The Katz Files – Arnie Katz
No Way Out: Recap & Analysis!
The Kingfish Arnie Katz reports on happenings at WWE’s February pay per view and delves into the meaning behind what we saw..
It’s going to be a while before I, or anyone else, calls No Way Out a “speed bump on the road to WrestleMania The card delivered more than it promised and what fan is going to quibble about that?
The Elimination Chamber matches both turned out well and the outcomes certainly injected a lot of new elements into the WM picture.
Let’s look at the matches and see what’s going on with WWE…
The pre-show, hosted by Jack Korpella, made it clear that the elimination chamber matches constituted a double main event, but the half-hour gave plenty of attention to the Shane McMahon–Randy Orton and JBL-HBK matches.
The pre-show presented a lengthy, though edited, version of the wild four-way match on the Smackdown before No Way Out.
The Kingfish comments: WWE appears to be having trouble getting a promotional handle on the Elimination Chamber matches. They hype – over-hype, to be accurate – the fearsomeness of the metal structure and the fact that the winner will be a champion, but they had little to say about the match-ups within the matches.
The opening video spotlighted Shane McMahon as the avenging son in his battle against Randy Orton.
The Kingfish comments: This was a strange choice for emphasis, on a card that had two huge championship matches with a monster gimmick and a showdown in the long-running feud between JBL and Shawn Michaels.
Jim Ross welcomed fans to the “sold out” Key Arena in Seattle, WA.
Triple H d. Edge & Vladimir Kozlov & Jeff Hardy &. Big Show & Undertaker
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-
The Actual Match: When Triple H came out for the match, he added a little twist to the usual water-spraying. He took a big gulp, climbed the ropes and spit the water into the pod occupied by Big Show!
Edge and Jeff Hardy started the match, with Hardy gaining a little early advantage with a trio of Clotheslines. Hardy took out his frustrations on the current WWE champion with a Huracanrana, a Reverse Atomic Drop and a Legdrop, but Edge short-circuited an attempted Twist of Fate.
The Charismatic Enigma tried repeatedly for the Twist of Fate and finally executed one. He went to the top, but hit nothing but canvas when Edge rolled out of harm’s way. Edge went for a Spear, but Hardy caught him in mid-rush and scored the pin with a roll up!
Vladimir Kozlov, the next to enter, went right for Hardy with Shoulder Blocks and Headbutts. After he slowed down Jeff with a Battering Ram, he began to bounce the smaller man off the cage walls.
Kozlov shook the ring with his Fallaway Slam with release, but Hardy survived the maneuver and launched into an offensive run. He might’ve sent the Russian to the showers, if the next pod hadn’t opened to free Big Show.
Big Show and Vladimir Kozlov really worked over Jeff Hardy. It looked like Show could’ve pinned him, but instead elected to keep up the punishment. The heels engaged in a contest to see who could most effectively destroy Hardy. It wasn’t clear who won this trial of villainy, but there was no doubt about who lost it – Jeff Hardy took a whole lot of abuse.
As Big Show whaled away on Hardy, Kozlov surprised him with a Battering Ram into his back. The two rulebreakers turned on each other until Triple H’s pod opened.
Hardy and The Game joined forces to Suplex. Big Show, but then turned on each other as long-standing rivalry got the better of them. Jeff had just hit a Whisper in the Wind when Undertaker’s pod opened to admit him to the match.
Undertaker gave Big Show a DDT onto the Steel and then went Old School on Triple H. Kozlov broke up the offensive run and brutalized Taker in the corner. The Dead Man shrugged of the pain and carried Kozlov toward the center of the ring and finished his night with a Last Ride!
Big Show utilized the Elimination Chamber ways as a deadly weapon against Triple H and then fired Jeff Hardy at him like a human missile!
