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SD! presents WWE No Way Out
February 15, 2004

by Rick Scaia
Exclusive to OnlineOnslaught.com


After his break-out year in 2003, the type of fan who inhabits the internet started making claims about Eddie Guerrero's value as a bona fide main event wrestler.  He was often the most-over man on SD! but, we dreaded, would never get his due because he was too small, or too Latino or too old to suddenly start investing main event resources in him.

Well, no matter where we go from here, WWE proved that our dread was misplaced.  Capitalizing on Guerrero's undeniable appeal, they crowned him WWE Champion on tonight's No Way Out PPV...  although an assist from Goldberg was part of the equation, Eddie scored the win essentially on his own, following a title-belt-assisted DDT and a frog splash.  As if "Eddie Guerrero, WWE Champion" isn't sweet enough, the win also came in what is definitely 2004's first serious Match of the Year candidate from WWE.

And now, Eddie goes on to WrestleMania XX, where he'll face Kurt Angle, in what could be a match even better than the one against Lesnar.  Angle overcame John Cena and the Big Show to earn the #1 Contender spot.  Another Guerrero, Chavo, also won gold, with a Cruiserweight Title win over Rey Mysterio in the night's other marquee match.

Here are the full results from the just-completed WWE No Way Out pay-per-view (with editorial thoughts tacked on in red italics):

