No Way Out 2001: Austin’s Best Match Ever? Maybe.

No Way Out 2001
Date: February 25, 2001
Location: Thomas & Mack Center, Las Vegas, Nevada
Attendance: 15, 223
Commentators: Jim Ross, Jerry Lawler

This is a more or less forgotten show in WWF history which is a shame because it really is a good one. The problem it has is that it’s stuck between a great Rumble and the best PPV of all time. This is most certainly a two match show as there are only two that I remember at all and only two that mean anything. The first is Angle vs. Rock for the title, and I think you know how that’s going to go.

The other match, and the reason I get this requested a lot, is why this show is so popular. It’s Austin vs. HHH in a 2 out of three falls match. The first is a regular match, the second is a street fight and the third is a cage match. This is Austin’s first major one on one match since his neck surgery so we’re really seeing if he’s back. HHH is the guy that was behind his attack so this is a huge revenge match. It’s been called the best match of Austin’s career and there may be something to that. That would include the I Quit match, so let’s get to it.

The opening video is about the two matches. At least they’re not pretending to be something they’re not here.

Hardcore Title: Big Show vs. Raven

Raven has the belt and the better music here. He brings his own weapons as was his custom. Raven’s ninja (Tori, a girl, in a black suit) jumps Show on the ramp and it goes nowhere as you would expect. Show is in his one piece women’s swimsuit here and I still hate it. Show misses a splash against the post and is rocked.

Raven jumps on his back which works about as well as every diet Show goes on. The required fire extinguisher is used by the bird man. Ross suggests a blunt object to the head. And now a popcorn vendor is jumping Raven. He looks like Elroy Jetson and Show more or less kills him (It’s Crash). Show beats up Raven and Blackman and Holly come out to beat up Show.

Billy Gunn slips in from behind and messes up a Fameasser on Raven to steal the title. Naturally he sticks around instead of RUNNING, resulting in taking a Sidewinder, which is his old finishing move in the Smoking Guns. Show clears the ring and Raven steals the title back. Crash gets two but a chokeslam onto a trashcan gets the title. Oh and Molly and the Ninja came down and fought too. Show beats Billy up as he leaves for fun.

Rating: C. This wasn’t supposed to be serious and it wasn’t. This was just a fun little match and sequence that was designed to make things comedic. Show vs. Kane vs. Raven would be the Hardcore Title match at Mania and was far better, but it’s a different kind of match. This was fine though.

Angle gets here and is still a happy go lucky jerk who can be awesome in the ring.

Benoit and Eddie are with Lillian. They say only the title matters tonight.

Intercontinental Title: Chris Jericho vs. X-Pac vs. Eddie Guerrero vs. Chris Benoit

Jericho took the title from Benoit at the Rumble. He also put Pac out with an injury as well as Eddie. So there are your reasons for people to be in there. The Radicalz jump the ring and it’s immediately on. Pac vs. Benoit and Eddie vs. Jericho to start. One fall to a finish here. Everybody gets in the ring and it’s a big slugout.

Benoit and Eddie team up but Benoit tries to steal the win with the Crossface on X-Pac. Jericho takes forever to break it up but just makes it. Frog Splash to Pac for two. Bronco Buster on Benoit doesn’t hit as Jericho kicks his head off. The Radicalz slug it out to a big reaction. Benoit covers Eddie and Jericho covers Pac but both get two.

We get down to Benoit and Jericho for a bit which is probably the most entertaining combination here. Liontamer goes on but Eddie comes in for the save. He winds up in them instead. Ok make that Pac is in them. Justin Credible of all people runs out for the save and Benoit hits a Dragon Suplex for two. Pac and Credible beat up Benoit with a double superkick.

Lionsault gets two on Eddie as Pac gets a low blow and X Factor on Jericho. Very fast paced and exciting stuff here. Crossface on Pac but Eddie with a SWEET running front flip neckbreaker to break it up. Swan Dive to Eddie’s arm and then Benoit gets his head kicked off by Pac. Jericho slides in from nowhere and steals the pin to retain on X-Pac. Sweet match.

Rating: B+. This was great stuff as everyone was flying all over the place and stealing covers and breaking up pins. Jericho coming in to steal the pin made sense as he was probably the most impressive guy out there. It was a great match which was high impact and incredibly fast paced. The guys got to show off and it worked like a charm. Very good match.

HHH is getting taped up for the match.

Regal is with Vince who tells him to do the right thing in the Stephanie vs. Trish match. He has no idea what that is.

We recap Trish vs. Stephanie. This is in the middle of the Vince wants a divorce and Linda is in a sanitarium and Trish is screwing Vince and Stephanie hates Trish and wants to be the top girl in the company angle. I can’t stand those simple and basic angles that are a dime a dozen.

