PPV REVIEW: WWE No Way Out 2004

WWE No Way Out 2004 Review - Event poster featuring Eddie Guerrero

February 15, 2004, 
The Cow Palace, Daly City, California.

The final PPV on the road to an epic Wrestlemania 20, WWE No Way Out 2004 was promoted as -and will forever be remembered as- purely a one-match show.
That match, of course, was the enormously popular veteran, Eddie Guerrero, challenging the dominant champion, Brock Lesnar, for the WWE title, the ending of which has since gone down in history as one of the most memorable title changes of all time.
And yet, I've never seen it. 
As I've probably said multiple times by now, I stopped watching wrestling altogether for a few years sometime between 2002 and 2007. So I'm as excited as hell to be reviewing this show today, just as I'm excited to discover what else went down at No Way Out. 
Without further ado then, let's go back to The Cow Palace on that fateful night in February.

Here Come the Playboy Girls

Tonight’s show began with a cold open that saw Sable and Torrie Wilson strolling to ringside, each wearing a little black number.
WWE No Way Out 2004 - Torrie Wilson & Sable

Despite playing the heel when she first returned to WWE, Sable was now a bonafide face again thanks to her new friendship with Torrie and, of course, thanks to both girls appearing on the cover of a recent edition of Playboy Magazine.

The girls neither said nor did anything interesting, merely making a bunch of sexual innuendos about tonight’s show and welcoming us officially to No Way Out.
WWE No Way Out 2004 Review - Michael Cole & Tazz

Smackdown announcers Michael Cole & Tazz then also welcomed us, introducing viewers to the show and to our Spanish announce team.

With that, it was onto our usual opening video.

Eddie vs. Brock - The Stage is Set

Naturally, said opening video focused exclusively on our upcoming WWE title match between reigning champion Brock Lesnar and his challenger, Eddie Guerrero.

After Royal Rumble ‘04 winner Chris Benoit, had defected from Smackdown to challenge Raw’s Triple H for the world heavyweight championship at Wrestlemania, Smackdown, boss Paul Heyman had booked another 15-man Smackdown rumble to determine Lesnar’s challenger.

That match had been won by Eddie Guerrero, who, in this video, talked about overcoming his demons and being betrayed by his family en route to tonight’s show, while Lesnar boasted about beating a who’s who of legends like The Rock, The Undertaker, and Kurt Angle.

According to Lesnar, Guerrero was nothing, a nobody, and would be destroyed tonight by the champion.

On that ominous note, we went live to the arena for the usual pyro fest and the introduction of The Basham Brothers.

Handicap Match for the WWE Tag Team Championship
WWE Tag Team Champions Rikishi & Scotty 2 Hotty vs. Shaniqua & The Basham Brothers (Doug & Danny Basham)

As the champions made their way to the ring, Michael Cole attempted to sell us a bag of bullsh**t that Rikishi and Scotty 2 Hotty had been a cohesive unit for five years and only hadn’t been seen together due to injuries.
WWE No Way Out 2004 - The Bashams vs. Rikishi & Scotty 2 Hotty

Despite being sloppy in parts, this was an entertaining opening match that struck the right chord with the live audience.

The champs came out strong and looked to hit their signature spots early, but The Bashams saved Shaniqua from a Rikishi stinkface before Shaniqua cut off Scotty’s worm (hehe), giving the advantage to her team.
WWE No Way Out 2004 - The Bashams cut Scotty 2 Hotty off from Rikishi

The challengers dominated, cutting Scotty off from his partner and doing a great job of isolating him so that the crowd was eager to see him make the hot tag.

Eventually, he made it. 

Rikishi stormed the ring and demolished Doug and Danny, only to get powerbombed off the second rope when he attempted a banzai drop on Shaniqua.

Moments later, the champions regained the advantage. Scotty took out The Bashams with a sweet flying double clothesline from the apron to the outside. Rikishi finally achieved his goal of banzai dropping Shaniqua, and this one was over.
Your Winners and Still Tag Team Champions: Rikishi & Scotty 2 Hotty

As the champs celebrated, Cole & Tazz pointed out a chair in the front row that had been reserved for Brock Lesnar’s rival, Raw superstar Bill Goldberg.

At that point, I noticed that the No Way Out chairs had a picture of Eddie Guerrero. 

Lucky Eddie, he got thousands of people to sit on his face in one night.

The Fall of Noble and Nidia

To the delight of no one, Cole announced that our next match would be between former lovers Nidia and Jamie Noble.

Noble had recently come into some inheritance money and blamed Nidia for spending it all while also using her as a human shield in his battles with Tajiri.

