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Thursday, February 4, 2016

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Retrospective: No Way Out 2001

By @TrueGodImmortal 

The Attitude Era was winding down. Things were shifting in the WWF. Stone Cold Steve Austin had just won the Royal Rumble cashing in a ticket to main event Wrestlemania. Things were looking great for the WWF as Triple H was a top heel, Kurt Angle was the top heel WWF Champion, The Rock was on the same level of popularity as Austin was, and Undertaker was still viable with a depth on the roster that gave us three legendary tag teams who would continously duel through the era. After the Royal Rumble, Angle was still WWF Champ, Jericho was IC Champ, Raven was the Hardcore Champion, and The Dudley Boyz were the new tag team champions. Solid lineup of Champions heading into the stop before Wrestlemania 17, No Way Out 2001. Today, we look back on the PPV and what can only be known as greatness in reflection.

The first match was truly pointless as Raven defended the Hardcore title against the Big Show in a 4 minute match that saw Show walk out with the title. Nothing too major or substantial there, but another title run for the Big Show that meant absolutely nothing. Pardon me if I seem a bit cynical, but there's two things that bother me in this case: Raven deserve much better in WWF and Big Show has been given so many opportunities that I've never understood and though the Hardcore title isn't really a huge deal, it would have been nice to see defeat Show and get a big win.

The next match would be a very interesting fatal 4 way match for the IC Title with the champion Jericho defending against Chris Benoit, Eddie Guerrero, and X-Pac. Now, I would have personally preferred if X-Pac wasn't involved in this match, but regardless this was a good match overall. Jericho, Benoit, and Guerrero always have great chemistry in the ring and this was no different. They were given 13 minutes to go and put a good match and they did just that. Back and forth action between all four participants make for a fun watch and I feel this is often a forgotten match when talking Jericho and his career, but we know why that's the case (Benoit), but Jericho retains in this hard fought battle and moves on to his next battle(which I personally hoped would have been Eddie vs Chris for the IC Title at Mania, but unfortunately that didn't happen).

In a rather hilarious contest, Stephanie McMahon took on Trish Stratus. Now, the whole premise of this match is based around the strange yet entertaining relationship between Vince and Trish, and a long standing issue between Steph and Trish since the infamous moment on Smackdown when Trish and Triple H practiced wrestling holds in the locker room. There is nothing about this match that really is noteworthy outside of the result which is that Stephanie picks up the victory due to strange interference from William Regal. Now, I will say that Trish and Steph put on a decent match and that you could legit feel the tension between the two in the ring, which is definitely great psychology exhibited. Stephanie wins the match, but Trish wins outside of that because she looks damn good in this match. That's irrelevant but still.

What followed next is one of the greatest matches I've ever witnessed on PPV, and one of the best matches for Stone Cold and Triple H in their respective careers. Their feud was a long standing one, dating back to No Mercy 1999 when HHH beat Austin to retain the title. However, an injury sidelined Austin at Survivor Series 1999 via a "car accident" and he would be forced to take a year off. Upon return, he found out the person who set him up to be hit by the car was none other than HHH. This match would be the big finale with a 2 out of 3 falls stipulation imposed, along with gimmicks attached to each fall. A regular one on one match for fall 1. A street fight in fall 2. A steel cage match in fall 3. We witnessed brutality. Blood. Carnage. Everything you would want in a match that ends off a feud between two big stars and after Austin won the first fall, Triple H would steal the final two to pick up a victory. As I've explained before, I think Austin should have won this, but WWF makes odd decisions and this was one of them definitely. With Austin and HHH having what was going to be match of the night, how would the PPV do otherwise? What could follow a classic?

Nothing really. Thus WWF didn't even try and gave us a filler match to calm the crowd down between Jerry Lawler and Stevie Richards that ended up with Lawler losing and his wife(at the time)The Kat having to join Right to Censor. This was an insignificant match and moment in general, as The Kat and Lawler would leave WWF soon after this match anyways. Next, we were treated to a triple threat tag team tables match for the WWF Tag Team Titles between Edge & Christian, The Dudley Boyz and Undertaker & Kane. A solid match with all three teams going at it with their best, but there was no way that Taker & Kane were going to win the titles going into Mania, so the Dudley Boyz retain and continue onto make history at Wrestlemania, which I'm sure you know about. That leaves us with the main event. Another match months in the making.

The Rock vs Kurt Angle is definitely a match that I loved seeing during the Attitude Era. They had amazing chemistry and their interactions at Summerslam 2000 in the main event, as well as their one on one match at No Mercy 2000, and even their interaction in the Hell in A Cell 6 man match at Armageddon 2000 were all great. Angle and Rock had been feuding off and on for months and the beauty of the Attitude Era was that it never got stale due to feuds intersecting and combining at times. This buildup was memorable for the Rock telling Angle that his time was up and going "tick tock, tick tock" to imply the clock had ran out. What followed in the actual match was a great contest between two amazing performers that ended with Rock getting the victory and the title. Big Show randomly interferes in this match, which was really pointless, and Earl Hebner messes up the 3 count near the end, but aside from that, this was a really good match. It set the tone for Mania and we had a classic on this event, as well as mostly solid matches aside from Show vs Raven and Lawler vs Richards. Everything else worked well and I would definitely consider this the greatest No Way Out PPV. Hands down.



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