Welcome to the February edition of “Ten Years After”. Today, we look back at the 2005 edition of No Way Out, the first Smackdown! exclusive pay per view of 2005. No Way Out was a major pay per view for a few years in the early ’00s, being the last pay per view before WrestleMania. However, the brand split, it really felt like a special extended episode of Smackdown! outside of a few moments (Eddie winning the World Title in ’04, Kurt Angle Vs Undertaker in ’06). That being said, Smackdown! was almost universally regarded as the superior brand during the split era despite almost having a weaker roster, on paper, than RAW. It seemed like every year during the Draft, they would purge the Smackdown! roster and move its stars to RAW, leaving only scraps then Smackdown! would somehow turn those scraps into a watchable show. Sometimes. Anyway, I’m not sure what this pay per view has in store so let’s find out.
Smackdown! Presents WWE No Way Out
February 20th, 2005
Live from Mellon Arena in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Announcers: Michael Cole & Tazz
We get a nice hyperbolic opening video package hyping the first ever Barbed Wire Steel Cage Match for the WWE Title that’s main eventing the show. HOW COULD OUR ADVANCED SOCIETY CREATE SOMETHING SO BARBARIC!? Tonight, there’s no retreat, no escape, there’s No Way Out!
The Road to WrestleMania starts in Pittsburgh! JBL will defend the WWE Title against Big Show in the aforementioned Barbed Wire Steel Cage plus Kurt Angle will take on John Cena in a #1 Contender’s Match. Cole & Tazz say that ’05 Royal Rumble Winner Batista is in the house tonight in Pittsburgh. Will he challenge JBL for the WWE Title and jump to Smackdown!? He’s making his decision over which champ to challenge tomorrow night.
WWE Tag Team Championship Match: The Basham Brothers (c) Vs Rey Mysterio and Eddie Guerrero
Rey Mysterio and Eddie Guerrero are a superteam! Two Latino Legends, who Cole says, may one day join their predecessors Tito Santana and Pedro Morales in the WWE Hall of Fame. The Basham Brothers beat Rey Mysterio and his partner RVD for the titles and Rey is invoking his rematch clause here and he picked his “homeboy” (Cole’s words not mine) Eddie to replace him. Hey! Switch one Frogsplash for another. Basham Brothers were an act that was huge in development but then WWE immediately changed their gimmick when they were called up (they were actually rivals in OVW) and they never really recovered. I mean you could say “Hey Connor! They were Tag Team Champs.” But have you looked at some of the teams who held the Tag Titles in the mid ’00s?
Rey & Eddie does feel like a rare superteam that kind of makes sense. And even though they were real life friends and obviously had a lot of classic matches against each other over the years, I’m not sure how often they had teamed up before this (if they had at all). They work well together obviously. It’s no surprise that Rey makes a great face in peril but I really like Eddie as a fiery, never say die babyface. He was such a good heel that I often forget he was just about as good as a face. Basham Brothers are about as generic heels as possible. I do like that they bring out the Twin Magic gimmick (despite not being related in real life). I honestly did think they were really brothers for a while. God, I’m such a mark.
Crowd seems kind of dead. They’re into cheering for Eddie but not much else. Maybe it’s the Bashams just being the modern day Harris Twins or maybe it’s the fact that the Heat main event was Hardcore Holly & Charlie Haas Vs Rene Dupree & Kenzo Suzuki. Anyway, pretty bland opener until they start playing up the “Eddie wants to cheat but Rey won’t let him!” storyline. Bashams come off as pretty dumb. Not only does one fall for Eddie playing possum after he misses a Frog Splash but they try to blatantly throw a title belt in the ring to hit Eddie with in front of the ref, causing Brian Hebner to get distracted and Eddie to actually wallop them with a title. Rey hits the other Basham with the 619 and Rey Mysterio & Eddie Guerrero are the NEW WWE Tag Team Champions. Match was pretty average from top to bottom, outside of a few fun spots involving Rey & Eddie’s misdirections and trickery. **1/2
Rey & Eddie celebrate. Tazz doesn’t know how to call what happened. These two best friends are now Tag Team Champions! Tazz compares Eddie Guerrero to an offensive coordinator on a pro football team because he’s so focused on creating schemes.
