It’s time to step into WWE territory once again as we welcome back an old friend of sorts with the return of No Way Out, shown live in the early hours of this past Monday morning on Sky Box Office here in Britain.
The show began with the Smackdown main event as Dolph Ziggler, accompanied by Vickie Guerrero, challenged Sheamus for the World title.
I really enjoyed this one. The beginning had a familiar ring to it when Vickie kissed her man before the match began, with Sheamus just missing with the brogue kick as Ziggler finally turned his attention to the matter at hand.
From there these two put on some great sequences with the slow pace of the mat wrestling before they went up a gear as Ziggler took his man out with the zig zag, only for Sheamus to kick out after that particular finisher.
Move of the match came when Ziggler went to counter Sheamus’ top rope attack and took him down with a face buster.
It still wasn’t enough to put the Irishman away though as he took Ziggler out with his white noise before sealing the deal with the brogue kick for the title retaining pin.
Then came the match I really wasn’t looking forward to as United States Champion Santino Marella faced Ricardo Rodriguez in a non-title tuxedo match.
What we had here were two guys tearing each other’s clothes off, and I have to agree with what the crowd were chanting.
Marella came out on top in this one, connecting with a foot-based cobra before ripping off Rodriguez’s trousers.
The second title match of the evening saw Cody Rhodes challenging Christian for the Intercontinental title.
After the debacle of the last match this was just what the doctor ordered, a great match between two evenly matched opponents who took up where they’d left off last month.
It was a great back and forth battle with plenty of great moves. The performances of those involved wasn’t too bad either.
The action was built up nicely as they brought out all their big moves, kicking out of the various finishers including when Rhodes survived the killswitch.
The champion eventually managed to get the pin. Having failed with the top rope frog splash he finally put Rhodes away with a spear.
Tag team action followed as Primo and Epico, accompanied by A.W. and Rosa Mendes, Tyson Kidd and Justin Gabriel, Darren Young and Titus O’Neil, and Jimmy and Jey Uso fought it out for a shot at the Tag Team titles.
I quite enjoyed this one. All eight men acquitted themselves quite well, although there were no real stand-out performances here.
This time around it was Gabriel’s turn to play the part of the punching bag as the various teams worked him over before he got the tag to Kidd, who, moments later, gave us the highlight reel moment when he took Primo down with a top rope hurricanrana onto the other combatants at ringside.
But perhaps the biggest surprise came after A.W. threw his man Primo back into the ring where Young took him down with a gut buster for the winning pin.
Afterwards AW came into the ring to celebrate with O’Neil and Young. Primo and Epico were none too happy with their manager, clobbering him before O’Neil and Young came to his aid to send his now-former charges packing.
After Triple H sent out a challenge to Brock Lesnar for Summerslam it was back to title action as Beth Phoenix challenged Layla for the Divas title.
For the second month in a row these two entertained me. Okay, it was more or less the same kind of match they had last time around but this time a few comedic moments were added into the mix.
The action was crisp and well executed as both girls put in good performances as Layla retained the title after a neck breaker.
The battle of the Mexicans followed as Hunico, accompanied by Camacho, went up against Sin Cara.
Now this one I really enjoyed. Hunico did a good job of controlling the action early on, grounding the masked man and taking him away from his high-flying style.
But he couldn’t keep his old rival down for long. Cara soon made his comeback, breaking out the high spots before taking his man down with a spinning head scissors for the winning pin.
The Raw main event saw Kane and Daniel Bryan challenging C.M. Punk for the WWE title.
When I heard that Kane had been added to mix I had some doubts about how good this match could be. Those doubts proved to be unfounded.
All three men put in great performances throughout. Both Punk and Bryan were more than able to handle the Big Red Machine, especially early on when they doubled up on the masked man.
From there we saw some nice two and three-way moves. The exchanges between Punk and Bryan were a joy to behold, while Kane played the monstrous part to perfection.
All of the big moves were there as we saw plenty of near falls from all three, and as the match neared it’s conclusion A.J., who had wished everyone luck earlier in the evening, sneaked down to ringside and jumped onto the ring apron.
Kane didn’t see her as he went into the ropes and knocked her off the apron. This moment of distraction gave Punk the chance he needed as he hoisted Kane onto his shoulders and took him down with the GTS for the pin.
Afterwards, as A.J. lay at ringside Kane went to check on her, scooping her up into his arms and carrying her backstage.
The penultimate match saw Ryback taking on a couple of jobbers. I think you can guess how this one played out.
The main event saw the Big Show taking on John Cena in a steel cage match.
As seems to be the custom with these main events there were a couple of stipulations. If Show lost then GM John Laurinaitis would get fired. If Cena lost then he’d get fired.
As Laurinaitis and Vince McMahon watched from their ringside seats Show and Cena put on an entertaining encounter, with the drama quotient turned up a couple of notches towards the end.
Show dominated large portions of this match with his size and power, tossing Cena around the ring as if he were a stuffed toy. Cena managed to get a few shots in as well as making a few attempts to leave the cage.
While this action was okay things certainly got better later on. We saw Show delivering his knockout blow to the referee as well as an altercation between Laurinaitis and McMahon, with the GM pushing the Chairman, who was holding the steel cage door open, into Cena as he attempted to leave, the door smashing into his head.
With the officials down and out Brodus Clay appeared with a steel chair in hand, blocking Show’s way as he went to leave the cage. Within minutes other previous knockout victims tried to stop the big man as he tried to go over the top, with only Kofi Kingston having any sort of success as he knocked Show off the top rope with a series of kicks.
By this time Cena had recovered enough to climb the cage, but when Laurinaitis slammed his crutch against the cage Clay stopped him as well, holding him back while Cena climbed over the top and hit the floor just seconds before Show managed to crawl out of the door.
Cena then lifted Laurinaitis onto his shoulders, and after McMahon uttered those immortal words Cena put him through the Spanish announcers’ table.
In conclusion - apart from the awful tuxedo match and Ryback’s squash job No Way Out was a very good show.
The rest of the matches delivered to varying degrees with some fine performances, although this time around I won’t have any trouble deciding on my match of the night. That particular honour goes to the Punk/Bryan/Kane encounter.
As for the two poor matches I’ve boring chants the tuxedo match garnered were well justified. The Ryback match, once again, just didn’t seem to belong on pay-per-view. Squash matches against jobbers should remain the domain of television, and unless the big man is going to go up against some of WWE’s lesser names then he shouldn’t be on the main shows.
Now that I’ve vented my spleen let’s end this thing by giving the returning No Way Out the thumbs up.