Chamber matches dominate No Way Out
DAVE HILLHOUSE - SLAM! Wrestling
|The Big Show stares down at Floyd Mayweather at No Way Out.
Photo by Mike Mastrandrea
Itís a matter of opinion as to whether the double Elimination Chamber factor was a result of lazy booking, old-school thinking (remember when Survivor Series featured the same kind of match over and over?), or pragmatism. Heck, youíve already put the chamber together -- why not make it worth your while?
One thing is for certain: the two Chamber matches at No Way Out overshadowed everything else on the card -- despite three title matches and a potential retirement match.
Before the main event, Lillian Garcia takes the time to remind some of the more forgetful fans of the rules for an Elimination Chamber Match, although itís been about an hour since they watched one.
HBK and Y2J start things off with a chop fest that soon leaves Jerichoís chest beet-red. Michaels pulls a nip-up awfully early and tries for an elbow off the top rope -- but Jericho lifts his knees to block it. Moments later, HBK returns the favour and blocks a Lionsault with his knees. Both then try a flying cross body-block and knock each other out for the next entrant - Umaga. The Samoan Bulldozer gratefully accepts the gift, leveling both HBK and Y2J before hoisting both of them up for a double Samoan drop. Outside of the ring, Umaga misses a sort of Banzai Drop on Michaels and is razzed by ringside fans for it. He returns shortly after to deliver a solid version and actually gets some cheers for it! Soon afterwards, a combination of submission moves by both Jericho and Michaels on Umaga simultaneously nearly end the Samoanís night, but JBL gets his turn and, not surprisingly, focuses on Jericho.
Triple H is next and he proceeds to run through everybody -- except Michaels, who is already lying motionless outside the ring. Jericho finally scores the first pinfall, eliminating JBL for both business and pleasure. Before JBL makes his final exit, however, he climbs back into the ring with a chair and levels everybody. Jeff Hardy then enters to a ring filled with debilitated opponents and delivers punishment to Umaga, then Jericho, then both HBK and Triple H at the same time until Umaga turns the tide with a hard kick to lay Hardy flat. Umaga takes control for a short while, but soon finds himself on the receiving end of everybodyís finisher -- capped by a Swanton by Hardy off the top of a pod. Shortly after that, Jericho falls victim to Sweet Chin Music just before Triple H turns around and eliminates HBK with a pedigree. Hardy and Triple H head outside the ring, where Triple H receives a DDT on the steel, then back in the ring where Triple H barely dodges a Swanton. The Game follows up with a Pedigree and Hardy kicks out cleanly. With nothing left to give, Triple H sets up a pedigree over top of a chair. Hardy fights out of it with a low blow, but his reversal falls short as he ends up Pedigreed on the chair anyway, giving Triple H the title shot at Wrestlemania.
The next WWE pay-per-view is WrestleMania on March 30, 2008.
Match One -- ECW Championship Match. CM Punk Vs Chavo Guerrero (C)
Itís nice to see that here, as in the matches to come, the challenger comes out first -- regardless of being a fan favourite or not. Chavo, though, has more than a few supporters in Las Vegas. The champion tries to start things out in straightforward fashion with a slap to Punkís face, but the challenger immediately blasts back with a roundhouse kick and a swinging neckbreaker sending Chavo out to the floor for a breather. When the champion returns, he locks up Punk with a rather comfy looking body scissors, but soon Punk is feeding off the crowd and fights out. Not long after, though, the crowd turns on Punk and many boo as he delivers his version of the Three Amigos in what was presumably an attempt at a tribute. The fans get back on Punkís side as he attempts a huracarana off of the top rope, only to have it blocked by Chavo. The champ follows with a close-proxomity frog splash and keeps the belt with a pin.
Winner via pinfall and still ECW Heavyweight Champion -- Chavo Guerrero
Match Rating -- 6/10 (with a 3-point deduction for failing to feature anything extreme whatsoever)
In the back, Rey Mysterio acknowledges his bicep tear during an interview, but states that since it canít get any worse heís going through with the match. Most athletes would have merely labeled it an "upper body injury," so Mysterio gets credit for having moxie. His interview is interrupted by the arrival of WBC Welterweight Champ Floyd Mayweather, Jr., whom Mysterio embraces like an old friend.
