The best thing about No Way Out is that it signals the beginning of better things. The following pay-per-view is Money in the Bank, which, of course, features the always (well, generally) enthralling MITB matches.
After that is SummerSlam, one of the "Big Four" events of the year. And after SummerSlam is...well, Night of Champions. They can't all be winners, apparently.
The point remains, though, that one might be tempted into looking past No Way Out to the next couple of pay per views. But there's no reason to do that; there is plenty of reason to be excited about No Way Out on its own. Or at least some reason. "Plenty" might be stretching it.
Anyway, with all that said, let's take a look at what and what not to be excited about for No Way Out 2012.
What Not to Be Excited About
United States Champion Santino Marella vs. Ricardo Rodriguez (Tuxedo Match)- Ugh, really? I'm sorry, I'm just having a lot of trouble believing anything particularly valuable comes from this match. It won't be good in the traditional sense of the word, nor will it be a good comedy match, especially if the WWE's idea of humor continues to lean towards "Ricardo Rodriguez likes Justin Bieber."
Santino is the U.S. Champion. He should probably be defending that against actual wrestlers instead of having gimmick matches that like 50 people over the age of 10 will think is even slightly funny. And by "probably" I mean "definitely." I'd write more about this match, but the only other thought I have on it is I HATE THIS I HATE THIS I HATE THIS, so I'm just going to move on.
Brodus Clay vs. David Otunga (Pre-show)- So this match should be totally different than the same Funkasaurus squash matches we've been getting on Raw for the past five months, right? No? It'll almost definitely be the exact same thing? Oh. Boy, that's disappointing.
We've seen a lot of squash matches lately, involving guys such as Brodus, Ryback, and Damien Sandow. Sandow has been introduced fairly recently, so using squashes to introduce him to the audience is logical. Ryback is killing (or coming close to killing) people in an entertaining and unique fashion that differentiates him from other beasts of recent vintage, so his squashes are still serving a purpose as well.
We've clearly hit a point of diminishing returns on the Funkasaurus squash matches. We arguably hit it a long time ago. Seriously, we get it. He's big and fat and dances in a fun way and wins his matches by literally squashing guys. Watching it was really great the first couple of times, enjoyable for a few times after that, and now it's quickly creeping towards intolerable.
I never thought a really huge guy wearing an absurd hat and matching tracksuit pretending to be a dinosaur would get old for me, but apparently it has, and I can't imagine I'm the only one who feels that way. It's just hard for me to get excited to see the same kind of match I've seen over and over and over and over and over and over again.
By the way, watch Otunga win this match clean in four minutes just because I'm assuming he's going to get (more or less) squashed here.
Divas Champion Layla vs. Beth Phoenix (Divas Championship) - Same old story here; a Divas match with very little build-up that will receive very little time that basically no one has any kind of emotional investment in.
Because of this, I'm not sure there's anything unique or interesting I can write about this match. At this point, I question the reason for the existence of the Divas division. I mean, yeah, I'm sure their photos generate a lot of interest, and there's the occasional Maxim cover, but is that really worth paying so many women so much money to not do very much? Apparently it is.
For what it's worth, I'm not questioning the capability of any of the Divas to have compelling matches and angles if they were given the time to do so. But that's the thing; they aren't given any time, so what's the point in keeping the Divas division going if they aren't going to be used?
I don't know, maybe I'm just being ignorant about this and the Divas generate a ton of revenue and the ratings fly to like 9.0 on Raw whenever Kelly Kelly has a tag match. Clearly, they wouldn't be around if they weren't worth keeping around, but seriously, if they're going to be employed, can they at least get more than five minutes a week on Raw and Smackdown once in a while?
Anyway, because I couldn't really think of anything to write about the actual match, I offer what I would like to happen during the match: Beth dominating for the entire match before Layla wins with a roll-up, followed by Beth building a nest in the middle of the ring, spontaneously igniting, and then re-emerging from the ashes at nine feet tall, five hundred pounds, and sculpted out of granite. And then I want her to beat Sheamus for the World Heavyweight Championship.
Speaking of Sheamus...
World Heavyweight Champion Sheamus vs. Dolph Ziggler (World Heavyweight Championship Match)- Actually, I think this match will be pretty good. The problem here is that it was thrown together last minute, thanks to an injury sustained by everyone's favorite scarf-wearing Mexican aristocrat (or at least my favorite scarf-wearing Mexican aristocrat) Alberto Del Rio.
Ziggler has already lost a couple of matches to Sheamus between Over the Limit and No Way Out, which, from a storyline standpoint, makes it very hard to believe he has a chance to win here.
From a reality standpoint, if the WWE had any plans for Ziggler to win the WHC anytime soon, he probably would have been in the original match instead of being a replacement.