Busta Rhymes is at WWF New York, as is Test. He wants the girls to beat each other to death.

Regal tries to talk to Trish but she has someone to slap.

Stephanie looks AWESOME in her outfit here.

Ad for WWF the Music Volume 5. Wow that sounds forever ago.

Trish Stratus vs. Stephanie McMahon

Trish is a set of boobs and a gorgeous face at this point. She has no talent as far as we know in the ring so Stephanie is probably the ring general in this match. She has the awesome old school HHH music though so I can’t complain. It’s nice to see one of the girls in a t-shirt though instead of their traditional stuff. Spear and a slap fight start us off.

We’re in the crowd in like a minute as this is a big fight. Stephanie dives off the barricade with a big punch to the chest. Granted it’s hard to miss so there we are. Bulldog by Trish but it means nothing yet so it only gets two. They do the smart thing here and don’t try to make this into a wrestling match, opting instead for a fight. Water gets involved, making Lawler freak out.

Trish with wet hair and a wet chest: win. A powerbomb from Stephanie gets two and down come Trish’s shorts for a spanking. Trish in a thong wins also. The girls both go down (lucky) as does the referee. Cue Regal, who puts Trish on top (works for me) but then saves Stephanie from getting pinned since he doesn’t know what the right thing is. Trish slaps him so he takes her down with a neckbreaker for the pin.

Rating: B-. This is considering who was in there and the level of their talent. It’s no classic, but considering who was in there, this was AWESOME. They didn’t bother trying to have a match and just beat each other up, which was without a doubt the right way to go. Trish would of course get FAR better, but this was pretty good considering what they had to work with. Regal saving us from the attempt at a finishing sequence was a nice break too.

Vince is mad at Regal for what he just did. Vince/Stephanie vs. Trish/Vince tomorrow, which I think led to the Vince’s Club.

Ad for Mania, which is made of awesome. If you cut it’s arm off and looked down at it, the part that has blood it in would say AWESOME.

We recap HHH vs. Austin, if you need it. In short, HHH paid off Rikishi to run over Austin so he had to take a year off. They hate each other in general also if they need any additional reasons. Like I said, I doubt you need an explanation on this one. If you do, why are you reading this? There was a very clever thing done by HHH: After they signed the contract, Vince had said if they touched each other before No Way Out, Austin would lose his title shot at Mania and HHH would be suspended for six months. Austin signed and HHH blasted him. Vince said what are you doing? HHH only signed the first H. Austin beat up Stephanie and HHH beat up JR the previous week.

Cole, with his stupid blonde highlights, gets a blank stare from Austin.

Steve Austin vs. HHH

First is a regular match, second is street fight, third is cage. MASSIVE pop for Austin, but the crowd has been white hot all night. I’m surprised that this is in the middle of the card but you know it’s going to get some time. Maybe they want to do this so the crowd isn’t spent at the end? Naturally it’s a slugfest to start. Mudhole is stomped 30 seconds in. Big old AUSTIN chant as he dominates early on.

Modified hot shot to take down Austin though as this is fast paced for the most part. Pedigree is blocked into a DDT on the arm which I need to learn the name of. We head to the floor as Austin works the arm. This is a regular match but Austin ramming HHH’s arm into a post about 6 times is perfectly fine? HHH can’t do the Pedigree because of his arm, which is SELLING! Simply shaking your arm is passable, but having it prevent you from doing your moves is SELLING.

Thesz Press and Austin is dominant so far. HHH gets his foot up when Austin is coming off the ropes, but for once Austin actually has his arms up to look like he’s doing a move. I hate when people just jump into it for the sake of jumping into it. Neckbreaker takes HHH down but it doesn’t do much due to the weak arm.

HHH goes after the knee which is Austin’s weak point as well. He goes for the leg into the post thing but Austin counters and HHH and the nose of doom hit the post. Back to the knee as HHH takes over with a figure four. Austin gets out and does a nice move where he gets HHH n the mat and beats on him with his leg. Cooler than it sounds. Thesz Press and the elbow get two.

Everyone counters everything and we slug it out. HHH gets a kick to the knee and goes to the middle rope. He jumps into the boot though and Austin hits the Stunner for the completely clean pinfall.

No rest period between falls and we’re right back at it again. It’s a street fight now and we hit the floor. Austin’s knee is ok I guess as he hits some suplexes on the floor. Monitor connects with HHH’s head and apparently it’s broken. Naturally we head into the crowd and it’s all Austin. Back in the ring and Austin destroys HHH Rock-Style with a chair.

