Written By: Alexander Settee
No Way Out 2009, February 15, 2009, Key Arena, Seattle, WA
Announcers: The teams of Jim Ross & Tazz, Michael Cole & Jerry “The King” Lawler, and Todd Grisham & Matt Striker
Since I get today as a holiday, I’m going to take advantage and bang this review off right away instead of having to wait until the weekend as usual. Only five matches here tonight, which has to be some kind of record for a full three hour PPV, but when the undercard is virtually irrelevant anyways, why not? At least it means that the big matches will all get plenty of time. As I was watching live, I decided that for fun I would go check out wwe.com’s live blog of the show hosted by Josh Matthews, The Fink, and some guy named Corey. They had a few guests on like Mickie James, William Regal, and Santino Marella taking questions (in character) from the fans and offering their comments on the show. It was reasonably entertaining as a compliment to the live action, but I was not happy about my “Bait and Switch” comment during the 2nd chamber match failing to make it past the WWE censors. Oh well.
Opening Match, WWE Championship, Elimination Chamber: Edge vs. The Undertaker vs. The Big Show vs. Vladimir Kozlov vs. Triple H vs. Jeff Hardy
For our first oddity of the night, the match that was looking to be the real main event gets put on first. Oh and for people like me who often wonder about this sort of thing, during Show’s intro, JR tells us that he’s the only man to have held the WWE Title, the WHC, and the ECW Title which means either JR is confused or (at that exact moment anyways) they officially recognize the WHC to be a continuation of the WCW Title rather than a new and separate Title. Edge and Jeff are the first two guys in. Jeff attacks, nailing a double forearm and couple of clotheslines. Next Irish whip is reversed and Edge nails a big boot for 2. He chokes Jeff on the ropes and hits a rope straddle for another 2. Corner whip sees Jeff go up and hook Edge on the charge with a headscissors take down, followed by an inverted atomic drop and the double legdrop to the abdomen. He hits a seated dropkick and tries the Twist of Fate, but it’s countered to a DDT, which in turn is countered back to the Twist which hits successfully this time. Swanton Bomb misses though, so Edge sets up the spear. As he charges, Jeff gets him with an inside cradle for 3 at 3:05. Huh? My first thought was that he may have been injured, but surely they would have protected him a bit better than that. Then, and you’ll have to take my word for this, I came to a sudden realization about exactly why Kofi Kingston was included in the Raw Chamber match. Edge is shocked about his sudden exit and walks out in disbelief as the others all mock him. Next one in is Vladimir Kozlov and he immediately hits a big boot on Jeff. He pretty much dominates Jeff the whole segment with his boring offence and Jeff getting the occasional comeback. Fallaway slam gets 2, followed by some headbutts to the kidneys and another fallaway slam for another 2. Backbreaker also gets 2. To a bearhug now, which Jeff fights out of, but he runs into a shoulderblock. Jeff slips out of a powerslam and gets Kozlov to the corner where he hits the slingshot seated dropkick for 2. Corner whip by Kozlov sees Jeff leap up and come back off with Whisper in the Wind. The countdown hits and Big Show is next guy in. He goes for Jeff, and then we get into a bit where Show and Kozlov (wary of each other the whole time) take turns hitting Jeff with various moves. They both hit bodyslams, and then Jeff starts to fight back. Show takes him back down with a headbutt and the exhibition briefly continues before Kozlov gets a battering ram on Show. Now they have their big showdown, trading shots. Show tries, but can’t quite get a suplex as the countdown is on again and next out is HHH. Facebuster for Show, followed by a high knee for Kozlov. Corner whip on Show is reversed, but Show misses the charge and ends up taking a spinebuster. Jeff attacks, but runs into a clothesline. Kozlov charges at him, but he ducks and Kozlov goes over onto the steel. Kozlov blocks being sent to the cage, but then HHH ducks a headbutt and Kozlov hits it anyways. Pedigree attempt on Kozlov is broken by Show who then hits some headbutts. Side slam on HHH gets 2 while Kozlov has been working over Jeff. HHH avoids a choke slam from Show, but charges back at him and takes a press slam. Show sends him to the cage and then splashes him against it. Jeff takes a leap at Show, but he ends up slammed to the cage as well. Splash against both guys misses though. HHH and Jeff hit Kozlov with a double suplex, but then Jeff goes right after HHH with Whisper in the Wind. The last countdown sees Undertaker enter the match and he’s a house afire. Snake eyes on Kozlov hits followed by a big boot. He nails a clothesline on HHH, and then a bodyblock on Jeff in the corner. He tries a double choke slam on HHH and Jeff, but Show stops that. Irish whip by Show, but Taker ducks and comes back off with the flying clothesline. He goes for the ropewalk on HHH, but Show is on the outside and he decided to jump at him instead. He DDT’s Show on the steel and then goes right back and does that ropewalk on HHH that he went for in the first place. Kozlov finally gets Taker caught in the corner and drives the shoulders. He mounts Taker and hits some elbows, but