I don't know, I feel bad for not being excited about this match because my main reason for not being excited about it was caused by circumstances beyond anyone's control. Still, so much of a good wrestling match is built on suspense and surprise, on playing on the crowd's emotions.
It seems like it would be hard to manipulate the crowd too much when basically all of them know that there's a 99.9% chance Sheamus is winning.
Like I said about the Brodus/Otunga match though, watch Ziggler get the win here just to make me look really stupid for saying he has no chance of winning. Although now that I think about it, I'd be okay with looking really dumb and presumptuous if it led to an extended Ziggler WHC reign.
Especially if it leads to him having a series of squash matches where he does entire body weight circuits in the ring instead of just breaking out the occasional headstand and sit-ups.
What to Be Excited About
Intercontinental Champion Christian vs. Cody Rhodes (Intercontinental Championship Match)- There's a lot to look forward here, isn't there? Both Christian and Cody are (at least) very good in the ring, at least in my opinion.
The basis for their feud is logical; Cody has a right to be pissed that Christian decided to challenge him for the title at the last possible moment, and you can at least understand why he would be upset that an older guy like Christian who theoretically won't be around much longer is standing in the way of his future.
Okay, well maybe two things isn't "a lot," but isn't that all you can ask for in a wrestling match? Two good wrestlers fighting each other for reasons that make sense? Personally, that's all I ask for, and we're getting that here, so yay!
I just hope they're taking Cody somewhere good with this, because there really isn't much of a reason to give Christian an extended run with the IC Title at Cody's expense.
Christian seriously has been around forever at this point (I mean, besides the part where he hung out in TNA for like four years), and I don't think giving him the title helps his credibility nearly as much as it helps Cody.
That said, if you want Christian to keep the title because Cody is getting moved into the main event/world title picture, that's fine by me. I'm not sure my life will be complete until I hear "Smoke and Mirrors" blasting before a WWE Championship Match at WrestleMania.
WWE Champion CM Punk vs. Daniel Bryan vs. Kane vs. AJ (WWE Championship Match)- Okay, so AJ isn't actually in this match, because that would just be too awesome. She could totally win by count-out if Punk and Bryan start brawling on the outside and she just starts skipping circles around Kane again until he gets bored and leaves.
As nice as it would have been to see Punk vs. Bryan in another singles match, I'm looking forward to seeing how Kane adds to this match. Clearly, he's a different type of wrestler than both of the others, and that contrast adds an interesting element.
Of course, you could also argue that putting Kane in the middle of a feud between two guys who are really, really, really good wrestlers might muddle things a bit, but I trust Punk and Bryan to make it work, and for the match to be dynamite.
And, of course, there's the whole AJ dynamic; at this point, I'd be shocked if she didn't play a huge role in the finish. Normally it'd be difficult for me to endorse any kind of interference in a WWE Championship match, but I'm making an exception here because AJ is legitimately one of the most interesting parts of this match.
After her actions over the past few weeks, she could believably interfere on behalf on any of the wrestlers involved, which is a credit to her acting and to the creative team. I have no confidence that I can pick who she sides with, or if she even sides with anyone at all, and the kind of suspense that unpredictability creates can only help the match.
Also, I think Kane could literally eat AJ alive if he wanted to. Just swallow her like a snake swallows a rat. Seriously, he's basically twice her size, I bet he could do it.
John Cena vs. Big Show (Steel Cage Match) - If nothing else, this match is worth looking forward to because the very future of the WWE is at stake. Because I'm not sure I'm ready to live in a world where John Laurinaitis isn't in charge of Raw and Smackdown, and I'd guess that a lot of other WWE fans feel the same way.
Ugh, fine, I admit that's pushing things a little. Still, I don't want to see Big Johnny get removed from my television screen, so, um, let's go Show!
Like the Cody/Christian match, there are lots of logical reasons for Cena to be fighting Show, and for Show to be angry with Cena, especially considering that Cena's loyalty to wrestling was one of his big talking points while he was feuding with the Rock.
Seriously, if Cena's so loyal to the business and to everyone backstage, shouldn't he have been the first one to step to Show's defense when Laurinaitis was on the verge of firing him a few weeks ago?
Also, while this may not be a technical masterpiece, cage matches are always fun, right? Well, maybe they're not fun to everyone, but they are to me, so that's another aspect of this match to be psyched about.
My one big complaint with this match is the McMahon/Laurinaitis aspect. The Cena/Show feud is plenty compelling on its own, and the stuff with Vince and Big Johnny, in addition to being added to the feud pretty late, is unnecessary at best and takes away from Cena vs. Show at worst.
If you want to have the "Uh-oh, Vince doesn't like how Laurinaitis is doing his job" dynamic, that's fine, but don't muddy up one of your better feuds with it.
Of course, that's only one big negative about the match; there's still plenty of reason to believe it will be an exciting match with a compelling story.
And if it isn't? No big deal. Money in the Bank is only a month away.