  • On Heat, the new, non-highlight-package content consisted of: Big Show cutting a promo claiming innocence in the matter of Kurt Angle's backstage attack last Thursday, promising to win the #1 Contenders match and to go WM20 to face Brock Lesnar, and when faced with the possibility that Eddie might be the champ instead of Brock, he laughed and laughed...  Eddie showed up at the arena in a low-rider, and already, the "Eddie!" chants were firing up... and Tajiri, Sakoda, and Akio beat Ultimo Dragon, Billy Kidman, and Paul London in a very solid 7-8 minute contest (when Sakoda and Tajiri double-teamed on Dragon, allowing Tajiri to score the pinfall).
  • After the requisite fluffery (which included hype for Eddie/Lesnar and also carting Torrie and Sable out for cheap pops), the PPV, proper, opened with Scotty 2 Hotty and Rikishi retaining the WWE Tag Team Titles with a win over the Basham Brothers and Shaniqua.  Despite the 3-on-2 handicap, Scotty and Rikishi got off to a fast start...  but Scotty got cocky, and went for the Worm only moments into the match.  Shaniqua cut him off, and from there on out, it was all in favor of the challengers for several minutes.  They were so confident that Shaniqua insisted on tagging in so she could herself a little Scotty.  Bad idea.  Around the 6 minute mark, Scotty got an opening against Shaniqua and hot-tagged Kish, who was the proverbial House o' Fire.  While both Bashams stayed occupied with Scotty, Rikishi went to work on Shaniqua; things looked bad when she dodged a Stinkface attempt, but Rikishi came back almost immediately and hit a Samoan Drop, which set up the Banzai Drop and the pinfall win.  [A by-the-book opener, maybe 8 minutes, and with a few beloved, in this case ass-related, spots to warm up the crowd... but really nothing notable beyond that.]
  • Jamie Noble beat Nidia, continuing the trend of "underdogs" overcoming handicaps to win.  In this case, Noble was blindfolded, but still scored the victory.  Match was a big fat nothing, really, just played for laughs: Noble fumbled around and looked bad.  Nidia flitted to and fro in a fetchingly bouncy way and kept on coming at the bewildered Noble from unexpected directions with mildly humiliating offense (depantsing Noble, for instance).  Wash, rinse, repeat.  Finally, Nidia got bold, and after hitting an actually debilitating spot, she decided to go up to the top rope to maybe finish Noble off.  But while the ref was scolding Nidia, Noble took the chance to pull up the hood and sneak a peak.  Now aware of his surroundings, Noble quickly re-affixed the hood and fake-fumbled his way to the turnbuckle, where he found Nidia and slammed her off the top rope.  Noble then locked in a Dragon Sleeper-looking hold, and Nidia had no choice but to tap out.  [Maybe 4 minutes, tops, and utterly harmless.  Sorta funny at the start, sorta effective in terms of making Noble seem like an asshole at the end.  Not sure this is how I'd spend my PPV time, but nothing to get upset about here...]
  • Backstage: Kurt Angle was interviewed about being attacked last Thursday.  He says he didn't get a look at his attacker, but common sense tells him it had to have been either John Cena or Big Show.  Since Show already proclaimed his innocence, it was Cena who popped in and took issue with Kurt's accusations here. Cena said if he had a problem with Kurt, he'd take it straight to Kurt's face and not attack from behind.  Like right now: Cena popped Angle, and the two started tussling until refs stepped in.
  • The World's Greatest Tag Team beat the APA.  Very nice outing here, despite the contrasting styles.  They spilled continuity all over the place: Bradshaw's arm was heavily bandaged, and they had footage of him injuring it on Thursday in his match against Benjamin.  The same arm was a big part of the match tonight....  after Haas and Benjamin started going after the arm, Bradshaw decided to tag out and let Faarooq work.  Which immediately led to the WGTT taking about HIS arm, as well.  This went on for several minutes, with Bradshaw doing his best Robert Gibson on the apron.  Hot tag finally comes, and Bradshaw cleans house... and in a fit of rage, he uses his injured arm to hit a Clothesline from Hell on Charlie Haas.  But he was in too much pain to capitalize; after crumpling to the mat, Bradshaw got up and walked right into a wicked superkick from Shelton Benjamin, which was enough to put him down for the three count.  [No bells, no whistles, just a kind of old-timey tag match with a rock solid intra-match story.  Probably another one in the 8 minute range, and I actually liked this one better than the opener.]
  • Bill Goldberg arrived, and started walking down to his ringside seat.  After we got a video package recapping Goldberg's issue with Lesnar, we came back live to see Goldberg in his seat, while Paul Heyman was on his way out to confront him.  Heyman immediate asserted his authority, and said something along the lines of "Hey, I know you've spent a year over on that other inferior brand, and you probably want to see a REAL pay-per-view.  But that's ALL you'll do tonight, or else you'll be arrested.  Capice?"  Brock Lesnar decided to come on down at this point to prove to us all that he's not intimidated by Goldberg.  Lesnar taunted Goldberg, even as Heyman kept saying that if Goldberg crosses the line, he'll be arrested.  But apparently, that's exactly what Lesnar wanted Goldberg to do, because he uttered the magic word.  He called Goldberg a "bitch."  That was it: Goldberg was over the barrier and in the ring, post haste.  Heyman was able to distract Goldberg from attacking just long enough for Lesnar to take Goldberg down and ALMOST set him up for an F-5.  But Goldberg said, "No Sale," and made his big comeback, culminating in a Jackhammer on Lesnar.  Goldberg got a smug look on his face as he stood over the KO'ed Lesnar, and as Heyman went berzerk, calling for cops and medical personnel, he let himself get cuffed and carted away.  In the ring, Lesnar was just getting groggily to his feet when Bob Holly's music hit...  apparently, he saw a chance to get some vengeance on Brock, and wanted to take it...  but Heyman saw it coming and quickly shepherded away from the ring, setting us up for a seamless, ECW-style transition into the next match....
