The Katz Files – Arnie Katz

No Way Out: Preview & Predictions!

The Kingfish Arnie Katz gets you ready for WWE’s February pay per view event!.

On the expressway that runs from Royal Rumble to WrestleMania, No Way Out has often been little more than a speed bump. The storylines are set up in time for the Rumble and then the plots play out as planned during the two months until WWE’s premier event of the year brings things to a series of exciting climaxes.

WWE has, in recent years, turned to the Elimination Chamber as a way to make No Way Out seem more meaningful. They’re going with the double main event format in which two Elimination Chamber contests decide the World Heavyweight and WWE Championships.

That doesn’t change the essential nature of this show, though. It is a transitional show that will settle very few things. The finishes will come soon enough, but No Way Out will pave the way for the even bigger matches at WrestleMania 25.

Let’s look at what’s announced for the event:

Jack Swagger vs. Finlay (with Hornswoggle)
ECW Championship

The Story: As often happens to the Fighting Irishman, he is in this situation due to his son Hornswoggle. Jack Swagger picked on the little guy, which caused Finlay to meet him in the ring. The victory in that match set up this title confrontation.

My Prediction: Life offers few certainties, so let’s not say that Jack Swagger is 100% certain to beat Fit Finlay in this match based on an insta-feud. Finlay is a marvel, turning in solid matches at his age, but he isn’t going to hold the title, not even the less-than-coveted ECW strap.

I would look for a good, solid match with some after-match action that may indicate whom Swagger will face at WrestleMania 25.

Predicted Grade: B

Shawn Michaels v JBL
All or Nothing Match

The Story: When economic reverses wiped out Shawn Michaels’ nest egg, it launched him on a dark odyssey as the employee of John Bradshaw Leyfield. The Cowboy Financier’s dreams of a world championship didn’t work out the way he hoped, so he is ready to take it out on JBK. He has lured Michaels into the ring to face him on the promise that he will settle up if Michaels wins. Unfortunately, there is a possible downside; Leyfield gains perpetual use of Michaels’ name and likeness if HBK loses, even by a DQ!

My Prediction: I have to see this as a case of stipulation over-kill, unless I ant to have nightmares about the (allegedly0 humorous uses that JBL will put Michaels’ name through until JBL somehow wins back his identity. Turning away from that awesomely unappetizing possibility leaves only the possibility of a Shawn Michaels win or a JBL DQ or Count out. A DQ loss for Leyfield would build up the feud for a big blow-off at WrestleMania in a No DQ or Last Man standing match.

Predicted Grade: B+

Randy Orton vs. Shane McMahon

The Story: Randy Orton has gotten into a nasty war with the McMahon family. He Punted Vince, harassed Stephanie and sneak attacked Shane. Although Shane has gotten a little revenge against Legacy, he hopes to make the most out of his confrontation at No Way Out.

My Prediction: Unless the folks at WWE have taken leave of their senses, there’s no way they would feed a star talent like Randy Orton to a guy (Shane McMahon) who wrestles about once every other year. Shane will do his big top-rope move, the dive into the trash can, but Orton will wrap it up with the RKO.

Predicted Grade: B-

Edge vs. Vladimir Kozlov vs. Jeff Hardy vs. Big Show vs. Undertaker vs. Triple H
WWE Championship
Elimination Chamber Match

The Story: Six men will compete for the WWE Championship is the Elimination Chamber. Edge has the gold now, but the odds are against him defeating all five of his challengers to leave the pay per view with his title reign intact.

My Prediction: There should be a title change at No Way Out and this looks like the best candidate. It also follows WWE practice of transferring the title without a direct loss by the champion to preserve the appeal of rematches at house shows or even pay per views.

It might come down to Triple H against Jeff Hardy with interference by black sheep brother Matt to start the drive toward brother-versus-brother at WM 25. Whatever the ending, though, my pick for the winner is Triple H.

Predicted Grade: A-

John Cena vs. Rey Mysterio vs. Kane vs. Mike Knox vs. Kofi Kingston vs. Chris Jericho
World Heavyweight Championship
Elimination Chamber Match

The Story: This is likely to be the climax of the show, a six-way fight for the most valuable and prestigious titles in all of professional wrestling.

My Prediction: WWE has discovered that having Elimination Chamber matches before WrestleMania injects a little uncertainty into the stories tied to WrestleMania In this case, though, the uncertainty is a very, very small quantity. John Cena will be in one of the major <IWM matches, which means he is going to have the title around his waist when he walks the aisle in Texas.

Now that it appears that there won’t be a Jericho-Rourke match at MWrestleMania — which proves the efficacy of prayer, I guess – Chris might get another shot at Cena coming out of this Elimination Chamber.

If I were booking, I would give Jericho the Elimination Chamber victory so that John Cena could win back the title at WrestleMania, but I believe that WWE will play it safe.

Predicted Grade: A-

Predicted Grade for No Way Out: B

That’s it for today. I’ll be back on Monday with another installment of the Internet’s fastest-rising daily wrestling column. I’ll have the recap and analysis of No Way Out and you’ll be able to laugh at my predictions.

— Arnie Katz
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