what happens when someone tries that? That’s right, Taker hits the Last Ride which finishes Kozlov off at 23:01. Show gets Taker right after with a choke slam. HHH tries a Pedigree on Show, but he backdrops him over to the steel. He throws HHH to the cage, and then tries to do the same thing to Jeff, who grabs on and climbs to the top of a pod. Show pulls his leg through the top and crotches him. He then climbs up to get at Jeff, but Taker comes from behind and takes him back down with a superplex. HHH nails Show with a Pedigree, and then Jeff, who’s still on the pod comes off with a Swanton. HHH covers and gets 3 to eliminate Show at 26:14. Jeff tries another Whisper on HHH, but it misses. HHH then nails Taker, but Taker reverses positions and gets his own shots in. Corner whip sends HHH over and out. He goes for the ropewalk on Jeff, but HHH grabs the leg and crotches him on the ropes. Jeff uses Taker to nail Poetry in Motion on HHH to the outside, but Taker takes exception, grabs Jeff and Tombstones him to end his night at 28:33. This leaves us with the epic confrontation between HHH and Undertaker. Taker seems to have the higher level of crowd support for what it’s worth. HHH charges right into a big boot, and then Taker controls him with headbutts in the corner. The charging big boot misses and HHH takes advantage to send Taker to the cage. He gets Taker back in and goes up, but jumps right into a choke slam which gets 2. Corner whip by Taker, but HHH gets the boot up. HHH charges back at him, but gets caught with snake eyes. Taker comes off the ropes, but runs right into a spinebuster for 2. HHH sends Taker to the cage again, but his Pedigree on the steel is countered and HHH gets catapulted to the cage. Taker gets him on the shoulder and look to run him there again, but HHH flips them over back into the ring. Taker flips back again and drops HHH with the Tombstone. It looks to be over, but HHH gets the foot on the ropes at 2.5. They slowly get up where HHH nails the Pedigree, but now Taker kicks out at a close 2.5. Both guys are groggy and trade shots in the corner. Corner whip by Taker is reversed. HHH mounts him for punches (don’t do that, Hunter), and sure enough the Last Ride is attempted, but HHH slips out, nails another Pedigree, and that one keeps Taker down for 3 at 36:00. HHH is once again the WWE champion, and that makes four PPV’s in a row for changing the belt. Really good match with the only dragging bit being the Hardy/Kozlov/Show segment. The ending with two huge stars that haven’t faced off in forever drew some great heat too. ****
No Holds Barred Match: Randy Orton vs. Shane McMahon
So after Orton kicked Vince McMahon right back off TV as quickly as he returned, the rest of the family was looking for revenge. Stephanie declared that firing Orton would be too easy, and instead recruited big brother Shane (last seen not getting along with her, but who would remember that sort of thing) and the no hold barred match was set for here tonight. On one hand it seems ridiculous for the top heel to be in there with a non wrestler like Shane, but on the other hand, for some reason, the fans always get into the story and match much more when a McMahon is involved. Orton cuts a good pre match promo, which is an area I’ve noticed a lot of improvement in recently. During the intros, we cut to a shot of Steph watching backstage to establish her presence. Shane starts out by using speed to avoid Orton and connecting with some jabs. Soon enough though he gets caught in the corner, but then fires back and knocks Orton to the floor. Baseball slide hits and Shane looks for the plunder, finding a table and garbage can before Orton gets him with a neckbreaker. He runs Shane to the apron a couple of times, then gets him back in and nails a back suplex. He pulls the turnbuckle pad off, and then whips Shane into it. More shots to the back send Shane to the floor, but Shane also has a kendo stick hidden which he uses to beat Orton with. Orton goes to the floor, but Shane stays on him with a running clothesline. He preps the announce table, nailing Orton with a monitor shot that busts him open in the process. Orton gets set on the table and Shane looks to go up, but Dibiase and Rhodes run in and attack to stop that. The double team is on and Rhodes grabs a chair, but Shane spins around and Dibiase gets hit instead. Shane hits a DDT on Rhodes and then sets him in the corner. Van Terminator hits and Rhodes can now be considered dead. After all this time, Orton is still on the table, so Shane goes for the elbow, but Orton was playing possum and moves out of the way just in time. He orders Dibiase to drag Rhodes’ corpse out of there as Shane slowly crawls back into the ring. Orton hits him with the DDT as he comes through the ropes. That only gets 2 though, as it does on the second and third times he covers. He pulls the table from earlier in the ring and sets it up. Shane takes a superplex through it, but that also only gets 2. He rams Shane’s head to the remnants of the table in frustration, and then uses the Garvin Stomp and a kneedrop for another 2 count. He sets up the big kick, but Shane explodes back at him with a spear. Shane grabs the chair, beats him in the leg with it and then adds a shot to the head for good measure after Orton begs off. He sets Orton up for a big kick of his own, but Orton springs up and hits the RKO for 3 at 18:16. Obviously Orton had to win, so they at least got that right. This was the usual McMahon family match with the weapons, brawling, big bumps, and blood in lieu of wrestling, but at the same time that kind of match usually works for them. **1/2
