I grew up with pro-wrestling. As a young child, I remember fondly watching WWF every weekend and seeing colorful characters like Jake the Snake Roberts and The Big Bossman. In the early 90s, my love of wrestling had grown to where I would follow things pretty closely; when the mid 90s hit, there wasn't a week that passed that I didn't watch every WWF and WCW program on the air. The WWF Attitude Era was must see TV for me; Stone Cold Steve Austin and The Rock were favorites; on the WCW front, I was torn between the now, led by a heel Hulk Hogan (in my opinion one of the best moves in his career) and the embodiment of old school wrestling, Ric Flair. WWF would prove the victor by keeping things exciting and unpredictable, by as the early 00s rolled around, Vince McMahon had bought his competition, WCW and ECW, and things would never be the same.
I quickly lost my love for watching the sport and felt things would never be the same. In early 2006, I happened across Raw on TV and decided to see how far things had changed. I was happy to see the storylines had slightly improved, there were still performers giving it their all, but it was still a shadow of its heyday. I casually follow the WWE, mostly for the brief moments were true athleticism is allowed to shine, but rarely do I see much that reminds me of the "good old days." Is it because I'm now an adult and I'm finally seeing how childish the business has always been? I don't think so.
ECW Championship Scramble Match: Mark Henry vs. The Miz vs. Matt Hardy vs. Finlay vs. Chavo Guerrero
ECW, once the definition of anti-establishment, now the 'C' show of the WWE. Thoughts about the treatment of the ECW brand aside, this match was a decent show opener. Matt Hardy and The Miz start things out and do a decent job of putting on a well-paced match. As the other competitors enter the ring, things get messy. The ending is a bit sloppy, but keeps the audience on edge.
WORLD TAG TEAM CHAMPIONSHIP MATCH: Cryme Tyme vs. Cody Rhodes and Ted DiBiase
Things took a downward turn here as the audience is treated to a tag team match that is on par with a television quality filler match. It's obvious to any wrestling fan that the heyday of tag teams are over. The feuds are generally third string and often scrapped with no explanation. Cryme Tyme is a team I don't care for; while JTG and Shad are very entertaining in the ring, the street thug gimmick is not something I care for, and even more, seems more suited towards a heel team. Cody Rhodes and DiBiase, both riding on the success of their respective fathers (Dusty Rhodes and The Million Dollar Man), show nothing outstanding here. This is generic wrestling and by the time the match has ended, the show's steam has been hampered.
UNSANCTIONED MATCH: Chris Jericho vs. Shawn Michaels
Shawn Michaels and Chris Jericho are two names that have been synonymous with wrestling for quite some time. Michaels is without a doubt a living legend, regardless of his past personal life and behind the scenes attitude. Jericho is arguably one of the great misused performers of the decade, but this year, he's finally cemented his place in the modern WWE. Gone are the days of goofy, flashy, wisecracking Y2J; suit wearing, cold, calculated, serious Jericho is here and the fans hate him, as they should. This heel run for Jericho has been one of the brightest spots of the year, and having Jericho, who is also a tremendously gifted in-ring performer, feuding with Shawn Michaels is a recipe for greatness. The Michaels/Jericho feud brings back memories of the intense old school wrestling feuds and the series of matches leading up to this one have always had both men giving it their all. The promos are intense and the fans are 100% behind face and 100% against heel.
This match is nothing short of amazing. For a no DQ match, Jericho and Michaels keep a balance between classic in-ring athleticism and pure brawling brutality. I honestly had no idea who would end up the victor here and both men consistently tell a story in-ring. The ending is shocking and Michaels is intensely serious post match. I would highly recommend this match for any old school disenfranchised fans; it will not disappoint.
WWE CHAMPIONSHIP SCRAMBLE MATCH: HHH vs. Jeff Hardy vs. MVP vs. Shelton Benjamin vs. Brian Kendrick
It's obvious that one of two men will be walking away the champion here, but that doesn't stop this from being a great match. For the first fifteen minutes, Hardy, MVP, Benjamin, and Kendrick go full steam and give the crowd their money's worth. The control of the match is all over the place and keeps you on your toes until HHH's inevitable arrival. I don't hate HHH but when he hits the ring here, to the delight of the crowd, he cleans house and for the final five minutes, the pace changes. The ending while initially appearing to be chaotic, is actually just lazy. Still, there's enough here for repeat viewing.
WWE DIVAS CHAMPIONSHIP: Michelle McCool vs. Maryse
The placement of this match on the card is obvious. It's bathroom break time. I don't have anything personally against women's wrestling, but the two women fighting here just aren't on the same level as Melina, Beth Phoenix, and Mickie James. A very short match time wise, but very, very boring. The crowd is dead save for a few negative chants of "YOU CAN'T WRESTLE." I don't agree with these chants considering the majority of the people chanting it can't wrestle either; these women are nothing special, but their role in the event is a necessary evil.
WORLD HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP SCRAMBLE MATCH: Batista vs. Rey Mysterio vs. Kane vs. JBL vs. Chris Jericho
Unforgiven is presented in a 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer. While colors are rich and brilliant, the transfer is plagued with problems. There is constant, noticeable edge enhancement, pixelization and compression artifacts. A few moments looked plain ugly. As Kane makes his entrance, the pyro is riddled with these artifacts and makes the whole WWE production look second rate. I've seen these same problems with the HD weekly feeds, so I feel safe in saying this is a standard WWE problem.
The 5.1 Dolby Digital English audio is suitable for the event. It's a front heavy track with the surrounds mostly there for background audio and entrances. Also provided is a Spanish audio track with alternate Spanish language play-by-play.
There are two extra segments here, the first being an "exclusive" interview with Vickie Guerrero and The Big Show as they leave the event. It runs less than a minute and sets up a feud with The Undertaker. The second is from the next night's Raw. Chris Jericho addresses the crowd and cements that the feud with Shawn Michaels is not over.; this segment runs under five minutes. Both of these extras are nothing special.
WWE Unforgiven 2008 is a decent event, but still nothing like I remember from a decade ago. The Unsanctioned Michaels./Jericho fight and World Heavyweight Scramble match are the only real matches I see with replay. The rest of the matches range from enjoyable to being a blatant waste of time. Most hardcore fans will buy this disc for completions sake; everyone else should just give this a rent. Rent It.