WWE No Way Out 2004 2/15/2004

February 15, 2004
Cow Palace
San Francisco, California
Attendance: 11,000
Buy Rate: .50
Announcers: Michael Cole and Tazz

Sunday Night Heat

Tajiri (Yoshihiro Tajiri), Akio (James Carson Yun), & Sakoda (Ryan Sakoda) beat Ultimo Dragon (Yoshihiro Asai), Billy Kidman (Peter Gruner), & Paul London at 5:35

Pay Per View

*** Sable and Torrie Wilson come to the ring to welcome us to No Way Out and to plug their upcoming issue of Playboy. ***

1) WWE Tag Team Champions Rikishi (Solofa Fatu) & Scotty 2 Hotty (Scott Garland) defeat The Basham Brothers & Shaniqua (Linda Miles) in a handicap match when Rikishi pins Shaniqua with a Banzai Drop at 8:16

Fun Fact: The surprising combination of Rikishi & Scotty 2 Hotty upset the Bashams on the 2/5 Smackdown from Cleveland. The following week, Danny defeated Scotty in a singles match. After the bell, Rikishi was about to hit Shaniqua with a Banzai Drop but the Bashams saved her before Rikishi could drop it.

Ok, I admit it. I liked Linda Miles. I don’t know why. I think she fit that role perfectly as Doug and Danny’s “keeper”. I love how Michael & Tazz talk about Scotty & Rikishi like Grandmaster Sexay never even existed. The Bashams were a solid team on Smackdown and were capable Tag Champs, better than La Resistance on Raw. Being a California crowd, and in the very laid back city of San Francisco, I wasn’t sure what to make of them, but they weren’t bad in this opening match particularly when Rikishi was in the match. He still was a pretty over character even after five years with the company and somewhat being buried or injured during most of the last couple years. The action had a decent pace, and Miles held her own as well, not being slow or out of pace. Rikishi hits a stiff Banzai Drop after a Samoan Drop on Shaniqua and the Champs retain their titles. Nice little opener. Grade: 2.5

Our first Smackdown only PPV since October opens up with an interesting little title match. Scotty & Rikishi were certainly an odd choice to win the gold as they had been stale since 2002. They get a mild pop when they arrive but would deliver a solid showing as the match went on. Rikishi overpowered both Bashams early but the Bashams would turn things into their favor thanks to a stiff Shaniqua clothesline during a Scotty worm attempt. Shaniqua actually looked pretty good in there and had really come along way since her awful debut back in 2002. After a quick heat segment on Scotty, the champs would turn things around and pick up the win to keep their titles. This was a decent opener but the wrong team went over in my opinion. The Bashams had really been working well as a team since the fall and had been putting on good tag matches each week on Smackdown. The champs get their revenge on Shaniqua but this really seems like a courtesy reign for two guys that had seen their highest peaks four years prior. The match started off shaky but picked up with a nice flow through the finish. Grade: 1.5

2) Jamie Noble (James Gibson) defeats Nidia (Nidia Guenard) in a Blindfold Match via submission with the Trailer Hitch at 4:25

Fun Fact: Nidia was blinded by Tajiri’s black mist on the 10/16 episode of Smackdown. After weeks of miscommunication and abuse from Noble, Nidia accidentally cost him a Cruiserweight title match with Rey Mysterio on the 1/29 Smackdown. The next week, a healed Nidia appeared during Noble’s match with Kidman and through all of his inheritance money and credit cards into the crowd, angering her boyfriend. The next week, Noble came out and officially kicked Nidia out, claiming that she sucked him dry…of his money. Nidia came out to respond and had the mink coat Noble bought her fed through a wood chipper as Noble freaked out. The match was set for the PPV with the stipulation that Noble would have to be blindfolded.

Scott: The build was simple enough. Nidia went blind by Tajiri’s black mist, and Noble started treating her like crap. He would throw her in front of guys to take shots and beatings. So now he has to wear the blindfold for the match. This wasn’t exactly Jake Roberts vs. Rick Martel at Wrestlemania VII; in fact it was much worse. However Nidia was another one I always liked. Rocking body and some decent ability, as she won Tough Enough I. Four minutes of comedy, Noble cheats to win and we move on. At least it was short. Grade: .5

