WWE No Way Out: The 10 Greatest Matches in the PPV's History
After a two-year absence from the pay-per-view schedule, No Way Out returns live from the Izod Center in East Rutherford, N.J., in just six days.
Unfortunately, the roster seems to be falling apart day by day.
Along with the recent suspensions of Randy Orton and Chris Jericho, there is now the possibility of Alberto Del Rio being removed from the World Heavyweight Championship match thanks to a concussion. The main event is John Cena vs. Big Show for the 23rd time, except this encounter is inside a steel cage.
While the matches to look for are the Intercontinental and WWE Championship bouts, they will have to be pretty good to make it onto this list.
In the history of No Way Out, there have been a considerable number of great matches, which used to be featured as the final stop on the Road to WrestleMania. In 2008 and 2009, the Elimination Chamber went to the PPV for the only time during the year. Three of those chamber matches make it onto this list.
Let's check out the rest and see which matches are ranked as the 10 greatest contests in No Way Out history.
10. 2009: Randy Orton vs. Shane McMahon
If I were Randy Orton right now, I would be desperately wishing it was 2009 again.
At the beginning of the year, it was clear that Orton was the man getting a mega-push heading into WrestleMania. Sure, he had defended the WWE title a year earlier at the big show, but in 2009, he was feuding with the entire McMahon family.
After Randy nearly punted Vince McMahon's head off, good ol' son Shane wasn't too happy. Since Orton won the Rumble and was moving onto a title match at WrestleMania 25, he needed something to do at No Way Out that would continue to build the feud.
This was one of the last matches in Shane's WWE career, and there were concerns heading into the contest that he just aged too much to hold his own. He proved the critics wrong and came through with a classic Shane-like match.
In an almost 20-minute contest that featured the coast-to-coast, a kendo stick, and two tables breaking because of Shane-O-Mac crashing through them, Orton prevailed and continued to build big-time momentum at the best time of the year.
9. 2008: WWE Championship No. 1 Contender Elimination Chamber Match
2008 was the first year in which the Elimination Chamber made its only appearance of the year at No Way Out. Instead of having a title defended inside the structure, this time, both EC matches were to determine the No. 1 contender for the WWE title at WrestleMania.
Michaels and Jericho would start off the contest in an unknown preview of their outstanding feud later in the year, but other than that, Triple H was the clear favorite to be the last man standing.
HBK of course had a crimson mask 10 minutes in, helping to sell the beast-like qualities of Umaga, who had a very strong showing inside the steel chains. Jericho bled as well after JBL laid him and the other competitors out with a steel chair. Oh, and HHH showed some red, too.
Some of the highlights of the match included Umaga running through Jericho and the glass pod, and Hardy hitting the Swanton from on top of a pod.
In the end, it was Trips vs. Hardy, but Jeff's time was still months away. The Game prevailed and moved on to WrestleMania XXIV.
8. 2007: John Cena & Shawn Michaels vs. The Undertaker & Batista
For the build to WrestleMania 23, the top title matches for the show were established before the No Way Out PPV. Therefore, it allowed for a unique tag team match at the show, with the opponents teaming up to face the participants in the other match in an attempt to be the better combo.
Of course, the question going in was which team would be able to coexist. It seemed that Cena and Michaels might be okay, especially considering they were the reigning tag team champions at the time. Up to that point, Batista and Taker had been starting an intense rivalry, but were respective of each other.
That all changed at No Way Out.
After one of the better tag team matches and a rare one as the main event, it was Batista who would spinebuster the Phenom, and after Taker was an unstoppable force, he ended up taking the pinfall.
It was a one-in-a-kind match that benefited from more than enough time to build a couple of great matches. Unfortunately, that is something that the WWE doesn't seem to get right most of the time.
7. 2009: World Heavyweight Championship Elimination Chamber Match
Poor Kofi Kingston. All he wanted to do was enter the Elimination Chamber and get a shot at winning the World Heavyweight Championship.
Instead, Edge attacks him from behind, takes his spot and wins the title after entering the night as the WWE Champion.
It is one of the more shocking nights in the past few years, and it suited Edge's character perfectly, since he was the Ultimate Opportunist. The shock during the match was the elimination of John Cena, who was the champ at the time, after about three minutes and three finishers.
The final sequence between Edge and Rey Mysterio was fantastic, and they almost had the crowd convinced that Mysterio could pull off an unexpected victory. Nonetheless, this was all Edge's night, and he accomplished a feat that may never be duplicated.
6. 2003: Lesnar & Benoit vs. Kurt Angle, Charlie Haas & Shelton Benjamin
Edge was supposed to be the third member of the Brock Lesnar-Chris Benoit tandem. Unfortunately, he would need neck surgery and would not see a ring for the rest of 2003.
