In this edition we head back to 15th February 2009 and the 10th incarnation of WWE's No Way Out. Barack Obama was the President of the United States, Gordon Brown was the Prime Minister in the UK. Lily Allen was at the top of the UK charts with The Fear, whilst Lady Gaga's Just Dance was ruling all across the pond. Romantic comedy He's Just Not That Into You was doing bits at the box office, but was WWE producing a quality PPV?
The show was main evented by an Elimination Chamber match for John Cena's World Heavyweight Championship, with Chris Jericho, Kane,
Kofi Kingston, Mike Knox and Rey Mysterio all gunning for the prize. Edge also defended his WWE Championship inside the Chamber, with Jeff Hardy, The Big Show, The Undertaker, Triple H and Vladimir Kozlov all chasing the belt, whilst Shane McMahon and Randy Orton tangled in a No Holds Barred match. With just two other matches on the card, including one for the ECW Championship, did No Way Out leave WWE in good stead heading into the 25th Anniversary (sic) of WrestleMania? Let's find out.
The show was main evented by an Elimination Chamber match for John Cena's World Heavyweight Championship, with Chris Jericho, Kane,
The Seattle crowd were treated to Melina retaining the Women's Championship over Beth Phoenix (accompanied by Rosa Mendes & Santino Marella) in the dark match. We also get three seperate commentary teams for the show, as Michael Cole and Jerry Lawler takes charge for the main event, the All or Nothing and No Holds Barred matches, Jim Ross and Tazz take care of the opener and Matt Striker and Todd Grisham are on hand for the ECW Championship match.
WWE Championship Elimination Chamber
Edge vs. Jeff Hardy vs. The Big Show vs. The Undertaker vs. Triple H vs. Vladimir Kozlov
The first thing I noticed about this match is the sheer star power involved. For an opening match to have five wrestler who have a very good case to be in the WWE Hall of Fame is an incredible, and the reaction that each of the guys get's is fantastic. Even poor old Vladimir Kozlov was being pushed as a star at the time on the Smackdown brand, even if the crowd clearly hasn't taken to him being in a such a match. Whilst the match doesn't start until about 15 minutes into the show, the big names making their way to the ring keeps the crowd nice and warm before Jeff Hardy and Edge can get things going.
The booking of this bout is superb, with an ebb and flow that get's the crowd roaring by the end of the match. Having Jeff Hardy eliminate the WWE Champion Edge before the third participant entered the match was a masterstroke, as it came completely out of the blue. The spear into small package spot was done well and Edge sold the moment nicely with a look of complete surprise upon his face. Having Hardy get the pin on Edge, allowed the babyface to get his revenge for Edge taking his WWE Championship at the previous month's Royal Rumble PPV, without actually winning back the title. The whole opening sequence between Hardy and Edge was top notch.
It has to be said that Vladimir Kozlov's involvement does drag the bout down a little. Kozlov just wasn't cut out for performing at this level, as can clearly be seen in his dull section of action with Jeff Hardy, once he enters the match. He's clearly out of his depth with guys like Jeff Hardy and Triple H, with his offence looking sloppy and selling unconvincing. Perhaps his best involvement in the match is opposite the fiery Undertaker, who comes in like a house on fire, and eliminates Kozlov after a Last Ride. As a stark contrast to Kozlov, The Undertaker is the star of the bout, putting on fantastic performance, with a number of little details that are often forgotten by today's top stars. Even when Undertaker was inside his pod, he always looked ready to enter the match and looked like he couldn't wait to get out and inflict some damage, which added a lot to when he finally made got released.
Triple H and The Undertaker showed glimpses of the brilliance that would combine to produce two memorable matches at WrestleMania in years to come, as The Game and The Deadman end up as the final competitors in the bout. The two going back and forth with some big moves has the crowd on the edge of their seats and it's magical to see a crowd so hooked on the action, it definitely adds an extra elements as a viewer at home. The finish is one that's been used numerous times and in different ways, but still looked impressive as Undertaker was able to use the ropes to get Triple H into the Tombstone Piledriver position, only for the Game to reverse and hit a Pedigree to pick up his 8th WWE Championship. This would be The Cerebral Assassin's final reign with the title.
