On This Day: February 23, 2003 – No Way Out 2003: Rock vs. Hogan II

No Way Out 2003
Date: February 23, 2003
Location: Bell Centre, Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Attendance: 15,100
Commentators: Jonathan Coachman, Jerry Lawler

This is Rock vs. Hogan II. That’s about all you need to know here. Also on this card is a six man tag with Team Angle vs. Benoit/Edge/Lesnar. The problem is one of the faces won’t make it to the match which we’ll get to later. Austin is back after bailing in June over creative issues. We also have HHH vs. Steiner II which is considered the trainwreck of all trainwrecks. Let’s get to it.

The theme song here is Bring Me To Life by Evanescence. Dang they were hot around this time. JR has a concussion apparently.

Chris Jericho vs. Jeff Hardy

This was during the failure that was Jeff’s first face push. Jericho is in his King of the World period here. We’re on the verge of Shawn vs. Jericho at Mania which really needed to happen. Shawn kicking him as he walked through the curtain and saying I’ll see you at Wrestlemania is awesome stuff.

Hardy is in the period where he’s looking for a purpose which started with calling out then world champion Undertaker which of course didn’t work but gave us a good ladder match. It would lead to a failure/abandonment of a heel turn. They slug it out to start as we have no reason given for this match happening but they kind of imply it’s a challenge match by Jeff.

Jericho dives at Hardy in the corner but he eats post instead. Springboard Whisper in the Wind (isn’t named yet) nails Jericho on the floor. Hardy does his railing run but misses. Back in the ring Jericho controls but Hardy gets a small package for two. The counter Jeff gets of all things is a Codebreaker. Who would have seen that coming? Coach is nowhere near as annoying here which is surprising.

Jericho’s beard is kind of odd here. Not sure why but it just looks weird. The bearded weirdo hits the post and we start talking about Shawn Michaels which is the whole point of this. Lionsault eats knees. Jeff gets a DDT for two. Whisper in the Wind does the same. Walls go on after a missed enziguri but ropes are grabbed.

Why do they call it making it to the ropes if you only grab a single rope? Chris takes forever to get up top and is launched off in an Angleesque suplex. Swanton hits but Jericho gets a boot on the ropes. Walls are countered into a small package for two. Hardy gets a nice dropkick for a counter.

Swanton #2 misses though and the Lionsault gets two. One and Only (sleeper drop into a slam) gets two also. Jericho gets crotched and goes for a rana from the top but gets powerbombed off. Walls go on and it’s over.

Rating: B. I liked this a lot. Jeff wasn’t ready to beat a guy like Jericho yet but having something like this worked rather well since he kept getting closer and closer but couldn’t finish him off. He wasn’t ready to beat Jericho yet so Jericho gets a good win and Hardy doesn’t lose face because he doesn’t deserve to beat Jericho yet. This was rather good.

Jericho won’t let go and Shawn comes out for the save. Christian comes out and HBK hits a double DDT and kicks Christian’s head in.

Angle gives his team a pep talk and suggests a plan to give themselves an advantage. He was awesome at this point and WWE Champion.

Evolution is here.

Austin’s truck is here. It’s a blizzard too.

Raw Tag Titles: Rob Van Dam/Kane vs. Lance Storm/William Regal

Storm and Canada are of course anti-Americans here. Storm and RVD give us an ECW reunion to start us off. Nice sequence to start as both guys move very well out there. Regal comes in and works on the knee for a bit. Stepover kick hits Regal in the shoulder and it’s all Van Dam at this point. Kane comes in and gets an elbow drop to the same shoulder. That’s great psychology if it was intentional which of course it isn’t.

All power by Kane of course as he beats up everyone in sight. Powerslam on Storm and the champions bail. Kane launches his partner at Storm as Regal runs. Nice teamwork there. Van Dam does his bounce off everything and throw in the occasional kick too sequence before getting sent to the floor by Storm.

Half nelson suplex has Van Dam in trouble as the crowd is like dead. Storm and Regal are kind of, umm…boring beyond belief. There’s a reason as to why we rarely see wrestlers like them pushed hard: THEY ARE DULL. They may be able to wrestle a ton of styles but they’re not interesting in the slightest.