Smackdown GM Teddy Long is having a great night, playa! He tells a production assistant to make sure Batista has everything that he needs! Carlito with a sling around his arm barges in and sours the mood. Carlito is with a member of the Board of Directors. Teddy gives her a Shizzle Fizzle because 2005! Carlito says if Teddy doesn’t sign Batista then Teddy might be looking for a new job and Carlito thinks that’s cool!
It’s time for the first round of the Smackdown! Rookies Divas Contest. Hosted by Torrie Wilson & Dawn Marie. Glad to see that Torrie got over Dawn sexing Torrie’s father Al to death two years before this. It’s an Evening Gown Competition. Face Torrie likes everybody and Heel Torrie disses everybody. Our competitors are; The Big Show’s “special friend” Joy Giovanni, former Ms. Hawaiian Tropic Rochelle Loewen, Playboy model Lauren Jones or… Hey! It’s the future Mrs. Taker Michelle McCool. Tazz thinks that Torrie, Dawn & him should be Smackdown’s announce team. Vote for the winner on WWE.com. Well, that was a waste of five minutes of our time.
Cole says we’re live from Pittsburgh, which is hosting its first Smackdown PPV! People of the Steel City are lucky! They’re gonna see Smackdown’s poet laureate Heidenreich next!
Booker T Vs Heidenreich
This match came about on the previous Thursday on Smackdown when Heidenreich laughed in Booker T’s face after Booker lost a match to John Cena. Cole thinks it was VERY disrespectful but Tazz thinks maybe Heidenreich was just really happy and loves life. Heidenreich graces us with one of his poems. Heidenreich has gone from feuding with The Undertaker to being a dopey comedy heel reading poems in less than a month. Booker is a Hall of Famer now but he was still in sort of a rut, stemming from jobbing to Triple H at WrestleMania XIX. Thus why he’s wrestling the giant, screaming poet on this show (and didn’t even make the WrestleMania PPV card the next month). Heidenreich during this screaming poet gimmick seems like a throwback to the goofy gimmicks of the mid ’90s. This is basically a TV match that they threw on PPV to fill time. Booker T wins by DQ after Heidenreich hits him in the throat with a chair. Heidenreich doesn’t know what’s going on and pummels Booker some more and tries to cover him. Tazz says Heidenreich might be a bit unstable but he has feelings! Cole says he’s crazy! He tried to stab Booker T in the throat! *
We get a look at Batista’s holding room. He’s not there yet but a PA is setting up some coffee and water for him. Exciting!
Backstage, new WWE Tag Team Champions Rey Mysterio & Eddie Guerrero whoop it up and celebrate with Scotty 2 Hotty, Charlie Haas, and Hardcore Holly. John Cena comes in wearing a Pittsburgh Pirates throwback and Ruck Fules baseball cap. Eddie gives Cena an inspirational speech. Eddie says Cena has the opportunity to main event WrestleMania 21 if he beats Kurt Angle! Eddie tells Cena to hold on and not tap when Kurt puts him in the Angle Lock. When Kurt’s angry, he makes mistakes and that’s Cena’s chance to win! Nice segment and little passing of the torch.
Cruiserweight Open Elimination Match for the WWE Cruiserweight Title featuring: Funaki (c) Spike Dudley, Paul London, Chavo Guerrero Jr, Shannon Moore, and Akio
Damn, it seems like every Cruiserweight Title defense from ’04 to ’07 was in one of these huge, clusterfuck, multi man matches. “The Prince of Punk” Shannon Moore looks like he stole LOD 2000’s gear. Spike Dudley is wearing a Tom Brady jersey. GOOD MAN! Only one of these guys that the crowd has any sort of reaction to is Funaki.
