RBTR – Unforgiven Preview

Mitchell Gadd

Hello everybody, and welcome to another edition of Reading Between The Ropes. With Unforgiven just a few hours away, it’s time to run down the card and give you guys an idea as to what you can expect to see Sunday night. This is not the first RBTR that has previewed this year’s Unforgiven, however. My last column – entitled ‘Out With The Old, In With The New?’ – highlighted the reasons why I felt this PPV, while very mediocre on paper, is still one of great importance in determining the future of the WWE and the mindset of it’s writers. This was done so in particular reference to the Shawn Michaels vs. Chris Masters match which will be previewed again later in this column.

Indeed, the card looks very weak, so hopefully going in to the show with little expectations could lead to at least this writer being somewhat entertained for some portion of the 3 hour broadcast. So, without any further ado, let’s run down the card.

Ashley and Trish Stratus vs. Torrie Wilson and Candice Michelle

At least the trade over for Torrie and Candice saw some kind of change to their usual sickly personas on TV. Mind you, it’s difficult for me to have any sort of negative attitude or cynicism towards a woman who looks like Torrie Wilson. So, Trish is back, and she’s back as a face. I guess the women’s division, if you can call it that, was kind of devoid of faces.

Anyway, as for the match, well I don’t exactly expect a 25 minute classic. In fact, I’d pretty much expect a short car crash of a match. Ashley will, most likely, be caught in no man’s (or woman’s) land for the majority of this match, until Trish gets the hot tag and cleans house, giving her team the victory.

Kerwin White vs. Shelton Benjamin

The build-up for this match has been horrible, and it’s actually made me disinterested in the match, as opposed to what it’s job should have been; to get the appetite to see this match whetted. I think both of these guys are exceptional athletes, so by the time the bell rings the poor build-up to this match should be forgotten about.

This match should be given some time because it has the potential to be one of the best matches of the night, however, I don’t see it getting anymore than 10-12 minutes, at best. Shelton has been on a horrible losing streak as of late, and desperately needs a win. However, I don’t see that win coming in this match. I’m tipping Mr. White to get the win with some underhanded tactics.

Gene Snitsky vs. Big Show

I don’t think too many people are looking towards this match for inspiration when trying to get hyped about this card. Snitsky has showed no signs of improvement during his time with the WWE and Big Show always needs the right man in there with him to put together a good match. Show has his uses, but matches with men like Snitsky don’t play to his strengths. He’s better in the David vs. Goliath type matches, where the fresher man does more work. Snitsky is not apt to play such a role.

These are not the sort of matches people are too happy to see on Raw, let alone a PPV. WWE need to cut out crap like this on brand exclusive PPVs, otherwise writers like myself will continue to call for an end to the brand split. Oh, if it means anything, I see Big Show taking the win here in a match which won’t greatly, if at all, exceed 10 minutes.

World Tag Team Titles: Hurricane and Rosey vs. Cade and Murdoch

Based on one of my favourite premises; the challengers win a non-title match against the champions and so they score a title match on PPV. Of course, I’m being sarcastic and I truly hate such a lazy build-up to any feud.

Cade and Murdoch are still far too new as a team for me to have any sort of opinion on them. However, since the tag team division is so desperate for teams I think nobody is complaining that they’re on the scene. I also think that few will bat an eye-lid when they win this match and take the belts.

Steel Cage Match: Matt Hardy vs. Edge

This is the match I’m most looking forward to on this card, and it will probably get plenty of time to do itself justice when looking at the other matches on this card it has to compete with. As everyone should know, I’m a massive fan of Hardy and, irrespective of any personal feelings towards Edge, I have always felt Edge is a very valuable member of the roster.

There was a time when I felt Edge was definitely capable of moving up towards the main event. However, I haven’t seen the progression in his performances that would warrant the push. I still feel the push will come for him, though, especially with that briefcase still in his hands. But, for now, it’s about this rivalry for Edge, and whether he will get the nod over Hardy on PPV again.

I most definitely hope he doesn’t. Despite the speculation as to when Edge will move up to the main event and my belief that he could make such a transition if he takes it up a notch or two like I know he can, I still feel Hardy has more potential than Edge higher up the card. Hardy has always been a favourite of mine, even before he got quite the bandwagon of fans for his personal trauma. Hardy is technically sound and a highly engrossing entertainer in that ring. That’s why, personal story aside, I’m still dying to see Hardy win this. Of course, with the personal issues in mind, I also want to see Hardy kick the guys ass as well. Hah. How fun it is to get lost in the world of wrestling.

