No Way Out has always been the final PPV before WrestleMania. It’s one last chance to help influence and shape the biggest night in wrestling.
If there was ever a time to step up one's game or push a storyline, this would be the show.
Over the years, the PPV has changed its format from the one seen now, with the addition of the Elimination Chamber match. While this match has drastic effects on the superstars, it’s not always the most important match on the card.
Eleven total PPVs have carried the name No Way Out, and these have led to some of the most memorable and shocking moments in the company’s history.
Here are the 15 greatest moments in the history of the WWE’s No Way Out PPV.
Mick Foley, who at the time was performing under his Cactus Jack gimmick, lost in what would be the end of his full-time wrestling career against Triple H. The two would wage war inside Hell in a Cell, with Foley putting his career on the line for a chance to fulfill his dream and main event WrestleMania.
The match would have the contestants fighting atop the Hell in a Cell with Foley nailing Triple H with a barbed wire-wrapped 2x4 that was on fire. The conclusion saw Triple H backdrop Foley through the top of the cell, sending him crashing through the ring below. Somehow Foley stood up only to be pedigreed, thus ending a historic 17-year career. Through storylines, Foley would main-event WrestleMania that year, coming up short of winning the WWE Championship.
The Dudley Boyz had already proven their dominance in ECW as a tag team before deciding to move to the WWE. At No Way Out, they would defeat The New Age Outlaws to capture their first of a record-breaking eight WWE Tag Team Championships.
This night helped solidify the Dudley Boyz as a team that would reign supreme in the division until they were released from the company years later. It was also crucial in helping to highlight the tag division, when they would defend their newly won championships in the infamous Triangle Ladder match at the following month's WrestleMania.
It was billed to end the feud between two of the biggest stars from the Attitude Era. It happened inside Three Stages of Hell, a match that is not overused by the WWE today, making it so much more special. Triple H's revelation that he was responsible for running Austin over the year prior brought about the culmination in the situation between the two.
For nearly 40 minutes, they left everything inside the ring. Tied at one win apiece, the match and one of the greatest feuds of an era was to be decided by way of a steel cage match. Both would nail the other simultaneously with a foreign object and pass out from exhaustion, with Triple H landing on top. While Triple H won the match, neither wrestler came out looking the weaker. It was a fanatic way to end this feud.
The NWO, for a time, was what helped launch WCW to their success and later would turn out to be one of the reasons the company would later fold. Vince McMahon stated they were a poison and he was bringing them to the WWE to end his own creation because of the storyline in which he had to share power over his company with Ric Flair.
The music cued the start of the PPV and out walked the returning Hulk Hogan, Kevin Nash and Scott Hall. They played off that they were in the WWE to do no harm, but by the night’s end it became clear they were out for themselves. The stable wouldn’t last long, but it allowed fans to see how a WCW creation would fare in the WWE universe.
Stone Cold Steve Austin had basically quit the WWE during 2002. Annoyed with the direction the company was going and feeling that his character wasn’t being portrayed properly, one of the top stars of the time just stopped appearing when scheduled.
It was announced in February 2002 that Austin was returning to the WWE and his first match back would be against then RAW general manager Eric Bischoff. The quick win for Austin would be his final one.
The next month he would lose to The Rock at WrestleMania and see an end to his career because of a serious neck injury. No Way Out 2003 was the start of Austin’s final run as an active wrestler.
It was billed as the rematch between two wrestlers who defined their era. Eleven months prior, the two faced off in a match where the crowd did something unique: the heel, Hulk, Hogan was cheered and, the face, The Rock, was booed. The roles of the wrestlers were reversed because of the fans. The rematch was different, with Hogan now a face and The Rock a heel.
Both wrestlers were making their return to the WWE and this match was more about setting up the Vince McMahon vs. Hogan match for the following month. While this rematch was not spectacular, it gave the fans one more chance to see these two fight with the possibility of a third match if Hogan won, as a way to end the trilogy. Hogan didn’t win and this feud was history.
Brock Lesnar seemed unstoppable and Eddie Guerrero was labeled an underdog in this WWE Championship match. Guerrero pulled out his usual bag of tricks that included lying, cheating and stealing. With these tricks and the help of Bill Goldberg, Guerrero would win his first and only WWE Championship.