Funaki & Paul London are our first two men. London’s wearing Ultimate Warrior-esque tights and tassles around his boots. All of the other participants are standing on the apron for this gauntlet match which is kind of weird. Of course, this leads to heel tomfoolery. Spike Dudley knees Funaki in the back and Paul London rolls him up to eliminate him. So much for Funaki’s title run. *wipes tears* Paul London pins Spike Dudley and eliminates him after Funaki dropkicks Spike behind the ref’s back. Shannon Moore is #4. We will have a new Cruiserweight Champ tonight. Can you handle this excitement!? London pins Moore with a 450 Splash. Cole yells out “Vintage Paul London!” London had been in WWE for like a year at this point and his stuff can already be described as “vintage”!? Akio is #5. Only Chavo is left on the apron.
One guy unsuccessfully tries to start a “holy shit” chant after London hits a swinging neckbreaker off the top rope on Akio. Akio is eliminated by KO but London barely makes it to his feet in time. Chavo pounces on him. Chavo tries to work on the neck but Paul London won’t give up. I just notice London’s wearing a skinny headband. He looks like kind of a doof in this getup. This final two segment is decent enough. Chavo wins with a roll over, grabbing the ropes for leverage. Can’t give it more than ** because the first two-thirds of the match was really bland and felt totally rushed. Really sums up most of these ’05 to ’07 gauntlet matches for the Cruiserweight Title…
Michael Cole says there’s been two title changes tonight. Is that an omen for our third and final title match tonight between JBL and Big Show? Plus we’re still expecting to see Batista tonight. We take a look back at Batista showing up on Smackdown last week and destroying JBL’s limo. JBL sent the Cabinet after the Big Show, opening an opportunity for the Big Show to attack. The Cabinet rushed back in time to save JBL but Batista ran in to make the save.
We get a look at the steel cage. Cole says the steel cage has no friends, only enemies. There really is a lot of time filler on this show! YOU GOT SCOTTY 2 HOTTY BACKSTAGE DOIN’ NOTHIN! C’MON ’05 WWE Creative!
Our WrestleMania Recall moment is the Gimmick Battle Royal at WrestleMania X-7. Now THAT was a classic moment!
Speaking of time filler, we get Round 2 of the Smackdown Divas Rookie Challenge. Round 2 is the Talent Show. Joy Giovanni displays her massage skills. Wait. Is that a talent? Dawn Marie straight disses her. Torrie makes a handjob joke about Dawn. We get the stand up stylings of Rochelle Loewen. Good lord. Dawn takes away the mic after one joke thankfully. Lauren dances to generic ’80s stock music. Dawn is appalled. Michelle McCool in a Pittsburgh Steelers half shirt bodyslams Dawn Marie as her talent to mercifully end this segment. Michael Cole says that was talented! He couldn’t bodyslam Dawn!
An insanely young looking Josh Matthews interviews JBL. JBL’s not afraid. He cuts a great promo on the main event tonight. He’s not afraid. Tonight’s he’ll show everyone he is who he says he is… a Wrestling God!
The Undertaker Vs Luther Reigns (with Mark Jindrak)
A few months back, me and some of my buds were discussing the Undertaker’s Most Obscure Pay Per View Opponent and I think we narrowed it down to either The Executioner (Terry Gordy in a forgettable masked gimmick, who faced Taker at In Your House: It’s Time in December ’96) or his opponent here, Luther Reigns. Like Heidenreich, Luther Reigns was a guy who had a great look but very little else. At least, Heidenreich’s screaming poetry gimmick was a bit of a guilty pleasure. He didn’t have a small part in The Girl Next Door like Reigns did though!
Referee Brian Hebner immediately tosses Mark Jindrak from ringside. Reigns is pissed. On Smackdown last Thursday, Luther Reigns whacked Undertaker over the head with a camera. Luther Reigns was in prison! He’s spent five years in darkness, nothing Undertaker does can scare him! Besides the camera show, not sure what Luther Reigns did to raise Taker’s ire. I thought he was Kurt Angle’s bodyguard. Again like I mentioned in the opening, Smackdown’s roster must have been pretty thin. Outside of the cruiserweight open, the matches on this card have been veteran, popular babyfaces Vs supergreen, unover heels and I think the card has suffered. He does get some offense, thanks to a low blow and an uncovered turnbuckle. He also breaks out of the tombstone and hits an inverted DDT. Cole miscalls it as a swinging neckbreaker. Cole’s having an off night. He called a Rey Mysterio bulldog a DDT earlier during the opener. Of course, Taker kicks out of Reigns’ finisher and Undertaker wins with the Tombstone. Hrm. Luther Reigns is not just one of Undertaker’s most obscure PPV opponents but one of his worst (outside of Giant Gonzalez, of course). Maybe worst match I’ve seen so far in the ’05 PPVs. Zero Stars.
