Tuesday, 17 February 2009

WWE No Way Out on Sky Sports - TV Review

The road to Wrestlemania continues, with two Elimination Chambers, a man protecting his father’s honour, a man wrestling for his very existence, and an Irishman competing for a title. It’s the 2009 version of No Way Out, shown live in the early hours of this past Sunday morning on Sky Sports here in Britain, with the usual suspects handling commentary duties.

The show begins with the first Elimination Chamber match, with Edge defending his WWE title against the Undertaker, the Big Show, Vladimir Kozlov, Triple H, and Jeff Hardy. The first two men to enter the match were old enemies Hardy and Edge, and it wasn’t long before we got the big surprise. After Hardy missed a swanton, Edge prepared to take his old rival down with his trademark spear, except that Hardy countered with a small package, eliminating Edge, meaning that a new champion would be crowned in this match.

Things didn’t look good for Hardy as first Kozlov, and then Hardy, came into the chamber and treated Hardy like their personal punch bag in a game of one-upmanship. If truth be known it wasn’t exactly the most exciting part of the match, until Kozlov decided to attack the big guy. Thankfully, things got a lot better when Triple H entered the match, and proceeded to clean house. Some great exchanges between the Game and the Big Show followed, and things really began to kick off when the last man, the Undertaker, came into play. Like Triple H before him he took the action to everyone. It wasn’t long before the dead man had his first victim, pinning Kozlov after taking him out with the last ride.

The Big Show was the next men eliminated, and it took three men to do it. After the big guy had cleaned house again followed Kozlov’s elimination, the Undertaker took him down with a superplex off the top rope. Triple H then delivered the pedigree, with Hardy coming down with a swanton from atop one of the pods, with Triple H getting the pin.

Hardy was the next to go. Having put up a great showing in this match, he soon fell to the Undertaker’s tombstone piledriver, leaving the two most experienced men in the match. This was definitely the best part of the match. The exchanges between the two veterans would put most of the younger guys to shame. It went back and forth so often you couldn’t tell who was going to win, even after ‘Taker took the Game down with a tombstone, only for the Game to survive by putting his foot on the bottom rope at the last moment. In the end it was Triple H who came out on top, winning his thirteenth title after taking the Undertaker down, countering the last ride attempt and taking the dead man with a second pedigree, ending what could only be described as a hell of a match, leaving the second chamber match with a lot to live up to.

Grudge match time followed, with Shane McMahon defending his father’s honour by taking on Randy Orton in a no holds barred match. Although Shane is only a part-timer, you always know you’re going to get a good match whenever he steps into the ring, and that was the case here. Orton and Shane proceeded to beat the hell out of each other with whatever they could get their hands on, with Orton getting busted open for good measure after being clobbered with a television monitor. The younger McMahon was about to put Orton through the Smackdown announcer’s table when Cody Rhodes and Ted Dibiase ran down and attacked Shane, only for their attack to backfire, with Shane jumping from coast to coast and drop kicking a rubbish bin into Rhodes. But this gave Orton time to recover. Shane went for the elbow drop off the top rope, but Orton managed to roll out of the way as McMahon put himself through the table. It wasn’t long before McMahon was put through a second table, courtesy of an Orton superplex, but this still wasn’t enough to put him away. Eventually, having taken countless chair shots, Orton countered Shane’s punt attempt with an RKO, enabling him to get the winning pin. The second good match in a row, and a good example of what a grudge match should be like.

The second title match of the night followed, with Jack Swagger defending the ECW title against Belfast’s favourite son, Finlay. Of course, Finlay has his little buddy Hornswoggle along for company. Now, while this was a good, if unspectacular match in it’s own right, I couldn’t help but get the feeling that this was nothing more than filler material. Normally that honour goes to the Divas, but for this show it went to the ECW title match. Once again Swagger showed that he’s full of promise, and Finlay showed that he’s still a crafty old geezer. Sadly, my fellow Brit failed to get the job done. After inadvertently knocking Hornswoggle off the ring apron, Swagger took Finlay down with his gut wrench powerbomb. This one was okay, but it will probably be forgotten in a few months.

