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Wrestlemania 12 Review

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Showing posts with label Charlie Haas. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Charlie Haas. Show all posts

Saturday, 12 March 2022

PPV REVIEW: WWE No Way Out 2003

WWE No Way Out 2003 Review - Event poster
February 23, 2003, 
Bell Centre, Montreal, Quebec, Canada

No Way Out 2003 was the first event of this name to come under the WWE name, so it was interesting that the show featured three returning superstars from the glory days of the World Wrestling Federation.

First of all, Hulk Hogan was once again donning the red and yellow after last being seen on PPV back at Vengeance 2002 and taking a break shortly after.

Tonight, he was going up against rising Hollywood star The Rock. The Great One had also enjoyed a lengthy break after Summerslam 2002 and was now heel, a role he was almost forced to play after the crowds began to turn on him due to his growing movie career.

Still, while this was both men's first PPV appearance in months, the real story tonight was that No Way Out 2003 would mark the return of Stone Cold Steve Austin, a man who had famously walked out of the company the previous summer.

Here's what went down when three of WWE's all-time biggest stars returned to action:







A Boring Opening

Long-time Retro Pro Wrestling readers will probably know that I have a certain fondness for the WWE’s opening video packages.

WWE No Way Out 2003 Review - Jerry 'The King' Lawler and Jonathan Coachman call the action


99.9% of the time, they do a great job of setting the scene and getting me pumped up about what I’m about to watch.

This was different though. This was about six seconds of a random computer animation that took us up a flight of stairs to a locked window and then showed some distressed bald dude hanging to some railings.

It was pretty rubbish, but I guess WWE could only get so much mileage out of rolling stock footage of Freddie Blassie chilling out in an abandoned warehouse.

Anyway, with that brief and boring intro out of the way, Jonathan Coachman welcomed us to No Way Out 2003, informing us that since JR had suffered a concussion on Raw, he -Coach- would be sitting alongside Jerry ‘The King’ Lawler tonight.

Chris Jericho vs. Jeff Hardy

As Chris Jericho made his way out for tonight’s opening contest, Coach informed us that Raw GM Eric Bischoff had granted The King of the World’s request to have Shawn Michaels banned from ringside before noting that this was the first WWE PPV in Montreal since Survivor Series 1997.

WWE No Way Out 2003 Review - Chris Jericho puts Jeff Hardy in the Walls of Jericho


The match soon got underway and quickly turned into an exciting opener that remained utterly compelling from start to finish.

With the crowds torn between rooting for fellow countryman Jericho and perennial babyface Hardy, both gave it their all before a hot crowd who hung on every move.

After a solid effort, the self-proclaimed King of the World countered a top-rope hurricanrana attempt with a superbomb before locking his adversary in the Walls of Jericho.

The Charasmatic Enigma tried to hold on, but when he found himself dragged into the middle of the ring with no chance of escape, he had no choice but tap out and give the match to his opponent.
Your Winner: Chris Jericho

Post match, Jericho refused to relinquish his hold on Hardy, prompting HBK to rush to the rescue.

Unsurprisingly, the man whose name will be forever linked to the Montreal Screwjob received a frosty reception.

At least he did until Christian ran into help out his running mate, at which point Michaels managed to win the audience over by taking both men out with a double DDT, delivering a clothesline to the outside on Y2J and a well-placed Sweet Chin Music to Christian.

A Team Angle Pep Talk

WWE No Way Out 2003 Review - Team Angle talk tactics before their big match


Out in the back, Kurt Angle blasted the Canadian audience and promised that tonight, he, Shelton Benjamin, and Charlie Haas would prevail over Brock Lesnar, Edge, and Chris Benoit because there was simply no way that Team Angle could lose to “a walking gorilla and two Canucks.”

The Olympic Gold Medalist looked set to talk strategy with his two henchmen, but before we could hear what he had to say, we cut to the parking lot where Evolution arrived in a limousine.

Tonight, Evolution leader Triple H would defend the World Heavyweight Championship against Scott Steiner, but first, this:

WWE World Tag Team Championship
WWE Tag Team Champions William Regal & Lance Storm vs. Rob Van Dam & Kane

WWE No Way Out 2003 Review -  Lance Storm and William Regal


Though the general consensus seems to be that this match wasn’t all that good, this fan in particular enjoyed it very much.

