No Way Out 204

No Way Out 2004
Date: February 15, 2004
Location: Cow Palace, San Francisco, California
Attendance: 11,000
Commentators: Michael Cole, Tazz

It’s the final pay per view before Wrestlemania XX and we’ve got a one match card. Well two if you stretch a bit. The main event is Brock Lesnar defending the Smackdown World Title against Eddie Guerrero, who has reached the point where he almost has to win the title. Other than that we have a triple threat match for the next World Title shot at Wrestlemania. Let’s get to it.

Here are Playboy cover girls Torrie Wilson and Sable to open things up. They’ve been enjoying San Francisco and now it’s time for you to enjoy them. There’s nothing the two of them won’t do so welcome to the show.

The opening video looks at Lesnar vs. Guerrero, focusing on Eddie’s family falling apart because of his addiction issues. Now he’s clean though and the title is the only thing left for him to win. Nothing else even gets a mention.

Tag Team Titles: Basham Brothers/Shaniqua vs. Scotty 2 Hotty/Rikishi

Scotty and Rikishi are defending. Danny and Scotty start things off as the announcers try to figure out if Shaniqua would be a champion if they win. That’s rather different than say at Wrestlemania V where Monsoon and Ventura knew the rules and said Mr. Fuji was just a partner for one night. Heaven forbid the announcers aren’t bumbling knuckleheads though and actually have to call the match.

Scotty dances a bit for a distraction and grabs a tilt-a-whirl headscissors to put Danny down. It’s off to Rikishi and Doug with a hard clothesline keeping the champs in control. Shaniqua gets pulled in but it’s too early for a Stinkface. Scotty comes back in but Shaniqua gets in a cheap shot from the apron to break up the Worm. Leave it to her to make sure there’s no fun to be had in a match.

She comes in legally for the first time and shows off that Tough Enough style of offense, consisting of a kick to the ribs and a slam before a backdrop allows the tag off to Rikishi. A bad DDT puts Danny down and Shaniqua jumps on Rikishi’s back. The Rump Shaker is broken up by a double powerbomb to give Shaniqua two. Scotty clotheslines both Bashams, leaving Shaniqua to take a Samoan drop and the Rump Shaker to retain the titles.

Rating: D+. That would be it for Shaniqua and I don’t know how many people are going to miss her. The dominatrix thing was a waste of a perfectly fine tag team and after two years, Shaniqua was little more than a not great manager. The match was all it needed to be and the fans liked the ending, but it wasn’t exactly in doubt. Now maybe the Bashams can be an acceptable team again.

We recap Nidia vs. Jamie Noble. Nidia was blinded by Tajiri’s mist so Noble started treating her like dirt. It turned out that Nidia had regained her sight and knew what was going on so she turned on Noble for being a jerk. Tonight, Noble will be blindfolded.

Jamie Noble vs. Nidia

Noble can’t see so he falls out to the floor, allowing Nidia to slap him in the face. Back in and Nidia hits a dropkick and jumps on the mat a bit to throw Noble off. Noble manages to back her into the corner and doesn’t realize that she’s a foot in front of her. With that out of the way, Nidia pulls his shorts down for the comedy. A grab of the leg doesn’t get Noble anywhere as Nidia sends him outside again. Back in and Nidia taunts him a bit before tripping Noble to the mat. Nidia finally starts beating on him and goes up, allowing Noble to pull the hood up to slam Nidia back down. A guillotine choke makes Nidia tap in a hurry.

Rating: F. You can tell Smackdown is in trouble as this is as good of a way as they can find to fill in the pay per view time. The comedy here was something a six year old might find funny and while Nidia is miles better than Shaniqua, she still looks like someone who has only been doing this for a short time. Just awful here and no reason to have it on pay per view other than a way to fill in a spot.

Kurt Angle says he’s ready to go to Wrestlemania but John Cena comes in to say not so fast. He’s the kind of guy who would knock Angle out like someone did on Smackdown, but he would do it to Angle’s face. The fight is on and referees break it up.