ECW Championship Match: Jack Swagger vs. Fit Finlay (w/Hornswoggle)
Finlay handed Swagger his first televised loss a couple of weeks back on ECW to establish himself as top contender, and so he gets his shot here tonight. They lockup and Finlay gets him with some kicks in the corner. Single leg takedown leads to a half crab. Swagger can’t make the ropes, but won’t give up either, so Finlay breaks and keeps working on it. Swagger avoids a shot in the corner and Finlay hits the buckle, then he follows up by sending Finlay to the post. Swagger goes to a hammerlock to establish the arm as his limb of choice. Shoulderbreaker gets 2 and he goes to a wristlock complete with boot to the face. They get up where Finlay slips out of a slam and drops Swagger on his knee for 2. Swagger runs him to the corner, and then charges at him, but nothing happens in what appears to be a screwed up spot. He charges again and sure enough this time Finlay rolls him up for 1. Swagger sets him on top, but Finlay knocks him back. Finlay with some kicks, followed by an uppercut and short clothesline. This match is dying here with no heat whatsoever. He goes to the 2nd rope and comes off with a bodypress for 2 as we see that Hornswoggle has emerged from under the ring for moral support. Finlay hits three clotheslines followed by a vertical splash for 2. He gets Swagger in a fireman’s carry as Hornswoggle is on the apron, but Swagger slips off, shoves Finlay into Hornswoggle, and then nails the gutwrench powerbomb for 3 to retain at 8:59. I was really expecting Finlay to get something better out of the kid here, but no go. ½*
John “Bradshaw” Layfield vs. Shawn Michaels
So we’ve reached the big blowoff of this angle. If Shawn wins, JBL pays him off and frees him from the contract, but if JBL wins, Shawn works for him the rest of his life for free. Maybe they should have gone with a more feasible stip like cutting Shawn’s salary in half and therefore he has to work for JBL twice as long or something like that? All in all, I’ve thought that this was a pretty decent idea for an angle, but the overall execution could have been better. JBL asked Shawn to bring his wife here tonight and indeed we see her sitting at ringside. They lockup and break on the ropes with JBL taunting him, saying he just needs one mistake and he owns him. Second lockup and break sees Shawn start wildly firing away until JBL bails. Shawn chases, so JBL grabs a chair and hands it to him, encouraging Shawn to get himself disqualified. Shawn just drops it and connects with more punches. Getting back in the ring, JBL nails him. Irish whip leads to a sunset flip by Shawn, but JBL hooks the legs and gets 2. Backslide by Shawn gets 1, but JBL comes back with a clothesline (not from Hell though) and drops some elbows for 2. Shawn slips out of a slam and clips the knee. He hooks a figure four, but JBL is right by the ropes and gets the break. Next Shawn goes to a crossface, but JBL breaks it by rolling him over for 2. Corner whip is reversed and Shawn goes over the top and out. JBL runs him to the apron, then gets him in and goes to work on the back. Multiple elbows get a 2 count, as does a short clothesline. They keep showing Rebecca in the crowd which would suggest that one way or another she’ll be getting involved before it’s over. JBL goes to a bearhug, which Shawn eventually fights out of. His Irish whip is reversed, but JBL puts the head down and takes a swinging neckbreaker. After a couple of inverted atomic drops, Shawn’s corner whip is reversed in the flipjob. JBL sets him on top, and then climbs up with him, but Shawn fights back and knocks JBL back down. Top rope elbow misses, and JBL then comes off with the Clothesline from Hell, but it only gets 2. The kickout doesn’t get much of a reaction which tells you that move is not over at all. He hits a second one and this time kicks Shawn out to the floor for a countout, but Shawn just makes it back in at 9. The crowd was more into that as a possible finish then they were when he covered after the first one. JBL tosses Shawn again, but this time follows. He drags Shawn in front of Rebecca and starts taunting her, so she nails him. This reenergizes Shawn, who gets JBL back in, comes off the ropes and nails the flying forearm. He kips up, and then comes back at JBL with a Thesz press and some punches. Bodyslam sets up the tope rope elbow which hits this time. Shawn tunes the band, nails the Superkick and gets the 3 count to win his freedom at 13:19. This is the one match where my opinion seems to really differ with the general opinion of the net. I liked it and thought that as a blowoff to the angle it worked well with some really good storytelling. The big problem was more with the angle itself as it didn’t really run long enough for a stipulation match of this magnitude to mean as much as it could have, but this was exactly the right way to end it. *** I’m sure the idea of continuing the angle by having Rebecca turn on Shawn and reveal an affair with JBL was discussed, but Shawn seems like the kind of guy who’s protective enough of his family that he would veto anything like that.