Relatively short, this one made Lance Storm and William Regal look like credible, fighting champions, even if they did only pick up the win when Kane accidentally chokeslammed RVD due to having his vision impaired by an Ill-placed match.
Your Winners and Still Tag Team Champions: Lance Storm & William Regal

Out in the back, Matt Hardy was about to talk about how he miraculously cut weight in order to challenge for the cruise weight title when he was distracted by the appearance of his brother, Jeff Hardy.

WWE No Way Out 2003 Review -  Matt Hardy confronts his brother, Jeff


Confronting his clearly wounded sibling, the Master of Mattitude insisted that Jeff would actually begin winning some matches if he started following his brother’s teachings.

Rather than get into it, Jeff simply slapped the taste out of V1’s mouth and walked off, leaving an irate Matt to be restrained by his lackey, Shannon Moore.

WWE Cruiserweight Championship
WWE Cruiserweight Champion Billy Kidman vs. Matt Hardy V1 (w/ Shannon Moore)

WWE No Way Out 2003 Review -  Matt Hardy is annoyed by snow and Ice.


As I’ve mentioned in the past, I’d stopped actively watching wrestling by 2003, so when I eventually came back to it, I was always confused how Matt Hardy -a man who was clearly no Cruiserweight- had managed to compete in the division.

The explanation here that he’d had to work hard to cut weight made a lot of sense, but unfortunately, it didn’t make for a great match.

Don’t get me wrong, there was nothing particularly wrong with this one, but the crowd clearly weren’t into it and that had a negative impact on the way this one played out.

After a decent but kinda blah match, Hardy hit Billy Kidman with an admittedly excellent Twist of Fate to capture a title which he really had no rights competing for in the first place.
Your Winner and New WWE Cruiserweight Champion: Matt Hardy

Backstage, Brock Lesnar and Chris Benoit tended to Edge, who had been mysteriously laid out backstage at the hands of an unknown assailant.

Smackdown GM Stephanie McMahon and a gaggle of officials also came to the former Intercontinental champions aid, but it looked like Edge was officially out of action for tonight.

Not just tonight, either. By all accounts, this was just a way to write Adam Copeland off TV so that he could have surgery for a recent injury.

We wouldn’t see him again until the following year.

The Big Show (w/ Paul Heyman) vs. The Undertaker

WWE No Way Out 2003 Review -  The Big Show vs. The Undertaker


Prior to the match, we got a look back at how The Undertaker had returned to action to get revenge on Big Show for taking him out of commission in the fall.

Show had been awol, but had sent Big Evil a number of gifts, including Brian Kendrick dressed as a bell boy, ‘Taker’s first manager, Brother Love, and, for some reason, a singing Chris Kanyon.

The Dead Man had destroyed all of them and now, tonight looked to destroy Big Show in a better-than-average big man brawl.

Though it was far from a classic, the two did the best with what they had to make sure that this, the longest match on the card, never felt boring or sluggish.

After a decent effort, a busted open ‘Taker got his revenge by drilling Show to the mat for the cover, the count, and the fall.
Your Winner: The Undertaker

Backstage, Edge was wheeled into an ambulance, confirming that we wouldn’t see him compete tonight.

Elsewhere, Chief Morley and Eric Bischoff talked about what a good team they had behind them, only for Vince McMahon to inform them that if anybody got involved in Bischoff’s match with Stone Cold Steve Austin, they’d be fired on the spot.

Handicap Match
WWE Champion Kurt Angle & WWE Tag Team Champions Shelton Benjamin & Charlie Haas (w/ Paul Heyman) vs. Brock Lesnar & Chris Benoit

WWE No Way Out 2003 Review - Team Angle ready for action


As the combatants made their way out for tonight’s match, Michael Cole informed us that Stephanie had given Brock & Benoit the option to choose another partner but they had refused, instead opting to take on Team Angle in a 2 vs. 3 handicap match.

This turned out to be a good match that could have -perhaps should have- been much better.

Though you had a whole bunch of talented performers here, the match took a while to really kick it up a gear, and even then, it wasn’t until the final minute or so that we got the kind of balls-to-the-wall wrestling spectacular it had the potential to be all along.

Perhaps expectations were just too high given the caliber of performers involved, but while this was certainly the best match of the night so far, this ram expected a little more.

In the end, Benoit made Charlie Haas tap to the crossface while Lesnar took out his rival, Angle, with an F5.
Your Winners: Brock Lesnar & Chris Benoit

Prior to the next match, we got a look back at the rivalry between Triple H and Scott Steiner, and how they feud had led to the World Heavyweight Champion forming the Evolution stable to back him up.

