview
Well well, I'm riding on a wave of pleasure right now, after seeing ECW's scoping out Indianapolis as a possibility for their November to Remember PPV. Good to see we're not completely left out of the Big 3 PPV circuit.. the last time we had this possibility was... well, ECW again. Indy was set to be the home of Heatwave '98, but the location was shifted at the last second, thanks to the damned NASCAR race they put on once a year in this area. Personally, I'd rather have watched the best athletes in North America work their best card of the year than seen a bunch of cars drive around in a big circle. Takes all kinds, I suppose..
Anyway, getting to the point..
I thought nothing could bring me down from this high, but then I took a peek at the card for the upcoming WWF PPV.
About 6 months ago, this one might've looked better to me.. though I doubt it. Most of these feuds have gone on for that long. As is, we've got 8 matches (9, counting the unofficial Brood match)... 1 of which (Shamrock / Jericho, and again.. the unofficial Brood match) seems interesting, promising, and worthy of the $40 hole they bite in your pocketbook.
Keeping that in mind, I've chosen not to purchase this one.. so let's just get on with it:
The Rock v. Mankind v. The British Bulldog v. Kane v. HHH v. Paul Wight
"6 Pack" Main event, for the WWF Title
Special 'enforcer': Steve Austin
You know, I just recently checked out some of Austin's old WCW work in the form of Spring Stampede '94. "Stunning" Steve took on the Great Muta in what could've been one helluva matchup, but it came out looking like ass. Maybe I drank some bad booze that eve, but both men seemed to be shadows of their future and former selves. Anyway, it made me really respect the progress Austin has made in 5 short years.
As for the match.. sure, it'll be nice to see the Bulldog back in the ring. I'm sure a good chunk of fans are drooling with anticipation for this one, overlooking the fact there's maybe 2 men of the 6 who can consistently go.. and one of those is questionable. Somehow, I doubt Mankind and Kane are up to carrying the other 4, and this one will probably regress into the same thing we saw on Raw a couple weeks ago, only with a winner. I'll be looking for a lot of kicking and punching, and very few wrestling holds. The Undertaker will doubtless get involved, taking out Kane. Mankind and the Rock will probably end up relying too heavily on each other, inevitably ending up as a weakness. The Bulldog isn't ready for the belt yet, both in terms of heat, physical aptitude and public perception. That leaves the Big Show and HHH.. and HHH has Chyna. I think this HHH / Austin rematch is just around the corner.
Jeff Jarrett v. Chyna
For the Intercontinental Title
Another one that's been built up far too heavily, without any apparant thought going into the workers themselves. At the very least, it's finally got Jarrett over.. but at what cost? He's now associated with one of the more disturb/ing angles in WWF history (and that's saying a lot). Not that there was any hope of getting him over as a face, I just feel that the angle was unnecessary. Surely there was another way to hype this feud than by resorting to one of the most disgusting sides of humanity.
Sorry, I went on a bit there.. where was I? Chyna. She's got the look. She's got a couple average moves in her arsenal. She's got a unique, original angle going as the woman who's not afraid to compete with men twice her size. And that's about it. Chris Benoit couldn't carry Chyna to a good match, and her voice is best compared to the loud kid that always finds it's way to the seats directly surrounding me during an evening airline flight. If she's given the belt here, I'm sure we'll be hearing 'foul' screamed worldwide, with the focal point being the unspoken voices of the internet. I'm guessing Debra will be involved in this, though I can't say on whose behalf.
In the end, I'm taking Chyna, though Jarrett will keep the belt through a DQ or countout.
Ivory v. Luna
For the Women's Title
I don't really want to dwell on this one.. The novelty of seeing Luna back has worn off, and the reality of how this match will more than likely turn out has begun to set in. Ivory is beyond annoying (I'd even consider her a burden to watch), and her work in the ring isn't that good. When she first picked up the belt, I figured it was a smart move.. giving a working athlete the title. In the end it's successfully killed the division. I'm sure Luna's reign won't be much more successful
Mark Henry v. D'Lo Brown
For the European Title
Much like Harlem Heat, the Steiner Brothers, the New Age Outlaws and the Rockers, this split's one of those meetings you knew was inevitable. The exception being this fruit was one that wasn't quite ripe yet. I think they could've gone a ways farther with this team before Mark and D'Lo went their separate ways. Brown was as much a part of the 'Sexual Chocolate' gimmick as Henry was, giving the skits a comic relief. What would Mark's date with Chyna have been without D'Lo as the limo driver? Or his excursion with Teri and Jacqueline without D'Lo waiting outside to take care of a tag match? At the very least, these two deserved a tag team title reign.