Man, these last two matches better be good to make up for this turd sandwich of a show.
Oh great. Our third Rookie Diva of the Year Segment. Dawn Marie refuses to come out after getting bodyslammed by Michelle McCool. Joy Giovanni is wearing a Ben Roethlisberger jersey to get a cheap pop. Tazz says she’s from Boston. TRAITOR! It’s the bathing suit competition of the show. Tazz and Cole be beatin’. Joy Giovanni wins the competition. She’s the Rookie Diva of 2005. Tazz thinks it was a great competition and we’re all winners though. Joy Giovanni will electrify the Divas Division for years to come. And by that, I mean do some forgettable segments before she’s released in four months.
We get a recap of the Tournament leading up to this. I’m sure Japan was thrilled to see a John Cena Vs Orlando Jordan quarterfinals match. Angle says he’s gonna main event WrestleMania for the third year in a row! Cena says Angle’s not facing a kid anymore, he’s facing one tough sonuvabitch!
The theme for this PPV is “Enemy” by Fozzy, a band fronted by none other than
forgotten metal legend Mongoose McQueen RAW’s Chris Jericho!
#1 Contender Tournament Finals: Kurt Angle Vs John Cena
Save this show, Angle! Angle is wearing some weird shirt that looks like the takeoff on the Star Trek logo that I don’t remember. Actually, more wrestling related, logo on Angle’s shirt (and trunks) looks like WCW’s last logo before they were bought out by WWE. Angle has won every title in WWE, Cena is the US Champ. They’re fighting for a chance at the WWE Title at WrestleMania 21. Wow. Kayfabe wise, boneheaded move by Teddy Long. How does he expect to lure Batista over to Smackdown if he’s making the WWE Title match a Triple Threat!?
It’s weird that there’s very little reference to this being Angle’s hometown (Cole mentions it offhand). Even the fans seem to chant “Angle Sucks” just like any other crowd of this era. Which I guess is a testament to how good of a heel Angle is. Oh, now Cole points out that Angle has an advantage since he’s been enjoying home cooking and sleeping in his own bed all week while Cena had to wrestle Booker T in a twenty minute match on Thursday. Cena does get a smattering of boos when he tackles Angle over the announce table. A sign of things to come, I guess.
After sort of half assing it all night, Cole & Tazz do a good job of selling the story of this match of Cena having to fluster & frustrate Angle while keeping his own cool to win this match. There’s a fan with a Ruck Cena sign. That guy can say he hated Cena before hating Cena was cool! Cena takes a heck of a beating during this match. Probably no better pre-WrestleMania PPV opponent for him than Angle. In the ’00s, it was damn near impossible to have a bad match with that guy. Cole says Cena “likes to use the pound & ground.” I guess this was around the time MMA started taking off again. I like how Cena can’t hit the FU on Angle on multiple attempts. Tazz craps a brick when Angle locks in the Angle Lock but Cena powers out of it.
Cena finally hits the FU but it only gets a 2 count. Cena celebrates prematurely. He’s dumber than Heidenreich! Angle Slam and Angle Lock on Cena. Cole says Cena gave a good effort but there’s no way he can kick out of this. This is the end of John Cena’s WrestleMania Dream. That was his chance to be in the main event and he tried hard but I guess he can’t do it!
Man, I’m sure some of you out there wish that were true! Cena reaches the ropes. Angle accidentally elbows Lil Naitch. Angle grabs Cena’s chain. Cena tackles him and hits the FU. John Cena is going to WrestleMania 21! Good match! ***1/2
WrestleMania 21 is 42 Days Away!
We know John Cena will be competing for the WWE Title at WrestleMania 21 but we find out who will be defending the title at this show next!
