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Thread: WWE No Way Out 2001 Review

  1. #1

    No Way Out WWE No Way Out 2001 Review

    No Way Out
    February 25, 2001

    Matt Hardy w/Lita vs Rikishi - Sunday Night Heat
    Stop the presses! A pre-PPV Heat match actually has an angle attached to it! The go-home edition of Raw should have been one of the best nights for Team Xtreme. Lita defeated Dean Malenko to finally wrap up that program and she and Matt had their first kiss. However, later that night, the Hardy Boyz suffered a loss to Rikishi/Haku with The Islanders 2.0 further destroying the Hardyz after the match. Then on Smackdown, Rikishi defeated and seemingly injured Jeff before giving Lita the Stink Face. This match was all about Rikishi dominating Hardy due to the size difference with the question of whether or not Hardy can figure out some trick to beat the Samoan. Instead, Lita has enough of the punishment and climbs into the ring to give Rikishi a low blow for the DQ. After the match sees Jeff running out to join in the beat down of Rikishi until Haku came out to chase the babyfaces away. This so obviously seems like the set-up for another match, possibly at Wrestlemania, but these two teams would not compete again in any capacity in 2001. Odd. ** ¼

    Raven © vs The Big Show - WWE Hardcore Title
    On paper, this sounds awesome! I’m a huge fan of Raven’s early 2001 when he easily had his best spot in the WWE. The early going had Raven trying to use weapons on Show and Show not looking as if he’d be easy to control. My excitement for the match is quickly killed off when Crash Holly, disguised as a popcorn vendor, runs into the ring to interfere. He’s then joined by Billy Gunn, Steve Blackman, Hardcore Holly, Raven’s masked female ninja, and Molly Holly. The title changes hands a few times. Gunn is hit with the old Smoking Gunns’ Sidewinder finisher by Blackman/Holly. Ultimately, Show manages to choke slam Raven on a garbage can to win the title and escape with the title. This is a PPV. I wanted it to feel like a PPV match, not a typical Raw/Smackdown Hardcore Title segment. All of the typical Hardcore Division geeks entering the match ruined it for me. Oh well, at least the next two PPVs had better Hardcore Title matches. *

    Chris Jericho © vs Chris Benoit vs Eddie Guerrero vs X-Pac - WWE IC Title
    The idea behind this match is that due to Jericho’s recent insults thrown towards Stephanie McMahon, he’s being punished by having to wrestle three heels, two of which are still members of the faction, The Radicalz. It’s that partnership between Guerrero and Benoit that provides most of the story. As Benoit is being primed for a babyface turn, Guerrero is the one to start messing up Benoit’s attempts at winning. Then when Justin Credible ran out to help out his new buddy, X-Pac, X-Factor focused their attacks on Benoit, even laying him out with a double super kick at one point. There’s always action and I didn’t particularly notice anyone relaxing on the outside for too long. It’s very much so a quality match that is worth going out of your way to watch, but it also gets overshadowed by all of the other great matches from 2001, particularly with Benoit. I was pleased to see that X-Pac was the one beaten, since he made the most sense as he was not booked for Wrestlemania 17. Yet, it was all done in such a way that no one looked bad in the defeat. Guerrero was taken out by a flying headbutt from Benoit, who was then dropped with a kick from X-Pac, who was then rolled up by surprise by Jericho. Normally a roll-up is a cheap victory, but this is Jericho surviving three heels, so it was a nice boost for him regardless of how he won. Had the whole Benoit thing not happened in 2007, I imagine that this match would have eventually found its way on some DVDs to help add to the awareness. Instead, it’s a bit of a hidden gem. Plenty of action and fun. *** ½