Order of Elimination
1st - Edge via pinfall (Jeff Hardy - Small Package)
2nd - Vladimir Kozlov via pinfall (Undertaker - Last Ride)
3rd - The Big Show via pinfall (Jeff Hardy - Swanton Bomb)
4th - Jeff Hardy via pinfall (Undertaker - Tombstone Piledriver)
5th - The Undertaker via pinfall (Triple H - Pedigree)
Winner - Triple H in 36 minutes - *NEW CHAMPION*
At April's WrestleMania 25, Triple H would go on to succesfully retain the WWE Championship against Randy Orton in the main event, The Undertaker would put on a classic with Shawn Michaels, Edge would drop the World Heavyweight Championship (more on that in a moment) to John Cena in a Triple Threat also involving The Big Show and Jeff Hardy would put over brother Matt in an Extreme Rules match. Vladimir Kozlov wouldn't get another PPV appearance until September 2010's Night of Champions, teaming with Santino Marella in a Tag Team Turmoil match for the WWE Tag Team Championships, that also involved The Usos, The Hart Dynasty, the makeshift duo of Mark Henry & Evan Bourne, as well as eventual winners, Cody Rhodes & Drew McIntyre.
No Holds Barred
Randy Orton vs. Shane McMahon
It'd be easy to quickly write off Randy Orton and Shane McMahon's No Holds Barred match, if you haven't seen it, but this is the best non-Elimination Chamber match on the card, by quite some way. Obviously this one isn't going to be a technical wrestling classic, but that's not what the storyline called for. This is a brutal, spot-based contest that see's both men put in strong performances, with both Cody Rhodes and Ted DiBiase also adding to the bout. Orton moving off the announce table just in time, as McMahon comes flying off the top rope with an elbow drop, is a superb spot, that is well-timed and looks really quite painful. Orton dripping with blood also creates a great visual and there's even an element of storytelling with McMahon focusing in on The Legend Killers ankle with a number of chair shots.
What let's this one down is the crowd. They honestly couldn't give a shit about Shane McMahon, and are only mildly interested in what Randy Orton has for them. It's a real shame as the two do put on a good match, but neither seems particularly interested in getting the crowd into the action. This might have been alright if this was short bout, but when a contest goes almost twenty minutes, it needs a crowd to be invested in the characters involved in the match. Orton's flash RKO for the victory does get a decent pop, but it's really not befitting of someone who's weeks away from a WrestleMania main event!
Next PPV - As mentioned earlier Randy Orton would go on to be on the losing side of WWE Championship main event at WrestleMania, to Triple H. Shane McMahon would next get his face on PPV at April's Backlash event, in a bizarre six man tag team match, being joined by Triple H and Batista to take on Orton, Ted DiBiase & Cody Rhodes, in a match that would see Orton win the WWE Championship.
Finlay w/Hornswoggle vs. Jack Swagger (C)
This bout should have been the sleeper of the show, with both men known for their technical stylings. Unfortunately, something seems to go terribly wrong about two or three minutes in the clash and it's clear that neither man has a clue what's going on. Whilst Finlay attempts to lead Swagger, the then ECW Champion's lack of experience shines through (This is only Swagger's 2nd PPV bout) when he randomly works the Irishman's arm. It's a painful watch at points, with the KeyArena clearly not interested in the action, there's almost an audible sigh of relief when a clunky closing sequence see's Swagger retain with a Gutwrench Powerbomb.
Jack Swagger via pinfall (Gutwrench Powerbomb) in 8 minutes
Next PPV - Despite being ECW Champion there was no place on the WrestleMania 25 card for Jack Swagger, he'd have to wait until Backlash, where he'd drop the ECW title to Christian. Finlay made it onto WrestleMania however, featuring in the Money in the Bank Ladder match with Christian, Kane, Kofi Kingston, Mark Henry, Montel Vontavious Porter, Shelton Benjamin and winner, CM Punk.
All Or Nothing
Shawn Michaels vs. John "Bradshaw" Layfield
There isn't such a thing as a bad Shawn Michaels match, but this comes pretty damn close to it. The whole match is pretty much set up for an involvement from Michaels wife, Rebecca (the commentary team made sure we knew she'd be involved by constantly referencing her and how the current storyline (which was shit, by the way) had effect Michaels family). So what we get is JBL beating on Michaels for over ten minutes with his dull offence, before he mouths off at Rebecca who punches him, this somehow fires up Michaels enough to hit a Superkick and win. It's cheesy as Welsh rarebit and doesn't make much sense, but at least it was an end to this piss-poor feud before it could stink up WrestleMania 25.
Shawn Michaels via pinfall (Sweet Chin Music) in 13 minutes, 19 seconds
Shawn Michaels would join The Undertaker at WrestleMania to put on what is considered one of the best matches of all time. JBL would go onto win the Intercontinental Championship from CM Punk on Monday Night RAW #824, before dropping the belt in 21 seconds to Rey Mysterio at WrestleMania!
World Heavyweight Championship Elimination Chamber
Chris Jericho vs. Rey Mysterio vs.