Nonetheless, the storyline of taking out Edge before the contest was a good way to get even more heat on the WWE Champion at the time, Kurt Angle. His groomed team of Shelton Benjamin and Charlie Haas were the tag champions also, and they were looking for any way to weaken Lesnar, the No. 1 contender for WrestleMania.
The crowd was hot and Brock was desperate to hurt the champion as soon as he could. The action was fast and furious at times, and by the end of the contest, the one-man advantage for Team Angle wasn't enough to stop Benoit and Lesnar.
5. 2001: Kurt Angle vs. The Rock
The year 2001 produced the best No Way Out PPV overall in its history, and the main event did not disappoint.
Although it easily could have done just that.
For starters, the Big Show interfered about 10 minutes in, and he had just about no place there. On top of that, Earl Hebner clearly blew a three-count at the end of the match, not counting for the final number when Angle didn't even move for a kickout.
Still, this was a fantastic encounter, and it showcased some great chemistry between Rock and Angle. The Great One was the favorite to take the title to set up Rock/Austin II, but Kurt put up one hell of a fight before eventually falling. Angle would go on to have a great match with Chris Benoit at WrestleMania 17, while Rock headlined the show with Austin.
Even with all my praise, another match on this card has a higher ranking on this list. But until then, let's move on to one of the more emotional moments in WWE history.
4. 2004: Brock Lesnar vs. Eddie Guerrero
The pinnacle of Eddie Guerrero's career was on display at No Way Out in 2004.
Eddie was able to earn the No. 1 contender's spot to take on Brock Lesnar, who was a complete beast as the champion at the time. Unfortunately for Brock, he also had Goldberg on his radar to worry about, and he was in attendance for the show.
The two ended up brawling early on, and after Goldberg was taken away in handcuffs, it seemed that his night was done. Well, not so fast. Goldberg would make an appearance in the main event, laying out Lesnar with a spear.
Eddie was being dominated for most of the early part of the contest, but he was starting to build some momentum by the time Goldberg got involved. He would follow up with a DDT on the title belt while the ref wasn't looking, and then with the Five-Star Frog Splash to get the title.
The celebration was amazing and emotional. Although Guerrero is no longer with us today, we can think of this night as his crowning achievement in the wrestling industry.
3. 2009: WWE Championship Elimination Chamber Match
This may be one of the most star-studded matches in history that was the opener of the PPV. The reason it went on first was to set up Edge's big night.
It didn't look like a big night at first, however. Edge and Jeff Hardy started off the match, and before a pod was even opened, Hardy rolled up the champ and pinned him for three. Just about everyone was stunned, and it looked like Edge was going home early. Of course, we know that's very far from the truth.
The next few minutes were a bit of a snoozefest, but that's all thanks to Vladimir Kozlov. After that, the action picked up significantly, with Triple H and the Undertaker being the last two to enter the match.
It would be Trips and Taker as the final two, and they had a fantastic sequence that was a very early preview for their WrestleMania matches. HHH would be the guy to prevail, and he moved on to face Randy Orton at the 25th Anniversary of WrestleMania.
2. 2006: Kurt Angle vs. The Undertaker
This could easily have headlined a WrestleMania. Instead, it was one of the best matches in No Way Out history, and a technical masterpiece.
In the history of the Deadman, he has probably never tapped out. On this night, you actually thought Angle could make him do the impossible. Kurt was determined to beat the Undertaker clean, and he would do anything to get that result.
This was made very clear when Angle slammed Taker through the announce table, but wouldn't let the match end on a count-out. Angle was the wrestling machine at this point, and a count-out win was not on anyone's mind.
The submissions would continue right until the end, and it was Angle's ankle lock vs. the Phenom's triangle choke. The ending was wonderfully done. Angle was stuck in the choke, but he was able to keep the Undertaker's shoulders down for three while still in the hold.
The finish established Angle as the champ, but did nothing to make the Undertaker look weak. It was a wrestling clinic, and you should go watch it now.
1. 2001: Stone Cold Steve Austin vs. Triple H (3 Stages of Hell Match)
Now this was an intense feud, and the payoff came at No Way Out 2001 in a big way. Trips and Austin were just absolutely sick of each other, and with Stone Cold challenging for the title after winning the Rumble, it was time to bring this rivalry to a finish.
But any sort of stipulation added on to one singular match would not be enough to settle this thing. It would take two victories for either man, and with the street fight and steel cage stipulations added to the latter two contests, it was appropriately named "3 Stages of Hell."
What did we get? Basically, we saw three great matches all rolled into one. It was 45 minutes of grueling, brutal action, and by the end of it, both men were completely exhausted.
Surprisingly, Triple H got the victory, but it was only because he was the one to fall onto Stone Cold. Either man could have ended up there, so both wrestlers ended the night looking very strong heading into WrestleMania.
Not only is this match the best in No Way Out history, it's one of the better matches in company history. Very rarely do we see a payoff to an intense feud like this one, and with the PG era, it might forever be in a class of its own.