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WWE No Way Out
by Samoa Rowe
February 19th 2006
-From Baltimore, MD. Our hosts are Michael Cole and Tazz.
“Rey, you’re looking up towards the heavens like you’re looking at Eddie. Let me tell you something, bro. Eddie ain’t in Heaven, Eddie’s down there… IN HELL!” -Randy Orton (speaking to Rey Mysterio). I think this quote sums up this entire period in Smackdown history, and why I’m less than ecstatic about revisiting it.
WWE Cruiserweight Championship:
Gregory Helms © vs. Scotty 2 Hotty vs. Paul London vs. Brian Kendrick vs. Funaki vs. Psychosis vs. Super Crazy vs. Nunzio vs. Kid Kash
Helms dropped The Hurricane gimmick due to Katrina, then promptly jobbed to Jerry Lawler in a crap match at New Year’s Revolution. That “momentum” lead him to jumping over to Smackdown and stealing the jobber title in another unproductive Cruiserweight Open match at the Royal Rumble. That leads us to this 9-way match, featuring nine jobbers who lose constantly and have lucked their way into a title match and are looking to win a championship since it’s convenient. I bet some readers will forget that half the participants were even employed by WWE.
Bell rings and Helms flees the ring, leaving the others to brawl. First notable spot is London’s leaping mule kick on Nunzio. The Mexicools work together to splash London and Kendrick at ringside. Kid Kash slams Funaki but is way off on a moonsault. Helms returns to prevent any pinfalls, since this is apparently sudden death. Helms soon finds himself on the receiving end of a gang beat down. The match deteriorates back into everyone fighting at once, hitting meaningless spots. Kid Kash actually earns a pop for a diving head scissors takedown. Cole and Tazz are talking about the “fast and furious” action you can only see from these Cruiserweights, with zero attempt to get any of the individuals over in any way. The roster gets piled up for a dive sequence, but Helms prevents Super Crazy from doing anything cool. There’s a sequence of rapid pin breakups, including Scotty 2 Hotty stirring up nostalgia by hitting The Worm on Helms. Kash plants Psychosis with the Dead Level, Super Crazy breaks the pin with a moonsault, but Helms sneaks in to steal the pinfall at 9:40. The action was fine, but the booking was the usual throwaway Cruiserweight nonsense, **.
Winner and still Cruiserweight Champion: Gregory Helms
-United States Champion Booker T and Sharmell try to convince Theodore Long that Booker is too hurt to compete. They pathetically get down on their knees, prompting Long to order that Booker defend the title against Chris Benoit or forfeit the gold.
-Krystal Marshall tries to talk up Wrestlemania, but Finlay interrupts. Not sure where Krystal was going with that had Finlay not shown up, but okay. Finlay is upset that he’s not booked and abducts Krystal. They head to the ring as Finlay seems to want to wrestle her. Cue the Bobby Lashley save. The brawl turns to Finlay’s favor as JBL shows up for his scheduled match with Lashley.
John Bradshaw Layfield (with Jillian Hall) vs. Bobby Lashley
Lashley counters Finlay with a suplex and turns around to cut off JBL’s ambush. JBL thumbs the eye, but Lashley answers with hard shots. Lashley impressively leap frogs JBL and nails a back body drop. Jillian’s interference doesn’t work and JBL suffers a belly to belly suplex on the floor. Lashley uses all his strength to nail a body slam, but JBL shoves him through the ropes to take control. JBL strangely delivers a flying elbow drop and slows the pace down. JBL puts Lashley in a sleeper, but I’m the one who dozes off for a few minutes. Lashley comes back with a power slam counter and rallies. JBL eats a series of belly to belly suplexes and cuts his face in the process. Lashley hit’s a T-bone suplex for a near fall that the fans bought hook, line, and sinker. Finlay returns in time to screw everything up and JBL finishes with the Clothesline from Hell at 10:54. Match was better than you’d expect, but was surrounded by crappy booking, **.
Winner: John Bradshaw Layfield
-Batista makes a surprise appearance, having recently vacated the World Heavyweight Championship due to injury. I bet WWE would have liked to splice in the hero’s welcome he gets here at the Royal Rumble 2014. Dave cuts a rambling promo about how much he misses Smackdown and the fans, etc. He announces that his surgery was a success and will be back (not until June, though he makes it sound like his return is imminent). I personally don’t care for this, but the live fans appreciated the surprise.
-Randy Orton visits World Heavyweight Champion Kurt Angle in his dressing room. Orton is confident he’ll be World champion by the time Batista comes back. Angle is a bit too intense for the moment, dismissing Orton to focus on the Undertaker.
-JBL seems to be enjoying himself on the Instant Access panel. Good for him.