Justin: These two seemed to be so deeply in love, but Noble money and mistreatment of the blinded Nidia has now ripped them apart. This angle was actually pretty well built and had been simmering for a while. The blindfold stipulation was a nice touch as well as it played off the entire build of the match. Nidia would outsmart Noble for a while, playfully taunting and messing around with him. The crowd was pretty good here too and Noble had some nice heat built up. I will say that this is the first time in a while that Michael Cole was a bit too much on commentary. He and Tazz have been in a nice groove for a while but he was way too over the top in his defense of Nidia and outrage at Noble. Noble would cheat to win and was kept strong here as he overcame the biased stipulation to easily win a match he should easily win. This feud is finished up now and I would say both actually came out of it looking good. Grade: 1

3) The World’s Greatest Tag Team defeats the APA when Shelton Benjamin pins Bradshaw (John Layfield) with a Superkick at 7:22

Fun Fact: On the 2/12 Smackdown, Bradshaw defeated Shelton Benjamin but Bradshaw’s arm was severely injured by Benjamin, setting up a weakness for this match.

The swan song for one of the Attitude Era’s most entertaining and physical teams. They may have gone over more than they probably should have, but they were still physically imposing. Faarooq was in pretty bad shape physically for a while and most of their last few matches saw Bradshaw do most of the work. TWGTT had no such problems, as they were both young and hungry and very technically sound. They spent most of the match working Faarooq over, then Bradshaw gets the tag but Benjamin hits the big kick and gets the win. Overall, this was not a bad match and the next to last for the APA on PPV. Grade: 2

Justin: Another tag team battle is on the slate here as the dominant team of 2003 battles the dominant team of 1999. The APA was still chugging along, but their time was almost up. The same sadly goes for TWGTT. Bradshaw hurt his arm on Smackdown and that was a major plot point of the match here. It was a good story of power against mat wrestling and the power dominated right away as the APA just thrashed TWGTT and looked strong in doing so. TWGTT broke out their flawless heel teamwork to work the APA over but things degenerated into a good little brawl as the match wound down. Just as APA looked like they had the win, TWGGT outsmarted them and used Bradshaw’s injury to pick up a hard fought win. Both teams looked good here and put on a nice little styles clash battle. Grade: 2

*** Goldberg makes his way out to the front row, using the ticket that Steve Austin had given him as a gift to help make up for his crooked elimination from the Royal Rumble. Paul Heyman would come out and warn Goldberg not to interfere or get involved or else he would be sorry. Brock Lesnar then came out and ridiculed Goldberg, eventually drawing Goldberg into the ring. They would finally come to blows, ending with Goldberg hitting a Jackhammer and being taken out by security. ***

4) Hardcore Holly (Robert Howard) defeats Rhyno (Terry Gerin) with the Alabama Slam at 9:57

Fun Fact: On 2/12, Hardcore Holly defeated Rhyno by disqualification when Rhyno refused to stop punching Holly. The rematch was added to this show on Sunday Night Heat.

This was a last minute addition to the show via Sunday Night Heat, and mostly it was to give that ass Holly a payday for the show. It was a simple power match between two sloppy power guys. Holly had his cup of coffee in the important part of the card and now it’s back to bullying everyone and putting on average power matches. The crowd has actually been pretty good so far, fairly energetic for stuff, but they’re pretty quiet here and who can blame them? No one really cares about either of these guys so they’re just waiting for it to end. This match is so boring that Michael and Tazz went to the Spanish announcers to do a couple minutes of the match. Rhyno had a pretty crisp spinebuster, which Tazz compares to Arn Anderson. Now come on Tazz, that’s trademarked for only JR to say about Triple H’s spinebuster. After about seven minutes I’m begging for an ending, and when Rhyno hit the gore I thought it was over but alas it wasn’t and this snorefest continues. Holly hits that crap finisher of his and wins. Wow, he loses a real match at the Rumble so he can win some useless throwaway match the next month. Grade: 1.5

Justin: This match had time killer written all over it as there wasn’t much build and it was added earlier in the night. It was basically two veterans told to go out there and kick the shit out of each other for ten minutes. And that is exactly what they did. This was a stiff, methodical basic brawl. Rhyno would control most of it, working Holly’s midsection to set up the gore. I must say, considering who was involved, this was actually well worked and entertaining. Then again, I am a fool for two stiff guys pounding the crap out of each other. Holly would survive a nice gore and pick up a hard fought win. The match really gained steam as it went on and was much better than I expected or than it had any right to be. Grade: 2

*** A cryptic video plays, claiming that the Undertaker would be returning in 28 days. ***

5) Chavo Guerrero, Jr. defeats Rey Mysterio, Jr. (Oscar Gutierrez) to win WWE Cruiserweight Championship with a roll up at 17:19

Fun Fact: Jorge Paez is a professional boxer that was friends with Rey Mysterio. After a pair of appearances on Smackdown, Rey brought him here to be in his corner.