    Stephanie McMahon vs Trish Stratus
    This is at the peak of the Mr. McMahon/Trish affair with now Stephanie unhappy that someone is taking up so much of Vinnie Mac’s time. This match is a bit historic in terms of being one of the absolute best examples of a match everyone (Rightfully) expected to be a total trainwreck and a contender for WMOTY, yet it ended up being surprisingly good. The low expectations undoubtedly played a part of the fun of this. The fact that it was fun stands out even more since you weren’t expecting it to be. The intensity is fantastic. Both women may be green as grass, but they completely nailed the aggression that got over the fact that they hated each other. They do just enough big spots to create some crazy moments including Stephanie jumping off of the steel railing. The match also features some of my favorite interference ever. A big part of the story going into this match is that due to William Regal making the match official, Mr. McMahon made it clear that Regal better ensure that McMahon’s choice won. The problem is that McMahon never actually stated which woman was his choice to win. As a result, Regal runs out at the end, ready to interfere, and...he doesn’t know what to do. He initially trips Stephanie up, but when Trish covers Stephanie, he has a change of heart and puts Stephanie’s foot on the bottom ropes. When Trish slaps Regal out of anger, Regal decides to just give Stratus a Regal Cutter and allow Stephanie to be the one who won. For what this was, it was great. I have to believe that these two women practiced this match a ton to ensure that all of the spots actually came off looking good. The two women looked green as hell, but it’s a great match all things considered. Better than nearly every one of Trish’s matches from her period as an actual wrestler. *** ¼

    Backstage, William Regal runs into Mr. McMahon. It seems as if Regal was incorrect in who McMahon wanted to win. An enraged McMahon books himself and Trish Stratus to wrestle Regal and Stephanie tomorrow on Raw.

    Steve Austin vs Triple H - 3 Stages of Hell Match
    I’m going back and forth on whether or not this should have been the Wrestlemania 17 main event. On one hand, this angle that goes back to Survivor Series ‘99, is far more Wrestlemania worthy than the mostly storyless Rock/Austin, but Wrestlemania’s main event should be the two absolute biggest stars wrestling, which was Rock/Austin. I’ve never been able to enjoy this match as much as others. It tends to be one that a lot of fans rate as being 5 stars, but I don’t see that sort of appeal. It does have some great things going for it. The big match feel is there, without a doubt. The crowd is crazy throughout. The pace that they maintain throughout the match, with the only resting taking place in the third fall/cage match. What’s missing for me is a clearer story. It’s difficult to get sucked into this match when it just appears to be nonstop brawling. They tried to get cute with the falls with reversing the expectations as Austin won the singles match and Hunter winning the street fight. Both men are busted open and they both introduce weapons with Hunter having his trusty sledgehammer and Austin revealing a barbed wire wrapped 2x4. Another issue with the match that I have was the spot calling. It’s loud and it’s preveliant. It gets to the point where the commentators are even bringing up the fact that Austin and Hunter have been “Trash talking” each other during the entire match. Lastly, I hate the finish with Triple H going over and winning the cage match, even if it was a fluke win with both men being hit with a weapon at the same time and Hunter just falling back onto Austin. Not only is Austin prepping to main event Wrestlemania 17, but this is the culmination of a year and a half long feud where Triple H injured Austin at Summerslam ‘99 to cause him to miss Unforgiven and then was the mastermind behind Austin behind hit by a car that put him out of action for an entire year. Yet, Triple H, the heel, wins the feud? The booking of Austin post-neck surgery was so bizarre. Still, this is one of the bigger matches of the year and I’d imagine most would claim that it’s one of the best matches as well. For me, it’s just a really good match with some clear issues. *** ¾

    After the match, Austin lays Hunter out with a Stunner and celebrates to the back. Okay…