Jeff Hardy tried to take the high ground by climbing, but he got crotched on one of the lexam pods. Big Show evoked memories of King Kong as he climbed the steel mesh. Taker overtook Show form behind and Suplexed him all the way to the mat! Triple H added a Pedigree and Jeff Hardy chimed in with a Swanton Bomb. The Game made the cover that put Big Show out of the match.
Taker threw Hx3 into the steel. He started to go Old School on Hardy, but the Cerebral Assassin revived enough to take down the Devil of Death Valley. Undertaker became a launch platform for Jeff Hardy’s Shining Wizard, which did its work well on Triple H. Taker caught Hardy looking in the wrong direction and pounded him with the Tombstone Piledriver. It was RIP for Jeff Hardy.
Undertaker and Triple H went at it without concession. Both men met the unforgiving walls of the Elimination Chamber more than once with bloody results.
The Fame got his foot on the rope to avoid getting pinned after a Tombstone Piledriver. Undertaker absorbed a Pedigree without suffering a pin, too.
Undertaker hoisted Triple H in the air for a Last Ride. Hunter squirmed free and immediately hit a match-ending Pedigree.
Triple H became champion for the 11th tie!
The Actual Grade: A
The Kingfish comments: Starting with an Elimination Chamber seems like it goes against traditional booking wisdom, but it really makes a lot of sense. You could hardly have asked for a better way to kick-start the card, but the really big thing is that it avoids two messy situations:
1. It eliminates the lengthy, boring set-up period that always brings the card to a dead stop.
2. It eliminates the necessity of running the two Elimination Chamber matches back to back.
Eliminating Edge right off the bat goosed the excitement level tremendously and put fans on notice that No Way Out would not leave things the same as they were before this pay per view.
Backstage, Edge pleaded with Vickie to restart the match. His wife gave him a disdainful look and told him it was all his fault.
After a long series of videos, Randy Orton looked directly into the camera and spoke straight to Shane McMahon. He painted a word-picture of a recuperating Vince McMahon watching the demolition of his son.
“I will not stop until I’ve destroyed the entire McMahon family,” he snarled.
The Kingfish comments: This is the time for WWE to embrace the reality that just about all fans know that Stephanie is married to Triple H. A showdown with Hunter at WrestleMania would be the right way to wind up this feud with a terrific match.
Randy Orton d. 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-
The Actual Match: Randy Orton leapt into action at the bell and soon had Shane McMahon at a steep disadvantage in the corner. Shane responded with a Jaw Jacker and a barrage of punches to let the Legend Killer know that the match wouldn’t be a walk-over.
Shane tossed Orton out of the ring and nailed him with a Baseball Slide. He used the breather to haul a table from under the ring and lean it against the edge of the ring. Shane hunted for a trash can under the ring, which gave Orton a chance to revive. Randy made the most of it by joining Shane in the ringside area and bashing him against the side of the ring a couple of times before throwing him back inside the ropes.
Orton Suplexed his foe, tore the cover off a turnbuckle and whipped Shane into it. Orton threw McMahon out of the ring and enjoyed a nice strut around the ring to gloat about it. That proved to be a bad strategy. When he leaned over the ropes to see what Shane was doing, he took a horrendous cane shot to the head!
Shane beat him with the kendo stick until Orton left the ring. Shane cleared the announce table and, after smashing a monitor against Orton’s head, drove him through the table.
Cody Rhodes and Ted DiBiase attacked Shane. Just when it looked like Rhodes would clobber McMahon with a chair, Shane shifted position and DiBiase took the blow! Shane put Rhodes in the corner with the trash can on his chest and went Coast-to-Coast, his signature move.
Shane then went for an out-of-the-ring Cross Body that nailed Orton on the announce table! Randy dispatched DiBiase to help Rhodes to the back for medical attention. Orton hit a ropes-assisted DDT, but he netted only three near falls.
Randy Orton Superplexed McMahon through a table, but the victim somehow raised his shoulder in time.
Orton lined up for the Punt, but Shane tackled him in mid-charge! Somehow, McMahon willed himself to his knees and dealt Orton a series of devastating chairshots.
