WWE Unforgiven 2008: Was the Championship Scramble Concept a Success?
As a new format of match for the WWE, the Championship Scramble provided viewers of Unforgiven with a bunch of unknowns, not just in terms of who would end up as Champions at the end of the night, but in how the matches would play out.
Would the order of entry of the participants make a difference? Could any of the Champions going in retain their title all the way through the match? How would the strategy pan out for “current” champions, and those in the match trying to take that temporary title away from them?
Overall, I was disappointed with the way that the Scramble matches worked out. The results were fine, but the method of getting to them was somewhat dubious, and stretched the extent to which suspension of disbelief was possible.
In all three matches, pinfalls happened far too frequently: If these are supposed to be the best that each brand has to offer, they should not be getting pinned from one move after just a few minutes wrestling, particularly early in the match when they should still be fresh. How can we be expected to believe that someone is capable of kicking out of (say) Chavo Guerrero’s Frog Splash after 10 minutes of a one-on-one match, when it is enough to eliminate an opponent after five?
Similarly, Matt Hardy’s tactics in the last four minutes of the ECW Scramble should have been followed by all of the “current” champions—don’t get too involved yourself, but prevent anyone else from making a pinfall by breaking up each attempt.
This folly cost Dave Batista in the Main Event.
The continual picking on The Brian Kendrick was a cleverly worked tactic, with repeated pinfalls on him, but instead of covering him at the end, why didn’t Jeff Hardy simply break up the cover Triple H had on MVP—it would have won him the match. In fact Jeff’s tactics when “current” Champion were terrible: he seemed to think that he had to pin someone to win!
The start of the World Championship Scramble was a little odd. JBL seemed to be holding out against Batista’s Figure-four Leg lock for no reason at all—it wasn’t as though he had the title to lose at that point. He could have submitted with no cost to himself.
Chris Jericho’s introduction as the replacement for CM Punk was a surprise, yet one that worked very well. Knowing that whoever replaced the departing Champion had to be in the match for a reason mean that although it seemed that Jericho did very little, you always had to keep an eye on him.
It reminded me somewhat of Steve Austin’s turn on the WWE during the 2001 InVasion PPV when he spent a fair amount of the match apparently selling a knee injury—you knew something was going on, but just not what exactly!
In the end Y2J took a typical opportunists move to grab the World Title, whilst Batista was busy dealing with Rey Mysterio.
Overall the matches were entertaining despite the strange booking choices.
My biggest concern was the number of pinfalls (five, seven, and three respectively) in three 20-minute matches.
It was reminiscent of the cruiserweight elimination matches that used to be put on PPVs to give the cruiserweights a match but that had eliminations every few seconds. This cheapens the effect of longer matches, and with the lack of long matches given TV time these days, I find it worrying.
Overall, the concept worked reasonably well, but could have been better managed/booked to address the issues above, and I look forward to further Scramble matches in future.
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