Thursday, October 30, 2014

Through the Years: No Way Out 2003

No Way Out 2003
February 23rd, 2003 – Bell Centre in Montreal,Quebec, Canada – Attendance: 15,100

Following a Royal Rumble that saw Brock Lesnar earn a shot at the WWE Title at WrestleMania, he began his feud with Kurt Angle on the road to No Way Out. On the Raw side of things, Triple H would continue his feud with Scott Steiner despite their terrible match at Royal Rumble. I remember WrestleMania XIX being one of, if not my favorite WrestleMania of all time so I hope that the final Pay-Per-View before it can be somewhere near as good. Also, after months away, two of the biggest stars in history, The Rock and Stone Cold Steve Austin return to Pay-Per-View on this show.

Raw commentary consists of Jonathan Coachman and Jerry Lawler while the theme song of this show is the awesome “Bring Me To Life”.

Chris Jericho vs. Jeff Hardy
Embroidered in a feud with Shawn Michaels, Chris Jericho had him barred from ringside for this match. It may be a play by the WWE to protect HBK since this is the first Pay-Per-View in Montreal since the infamous screwjob in 1997. A nice wrestling sequence opens things until Jericho slaps Jeff disrespectfully. Because we're in Canada, the crowd is really behind Jericho even though he's in full heel mode. Jeff hits a slingshot moonsault for a near fall to get his first offensive outburst. He misses his guardrail spot, allowing Jericho to take control. Jeff's paint is all over his shirt and Jericho's face. I would be pissed. Jericho misses a tackle in the corner but it doesn't faze him much. Fans are fully in Jericho's corner as Jeff gets his knees up on a Lionsault. Jeff misses an enziguri and gets put into the Walls of Jericho but he reaches the ropes. Jeff connects with a hip toss off the top and removes his shirt, causing adolescent Canadian females to lose their minds. He nails the Swanton Bomb but Jericho gets his foot on the ropes. He goes for the Walls but it gets countered into a small package for two. Jeff nails a dropkick and neckbreaker before climbing up top again. This time, it fails as he misses the Swanton. Jericho scores with the Lionsault but only gets two. Sleeper Drop from Jericho but it only earns a near fall, even though he used the ropes for leverage. Jeff goes for a top rope hurricanrana but it's reversed into a second rope powerbomb! Jericho locks in the Walls and, despite his best efforts, Jeff has to tap out.

Winner: Chris Jericho in 12:59
Solid opening contest. The crowd was hot, the right guy went over and it was a good performance from both guys. ***

After the match, Chris Jericho refuses to break the Walls. Forget what I said about Shawn Michaels being protected earlier as he comes to the rescue to a ton of heat. Christian comes out but ends up eating Sweet Chin Music as Shawn Michaels stands tall. 

Cutting backstage, Kurt Angle is prepping Team Angle for their big match. It's fantastic how all three guys have titles. A limo arrives and I can only assume that it's nWo or whatever hot angle Nitro has running right now. Wait, this is not Nitro? Oh, it's Evolution in the limo. As they walk in, the camera catches Stone Cold's pickup truck.

World Tag Team Championship
Lance Storm and William Regal (c) vs. Kane and Rob Van Dam

What the hell is going on with the World Tag Team Titles? I've seen them go from Jericho and Christian, to Booker and Goldust to Storm and Regal to the Dudley Boyz and back to Storm and Regal. And that's just over the last two Pay-Per-Views. Coachman says that RVD made his debut against Goldust at last year's No Way Out, which is so incorrect it's crazy. Lance Storm and Rob Van Dam kick things off and it's the athletic showcase you'd expect and one that ECW fans enjoyed. Regal comes in and eats a monkey flip before Kane gets tagged. Kane works over the heels for a bit. RVD goes for Rolling Thunder but Storm rolls outside, so Kane launches RVD out and onto him. RVD goes high risk again but it fails as he's knocked outside. This allows the Champions to pick him apart with suplexes and multiple near falls. RVD manages to make the hot tag and Kane hits a flying clothesline and beats up on both Champions. Storm tries to remove Kane's mask in foreshadowing to later in the year. This leads to RVD tagging in, but with Kane's mask moved to the side, he can't see and he Chokeslams RVD. This allows Storm to steal the win.