Kofi Kingston Edge vs. Kane vs. Mike Knox vs. John Cena (C)
What a brilliant twist there is before the match can even begin! Edge attacking Kofi Kingston as he makes his way to the ring, clattering him with a chair on the steel steps, is one of the most memorable moments of 2009. Whilst it signalled the end of Kofi Kingston's experimental push, and it could be argued that Edge then becoming part of the match didn't make a whole lot of sense, the crowd is woken up and the match that seemed pretty straight forward heading in (CENAWINSLOL) was turned on it's head. This was WWE doing something outside of the box and create a whole new dimension to the main event, shifting the road to WrestleMania into a different lane.
Chris Jericho and Rey Mysterio give us a completely different -start to the earlier Chamber, but work equally as well together as Edge and Hardy did. It's a clever decision to have the two start the match, as their smooth exchanges get the crowd warmed back up following two disappointing matches. Whilst the crowd couldn't give a fuck about Mr. 10:15, Mike Knox, they do pop hard for an excellent dive off the top one of the pods from Mysterio that eliminates Kane. The commentary teams quickly get's over the Mysterio gaining redemption on Kane for their feud from earlier in the year, which is a nice touch.
Whilst the crowd lulled a little bit in the middle, John Cena's entry brought some much needed energy into the bout as the World Heavyweight Champion comes charging out of his pod. Cena gets treated like a big star by both the crowd and the booking team, as he ends up taking a Codebreaker, a 619 and a Spear before Edge eliminated him. Just as Edge's early elimination had a big effect on the earlier Chamber, this completely changes the feel of the match. The current champion not being part of the final three means that we're definitely going to get a new World Heavyweight title holder and the KeyArena got hot quickly. Another risky piece of booking for the main event, especially taking the title off of Cena just before the biggest show of the year, but it definitely makes for great viewing six years later.
The final three of Edge, Rey Mysterio and Chris Jericho combine to create some world class action, making use of all three's notable talents. Once Mysterio eliminates Jericho, we get not only some smashing storyline development between Mysterio and Edge (based around Edge taking out Mysterio's friend Kofi Kingston earlier on), but some superb action that has the crowd willing Mysterio on all the way. There's some huge near falls as Mysterio works the perfect underdog roll, with the crowd clearly believing that Mysterio would win the match, due to Edge still being part of the Smackdown roster. The reaction Edge winning the title after hitting Mysterio with a spear is huge, as the PPV encompassing story comes to a close. A quality finish to an excellent main event, the finishing sequence pushes this match just ahead of the opener to claim the Match of the Night crown.
Edge would drop the World Heavyweight Championship back to John Cena at WrestleMania in a Triple Threat that also included The Big Show, after Cena had previously won a title match by disqualification on Monday Night RAW #823. Rey Mysterio would defeat John Bradshaw Layfield in 21 seconds to win the Intercontinental Championship on the same PPV. Chris Jericho would defeat the legendary trio of Jimmy Snuka, Ricky Steamboat & Roddy Piper, before getting beaten up by Ric Flair and Mickey Rourke, whilst Kane would be unsuccesful in the Money in the Bank ladder match.
This was the last WWE PPV appearance of Mike Knox, however his last match for the company didn't come until April of the next year (A losing effort against JTG on Friday Night Smackdown). Knox would re-emerge in TNA for his next PPV appearance at Final Resolution 2012, as a masked member of Aces and Eights alongside Devon, DOC and another masked indivdual (Florida-based CJ O'Doyle) in a losing effort to Garrett Bischoff, Kurt Angle, Samoa Joe and Wes Brisco. That's one hell of a fall for Mr. 10:15.
ATPW Rating - 7.5
In a show full of future Hall of Famers, Edge became the star of the show. Having the PPV book ended by his story, gives this show a unique feel for a WWE PPV, with the Rated R Superstar putting in two performances worthy of a WWE Hall of Famer. His wrestling is spot on throughout, his opportunistic character shine all night long and the crowd is into everything he does. If there's one PPV that encapsulates every think that's great about the Ultimate Opportunist gimmick, No Way Out 2009 is that PPV.
Despite the two other matches falling flat, the three headline bouts all deliver above and beyond expectations. If WWE had managed to put on two more decent undercard bouts and found space for the likes of CM Punk in the Chambers, instead of Vladimir Kozlov and Mike Knox (seriously, why didn't Edge take Knox out, instead of Kingston?) then the score for this show would have ridiculously high for a WWE PPV. Still this the highest rating for a WWE PPV so far, putting it just behind NXT Takeover: Respect and PROGRESS Chapter 21: You Know We Don't Like to Use the Sit Down Gun on the ATPW Scale leader board.
Definitely worth a look on the WWE Network if you have three hours to space.