Match Two -- Smackdown Elimination Chamber -- Undertaker, Batista, Finlay, MVP, Big Daddy V, The Great Khali
Bob Kapur's notes from the WWE No Way Out pay-per-view
The Thomas & Mack Center was completely full, other than a few rows in front of the hard camera. About 1/8 of the arena was blocked at the end for the stage.
The Fan Axxess event before the show was really busy, and they didnít shut it down until about 20 minutes before the show, after which point the building filled up quickly.
Merchandise tables were crowded throughout the night. Some interesting items were autographed John Cena pictures and DVD sets, a new Cena t-shirt with an old-school Nintendo video game design, and a Hornswoggle derby. The No Way Out event shirt was a bargain at $20, with the most expensive item being the WWE Spinner belt for $350. In line for ten minutes, this reporter saw at least two belts being sold.
Not surprisingly, there was a lot of Latinos in the audience Ė at least a third of the audience, judging from an informal count at the door. In the live arena, Chavo Guerrero got a loud babyface reaction after he defeated CM Punk. Rey Misterio was clearly a huge favourite as well.
Kane beat Shelton Benjamin in the dark match that was okay but nothing special. Kane won via chokeslam.
Unintentionally funny line of the night: "Heís wearing the ebony mask" Ė guy a few seats over from me. I wasnít sure how to tell him.
SLAM! Wrestling photographer Mike Mastrandrea was also in attendance and will be filing a photo gallery.
As MVP is urged by the refs to enter his pod and await his turn, he seems really confused and hesitant. Did nobody explain the match concept to him? Once MVP, Bid Daddy V, The Great Khali, and Finlay are settled in their pods, Batista and The Undertaker start the match. Many punches and kicks fill the first four minutes until Batista and Undertaker have both kicked each other to the floor leaving Big Daddy V to do to them as he pleases. A headbutt by Big Daddy V knocks Undertaker back and through the main gate of the chamber. He is quickly ushered back in as Big Daddy V decides not to chase him out. After Big Daddy V lands a huge splash on Batista in the corner, the Animal wakes up and knocks the giant, shirtless wonder out of the match with a spinebuster that defied gravity. At this point Khali enters the fray and knocks both Batista and Undertaker around with his heavy chops and angled headbutts. As the giant slaps on his Vice Grip on Batista, though, the Animal powers out of it and knocks Khali down with a spear. Undertaker follows with his new submission chokehold and Khali taps out.
Finleyís turn comes next, and heís soon driving the Undertaker down with the Celtic Cross. As MVPís door unlocks, the Undertaker is waiting for him. Despite MVPís attempts to keep the door shut, he is soon beaten down to the ground before he even gets out. Moments, later, though, MVP reveals that he smuggled in a heavy necklace and proceeds to choke out Finlay and cut open the Undertaker with shots to the head.
Soon, though, MVP is running and hiding from the Undertaker, all the way to the roof of one of the pods. Heís not safe there, though, as the Undertaker delivers a modified chokeslam, sending MVP crashing down to an awaiting Finlay who makes the pin. Then a familiar face appears: Hornswoggle emerges and hands Finlay the always useful extra shillelagh. Finlay uses it to stay out of a Batista Bomb, but canít withstand a chokeslam from Undertaker onto the metal outside of the ring. It ends as it began, with Batista and Undertaker. Just as it seems that Batista had things in hand, his attempt to ram Undertaker into the mesh is reversed into a Tombstone, and the Undertaker prevails on his way to a Wrestlemania title shot.
Winner via pinfall -- The Undertaker
Match Rating -- 6/10
Edge is backstage being reminded by Hawkins and Ryder that heíll be facing the Undertaker at Wrestlemania. The champ is more concerned about his match tonight, especially after Teddy Long arrives to tell Edge that his flunkies are banned from ringside.
Maria and Ashley then take us on a quick tour of the Playboy Mansion where Maria, struggling with the decision of whether or not to pose for the magazine, says she has a lot of thinking to do. Insert your own comment.
Match Three -- Ric Flair vs. Ken Kennedy
Flair wins a match in which he utilizes chop-blocks, a figure-four leglock, a thousand chops and thatís it. Kennedy gains nothing by this match and Flair loses a little bit himself.
Winner via submission -- Ric Flair
Match rating -- 3/10
While Finlay is being attended to for injuries suffered during his match, Vince barges in to warn him that Hornswoggle is in for trouble on Raw when the chairman faces him in a steel cage match.
