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Combatants verbally spar at No Way Out press conference
By LEWIS CURRY - SLAM! Wrestling


BALTIMORE -- The press conference to promote this Sunday's No Way Out pay-per-view had its share of bragging, history, comedy and even an outing.

The big guns were out at the 1st Mariner Arena Monday in Baltimore. Before introducing each of the WWE Smackdown! superstars, announcer Michael Cole briefly covered some of the WWE wrestling history in Baltimore. He specifically mentioned The Fabulous Moolah winning the women's title from Judy Grable, Superstar Billy Graham winning the world title from Bruno Sammartino, and Tito Santana winning the Intercontinental title from Greg Valentine. Cole did, however, leave out the U.S. title change a couple of years ago at No Mercy when The Big Show defeated Eddie Guerrero (and more on him later).

The guests came one by one, acknowledging the collection of fans and media in attendance.

The winner of the Royal Rumble, Rey Mysterio, came out to a great reaction. "Winning the Rumble was the happiest moment in my life," said Mysterio. "I've got to admit, Eddie Guerrero, he was looking down on me and, damn, did I make him proud."

Mysterio then turned his attention to his opponent at No Way Out, Randy Orton, in a battle for the WrestleMania main event status. "Randy thinks I am fluke, he thinks that I don't deserve a title shot," said Mysterio, promising to beat Orton again.

Up next was an arrogant "Legend Killer" Randy Orton. He immediatly starts in on a female fan. "Damn it, I don't understand you," he joked, telling her to be quiet. Like his opponent, Orton said he would like to dedicate his victory over Rey to Eddie in advance, and ended his segment with a sarcastic "Viva La Raza."

Booker T, the current U.S. champion, was introduced by his wife Sharmell. For a heel, he got a good reception, and talked about how the city of Baltimore has been good his career, and then hits hits his "five-time, five-time, five-time" pose with Sharmell to get the crowd going. Booker T then discussed his injury, and said he is at 70%, but that his 70% is better than 99% of the crowd. Before introducing Booker T's opponent, Cole welcomed Book to join he and Tazz on commentary should he lose the match Sunday.

"The Rabid Wolverine" Chris Benoit is the next Smackdown! star out, and he shakes Booker T's hand upon his arrival. Benoit scolds Booker T for always having an excuse and promises that he will make him tap out. A war of words transpires before the World champ arrived.

Champion Kurt Angle faces The Undertaker on Sunday, and begins his portion of the session saying he takes the "You suck" chants as a compliment. With the Olympics on in Turin, he talked a bit about his own Olympic experience in Atlanta in 1996 and how it is about raising one's level of competition. Angle gives The Undertaker a lot of credit as a dominating opponent, saying neither of them will quit, and that the match will go until someone is knocked out completely.

The floor is then opened up to questions from the fans.

The first fan asks Orton about his options should he lose Sunday. Orton jokingly ignored the query, and asks the fan to repeat it. He then offers a simple "no comment." Mysterio piped up that Orton had "no cojones", to which Orton replied, "You know, I dropped out of Spanish class in high school."

As Angle is asked about The Undertaker, Orton jumps in to say that he has beaten 'Taker twice. Angle then reminded the third-generation star that he needed help twice to beat Undertaker, and that he also needed sexual and personal help. "By the way, Randy Orton is a homosexual," explained Angle. Orton laughed and said no comment.

Benoit is asked about facing Booker T. "My intention at No Way Out is to have him tap out, in front of Sharmell, in front all of the fans at the (1st) Mariner Arena, in front of the world and become the U.S. champ once again."

The next fan asked Mysterio about Guerrero's family, and whether his widow, Vickie, and her children would be at No Way Out. Mysterio was slightly taken aback by the question, and said that he hoped they would be in attendance.

The final question was for Orton, who was asked if he'd like to continue being a "Legend Killer" by facing Hulk Hogan at WrestleMania. "I will fight at the main event at WrestleMania for world heavyweight championship. Hulk Hogan has nothing do with WrestleMania. He's old; Don't he have a reality show or something? He don't got time for us ... I don't have time for him."

The announced card for Sunday's No Way Out PPV:

  • World Heavyweight Champion Kurt Angle vs. Undertaker
  • Rey Mysterio vs. Randy Orton - Opportunity for a World Championship Match at WrestleMania
  • United States Champion Booker T vs. Chris Benoit
  • JBL vs. Bobby Lashley
Lewis Curry is a lifetime Baltimore, Maryland resident and made his biggest splash with SLAM! Wrestling by uncovering a former Intercontinental champion: Ahmed Johnson: Found! He can be emailed at loner64@hotmail.com.