Winners and Still World Tag Team Champions: Lance Storm and William Regal in 9:20
Your basic tag team match. They used tag formula but it wasn't anything special. However, I give points for the creative ending. **1/2

Rob Van Dam gets to his feet and is not happy with Kane after the match. Kane is the Big Red Apologetic Machine but RVD walks off. Josh Matthews, with his ridiculous haircut and earring, interview Matt Hardy. Matt stops the interview to talk trash to Jeff who walks by. Jeff, unhappy with this, slaps him. I feel like Matt remembered that and held onto it until 2009 leading to their WrestleMania XXV match. Or not. I'm a firm believer in long term booking.

WWE Cruiserweight Championship
Billy Kidman (c) vs. Matt Hardy w/ Shannon Moore

Michael Cole and Tazz are the Smackdown commentary team if you didn't know. Matt is annoyed by snow and ice and he also takes hot tea with milk and sweetener. God I miss Matt Facts. Matt gets the early upper hand and does some jumping jacks because the story leading into this was that Matt had to work out hard to make the weight for this match. Matt gets Kidman on the apron and whips him into the corner which looked cool. Side note, I miss the love that the Cruiserweight Title got from 2002-2003. Version 1 applies a cross arm choke to wear down the Champion. Kidman counters the Side Effect in a cool way with a rollup for two but Matt gets back on the offensive instantly. I like the idea that Matt, being a bigger cruiserweight, would focus on wearing down the smaller guys. Matt counters a sleeper hold into a the Ricochet, which is a back suplex into an elbow. Kidman catches a break with an enziguri. He connects with the D-Lo Brown Sky High because YOU BETTER RECOGNIZE, but only gets two. Matt hits the “AHHHH” second rope leg drop for another near fall. The Champion blocks the Twist of Fate, hits a big dropkick and dives to the outside. A Shannon Moore distraction allows Matt to hit the Side Effect, but it only earns a near fall. Kidman hits the BoDog, kicking Moore in the process. He goes for the Shooting Star Press but misses as Matt rolls out. Twist of Fate hits, and Kidman sells like his neck broke, but he kicks out. I didn't expect that. They fight up top and Matt falls to the mat, but before Kidman can capitalize, Moore grabs his foot. This allows Matt to climb up and hit a top rope Twist of Fate to end it!

Winner and New WWE Cruiserweight Champion: Matt Hardy in 9:31
Solid match but the crowd wasn't as into it as I hoped. A better reaction from the crowd would've made this much better. **3/4

Stephanie McMahon and EMTs are running backstage because Chris Benoit and Brock Lesnar found their partner for tonight, Edge, knocked out cold. CONTROVERSY!

Big Show w/ Paul Heyman vs. The Undertaker
In the pre-match video package, The Undertaker has a line saying “Be a man and fight me.” The delivery is tremendous. Undertaker goes after Brock on the outside with SOUPBONES! Show rams him into the post but Taker comes back with the guillotine leg drop on the apron. Undertaker brings a chair into the ring but Show punches him down. If this was present day, Undertaker would be knocked out. The former Tag Team Champions go toe to toe and Undertaker stupidly tries a slam, leading to Show landing on him for two. Show works him over, Undertaker gets in some offense, but falls victim to a power move from Show. Wash, rinse, repeat. Undertaker blades for some reason and Michael Cole says that the fans are silent because they can't believe what is happening to Undertaker. No Michael, they're quiet for another reason. Taker tries a Chokeslam and it fails so he goes with Old School instead. With Brian Hebner not looking, Undertaker hits a low blow and a DDT for two. Undertaker continues to look like a buffoon by calling for the Last Ride. News flash, YOU CANT LIFT HIM! Show hits Snake Eyes but when he tries the Tombstone, Undertaker counters into the Dragon Sleeper. A-Train tries to get involved but gets taken out with Undertaker's impressive leap to the outside. Show nails the Chokeslam but Undertaker turns Show's poor pin attempt into a triangle choke! Show is forced to submit.

