Seattle has not played host to a WWE Pay-Per-View since the much vaunted WrestleMania XIX, featuring an exciting title match between Kurt Angle and Brock Lesnar and an instant classic pitting a recently returned Shawn Michaels versus Chris Jericho. Not to mention a clash of Titans as The Rock defeated Stone Cold Steve Austin.
On Sunday, February 15, 2009, the Pacific Northwest was proud to be the location for No Way Out. I was blessed to attend the Pay-Per-View, sitting on the floor right next to the entrance ramp.
For the last few weeks, the internet wrestling community has produced a variety of predictions and previews. The consensus was the same across the board—predictability.
Perhaps out to prove that the WWE does not feel that any of its offerings are throw-away shows, the most successful enterprise in the wrestling business produced an impressive event.
The atmosphere in the live crowd was absolutely electric as the dark match saw a Women’s Championship match between newly crowned champion, Melina, and the dominant Beth Phoenix. Given roughly six minutes, the women put on a great performance.
Santino and Rosa Mendez did their dead-level best to distract Melina, but the real action was between the two wrestlers. Following a series of counters, Melina rolled up Beth for the three-count.
Shortly thereafter, Lillian Garcia graced the arena with her presence, singing the national anthem. If you haven’t heard the lovely Lillian sing, please try to find some of her vocal work online or purchase her album. She has as beautiful a voice as she is as a person.
The first surprise of the evening was the Smackdown Elimination Chamber for the WWE Championship as the opening match. In retrospect, this was a brilliant move by the WWE. What this match accomplished that no other match on the card could have was the creation of a hot live crowd.
My voice gave out on me a few times during this match. The Undertaker entered first and was a highlight throughout the match. He tried to pace in his confinement, pounding his fists against the pod, and shaking the heavy steel chains that bound him.
No matter what some might say about Triple H, he receives a rousing ovation whenever he enters an arena. The Key Arena at the Seattle Center was no different.
Jeff Hardy was the recipient of another loud pop, though it was not in the range of The Undertaker or even Triple H. His work in the match was excellent, from his elimination of Edge in the opening few minutes to playing the face in peril when trapped inside Satan’s Structure with Kozlov and the Big Show.
With exuberance, the crowd cheered the elimination of Kozlov by The Undertaker. It is deeply refreshing to see The Last Ride result in a pin and elimination.
That decision will further future ring psychology. The maneuver can be said to be responsible for a successful pin recently, as opposed to simply having been a past finishing move that makes an occasional appearance in the Deadman’s matches.
Though there was some disappointment in the live crowd for the elimination of Jeff Hardy by The Undertaker, the two remaining men turned in phenomenal performances. Hardy’s elimination was quickly forgotten as the veterans held a lesson in ring psychology and technical acumen.
Nearly the entire crowd joined in the dueling Undertaker-Triple H chants, but the crowd was fencing against itself as everyone cheered for both wrestlers.
Triple H soaked in the deafening cheers for his 13th title victory, exuberance and exultation that extended well beyond what was shown on the broadcast. The man is just plain over like gangbusters with the fans and, as of the conclusion of this first match, the plethora of potential matches for the new champion at WrestleMania have true main event potential.
The obvious would have been Edge versus Triple H, with the latter playing the face besieged by the Power Couple of Smackdown. Poetic, considering that Triple H was once one-half a power couple that wreaked havoc on many a beloved face wrestler.
Other possible matches for WrestleMania XXV included Triple H against Randy Orton, the Rumble winner and former student of The Game, and The Undertaker putting up his streak against the title.
While Orton did have a win at last year’s WrestleMania, how iconic would it be for Orton to raise the title in victory at the grandest stage of them all, having killed his personal Buddha?
I didn’t have much time for these thoughts, however, because the second outing was the No Holds Barred grudge match between Orton and Shane O-Mac. I must say, the son of the wrestling equivalent of Cronus fired up the crowd for the match when he made his signature entrance.
The action was good, very good, but it did seem to be lacking in the brutal, insane risks that we have become accustomed to in Shane McMahon. The right person went over, however. Shane might have been the face in the scenario, but Orton must continue to build momentum towards his main event match at WrestleMania.
I was somewhat surprised that there was little involvement by Stephanie McMahon. Currently, it seems that Stephanie may eventually reveal her ongoing support and possible vicious use of The Legacy to accomplish her goals.
Taking a much closer look, however, the subtle hints build anticipation and a slow-burn storyline generally turns out to be much more satisfying entertainment.
Unfortunately for the ECW Championship match, the crowd was not quite vocal and many used the time to take bathroom breaks, make beer purchases, or otherwise take care of business before the final two matches.
The mat-based wrestling was very good, however, and the champion continued his strong title reign. If Swagger can find a way to rid himself of the lisp, or be assigned a manager, his future potential could be limitless.
