After the mess of a script that was May’s Over the Limit PPV, the WWE Universe moves on to the half-point of the year with a PPV that originally intended to celebrate the ignoble cage match, and the theme of confinement: the glorious No Way Out, brought back to life after a three-year absence and replacing last year’s Capitol Punishment (a one-off D.C.-themed show).
By the time it was removed from the PPV calendar, it had left us such fond memories of good shows, great matches, and defining moments (Eddie Guerrero’s WWE title win, anyone?) due to its spot in the middle of the Road to Wrestlemania. Upon its return, it still has that potential, but it’ll be tough to live up to its reputation because it’s currently not along the Road – it’s in that limbo after Wrestlemania, but right before the big summer angle gets into motion.
Will No Way Out stand out and kick the summer into gear, or will it be another forgettable blip on the calendar? Let’s take a look, shall we?
Sheamus defeated Dolph Ziggler to retain the World Heavyweight Championship
Okay, if you’ve been reading me for a while now, you would already know this about me: I hate seeing a World title match open a PPV.
Yes, I am fully aware of the wrestling booking theory that strong matches must always begin and set the tone for huge events. In fact, you’ll find that this match was nowhere near like Wrestlemania 28’s infamous curtain-jerker, but it is only during Wrestlemania that starting off the show with the World title is borderline acceptable. (Take note that I said borderline - the prestige of Wrestlemania elevates every match on the card, and that only barely excuses the practice.) But this is not in any way a Big Four PPV, and the World Heavyweight Championship should not be opening just any big event.
At the very least, though, the wrestling made up for it. A story was being told, and even if that story involved Dolph Ziggler’s ridiculously ineffective sleeper finisher, it was still a story nonetheless. Just to give you an idea of how well these two told their story, at the beginning of the match the smarky New Jersey crowd was pulling for Dolph; by the end, everyone was cheering Sheamus as he retained his title. Good enough.
Santino Marella defeated Ricardo Rodriguez in a Tuxedo Match
The less said about the Tuxedo Match, the better; it’s exactly the “stripping match” trope usually seen on the women being applied to the men. So… yeah. Ricardo Rodriguez was wearing a pair of Alberto del Rio tightey-whiteys, though, and it also turns out Santino wears a Cobra on his leg. (No, not THAT cobra.)
My only question here is that there are so many deserving young wrestlers who could benefit even from the idea of being in a championship match, so why waste the champion and his unrealized talents in a match like this? I get that he’s a comedy character and this is a comedy feud first and foremost, but if that’s what you want to do with him, then he’s better off dropping that title to someone else.
Christian defeated Cody Rhodes to retain the WWE Intercontinental Championship
The show-stealer of the evening, and the match that should’ve opened the show. Folks, this match is so great (both outright and unassumingly) that I’m going out on a limb to call it a dark horse Match of the Year candidate.
If Sheamus/Ziggler told a good story, then this match told a great one. Cody had an answer for most of Christian’s offense, anticipating, countering his signature maneuvers and even kicking out of the Killswitch, forcing the champ to figure out new ways to get rid of the challenger. However, Cody’s ultimate failure was that he couldn’t force a question that was unanswerable.
It’s a bit hard to keep explaining if all you have to go on with is my word for it, so please catch the show if you haven’t yet if only to see this match. It’s also going to take repeated viewings to fully appreciate.
The Prime Time Players (Titus O’Neil & Darren Young) defeated Epico & Primo, Tyson Kidd & Justin Gabriel, and the Usos to become the #1 Contenders to the WWE Tag Team Championships
Our first impromptu affair of the evening (and you also know how I feel about that) which definitely could’ve been announced way ahead of time (the match was officially made during the pre-show, which counts somewhat). However, it is very much forgiven due to its execution and implications.
First, this was actually a spotlight shined on the tag team division on PPV. Not just the tag team titles, but the tag team division; who would’ve thought that they’d hold a huge match just to determine the #1 contenders? It’s a relatively novel idea, especially given the universal diagnosis that the division is on life support. There are a lot of people ready and waiting who could revive it, but it’s always on life support. Let’s hope that it’s not the case after this match.
Second, it automatically sustains the division for the foreseeable future for at least two reasons. One reason is that it sets a title match for the future, and hopefully that’s on Money in the Bank, if only just to keep the trend of tag teams actually being on PPVs.