Winner: The Undertaker in 14:08
This got too much time and The Undertaker looked dumb throughout. The finish was creative though, so points for that. *3/4

The Undertaker goes to attack with a steel chair after the match, but A-Train lays him out. We cut away to find out that Edge was taken out of the arena on a stretcher during the previous match and the upcoming contest will still happen. Michael Cole, in his infinite wisdom, asks “How is this match going to on?”

Eric Bischoff and Chief Morley discuss his match with Steve Austin backstage until Mr. McMahon comes in and says that nobody is allowed to interfere in the match. If anyone gets involved, he'll fire them on the spot. 

Handicap Match
Brock Lesnar and Chris Benoit vs. Team Angle w/ Paul Heyman

So, Brock Lesnar and Chris Benoit were given the opportunity to pick a new partner but they decided they're better off alone. Benoit starts with Shelton Benjamin and they got through a wrestling sequence with Benoit winning out. Charlie Haas gets the tag and Benoit beats him up for a while. Brock gets the tag and crowd gets pumped. Brock is in control until a Kurt Angle distraction seems to turn the tide. Brock doesn't care though as he just counters Haas and continues to pound on him. A well placed kick from Benjamin takes down Brock, so Angle tags in now that the Beast is wounded. He applies a rear naked choke for a long time until Brock uses the corner to break the hold. Both guys make the tag, bringing in Benoit and Benjamin. Benoit works the hot tag stuff, snap suplexing Haas onto Benjamin before hitting a German on Angle and three on Shelton. Benoit signals for the headbutt but Angle runs up the corner and hits a big belly to belly. THE STRAPS ARE DOWN but Lesnar grabs him in a choke hold until Benjamin breaks that. Haas connects with a gorgeous belly to belly suplex on Benoit for a near fall. Angle gets the tag and works the mat, wearing down Benoit. I sense a Brock hot tag coming soon. Benoit rallies and fires away with chops until Angle this a German suplex. Haas and Benjamin hit their tag finisher and despite me being a HUGE fan of theirs, I never knew the name of the move. It earns them two as Benoit continues to fight back. Lesnar gets the hot tag and he seriously suplexes everyone across the ring, even tossing Haas into the corner like he weighed nothing. Benjamin knocks Brock outside as Benoit makes the blind tag. Benoit gets caught in the Ankle Lock but reverses into the Crippler Crossface. Back into the Ankle Lock, then back into the Cross face. Team Angle breaks the hold but Haas ends up in the Crossface. Benjamin breaks it and Brock knocks him outside. Brock hits the F5 on Kurt as Haas ends up tapping to the Crossface.

Winners: Brock Lesnar and Chris Benoit in 13:19
Really good stuff. I enjoyed it throughout, though I thought Brock would get the pin heading into WrestleMania. ***1/2

World Heavyweight Championship
Triple H (c) w/ Ric Flair vs. Scott Steiner

Triple H talks about going 30 minutes with Scott Steiner at the Royal Rumble. They actually went 18 but it felt like 120. Who thought they should get a rematch? Commentary instantly discussed how there are a lot of Triple H supporters in the crowd. Seriously, it's like 80/20. Steiner targets Triple H's injured left leg in the early stages. He applies a Figure Four, so Ric Flair cries gimmick infringement and rakes him in the eyes behind the referee's back. Steiner takes him out at ringside to a chorus of boos. We even have “Steiner sucks” chants. As Triple H pounds on Steiner, we have “Boring” chants ringing out. This is brutal. The Steiner comeback draws boos and a HHH neckbreaker gets cheers. HHH BLATANTLY uses the ropes for leverage on a pin and gets caught. He shoves Earl Hebner, and because we're in Montreal, gets a huge pop for that. Hebner shoves back and man, I used to hate when he would do that. Steiner goes back to hitting belly to bell suplexes. Steiner Recliner gets locked in, so Flair calls out Randy Orton and Batista. Steiner takes them out, which looks awful. HHH sets up for the Pedigree to cheers but Steiner stops it. Can this just end? Steiner continues to toss around guys that are far more talented than him. HHH lays out Steiner with the World Title as Hebner ejects Evolution. Steiner kicks out to everyone's dismay. Pedigree is hit and it's thankfully over.