Those two would be in action next.

WWE World Heavyweight Championship
WWE World Heavyweight Champion Triple H (w/ Ric Flair) vs. Scott Steiner

This was far, far from the best match on the card, but it was certainly the most interesting in terms of fan reaction.

WWE No Way Out 2003 Review -  HHH and Scott Steiner go nose-to-nose


Despite being the babyface here, Steiner’s shit-show of performance back at the 2002 Royal Rumble meant that he was routinely booed by the Montreal faithful while dastardly heel HHH was cheered every time he struck an offensive move.

The biggest heel of the match, however, was referee Earl Hebner, who received a hostile reception for his role in the Montreal Screwjob five years earlier.

In fact, Hebner’s mere presence here overshadowed everything the two combatants did, and when Hunter got into a shoving match with the official, it received the biggest pop of the night so far.

After a somewhat lackluster effort that was, at least, marginally better than their Rumble outing, we got an inevitable run-in from Batista and Randy Orton.

That distracted the challenger long enough to be whacked in the face with the world title belt by his opponent.

That didn’t quite put him away, but a quick pedigree a few moments later did.
Your Winner and Still World Heavyweight Champion: Triple H

Post-match, the champion made his way triumphantly to the back, being congratulated by Orton.

Eric Bischoff vs Stone Cold Steve Austin

WWE No Way Out 2003 Review -  Steve Austin returned


Prior to this one, we got a look back at the storyline which basically amounted to Bischoff failing to resign Austin, Austin deciding to come back anyway, and Vince McMahon booking the two against one another.

Jim Ross then came out, ostensibly to help call the action, but really just to cheer on his buddy Steve Austin as he whooped Bischoff from pillar to post.

It would be a stretch to call this a match, but it was fun to see Austin do his thing to the absolute delight of the Montreal faithful.
Your Winner: Stone Cold Steve Austin

Afterwards, Austin celebrated his return while Jim Ross absolutely lost his shit.

I’m not exaggerating either.

I get that Ross was out there to put over Austin’s return, but his level of over-the-top enthusiasm was ridiculous.

It was hilarious at first, but then it was just sadly kind of embarrassing and I actually felt bad for JR.

The Rock vs. Hulk Hogan

WWE No Way Out 2003 Review -  The Rock puts Hulk Hogan in a sharpshooter for the ages


By this time, The Rock was one of the fastest rising stars in Hollywood but had no problems coming back to WWE to assist Vince McMahon in his rivalry with Hulk Hogan.

That had brought us to tonight, a rematch from Wrestlemania X8 that was never going to live up to the original but was still entertaining enough in its own right.

At least it was until the finish.

After hitting The Rock with a big hoot and leg drop of doom, Hogan made the count but the lights in the arena went off before the referee -Sylvian Greenier- could count to three.

When they came back up, Hogan and Greenier were both out and a chair had been placed in the middle of the ring.

Vince McMahon then made his way out, distracting Hogan long enough for The Great One to destroy his opponent with a chair.

At that point, referee Greenier sprang to his feet, revealing himself as in cahoots with Rock and McMahon, and made the three count.
Your Winner: The Rock

“It’s a Screwjob! It’s a Screwjob!” Yelled Michael Cole in the most obviously rehearsed fashion ever.

Seriously, it was very apparent that Cole had been waiting for the whole match just for his moment to say that line.

As he did so, McMahon mocked and ridiculed a battered Hogan to bring No Way Out 2003 to a close.

——







All in all, WWE No Way Out 2003 is a difficult show to sum up. None of the matches were outright terrible (not even HHH/Steiner II), but you almost got the sense that many of the company's major players were either holding back or simply having an off night, resulting in matches which were never quite as a good as they had the potential to be.

Still, there was a lot of fun to be had here. Austin's return was entertaining, the handicap match was still good even though it could have been better, and the whole Rock/Hogan thing was as good as it was going to get right up until the rather necessary finish. 

Ultimately then, despite featuring the PPV returns of  three all-time greats, No Way Out 2003 wasn't a very significant show, nor is it something anyone need go out of the way to watch. 



Other 2003 pro wrestling reviews: 
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Retro Pro Wrestling

New reviews of classic WWF/WWE events recalling every moment from Wrestlemania 1 - 30. You'll also find reviews of WCW, ECW, TNA and the occasional indie event, along with a look at old school magazines, merchandise and more.