Fun Fact II:
On 2/5, Chavo, Jr. told Paul Heyman that he had issue with Rey Mysterio. Heyman granted Guerrero a title match on the PPV. Chavo promised to defeat Rey and rip his mask off. Heyman then told Chavo, Sr. that he would have to face Rey later that night. Rey would win the match but he Guerreros would get the last laugh when Chavo, Jr. assaulted Rey after the bell. The next week, after Rey faced off with Tajiri, the Chavos came down to the ring to attack Rey again. Jorge Paez ran Junior off and then dropped Senior with a left hook.

The first of what would be many PPV matches between the two Latino superstars. Rey was cooking as Cruiserweight Champ and Chavo’s character actually was still hot even after the blowout loss to Eddie at the Royal Rumble. Having Jorge Paez at ringside was pretty cool including him knocking out Chavo, Sr., but then he’d get tossed from ringside. Honestly this match didn’t need any outside help, as it was damn good from the beginning. Well paced, and some great moves out of nowhere, including Chavo hitting a backbreaker off the top rope, which was pretty impressive. There was a nice sequence where Chavo was keeping Rey’s arms down and Rey reversed out of it into a Sunset Flip. The SF crowd also really got into the match and woke them up a bit after the snorefest power match before it. Rey actually hit a sweet moonsault that he normally doesn’t go for. Rey hit the 619 and the West Coast Pop but Chavo reversed into the Lasso from El Paso, which Rey grabbed the ropes from. Just constant back and forth action, but Classic interferes and Jr. wins the title. Great match and a steal for Chavo as he rebounds from the beatdown Uncle Eddie gave him in Philly. Grade: 4

Justin: After his humiliating loss at the Royal Rumble, Chavo has now set his sights on winning Rey’s Cruiserweight gold. Thankfully for our entertainment, Chavo has kept his father around to be in his corner. The match started hot with the crowd really behind Rey. His buddy Jorge Paez would knock out Chavo, Sr. but because of that he got sent to the back by the referee. The match was fast paced with some great aerial work by Rey. Chavo would slow things up by working Rey’s knee, but even the heat segment had great pacing. After some nice near falls and compelling submission teases, Chavo would pull the upset with some help from his dad. Even watching this now, I was caught off guard with the finish. This was really a great match and a hidden classic on this show. Chavo has some gold, his dad has his back and Rey is a man looking for revenge. Grade: 3.5

6) Kurt Angle defeats United States Champion Big Show (Paul Wight) and John Cena in a Triple Threat non-title match when Angle makes Cena submit to the Anklelock at 12:18; Due to pre-match stipulations, Kurt Angle gets a WWE Championship match at Wrestlemania XX

Fun Fact: After losing a chance at Brock Lesnar’s Championship on the 1/29 Smackdown, Kurt Angle was forced to earn a Wrestlemania main event slot another way. The following week, after a heated confrontation with all four men, Paul Heyman announced that Angle would face off against Big Show and John Cena to earn the Wrestlemania title match.

Scott: This stems from Chris Benoit using the loophole and going to Raw to go after the World Heavyweight Title. The very good “Smackdown” Rumble match on 1/29 gave Eddie Guerrero the title shot here, but there needed to be an opponent at Wrestlemania for whoever won that match. It’s decently paced for a triple threat, in particular because Big Show was in it and he slows most multi-person matches down. Angle has been somewhat lost in the shuffle since losing the WWE Title to Brock Lesnar in September. He was unceremoniously pinned at Survivor Series and was eliminated at the Royal Rumble. It was either Angle or Big Show winning this since, although he’s made great strides Cena wasn’t ready for this shot…yet. Now this reminds me of No Way Out 2000, where the last two matches was somewhat in limbo since they both related to each other with Wrestlemania. If Cena won, would Brock retain against Eddie? If Angle or Show won, would Eddie win the title? The drama surrounding it made this match even better than it would have been if it were on free TV. Cena’s popularity was back and forth as he did get booed a little here, but the cheers overshadowed it. Of course the raps were still very cutting edge and top notch for the character. Angle hit a great Olympic Slam on Show over the top rope, and then quickly grapevines Cena’s leg to win the match and the title shot. So do we have a Wrestlemania XIX rematch? We’ll see. This was a entertaining match and Angle forces his way to a title shot. Grade: 3

