WWE's No Way Out pay-per-view returned after a three-year hiatus in what turned out to be a predictable night of matches. No titles changed hands, no superstar heels were victorious and all major storylines received minimal push except for the firing of John Laurinaitis.
Pre-Show Singles Match: Brodus Clay over David Otunga
Brodus Clay kept his undefeated streak alive by defeating general manager Laurinaitis' coffee mug-holding lackey David Otunga, as the WWE continues to push its pre-show matches. While it's nice to see the company trying to provide more free matches, I don't know of any fans who would want to watch this bout.
Otunga hasn't received a real push since the end of his Nexus days and Clay is a joke, plain and simple. An effort was made to create heat for this match on Smackdown!, so it appears WWE is starting to take these pre-show matches more seriously.
Again, not an overly entertaining match, but it could signal more entertaining pre-show matches in the future.
World Heavyweight Championship Match: Sheamus over Dolph Ziggler
Sheamus started out Smackdown's biggest match with an attempted Brogue Kick, showing shades of this past WrestleMania when the champion defeated Daniel Bryan in 18 seconds. The big Irishman controlled the early part of the match, beating Dolph Ziggler up outside the ring and using several powerful moves within the squared circle.
The two would proceed to go back and forth with high impact moves, focusing much of the action around the ropes area. Sheamus used his battering-ram like shoulder tackle from the ropes, and Ziggler attempted a few high-risk maneuvers of his own.
Ziggler took control using his amateur wrestling background, notably forcing a series of lengthy headlocks on Sheamus to slow the pace of the match down after several minutes of quick moves.
Chants of "Let's Go Ziggler!" echoed throughout the IZOD Center toward the latter part of the match, with the golden-locked crowd favorite pulling off an impressive facebuster off the top rope. What ultimately proved to be the challenger's undoing, though, was going for the sleeper hold for the third time, which led to the deadly White Noise and Brogue Kick combination from the Great White.
Tuxedo Match: Santino Marella over Ricardo Rodriguez
From an impressive title bout to a ridiculous, unnecessary match between two of the company's bigger goofs. In case any readers aren't familiar with the match, the winner is whoever disrobes their opponent entirely out of their tuxedo.
Marella and Rodriguez started the affair by polling the fans on who had the better outfit, which led to a series of loud chants for the Italian's powder blue suit over the usual clothes from Ricardo.
A matador-like routine ensued after Marella took off his opponent's vest, leading to a few drop toeholds and a "Boring!" chant by the New Jersey fans. Santino then took out the cobra he was wearing as a sock and knocked out Rodriguez before removing the pants of the Mexican announcer to win what I hesitate to call a match.
Intercontinental Championship: Christian over Cody Rhodes
After the fans in attendance returned from a bathroom break, they were greeted with an Intercontinental title match between future Hall of Famer Christian and Cody Rhodes.
Despite Christian winning the championship from Rhodes back at the Over the Limit pay-per-view, the son of Dusty Rhodes waited until now to invoke his rematch clause against the new champ.
The bout started off with a series of Irish whips, punches and slaps before the current champion took the battle outside the ring. This decision would lead to Rhodes taking control, however, as he used the ring post to work on Christian's arm.
One of the highlights of the bout turned out to be Christian's tornado DDT after jumping off the steel steps on the outside, leading to a near-count out for the challenger. With control of the match in hand, the Canadian-born champion connected with a cross-body followed by a Frankensteiner a few moments later.
Rhodes would fight through the offensive assault by his opponent and connect with an Alabama Slam before Christian recovered and nailed the Killswitch. Not to be outdone, Rhodes countered an Eddie Guerrero-like frog splash before ultimately falling victim to Christian's spear. With the aid of a finisher made famous by his old tag-team partner, the champion retained his gold.
Tag-Team Fatal Four-Way No. 1 Contender's Match: Darren Young and Titus O'Neill over Tyson Kidd and Justin Gabriel, Primo and Epico and The Usos
In a respectable attempt to continue resurrecting the tag-team division, four of the youngest teams in the company took to the ring.
