Tuesday, February 13, 2001

The World's Greatest WWF No Way Out 2001 Preview

It's been quite a while since the last "World's Greatest" pairing, and I'm ready to tear into this. The No Way Out event (regardless of what name it may have been going by in the past) has traditionally been a really, really hot PPV. Everyone's looking forward to the upcoming Wrestlemania roster, and workers are busting their asses to prove they deserve a spot on the next month's card. The magic is starting to fill the air, and though they're holding back more than a little for next month's big blowoff, this year's NWO looks to be a solid hit regardless.

Of course, I'd be lying if I said the card looked promising without that big Austin / Triple H match near the main event. The Big Show hasn't interested me in the hardcore division, and I'm waiting anxiously for that angle to finish up. Jericho and Benoit have met a bit too often over this past year, as have the Dudleys and Edge and Christian, dulling the impact of those otherwise-worthwhile matches earlier in the night. Kurt Angle and the Rock seem poised to deliver a memorable one, but the attention of this night isn't on the Federation Gold.. all eyes are set fixedly on the HHH / Austin bout. The possibilities are really endless, but I'll get further into that in the match description. Honestly, the WWF has given us better lineups.. however, the undeniable heat emanating from Austin and Helmsley, combined with that extra boost heading into Wrestlemania make this one worth watching all the same.

Jerry Lawler vs. Steven Richards

I've a love-hate relationship with this match. On one hand, I love the fact that Steven Richards is finally getting a chance to show what he's got in a big WWF gimmick. On the other, he's doing so in a feud against Jerry Lawler, a man I'd rather see behind the announce table than in the ring actively participating. The first time The King stood up to defend his colleague's honor against Tazz many moons ago, I thought it was a nice little segment. Little did I realize it would lead to a feud with the Human Suplex
Machine, let alone a near full-time return to the ring. But you take what you get, I suppose, and what we've got this Sunday is Lawler facing off against his natural foil, the leader of Right to Censor. If kept short and concise, I won't have a problem with this. The storyline makes sense, and the audience is interested. A swerve is almost blatant here, with the Kat making a turn on her sweetheart and joining the RTC on her own.
Winner: Steven Richards

Raven vs. The Big Show
Hardcore Title Match

As I mentioned in the introduction, I think the Big Show is a near-worthless addition to the WWF Hardcore division. With Raven slowly building a new character in the WWF through broken windows and bent steel, nothing good can come of his feud with the Big Show, save a highly unlikely clean victory over the seven footer. Raven's good, but he isn't good enough to make Paul Wight look decent, which is why this won't be pretty. The Show takes the victory here, perhaps revealing the identity of Raven's "mystery driver" along the way.
Winner: The Big Show

Stephanie McMahon vs. Trish Stratus

As most long time readers should know, I'm no fan of female wrestling. I enjoy a little T&A as much as the next guy, but there's a line between entertainment and overexposure. The way I see it, valets did better work outside the ring than inside. With that said, I can actually let this little match slide for a change. The buildup has been fun and believable (if a little over the top), and I seriously doubt Steph and Trish will carry the athletics beyond a five minute period. Though another swerve isn't entirely out of the question, I'd be surprised to see it happen here. This is a feud that should wrap up prior to Wrestlemania, and a screwjob or run-in would ensure that it goes on for another month at the least. Steph gets the nod from me, thanks more to her backup (HHH) than her expertise as a worker.
Winner: Stephanie McMahon

Chris Jericho vs. Chris Benoit vs. X-Pac vs. Eddy Guerrero
Intercontinental Title Match

With the inclusion of Benoit almost an afterthought, the bookers have managed to line up what should by all means be an absolutely explosive match. Though Jericho's been lagging for nearly his entire WWF run, Guerrero and Benoit haven't. X-Pac, when motivated, is among the best in the game, and this will be his first experience with Benoit or Guerrero under the hot lights of a PPV. Add to that his momentum, coming back from an extended absence, and he's got every reason to put on a show. What's surprised me the most about this feud hasn't been the action, though, it's been the ineffectiveness of the booking. With arguably the federation's top four workers all piling into one ring with the Intercontinental title on the line, you'd figure they'd make this one of the cornerstone feuds, upon which the entire buyrate is based. Instead, they've given X-Pac and Eddy almost identical motivations, Jericho has been set afloat with little direction and Benoit hasn't really been introduced to the mix.

