Wednesday, April 11, 2018

WWE No Way Out 2003

For those who are following these PPV write-ups on a weekly basis, I had already done the 2003 Royal Rumble a year or so ago. You can read the musings here and assume I feel the same way watching that stupid show here, because I do.

Live from Montreal, the City of Screwjobs, it's No Way Out... okay, that sounded cooler back in 2003... actually, that's a lie. That never sounds cool. Anway, we have the rematch of an iconic Wrestlemania X8 encounter as well as a rematch of a less-than-stellar Royal Rumble encounter... also the return of Steve Austin; his first WWE appearance since his much-publicized walkout in 2002.

Chris Jericho defeated Jeff Hardy (a last minute replacement for Test, who was out with an injury) in a pretty enjoyable and fast-paced match. Good way to open a show, I think. Jericho holds on to the Walls on Jeff after the match, prompting Shawn Michaels to come out and make the save. Christian would come out afterwards, but ends up eating Sweet Chin Music instead. This would lead into the great HBK vs Y2J match at Wrestlemania XIX that would cement Shawn's second WWE career.

RAW Tag-Team champions William Regal and Lance Storm defeated Rob Van Dam and Kane to retain the titles. The finish was pretty clever in a way where Storm blinds Kane with his own mask and, being unable to see, ends up chokeslamming his own partner rather than Storm. Actually, now that I think about it, it wasn't clever; it was silly and screw you, Lance Storm, for subjecting the world to this kind of atrocious finish. No Cracker Barrel for you, boy. This was a nothing match for better or worse. Not bad, not great, just there.

Matt Hardy defeated Cruiserweight Champion Billy Kidman to win the title. Once upon a time, Matt Hardy was light enough to compete for the Cruiserweight title... and then somewhere along the way he got fat and eventually became broken. I don't know where I was going with that, but it's important to keep that gag in there even if it no longer makes any sense or something. Again, this was a thing that happened and that's all I got out of it. Going with Matt was probably a good thing; Kidman might be a better Cruiserweight (before he got fat and stuff), but Matt has a personality and that's much more important in the grander WWE stage. So, there.

Undertaker defeated Big Show in a match that saw the first ten rows pass out from oxygen deprivation. Those still conscious were unfortunate enough to witness a shitfest that was slow, plodding, and went on too long. Didn't help that neither big guy was at their best and it's hard to get invested in a match when neither participant is giving you a reason to care.

Brock Lesnar and Chris Benoit defeated Kurt Angle, Shelton Benjamin, and Charlies Haas in a 2-on-3 handicap match. Edge was supposed to be in this match, but was taken out backstage... presumably to cover up for the eventual neck surgery he was supposed to have shortly around that time. This was alright. Benoit got Haas to tap out, saving the fall of Angle for Mania where it belongs. Not much else to say about this one, really.

In a morbidly funny bit, Chris Benoit is wearing a shirt that says "Toothless Aggression."

World Heavyweight Champion McSon-In-Law defeated Scotty "Poppity Pump" to retain the title. Anyone who thought their Royal Rumble encounter was the worst of the lot were clearly deluding themselves because this was way the fuck worse. People can make the argument that "this was shorter" and "it had a proper finish" and "it didn't have as many suplexes" or whatever hackeyned excuse you want to shoot out, but that only means more of this fucking travesty. At least the first time around, before the match happened, you were looking forward to Scott Steiner beating the ever loving piss out of McSon-In-Law and maybe even win the title. But with this rematch, you're just hoping this ends quick. And in my opinion, it didn't end quickly enough.

With this match going so badly, the days of Scott Steiner being a main-eventer in WWE were over before they had a chance to begin again.

So here's Uncle Eric, he tries begging, then the glass shatters, out comes old Stone Cold and the Montreal crowd embraces him despite his walk out and subsequent personal issues that have been highly publicized, but who gives a shit about all that because here's Stone Cold beating the ever loving piss out of Uncle Eric. This was an excuse to have Austin come out, kick ass, kick wham stunner, and drink a bunch of beer. It's not a match; it's a welcome back party.

The question remained how long Austin would hold out this time around; either due to health issues or due to concerns with creative. The answer turned out to be up until Mania, which saw one last match against the Rock. And speaking of which...

The Rock debuts cool new entrance music. Beginning with a video of a helicopter coming in, followed by some stock city shots, and then we get the deeper, cooler remixed version that I honestly wished he stuck with going forward, but I guess that wouldn't give with his current personality or whatever it is he tries to pull off these days.

Meanwhile, Hulk Hogan comes out to Voodoo Child... unless you're watching the Network version, in which case he's coming out to Real American. In hindsight, I often wondered why he didn't come out to Real American when he got "turfed" from the nWo shortly after Mania 18, but at least, he didn't come out to American Made. I'm actually quite surprised that they'd even bother to have him come out to a Jimi Hendrix song, but I suppose that was pretty fucking cheap back in the day.

Anyway, The Rock defeated Hollywood Hulk Hogan in a match that featured a screwjob finish involving crooked referee and future tag-team champion Sylvain Grenier and faultly lighting equipment. The whole purpose of this match was to set-up Hogan's match with Vince McMahon, while the Rock got Austin in his last showdown. Doesn't help that this rematch wasn't all that great.

Mind you, the first Rock vs. Hogan match wasn't good from a technical standpoint, but that match had the benefit of a contrarian Toronto crowd who went against the script and cheered Hogan on despite being the heel. And it wasn't because they hated Rock or anything; it was because they were welcoming Hogan home as it were. This match in Montreal doesn't have that; the homecoming shine has long gone and it feels more like an afterthough than anything with substantial merit.

No Way Out 2003 is half-full. Once you get past the six-man tag match thing, it starts running on empty. The Stone Cold return might have been the only highlight of the show on that end, as the parade of rematches ended up being more underwhelming than anything. And now I regret rewatching this thing... just as I regret watching the next batch of shows for the sake of these weekly (or should it be weakly?) PPV musings.

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