World’s Greatest Tag Team vs. APA

This was added on Smackdown and Bradshaw has a bad arm coming in. Shelton and Faarooq start things off and we flash back to 1999 with an APA chant. Benjamin takes him down to start so Faarooq elbows him in the face, which plays into the grapplers vs. strikers theme that the announcers were pushing at the start. It’s off to Bradshaw for some forearms to Haas’ back before Faarooq gets sent arm first into the post. So now both Faarooq and Bradshaw have bad arms and Benjamin drops a knee on Faarooq’s to keep up the momentum.

Back to back armbars have Faarooq in even more trouble but he gets in the spinebuster for a breather. The hot tag brings in Bradshaw to clean house with a big boot and a powerslam. A hard powerslam gets two on Benjamin as everything breaks down. Faarooq’s arm goes into the post but Bradshaw hits the super Last Call on Shelton. There’s the Clothesline to Haas but the arm gives out, allowing Shelton to nail a superkick for the pin.

Rating: D. So you have Bradshaw come in with an arm injury and then work on Faarooq’s arm with Bradshaw’s arm only flaring up at the end? That sounds like it’s a little more complicated than it needs to be, especially in a match that could have been on Smackdown. Then again, if it aired there, we might only have an hour and fifteen minute pay per view.

Goldberg arrives, complete with a front row ticket. Even he doesn’t care about the lame first forty minutes.

Video on Lesnar vs. Goldberg.

With Goldberg in the front row, here’s Paul Heyman to yell at him about how great Smackdown is compared to Raw. Goldberg can only sit there because if he gets up, security will be taking him out and have him arrested. That brings Goldberg to his feet so here’s Lesnar to say he’s going to take care of Goldberg later on. Threats are made so Goldberg gets in the ring for the showdown. Heyman offers a distraction so Lesnar can drive Goldberg into the corner but the F5 is countered and the Jackhammer plants Lesnar as Heyman screams for security. They come out in short order and Goldberg is handcuffed.

Hardcore Holly vs. Rhyno

This was added on Heat and is a Smackdown rematch. Holly runs out while Lesnar is still down but security gets him out of there. Eh point for continuity, even if Holly stops almost immediately and waits for Rhyno. The fight starts in the aisle but Holly keeps up the aggression inside with a headlock. The announcers completely ignore the match (well duh) and for once it makes sense. Tazz: “This is Smackdown!” Actually it’s a pay per view but given that we’re seeing a Smackdown rematch, I can see how you would make the mistake.

Rhyno gets in a kick to the ribs to take over and drives a shoulder in the corner. We hit the bodyscissors with Rhyno getting two, earning a quick bit of attention from Cole. Rhyno shouts a lot and whips Holly hard into the corner to weaken the ribs even more. A double clothesline is good for a double knockdown and let’s go to Spanish commentary for a little flavor. It’s Holly up first with a running dropkick for two but Rhyno superplexes him down for two of his own. The Gore connects but sends Holly outside for a nine count. Back in and the Alabama Slam is good for the very fast pin. It’s as sudden as it sounds.

Rating: D. Was there any need to have this match go on for ten minutes? I mean, other than filling in time on a show that is going to be lucky to break two and a half hours? Holly’s push has at least cooled way down and if he’s just beating Rhyno, I think we’re going to be fine. It wasn’t exactly a great idea in the first place but at least it was only for one pay per view.

Long recap of Rey Mysterio vs. Chavo Guerrero Jr. Chavo turned on his uncle Eddie a few weeks back and has gotten a lot more aggressive as a result. This included getting in a fight with Mysterio, who accused (likely accurate) Chavo and Chavo Sr. of attacking Eddie backstage. Chavo showed his jealous of Rey, setting up the match for the Cruiserweight Title. Mysterio has boxer Jorge Paez in his corner to cancel out Chavo Sr.

Undertaker’s gong goes off and his video plays. The dead rise again in 28 days. Cole: “If my calculations are correct, it’s 28 days until Wrestlemania!” I miss the days when wrestling didn’t think fans were this stupid.

Cruiserweight Title: Rey Mysterio vs. Chavo Guerrero Jr.

