10 Years After: No Way Out 2006
The Road to WrestleMania is well on its way but before I recap No Way Out ’06, I wanna discuss something that was coming to a close in ’06 (although no one knew it at the time)…Kurt Angle’s run in WWE. If you told anyone in February 2006 that this show would be the last pay per view that Kurt Angle main evented.
Angle had came into WWE six and a half years earlier with a ton of promise. There was potential for him to be considered the greatest of all time. Hell, he’s one of the rare guys to win the World Title within a year of debuting for the company. However, while he had a truly great run in WWE, I’m not sure if it was ever transcendent. He had all of the tools to be one of best of all time but a combination of bad booking and his personal problems (and injury problems) held him back a tiny bit. I doubt Kurt Angle will look back on his career with many regrets, nor should he as he’s had a better run than 99.9% of other pro wrestlers but sometimes you have to wonder, how things might have turned out if things worked out a little bit different. It’s too bad that I think just as WWE was starting to properly utilize his character as the no-nonsense Wrestling Machine(as opposed to the hyperactive loon that he was for most of the early-mid ’00s) that his run there was coming to an end.
Smackdown! Presents…WWE No Way Out
February 19th, 2006
Live from 1st Mariner Arena in Baltimore, Maryland
Announcers: Michael Cole & Tazz
Our opening video package focuses on the top two matches (Rey Mysterio Vs Randy Orton for the World Title shot at WrestleMania 22 and Kurt Angle Vs The Undertaker for the World Title). Orton disrespected Mysterio’s dead best friend (“Eddie’s IN HELL!”) and now Rey must defend Eddie’s honor and his spot in a main event at WrestleMania 22. Kurt Angle says Undertaker may be the Deadman but in the wrestling ring, he has no soul!
Michael Cole & Tazz welcome us to the show. Cole goes over the storied history of the Baltimore Arena! Billy Graham won the WWE (then WWWF, of course) World Title from Bruno Sammartino there! Tito Santana won the Intercontinental Title here. Love a Tito Santana shout out on a PPV in 2006. With this talk of titles, how appropriate that we start with a Cruiserweight Title match.
Nine Way Match for WWE Cruiserweight Title: Gregory Helms (c) Vs Brian Kendrick Vs Kid Kash Vs Nunzio Vs Paul London Vs Psicosis Vs Funaki Vs Super Crazy Vs Scotty 2 Hotty
There were a lot of big, clusterfuck multi-man matches for the Cruiserweight Title during this era but I think this might be the biggest. With nine guys, you might as well just make it a battle royal. Shows how little importance this title had during this era. You wouldn’t have a Nine Way Match for the World or Intercontinental Titles. This match apparently came about as a result of Gregory Helms pissing off Smackdown! GM Teddy Long. I think this is every Cruiserweight guy left except maybe Jamie Noble (who I’m assuming was out injured) because I don’t think they’d put Scotty 2 Hotty (who, ten years later, I’m still amazed was on the roster at this point) on the card over him. This match is a huge cluster. Shane…Er, Gregory (Gregory Shane) wins after he sneaks in and covers Psycosis after Super Crazy accidentally moonsault Psycosis. **. After the match, everyone chases Helms to the back.
Backstage, Booker T and Sharmell bitch to Teddy Long about Booker having to compete tonight. Booker T is injured. Teddy Long says Booker didn’t look injured when he hit Benoit with a chair on Smackdown! Booker says that was a miracle! Booker & Sharmell get down on their knees to beg Long to get out of the match. Teddy says Booker can get out of the match tonight…if he forfeits his title!
Finlay yells at Kristal Marshall. If no one wants to fight him, he’ll pick a fight. He grabs Kristal . IS HE GONNA FIGHT HER!? Michael Cole & Tazz are APPALLED BY WHAT WE ARE SEEING! Finlay beat up the entire Juniors Division (ah yes! WWE’s brief attempt to revive midget wrestling, which didn’t even make up a pay per view) on Smackdown now he’s attacking an interviewer!?
Kristal’s future husband Bobby Lashley runs down for the save and this segues inour next match.
Bobby Lashley Vs JBL (with Jillian Hall)
Refs shoo Finlay to the back. Lashley is still undefeated at this point and has pinned the former World Champ JBL on several occasions. Jillian claps along with the “JBL Sucks” chants. Also, at one point, Cole tries to explain the concept of “building momentum” to Tazz by talking about building Lego sets.
I’m sure these two could’ve had a fun power match but this is really resthold heavy. JBL gets busted open, presumably hardway because it’d be dumb to blade in second match on the card. Lashley has the match won but Finlay comes back, throws Tony Chimel in the ring to distract the ref, and whacks Lashley with the shillelagh. JBL hits the Clothesline from Hell for the win to end Lashley’s undefeated streak. *1/2 Tazz says this is way better than the Winter Olympics! You got people getting hit in the face and bleeding! All the Olympics have are crappy ice dancers!