That was enough to end that relationship and bring about our next contest.

Jamie Noble vs. Nidia

Jamie Noble Must Be Blindfolded

Noble had been ordered to wrestle the match blindfolded due to Nidia doing a thing where she’d been blinded by Tajiri, and Noble had taken advantage of that fact.
WWE No Way Out 2004 - Nidia goes after a blindfolded Jamie Noble

I really thought I was going to hate this match, but it actually turned out to be a decent little comedy bout that the live audience was into.

Sure, if you take your pro wrestling super seriously and refuse to like anything that isn’t a 20-minute banger between two Internet darlings on AEW, you'd hate this match.

However, if you don’t mind the occasional bit of dumb comedy every now and again, you’ll probably enjoy it.

Of course, Nidia took advantage of her ex-boyfriend’s lack of vision, mainly by tricking him into thinking she was right in front of him, then sneaking up behind him and kicking him in the bum.

After a short while, she got cocky and scaled the ropes, only for Noble to cheat, lifting up his hood so that he could see enough to grab his estranged lover and hurl her from the top.
WWE No Way Out 2004 - Jamie Noble stands triumphant over Nidia

From there, the evil little man slapped Nidia in a guillotine submission to win the match.
Your Winner: Jamie Noble

Up next, Cole and Tazz took us back to Smackdown, where Kurt Angle had been attacked in the locker room by a mystery assailant.

Angle was set to face John Cena and The Big Show in a triple threat match to determine the next challenger to the WWE title and had assumed it was one of them, so he had interrupted a match between the two and taken them out with a chair.
No Way Out '04 Review - Josh Matthews gets in the middle of Kurt Angle and John Cena

Back live at No Way Out, Angle began explaining his actions in an interview with Josh ‘Turtleneck’ Matthews, only to be interrupted by Cena.

The future world champion explained that he was absolutely the kind of guy to knock Angle out but would rather do it to his face than behind his back.

With that, Cena slapped the Olympic Gold Medalist, leading to a pull-apart brawl.

The World’s Greatest Tag Team (Shelton Benjamin & Charlie Haas) vs. The APA (Farooq & Bradshaw)

Farooq’s career was winding down at this stage, and his in-ring appearances were becoming less and less frequent.
No Way Out '04 Review - Charlie Haas puts Farooq in an armbar

Still, he donned the tights one more time tonight for a so-so effort against Shelton Benjamin & Charlie Haas.

Shelton had injured Bradshaw’s arm on Smackdown, so The World’s Greatest Tag Team attempted to do the same to Farooq, leading to a standard wrestlers vs. brawlers kind of match.

It was OK for what it was, it just wasn’t all that interesting.

In the end, after Farooq had absorbed most of the punishment for his team, Bradshaw stormed the ring and raised hell, but his dodgy arm gave out, allowing Benjamin an opportunity to kick him in the mush and win the match.
Your Winners: The World’s Greatest Tag Team.

Post-match, Haas & Benjamin celebrated their victory as Farooq checked on a fallen Bradshaw.

Goldberg is Here

Here’s a question:

Goldberg was this huge, tall, brick shithouse of a guy known for smashing his way through anyone who got in his way, right?
No Way Out '04 - Bill Goldberg watches from the stands

So why did he need to be surrounded by security guards every time he went to to the ring?

Goldberg was such a tough dude that he needed security everywhere he went).

No sooner had Billy Boy taken a seat than Paul Heyman’s music struck, and the Smackdown GM made his way to ringside.

As excellent as ever on the microphone, the former Dangerous Alliance boss was simultaneously happy that Goldberg,  a Raw superstar, had come to watch a Smackdown show and exceeding irate that he had bothered to show up, ranting and raving that should Bill even dare cross the barricade, he would be arrested, sent to jail and, erm, arrested again.

As Paul worked himself into a state, Lesnar himself sauntered down to the ring and, ignoring his boss, urged Goldberg to get in the ring with him.
No Way Out '04 - Brock Lesnar and Paul Heyman

What followed was an exchange that was funnier than I imagine it was meant to be as Lesnar would repeatedly say, “Come on, Goldberg,” only for Heyman to immediately interject with a frantic “Don’t you dare!

Of course? Goldberg did dare.

Climbing over the barrier and stepping into the ring, he and Brock went shirtless and stared each other down as the crowd reached a level of excitement that had been missing all evening.

Lesnar attacked first, ramming his adversary into the buckles and attempting an F5, only for Goldberg to counter with a crowd-popping spear.

Naturally, the cops came down at Heyman’s behest. Goldberg willingly allowed himself to be handcuffed and sauntered backstage while the ineffective rent-a-cops kept their distance from him.

