wrestling / Video Reviews

Kevin’s Random Reviews: WWF No Way Out 2001

January 13, 2019 | Posted by Kevin Pantoja
WWF No Way Out 2001 Trish Stratus
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Kevin’s Random Reviews: WWF No Way Out 2001  

WWF No Way Out 2001
February 25th, 2001 | Thomas and Mack Center in Las Vegas, Nevada | Attendance: 15,223

The beginning of 2001 featured some of the greatest bits of WWE programming in history. Most of 2000 was stellar, though it ended on a bit of a cold streak. That would be corrected at the turn of the new year and the company put on the best trio of PPVs they’ve ever done. That started with the Royal Rumble and ended with WrestleMania X-Seven, but this was smack dab in the middle. It was the third No Way Out event in history.

The opening video package focused on the Three Stages of Hell and WWF Title matches. The commentary team was the usual Jim Ross/Jerry Lawler duo.

WWF Hardcore Championship: Raven [c] vs. Big Show
I always felt this was a good spot for Show. He was a tired main event character, especially with all the flip flopping of his heel/face dynamic. Here, he could kind of just be the mean dude having crazy matches. Raven had some masked woman, who it seems the masked character in Smackdown vs. Raw 2009 (or whatever year) was modeled after. She helped him early but Show fought her off. Things got weird when Crash Holly, dressed as a popcorn vendor, ran in. Steve Blackman and Hardcore Holly also showed up. You’d think they were setting up another Hardcore battle royal at Mania. Billy Gunn snuck in and hit Raven with the Fameasser to win the title at 2:40. But, apparently that wasn’t the finish, even with Gunn’s music playing. Raven pinned Gunn back a bit later and then got beaten by Show with a Chokeslam. Show fought off a few more people to officially retain around 4:21 I guess. This was a mess and not in the fun way. [*]

Backstage, Kurt Angle said he’s feeling fine ahead of his match with The Rock. He called the Rock a loser.

Elsewhere, Chris Benoit and Eddie Guerrero were interviewed about being buddies but both being part of the upcoming Intercontinental Title match. They didn’t mind being on opposite sides and threw threats to their opponents.

WWF Intercontinental Championship: Chris Jericho [c] vs. Chris Benoit vs. Eddie Guerrero vs. X-Pac
These are four fast guys who are all very good at what they do for a living. Eddie and Benoit used their Radicalz connection to their advantage in the early stages. It forced Jericho and X-Pac to put aside their differences a bit. This match followed the multi-man trope of one or two guys out of the action at a time, as well as the one where buddies come to blows (Eddie and Benoit), but it all happened in a logical way. It wasn’t just guys being thrown aside for the sake of it. The Jericho/Benoit feud took center stage for a bit, which made sense as they were a month removed from their best match ever. As always, their exchanges were top notch. Jericho felt like such a huge star. The spot where he put each guy in the Walls of Jericho one after the other was tremendous and the crowd ate it up. From there, the pace picked up in a big way, with guys moving in and out with ease. Jericho understood he was outmatched and outnumbered, and won by rolling X-Pac up at 12:18. Great match with lots of moving parts. The exchanges were crisp and action packed, the crowd was hot, and I loved the champion being resourceful. A sleeper gem. [****]

In the back, Vince McMahon suggested to William Regal to “do the right thing” during the upcoming Trish vs. Stephanie match. After Vince left, it was clear poor William had no idea what that meant.

At WWF New York, Busta Rhymes was hanging out. Also, Test gave us some lame analysis on the next match.

Stephanie McMahon vs. Trish Stratus
At the time, this was two non-wrestlers and there were zero expectations. I try not to be superficial, but Trish Stratus is gorgeous and is still the most attractive woman in the history of wrestling. The feud was heated, thanks to Stephanie not being happy with Trish having an affair with her father. And rightfully, they came out brawling. It’s a simple thing that matches involving ten year vets still get wrong sometimes. If it’s a heated rivalry, go out there and fight, not wrestle. Lawler and the perv fans got to pop when Stephanie threw water on Trish and pulled her pants down to spank her. Stephanie even busted out a solid looking powerbomb. Regal came down and bumped the ref, before putting Trish on Stephanie. Then, he put Steph’s foot on the ropes to stop the pin. He really had no clue. Trish was upset and slapped him, so Regal dropped her with a neckbreaker. Stephanie covered and won in 8:32. Each time I watch that match, I like it more. It was a brilliant case of knowing how to work a crowd without resorting to a ton of moves for the sake of it. They had an entertaining fight that was WAY better than it had any right to be. [***¼]

Backstage, Vince scolded Regal for his decision. Tomorrow night on Raw, Vince booked himself to team with Trish against Regal and Stephanie.