Justin: With high stakes on the line, these three men made their way out with determined looks on their faces. Angle got a good pop but Cena was super over as he made his way out and cut a great rap. Show manhandled both Cena and Angle to start as they teased tension between the two men. The match told a nice story as Angle and Cena were forced to team up and find a way to take Show out of the match. Plus, Cena was also hindered by a knee brace that was needed after Show tossed him to the floor awkwardly at the Royal Rumble. Despite the injury, Cena was impressive out there, especially when he hoisted Show up and dropped him with an FU to a big pop. The crowd was pretty hot throughout the whole match and all three men looked strong. I liked the Anklelock battle between Angle and Show too. Angle looked great with a hard fought win and Cena looked valiant in shaking off the knee injury and doing his best to outlast the Anklelock. Angle now moves on to Wrestlemania and a chance to regain his WWE Championship. I liked the psychology here focusing on eliminating Show and Cena’s injured knee and all three men worked hard to make it go smoothly. Grade: 3

7) Eddie Guerrero defeats Brock Lesnar to win WWE Championship with the Frog Splash at 30:05

Fun Fact: On the 1/25 Raw, Chris Benoit came out and announced his intention that he would be challenging Triple H for the World Heavyweight Championship, meaning the Smackdown side had to still determine their Championship match at the biggest show of the year. As mentioned above, Kurt Angle earned one of those slots, but the question that remained would be whom he would face for the gold. On 1/29, Paul Heyman announced that a special fifteen man Smackdown Royal Rumble would take place to see who would face Brock Lesnar at this PPV. And the winner of that match would go to Wrestlemania as Champion. After a great thirty-seven minutes, Eddie Guerrero hung on and eliminated Kurt Angle. After years of great matches, political turmoil and personal tragedy, Guerrero would finally get his chance at the world heavyweight gold. The next week, the two men had a great verbal battle that ended with Eddie decking Lesnar and putting the belt around his waist. The next week, Brock delivered a classic Smackdown moment. When they returned from commercial, a mariachi band was in the ring and Brock emerged wearing a sombrero. After doing a funny Mexican jig, Lesnar announced that he was holding a celebration for Eddie because at No Way Out he will have nothing else to celebrate. Eddie quickly came out and ran off the brand but what ensued was a tremendous promo by both men, bringing up Eddie’s past addictions and using them to put over the importance of the match and Eddie’s quest for the title. It was a great piece of work that really added a lot of heat to the contest. Later that night, Eddie teamed up with Kurt Angle to face off with Brock and Big Show. Eddie would upset the champ by pinning him with a low blow and roll up.

Scott: Here we are. Would this be just a stepping-stone for our Wrestlemania XIX rematch? Or will the dream come true for a guy we never thought would ever have this opportunity? When this build started, Brock went back to his 2002 monster persona, just being a guy that no one could defeat. This started quickly in this match as Lesnar just threw Eddie around for the first ten minutes or so. The SF crowd was off the hook for Eddie, mostly because they thought maybe…just maybe? I didn’t think this match would be thirty minutes, but as the match progressed, the result was slowly starting to be in doubt. Why have this match surpass twenty-five minutes if Lesnar was going to win anyway? This isn’t like Shawn Michaels/Triple H where the result is always in doubt. Eddie would play it smart and occasionally go after Lesnar’s knees but usually Brock would end the momentum with a clothesline or other power move. The first time the crowd may have started to believe was when Eddie slapped the STF on Lesnar. Sure Lesnar powered out but suddenly this isn’t just another title match anymore. The psychology is perfect, as Eddie obviously can’t go move for move with the bigger champion, so instead he’ll attack a certain body part and work it over. Then Lesnar fire off a big power move to regain control. Eventually Brock’s nose is bleeding and he’s screaming “Just Die Eddie!” And please no one take offense to this as who would have known what would have happened eighteen months later. I just need to say that. At one point, Eddie misses a frog splash, and most of us thought that this one was probably over. However in the back of our minds, we knew there was one more card left to play in the equation. Sure enough, Brock hits the F-5, but when spinning Eddie around he knocks the referee out. As Brock grabs the belt, the crowd goes nuts and out comes….Goldberg! He spears Brock out of his boots. All three guys are out in the ring. Earlier in the night Goldberg jackhammered Brock and was escorted out. Fortunately for Eddie he doesn’t get the pin with this move, which would have made the win less of an accomplishment. Brock eventually goes for the F-5 again, but Eddie reverses it into a DDT, hits the Frog Splash and pulls off the biggest win of his great career. San Francisco hosts its first PPV, and ends up not only with an almost perfect match, but truly one of the warmest, happiest moments in WWE history. Eddie Guerrero was fired three years earlier, wrestling in Indies and being in rehab. Three years from that low point and he is improbably the WWE Champion. This was outstanding, and a moment that still gets to me simply because he deserved it. It was pure and simple, what a great ending. Grade: 4.5