Still, if you're looking for an exciting match between the ropes, you shouldn't have to look much further. These guys know what they're doing, and they love to prove it. Though the balance may be a ways off, as three heels are chasing the lone face champ, I'd imagine things would work themselves out once that opening bell tolls. For my money, X-Pac needs this reign the most and he's my choice for a victor here.
Winner: X-Pac

The Dudley Boyz vs. Edge & Christian vs. The Undertaker & Kane
Tables Match for the WWF Tag Titles

See last month's WWF Preview. Edge and Christian really can't do much more with the Dudleys (and vice versa), and though the match won't be something you'd like to sleep through, it's bound to be lacking some of the raw energy and enthusiasm that helped get these two sets of brothers to the top in the first place. The addition of the Undertaker and Kane to the mix actually serves as a hindrance here, with E&C playing the lightweight speedsters and the Dudleys filling out the role of the power-oriented champs.

Their act may be getting tired, but it's something that works. I fear the Taker and Kane will throw that all out the window, between their contagious no-selling and slower than syrup pacing. The Undertaker's really starting to show his age, and I don't think it'll ever be as obvious as when he's opposed by someone like Christian. I subscribe to John's idea.. the WWF is building toward a 'battle of the bros' between the dead men and the Samoans. The less talented team walks out of this one with the gold.
Winners: The Undertaker & Kane

Kurt Angle vs. The Rock
WWF Title Match

Because I don't think I could put it this well again (and because I'm incredibly lazy), I'm going to paraphrase from my recent post here. Face the facts; nobody expects Kurt Angle to retain this Sunday night, much less to arrive at Wrestlemania with the gold still fit snugly around his waist. As the Olympic hero himself mentioned on this past Monday's Raw, the plate seems to be set for an Austin / Rock main event at Wrestlemania and he doesn't have a thing to say about it. Now face another fact; the WWF thrives on swerving its fans, giving them something they never expected. Everything about Kurt Angle's initial run in the WWF has defied the odds. He grabbed the European title, much to everyone's surprise, within months of his debut. He carried both that belt and the Intercontinental gold at the same time, another great surprise. He took a King of the Ring tournament from right under the noses of heavily-favored Chris Benoit, Chris Jericho and Eddy Guerrero. Nobody, I mean NOBODY thought he had a chance in his title shot against the Rock several months ago. Even fewer figured he'd survive the Royal Rumble with his title reign uninterrupted.

That's why I expect Angle to shock the critics once again and march out of No Way Out with the gold firmly in hand. Not because Rocky isn't a deserving champion, not because the WWF loves to fool their fans, but because Angle's initial run with McMahon has broken all the rules. It would contradict his character to drop it in such a predictable spot. Maybe he'll job the gold on the way to Wrestlemania, maybe he'll lose it at the event itself. Hell, he might even become the second heel to ever successfully defend in a WrestleMania main event. The fact of the matter is I'd rather see Angle / Austin than Austin / Rocky. The Olympian retains.
Winner: Kurt Angle

Steve Austin vs. Triple H
2/3 Falls Match

And I thought they didn't make matches like this any more. I'll give it up to the WWF here; they've made me almost forget the near miss of Angle / HHH earlier in the year by pushing this as strongly as they have. Everything's been handled flawlessly by the two old veterans, from the little things they've done to get on each other's nerves to the intense, head on collisions that nearly voided their contract. I'm a firm believer that a good storyline can best a flat out brawl any day of the week, and this proves my point. Had the bookers handled this like any other feud (ending Raw after Raw with a Stunner from behind or a Pedigree on a chair), it wouldn't have been nearly as special. Everyone has put so much into this feud that it would really surprise me to see it blown off in one match. Honestly, it would only serve to disappoint me. They already pulled that once this year, twice might be a little much to handle.

With Stone Cold surprising just about everyone (well.. everyone but you John, as you'll no doubt remind us..heh..) by overcoming neck surgery and returning to a form he'd abandoned years ago, it's reminded me why he's one of the all time greats. Pairing up with HHH, the man who's pretty well owned the WWF in Austin's absence, I don't see how Austin can go wrong. Mark my words, this will be one of the all time greats.. worthy of every little bit of praise and promotion it gets. I'll take the Rattlesnake, but can't rule out a surprise Helmsley victory either.
Winner: Steve Austin

In Closing...

A surprisingly stale bottom of the card is countered immeasurably by a white hot set of mid card and main event matches. This would be worth the thirty bucks for the World Title match, Intercontinental brawl and two out of three falls warzone alone. If the rest is kept to a minimum and these three face-offs achieve half of what they promise, this PPV will be a resounding success
until next time, i remain

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