Shane went for his version of the Punt. Randy Orton intercepted with an RKO and the pin was almost a formality.
The Actual Grade: B+
The Kingfish comments: Randy had to win this one. He did it in good style, working well with Shane, who is somewhat limited as a wrestler.
A long video extolled the virtues of WrestleMania.
Jack Swagger d. Finlay (with Hornswoggle)
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
The Actual Match: Fit Finley went right for a Boston Crab. Swagger had no plans to surrender his belt and twisted free of the potential submission.
Swagger worked on hi opponent’s left arm. It seemed to have a cumulative effect, but Finlay is not an easy man to pin.
Swagger followed Finlay to the top, but Finlay threw him down to the mat and followed up with several Clotheslines.
Swagger propelled Finlay into Hornswoggle, who stood on the apron. He took advantage of the momentary confusion to hit the Gut Wrench Powerbomb and quickly cover to retain his title.
The Actual Grade: B
The Kingfish comments: This was cut-and-dried, though not nearly as bad as it could’ve been. The finish was obvious from the beginning, which is not the best way to put excitement in a match.
The announcers reported that Shane McMahon, slipping in and out of consciousness, went to the hospital, accompanied by his sister.
The backstage camera showed a pensive Shawn Michaels getting ready for his match. After a lengthy recap video, we saw Rebecca Michaels preparing herself to watch the show down between Shawn and his boss.
The Kingfish comments: WWE gets praise for orchestrating this decisive match so well. The visuals built up the tension, which was the whole idea in the first place.
Shawn Michaels d. 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+
The Actual Match: The match started slowly as they circled each other before tying up in a Collar-and-Elbow stalemate. Leyfield backed his employee into the corner, but Michaels exploded out of the trap with flying fists and a leaping forearm smash.
Michaels got the better of some tussling in the ringside area, but JBL seized the upper hand when he shocked Michaels with a thunderous Clothesline!
Leyfield worked the rules for all he was worth. Michaels got several warnings from the referee about possible disqualification for failing to break. A little later, Leyfield battered Shawn and tossed him into the ringside area, hoping for a count out. Shawn
John Bradshaw Leyfield showed his sadistic side by punishing Michaels with six Elbow Drops in rapid succession. Then he beat Shawn mercilessly in the corner with kicks, punches and chops. The Cowboy Financier whipped him into the opposite corner. JBL fired him into the ropes, but Michaels retaliated with a Swinging Neckbreaker. Unfortunately, it took so much out of him that he couldn’t make an effective cover.
Michaels scored with a pair of Reverse Atomic Drops, but Leyfield put him on the top turnbuckle and punched him repeatedly. Leyfield want to do a Superplex. He threw JBL to the mat, but the arrogant financial analysis rolled out of the way in time.
JBL blasted Shawn with the Clothesline from Hell. Shawn Michaels stood on shaky legs, only to have Leyfield flatten him with another Clothesline from Hell.
Leyfield dragged HBL to the outer edge of the ringside area to taunt Rebecca. She punched Leyfield and Shawn caught fire! Michaels landed a barrage of punches, followed by a running Forearm Smash to the face. Michaels hit a modified Thesz Press and rained down blows as he kept his foe on the mat.
Michaels scored with a Bodyslam and, finally, the Fly7ing Elbow. Michaels kicked Bradshaw into next month with Sweet Chin Music and made the obligatory cover to win his freedom.
The Actual Grade: B+
The Kingfish comments: This was pretty close to the optimal end of this storyline, giving the participants. I have a dread that they may find a way to extend the storyline beyond its normal life, though.
The weakness was the stipulation. When a stip is too enormous, too overwhelming, the fans don’t believe it will come true and, therefore, have less enthusiasm for the match.
