Retro Recap – Unforgiven 2004

Unforgiven went down in September of 2004, about a month after Summerslam.  The company was still reeling a bit from Brock Lesnar leaving after WrestleMania XX, and was getting by with JBL as the main champion on Smackdown while Triple H’s Evolution (with Ric Flair and two youngsters named Randy Orton and Bautista) was sucking up most of the oxygen in the room on RAW.  Hunter had dropped the World Title to Chris Benoit at ‘Mania, and after failing to win it back had to watch Orton pull off a huge upset and beat Benoit at Summerslam.  That prompted the rest of Evolution to turn on Orton and kick him out of the group.  Orton was now the youngest world champion and a face; to be honest he looked like somebody’s kid brother playing dress up when he came out on RAW with the belt wearing a suit.  So the main event at Unforgiven was part grudge match, part title match as Orton defended against Hunter.  In other news, the Intercontinental Title was vacated when Edge went down with an injury and would be filled with a ladder match between Chris Jericho and Christian, who’d been feuding since before WrestleMania.  And lastly, Shawn Michaels was returning after a few months to face Kane (more on that later).  So how was the show?  Let’s see!

Chris Benoit and Steven Regal vs Ric Flair and Batista

This match was a culmination of a mini feud that had been brewing on RAW between the four men.  Good 15 minute opener with three good workers plus a still green and limited Batista.  Benoit took a pretty steep drop in just a few weeks time from main eventing Summerslam to opening up the next show.

Women’s Title Match: Trish Stratus (c) vs Victoria

Trish was showing signs of improvement here. Whereas she once had to be completely carried by better opponents here she was showing some ability to keep up.  It was still obvious who was better in the ring, though.  WWE always tried to have it both ways with Trish as far as trading on her looks and trying to get her over as a legit women’s wrestler.  To her credit she improved enough over time that you could take her seriously in the ring. Jerry Lawler was at his misogynistic worst on commentary here.  That dude is fortunate that he worked on a wrestling show and not something where the masses actually paid attention to what he said.  Anyhow, pretty good eight minute endeavor here.

Tyson Tomko vs Steven Richards

Tomko was the bodyguard/enforcer for Trish and Christian.  Other than that…..who cares.  I didn’t watch this one. Sorry not sorry.

Intercontinental Title Match: Christian vs Chris Jericho

This was a ladder match to fill the title that had been vacated by Edge when he got injured.  They spent what seemed to me like more time than usual in the ring to start off having a regular match.  The match was very good but fell a little short of great because we’d seen Christian in ladder and TLC matches that had more highspots than this one, and it just kinda paled in comparison.  This is the proverbial ‘had it happened four years earlier’ situation in that it just came late for what they did in it and wasn’t bad on merits.

No DQ Match: Kane vs Shawn Michaels

This was part of the really bizarre (and by bizarre I mean stupid) storyline where Kane ‘married’ Lita and put her boyfriend (both in real life at the time and on TV) Matt Hardy out of commission.  Kane has an open contract for a match at the show and because his spouse supposedly can approve it also, Lita puts in Shawn Michaels name.  Yeah that makes no sense to me either.  Don’t ever complain about present day booking if you accepted that foolishness when it happened.  We did get a good no-DQ match out of it though, so whatever.

World Tag Team Title Match: La Resistance (c) vs Rhyno and Tajiri

Didn’t watch this match either.  You don’t care about La Resistance and neither do I.

World Title Match: Randy Orton (c) vs Triple H 


Well…..this was a Triple H main event, after he’d taken a few Ls in main events earlier in the year, and against someone ‘not on his level’ at the time…..so you know what that means.  Match was very good, Orton showed that he was more than capable in the ring even that early in his career, but of course Hunter was going over.  The finish was way overbooked with three run ins and a ref bump, but that’s better than a clean finish burial.

Overall Verdict

Good show start to finish, although the main event booking was puzzling to me.  Actually the booking for the whole month leading up was strange to me.  If you want to take the title off Benoit, fine.  But the whole Evolution breakup seemed a bit rushed, and to do it just to put the belt on Hunter a month later reeks of HHH being HHH.  And then a few months later Bautista would break out of the group and face HHH for the title at ‘Mania XXI.  Was the point to try and get Randy and Bautista over as main eventers in a short period of time?  If the endgame was Bautista vs HHH anyway why not keep the belt on Benoit for another month until this show and have him drop it to HHH?  A one month title reign for Orton was a waste of time here, and they could have just waited until they thought he was ready to make a real run with the belt.  But that doesn’t take away from what was a good show.  Worth checking out.

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