Retro Recap – No Way Out 2004

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The February Pay Per View show is often a nothingburger, little more than a placeholder between the Royal Rumble and WrestleMania.  In this case things were a little different.  We were over a year into the brand split, and this was a Smackdown roster only show.

  • WWE Tag Team Title Match: Rikishi and Scotty 2 Hotty (c) vs The Basham Brothers w/Shaniqua – This was the opener; Rikshi and Scotty were remnants of the Attitude Era (to be honest I did not know until I started watching the pay per views leading up to this one that they were stuck around this long) and the Bashams were a couple of guys, basically, managed by Shaniqua.  This was a two against three intergender match, one of those things I’m really glad they don’t do anymore.  Rikishi hits Shaniqua with a Samoan Drop and pins her…..just awesome.  Yeah.  Rikishi’s WWE run would be over in a few months as would Scotty’s place as a main roster performer.
  • Jamie Noble vs Nidia -Nidia is Noble’s girlfriend, and Noble is blindfolded for this man vs woman match…..which I did not watch for obvious reasons.  I don’t do the man vs woman match stuff.  Noble wins by submission and we all lose.
  • Shelton Benjamin and Charlie Haas vs The APA (Bradshaw and Farooq) – Benjamin and Haas had been together for a little while, and the APA was going through it’s swan song.  Within a few months Farooq (Ron Simmons) would be off to retirement land and Bradshaw would become JBL.  Pretty good match here won by Benjamin and Haas, who were towards the end of their first stint together.
  • Hardcore Holly vs Rhyno – This was a thrown together match to fill out the card.  Match was decent, Holly won with his finisher.  OK time filler and nothing horrible.
  • WWE Cruiserweight Title Match: Rey Mysterio, Jr. vs Chavo Guerrero, Jr. – Chavo was accompanied by his dad Chavo, Sr. while Mysterio brought boxer Jorge Paez with him.  Of course, both guys got involved.  Watching Mysterio work when he was in his prime was something else, especially when he was given real time to work (they got 17 minutes here).  Chavo win the match and the title with help from his dad, continuing the ‘cheat to win’ mantra of the Guererro family.
  • Kurt Angle vs John Cena vs Big Show – this match was to decide who would get a match against the winner of the main event at WrestleMania XX.  Seeing Big Show work as a dominant big man and not just a fat guy used to put people over was a reminder of what he used to be; it’s a real shame that they turned him into such a joke over the last five-plus years.  Angle was still at his best and Cena was finishing his baptism by fire into the WWE world.  For several months he faced top guys on the roster, put up a hell of a fight, and lost.  This would be the last time that happened when he tapped out to Angle’s ankle lock, as he would get his first title victory a month later and the rest would be history.  Shorter than what you’d expect (only 12 minutes) but everyone did enough to make it work pretty well.
  • WWE Title Match: Brock Lesnar (c) vs Eddie Guerrero –     Continuing with what was a recurring theme for the night, this would be the beginning of the end of Lesnar’s first WWE run.  Lesnar was in a feud with Goldberg, which would come into play later, while Eddie was on a redemption run.  The vignettes leading up to the match were pretty powerful, as Eddie owned up to his real life demons live in front of the world.  The match itself was phenomenal, the best match of Lesnar’s first WWE run and maybe his career.  They got a full 30 minutes to work, and while Eddie gets most of the credit here Brock held up his end of the deal.  The more athletic, more agile Brock was a totally different worker than Suplex City Brock that we have today.  The finish was a good one; Goldberg got involved and speared Lesnar after a ref bump, but they didn’t end it on that.  Eddie got in a frog splash a minute or so later for the pin.  I’ve been on kick of catching up on what I missed from the post-2002 period and this was the best, most compelling main event match out of all the ones from during the first two years of that period.  Had I been ordering pay per views back then it would have been worth the $40 by itself.

Overall grade

Good show overall, the top three matches were all very good to awesome and the rest of the show (other than that Jamie Noble-Nidia garbage) was pretty good.  If there was a theme for it I would pick The Beginning of the End.  So many people on this show would be off to new horizons (Haas, Benjamin, Bradshaw, and Cena) or gone from the company entirely (Rikishi, Lesnar) within a few months.  It was also a triumph of the medium sized guys with Eddie’s title win that would be cemented a month later with Chris Benoit’s World Title victory at WrestleMania XX.  On the flip side seeing Lesnar in action makes me wish he’d stuck around and didn’t disappear for eight years after ‘Mania XX.  Lesnar was getting better at promo work then and was capable of having a good match against all the best guys on the roster.  That helped make for a great main event here.

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