It had been a simple yet effective angle that popped to the crowd, proving to this writer (if to no one else) that Goldberg was indeed over with the audience far more than some revisionists would have you believe.

Yes, I agree that he was received like a wet fart when he debuted against The Rock at the previous year’s No Way Out, but then put any outsider against one of WWE’s all-time biggest stars and they’re probably going to get the same reaction.

Over the course of 2003, however, WWE fans had certainly warmed to the WCW star, and he was getting genuinely strong reactions.

The same can’t be said for Hardcore Holly, who, after Goldberg had been escorted away, rushed the ring to get his hands on Lesnar.
No Way Out '04 - Hardcore Holly prepares for battle

If you recall, Lesnar was responsible for breaking Holly’s neck, leading to a match between the two that nobody wanted back at the 2004 Royal Rumble.

Despite beating the ever-loving shite out of Holly in that match, Lesnar was now apparently scared of the former race car driver and fled the scene with Heyman in tow.

At that point, the bell rang, and Holly stayed where he was for our next contest.

Hardcore Holly vs. Rhyno 

This one started with a flurry of excitement as Holly met Rhyno on the entrance way and the two went fist and fire all the way to the ring.

There, the action stalled like a broken-down car crapping out on the highway as Bob slapped on a side headlock and Rhyno countered with body scissors.
No Way Out '04 - Hardcore Holly locks Rhyno in a headlock

Getting to their feet, the two men continued their rivalry from Smackdown with a decent bruiser battle that would have been fine for TV but which came across as lackluster on the last Pay Per View before Wrestlemania.

Towards the finish, Rhyno drilled Hardcore with an impressive spear, but Holly rolled out of the ring and took a breather, making it back between the ropes just in time to beat Charles Robinson’s 10 count.

Returning to the mat, Hardcore battled back, took Rhyno out with the Alabama Slam, and won the match:
Your Winner: Hardcore Holly 

As Holly made his way to the back, the show cut to a shot of the nearby Alcatraz. 

Michael Cole speculated that ‘they’ may have taken Goldberg there because, obviously, sending someone to a prison that had been abandoned since the early 1960s was an appropriate punishment for getting involved in a wrestling show.

The Dead Will Rise 

Before the match, we got a video recap of Chavo Guerrero’s heel turn against his Uncle Eddie, a move which raised the ire of Eddie’s buddy Rey Mysterio and ultimately led to a Cruiserweight title match between the two. 

No Way Out 2004 - 'The Dead Will Rise' promo for The Undertaker's Return

Before we could get to that, however, The Undertaker’s bell tolled, and we got a spooky video that told us the dead would rise again in 28 days.

Spoiling any sense of subtlety, Michael Cole couldn’t resist telling us that it just so happened to be 28 days until Wrestlemania.

WWE Cruiserweight Championship
WWE Cruiserweight Champion Rey Mysterio (w/ Jorge Páez) vs. Chavo Guerrero (w/ Chavo Guerrero Sr.)

Chavo had been managed by his dad, Chavo Guerrero Sr., since the start of the Eddie feud. 

Meanwhile, Rey had brought in boxer Jorge Páez

The two were apparently buddies, so good ol’ Jorge would be accompanying Rey to the ring for what turned out to be as good as expected.
WWE No Way Out 2004 Review - Chavo Guerrero vs. Rey Mysterio Jr

Things started relatively slowly, at least for a match between these two, but soon picked up when Rey Mysterio hit a 619 in the early minutes.

Chavo Guerrero Sr. then prevented the champion from following up with a splash by yanking Mysterio’s legs from under him, pulling him from the apron to the arena floor.

Sticking up for his buddy, Páez knocked Guerrero Sr. On his ass and was ordered to the back by the referee, much to his, and the crowd’s, dismay.

That left us able to focus on the action, which only got better the longer it went on.

Though I still think Rey and Chavo would have better matches together, you don’t take talented performers like these two and have them come up with anything less than a thoroughly solid encounter.

Towards the finish, the champion landed a second 619, but when he followed up with the West Coast Pop, the challenger rolled through the resulting pin attempt and reversed it into a half-Boston.

It was a sweet move, and if Rey had tapped there it would have been a great finish.
No Way Out 2004 Review - Chavo Guerrero vs. Rey Mysterio

Instead, the champ powered out but fell victim to the most deadly and evil heel move of all time, The Handful of Tights.