After nearly murdering HHH we head back to the floor where Austin finds a 2×4 wrapped in barbed wire for no apparent reason. A low blows allows HHH to blast him in the face with it though and Austin is bleeding. HHH sets for the Pedigree on the table but Austin counters and sends him through the other table which EXPLODES. Awesome stuff so far if you can’t tell.

Back in the ring a bell shot (Austin brought it in earlier) gets two for HHH. This is a war with both guys hitting all these big shots out of desperation. Back to the neck with a neckbreaker onto the chair for two. Backdrop by Austin sends HHH free falling over the top. Cool looking drop. More weapons stuff on the floor but the intensity and selling is making it work.

You can barely hear Lawler here as his mic is messed up or something. HHH finds a sledgehammer and Lawler accuses JR for putting it there. Back in the ring again and a Stunner is blocked by a sledgehammer shot to Austin’s head. Pedigree follows that and thankfully that ties us up at 1-1. I would have rolled my eyes very heavily if Austin had kicked out of that.

The cage is lowered as we get a quick break. It’s been about 30 minutes so far and nothing but awesome. Austin is more or less dead and eats the cage again. HHH gets the barbed wire 2×4 and rips Austin’s face open a bit more with it. The sledgehammer and at least one chair are also in there with them. Make that two chairs, one of which saves Austin as he blasts HHH in the head with it.

HHH gets it in the face (I would have thought that would have been Stephanie but whatever) for a long time but gets a DDT out of desperation onto the chair but it only gets two. The crowd is a bit silent but it’s pretty clear that the fans know nothing is going to end without something huge. Austin comes back and goes OFF on HHH who just collapses face first out of the corner.

Game tries to bale but he Austin makes two saves, culminating with an old school slam off the top rope. Stunner is blocked but the Pedigree hits for TWO. The place erupts on the kickout and HHH is shocked. Another is blocked and HHH gets hit with a slingshot into the cage. Stunner hits and both guys are out. After the break Austin covers for two as this is awesome. HHH gets the hammer and Austin gets the 2×4. Both swing with everything they’ve got and connect, but HHH falls on Austin for the pin. I think I need a cigarette.

Rating: A+. Without question, this is awesome. Any of the three falls is great to say the least and the ending was perfect. Both guys are protected but not in a way that makes it look like they’re being protected. HHH got lucky and won it, as Lawler says that it’s not fair to say either guy really won. Just an absolute WAR with these two beating the living tar out of each other and making the crowd love every minute of it. With 40 minutes of these two beating each other to death, how is it not a perfect match?

Austin stuns HHH afterwards for fun.

On Smackdown, the RTC tried to beat up Kat so Lawler made the save, setting up a match tonight.

Stevie gives the RTC a pep talk.

Kat has a shirt on and nothing else. She wanted to be allowed to be naked on TV.

Jerry Lawler vs. Steven Richards

Tazz does commentary in Lawler’s place. He’s still a wrestler so this is a new thing for him. He’s a bit like his normal commentating self but not all the way yet. Lawler makes a full entrance despite being at the commentary desk not 2 minutes ago. We see a clip of the RTC stopping the (XFL’s) Las Vegas Outlaws cheerleaders last night. RTC was a parody of the Parents Television Council who got on Vince every 9 seconds for something he did.

This is the walking definition of a catch your breath match as the fans need something worthless to bridge the gap from the war they just saw to the last two matches. Lawler expands his offense from just punches by adding in rapid fire punches. This is why it’s great to have someone like Lawler around: you can throw him in there for something like this and you know he’s going to at least be passable, especially since he only wrestles like twice a year so his expectations are very low.

Kat and Ivory go at it for a bit but the distraction allows Richards to take over. Richards misses a splash in the corner and Lawler takes over for a bit. Apparently if he wins Kat gets to be naked. Ivory comes in and Teddy Long takes FOREVER to get rid of her. Kat tries to hit Richards with Ivory’s belt but she nails Lawler by mistake for the pin. Kat has to join RTC now, but she was released in like two weeks, resulting in Lawler quitting. They were married at the time.

Rating: D. This was pretty weak but at the same time it was about as good as it was going to get. It was on the level of a pretty bad TV match but like I said this was designed to just fill in about 10 minutes so that the fans could breathe a bit. Nothing special at all but it did its job I guess.

We recap the tag title stuff which is another three way feud. Edge and Christian gave Kane a Conchairto on Monday night.

Taker says a lot of basic stuff.

Chyna’s book is popular. Random to say the least.