Storm gets Kane off the apron so he can’t get the hot tag. And then he gets it 3 seconds later. Was there a point to that? Nice thought at least. Kane destroys the champions here until Storm goes for the mask. Kane can’t see so he accidentally chokeslams RVD so Regal can pin him. Well that’s different I guess. Might not be good but it was different. He would lose the mask in like 8 months (TO HHH NOT THE FREAKING UNDERTAKER BLAST IT!).

Rating: C-. Eh this is more or less a Raw match and nothing more. The tag division sucked pretty badly back in the day and this was no exception. There’s just no point to these random title reigns as the teams mean nothing and they’re just guys holding belts instead of champions if that makes sense.

Matt is talking to Josh Matthews, who looks even stupider at this point about losing weight when Jeff comes up. Matt says if you were a Mattitude Follower you wouldn’t suck so much. JEFF SLAPS HIM. That was great.

Cruiserweight Title: Billy Kidman vs. Matt Hardy

Since this is the Mattitude Era, here are the Matt Facts: Matt dislikes snow and ice and Matt takes hot tea with milk and sweetener. I love that. This is during the Matt wants to be a Cruiserweight so he’s constantly exercising and trying to lose weight since he’s a natural heavyweight wrestler.

Kidman hits a Frankensteiner so Cole calls it a leg scissors, naturally just seconds after a Scott Steiner reference by Taz. Do I even need to make fun of this? Kidman gets sent back first into the post as it’s all Matt here. Taz talks about banana juice and nut butter. Well of course he does.

It amuses me that Matt, one of the biggest high fliers of the Attitude Era, is now a ground guy according to this. And now back to banana juice as I think I’m getting the joke. Yeah banana juice (called BJ by Taz) and nut butter. Yeah I get it. In a rather impressive spot Matt goes for a half crab but Kidman does a one leg nip up and hits an enziguri to take over.

BK Bomb gets two. Second rope leg drop for Matt gets two. The match isn’t much as the title means nothing but they’re trying at least. These random title matches, much like the tag matches, mean nothing though but who cares? Plancha by Kidman takes out Matt. Twist of Fate is blocked as Shannon gets on the apron, allowing a Side Effect to get two.

Shooting Star Press misses and there’s the Twist of Fate for a VERY close two. I thought it was over there actually and this is the second time I’ve watched this show tonight since I accidentally closed the file without saving it. Matt gets a Twist of Fate from the middle rope with the help of Shannon to give him the title. Nice spot to end it.

Rating: C. Nothing that special here but it was ok. Matt’s title reign was far more interesting as he had a story to it rather than “random guy starts winning matches and wins a non-title match before the PPV” like always. Well that and Rey started going after the title too. This wasn’t bad at all though.

Edge has been attacked by someone and is out cold. He wouldn’t wrestle again for over a year.

We recap Taker vs. Show. Show beat Taker up and injured his ribs and tonight is the big revenge match. This somehow involved sending a singing telegram (sung by one Brian Kendrick who meant nothing yet I don’t think. Yep apparently this was his first appearance without a mask and he would stick around for awhile) and Brother Love and Kanyon in massive gift boxes ala Lex Luger and Sting. Oh and Taker says “Shut up and fight” now.

Undertaker vs. Big Show

I love that Show’s music always says “It’s a big bad show tonight.” What a great way to promote the show you’re on. He bails so Taker can pose for a bit and then we slug it out on the floor with Taker winning of course. Taker goes back first into the post and Show takes over, sending Taker back into the ring.

Taker gets a low dropkick to the head of Show as he tries to get back in. Apron legdrop hits. We hear about Taker using MMA stuff which meant little here as UFC hadn’t risen to prominence yet, but it was coming. He grabs a chair but Show punches it back into his face which doesn’t knock him out of course.

Taker comes back with big old strikes but can’t put Show down. He goes for the slam and it’s Hogan/Andre the first time all over again. Cole suggests that it’s hard to body slam a 500lb man. And this man is PAID to do this. A suplex gets two as Heyman is so slimy that it’s great. Edge is going to the hospital so he’s obviously not here tonight.