One roll-up later, and a new champion was crowned.
Your Winner and New WWE Cruiserweight Champion: Chavo Guerrero 

As Chavo celebrated, we cut to a random shot of a San Francisco street car, giving the new Cruiserweight title holder time to get backstage for an interview with Josh Matthews.
No Way Out 2004 Review - Chavo Guerrero gives an interview to Josh Matthews


By a very strange coincidence indeed, Matthews just so happened to catch up with Chavo outside the Locke room of his uncle and nemesis, Eddie Guerrero.

Of course, that meant that the champ spent little time talking about his victory, instead channeling all his efforts into slagging off Eddie as a loser and an addict.

It’s Number One Contender Time 

Up next, we got the tale of the tape for our number-one contender three match.

Kurt Angle’s accomplishments were listed as being a WWE Champion and Olympic Gold Medalist and Big Show's own title wins were likewise recorded.
No Way Out 2004 Review - Tale of the Tape for Angle vs. Big Show vs. Cena

However, they were surely no match for John Cena, who boasted a Ph.D. in Thuganomics as his greatest achievement.

A brief shot of The Big Show psyching himself up followed as Michael Cole told us how dominant the US Champ had been lately.

With that, it was time to find out who would challenge the winner of Lesnar/Guerrero at Wrestlemania.

Number One Contender Triple Threat Match
Kurt Angle vs. WWE US Champion The Big Show vs. John Cena

Winner receives a title shot at Wrestlemania 

Before stepping into the ring, John Cena took to the mic for a freestyle wrap about Kurt Angle, accusing him of attacking The Olympic Gold Medalist from behind.
No Way Out 2004 Review - Kurt Angle gets John Cena in an Ankle Lock

Cena insisted that it was actually Big Show who had committed the deed, then ended his promo by calling both men a couple of bitches and inviting them to perform fellatio.

Once between the ropes, Cena mocked Angle for failing to out-wrestle the Big Show, though the Doctor of Thuganomics faired no better against the US Champion.

We then got a little Cena/Angle followed by a brief Cena/Show, and with that, the formula for the match was set.

Two guys wrestle, one takes a nap on the outside. Swap out the wrestlers and repeat ad nauseam until the obligatory Finisher Fest and parade of near falls.

Don’t get me wrong, such a big-standard formula was elevated by the performances of all three men, not to mention an incredible job by Tazz & Michael Cole, who made this sound like the most important match in history.

However, it was too repetitive for this fan’s liking, and it came as a relief when Angle earned his title shot by making Cena tap.
Your Winner: Kurt Angle 

Finally, Tazz ran down the tape of the tape for our main event before a video package showed us Eddie Guerrero winning a Royal Rumble match on Smackdown to earn tonight’s title shot and the subsequent back-and-forth between he and Lesnar.

With that, it was onto the action.

WWE Championship 
WWE Champion Brock Lesnar vs. Eddie Guerrero 

Wrestling for nigh on half an hour, Guerrero and Lesnar delivered a thrilling performance in what must have surely been the latter’s finest outing at that time in his career.

It was a simple story told beautifully, with the monstrous young champion dominating his opponent, only for the wiley challenger to persistently sneak any opportunity to chop away at Lesnar’s legs.
WWE No Way Out 04 Review - Eddie Guerrero vs. Brock Lesnar

It was a tactic that paid off, and as the match entered its second act, both men were competing on a much more even playing field, trading the advantage and desperately trying to put the other one away.

The match was so good that it even made this fan forget all about the inevitable Goldberg run-in, making things even more exciting when Brian Hebner hit the deck, signaling the arrival of Big Bad Bill.

Goldberg Speared his rival, a move that was met by rapturous applause from a WWE audience that only a year ago had dismissed him.

Guerrero made a cover, and Hebner pepped up just long enough to make a slow two-count before getting another 40 winks on the canvas while Eddie reversed an F5 into a DDT onto the title belt.

One frog splash and one three count later, history had been made.
Your Winner and NEW WWE Champion: Eddie Guerrero 
WWE No Way Out 2004 - Eddie Guerrero celebrates winning the WWE title


After that awesome match, the new champion enjoyed a heroes' celebration as No Way Out 2004 came to an end.


Although it would be easy to dismiss No Way Out 2004 as a glorified Smackdown broadcast, doing so would be to do this event a great disservice.

OK, so the APA/WGTT match was instantly forgettable, and the triple threat was a little underwhelming, but as a fan who prefers to enjoy pro wrestling as a variety show rather than writing off anything that isn't a five-star banger, I thoroughly enjoyed almost everything else on the card. 

The cruiserweight title match was a highlght of the undercard, while Eddie and Brock delivered an absolutely solid main event, with a victory for Guerrero that is still talked about nearly 20 years later. 

Thanks for reading.

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