Darren Young would be manhandled by the Usos at the start of the bout with a series of uppercuts and Stinger splashes before Epico tagged himself into the match.
The Usos would continue to take on all-comers with former Nexus man Justin Gabriel taking on the tandem. Titus O'Neill found himself back in the match after tagging out one of the Usos before quickly tagging in Young.
The former NXT superstars would exchange a series of moves before the heel kick from Gabriel led to a tag to Epico soon after.
Gabriel would continue to fade against the former tag-team champions until finally creating some space and tag in his partner Tyson Kidd.
In Kidd's first pay-per-view match in some time, he would lead off with a series of high-flying maneuvers before suffering the backstabber at the hands of Primo. Things would quickly break down thanks to the Usos, however, leading to Kidd flipping Primo out of the ring onto the mass of all team members on the outside.
Despite the Hart Dungeon graduate and Primo providing the excitement, Young would eventually pin the former champ. O'Neill and Young became the new No. 1 contenders and AW's newest clients.
WWE Divas Championship: Layla over Beth Phoenix
While there haven't been a ton of great moments in the rivalry, Layla and Beth Phoenix are two of the best divas on the roster. The two competitors put on probably the best match you could ask for from the Divas division.
Layla mimicked and mocked her opponent after capturing Phoenix's tiara before dishing out a facebuster and low dropkick.
The former champion finally got the upper hand in the matchup after a bad spill to the outside for Layla, however, with Phoenix throwing her into the guardrail just prior to the two reentering the ring.
Just when it appeared the fans were in for another quick divas match, Layla would counter the Glam Slam followed by a timely cross-body off the second rope by the recently returned superstar.
Phoenix would come back with a few more moves before falling victim to Layla's neckbreaker finishing maneuver, thus retaining the Divas Title.
Singles Match: Sin Cara over Hunico
Stop me if you've seen that on the match card before. In what felt like the 100th meeting between these two superstars, Hunico began the match pummeling the Mexican sensation.
In a throwback to the past, the bicycle-loving wrestler used the Gory Special against his opponent before grounding Sin Cara with a series of headlocks and a quick powerbomb like maneuver.
In what was otherwise a forgettable bout, Sin Cara would emerge victorious with his finisher as the blue and yellow lights shined down on him.
Triple Threat for the WWE Championship: CM Punk over Kane and Daniel Bryan
After a very AJ-themed promo, what should have been the pay-per-view's main event got underway.
Kane would focus his attack on both the smaller superstars, but Punk and Bryan's temporary alliance proved a bit much for the Big Red Monster. The team-up would quickly dissolve after the two tried to steal a three-count over Kane.
After the living WWE legend got back into the match, Punk would take over with a cross-body from the top rope out of the ring and landing on both contenders.
Despite the early team-up with the champion, Bryan would be a non-factor through the early part of the match, with Kane and Punk battling back and forth. Perhaps the biggest highlight of that exchange was when the monster wrapped the straight-edge star around the ring post and worked on the ribs of Punk.
The former world heavyweight and WWE champion would have to turn his focus to Bryan after slowing down Punk, however, where the vegan superstar would take Kane out of the match for the time being.
AJ's current and former love interests would battle it out for a few minutes. That is, until the brother of the Undertaker would return to eat the boot of Bryan off a flying dropkick that hit both the monster and Punk.
The two former independent circuit phenoms would focus on one-another once again as Kane and Punk would team up to deliver a flying clothesline before taking the big man out of the ring once again.
The monster wouldn't stay out of the fray for long, however, delivering a big boot to Bryan before working on Punk in multiple corners of the ring.
The vegan superstar would lock in the Yes Lock for a brief period of time on Punk, synching it in tight before the champion was able to counter and deliver the GTS to Bryan.
Kane would enter the ring once more afterwards before receiving a Randy Savage-like elbow from the top from Punk. Kane would recover and land a chokeslam on his opponent, but the tatted-up champ would kick out at the count of two.
AJ would eventually make her presence known, however, with Kane becoming distracted after bouncing her inadvertently off the apron. Punk would capitalize with a GTS to the big man and retain the title.