Tony Chimel introduces a very special guest…Batista! Batista’s here for three reasons; 1. to see Kurt Angle Vs The Undertaker, 2. Because he misses the fans and 3. IT’S GOOD TO BE BACK (no, that’s not a reason, Batista). No, wait. Reason 3 is to give us an injury update. His triceps isn’t torn. He’ll be back soon and he will get the World Title back. I think this segment was just there ,for two reasons; 1. to pop the fans since Batista is from the DC/Baltimore area. 2. To kill time.
Backstage, Randy Orton confronts Kurt Angle. Angle tells Orton to scram! He’s got a match against The Undertaker.
JBL talks to Josh Matthews in the WWE.com Instant Access room.
MNM (with Melina) Vs Matt Hardy & Tatanka
MNM are WWE Tag Team Champions and issued an open challenge to any team for a non-title match. Challenge was answered by Matt Hardy and a mystery partner. This mystery partner turns out to be Tatanka. Did Matt pick his name out of a hat? Matt & Tatanka are both wrestlers from North Carolina…and I think that’s most of that they have in common. Also kind of amazing how quickly Matt went from being one of the hottest acts in pro wrestling to playing second fiddle to Tatanka. Tatanka & Matt Hardy pick up the upset win when Tatanka hits the Samoan Drop on Joey Mercury. This match wouldn’t have felt out of place on a Smackdown! ** After the match, Matt Hardy celebrates by doing the Tomahawk Chop with Tatanka (Buffalo). Cole DEMANDS that the champs give the vaunted tag team of Matt Hardy & Tatanka a shot at the titles. Which they did a few weeks later on Smackdown and that was it for the BattleBowl team of Tatanka & Matt Hardy.
We get an ad for WrestleMania 22, set to its theme, Peter Gabriel’s “Big Time”. Always found it odd that they used a 20 year old song for the theme, which is very unlike WWE. I’m guessing either they had waited twenty years to get that song or knowing allegations of how out of touch Vince McMahon is with pop culture, he might have discovered Peter Gabriel. Maybe the theme to WrestleMania 32 will be Dishwalla’s “Counting Blue Cars” at this rate.
Video package for Chris Benoit-Booker T. Like a lot of these mid ’00s feuds for the US Title, it seems like this feud went on for a very, very long time and was filled with solid but forgettable matched. Solid but forgettable is a pretty good description for mid ’00s Smackdown in general, actually.
WWE United States Title Match: Booker T (with Sharmell) (c) Vs Chris Benoit
Random observation but I always thought it was odd they always used the locks & chains motif for No Way Out, regardless of whether or not they had a steel cage match. There were a number of memorable cage matches at the even but it wasn’t cage match centered pay per view. Although it would sort of transition into being one. But we’ll get to that in 2020. Assuming *insert whoever your least favorite current Presidential candidate* hasn’t gotten us killed by then.
Booker T grabs the mic and begs to be let out of the match cause he’s not 100%. MACK MILLITANT! Rodney Mack’s theme got a lot longer of a run than Rodney Mack himself actually got. Teddy Long is out here. Will he forfeit the title? Booker leaves the ring. Chris Benoit grabs the mic and chants “Coward”. I’m surprised he didn’t flap his arms and cluck like a chicken to try and draw Book back in the ring. BENOIT’S NOT GONNA TAKE THE TITLE BY FORFEIT. Sharmell slaps him a few times and then Booker jumps Sharmell.
Benoit’s no sell of Sharmell’s slaps is real creepy…Cole flips out at Tazz mentioning Sharmell being a former Miss Black America. WHAT DOES THAT HAVE TO DO WITH ANYTHING!? THE U.S. Title is on the line! Booker tries to forfeit again after being thrown into the stairs but it’s all a ruse. THAT SICK SMILE OF BOOKER T! HE’S MILKING HIS GROIN INJURY! No way to type the phrase “Milking his groin injury” without feeling like a creep!
This probably best of the ’05-’06 Benoit-Booker T series that I’ve seen. Although I haven’t watched all of them. Maybe when WWE Network uploads all of the Smackdowns from this era I can catch up. Not as good as their WCW series but very solid. Benoit gets the win by putting Booker in the Sharpshooter (complete with a shoutout to Bret Hart, who’s Hall of Fame Induction was announced around the time of this show) and making him tap to the Crippler Crossface. ***1/2 Chris Benoit is the new US Champion at last. Cole says Booker is a Former US Champ just like Sharmell is a former Miss Black America. Tazz thinks that’s a cheap shot.
Smackdown! babyfaces, Pat Patterson, and Vickie & Chavo Guerrero Jr congratulate Benoit on his title win. Benoit talks to Rey Mysterio! He’s not just fighting this match for himself, for Benoit, and the rest of the locker room! HE’S DOING IT FOR EDDIE UP IN HEAVEN!
Cole & Tazz have to be biased! Rey’s got to win this match to get revenge on Randy Orton, who disrespected Eddie. Video package for Rey-Randy Orton. Orton during this feud… Man, he was really good at delivering terrible lines. I have to laugh at how sick it is. WTF WWE? “REY YOU HAVE AS MUCH BUSINESS GETTING A TITLE SHOT AS EDDIE HAS AT COMING BACK to LIFE”. His delivery made this storyline entertainingly offensive instead of just plain offensive, I guess.
