I can’t quite pinpoint the exact moment in time, but somewhere around the fusion of WCW within WWE, or what’s commonly referred to as the Invasion Era, is when I basically gave up. It wasn’t so much a testament of the product as it was my mental state and maturity during that time (but with that being said, it still might’ve been a testament of the product). Either way, in a stretch I prefer to call my dark period, I missed nearly every moment inside the squared circle from 2002-10.
I missed it as well, including some years prior and after, yet for some reason have decided that catching up on it would be a good idea. It’s been interesting, and there are certainly some moments that I wish I could have been around for and experienced along with everyone else. Some of them are actually in this PPV.
I guess I’m the only one who saw this during that era. Can’t believe it was that long ago. Watching old PPVs is a big gamble considering how wide the range of quality is in said PPVs.
Unforgiven ’02 seemed like a good place to start considering it prominently featured the birth of the original Evolution. Of course, having not witnessed any of this first-hand, I had no idea what else I was in store for.
I would call this more the conception of Evolution rather than the birth. I would say the official birth happened weeks later on Raw when they teamed up with Orton and christened themselves “Evolution”. This is truly the planting of the seeds, in the sense that this is the first time Flair used his…well, flair for being the dirtiest player in the game, but did so for the benefit of Triple H.
I think you could also call this the beginning of Triple H becoming a CONSTANT main event player. This is around the time when Triple H started laying the groundwork for morning into the most important person in the industry.
The Un-Americans (Christian, Test, Lance Storm, and William Regal, all from either Canada or England) began the night against Goldust, Booker T, Bubba Ray Dudley, and Kane, who reside from the most patriotic of places such as Austin, Houston, and Queens. Oh, and did I mention KANE WAS BORN IN SPAIN? Ladies and gentlemen, the Invasion Era! The outcome is nigh, though if you must know, the Spaniard eventually helped his team win via choke slam.
I enjoyed the Un-Americans, save for Test, and enjoy them all separately, again, except for Test. I believe it was on the “Wrestling with Patriotism” episode of Legends of Wrestling: WWE Network where Michael Hayes mentioned that everyone but Regal were really afraid of catching nuclear heat from being in the gimmick. I kinda get that, as this was post 9/11 and they’re wearing shirts with upside American flags on them. There was even a Raw where Test was going to come out and burn the flag. I want to say Undertaker stopped him.
Really good catch on the whole Kane being born in Spain thing. I always forget about that.
Great wrestlers in a great gimmick that really never took off in the way I think WWE expected.
This also seems like a good time to interrupt with a Vince/Kane story I didn’t know about until last week.
So, a couple years ago, FightNetwork.com did a podcast with the screenwriter of See No Evil, which was a movie featuring Kane. Here’s a quote from the podcast from Dan Madigan, the screenwriter: “I get a call from Gregory Dark, the director. He says, “We’ve got a little problem here.” This call is from Australia. I said, “What’s the problem?” He goes, “Vince has a suggestion about the movie.” I said, “Well, it’s his movie.” He goes, “Vince wants this scene in the movie where Kane’s character pulls out his penis, and he wants it to be three feet long.”
I’ll leave it at that.
The Big Red Machine!!
(I already feel disgusting about that joke. Please delete it from your memory.)
From that point on, Jericho fought Flair (eh), Eddie Guerrero defeated Edge (surprisingly great), and Chuck Palumbo was a thing that happened.
Damn, Eddie is great at being a heel. Not that Edge was bad in the match, but Eddie carried him a little.
Unforgiven will undoubtedly be remembered because of Triple H, Rob Van Dam, and Ric Flair. And though the first two put on a solid bout, I couldn’t help but constantly reflect on RVD’s ageless disposition. Like, does the dude crack? Does he ever lose it? His frog-splashes and jump-kicks from Raw last week appear to be the same quality as they were in ’02. It’s amazing, especially when you then see Flair, who now has that thing going on with his abs that happens to wrestlers when they reach their late 40’s.
Listen to RVD on Jericho’s podcast. Preview: RVD is really into pot and stretching.
…and saying “man”.
Flair helped Triple H and turned heel in doing so, which became the telling signs of an Evolution birth. Of course, the Evolution title was pretty much created accidently and out of context, but don’t worry about that part. Orton and Batista joined at a later date and, well, you know the rest.
Flair teaming up with Triple H at the time was probably a total shock. I think he had been a face ever since he came to WWE after the Invasion story ended, and of course it was a swerve as, earlier in the show, Triple H totally slams Flair for being washed up. My favorite part of all this has to be when Triple H is talking to RVD in the locker room, and in the background, Flair is doing a terrible acting job, just being bummed out after losing to Jericho.
But wait, that’s not it!
Between the two title fights, WWE Creative decided to plant a Bischoff promo and I gotta say, if there’s one thing I missed out on during my dark period, it’s definitely the Bischoff promo. His communication and chemistry with nearly everyone on the roster was incredible, especially when placing himself at the butt-end of whatever joke. Just go back and YouTube all those Bischoff-Stone Cold dueling-GM promos. It’s a wonder why they didn’t stretch that or, at the least, other likely scenarios for an extended amount of time.
(Also of note: “We’re about to see some hot lesbian action, J.R.!!” and “That’s the ugliest ass I’ve ever seen,” were actual sentences that were stated. LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, THE INVASION ERA!)
I was both pleased and groaning that this occurred during the “HLA” time-period for Bischoff. (HLA standing for hot lesbian action…obviously.) The best part of this was having Michael Cole say over and over, in a dead serious voice, “If Billy and Chuck lose the match, Stephanie McMahon will have to engage in hot lesbian action!” with Taz next to him just slowly nodding his head somberly.
This PPV made we want Bischoff back. Keep him away from decision making and the creative side, but put him on televion. PLEASE
Finally, Brock Lesnar fought the Undertaker in what was a bit more exciting than their most recent match. Looking back, I now realize I shouldn’t have expected too much from their WrestleMania XXX clash, especially since, even in ’02, they weren’t exactly the most electrifying of combinations. I mean, they had more movement 12 years ago, so that’s good. But outside of “getting your shit in”, there wasn’t much to be had. If anything, I’m glad Paul Heyman ditched the backwards-cap bit.
The match eventually resulted in a no contest, seeing the referee call for the bell after being brutally knocked over by Taker. I’m not sure when the last time a match resulted in a no decision, but I can’t imagine it would go over well today.
While this wasn’t a five star match by any means, it planted the seeds for No Mercy only one month later, where Lesnar/Taker had what was probably their best match in the Hell in a Cell. If I recall, this also subsequently planted the seeds for the one and only Lesnar face-run by having some mutual respect shown at the end of the match. Could be wrong, but a month after that was the true jumping off point for Lesnar to turn face when Big Show defeated him for the WWE Championship with help from Paul Heyman, who betrayed his client, Brock Lesnar, who defeated The Undertaker’s streak at Wrestlemania. His client, Brock Lesnar, defeated The Undertaker’s streak at Wrestlemania. His client, Brock Lesnar, defea…
I agree. Probably better than their WM 30 match, but not by much. I honestly don’t think these two have much chemistry sadle.
In the end, Unforgiven ’02 was a step in the right direction. I clearly missed out on much more, but given the context and surrounding history, I can only assume more of the same lies in waiting. And if that is the case, I’ll continue to watch, enjoy, and simply move on.
John Daigle: C+
Michael Edwards: C
Kevin Bowden: C
Average Grade: C
Next Week: TBD