Match Four -- World Heavyweight Championship Match -- Rey Mysterio vs Edge (C)
Knowing that itís the Undertaker headed to Wrestlemania adds a little intrigue to this match. Mysterio is clearly unable to wrestle at his normal level as he rolls around in pain after delivering a huracarana to Edge, and then is laid out by the championís hard boot to the head. Mysterio rolls outside to recoup but Edge hits him with a baseball slide before throwing the challenger injured-arm first into the ring steps. Moments later in the ring, a lone bright spot emerges for Mysterio as he escapes from the Tree of Woe just in time to let Edge slide groin-first into the ring post. The challenger follows up with a swinging DDT and hits the 619 -- but thatís it. Mysterio is out of energy and soon falls prey to a spear as he attempts to hit Edge off the ropes.
Winner via pinfall and still World Heavyweight Champion -- Edge
Match rating -- 5/10
While Mysterio is being attended to by medical officials, a familiar song blares out in the arena and Big Show strides down to the ring looking happy as can be. He tells the fans heís thrilled to be back and that heís lost over a hundred pounds -- but at this point both Big Show and everyone else remembers that Rey is still being helped away from ringside. The behemoth grabs Rey and brings him into the ring, which angers the ringside Mayweather to the point that the outsized boxer is soon facing off with Big Show in the ring. When Big Show brings himself to one knee to make things fair, Mayweather strikes him with three lightning-fast fists to the face before hightailing it out of the ring. A bloodied Big Show is escorted backstage by Shane McMahon.
Match Five -- WWE Championship Match -- John Cena vs. Randy Orton (C)
WHAT YOU THINK
Who do you think will win in the WWE Championship bout at No Way Out?
Randy Orton - 37%
John Cena - 63%
Cena enters first to his standard mix of cheers and boos, followed by a nearly Undertaker-speed entrance by Orton. The challenger makes his intentions very clear from the beginning as he attempts a small package almost immediately, and then follows it up with several pin attempts. The pace of the match is effectively slow, allowing the crowd to energize itself with chants for both wrestlers. The champ seems to get caught up in the crowdís energy and panders to them for just a little too long, nearly succumbing to a pin in the process. Orton responds quickly by laying Cena flat with a stiff clothesline. Cena recovers quickly, though, and drops a leg over top of Ortonís head from the top rope. The challenger nearly scores an F-U, but Orton escapes and proceeds to deliver his version of the Garvin Stomp on the prone challenger.
Cena recovers to mount a steady offence after that, nailing Orton with a shoulderblock, the Five-Knuckle Shuffle, and another near F-U. Itís all enough to send Orton out of the ring for a walk. Cena chases him and they barely make it back in by the count of ten. Cena tries another leg drop off the top rope, but Orton dodges it and tries to hit the challenger with the RKO. Cena fights it off and locks in the STFU deep, but itís not enough to keep Orton from the ropes. Orton rolls outside again and asks the ref to count him out as his knee is in bad shape. As Cena comes out to question the injury, Orton nails him with an RKO on the outside floor. Orton then goes back in the ring to await Cena being counted out, but the challenger makes it back in by the count of nine. Seemingly desperate, Orton slaps the referee, bringing about an automatic disqualification, allowing Orton to keep the belt. Cena is enraged and delivers both an FU and STFU after the bell, but has to leave empty-handed.
Winner via disqualification -- John Cena
Match rating -- 6/10
WHAT YOU THINK
What did you think of No Way Out?
It was great - 22%
It was okay - 22%
It sucked - 17%
Didn't see it - 40%
(Most amusing sign of the night shows up here with the World Wildlife Fundís panda bear logo with WWE written underneath it)
Triple H and Shawn Michaels tell each other backstage that theyíll both do what it takes to go to Wrestlemania for a title shot, even dispensing with jokes and shilling for the time being.
Match Six -- Raw Elimination Chamber -- Triple H, Jeff Hardy, Shawn Michaels, Chris Jericho, JBL, Umaga
Winner via pinfall -- Triple H.
Match Rating -- 7/10
Event Rating Overall -- 6/10
Mike Mastrandrea's No Way Out Photo Gallery #1 (Edge-Mysterio, Smackdown Chamber, ECW title bout, Kane-Benjamin)
Mike Mastrandrea's No Way Out Photo Gallery #2 (Flair-Kennedy, Cena-Orton, Raw Chamber)
Dave Hillhouse is a screenwriter and teacher living near Niagara Falls. He can be emailed at email@example.com.