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[2000-09-24-WWF-Unforgiven] Matt & Jeff Hardy vs Edge & Christian (Cage)

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This being AJW cage rules is much easier approachable for me in current day than the last time I watched this when it happened in real time. Jeff is out of the match early but remains a big factor throughout the match integrating himself when he could. Matt became very sympathetic and did a blade job. Edge was much better here than in TLC and overall this is probably the most impressive E&C performance in ring as a unit IMO. The finish with the whisper in the wind and Lita’s rana really built up the Hardy’s and based on past history, the crowd was waiting for the rug to be pulled out from under them. That never happened and the pop for the Hardy’s winning was great and felt extremely genuine. **** (7.8)

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The payoff to this was big but felt a little rocky getting there. For one, the crowd and even the announcers seemed confused by the escape rules as they are unsure whether Jeff can get back in the cage or not. The ensuing work over Matt with the blade job and all seems like it should work a little better in theory than it does in execution here. But I will credit them for approaching this in an interesting way and really getting the crowd into it by the end. Jeff really puts his body on the line and the Lita spot off the ladder was really amazing and fitting within the flow of the rivalry. Edge also takes a nasty fall and this got to a good place by the time the Hardys climb down to win the belts.

 

***

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I like the way that Jeff gets eliminated early in an accidental way - it plays on the first guy leaving usually being a mistake of strategy in these types of matches and avoids that psychology pitfall. Jeff's constant attempts to get back in backfiring feels appropriate too, and plays into his character of being reckless - the chair ends up in the cage used by E&C, he knocks Christian out of the cage with the ladder, and even the big spot knocks out both Edge and Matt. That said, these two teams had set the spot bar so high that this feels slightly underwhelming at points. I did like the finish being the Hardyz swiping E&C's finisher, and the right team won, as the Hardyz were getting to the point where a loss would have marked them in a negative way. I don't do star ratings most of the time, but this feels shy of **** but not by a ton.

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This was a hot mess but all's well that ends well. At least the finish was satisfying. They were kind of in a bind because they wanted to do something special but were fourth from the top and weren't given a lot of time. If not for the Whisper in the Wind spot this could have been a regular TV bout but booking saved the day. The combination of Lita's spot and the con-chair-to finish made sure this ended on a high even if all it did was paper over the cracks from a structural point of view. But hey, it's the midcard. How much can you do?

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I like the structure of this match. It's not rocket science and it feels kind of rushed, but you probably don't want these guys going very long. Jeff going over early let Matt get the MVP of the match, because he looks great being thrown into the cage. Jeff was at his best when he was on the outside of the cage not being able to help his brother. E&C playing border control on Jeff was a good way to make this match stand-out.  I think his Whisper in the Wind from the top really didn't look great, but the spots where he tried to climb the cage only to splat on the floor all did. That Whisper in the Wind was probably the worse thing in this match other than Michael Cole. With these two teams in a gimmick match on a PPV, you know they are also going to give you a handful of nutty bumps. I already mentioned Jeff's leap off the top, and while it didn't look good, it's certainly a nutty bump that pleased the crowd. Personally I prefer Matt getting superplexed, Christian's bump off the ladder from Lita's rana, and Edge taking the con-chair-to. The camera missed the set-up, but Christian flying into Matt while he was between the cage and the ropes looked really cool too. The cage setting made Edge look better than his usual shitty self too. A lot of the offense was centered around throwing Matt into the cage and the cage obstructed the view of Edge's shitty punches a little bit. 

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