NO WAY OUT

February 18, 2007


Another trip to Blockbuster and another WWE PPV! The road to WrestleMania continues with a special tag team main event, a couple of title matches, a mixed tag match, and . . . not much else.


Finlay . . . not only loves to fight, but loves to beat on midgets, and I love to watch it!

Paul London . . . continues to put on a good show in the ring, no matter what he’s got to work with.

Shawn Michaels . . . proves himself right when he claims he’s the showstopper, the icon, blah blah blah.


CHRIS BENOIT/MATT HARDY/JEFF HARDY vs. MVP/JOHNNY NITRO/JOEY MERCURY

This is fun at times, but tends to drag when the heels are in control, none of the three heels have anything interesting to do, and unlike the Rumble match between MNM and the Hardys, there aren’t any specific targets like Matt’s jaw or Jeff’s midsection. It’s telling when the only things by the heel team that got any real reactions were Mercury’s cheap shot on Matt from the apron, and MVP’s People’s Elbow ripoff. Benoit tagging in is the equivalent of Big Show tagging into a match against an all cruiserweight team. He treats MVP, and MNM like total jobbers. The closest that the heels get to really having Benoit in any sort of trouble is when MVP tries to use the U.S. Title and Benoit still ducks and locks in the crossface. The finisher-fest on Mercury (Poetry in Motion, Twist of Fate, Swanton, and diving headbutt) was a nice touch, and it gave Mercury a good reason to tap out so quickly when Benoit locked in the crossface, even though MVP had already been trapped in the hold, and held out longer before being saved.


CRUISERWEIGHT OPEN (WWE Cruiserweight Title)

WWE seriously needs to pull the ultimate swerve and end one of these matches cleanly. Aside from the Noble/Yang portion everything is rushed and nothing is able to develop to any great degree. Scotty and Davari don’t do anything of note until Scotty hits the Worm (to a noticeably dead reaction) and pins him. Scotts tries to repeat his luck with Helms, but the Worm is blocked and Helms’ knee to the head eliminates Scotty. Funaki earns his payday the same way he did at WrestleMania 20. Helms/Moore has a few cool spots, such as Moore’s head scissors on the floor, but Moore falls prey to the knee to the head. Helms/Yang goes a bit longer, but not enough to develop any real themes, and the only notable happening is Yang finding a counter to Helms’ knee strike and eliminating him. Helms laying out Yang leaves him easy prey for Noble, and again, they’re the only pairing in the match that really makes good use of the time, as Noble tries to get the quick win, and Yang keeps fighting him off. Noble initially targets the neck (Helms had given Yang the Final Cut), but after Yang charges into the post, he changes gears and goes to the shoulder. Yang manages to get by Noble after pushing him off the top and hitting a moonsault. And in the most shocking of booking moves, Chavo Guerrero emerges as a surprise entrant and quickly mows through Yang for the title.


FINLAY/THE LITTLE BASTARD vs. THE BOOGEYMAN/THE LITTLE BOOGEYMAN

Surprisingly enough, this isn’t a total waste, although most of its value is comedic, rather than anything to do with wrestling. It’s not surprising given the lack of wrestling talent that Boogeyman has, but it’s something of a positive that he’s not putting his lack of talent on full display. Just about all the good moments here comes from the pairing of Finlay and Little Boogeyman, such as when Little Bastard makes like he’s going to fight with Little Boogey, only for Finlay to surprise Little Boogey with a boot to the face. Finlay’s short arm scissors and Little Boogeyman’s small package (the only near fall of the match) give Cole and JBL a chance for some short jokes, and Finlay’s butt drops even prompt JBL to reference King Kong Bundy at WrestleMania III. Finlay knocking out Little Boogey with the shillelagh for the win is a bit weak, Finlay had already shown that he wasn’t above fighting Little Boogey the same way he’d fight anyone, so there isn’t any reason why he wouldn’t use one of his regular moves like the Finlay roll, or the Air Raid Crash. Nonetheless, this is kept short and is rather inoffensive, which can’t often be said about matches with The Boogeyman.


KING BOOKER vs. KANE

If either Kane or Booker had anything to do other than punch and kick, this could have been tolerable. However, they don’t, and it’s not. The brawling is passable, in the context of this being a ‘grudge match,’ but without any intensity, and without either Booker or Kane showing any real personality or attempting to tell a story, it’s just boring and seems to go on forever. They both use their signature spots, but the only thing they’re really good for is a stall tactic in order to prolong the match, until Booker runs out of stalls and gets planted with Kane’s chokeslam and pinned. Booker’s rarely used missile dropkick wasn’t worth a pin attempt, but was only used to allow Booker to apply an armbar, as though anyone thought he could beat Kane that way, maybe if he’d worked over Kane’s arm, or if Kane had hit his shoulder on the post. Both of his jumping sidekicks don’t lead him to anything, and his first Axe kick is sidestepped, and his second causes him to walk into the chokeslam and get pinned. Kane’s diving lariat attempt is thwarted by Booker’s jumping sidekick, and leads to a double KO spot, where Kane gets to his feet first. There’s nothing wrong with the idea behind the finish, with Booker running out of tricks and finally having to face the music, but in order to work properly, he needed to actually get ahead in the match and/or Kane needed to sell something to give the idea that Booker was doing that.