“We Want Christian” chants were audible at the beginning of the match, similar to the “We Want Matt” chants during the Smackdown Elimination Chamber.
During the video package for the next “All or Nothing” match between The Heartbreak Kid and the self-proclaimed Wrestling God, a hearty “HBK” chant resounded through the arena.
The crowd was on fire and burning hotter as the match progressed. Every time Michaels had control of the bout, the fans wildly cheered and chanted for him. The addition of Rebecca, his beautiful wife, only enhanced the exceptional story-telling of the contest.
Regrettably, the technical aspect of the match was not nearly as electrifying as the story being told in the ring. It is no secret that Shawn Michaels is my favorite wrestler, but even Shawn could not eke out a great match from the woefully untalented JBL.
The acting ability of Michaels remains unparalleled, and the fans were treated to a stellar performance from the beloved Showstopper. Thankfully, Michaels can now continue on to build a more suitable match for the 25th WrestleMania.
However, the crowd poured its admiration and love for Michaels into vocal exuberance at the outcome of the match and the sweet displays between the now freed Heartbreak Kid and his lovely wife, who has a sick open-handed slap.
The final match of the evening was the RAW Elimination Chamber. One by one, John Cena, Kane, and Mike Knox were secured in their pods. In case you’ve never seen Kane’s entrance live, the fire from his pyrotechnics is, indeed, quite warm and illuminates an ominous ambience.
Cue the next unpredictable moment of the evening, as Edge sadistically attacked Kofi Kingston. Save for Rey Mysterio, the other face in the match was already locked inside his pod and could not provide an assist.
The Ultimate Opportunist claimed a pod for himself, though Mysterio tried to exact an immediate revenge as he came down to the ring without his entrance music.
What struck me about this development was that the crowd vacillated between cheering and booing Edge. On paper, the RAW Elimination Chamber looked to be an easy win for Cena, and lacking in the star power to create a truly memorable match.
Nonetheless, the addition of Edge infused an excitement into the match. It started off engaging, with Jericho and Mysterio trading heat and turning out an inspired display of technical and high-flying styles.
Personally, I was sad to see Kane as the first elimination, but I did approve of the monstrous build for Mike Knox. He looked like a cruel, dominant threat. Jericho’s elimination of him did not undermine the work done during his time to shine in the match.
I am sure that the moment that Edge inserted himself into the match, it was assumed that he would emerge the victor. Yet, the crowd continued to be quite vociferous and Cena received a great ovation as he was released into the Chamber.
Edge gave a great facial expression of absolute shock when he pinned Cena for an elimination of the reigning title holder.
The final three wrestlers in the RAW Elimination Chamber were not planning to just allow the first Chamber to claim the Most Exciting Final Moments Award. Edge, Mysterio, and Jericho crafted an exhilarating final six minutes.
No man was damaged and the fans won the night as Edge scored his 8th World title reign. After the broadcast went off the air, there was a mixture of boos and cheering for the Rated R Superstar.
WrestleMania XXV predictions have been running rampant since the Royal Rumble. With the two title changes that occurred at No Way Out, it has become suddenly improbable that Triple H and Edge will square off at the Granddaddy of Them All.
Much of the recent complaints have centered on the predictability and stale nature of the programming. This was a night of shocking title changes and a hurricane of unpredictability headed into the 25th WrestleMania.
Some, such as JLB, have said that the World Titles and the WWE Championship specifically, has been devalued by the constant changing hands. While I would prefer longer, more established title reigns, in the traditional fashion, I feel that the fans are partially to blame for the seemingly frantic attempts to stir the pot.
That, however, is a discussion for another article.
I will conclude with the post-broadcast happenings at the Key Arena. It appeared that Rey Mysterio was suffering ill effects from his multiple full-body crashes into the pods. He was assisted to the back by two referees. The crowd gave him a respectful ovation.
Lillian Garcia, as always, took time to be photographed and to sign autographs.
(Marking Out Author’s Note: The following might be a bit fuzzy due to the awesome nature of the experience. Cut me some slack!)
While several people begged Lillian for autographs and to take pictures with her, I got a great picture of her waving to the fans right at the top of the ramp. I called out to her to have a great night and a safe flight.
She replied with a bright smile and by walking closer to the railing where I stood. She told me that I was a sweetheart and she was touched by my well wishes, as most people just want something from her. We chatted for a few minutes about her trip to the Northwest, the weather, and her amazing vocals.
The exchange ended when she again lauded me for my kind nature and wished me a wonderful night and success in my future goals.
All told, it was an exceptional night of wrestling and pageantry. I will have more to say in future articles about my feelings on the direction that the WWE can tread on the journey to WrestleMania.
For tonight, there is No Way Out of the exhilaration I feel about the event produced by the WWE.