The other reason is that AW’s double-cross leaving Primo & Epico steaming also sets a new tag-based feud that a) doesn’t involve the tag champs at all, and b) doesn’t seem to be confined to the Internet shows. This is actually a pretty complex storyline given that the division has been in the backburner for so long now.
On top of that, the match is ridiculously fun. What’s not to love?
Layla defeated Beth Phoenix to retain the WWE Divas Championship
Not much to say as the prediction for this match was rather pedestrian, and the actual build-up was basically non-existent. I did notice that Layla is getting better and better with each PPV match since her return, plus she’s a much better Kelly Kelly than even Kelly is.
In other news, the public is still in the dark as to the issue of Kharma’s whereabouts.
Sin Cara defeated Hunico (with Camacho)
The second impromptu match of the evening, and yet another bout that could’ve been given some express hype beforehand, especially given the history between these two guys. How hard would it have been for Hunico, who has been claiming to be the “future of the WWE” lately, to attack Sin Cara upon his return in order to prevent him from stealing his spotlight again? Boom, quick match, but nobody in the back ever really thinks of the simplest things.
Anyway, a good amount of Sin Cara’s best matches are with Hunico, and the latter has improved immensely since their feud that a lot of people really are starting to take notice. That results in a match that is significantly better since their program in the summer of 2011. Sin Cara is a gifted athlete, but Hunico is a smarter worker. The guys backstage need to really figure out how to organize the Faceless One’s talents. Not to mention get rid of the stupid mood lighting.
CM Punk defeated Kane and Daniel Bryan to retain the WWE Championship
Let me start by getting the obvious out of the way: the addition of AJ into this three-way storyline is, at the very least, interesting and uncanny at the most. It gave the WWE title picture a different reason to be fought for; instead of three guys merely staking their claim at the gold, the same three guys are also up in arms over a lady. It’s like the Trojan War all over again.
The addition of Kane has always been a strange one; action-wise, it’s of no big consequence since he is a very capable worker, but story-wise, it just makes no sense, and the interaction with AJ has only magnified that. Before this, Kane had just been the guy the original two men manipulated to soften the other up for their title match last month. Now, Kane is the same guy who wandered into the scene, but is now also chasing AJ’s tail. It’s also very inconsistent – this is the same character who returned as a masked villain because he abhorred the inherent humanity he embraced, by way of a handshake. What more actual romantic feelings for a woman?
I’ve always reasoned Kane’s insertion as a diversion to keep the Punk/Bryan feud from running out of steam in holding a number of singles matches for the title on successive PPVs, and hopefully that does end up being the case. This theory is supported by the fact that Kane took the fall in this match, allowing Bryan to leave the second PPV in a row looking strong. Easily the match of the night.
Ryback defeats two local jobbers
Nothing new to see here, move along. We’ll let you know when he starts taking three guys on.
John Cena defeated Big Show in a Steel Cage Match
Cena needs a break. With all the personal issues in his life that he must attend to, the guy needs a well-deserved break, one he said he’d take after getting a legitimate beating back in Extreme Rules. This is why I predicted that he would lose the match and get fired to stay away from the job for a little while, even if Creative has previously been proven to be inept with the whole “firing Cena” thing.
Like Cena/Laurinaitis before it last month, this isn’t a match to watch for the ring action (although given that it’s between two actual, active wrestlers, it should be) because a cage match has a built-in story of two guys trying to get out. As far as people were concerned, the show was over after the WWE title match, and they have a bit of a point. This is a match-up we’ve seen dozens of times over these two men’s careers, and it just doesn’t add up to a must-see match.
Fortunately for him, Cena did get cheered by the time he won the match, but for the rest of us, it was just back to the status quo. There really isn’t anything to write home about.
Was No Way Out a perfect show? No, it wasn’t. But was it better than Over the Limit’s mess? Definitely. However, while it’s more passable, it still isn’t a valuable package. We still have problems of impromptu matches that have no business going unannounced (but at least Brodus’s match was promoted this time), we still have problems with the card sequencing, and that dragged down a show that saw some quality in-ring action.
This leaves us with a show that sits on a borderline, so the final judgment comes to you, perhaps depending on your mood and level of enjoyment.
Overall Rating: C+/B-
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