WWE Tag Team Champions MNM (Joey Mercury and Johnny Nitro, with Melina) vs. Matt Hardy and Tatanka
No, that’s not a typo, Matt Hardy’s surprise partner is none other than TATANKA. That might be the most random surprise partner in the history of wrestling, but at the time Tatanka was making a comeback as a legitimate member of the active roster. Melina joshes with the referee to allow Mercury an ambush on Matt. It doesn’t take long for Matt to counter, leading to some quick tags. Hardy and Tatanka work together for a double back suplex on Mercury. MNM manage to snap Matt’s neck on the ropes to settle him in as Face in Peril. Tatanka gets an opening, but Melina thumbs his eyes to allow MNM to slam him onto the floor. A winded Tatanka gets beat up for a while (with a boring chant) until Matt gets the routine hot tag. Tatanka returns with a double flying chop block and goes on the warpath. Matt and Tatanka hit their finishers in unison to finish at 10:26. This match was formulaic, yet bizarre, and didn’t help anyone involved, *¾.
Winners: Matt Hardy and Tatanka
-Chris Benoit comes to the ring, expecting a U.S. title match. Booker T and Sharmell join him in the ring, but Booker makes another last minute play to avoid having to defend his title. It’s worth noting that Booker is U.S. Champion because Randy Orton served as his proxy and defeated Benoit in the finals of a Best of Seven series. Booker calls out Long and would rather forfeit the title than have to wrestle Benoit. This is really odd booking. Booker starts leaving, but Benoit prompts the crowd to chant “Coward” at Booker. That’s funny, I don’t remember Batista getting this sort of grief when he dropped the World title weeks earlier. Sharmell gets upset and slaps Benoit while questioning his manhood. Booker jumps Benoit from behind and the match is on.
United States Championship:
Booker T © (with Sharmell) vs. Chris Benoit
Benoit absorbs early punishment, but manages to throw some chops. Booker catches Benoit entering the ring but eats a reverse suplex. Back suplex by Benoit gets a 2 count. Booker loses his balance while countering into a jackknife cover, and Benoit lands more chops and drive him into the ring steps. Booker wants a time out due to a groin injury, but it’s another ploy, as he pulls Benoit into the ring steps. Booker takes control as we enter the rest hold portion of the match. Benoit counters with a German suplex, but Booker blocks the crossface and nails a hard kick to regain control. After a loooong sleeper spot, Benoit reverses with a back suplex. Booker hangs Benoit on the ropes and delivers some suplexes. They exchange chops, Booker misses the Scissors Kick, and Benoit goes on a chopping spree. Benoit pays homage to Eddie Guerrero with the Three Amigos, and the fans haven’t started the Eddie-ploitation backlash yet. Superplex by Benoit only gets a 2 count. Booker rebounds with a spinebuster but misses the Harlem Hangover. Benoit bounces up with rolling German suplexes. Sharmell’s distraction prevents a Swan Dive, allowing Booker to hit the Scissors Kick for a near fall. Benoit gets knocked into the ropes to knock Sharmell off the apron, but manages to apply the Sharpshooter, and then Crossface for the submission win at 18:06. They tried, but this was sluggish and boring, and the attempt at a hot streak late in the match didn’t quite hit the mark, **½.
Winner and new United States Champion: Chris Benoit
-Rey Mysterio is waiting to congratulate Chris Benoit (I assume because he did it for Eddie) and the rest of the Smackdown babyface roster joins in the celebration, including Chavo and Vickie Guerrero. Benoit is looking forward to celebrating again later when Rey beats Randy Orton, which will also be for Eddie. This segment felt icky by the end.
Rey Mysterio vs. Randy Orton
In case you forgot, Rey is putting his Royal Rumble victory on the line here, and since we all continued caring about the Royal Rumble stipulation in the nine years since, I think we can all relax about Roman Reigns doing the same thing in 2015. Also, Orton roped Rey into this match by claiming that Eddie is in hell, a moment that has gone down in wrestling infamy. As the bell rings, Cole and Tazz point out that Rey’s daughter is in the front row, just to make sure we feel extra bad for Rey later. The storyline surrounding this match is so uncomfortable and gross, they’ll have to have an especially great match to make up for it.
