Wednesday, 20 February 2008

WWE No Way Out on Sky Sports - TV Review

It’s two for the price of one time with WWE’s latest pay-per-view offering, as stars from Raw and Smackdown battle it out in two Elimination Chamber matches, with main event spots up for grabs, and two title matches at No Way Out, shown live from Las Vegas here in Britain on Sky Sports 1.

The show begins with title action, as Chavo Guerrero defends the ECW title against former champion C.M. Punk, a strong looking match on paper. A short but good opener saw both men put together a good series of moves, almost getting the pin on a number of occasions. However, Chavo was able to keep up with the Punker, and in the end, after blocking Punk’s attempt at a top rope hurricanrana, he went airborne and connected with a frog splash to get the title retaining pin. An enjoyable match, but I can’t help but think that perhaps at this stage in his career Punk should perhaps be challenging for one of the Smackdown titles.
In something of a surprise to this writer, the Smackdown Elimination Chamber match is next, featuring U.S. Champion MVP, Big Daddy V, The Great Khali, Finlay, Batista & The Undertaker. This one stars off with Batista against the Undertaker, and finishes with Batista against the Undertaker. In between, the two big guys got eliminated relatively quickly, MVP taking the big bump after the Undertaker choke slammed him from the top of one of the pods, and an appearance from Hornswoggle. And after all that happened, it was the Undertaker who booked his slot at Wrestlemania, taking Batista out with the tombstone in the middle of the ring. Two great performances from both Batista and the Undertaker here, and overall, while it wasn’t the best Chamber match I’ve seen, it wasn’t that bad.
The Ric Flair retirement tour continues next, as the old boy faces Mr. Kennedy, with the Nature Boy’s career on the line once again. As expected, Kennedy centred his attack around Flair’s injured knee, even breaking out Bret Hart’s old figure four around the ring post trick, before Flair paid Kennedy back in kind, applying his own version of the figure four to get the submission victory. Not bad, but I get the feeling that these two will go at it again before this retirement tour comes to an end.
Then it’s time for the second title match of the evening, as Rey Mysterio, despite having torn his bicep, challenges Edge for the World Heavyweight title. It was obvious that Mysterio’s injury meant that this would be a short match. You could tell that he was in severe pain with every move he made. Edge came out on top in this one. Mysterio couldn’t capitalise after he connected with the 619, and moments later Edge took Mysterio down with a spear as he came off the second rope, getting the three count moments later.
But this match will be remembered for what happened afterwards. As the trainers attended to Mysterio at ringside, the Big Show, looking much leaner, made his return, and during his in-ring promo, attacked Mysterio, threatening to choke slam him, before challenging Floyd Mayweather, who was sitting in the front row, and who had been introduced in a backstage segment with Mysterio earlier in the show. This challenge led to Mayweather and his massive entourage getting into the ring to confront the big man. After the inevitable stare down, the Big Show got on his knees, only for Mayweather to unload with a quick combination, bloodying the Big Show’s mouth and nose, before he and his entourage jumped the barrier and ran for cover. The Big Show began to give chase, only to be stopped by various security officials, and he had to be calmed down by Shane McMahon as they walked up back the ramp. So could we be seeing Mayweather v the Big Show somewhere down the line? Who knows, but it’s obvious that the WWE will get an absolute ton of mainstream publicity with this angle.
More title action follows, as John Cena challenges Randy Orton for the WWE title, a match that everyone thought we’d see at Wrestlemania after Cena’s Royal Rumble win. This certainly was an interesting match. Slow and methodical at times, it was a good showcase of the talents of those involved, but at times it seemed a little overlong, with the most interesting moments happening in the final few minutes of the match. Midway through Orton had complained about a knee injury, and did so again as he lay on the outside of the ring, virtually begging the referee to count him out. It was then that Cena jumped out of the ring saying that Orton was pulling a fast one. He was, because a few seconds later he was on the receiving end of an RKO. Crawling back into the ring, he expected to get the win via count out, but was shocked when Cena managed to crawl back into the ring. Orton then took the coward’s way out, clobbering the referee, earning himself a disqualification and saving the title in the process. An enraged Cena then took Orton down with the FU and applied the STFU for the second time before leaving the ring. To be honest with you, I’m really not sure how to rate this one. I can’t fault the performances of Orton or Cena, but it just seemed like it was missing that certain something, something that I can’t quite put my finger on.
The final match of the evening is the Raw Elimination Chamber match, featuring Triple H, Umaga, JBL, Intercontinental Champion Jeff Hardy, Chris Jericho and Shawn Michaels. Now this was everything the other Chamber match wasn’t. With as many as five of the wrestlers in the match at one point, this match saw great performances from all six combatants, and had an intensity that was sadly lacking for the majority of the first match. Umaga in particular was portrayed as a killing machine, unlike the monsters in the Smackdown match, as it took four men to eliminate him. Triple H and Jeff Hardy were the last two men remaining in the chamber, and for a while it looked like Hardy would overcome all the odds and book his spot at Wrestlemania. But sadly, it wasn’t to be. After he countered a Twist of Fate onto a chair attempt, Triple H used the same chair to take Hardy down with his second Pedigree, gaining the winning pinfall and earning his spot in the Raw main event at Wrestlemania.
In conclusion - the second step on the road to Wrestlemania had it’s good and it’s bad points, but thankfully the bad points were few and far between. No Way Out delivered in it’s own way, and provided two good if not unpredictable Elimination Chamber matches, with the Undertaker and Triple H booking their main event spots for their respective brands. But the main talking point of this show will be the appearance of the best pound-for-pound boxer in the world. Will we see Floyd Mayweather competing at Wrestlemania. Comparisons are already being made with the Mike Tyson angle a few years ago. But the difference here is that, unlike Tyson, Mayweather isn’t banned from competing, and given his star and drawing power, his inclusion in the biggest wrestling show in the world could get the WWE a lot of mainstream publicity. It’s a shrewd move from the powers-that-be, and this long time wrestling and boxing fan hopes it pays off.
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