Tag Titles: Undertaker/Kane vs. Edge/Christian vs. Dudley Boyz

This is a tables match but not elimination style. Uh sure. The Brothers go after Edge and Christian in the aisle but stop when the Dudleys come out and corner them. Dudleys are champions here. The Canadians hide and it’s on early. It’s a massive brawl of course. Tazz is still on commentary here. The table HHH went through is still just in pieces on the floor which is funny for some reason as it always is.

The Dudleys are down and the Brothers beat up the Canadians. The champs make the save from a double powerbomb but Bubba slips on a chair and falls on his back. For the first time we get in the ring and Bubba gets his crotch stepped on. What’s up to Edge makes up for that though. This is just a big mess of course but it’s fun. Taker and Kane stop the getting of tables and Christian hits Unprettier on Bubba in the ring.

Stereo powerslams by the big men and then they both go up. Taker goes airborne which isn’t something you see that often really. We get some near endings but a bunch of saves are made including a low blow to Taker. A pair of chokeslams hit but there aren’t any tables. The Dudleys get chokeslammed too and the Brothers stand very tall.

They set for stereo powerbombs but Rikishi and Haku waddle down to stop it and brawl with the monsters. Have we ever had a generation without an evil Samoan team? For some reason Vince thought these Samoans would be a good choice for a team, even though Haku wasn’t Samoan. The monsters all go up the ramp to tick off the crowd. 3D on Christian ends it.

Rating: C+. Just a fun match here but somehow this was supposed to set up monsters vs. monsters, even though the ethnic monsters were gone very soon. This wasn’t much but it definitely wasn’t bad. The constant double teaming got pretty stupid after awhile but it wasn’t horrible. Passable match for what it was, but with TLC 2 next month, it’s hard to stay underwhelmed.

We recap Rock vs. Angle. Rock beat Big Show to get the shot. That’s it. Rock says tick tock a lot also.

Rock says the same stuff we heard in the video package.

WWF Title: The Rock vs. Kurt Angle

It’s pretty much one sided as to who is going to win here and even Ross and Tazz acknowledge it. Long staredown to start and we’re on. The straps are down before we even start as we hear about him using some hold called an ankle lock. Rock hits a jumping Russian leg sweep for two. Ankle lock goes on about a minute in but Rock makes the ropes. These two always have had good chemistry together so this should be solid stuff.

A pair of belly to bellies but Rock almost gets dropped on his head the first time. He clearly tucks his head more on the second one so at least he can learn on the fly. Sharpshooter goes on and Angle is in trouble. This is very fast paced so far. A belly to back suplex from Kurt but he didn’t spin slightly so it’s not the Angle Slam. Second rope suplex gets two for Rock.

I’m not sure if I like Rock’s DDT or not. He does it oddly for some reason. And here’s Big Show for no apparent reason. Chokeslams for everyone including the referee. Show’s music plays him out as I expect us to cut to a commercial or something. Angle covers Rock but there’s no referee. He pops Angle with the title as there’s another referee. What a heelish thing to do but Angle gets up anyway.

Ankle lock out of nowhere and Angle drops some nice cursing in there. Rock gets the counter and initiates his ending sequence. The elbow gets two to a huge reaction as everyone thought it was over. Rock Bottom is blocked and there’s the Olympic Slam for two and a freaking ROAR. Rock starts his punches but Angle kicks him in the ankle in a nice counter.

Angle gets rammed into the buckle chest first and walks into the Rock Bottom for….two? Angle did not move at all and the announcers sound very confused. The referee seemingly just stopped counting instead of doing the three. Either that was a botch or there’s something I’m missing here. The fans boo the heck out of it as Rock picks him up and hits another Rock Bottom for the clean pin. That had to be a botch on the first one.

Rating: B. Solid match here, but the Big Show thing was just totally pointless. The ending was just weird though as that had to be a botch though as it just made no sense at all. These two always worked well together and this was no exception. Solid match and definitely worthy of a main event on a PPV.

Overall Rating: A. This was an AWESOME show with two great matches and only one that wasn’t much, which was 5 minutes long. This was one of the best periods for the company and you can see why right here. They know they’re on top of the world and all roads lead to Houston and Wrestlemania, which is the undisputed crowning moment for the company. Great show and highly worth checking out from top to bottom.

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1 comment

  1. Wayne says:

    Royal Rumble 01, this show, and Wrestlemania X-Seven is quite possibly the best trilogy of PPVs ever. This is probably the most underrated/slightly forgotten shows ever also. I remember ordering this on PPV and I immediately bought the VHS (along with Mania X-Seven) when it was released. The HHH vs. Austin is a personal favorite of mine, Rock vs. Angle was excellent (better than their No Mercy 2000 match), the Fatal 4 Way was very good, and everything else was very decent. This is also probably the last great February PPV also. Ah, memories.