Mysterio is defending and has Paez in his corner while Chavo has his dad. After arm work goes nowhere, Rey speeds things up with a dropkick to the floor. Back in and Chavo gets serious with a gutbuster and he gets two off back to back slams. Chavo’s armbar doesn’t get him anywhere as Rey hits a quick 619 but Sr. breaks up the West Coast Pop. One heck of a left hand from Paez puts him down but that’s an ejection to get us down to 2-1.

A big dive takes Chavo down and Rey gets two off a rollup back inside. Rey goes up but Chavo reverses into Dean Malenko’s super gutbuster (not quite as good but still looked painful) to really bang up the ribs. We hit the abdominal stretch as the announcers talk about the history of wrestling in this building. Can we get someone who knows a bit more what they’re talking about and listen to that for an hour instead?

A half crab version of the Liontamer stays on the ribs and a tilt-a-whirl gutbuster makes things even worse. Rey finally gets in the sitout bulldog for two and you can see him having trouble breathing from the ribs. A headscissors sends Chavo shoulder first into the post and Rey gets two off a Stroke. They head to the apron with a DDT giving Rey two more (Tazz: “Hard part of the ring!” So what was the hardest part back in 2004? I need more information.) but Chavo starts ripping at the mask.

You don’t do that to a luchador to Rey hits a moonsault press for two more. Another 619 connects but the springboard seated senton is rolled through into another half crab. Rey grabs a rope for the break after a better false finish than you would have expected. The referee yells at Chavo for no apparent reason as Rey goes up, only to have Sr. shoves him down, allowing Chavo to grab a rollup with tights for the pin and the title.

Rating: B-. They were starting to cook there at the end and then went with the lame interference ending with Chavo Sr. You could just as easily have had Chavo pull the tights and win that way after his rib work wasn’t enough to finish the job but this came out of nowhere. Chavo had to win here though and while we did get the right ending, I wasn’t crazy on how we got there.

Post match, Chavo goes to Eddie’s dressing room door and says Eddie will always be a loser because he’s an addict.

We get a three way tale of the tape for the triple threat and it’s so weird to see Cena with nothing as far as career accomplishments.

Big Show vs. John Cena vs. Kurt Angle

Winner gets the title shot at Wrestlemania. Before the match, Cena says he didn’t attack Angle and says it was Big Show instead. Somehow that involved at least one gay joke. Cena chills in the corner as Show tosses Angle across the ring in a rather smart move. Show does it again and Cena is so fired up that he tries his luck with Show, only to be thrown down just as hard.

Angle gets smart by suplexing Cena but gets dumb by thinking Show is going to let him get a cover. A toss to the floor bangs up Cena’s bad knee, leaving Show to side slam Angle for two. Show beats them both up, allowing Cole to say that Show has never been this dominant. I’d again like to point out that during this dominant run, SHOW HASN’T WON ANYTHING! Oh yeah he beat Billy freaking Gunn. That warrants this kind of over the top praise? Angle posts Show to put him down, leaving Cena to take some right hands back inside.

The ProtoBomb drops Angle for two but Show is back in for more of that dominance. Show chops away, which Cole says is like hitting yourself with a skillet. I’d think it’s more like having someone else hit you with a skillet but I could see how Cole wouldn’t be able to understand that. Show misses a charge in the corner and Cena kicks him in the knee, setting up a top rope elbow to the head. Angle puts Show down with a missile dropkick and the FU drops Show again.

Cena DDTs Angle for good measure but Show sends him outside. That leaves Angle to get two off the Angle Slam, followed by the ankle lock to Cena. Show is back up with a chokeslam to both guys but Angle breaks up the cover on Cena with an ankle lock. That’s broken up as well and it’s Cena taking over, only to have Show punch him in the knee. The knee is sent into the buckle and an Angle Slam puts Show on the floor. The ankle lock with the knee bar makes Cena tap.

Rating: C+. Angle winning was the pretty clear ending as Cena is way too young to get that big of a spot and Show winning would go against the main principle of him being dominant: he can’t actually win anything important. The match was fine and the knee injury played a role, though a lot of it was the standard two in, one out formula. Trying to keep Show down made sense but it’s been done so many times before that it’s hard to get excited over seeing it again.