They have a slow, cautious start, and Orton scores first with a waist lock takedown. Rey answers with a side headlock takedown, but crashes and burns on a cross body attempt. Orton takes control the only way he knows how: very slowly. Orton mocks Eddie’s mannerisms, making me want to turn the show off. That’s not great heel heat, that’s slimy promotional tactics. Rey attempts a head scissors off the apron, but Orton counters by swinging him into the ring post. That spot was meant to establish an injured arm on Rey, which Orton begins exploiting. Unable to gain a pinfall, Orton smashes Rey’s arm on the ring steps and wraps it around the turnbuckle. Rey arm drags Randy through the ropes to buy himself some time. Orton attempts an Electric Chair counter, but Rey reverses with a Sunset Flip Powerbomb for a near fall. Rey does the Eddie dance and drop-kicks the knee to set up a springboard seated senton. Rolling neck breaker by Rey cuts Orton’s forehead. Orton counters another springboard move, but Rey counters back with a not-quite Tornado DDT. Randy thumbs the eye and counters with a drop-kick in mid-air. Rey blocks the RKO with a drop-kick to the face. Randy intentionally places himself in position for a 619, Rey takes the bait, and Orton counters and grabs the ropes in a pinning predicament for the win at 17:25. So the lesson here is that Mysterio is an idiot. The match itself was pretty good, it’s just hard to get past the exploitation of Eddie Guerrero, **¾.
Winner: Randy Orton
-Orton grabs a microphone to rub some salt in Rey’s wounds. Randy is on his way to the main event of Wrestlemania (well, semi-main event, but I digress) and Rey is going nowhere. I seem to remember that Rey gets added back to the match at Wrestlemania simply because Theodore Long felt bad for him. I’ve withstood some bad creative periods over the years of watching WWE, this is right up there amongst the worst of them.
-Rey Mysterio apologizes to Chavo and Vickie for letting Eddie down, but they’re quick to forgive him. That sound you hear off in the distance is me vomiting. Rey walks past a bunch of sad looking superstars and dramatically departs down a hallway. This might have been a great segment if someone hadn’t legitimately died and was having his name dragged through the mud for the sake of “entertainment.”
World Heavyweight Championship:
Kurt Angle © vs. The Undertaker
Bell rings and Angle ducks a big boot. Angle goes for the back and gets a clean break, but Undertaker misses a wild back hand swing. Taker goes after the arm, lifting Kurt up in the air to set up a ground submission strategy. Angle blocks Old School, but Undertaker flips Kurt by the arm and hits Old School anyway. At this point, my WWE Network VOD ceases to work (on my tablet, browser, and PS3) so the remainder of this review is brought to you by Youtube. Taker misses Snake Eyes, allowing a German suplex from Angle for 2. Taker hangs himself on a big boot attempt and Angle knocks him off the apron to earn a breather. Angle leaps off the frame into Taker’s arms and gets thrusted into the ring post. Guillotine leg drop by Undertaker, but Angle blocks the choke slam and goes after the knee. Kurt applies the Figure Four around the ring post, a spot I always enjoy. Kurt is slow to notice Taker countering him in the ropes and gets dropped to the floor. I get déjà vu as Taker goes for another guillotine leg drop, but Angle counters into an ankle lock on the floor. Back to the ring, Angle continues working over the knee, while Undertaker tries using MMA-type counters to save himself. Angle pounds the face, but Taker counters with a Triangle Choke (not yet renamed Hell’s Gate). A rope break leads to Taker throwing Kurt around at ringside. Taker clears the announce table, but Angle surprises with an Angle Slam through the Spanish table! Taker would have been counted out, but Kurt stops the referee. Kurt pursues the Dead Man but gets whipped into the ring steps. Angle scratches and claws before hitting a quick belly to belly superplex counter. Taker pops up for a big boot for 2. Angle counters the choke slam with the ankle lock. Undertaker counters into the Triangle Choke, but Kurt rolls back into the ankle lock. Taker escapes and finally connects with the choke slam, but Angle kicks out! Angle rolls through the Last Ride into another ankle lock. Taker escapes, only to eat an Angle Slam for only 2! A slug-fest breaks out and they trade Tombstone reversals until Angle rolls into yet another ankle lock. Kurt grapevines the leg and Undertaker nearly taps before rolling over to kick Angle in the face. Angle sprints into an Angle Slam, but Taker blocks the cover with another Triangle Choke! Angle nearly passes out before rolling Undertaker over for the pin at 30:14! The crowd was confused by that finish, but I think it worked out very well in the context of the story they were telling. I reviewed this match years ago as a “Random Review” and gave it a low rating because I thought it was too long and dull. Years later, I consider this to be a well-crafted epic, with an attentive crowd that popped for the right moments, but gave them the wiggle room to build to the big spots. A great match for Undertaker and Angle to hang their hats on, ****¼.
Winner and still World Heavyweight Champion: Kurt Angle
Final Thoughts: A great main event almost saves a show that was plagued by flat matches and hideous booking decisions. I’ll be generous and give it a Thumbs in the Middle out of respect for Undertaker and Angle, but all the Eddie nonsense ranks in the all-time lowest ranks of depressing wrestling booking.
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