  • Hardcore Holly pinned Rhyno in their Grudge Match.  Fast brawling start as the match ignited in the aisle coming out of the Goldberg angle.  But then they settled in, and Rhyno went on offense, and restholds became ubiquitous.  D'oh.  The story, such as it was, was Rhyno was softening up Holly's ribs with stuff like leg scissors.  Things picked up when Holly started his comeback, though, and the sort of hard-hitting slobberknocker I expected finally materialized.  Holly's rally got a few near falls, and Rhyno got a few of his own by stopping Hardcore in his tracks with spinebusters and stuff like that.  Finish was kind of out of left field, with Rhyno hitting the Gore on Holly.  But Bob ducked out of the ring.  Rhyno let him be, and the ref counted Holly to a 9 count... at which point Holly rolled back in, to Rhyno's frustration.  But as soon as Rhyno moved in to follow up, Holly shocked him by quickly hitting an Alabama Slam for the win at the 10 minute mark.  [I loved the way they segued, ECW-style, from the very strong angle into this match.  Slick.  First few minutes were OK, too, but boy did this one drag for the middle half... last few minutes were quality, again, though, and I guess that "playing possum" finish was good for getting Holly a win that seems just cheap enough that it doesn't emasculate Rhyno too badly.]
  • Lights out!  They do a version of the Undertaker/chair video from RAW, this time, with "34 days" changed to "28 days." The significance is not lost on Tazz, who notes that it appears as though Taker intends to show up at WrestleMania XX.
  • Chavo Guerrero beat Rey Mysterio to win the WWE Cruiserweight Title.  For all my fears about this being a throw-away match, secondary to little angles involving boxers and senior citizens, this turned out absolutely awesome, the first match of the night that felt like it was PPV-ready, instead of just solid, run-of-the-mill Thursday night material.  Crowd got into it early, as Chavo started going for Rey's mask, and Chavo Sr. wound up getting involved a bit, too.  In fact, about five minutes in Chavo Sr.'s antics proved to be too much for Jorge Paez to handle.  From his spot in Rey's corner, Jorge decided to step in, and he KO'ed Chavo Cr. with a big left hand.  Ref saw this, however, and for some reasons deemed it unacceptable behavior.  So Paez was ejected from ringside, leaving Rey to fight alone.  But it was OK, cuz Chavo Sr. was knocked out and a non-factor for the time being.  Still, Chavo settled in on offense, and was targeting Rey's lower back and ribs (with backbreakers, abominable stretches, and Boston crabs, among other moves).  About five minutes of this, and Rey started a rally, and the match REALLY picked up at this point.  Rey packed in a bunch of his sweet spots, and both guys hit near falls. Finish had Rey hit a 619, and then he springboarded for a senton, but Chavo rolled through it, and locked in another Boston Crab.  Rey scuttled to the ropes and got a break, but Chavo dragged him back to the center and didn't want to release the hold.  Finally faced with disqualification, Chavo broke the hold, but then started arguing with the ref.  Rey decided to take advantage by going up to the top rope for a big move... but with the ref occupied, Chavo Sr. picked that moment to interject himself again: he knocked Rey's leg out, and Mysterio tumbled messily to the mat, bouncing off the ropes in a pretty brutal looking bump.  Chavo immediately capitalized, rolling Rey up, grabbing some tights maybe, and getting the pinfall win.  New champ.  [Easily 15 minutes, maybe inching up on 20.  I'm sorry I doubted that WWE intended to let these guys do their thing...  final five minutes were top shelf action, and the finish is definitely the right one.  Chavo had big heat tonight, and since circumstances dictate that he had to move away from his feud with Eddie, this'll keep him firmly on the radar.]
  • Backstage: Chavos Junior and Senior are celebrating, but pause long enough to motion towards a locker room that apparently belongs to Eddie...  they say that Eddie won't win because he's a loser and an addict and that the monkey on his back will keep him from climbing the mountain.  Jerks.
  • Kurt Angle defeated Big Show and John Cena in a 3-Way Match to earn a WWE Title Shot at WMXX.  Pre-match freestyle had Cena sort of proposing to Angle that they team up to take out Show, but then he ruined that by inviting Angle to join Show in marveling at his genitalia, or something.  Out of the gate, they do various one-on-one sequences, with no alliances forming.  Two guys go at it while the third sits back and chuckles...  this goes on for maybe 3 minutes, but once we get into guys scoring near falls, the third guy is not so keen on sitting back and waiting.  Story here was very focused on John Cena's injured knee, which took him out of the match for a minute or two to set up a reprise of Show vs. Angle one-on-one.  But Cena was back quickly, and this was really fast-paced and packed with near falls, saves, and all manner of action.  For whatever it's worth, it definitely seemed like when Cena and Angle went one-on-one that Angle was trying to work a bit heelishly (going to extra lengths to do dastardly things to Cena's knee, for instance).  Because of the third guy always being able to make saves, this felt kind of "time compressed," with big moves and near falls and false finishes popping in kind of early; I think it was probably only 7 minutes in that Cena hit an F-U on Show, for instance.  But first, Cena sold that it hurt his knee, and then Angle tried to interfere, and by the time Cena finally made the cover, Show had enough time to recover and kick out.  Action continued at a frenzied pace for maybe 4-5 more minutes, and the finish came as Cena seemed ready to finish off Angle... but Show stopped that by clipping Cena's injured knee, and then tossed Cena's knee into the turnbuckle for added punishment.  Angle, however, had time to recover, and came up behind Show and hoisted him out of the ring with an Angle Slam.  Then, seeing Cena on the mat, writhing in pain, Angle pounced, going after the leg immediately, and getting Cena to tap out to an ankle lock at maybe the 11 or 12 minute mark.  [Significantly shorter than I would have guessed...  or preferred for that matter.  Like I said, I got that feeling of "time compression" that usually fits fine for Thursday night matches, but which kind of annoys me on the PPV stage... still, what we got here was stellar, and I can only grade based on what we got, not on what I might have liked to have gotten.  Really good stuff here, great fast-paced action, and some nice big match sizzle with the crowd really into it.  The seeds of Angle going heel were also very effectively sowed, and I liked how Show actually did the major damage on Cena's knee, but Angle capitalized for the win.  Angle seems heelish, but it also subtlely builds the foundation for Cena and Show continuing with a one-on-one feud, now.  Maybe a bit short, but great while it lasted.]