Winner Receives a World Heavyweight Title Shot at WrestleMania 22: Rey Mysterio Vs Randy Orton
Rey Mysterio’s kid is in the audience… wearing an Undertaker t-shirt. Even to his kids, Rey Mysterio was playing second fiddle to a Deadman.
Sorry. I’m worse than Orton during this era! This match is a bad precursor to Rey’s title run (uh, spoiler alert? Fuck it These shows are a decade old) with Rey getting beat down for most of the match. There’s a thin line between portraying a guy as an underdog and portraying him as a chump and in my opinion, WWE was on the wrong side of the line. WWE, generally, did a pretty good job with Rey. It’s too bad that he was portrayed the worst during the biggest year of his WWE career. Randy Orton gets a fluke win by blocking the 619 and pinning Rey, using the ropes for leverage. Match itself was fine but even if it was as good as Flair-Steamboat, I’m not sure it would have made up for the horrible storyline. **1/2
I think a tasteless/offensive storyline can be justified if it ends with the heel doing the offensive behavior getting his ass kicked. That wasn’t the case here. Yeah, Rey won the World Title a month later (uh, spoiler again?) but he never really gave Orton his comeuppance. After the match, Orton trolls Rey some more for good measure. This isn’t as bad as Booker T-Triple H but it’s probably second most upsetting WWE storyline of all time.
After the match, Vickie & Chavo Guerrero Jr comfort a crying Rey Mysterio. Paul London, MexiCools, Scotty 2 Hotty, Funaki, Lashley, and Tatanka stare on sadly. Wow. Could they have picked a more random group of wrestlers as background filler?
Alright, let’s move onto something good. shall we?
World Heavyweight Title Match: Kurt Angle (c) Vs The Undertaker
WWE once again did a good job of building this as a dream match (albeit in a somewhat rushed manner). They did a good job of setting up the Wrestling Machine Vs The Deadman before. Now Angle & Undertaker had wrestled several times before but it was during the BikerTaker era and Angle was still sort of finding his own. This is Undertaker’s first title match in a few years. He got one at Armageddon ’04 (albeit in a multiman match) but I guess 14 months is a long time to go between World Title shots for Undertaker.
It’s too bad this wasn’t Undertaker’s WrestleMania match this year. Serious, crazy man Angle is a much more credible opponent for Undertaker than not that good yet Mark Henry. This might be the best Angle-Undertaker match (they had another great one on Smackdown in Summer of ’02). Again, I like that Angle’s character is crazy & driven enough not to be intimidated by the Deadman. Yeah, Angle’s “character” is crazy”. There’s a cool spot where Angle blocks Undertaker’s drop onto the apron and puts Taker in the Angle Lock on the floor. Tony Chimel takes another bump for some reason during this match. Rough night for him!
I cringe when Undertaker & Angle do a bump through the Spanish announce table and look like they nearly kill themselves. Then I cringe even more when I realize both these guys ARE STILL WRESTLING TEN YEARS LATER! Anlge busts out all sorts of cool Angle Locks in this match. He rolls out of a Last Ride to put one on Taker. Even more awesome, we get a spot where Undertaker does the Deadman Situp just as Angle pulls down the straps. One last cool Angle Lock as he wiggles out of the Tombstone to put one on Undertaker. Undertaker fights out of it but gets Angle Slammed. Two count but Undertaker puts Angle in Devil’s Gate (although it wasn’t deemed that for a few more years). Angle rolls out of it into a bridge for the three count. He’s unconscious from the Devil’s Gate but he is still World Champion. Nick Patrick drapes the belt on him. Undertaker is livid. Undertaker yells at Angle that this isn’t finished. Sadly, it probably is. Although now that Angle’s done with TNA, maybe we’ll get to see him vs Undertaker at WrestleMania 33. *shudders* This was a very fine match. **** Before the last few minutes, I thought this was the strongest Undertaker had put someone over before WrestleMania XXX. Announcers often try to say “So and so is not afraid of The Undertaker” but Angle really did seem like he went toe to toe with Undertaker. I guess even with the ending, Angle seemed to outsmart the Undertaker. Too bad we haven’t gotten a chance to see these two lock horns again.
Watching this pay per view, it’s kind of obvious to see why the brand split era was winding down in 2006. While the split made a lot of sense in ’02/’03 when the roster was loaded to the gills after the death of ECW & WCW, it didn’t really seem necessary a few years later. It seems like they were just built around one or two big matches and a bunch of filler. Which would have been fine if this were the In Your House era and these shows were two hours but at three hours, a lot of these shows felt like awfully thin gruel.
Next Time on Ten Years After…it’s the biggest event of the year, WrestleMania 22! The biggest pro wrestling event of the year returns for the third time to the City of Chicago! John Cena defends the WWE Title against Triple H, Kurt Angle defends the World Title in a Triple Threat against Randy Orton & Rey Mysterio. Plus Edge takes on “The Hardcore Legend” Mick Foley in a classic street fight!