He gets a bit of a comeback going but Shaw catches him in a bearhug. That’s a great sign of a boring big man match. More solid punches but Taker walks into a side slam for two. Cole tries to convince us the fans are shocked which is why they’re silent rather than, you know, boredom.

They slug it out some more and it appears that the strategy is to get Show to punch himself out. Chokeslam of course doesn’t work because Show is HUGE. Taker can’t slam him so of course he thinks he can pick him up with one arm. Well of course he does. Taker is busted open. Old School connects but Show won’t go down.

Taker blocks a chokeslam and hits a running DDT for two. The eternal genius that is Taker wants the Last Ride and of course that FAILS. Show yells a lot and Taker counters….something into the Dragon Sleeper. Heyman pops up on the apron and of course Taker goes after him rather than knocking Show out.

A-Train comes out and Taker dives at he and Heyman, neither of whom catch him so Taker just more or less crashes to the floor and they go down without being hit other than on the arms. Taker gets all fired up and walks into a chokeslam. Show goes for the pin but Taker grabs him in a triangle choke which gets no reaction at all because no one knows what he’s doing. Show passes out to give Taker the win.

Rating: D+. They were trying I guess but at the same time this is almost identical to every match that these two have had over the years: Taker tries to make it a straight fight, Show overpowers him, Taker hits a bunch of stuff, Show brushes him off with power, Show hits a big move, Taker counters into a hold for the win. This was a bit more fast paced but still dull.

Post match Taker grabs a chair but A-Train comes in for the big beatdown. This would be your Mania Taker match: these two vs. Taker in a handicap match which was supposed to be a tag with a dude named Nathan Jones but he was so horrible that Vince wouldn’t let him go on live PPV. That says a lot given what he’s put on before.

Bischoff is with Morely (Val Venis, the lackey for him) and they talk about the army Eric has ready to fight Bischoff. Vince comes in and says screw that. If anyone interferes then they’re fired.

Coach and King are very happy about that.

Team Angle vs. Chris Benoit/Brock Lesnar

Team Angle is Angle himself of course and the World’s Greatest Tag Team who have the world and tag titles. You can figure out the combination of those. Benoit had been feuding with Angle before this and Lesnar won the Rumble so he has the main event slot with Angle all set already.

I love that Toothless Aggression shirt. It’s such a great play on words. The UFC Heavyweight Champion looks freaking awesome. He really was a once in a lifetime find and was only there for two years. I hope he comes back some time. Shelton and Benoit start us off. We’re more or less just waiting on the Angle vs. Lesnar showdown here.

Instead we get Lesnar vs. Haas because that’s all we can do. Brock destroys him and Angle won’t fight him. Benjamin comes in and gets his teeth kicked in as well. Taz wants to know what a Canuck is and thinks it sounds stupid. Angle gets a quick choke in which fails completely. Shelton KICKS HIM IN THE FACE to send him down.

Ah here’s Angle. Oh and Heyman manages the heels too. He got around at this point. Benoit seems to have no problem with having Lesnar fight all three guys at once either. Angle gets a modified rear naked choke as we hear about some kid named John Cena fighting Lesnar recently. That would be HUGE today to put it mildly.

Brock just destroys everyone he fights eventually, breaking Angle’s choke by ramming his head into the buckle. Cole suggests that Angle vs. Benoit is the most anticipated match in history. Just…no. Benoit comes in and ENDS Team Angle with Germans. Belly to belly off the top for Angle to Benoit and brings in Haas.

Back to Angle. Well that was rather pointless. Naturally they crank things WAY up as this is a month after their masterpiece at the Rumble. Haas comes in and everyone stops cheering or caring it seems. That should tell you something guys. Benjamin vs. Benoit gets a bit better reaction. Sweet GOODNESS Benoit could throw chops.

Hot tag to Lesnar who just runs through everything in sight. He hits Haas with a shoulderblock so hard that Haas would have been able to sit on the middle or even top rope if he had landed there. Angle comes in and it’s a big mess again. Benoit and Haas are the only ones left until we get to the part almost everyone is here to see: Benoit vs. Angle on a mat. Crossface to ankle lock to crossface to ankle lock and back to the crossface. Total time: 14 seconds.