The match will be slow-going, as there isn't a whole lot Brown can do with a man the size of the chocolatey goodness. I'm not expecting to see many running ligerbombs, or hurricaranas in this, but the meeting should be somewhere near solid. If D'Lo doesn't take this one, he'll take the ensuing rematch on Raw or the next PPV.
Winner: D'Lo Brown
Al Snow v. the Big Boss Man
"Kennel From Hell" Match for the Hardcore Title
I'll give the WWF this one.. they're inventive. The concept of a cage within a cage is magnificent, and really opens up a ton of possibilities for future matches, but there's a catch. It's difficult enough to see the action through a single cage. I feel for the poor souls who are gonna try to watch this live through 2. Surely there will be cameras inside the center cage, so the viewing audience at home won't have to worry about that.. which brings us to.. the dogs. What the HELL?! Did Vince Russo and friends watch the ordeal with Sting, the Steiners, and the rottweiler? Did they see how cheesy that looked? This is more than likely gonna be about 15 times as bad. What a stupid stipulation.
Seeing as how the Bossman wears riot gear to the ring, I'd imagine they'll slip in some padding underneath that, and allow him to get mauled or something.
An interesting note.. what if, when escaping, Snow accidentally lets one of the hounds loose, escaping into the audience? Chaos!
Winner: Al Snow
Ken Shamrock v. Chris Jericho
Here it is.. the sole 'no-miss' match of the evening. Jericho's role as a heel in this one hasn't been as effective as in the past, and as a result there's not as much heat going into this match as, say, the Acolytes/Dudleys match. Fans haven't accepted the Y2J as a humorous heel yet, and he's not quite as over as I'm sure he was expected to be. Give him a couple months and the story will more than likely be a different one.
I'm anxious to see how well Jericho will work with an above-average worker like Shamrock, and I think their styles compliment each other. To this day, Jericho hasn't been involved a WWF television match which ended cleanly (I think? Correct me if I'm wrong), so I'm really looking for a definate winner here. Shamrock's intensity (parodied to a "t" by the real millennium man.. probably the best example of his old persona to date) and Jericho's cowardice will make this one to watch, and the best match on the card today. It's his first PPV as an active competitor, plus Shamrock's headed off the the UFC soon.. so I'll take Jericho with "the walls of Jericho?!".
Winner: Chris Jericho
Val Venis v. Steve Blackman
A sure sign of the end is Steve Blackman. If you're feuding with him, the likelihood that your gimmick lasts more than a month or 2 after the said feud is slim, and that's the case with Venis here. There isn't really much more you can do with the 'Porn Star' schtick that hasn't already been done. Come to think of it, there isn't really much more I can say about these two. The match will be average for a WWF match, perhaps a bit above, and the action will be slightly stiff. This isn't bound to be a match of the year candidate nor will it recieve much heat from the crowd, but it'll be something of a nice little match, for what it's worth. I'll go with Blackman on the rebound from his losses to Shamrock.
Winner: Steve Blackman
The Acolytes v. The Dudley Boys
Both these teams seem relatively over. The Dudleys are starting to become recognizable to the common fan thanks primarily to Bubba's stuttering gimmick, while the Acolytes have always seemed to keep something of a 'heat aura' around them over the past few months. What are they Acolytes of anymore, anyway? Apparantly not the Undertaker, as they didn't show up to prove they 'believe in the dark side'. It's a moot point. Anyway...
This one, like D'Lo/Henry and Venis/Blackman, will be average to mediocre, depending on the mood of the workers. Faarooq can still be decent if he feels like it, but he's not getting any younger. The same can be said for Blackman, though he's never been near as high profile as Faarooq in his better days. I can't say much about the Dudleys, as the majority of my exposure to them has been through their WWF stint and their short appearances on TNN. From what I've seen they're at their best when the opponents they're paired with aren't afraid to take some nasty bumps. A feud with the Hardys would be right up their alley. I'm taking the Dudleys with this one, but chances are we'll see the Acolytes take another one, continuing on their neverending quest for nowhere.
Winners: The Acolytes
There's also been talk of a New Brood v. Edge / Christian match on the card, which would be spectacular as always. Should that one take place, I'd choose Edge and Christian to go over.
That should pretty much do it for me. I appear to be doomed to a weekend of Design here, in front of the power that is the Power Mac G3, so I more than likely won't be back until Monday or Tuesday. I'm doing a couple more banners around, so keep your eyes peeled for those. As for the majority of my free time.. well, let's just say I've entered the middle of disc 3 in Final Fantasy VIII. If you've got about 40 or 50 hours to kill, this is the best way to do it.
until next time, i remain