Three Stages of Hell Match: Steve Austin vs. Triple H
The first fall was a straight wrestling match, second was a Street Fight, and if it got to the third, it would be a Steel Cage. The idea was that HHH had the advantage in the first fall and Austin had it in the second. Luckily, though this wasn’t a No DQ match to start, they still came out firing on one another. After all, they hadn’t been able to touch for weeks. HHH spent the majority of this match dominating by attacking Austin’s leg. It was a smart strategy and one that worked. However, even the Figure Four with leverage assistance from the middle rope wasn’t enough. Austin refused to quit. HHH had him scouted at every turn, yet made the mistake of coming off the top and jumping right into a Stunner to lose the first fall at 12:20. Austin smelled blood and took it to HHH in his style match. He beat the hell out of him with a chair, similar to what he’d do to Rock the following month at WrestleMania. That set the tone for the wild brawl that was the second fall. It saw HHH take a back body drop through the announce table and Austin get busted wide open. They even brought a barbed wire 2×4 into play, as if this was HHH vs. Cactus Jack. This war ended after a sledgehammer shot and Pedigree to tie this at 28:21. It was time for the Steel Cage and they happened to get locked in with the sledgehammer and chair. This was a gruesome section of the match. They spent a while just grating the barbed wire 2×4 on each other’s faces, making the other bleed more. The match naturally progressed from them trying to hurt each other, to trying to win. They kicked out of each other’s finishers, but since they were still protected in this era, it meant more than it would today. Plus, it took each guy a while to make the cover. In the end, Austin hit HHH with the 2×4 at the same time as HHH hit him with the sledgehammer. They both fell and HHH just happened to land on top of him, getting the three count at 39:26. An absolute classic. Nearly twenty years later and it still holds up. A violent match that told the perfect story for their feud, with a fantastic finish. A ballsy move to put Hunter over with Austin about to main event Mania. [****¾]

Post-match, sore loser Steve Austin hit HHH with a Stunner.

Jerry Lawler w/ The Kat vs. Steven Richards w/ Ivory
Tazz replaced King on commentary. If Lawler loses, Kat must join RTC, but if he wins, she gets naked. Uh, the outcome seems blatantly obvious, doesn’t it? In terms of quality, this was the obvious cool down of the show. Still, the crowd popped for a few spots, hoping for the sight of some tits. Kat got slap Richards and Lawler got to slam Ivory. Richards tried using Ivory’s Women’s Title as a weapon but it failed. Kat when to hit Steven, even though Jerry was in control. It backfired as she hit Lawler for the finish in 5:31. Kat must join RTC because she’s a dummy. The match was just there. [¼*]

WWE Tag Team Championship Tables Match: The Dudley Boyz [c] vs. Edge and Christian vs. Kane and The Undertaker
Edge and Christian were instigators during the build. They were the target of both larger teams. Taker’s look here is atrocious. It’s as if he forgot his jeans and tank gear, so they sewed the Deadman Inc. logo onto a shitty pair of his old Deadman tights. With this being a Tables match, it meant they could forgo the usual tag rules and focus on having a wild brawl. That style works for the Dudleys and the Brothers of Destruction, while E&C could adapt to any style That’s why they were the best. They threw themselves into all sorts of bumps to add to the toughness factor of the other four men. Just when Kane and Taker had it won, Rikishi and Haku hit the ring to attack them. They brawled up the ramp as Christian ate a 3D through a table for the finish at 12:04. Taker was visibly upset at the loss, even though he got interviewed earlier and claimed the titles weren’t what this was about. Anyway, a fun brawl with E&C being the MVPs for their bumps. [***]

The Rock got interviewed before the main event and basically just said that Kurt Angle’s time as champion was ticking down. However, because he’s the Rock, this was delivered in such charismatic fashion.

WWF Championship: Kurt Angle [c] vs. The Rock
It was the Rock who Angle beat to win the title the previous October (***¾). He and Angle have both been second-class citizens when compared to the likes of Austin and HHH in recent months, so they seemed motivated to make this main event work. Rock came out firing to start, to the point where Kurt couldn’t get going. He had to resort to choking and basic cheating tactics to get in control. Just as the match was truly picking up, Big Show suddenly made his way out to the ring. Hey, man. Your feud with Rock was at last year’s No Way Out. He hit the ref and chokeslammed both men. WHAT? While new refs removed the hurt one, Rock blasted Angle with the title. Earl Hebner hilariously dropped the hurt ref to go in and make the count. Classic. With the Big Show stuff over, the intensity picked up. Angle wrenched the hell out of his Ankle Lock. You got the sense that this was important to both men as it was more than the WWF Title. It was the Mania main event to put them up there with Austin and HHH. Angle literally yelled at Rock to give up or he’d break his f’n ankle. Wow. Rock made it to the ropes but couldn’t finish Angle with the People’s Elbow. Angle couldn’t get it done with an Angle Slam and even a Rock Bottom didn’t finish this. However, a second one did after 16:53. Awesome main event that could’ve been a classic if you remove the weird ass Big Show run in. This was the formula that Angle would go on to master, especially that closing stretch. Lots of counters and near falls, making for a dramatic finish. [****¼]

The final score: review Amazing
The 411
As I said, the Rumble to Mania era in 2001 is some of the best stuff this company has ever produced. That’s especially true for the PPVs. An outstanding show with only two things that missed the mark. The Hardcore Title match was a mess and Lawler/Richards did nothing for me. Other than that, you get three matches at ****+, including an all-timer in HHH vs. Austin. The WWF and IC Title matches were total bangers, while the Tag Title and Steph/Trish were fun brawls. A little bit of everything.