Main Event, World Heavyweight Championship Elimination Chamber Match: John Cena vs. Mike Knox vs. Kane vs. Kofi Kingston vs. Rey Mysterio, Jr., vs. Chris Jericho
Wow, Mike Knox is in a PPV main event championship match. I never thought I’d see the day. Granted you could say the same thing about Kofi Kingston, but at least I like Kofi. And of course, Kofi really isn’t in the match as he gets attacked by Edge during his introduction. Chairshot against the stairs allows Edge to lock himself in the pod and basically hijack the title shot. Now, every time I watch a championship match I’m going to find myself asking why someone doesn’t just run out, attack the challenger, and steal the spot, because apparently in WWE Land, that’s within the rules. To make matters worse, they have an easy explanation right there that they didn’t even bother using. They already said Shane went to the hospital, so they just have to say that Steph went with him leaving Vickie as the highest ranking authority figure in the building and that she of course approved his entry into the match. (Edit: They did end up explaining it in exactly that way the next night on Raw, but the review was written before that.) Is that perfect? No, but at least it would show that they were thinking about it and making an effort to keep the plot holes only big enough for a truck to travel through as opposed to big enough for a supertanker. I know it’s wrestling, and I’m willing to suspend disbelief 99% of the time, but this scenario here is beyond insulting to my intelligence. Before the match even starts, I am forced to deduct * from whatever rating it ends up with for that nonsense, which saddens me because I’m certain this is going to be a good one. Anyways, to the match now, which will be started by Rey and Jericho. Jericho gets a side headlock takedown, but Rey gets up and fires him off. Jericho hits a shoulderblock, and then comes off again, but takes a monkey flip. Rey gets a headscissors to the 619 position, but Jericho rolls out to avoid it. Rey comes at him with a dive that kind of loses its effect without the drop to the floor. He clotheslines Jericho back in and whips him to the corner, but misses a charge and hits the post. Suplex by Jericho gets 2 and he goes to a rear chinlock. Rey fires his way out, but gets backdropped on the steel. Catapult by Jericho, but Rey grabs on, climbs, and comes back off with a rana in a cool spot. Springboard press gets 2 and then he nails a bulldog as the countdown finishes and we are joined by Kane. He beats up both guys and then casts a long hard stare at Edge in his pod. Jericho tries to attack, but Kane just swats him away. Side slam on Rey gets 2, as does a seated dropkick. Jericho attacks again, but Kane clotheslines him over to the steel. He drops Jericho knee first on it, but then gets attacked by Rey. Rey hits a baseball slide, but Kane fires right back. Rey gets whipped to the corner and gets his boot up on the charge, but walks out into a side slam attempt, which he then counters to an inverted DDT. Jericho tries a Lionsault, but misses. Rey uses a drop toe hold to set Jericho for the 619, but Kane intercepts him and goes for a choke slam. Rey avoids it though and ends up getting Kane set up for the 619, which hits, and is followed by a Codebreaker from Jericho. Rey takes Jericho out with a rana, climbs to the top of a pod, and comes off on Kane with the seated senton for the 3 count at 9:40. The countdown hits right after, and Mike Knox is out next. He takes command on both guys right away, much like Kane did. Slam on Jericho, followed by a kneedrop gets 2. Jericho gets sent off the ropes, but holds on and backdrops Knox to the steel when he charges. He goes for the springboard dropkick, but gets caught and run to the cage a couple of times. Rey comes from behind, but he gets run to the cage as well. His foot actually gets hooked and he’s hanging upside down, so Knox connects with some knees before Rey gets himself free. He rams Jericho to the pod and then presses him into the ring. Rey comes back at Knox with some kicks, but gets caught off a corner whip for what appears to be a backbreaker, but Jericho comes out of nowhere with the Codebreaker and covers Knox for 3 at 14:43. We countdown again, and next out is Smackdown Superstar Edge. Rey jumps him right in the pod in an attempt to gain revenge for what he did to his buddy Kofi earlier on. They finally get out of there but Rey keeps on him until he runs