Video package for the main event. JBL smells like smoke because he’s been through fire! Big Show looks like Tarzan but JBL’s gonna make him look like Jane! JBL ain’t afraid of the Big Show or Batista. I forgot how great of a promo JBL could be.
Barbed Wire Steel Cage Match for the WWE Championship: John Bradshaw Layfield (c) vs The Big Show
Nobody expected JBL to win the title but he’s held it for over eight months, beating Eddie Guerrero, Undertaker, Booker T, and Kurt Angle amongst others in the process! I’m surprised that WWE hadn’t busted out this Barbed Wire Cage before or since this match (to my knowledge) although it’s a bit redundant with Hell in a Cell.
Neither of these guys are like Angle but they’re solid veterans who know what they do well. JBL does a good job at being a heel who is cowardly but doesn’t come across a huge puss. That’s a problem I’ve had with a lot of recent WWE heels. They just seem like a weasels who can’t win a fight on their own. JBL just seems like a dude who’s smart enough to know when to walk away from a fight and dastardly enough to use cheap shots to get out of it.
Hey! The Cabinet is here. The Bashams have bolt cutters. HOLD ON A MINUTE, PLAYER! Teddy Long walks out and tells the Bashams and Orlando Jordan to get to steppin, playas! Wait, Bradshaw’s got one of the bolt cutters. He whacks Big Show with them and hits him with the Clothesline From hell. Both guys busted open. Chokeslam from Big Show only gets a two. JBL fights back with a low blow and boot. He wants to escape but he can’t. No, wait, he’s got bolt cutters! Big Show puts a stop to this tomfoolery and bashes JBL’s head against the cage. Big Show chokeslams JBL from the top of the cage through the ring. Cool spot/visual right there. Big Show’s dropping blood. What’s he gonna do!? He’s trying to kick open the door. They never really did explain if this was pinfall/submission or escape rules. I guess it’s both. He’s rips the lock and crawls out the door. But wait! JBL had crawled out from underneath the ring. Slightly above average match with an awesome finish. ***
Sore sport Big Show attacks JBL as he’s crawling back to the locker room. The Cabinet run in to attack Show. Batista runs in to make the save. He clears the ring. JBL stumbles to the back but wait, here’s John Cena! He throws JBL into some television equipment as Batista observes from the ring. He spinebusters JBL through a table. At WrestleMania 21, it’s gonna be either JBL Vs John Cena or a Triple Threat between JBL, John Cena, and Batista. Cole says if he were a betting man, he’d predict the Triple Threat!
Well, last forty five minutes of this show salvaged things somewhat and were a nice preview of WrestleMania 21 but man, the first two hours of the show were the pits. It really just shows you how to depleted the undercard was. They had a good enough roster to create any number of compelling main event feuds but once you got beyond that, it was a who’s who of who gives a crap. WWE was able to get away with having a great group of main eventers and a mediocre group of undercard guys in the Attitude era because they had a top notch creative stuff plus what the undercard guys lacked in workrate skill, they made up for experience and charisma. In 2005, WWE had a mediocre creative staff using underseasoned and uncharismatic youngsters. Besides Batista and Cena, every main eventer on the roster was somebody who had at least been around since the Monday Night Wars era. It’ll be interesting to see over the next few months and years to see if the mid-card gets any better.
Also I kind of felt there was a bait & switch here with Cole & Tazz heavily implying we’d get Batista’s decision on who he’d face at WrestleMania here. I mean understand why they didn’t have him do it (especially since the surprise twist the next night on RAW was so awesome) but I’d feel kind of ticked if I bought the pay per view for that. I’d also feel kind of ticked if I ordered this pay per view just because this pay per view kind of sucked. This is the third pay per view with one or two decent matches and a bunch of crap. I’ve seen WrestleMania 21 before and remember it being at least pretty good but this look back is gonna be a grind if these secondary shows don’t start picking up soon!
Up Next on Ten Years After: It’s the Showcase of the Immortals! I take a look back at WrestleMania 21! Triple H defends the World Title against Batista! JBL defends the WWE Title against John Cena! Plus Kurt Angle takes on Shawn Michaels in an Interpromotional Match and The Undertaker puts his WrestleMania undefeated streak on the line against “The Legend Killer” Randy Orton!