Winner and Still World Heavyweight Champion: Triple H in 13:01
That was slightly better than their Royal Rumble debacle until the ridiculous overbooked finish. Hated this. DUD

Eric Bischoff vs. “Stone Cold” Steve Austin
Apparently, Eric Bischoff is an eighth degree black belt. I had no clue that was even possible. Bischoff tries to forfeit but that obviously isn't happening. Austin attacks to make the bell ring as commentary discusses how Bischoff fired Austin in WCW because he wouldn't be anything more than a mid-carder. The crowd is molten hot for Austin as he stomps like seven mud holes in Bischoff. Bischoff gets in a kick that has zero effect on Austin. Austin hits a Stone Cold Stunner but picks up Bischoff's arm when he covers. He tells the referee that Bischoff kicked out on his own which was funny. A second Stunner and Bischoff is made to kick out again. He hits a third and it's over.

Winner: “Stone Cold” Steve Austin in 4:26
It was what it was. This was meant to entertain the fans and it was a huge squash as it should have been. SQUASH

Jim Ross damn near has a heart attack while shouting “STONE COLD! STONE COLD!”

“Hollywood” Hulk Hogan vs. The Rock
The Rock is in full “Hollywood” Rock mode, which was one of my favorite things of all-time, despite it being short lived. He has the extremely drawn out elaborate entrance and it's glorious. Rock tries a sneak attack but Hogan catches him in the act. Rock mocks him and decides to chill outside. He stalls for a bit until Hogan gives chase and falls for Heel Tactic #4 as Rock attacks once he slides inside. Sylvan, future member of La Resistance, is the referee for this match. Hogan hits his 80's offense until Rock hits a Rock Bottom from out of nowhere. Hogan kicks out and Rock puts on Hogan's bandana. I feel that Rock's heel run here was just him having a blast. He takes off the weight belt of doom and whips Hogan with it. Rock hits a DDT and kips up before smelling what he's cooking. Sharpshooter gets applied, drawing boos because Montreal doesn't like mockery. Hogan gets to the ropes and Rock brings in a chair. Hogan gets it from him and when Sylvan takes the chair, Rock hits a low blow. Spinebuster is hit and Rock nails the People's Elbow before hopping up and hitting a second, this time posing like Hogan. Hogan powers out because he's Hulking Up. This leads to the big boot and Leg Drop but the lights go out during the pin. When they come back on, Sylvan is knocked out. Vince comes out to “you screwed Bret” chants, while Sylvan proves to not be knocked out as he slides the chair to Rock. Rock lays out Hogan and hits the Rock Bottom. Sylvan shoots up and counts the three.

Winner: The Rock in 12:20
Did not have the magic of their first encounter and was relatively dull. The saving grace of the match was Rock's heel tactics as he was entertaining as hell. **

Vince McMahon celebrates with The Rock and Sylvan before they leave and he reveals a Hulkamania shirt under his suit. It says Hulkamania Sucks on it. 

Overall: 4/10; Weak. I was very disappointed with this show. The only matches really worth checking out are the handicap match and the opener, and neither was that great. Everything else is forgettable. Not the best show heading into WrestleMania. Rock/Hogan was nowhere near the level of their WrestleMania match the year before and we got another dud from Steiner and Triple H. Not recommended.