Now, if they’d really wanted to do a swerve, they could’ve had Leyfield win. He would then have started to merchandise Michaels’ name. Shawn would have come back as a Number, perhaps under a hood. After messing with JBL for a while, the not-so-mysterious man would have fought Leyfield and beaten him. Then they would’ve had a rematch to redeem Michaels’ name.
A confident Chris Jericho spoke to Tod Grisham. He was supremely confident in his ability to win the Elimination Chamber match.
Edge d. John Cena & Rey Mysterio & Kane & Mike Knox &. 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-
The Actual Match: Edge ambushed Kofi Kingston on the way to the ring and took his place in the pod reserved for him in the Elimination Chamber.
Rey Mysterio and Chris Jericho started the match. When Mysterio crashed into a pod, Jericho pounced with a Suplex! Mysterio climbed up the chamber wall, he dropped onto Jericho with a Cross Body and then hit a Centon! It wasn’t nearly enough for the one-two-three.
Mysterio hit a Wheelbarrow to a Bulldog just as Kane entered the match. The Big Red Machine played no favorites, clobbering Rey Mysterio and Chris Jericho with equal abandon.
Kane and Mysterio renewed their feud. They took turns trying to demolish each other, but neither would yield to the other. Jericho broke up an attempted pin. Kane caught the Masked Marvel around the throat, but Chris broke it up. Shortly thereafter, Mysterio connected with the 619 against both heels.
Rey Mysterio climbed as fa4r up the cage as he could. He came down on Kane with a Seated Centon and got the needed three count!
Mike Knox entered next. He went right at Mysterio with stomps. He got distracted by Jericho. Knox cuffed him around pretty good, but it didn’t bring a pinfall any closer.
Knox battered Jericho against the chamber’s steel mesh and they Gorilla Press Slammed him across the ring!
Knox got such pleasure out of pounding Mysterio that he lost track of Chris Jericho. Chris destroyed him with the Codebreaker and scored the eliminating pin.
Edge entered next, though Mysterio attacked before he could even get clear of the pod door! Rey focused on Edge, but he became a sitting duck for Jericho. Chris virtually knocked out the Masked Men and then launched an assault on the recently dethroned WWE champ!
Mysterio targeted Edge for a 619, but Edge intercepted and knocked Rey to the canvas. Edge and Mysterio got into a fight on the top turnbuckle. Edge executed a Sunset Flip., Mysterio took some damage from the hard landing.
John Cena rushed into the middle of the ring and began dishing out the pain to both Jericho and Edge! Edge was on the wrong end of a Five-Knuckle Shuffle. Jericho broke up the Attitude Adjustment with a Codebreaker. Edge Speared Cena and made the pinning cover.
Mysterio, Edge and Jericho tried to beat each other senseless. It was every man for himself and no one escaped without bumps and bruises.
Rey Mysterio came over the top rope, but fell into the Walls of Jericho. He rolled through and pinned Chris.
Mysterio tried an aerial move, but Edge caught him on the fly. The athletic man from San Diego turned it into a variation of an Armdrag Takedown. When Edge tried to slam Rey on the steel surrounding the ring, Rey not only prevented it, but he blasted Edge with a Reverse 619.
Edge Speared Mysterio against one of the pods. The Masked Man collapsed just outside the ropes. Finally, Edge caught Mysterio near the middle of the ring with a Spear. That was all for the Masked Man.
Edge became the new World Heavyweight Champion!
The Actual Grade: A-
The Kingfish comments: The way it looks now, Edge will defend against Cena and Triple H will put his title on the line versus Orton at WrestleMania
Predicted Grade for No Way Out: B
Actual Grade for No Way Out: B+
The Kingfish comments: This pay per view turned out to be significantly better on the home screen than it looked on paper. Every match was watchable and fairly interesting. The ECW title match was the poorest – and it was still pretty good.
That’s it for today. I’ll be back tomorrow with another installment of the Internet’s fastest-rising daily wrestling column. I hope you’ll join me – and, please, bring your friends.
— Arnie Katz