    Steven Richards w/Ivory vs Jerry Lawler w/The Kat
    If Richards wins, The Kat must join Right to Censor. If Lawler wins, The Kat can strip on live PPV. Coming out immediately after that 3 Stages of Hell match resulted in this just being a cool down match. Ivory tried interfering throughout the match, but kept being thwarted, whether with Kat’s help or on Lawler’s own. There’s a long sequence at the end where Richards grabs Ivory’s Women’s Title, hoping to hit Lawler, but fails twice. Between each title spot, Lawler is busy trying to get his hands on Ivory, despite already body slamming her. Finally, Kat climbs into the ring, grabs the title, and tries to hit Richards, but ends up hitting Lawler instead to allow Richards to steal the victory. The fact that they did the same failed Richards hitting Lawler spot twice in a row leads me to suspect Kat missed her cue, causing the guys to have to kill time until Kat figured out what she was meant to do. Not good, but it’s not as if I had any positive expectations. * ¾

    The Dudley Boyz © vs The Brothers of Destruction vs Edge and Christian - Tables Match - WWE Tag Titles
    Despite three teams being involved, it’s only first fall to have a victory. Both members of the Brothers of Destruction look odd tonight. Taker is sporting tights for the first time in his WWE career. Although he’d dump the pleather pants in 2006 for tights, it was weird seeing him in tights for seemingly one night in 2001. As for Kane, his tights are purely black with mesh flames. Without a single ounce of red on the tights, it just looks like his ring gear hadn’t been finished before this event took place ala Shawn Michaels Survivor Series 2002. Since this was a tables match with three teams, there’s not much of a story. They followed the typical formula for triple threats with nearly always one team being out of the action, leaving the other two to fight it out until there’s a swap. The action was always there though. The only actual story coming out of the match occurred at the end when Kane/Taker nearly had the match won when Rikishi and Haku ran out to attack them. The four big men fought out of the ring and up the entrance way while the Dudley Boyz simply gave Christian a 3D through a table to get the victory. Fun for what it was, but there wasn’t any substance to this match. If nothing else, it added heat to the obvious Wrestlemania 17 match between Taker vs Rikishi or at least Brothers of Destruction vs Rikishi/Haku. ** ½

    Kurt Angle © vs The Rock - WWE World Title
    With a booger in his nose, Kurt Angle capped off his rookie year in the WWE by defeating the Rock for the WWE Title back at No Mercy 2000. Four months and one #1 Contender’s Match against the Big Show later, The Rock has a chance to regain the title. There is something kind of nice about the only man standing in the way of Angle main eventing Wrestlemania is the very man he beat months ago that allowed him to potentially main event Wrestlemania. Color commentator, Tazz, openly admits that everyone assumes Rocky will win the title. The early going was pretty fun as the pace was high and the duo exchanged overhead suplexes. There is some pretty unusual booking in the match though. In the middle of the match, The Big Show comes out to choke slam Angle, Rock, and the referee before heading back to the back. That resulted in Angle having the pinfall on Rocky, but the new referee was late to count due to helping the injured referee. Later, Rock would have a pinfall on Angle after a belt shot, but Angle would be able to kick out. Right away, you can tell that there’s some problems with Earl Hebner as the new referee. Twice he counts a two and a half, but he doesn’t make the effort to stopping his arm from making contact with the mat for a third time. As a result, the fans are getting more and more vocal about how the match has seemingly ended a few times without it actually stopping. This plays into the finish where Hebner makes one of his biggest botches of his career by not realizing that a Rock Bottom was the finish, thus stopping a count despite Angle’s shoulders never leaving the mat. The crowd isn’t happy and the Rock is visibly upset as he delivers another Rock Bottom and yells at Hebner while we get the proper three count to crown a NEW WWE World Champion. So there is weirdness and issues with the match, but for the most part it’s a fun match. Angle’s evil deed of removing a turnbuckle pad ended up backfiring as he was sent head first into it. Despite losing, Angle was protected with several nearfalls. It was a nice improvement over their previously just good No Mercy bout. Had Hebner not had an off night and the Show interference not happened, this would have been even better. *** ½