Two on One Handicap Match: Ryback over Dan Delaney and Rob Grimes
The "Goldberg" chants reigned supreme as WWE fed the fans yet another Ryback jobber match. Not sure why they're so determined to hype the man formerly called Skip Sheffield.
The bout was more of the same. Just Ryback beating up on two 100-something pound dudes before "finishing it."
Main Event Steel Cage Match: John Cena Big Show
After yawning through the Ryback match, it was time for the main event of John Cena against Big Show in a battle with Laurinaitis' job hanging in the balance.
In predictable fashion, Show dominated the beginning of the match. The world's largest athlete would step on the stomach of Cena after throwing him around the sides of the cage.
The jean-short attired superstar would make the first attempt at escaping the cage after creating space, only to be dragged by said shorts back into the ring.
The near-500-pound superstar would continue to toy with Cena as chants against the former WWE champion were heard throughout the arena. After what felt like forever of Big Show throwing Cena around, the Massachusetts-born star finally mounted some offense.
Unfortunately for the former star of The Marine, Show would regain control, landing a Vader Bomb on the former Springfield College football player. The two would create separation from one another, leading to Cena having to pull the man formerly known as The Giant back into the squared-circle by one leg.
The former Chain Gang leader would attempt to leave himself afterwards, only to be thwarted by his ginormous opponent. Laurinaitis and Vince McMahon would get involved, leading to the owner of the WWE inadvertently slamming the cell door on Cena.
The arm-band wearing former champion would suffer both a chokeslam and WMD from Show, but the big man would also knock out the referee. Surprisingly, Brodus Clay would run and prevent Show from leaving through the cell door and from over the top as Alex Riley, Kofi Kingston, Zack Ryder and Marella ran down to join.
The rest would fall, but Kingston would climb to the top of the cage and kick Big Show back into the ring. Cena would finally come to after his beating, though, and escape over the top of the cage to defeat the Big Show, thus ending Laurinaitis' reign as general manager of both WWE shows.
Tweets of the Night
Longtime WWE commentator Jim Ross weighed in on his thoughts about Johny Ace's chosen PPV attire:
Big Johnny's suit is from the Reverend Jimmy Swaggart collection for those keeping score at home. Ace looks like a lean, American flag.— Jim Ross (@JRsBBQ) June 18, 2012
Chikara wrestler Vin Gerard took to his Twitter account to crack a joke at WWE's use of Ryback:
Last but not least, Twitter user NOT CM Punk did his/her best to sound like the outspoken WWE Champion, voicing their opinion on the last few pay-per-view main events:
Triple H Returns to Challenge Brock Lesnar
Triple H returned to the ring to talk Paul Heyman and Brock Lesnar, marking the first time the fans have heard his name in some weeks. Hunter came out and basically recapped the events that led to his "arm injury," and challenged the former WWE and UFC champion to a match at SummerSlam.
The Game claimed both men are fighters before saying "And Brock, I want to fight you...let's do this...let's fight."
AJ Has a Chat and Smooch With Bryan, Punk and Kane
While I'm not quite sure the reason for AJ's push or involvement in the WWE title, she did have interesting backstage moments with each contender for CM Punk's title.
In just an hour-and-a-half, she told Daniel Bryan, Punk and Kane good luck before kissing each competitor. While she merely gave a peck to the former World Champion and current WWE champion, AJ actually made out with Kane just before Hunico rode to the ring in his lowrider bicycle.
After a somewhat uneventful pay-per-view, it's likely that we've seen the end of the current reign of Laurinaitis as general manager, while Kingston and R-Truth have new contenders for the tag titles.
What was your favorite match of the night?
The tag-team match will likely be built up for the next pay-per-view, while Cena and Show will likely continue their feud over that same time span. The love triangle created by AJ will likely continue as well, as WWE seems to be enjoying that storyline.
All in all, not a whole lot will change due to this event, and the current storylines will likely continue, with perhaps the exception of Christian and Rhodes. The Intercontinental champion has defeated the former title-holder twice now and could be in line for a new opponent, perhaps someone like Sin Cara.