into a clothesline from Jericho. Jericho hits Rey with a back suplex, but now he gets attacked by Edge. Corner whip is reversed though and Jericho gets him with the bulldog. Rey nails Jericho, but runs into an elbow. Lionsault hits knees and lets Edge hit the Edge-O-Matic, but it only gets 2. Edge whips Rey to the corner and sets up the spear, but Rey move to avoid it. Codebreaker by Jericho on Edge is blocked. Rey gets Edge to the 619 position, but Jericho tackles him to stop it. He gets Rey on the top, where they are soon joined by Edge. From there, Jericho does a sunset flip on Edge, who hangs on to Rey and gets him with a back suplex in our highspot of the night (you heard me Shane-O-Mac fans). Edge tosses Jericho and works over Rey as the final countdown hits and John Cena is the last man in to defend his belt. He’s right after Edge with a couple of shoulderblocks, a clothesline and a belly to belly suplex. Jericho takes a suplex, and then he goes back to Edge with a bulldog. Protobomb sets up Edge for the Five Knuckle Shuffle, which hits, but then here comes Jericho with the Codebreaker, which puts Cena on the ropes for the 619, which knocks him back in to a spear from Edge, and that eliminates the champ at 22:22. Even if Cena is Mr. Teflon, there has to be some sort of explanation for that. Edge, Jericho, and Rey just kind of sit around for a minute in disbelief, before it sets in that yes they actually did get rid of Cena that easily. Rey goes after both of them. Headscissors takes Jericho down, and then another one puts Edge on the ropes. Dropkick sets Jericho right there with him so Rey goes for a double 619, but Edge gets away and only Jericho takes it. Rey sends Edge to the post and then comes at Jericho with a springboard press, but gets caught. Jericho almost gets him in the Walls, but Rey then rolls him up for 3 at 23:54. Rey and Edge are left to fight for the WHC. Edge sets right up for a spear, but misses and gets rolled up for 2. Irish whip reversed, but Rey springs back at him and gets another 2. The crowd is super hot for this finale, even more than they were for HHH/Taker earlier on. Edge tries a sunset flip, but Rey gets out and connects with a solid kick to the head, but again Edge kicks out at 2. Irish whip reversed, Rey holds on to the ropes and nails Edge with a boot. Asai moonsault sees Edge catch him, but Rey counters to a DDT for yet another 2 count. Rey goes up, but Edge nails him. Edge tries a powerbomb on the steel, but Rey counters to a faceplant. Inverted 619 hits, but when Rey charges again he gets tossed right into the door of the pod. Back in the ring, Edge sets up a spear, which hits and gets the 3 at 29:48. So Edge comes back from losing the WWE Title in three minutes to walk out as the World Heavyweight Champion. This was another really good chamber match, which I would call even better than the Smackdown one. But even with that I still have the bad taste of the pre match angle in my mouth, and Edge, as much as I like the guy, winning it just puts the exclamation point on it. ****1/2 for the match, but with the * penalty for the storyline as noted above it only gets a final rating of ***1/2 which will unfortunately take it out of the running for match of the year consideration in my book.
As far as in ring goes, this was a really good show. Everything, with the exception of the ECW match, delivered to the level I thought it would and from that point of view I have to call it a thumbs up. The booking however leaves a bit to be desired. It’s like this company is falling right into the Vince Russo/TNA philosophy that it’s more important to make sure nobody knows what’s going to happen then it is to deliver a satisfying viewing experience. Imagine watching a movie where during the final showdown between the hero and villain, some secondary character simply comes in and beats them both. Sure no one would have seen it coming, but as a person watching are you really going to be able to enjoy that ending? And where do we go from here? In theory we now have both World Champions on Smackdown and also in theory we will have Raw’s Randy Orton challenging one of them at Wrestlemania. But I’m not even going to try and speculate on what might actually happen since with every day that goes by, predicting the future of wrestling becomes more and more irrelevant as they change directions on a whim. As for No Way Out, it’s a recommended show for the action alone, but check your brain at the door.