Angle is one of the most amazing performers ever. He can go from being an idiot that makes you crack up laughing to being so stupid that you want to smack him upside his head to being very intense but he backs everything up with awesome matches. That’s very rare. Off the top of my head maybe Cena and Shawn are the only ones I’d put in the category with him.

As I babble on about him, Benoit gets the Crossface on Haas. Angle gets the belt but walks into the F5 as Haas taps out.

Rating: C+. It’s good but at the same time, what did this prove? Lesnar and Angle were in there for a bit but Mania is already set in stone. It’s understandable that he couldn’t do much as his neck was more or less held together by gum at this point so there was only one way to do this.

At this time he was more or less retiring after Mania but things changed. This was good but at the same time only Angle was a real threat to either of them as Benoit and Lesnar just ran through the tag team. It’s not bad at all but at the end of it you kind of just say so what?

We recap Steiner vs. HHH which more or less comes down to HHH almost lost to Steiner at the Rumble in perhaps the worst big match at a PPV ever. Steiner was booed out of the building with HHH, the evil one, somehow becoming the face due to sucking less. Steiner demanded his rematch but HHH said you have to beat Batista first. Some kid named Randy Orton kept that from happening as he joined Evolution.

This gets the music video treatment which is set to Bring Me To Life by Evanescence which was the hottest song in the world at this time which was my sophomore year of high school which was a good year for me. Steiner beat Jericho to get the title shot. Evolution formed on Feb 3 (my birthday) of this year.

Raw World Title: Scott Steiner vs. HHH

Earl Hebner is the referee and gets a YOU SCREWED BRET chant, making him the top heel here. Steiner yells at the crowd almost immediately for no apparent reason. HHH has a BIG bandage on his leg so Scott goes for it. That’s another psychology idea: if a person has a body part bandaged or is favoring it, FREAKING GO AFTER IT!

We get boo/yay and HHH is clearly the face here, again due to not sucking as much. The clothesline/pushup combination is booed out of the building as Steiner goes after the knee more and more. T-Bone suplex as the fans think Steiner sucks. And now we get a figure four and it’s actually a decent one. Flair of course is like FORGET THAT and scratches Steiner’s eyes to break it up.

We head to the floor and Steiner is in trouble. Notice what Vince is saying here: Steiner was an unstoppable monster in WCW and he’s having trouble here, which hardly ever happened in the last six months of WCW, even at the hands of Goldberg who was coming soon. The fans are apparently bored. HHH gets a neckbreaker for two. Going for pins like that after basic moves is a good thing. It isn’t going to work but it gives the impression that the guy wants to win, which is the idea right?

They slug it out but Steiner hits the belly to belly. Please don’t start that again. The crowd just not liking Steiner is rather funny for some reason. HHH throws his feet on the ropes for two as he channels his inner Flair. He goes at it with Earl which is his custom. Can Steiner do anything other than punch and belly to bellies?

Big old spinning belly to belly proves my point even more. Steiner punches him down in the corner (the jokes are too easy here, seriously) and we head to the floor. Steiner gets his Angle Slam from the second rope that he had recently stolen for two as Flair put the foot on the ropes.

Steiner Recliner goes on which still looks awful but here comes Randy Orton who was brand new to Evolution at this point. He gets drilled of course and Batista, who looks SMALL here goes into the steps. Down goes Flair too but HHH is sent to the floor where he can grab the belt. That gets two and the Pedigree ends it.

Rating: D-. This match was horrible but by comparison to their first abomination it’s a classic. HHH was pretty awful at this point and he would bury Booker T next. This wasn’t good in the slightest but there was a way to watch it.

The other match is just comedic in how bad it is as an old school crowd like Boston got how bad it was. They kept this shorter and let Steiner be on defense for a vast majority of this, making it bearable. It’s still bad though, as in very bad.

The Raw roster makes fun of Eric on the way to the ring.

We recap Austin vs. Bischoff. Austin had left about 8 months earlier due to creative differences. Eric was in big trouble with Vince and was given 30 days to turn things around which was supposed to be by hiring Austin. Shane would have replaced Eric as GM and at the last second he got Austin to show up at No Way Out. For no apparent reason Bischoff beat up Ross to tick Austin off for their match that Vince set up. Kind of stupid actually but whatever.