Then it was on to the second grudge match, with Shawn Michaels fighting for his very life against his boss John “Bradshaw” Layfield. This was one of those matches where you could really suspend your disbelief. With Michaels’ wife Rebecca (didn’t she used to be a Nitro girl?) sitting at ringside, you could actually believe that Michaels hated JBL, and would do anything to get away from his evil clutches. This was also the best match JBL has wrestled since he returned to active competition, but then again, he was in the ring with one of the best in the business, which helped a great deal. It looked like JBL had the match one twice. The first clothesline from hell didn’t get it done, and Michaels beat the count back into the ring after JBL pushed him outside after the second. It was only after JBL taunted the wife and got a slap for good measure that Michaels finally sprung back to life, taking JBL apart, and sealing the deal with sweet chin music. A good match, but I can’t help but think that this would have been better at Wrestlemania.

The final match of the night was the second Elimination Chamber match, with John Cena defending the WWE title against Mike Knox, Kane, Kofi Kingston, Rey Mysterio and Chris Jericho. Well, it was meant to be Kofi Kingston, but just as he was about to enter the chamber, Edge came down to ringside and attacked him, ramming him into the ring steps before taking him out with a con-chair-to. Edge then ran into the chamber and into one of the pods while Kingston was taken away by the medics. Jericho and Mysterio were the first two in this one, reminding this writer of the time they fought over the cruiserweight title back in WCW. Both guys put together some good exchanges in the opening minutes, although there was one moment where you could see Jericho visibly call a spot. Five minutes later, Kane entered the match, taking it to his rival Mysterio before dealing with Jericho in the same manner. However, the big red machine was the first man eliminated. Having fallen to the 619 and Jericho’s code breaker, Mysterio quickly took care of Jericho before climbing to the top of one of the pods and taking out Kane with a seated senton. Something of a surprise when you think about it.

Knox was the fourth man to enter the contest, and proceeded to take up where Kane had left off, taking it to Jericho and Mysterio. This was the first time I’d seen Knox since his makeover as it were, and although he pulled off some good moves, I couldn’t help but get the feeling that he didn’t really belong in this match, that he hadn’t really done anything to deserve his place. In fact, he lasted less than five minutes, with Jericho eliminating him after his code breaker.

Then it was the turn of the man who wasn’t meant to be there, Edge, to enter the match. Mysterio went to attack immediately, trying to avenge the attack on his friend. But each time Mysterio got the upper hand, Jericho interjected himself, taking the masked star down.

The last man to enter was the champion. Cena was like a house afire as he took both Edge and Jericho down, but he was soon eliminated. As Cena was about to take Edge out with the FU, or whatever the hell it’s called, Jericho connected with another code breaker. Cena slumped onto the ropes, where Mysterio connected with the 619, with Edge putting the finishing touches, getting the pin after a spear, which meant that, as with the first match, there would be a new champion.

Jericho was the next to go. As Jericho went to apply the Walls of Jericho, Mysterio countered with a roll-up, leaving him alone in the match with Edge. Mysterio got several near falls, but in the end it was the Rated R Superstar who came out on top. Despite putting up a great fight, Mysterio was taken down with Edge’s spear, after having been rammed into one of the pods. Having lost the WWE title at the beginning of the show, Edge had won the World title at the end. As for the match, while the drama surrounding Edge added a little spice to this one, and while it was a good match, the first one was a whole lot better.

In conclusion - having been bitterly disappointed by the last wrestling pay-per-view I’d watched, No Way Out was like a breath of fresh air. The two Elimination Chamber matches delivered on their promises, and the two grudge matches achieved what they set out to do. The only slight downturn was the ECW title match. But then again, you can’t have everything. So this writer gives the thumbs up to this year’s edition of No Way Out, a very good appetiser for what’s to come in a few weeks.