  • Eddie Guerrero pinned Brock Lesnar to win the WWE Title. Crowd is red hot from the get-go.  Lesnar is in pure bully mode, tossing Eddie around and acting pretty dismissive of Eddie's attempts at offense.  Tazz adds to that vibe by opining that he doesn't Eddie is in Brock's league, that he's totally out-matched here.  Fans didn't let that stop them from chanting enthusiastically for Eddie, though.  But Lesnar didn't let THAT stop him from decimating Eddie for the first several minutes of the match.  In fact, for the first 10 minutes or so of the match, I don't know if Eddie got much more than isolated hope spots in terms of offense... nothing really sustained for him, at all.  But that made it all the sweeter when Eddie finally did catch a break, when Brock flew from the ring and landed wrong on his leg or something.  Eddie instantly took over, and did every leg-related move he could think of, including a great chain wrestling sequence that ended with an STF.  Eddie also worked a Figure Four into the repertoire during the middle portion of the match.  Around the 20 minute mark, Lesnar finally over-powered Eddie and regained the advantage with a spinebuster and then a gutwrench-bearhug-thingie.  The sympathy spot set up Eddie's superman comeback around the 24 minute mark...  and the crowd was going NUTS when Eddie built up to his trio of vertical suplexes (nailed the third to a huge pop), and then went to the top for the Frog Splash.  But Brock dodged it.  With Eddie taking the full force of the fall, Brock moved in to finish things off with an F-5.  But in hitting the move, Lesnar swung Eddie's legs directly into the ref...  and you better believe that was more than enough to send fragile Brian Hebner down for the count.  With no ref, Lesnar decided to go out and grab the WWE Title belt to use as a weapon.  Crowd immediately sensed what MUST come next, and chanted for Goldberg...  and who should appear just as Lesnar was loading up?  Goldberg.  Sporting busted handcuffs, Goldberg charged the ring and speared Lesnar.  Surveying the scene -- all three men KO'ed -- Goldberg decided his work was done, and left the ring....  Eddie was the first to stir.  He crawled over to Lesnar.  Draped an arm over.  Hebner recovered.  Crawled over.  One....  two....  kickout by Lesnar!  Hebner decided to go crouch in a corner and try to regain full consciousness, allowing Eddie to grab the title belt... but Lesnar ducked when Eddie swung, and immediately spun Eddie back around to get him in F-5 position...  but Eddie wormed out of that and turned it into a lightning quick DDT, with Lesnar's head landing square on the WWE Title belt.  Eddie kicks the belt out of the way, heads to the top, nails the Frog Splash.  One.  Two.  Three.  Eddie Guerrero is the WWE Champion.  Hot damn.  The PPV ends with Eddie celebrating with the belt in the crowd (including with some family members, including his mom) and on the commentary desk, as Tazz and Cole profess that they can't believe Eddie did it.  [Mark it down: you will be going back to this tape when you're deciding on your Match of the Year voting in 10 months.  An excellent 30 minute contest that first took advantage of the obvious size mis-match before taking advantage of the two guys' amazing abilities to put on a great match despite the apparent mis-match.  Eddie did more science-y mat wrestling than you might be used to, and Lesnar had to bring a bit more speed to the table than is common for him, but the results cannot be argued with.  I kind of hoped that Goldberg's interference for the night was done after he was carted away, since anything else might take away from Eddie's accomplishment, but after seeing the finish, I think they perfectly executed the two-pronged task of making Goldberg/Lesnar a pressing issue while still making Eddie's win all about Eddie.  This was the best match of 2004 so far based simply on the performance, but I'd be lying if I didn't also say that seeing Eddie hoisting the big gold didn't make it even more delicious...  super main event.]

First half of the show?  Eh, take it or leave it.  The WGTT/APA match (and also the Heat six-man) were pretty enjoyable, I guess, but no more so than a Thursday night throw-away match.  And the tag title match, Rhyno/Holly, and Noble/Nidia were downright disposable....

But the second half?  Man alive...  that's the kind of stuff that makes me happy to fork over my money.

Eddie/Lesnar is, no hyperbole here, a Match of the Year candidate, and the added satisfaction of seeing Eddie Guerrero as the champ goes beyond my capacity for words at this point.  Last year, I kind of THOUGHT we'd get to a spot where Eddie might be a viable champ... but even as I thought that, I seriously doubted whether WWE would have the guts to pull the trigger.  Well, pull they did, and in a match that kicked all kinds of ass, to boot.  Toss in Chavo/Rey being way more satisfying than I'd expected and a three-way that was outstanding even if a little on the short side, and you had one hell of a final 80 minutes or so.

Big time Thumbs Up from this corner.  More thoughts and fall-out tomorrow in OO....


Rick Scaia is a wrestling fan from Dayton, OH.  He's been doing this since 1995, but enjoyed it best when the suckers from SportsLine were actually PAYING him to be a fan.

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