It was truly an inspiring moment to watch as Guerrero, who had hit rock-bottom years earlier because of drugs and alcohol, now become the champion. People always said he was too small to be a champion and he proved them wrong. As the PPV went off the air Michael Cole put it best when he said, “Eddie Guerrero will no longer be called addict. Tonight, Eddie Guerrero will simply be known as WWE Champion.”
For John Cena, this was just the beginning of his journey as the future and face of the WWE. That night Cena defeated Kurt Angle, where the winner would go to WrestleMania 21 to fight for the WWE Championship. This win was needed for Cena, as the next month he would win the WWE Championship for the first of his record-breaking 10 reigns as champion.
To gain a win over a star athlete like Angle means the WWE had faith in the young man. This night was step one for Cena. Step two was completed when he won the championship. On this PPV, Cena needed to show he was ready to be the star attraction for the WWE.
At the same PPV, John Bradshaw Layfield (JBL) would successfully defend his WWE Championship against The Big Show in a Barbed Wire Steel Cage match. It was the final time JBL would walk out as champion, as the next month John Cena would end JBL’s longest reign as a WWE Champion in SmackDown history at 280 days.
The match promised to be brutal and delivered with both men bleeding. With the top of the cage surrounded by barbed wire and the steel door locked, the question was how could JBL could survive, let alone retain his title.
After a blood-soaked JBL was choke slammed through the ring canvas, he crawled out from under the ring to secure the win. Yet again, he somehow managed to remain champion.
Rey Mysterio had done the impossible the month prior when he entered the Royal Rumble match at No. 2 and went on to win with the longest time spent in said match. He had dedicated his win to his friend and recently deceased wrestler Eddie Guerrero.
The wrestler he last eliminated to win was Randy Orton, who claimed the win was pure luck and proceeded to lure Mysterio into a one-on-one match with the winner getting the championship match at WrestleMania. Mysterio lost after cheating on Orton’s part. The championship match was later turned into a three-way bout in which Mysterio defied critics to win the title. No Way Out was just another bump in the road that Mysterio had to overcome.
The Undertaker had just returned and had his eyes set on capturing the World Heavyweight Championship from Kurt Angle. It wasn’t the first time these two stepped in the ring together, but it was the best match they ever had among themselves. For 30 minutes, they went out and stole the show.
For two veterans of the WWE, who are known for their ability to deliver stellar matches, they needed to have an amazing match. The fans were expecting nothing but the best. The Undertaker would lock in his triangle choke submission, leading to the belief that he was about to win. Angle used this momentum to roll through and retain his championship.
For Gregory Helms, his reign as Cruiserweight Champion seemed to last forever. At 385 days, no superstar in the history of the WWE or WCW had held the title nearly as long. Helms had defeated all challengers placed in front of him and started to make a name for himself out of the division.
Helms was eliminated halfway through the eight-man Cruiserweight Open Challenge match by Jimmy Yang. At the end of the match Yang was pinned by Chavo Guerrero, who was declared the new champion. It didn’t matter who pinned Helms in this match, as the wrestler who came out undefeated was awarded the championship. The match ended the epic and never-again-duplicated run of Helms.
The month prior, John Cena shocked the WWE universe when he returned early from an injury to win the Royal Rumble and in the process earn a guaranteed championship match at WrestleMania. Cena couldn't wait and decided to cash in his title opportunity a month early at No Way Out against Randy Orton.
Cena would win the match after a blatant disqualification on Orton’s part, thus giving Cena the win but not the title as the title can only change hands via pinfall or submission. Later, Cena would earn a championship rematch in the form of a three-way match.
Randy Orton was off to great start in 2009. He had already won the Royal Rumble and had recently punted WWE Chairman Vince McMahon in the head. McMahon’s son Shane would fight Orton in a No Holds Barred match at the PPV to defend his family’s honor, but to no avail.
Orton’s reign of dominance would continue as the following night he would deliver an RKO to Stephanie McMahon to set up a feud with then WWE Champion Triple H.
Edge would start the PPV as WWE Champion in the opening Elimination Chamber match, only to lose the title a few minutes in to the shock of everyone. The champion in this type of match had never been defeated so early on, let alone first.
By the end of the PPV, however, Edge would be World Heavyweight Champion after taking out Kofi Kingston as he made his way down the ramp, thus taking his spot in the match. Edge would make history that night as the first person to hold the WWE and World Heavyweight Championship in the same day, on different occasions. It was a nice twist to the title picture.