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Sunday, January 31, 2016

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Retrospective: WWF No Way Out 2002

By @TrueGodImmortal

As the Ruthless Aggression Era began (see how the EOTR weeks somehow go right into the next one), there was something big on the horizon. The Royal Rumble had finished, the WWF was rolling with Chris Jericho as the Undisputed Champion, and The Rock and Stone Cold Steve Austin were still immensely popular. Triple H had returned from injury, The Undertaker was yet again viable, Kurt Angle had risen up, RVD was making a name for himself and Booker T was on the come up in WWF as well. With a long line of talent and stars to boot, WWF would make a huge announcement leading into the 2002 edition of No Way Out:

The Return of the NWO. 

The original NWO, Hulk Hogan, Scott Hall and Kevin Nash would make a triumphant debut in WWF with a return for all three men involved, as they built their name in the WWF. This however would be a strange turn of events as Vince would turn to the NWO to help him terrorize his own roster. He announced the NWO would make their debut in WWF at No Way Out (N.o W.ay O.ut..... get it? I know, cheesy). The show would kick off with a promo, which is the standard these days for RAW, but for a PPV, it was definitely out of the norm. Regardless, Hogan, Nash and Hall cut a pretty cool promo talking about what they wanted to bring to the table in WWF and that they had no plans on making a bunch of enemies. Certified bullshit of course, but it was definitely entertaining.

As the promo ends, the first match of the night takes place and I was very interested in this tag team turmoil match. The match featured multiple teams going at it for the opportunity presumably to get a tag team title shot going forward in WWF. The APA would end up walking away with the victory in the tag team turmoil match and they would set themselves up for a future date with destiny and possible title shot. Now, after this match, we end up going to a feud that is still confusing in my mind.

Goldust returned to the WWF and he instantly got himself into a feud with Rob Van Dam. This feud confuses me because RVD was majorly over in the company and should have been positioned as a future main eventer, but here he was saddled with a damn lower mid card feud against Goldust. Some would assume the Goldust feud was a way to give him a feud with a legendary or recognizable name to put him over, but it didn't enhance his character or anything. The match they had was decent, however RVD seemed just a step ahead of Goldust in this match and they honestly didn't seem to have overwhelming chemistry in the ring. RVD gets the victory as he should with a Five Star Frog Splash around the 12 minute mark.

The next two matches are pretty insignificant to me in many ways and they were both for titles oddly enough. The tag team title were on the line with the strangest tag team champions ever in Spike Dudley and Tazz successfully defending against Booker T and Test (such a weird match), and William Regal would take on Edge in an intercontinental title match, but a gimmick match to boot. A Brass Knuckles on a Pole match for the belt that Regal would win, but once again, it all felt pointless and very insignificant. Once these matches finished, we would arrive at the triple main event for the night, but before I get to those, I have to discuss the hilarity of the promos between the NWO and the two biggest stars of the company.

The NWO would be backstage and run into Stone Cold Steve Austin. The promo was very short, but absolutely hilarious in essence, as they all took turns referencing Austin's nicknames and each one got funnier. "Look it's Stone Cold Steve Austin", "Hey, it's the Rattlesnake", before Nash finishes it off with the deadpan yet hilarious "Toughest S.O.B. in the WWF". The comedy factor just comes from the delivery of Nash's words and it would continue with their confrontation with Rock after his match, which set the tone for the future Rock vs Hogan encounter. It begins again: "Hey guys, it's The Rock", "look, it's the People's Champ", before Nash kills it again and follows up with an enthusiastic yet matter of factly "BRAHMA BULL", which gets me every time. Watch these promos again and you'll see what I mean.

Now, the first main event was The Rock vs The Undertaker. The match was interesting because Taker was getting involved in beef with Flair and that element seems to become a factor here, as Flair would interfere and cost Taker the match. The Rock's ring work was slept on during this period I've always felt and this match was no different honestly as he and Taker put on an entertaining encounter. The only gripe with this match was the slow pacing early on, but once the pace picked up, it all flowed very well. After the Rock picks up a big victory going into Wrestlemania, we arrive at the interesting situation with Triple H, Kurt Angle, and Stephanie McMahon.

This match was for Triple H's Wrestlemania title shot from winning the Rumble and Stephanie was special guest referee. The deck was stacked against Triple H and Angle would end up stealing a victory with some help from Stephanie. Not to be deterred, Triple H would eventually get his title shot back, but the damage was done on this night. Steph and Angle screwed over Triple H and this would carry over into the feud for Triple H at Wrestlemania. Now, with Triple H and Angle finished, there was only one match left, which was the WWF Undisputed Championship match between Stone Cold and Chris Jericho, which should have been a great match.

Unfortunately, Austin and Jericho didn't click and this match was just outright boring. The crowd was dead for a large majority of sans a stunner or two. The NWO would run In and help cost Austin the match, setting up the road to Wrestlemania for Austin vs Scott Hall going forward. Jericho would retain and the NWO would attack Austin, leading to the big feud we witnessed after.

All in all, No Way Out 2002 isn't a terrible event, it just leaves a lot to be desired as far as event quality. No telling what could have been better if they had went a different direction, but while it has some bad spots, it's still an entertaining watch overall sans the tag title match and half of the main event.



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