PAUL LONDON/BRIAN KENDRICK © vs. DEUCE/DOMINO (WWE Tag Team Titles)

Despite some flaws, this pretty much blows away the rest of the up to this point, which is just as much a praise of the match as it is an indication of the card thus far. JBL and Cole make it clear right from the start that the champions are the ones with their backs to the wall, with Deuce and Domino having several wins over them on TV. London and Kendrick use their teamwork advantage early on to maintain control and it’s not until London gets caught in the wrong corner *and* ambushed from behind after a blind tag, that the challengers can get something going. What the match lacks in particular is anything really outstanding from the challengers. The most notable thing about the match from their side of things is when Domino starts to bleed from the mouth, and his reaction to that by blasting London with punches and talking trash.


The challengers’ control segment is almost 100% London as well, he takes a couple of big bumps, such as the slam in the corner and the back body drop, and does some very good selling while they’re working him over. But the challengers have no real swagger to their work, and it makes them look like they’re all hype and no substance. And the fact that Kendrick got the pin so soon after tagging in is a good indication of that. It’d have been nice to see Kendrick’s victory roll counter to their Doomsday Device come on the heels of something, rather than just seeing London get knocked off the apron. It works well as far as London giving Kendrick some extra time to get his bearings and hit the move, but as far as using the challengers’ cocky attitude and/or London/Kendrick’s superior teamwork to get the win, there’s nothing. Again, it tops the rest of the card thus far, but there’s still room for improvement.


BOBBY LASHLEY © vs. KEN KENNEDY (ECW Heavyweight Title)

Honestly, aside from Kennedy working over Lashely’s leg and the ref bump and DQ finish, there’s nothing here that separates this from the King Booker/Kane debacle. A lot of punching, kicking, and rest holds, and nothing else happening to at least make those seem interesting. When Kennedy works over his leg, Lashley sells the leg better than Batista did for Kennedy at the Rumble, though it’s still not very good. In addition there’s the silly moment where Kennedy locks Lashley in a reverse figure four and holds it for a decent length of time, and after Lashley puts it over well, and fails to make the ropes, he simply rolls Kennedy right out of the hold. Lashley at least uses the leg to explain why he can’t use his belly to belly and chuck Kennedy across the ring. The ref bump has a theoretically good foundation, with Kennedy already failing to hit both of his finishers, it’s a good reason to explain why he’d go for the chair. The ref bump looks over contrived as usual. The big failing of the finish is that it doesn’t jive with the match. Neither Kennedy nor Lashley had really done enough to really get a decisive advantage, Kennedy had hurt Bobby’s leg, but even after that, he couldn’t do either of his finishing moves. And the only thing Lashley going crazy on Kennedy with the chair and getting disqualified accomplishes, is giving Kennedy bragging rights to having another win over another champion, and a reason to clamor for a rematch, which is the opposite of what a PPV match is supposed to do.


SHAWN MICHAELS/JOHN CENA vs. THE UNDERTAKER/BATISTA

As flawed as this is at times, it’s got a few good points to it. Not good enough to save the show (or even the match) but good enough to standout. The big one is watching Michaels in action, watching him bump and sell here compared to his many mediocre brawls with HHH is like night and day. His spots look good for the most part, and he bumps like an absolute fiend for Batista, with the only real exception being the finish, but that was more or less forced by the booking. Cena looks like he’s trying, but isn’t even in the same league. Cena’s execution is awful. Look no further than his so called STF to see that. And his bumping and selling is passable, but not even in the same universe as Shawn. Batista and UT really don’t do anything out of the ordinary as far as offense goes, until Batista’s turn, but thanks to the bumping and selling from Shawn and Cena, it’s much more interesting here. Batista and UT don’t really do anything out of the ordinary on defense either, but again, thanks to Shawn being able to kick it up a few notches, those parts come off better as well.


The other saving grace to the match winds up being a bit of a double-edged sword, when Batista turns on UT. The match didn’t have signs of build to it, no mis communication or “mis communication” from them, in fact the only real signs of teamwork came from Cena and Michaels, when Shawn chop blocked Batista and saved Cena from the powerbomb. The other being the Superkick into FU combo that they use to finish off UT after Batista turns on him. And the initial surprise of seeing Batista suddenly hit UT with the spine buster is enough to make one forget that Cena and Michaels just crawled to their feet after taking a chokeslam and spine buster. It does its job of furthering the World Title feud going into WrestleMania, but any PPV match, let alone the main event, isn’t the place to do that. As a whole all it really does is make the PPV come off being a lame duck show, which, aside from a few exceptions, is what No Way Out usually winds up being. With Cena and Michaels holding the World Tag Team Titles, and being booked to win anyway, there wasn’t any reason to not make it a title match, and give the idea that the match might be important. Of course the same match happened the next month on an episode of RAW to further the Michaels/Cena feud, which speaks volumes about which brand that the WWE obviously thinks is more important.


Conclusion: A fun at times card, but watching it as a whole is mostly an exercise in frustration and/or boredom. It’s funny how Smackdown! usually spanks RAW as far as wrestling goes, but their PPVs are usually an exhibition of anything other than good wrestling, with a few exceptions.