Steve Austin vs. Eric Bischoff

Ross comes out for this and is WAY too happy about this match. Eric tries to say that we don’t need to have this match but gets drowned out by glass shattering. The pop isn’t the same but it’s still there. This is his first appearance in like 8 months or so, meaning this is indeed a big deal.

Eric is on his own here. He tries to talk more but Austin beats the heck out of him. We hit on the Austin couldn’t draw argument that Bischoff made in 94. What a shock that young and talented guys like him and Foley were run off and replaced by Beefcake and Duggan when Hogan showed up. The Raw roster is enjoying this it seems.

Austin is borderline ripped here. Mudhole is stomped and it’s of course all Rattlesnake. Eric goes to the eyes and gets his kick to the chest no sold. To the floor for some more pounding as this is exactly what you would expect it to be. Stunner for Bischoff but Austin pulls him up twice. Another Stunner and again Austin pulls him up. The third Stunner does it. Austin does his usual schtick afterwards.

Rating: N/A. Not really a match but short enough to not really be that bad. The idea was to have Austin look like he’s awesome again which is fine but considering his last match would be at the next PPV it’s not like it meant much.

A fourth Stunner follows the match.

We recap Rock vs. Hogan which more or less is Mania 18 was AWESOME. Rock has more or less gone Hollywood and come back to face the now face Hogan. Rock takes credit for the newfound popularity of Hogan and challenges him for a rematch which was part of his three final matches with Hogan, Austin and Goldberg before leaving for 11 months, coming back for one more match and then leaving for good.

The Rock vs. Hulk Hogan

Hulk is in the yellow and red this time. Hogan gets the big respect pop but he was about done at this point. He plays to the crowd of course as Cole declares him the People’s Champion. Oh dear. Of course he comes out to Voodoo Child instead of Real American because the most famous theme song ever isn’t good enough for him I guess.

Rock stalls to start then tries to sneak up on Hogan which of course doesn’t work in the slightest. Hogan drills him to start us off and then Rock runs again. Rock is a 6 year pro which blows my mind. He had been around six and a half years at this point which is amazing when you consider his career was more or less done in two months. Cena has been around over 8 years which is about two years longer than Rock’s entire career.

Sylvan Grenier is the referee here who would become part of La Resistance soon enough and win some tag titles. Hogan throws a spit punch to mock Rocky a bit. Not much going on here at all and there’s a Rock Bottom three minutes into this. Well that was unexpected and of course gets two.

Rock puts on Hulk’s bandana and whips him with Hogan’s weight belt because no one has ever done that before right? Hogan gets the belt and whips Rock a bit before walking into a DDT and a nip up. We hear about Vince vs. Hogan which is definitely a bit of foreshadowing. Sharpshooter goes on which is pretty weak.

Ropes are grabbed and we head to the floor. Chair shot hits the post and then Rock. Hogan goes for another shot but the referee stops it and Rock gets a low blow in. A pair of People’s Elbows get two and we Hulk Up. Leg drop hits and the lights go out. The ref is out now and Vince is on the stage.

He saunters down in a sauntering manner, allowing the “unconscious” ref to slip the chair to Rock. A shot to the head and a Rock Bottom end this. Oh and the referee popped up for the pin. Vince puts on the Hogan shirt and tears it off, leaving Hogan for a staredown to end this show.

Rating: D+. Nothing all that good here at all as nothing really was exciting. It was really just to set up Hogan vs. Vince which while ok wasn’t really something that lit the world on fire but it wasn’t horrible. That being said this match was pretty bad. Hogan just can’t wrestle a good match to save his life and hasn’t been able to in years. Rock was trying but he was gone in two months so who really cares? Has nothing on the first match of course.

Overall Rating: D+. Some stuff is ok at best but a lot of this stuff just didn’t work at all. The show isn’t horrible but you can tell this is just a layover until Mania time which was in about 6 weeks. Everything major here was talking about how it leads to Mania and all that jazz. It’s not awful but there is absolutely nothing here that needs to be seen to bridge the gap to Mania. Only to be seen if you REALLY like this era.

 

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1 comment

  1. Phenom! says:

    I dont know why but i liked this ppv!