    For an event that didn’t have to be anything other than filler/build for Wrestlemania, No Way Out 2001 ended up producing a good little PPV. The event had two big matches in Rock/Angle and Hunter/Austin and I somewhat believe they were more deserving to be the two biggest WM 17 matches over Austin/Rock and Taker/Hunter. I’m not as crazy about the two matches as I know others are, but they were both certainly good enough for a B PPV like No Way Out. The IC Title match is a bit thrown together on paper, but it’s practically a hidden gem due to how little attention it’s received over the years. The biggest surprise coming out of this show was the shockingly good match between Stephanie McMahon and Trish Stratus. It certainly wasn’t a workrate match, but the fun value was high throughout. The rest of the show is what you’d expect, especially if you go in knowing that the Hardcore Title match would just be an excuse to involve a bunch of lowcarders. If there is one failure for this show, it’s that when you put yourself in a February 2001 mindset, it’s extremely misleading to the Wrestlemania 17 card. Going off of this show, there’s three different matches you can expect Rikishi to be involved in (vs The Undertaker, with Haku vs Brothers of Destruction, and with Haku vs Hardy Boyz/Team Xtreme) and yet he’s not involved at all. You’d think that The Big Show’s interference in the main event would lead to possibly a Wrestlemania match against Kurt Angle. The issues between the Radicalz in the IC Title match could lead to another Wrestlemania singles match between Benoit and Guerrero. Instead, many of these potential Wrestlemania matches were either ignored or blown off before Wrestlemania so that the proper WM matches could be thrown together. Overall though, No Way Out 2001 is a breeze to get through, but ideally there would have been some sort of Islanders/Hardyz match on the actual PPV in place of Lawler/Richards.

  2. #2
    Sky Blue Hyper Technican

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    Re: WWE No Way Out 2001 Review

    Just another example of Triple H having to not seem weak, even against one half of the Wrestlemania main event.

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  3. #3
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    Postman Dave's Avatar

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    Re: WWE No Way Out 2001 Review

    I thought HHH winning was based on two reasons:

    1. Austin's second guessing over whether he could get the job done and him "needing" the title back means a loss like this goes towards tipping him over the edge towards the alliance with McMahon. An Austin of the old days would have won this match.

    2. It sets up HHH to challenge for the title post WM, which could have been in the plans at some point.

    I honestly don't believe for a minute that HHH had enough backstage power at this point to over ride someone like Stone Cold. Bollocks to that.

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  4. #4

    Re: WWE No Way Out 2001 Review

    Quote Originally Posted by Postman Dave View Post
    1. Austin's second guessing over whether he could get the job done and him "needing" the title back means a loss like this goes towards tipping him over the edge towards the alliance with McMahon. An Austin of the old days would have won this match.
    At the same time, it was way too early for Austin to feel the need to align himself with his biggest enemy just to beat a guy he's already sorta made a career out of beating.

    2. It sets up HHH to challenge for the title post WM, which could have been in the plans at some point.
    I believe that was the original intention before the creation of the Two Man Power Trip, Triple H's injury, and the Invasion. However, this wasn't some random match where it would have been somewhat okay setting up a future title program. This was the culmination of a giant grudge feud where Hunter was responsible for nearly ending Austin's career. There's zero reason for Austin to lose in that situation, especially when you're prepping him for his role as the top guy of 2001.

    I honestly don't believe for a minute that HHH had enough backstage power at this point to over ride someone like Stone Cold. Bollocks to that.
    I'd agree with this. I can see Hunter pushing to win the street fight portion and to ensure that he doesn't look bad in defeat, but I can't see him having enough clout in 2001 to be able to control Austin's booking to such an extent. There were clear issues with booking, which continued for the rest of 2001.

  5. #5
    Brick Shithouse

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    Re: WWE No Way Out 2001 Review

    Great review, and I agree with almost all your thoughts (I'm one of those that believe that HHH vs Austin is one of the best WWE matches ever). Especially your love for the women's match which is far better than it had any right to be.

    Love the IC title match. Very frantic and stiff as hell too. Great match!

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