We recap Lesnar vs. Guerrero. Eddie won a Royal Rumble last month to earn the spot and Lesnar doesn’t seem to be taking him seriously. Brock is looking ahead to facing Goldberg at some point but Eddie is fighting to redeem himself after all of his addiction issues nearly ruined his life.

Smackdown World Title: Eddie Guerrero vs. Brock Lesnar

Guerrero is challenging. The confident Lesnar powers him around to start and knees Eddie in the ribs a few times. Some EDDIE chants fire him up but another right hand cuts Eddie back down. A powerbomb and then a swinging toss has Eddie thinking he might be in over his head and an overhead belly to belly makes things even worse. Brock knees him in the face as the announcers keep pushing the idea that Eddie has no chance.

Another suplex sends Eddie outside as it’s complete dominance so far. Eddie manages to snap Lesnar’s throat across the ropes and wraps the knee around the post for his first real offense. Brock posts him right back though and adds the Shell Shock (complete with a bit of marching) for two. A very hard clothesline sets up a German suplex to rock Eddie all over again but this time Lesnar is a bit slower to follow up.

Brock misses the running knee in the corner though and falls out to the floor, holding his knee off the bad landing. Eddie follows him out with a dive and you can feel the fans trying to get back into this. Back in and a hot shot sends Eddie’s ribs into the ropes as a group of security is dealing with someone in the crowd. Eddie is reeling but grabs the knee, pulling Lesnar down into an STF. He can’t hold on very long so he goes with a stomp to the knee instead.

The knee is fine enough for another belly to belly but Eddie dropkicks the knee again. A Figure Four has the knee in even more trouble until Lesnar realizes he’s next to the rope. Eddie isn’t done and goes back to the STF and this time Lesnar isn’t strong enough to power out immediately. He eventually rolls over and grabs a spinebuster for two. It’s off to something like a crossface chickenwing to keep Eddie down so the fans are right there with the cheers. Eddie fights out and goes up but whiffs on the missile dropkick.

A vertical suplex (with a quick leg sell) puts Eddie down and Lesnar’s nose is busted. Brock grabs a gutwrench on the mat as he’s figured out he’s not great toe to toe with Eddie due to the speed advantage so he sticks with the power game on the mat. Eddie finally slips out and dropkicks the knee again, which clearly takes away a lot of Lesnar’s fire in short order. The rolling suplexes have Lesnar down but Eddie misses the frog splash.

Lesnar is back up with the F5 but the referee gets bumped. With no one to count, Lesnar goes to get the title and heeeeere’s Goldberg (security around here sucks) with a spear. That gives Eddie two so he loads up the title but gets caught in an F5. That’s reversed into a DDT next to the title (really it was about a foot away), setting up the frog splash for the pin and the title.

Rating: A. I remember seeing this around the time that it happened live and it didn’t really have much of an impact on me. Watching it back though and seeing Eddie’s rise up the card and hanging in there against Lesnar, especially with all the psychology, was outstanding. Eddie winning feels special and that’s not something you get to see very often. Goldberg’s interference was fine and while Lesnar probably had him beat, it was Eddie’s own stuff beating Lesnar in the end instead of Goldberg doing the work to get the pin. Incredibly match and great storytelling with Eddie playing a great underdog.

A huge celebration, including Eddie hugging his mom, ends the show.

Overall Rating: B-. This is a really hard one to grade as the show doesn’t even run two and a half hours, which is ridiculous for what’s supposed to be a major pay per view. That includes the opening with Sable and Torrie, the long Heyman/Goldberg/Lesnar segment and the main event going thirty minutes. The first four matches ranged from watchable to a bad comedy segment and I need a little more than that for half of the card.

On the other hand though, the main event, which is over 20% of the show not even counting entrances and video package, was an instant classic and a feel good moment that had me smiling despite not being a huge Eddie fan. The triple threat was perfectly fine and Rey vs. Chavo was good, meaning the second half of the show bails the heck out of the card. If you turn this into an In Your House, it’s a near classic but for a three hour show, it’s very lucky that Eddie vs. Lesnar was that good. Wrestlemania is shaping up though and really, that’s what a big chunk of this show was supposed to do.

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