Justin: Despite only having three weeks of build, there was a lifetime’s worth of storyline to tell when it came to Eddie Guerrero. His history was all the build this needed, but two weeks of great promo work by both men certainly didn’t hurt at all. Eddie got a huge pop for his entrance and Cole did an awesome job telling a compressed version of his life journey to build the drama even more. As the two men stared down, this definitely had a big match feel. The dominant heavyweight monster against the smaller, plucky beloved underdog contender; it was a classic story. Brock was overpowering early, just tossing Eddie around and things looked grim from the outset. The story of the match, Eddie trying to overcome the size and power difference, was beautifully told by Cole and Tazz on commentary as the two announcers were in a great groove. Brock really wrestled a smart and dominant style that was completely believable. Eddie’s underdog undertaking continued to build with each moment as the crowd did their best to rally Latino Heat. Both men worked smoothly as always as Brock punished Eddie’s midsection with Eddie selling like a champ. The crowd began loudly chanting for Goldberg throughout the match, sensing that business hadn’t been finished earlier. Another thing I liked about this match was the inverted structure as Brock immediately took over off the bell but Eddie was able to gain control in the middle of the match. It was unique and added to the special feel. Things would slow up a bit when Brock hooked a submission hold, but instead of killing the crowd, the tension actually started to build and you could feel them buzzing. They nearly exploded as Eddie ascended to the top rope but he ended up whiffing on a Frog Splash attempt. Off of that, Brock was able to hit the F5, but as Scott mention, the ref got taken out during it. That allowed Goldberg to come in to a monster pop as he speared Brock across the ring. That led to a great near fall but Brock stayed alive and you could tell the crowd was ready to burst. And burst they would, when Eddie finally nailed a crisp Frog Splash to pick up the biggest win of his career. It was tremendous booking, and was really an epic win and a truly great moment for one of the all time greats. And the post match celebration was the icing on the cake. The whole moment just felt real and true and you could feel the emotion coursing through the arena. It had a similar feeling to Mick Foley’s first championship win when you factor in the long journey for a beloved star. It was such a feel good moment and a great end to a fantastic match. Grade: 4.5

Final Analysis

Scott: This was a much more entertaining show than I certainly remember. Other than the Holly/Rhyno snorefest and the really awful Noble/Nidia match it was an extremely entertaining show. I love the opener, probably because of my strange attraction to Linda Miles, and the last three matches were all top notch. Eddie Guerrero wins clearly the biggest match of his career, and a credit to Brock Lesnar for putting Eddie over; even though there were rumors he didn’t want to, and for helping carry a thirty-minute match. The triple threat was top notch as not only Kurt Angle and Big Show worked hard, but most importantly John Cena looked like someone who could be elevated to the next level smoothly and easily. We move on to the 20th anniversary of wrestling flagship spectacular, and this show was a solid effort by Smackdown to get their part of the card down. Now we head to the World’s Most Famous Arena, and one of Justin’s and my crowning nights as wrestling fans. Final Grade: B

Justin: Well, I must say that I am fully surprised with this show. It was a whole lot better than I ever expected, as there were no bad matches, one really good one and two excellent title bouts. Despite only three weeks of build, the Smackdown writers did a great job of adding importance and good backgrounds to most of the matches. The early part of the card was decent with nothing offensive. The second half of the card was excellent. Rey and Chavo put on a tremendous battle with a good surprise finish. Kurt Angle won a really good triple threat match and he is now headed to the Wrestlemania main event. The main event…that was in a class of its own. Eddie Guerrero has finally reached the pinnacle of the business, something many thought may never happen. He is riding high and is over as ever. He and Kurt Angle now have a date for Wrestlemania, with Smackdown’s top prize on the line. The final PPV pit stop on the Road to Wrestlemania XX is complete and it was a really good, entertaining and memorable visit. Final Grade: B

MVP: Eddie Guerrero & Brock Lesnar
Runner Up: Kurt Angle
Non-MVP: Basham Brothers
Runner Up: Nidia

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