Whether he does this or not is highly questionable. I feel the WWE would much rather push Edge than Hardy and would like to give Edge the victory here. They may well do that, but I feel that they feel that they need to have Hardy have the last laugh to put this thing to bed and move on with pushing Edge and adopting a ‘wait and see’ policy with Hardy. So, Edge could win this and then get his ass kicked by Hardy anyway, or Hardy could take it and Edge could move on to bigger things. I don’t think a loss would hurt his cause in that department too greatly.- not if he really is good enough to step up to the main event. So, perhaps somewhat with heart and hope over head, I pick Hardy to win this and for the feud to end… perhaps with a twist of fate to Lita?

Shawn Michaels vs. Chris Masters

So, this is the match which I discussed in great detail in my last column. The old vs. the new, if you will. The chance to make a statement that the WWE will not hold down younger talent, perhaps? Well, that would be too simplistic a description for what is a very complex web of significance for this match. The WWE have already shown some positive intent by having younger guys in spotlighted matches. Irrespective of what you think of Masters, the fact that he represents a newer generation – a younger generation – shows that the WWE might be ready and willing to move on.

Michaels won’t be around forever, so would giving him the victory in this match be the right decision? Well, it depends on the way the match itself pans out. If Masters gets plenty of licks in on Michaels and proves his point to a certain extent, then giving Michaels the win would sit fine with me. However, if he is mauled and put to rest comfortably then the point of this entire feud is eradicated. With the attention given to this feud and the look of the rest of this card then I can only see the former being the case, which is definitely the right way to go.

Will the WWE go as far as to give Masters the win? Well, they could do and, if they did, I wouldn’t be joining the countless others that will no doubt claim that Masters isn’t deserving of this victory. It’s not that I’m a massive Masters fan, it’s merely that investment in the future is probably worthy of the WWE’s time right now. It’s what Masters represents in this match that is important, not the man himself. He represents the next generation. Not necessarily him, but guys LIKE him are the future, and if the WWE don’t make a move to usher in that new generation soon then they could fall in to a similar trap that WCW did.

Having said that, Michaels is still better than most of the roster right now, despite being past his prime. I expect an epic battle, a breaking of the Masterlock when all is seemingly lost, and Michaels to squeak out a victory and make Masters seem a worthy opponent. That I would object to.

If you want to read more on this match and elaboration of my views on the above then read my last column – ‘Out With The Old, In With The New’.

IC Title: Carlito vs. Ric Flair

Another match which pits a younger guy against an older guy. Let me put this out there right now; I will be truly devastated if the WWE give the victory to Ric Flair here. It would really leave me scratching my head if they do, but seeing as that seems to be a specialist of the booking and writing team, I will not rule it out as a possibility.

The fact that the WWE are playing up how Ric Flair has never won the IC Title is good for build-up purposes, but is scary in the way that they may be doing so to justify giving Ric Flair the victory here. Carlito hasn’t been given a chance to succeed or fail as the IC Champ yet, so for that reason alone he should be allowed to continue his reign.

I see this being a fairly long contest as it’s one of the matches with the most build-up on the card, and perhaps HHH will appear and cost Ric the belt? That’s unlikely, however. I see Carlito retaining the belt, and I damn well hope I’m right.

WWE Title: John Cena vs. Kurt Angle

Angle is most definitely back to his best right now and he’s looking like he’s free of injury worry, which is great news for all wrestling fans. I’m really in to the way the WWE have portrayed Angle lately, and the way Angle’s character has been one of intensity and complete and utter focus. The way JR describes Angle as untouchable when on his game is a very wise move for no other reason than the fact that most of us believe that to be true.

These men have met many times in the past, and who could forget that incredible match they had on Smackdown! which brought John Cena to the attention of wrestling fans all over the world. Kurt has a knack for bringing out the best in other people, and I don’t see that being any different tonight. These two men met on PPV earlier this year at No Way Out and I thought it was an exceptional contest.

Cena’s has a fairly lengthy reign as champion, and perhaps this might be time for it to come to an end. Angle has certainly been the MVP of both rosters over the past month and a half. His promos and matches have been so intense and so in tune that he is definitely looking like a man at the top of his game. Long may it continue.

But will Cena’s title reign continue? I expect a long match and a really entertaining battle. This is perhaps the toughest title match to call in quite some time. I really am throwing up both scenarios as I write this. However, I am going to go with Cena retaining… just. Perhaps by losing the match via count out or disqualification. I’m not sure. However, I don’t think Cena’s reign will end just yet.

Until next time,

Mitchell L. Gadd

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