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WWF No Way Out 2002

by Scrooge McSuck


Presented LIVE on Pay-Per-View on February 17th, 2002 from the Bradley Center in Milwaukee, WI. Jim Ross and Jerry "The King" Lawler are calling the action, unless otherwise noted. We've got a sell-out crowd of 15,291 fans in attendance, and the PPV did an estimated 575,000 buys, down from the Royal Rumble of course, but way up for all the non-big four events, and their best number (other than the ‘02 Rumble) since Invasion in July 2001. In a match featured for Sunday Night Heat (and oddly unavailable on the interwebs), Diamond Dallas Page successfully defended the European Championship against the Boss Man.

We aren't wasting time reintroducing the New World Order to the wrestling world. Kevin Nash and Scott Hall are making their first TV appearance for the company since IYH: Good Friends, Better Enemies in 1996, and Hulk Hogan's first time since the 1993 King of the Ring. It almost feels like a complete waste to bring HULK HOGAN back to the WWF, and have him rocking the nWo gear and attempting to present him as a heel. Nash talks first, and the very first comment is having heat with the boys. YAY, I LOVE INSIDER TALK LIKE THAT. He doesn't understand getting dirty looks, all based on a reputation. He also plays into the "What" chants. Being called "company killing bastards" hurt his feelings. All they want is a fair chance! Nash's obvious insincerity is great, by the way. Hall talks next, and gets a big pop for the "Hey Yo". Hall says they aren't bad guys, they're a bunch of marks. They just want an opportunity to work with the great Superstars and maybe get some autographs. If they're lucky, maybe drink some beer with the boys (Nash is like "nah bro"). Hogan grabs the microphone and the crowd gives him the best reaction of the three. THESE THREE ARE PRESENTED AS COMPANY KILLING HEELS, BY THE WAY. They are like everyone else, just a little richer and more famous. They are here to give the WWF fans what they want, and all they want is a chance. There's one man who gave them that chance, and that was Vince McMahon. Hogan takes from the Nash playbook and panders too before wrapping up.

Tag Team Turmoil:

Winning team gets a Tag Team Title Match at WrestleMania. The match was thrown together in a backstage segment on Smackdown when the Dudley Boyz questioned how they haven't received a rematch for their titles while thrown-together teams like Test and Booker T are getting title matches, so Flair just threw everyone into this match for the hell of it. Scotty 2 Hotty and "The Hip-Hop Hippo" Albert start against Christian and Lance Storm. Christian is in the thick of his crybaby character period, so expect him to take a comical exit tonight. Storm grabs a side headlock and comes off the ropes with a shoulder block. Crisscross and Scotty surprises Storm with a roll-up for two. Albert drops Storm with a press slam and gives an interfering Christian the giant swing. Bicycle Kick to Storm but Christian makes the save. Storm takes the legs out from under Albert, but only gets a one-count out of it. Whip and Albert hits a double clothesline. Scotty runs wild for a bit before getting tossed. Albert misses the corner avalanche and gets dumped over the top rope with a double clothesline. Scotty back in, hitting Christian with a bulldog. Storm interrupts the Worm, allowing Christian to hit the Unprettier for three at 2:57.

The Hardy Boyz are next, making their first appearance since the Royal Rumble, with Lita by their side. They rush the ring and unload with right hands. Matt with the Side Effect, knocking Storm out of the ring. Christian gets to taste the canvas but Storm saves him from a flying leg drop. Storm puts the boots to Matt and drops a leg across the back of the head for a two-count. Jawbreaker and dropkick for another two-count. Matt catches Christian by surprise, dumping him with a Hot Shot. Jeff with the hot tag, running wild for a bit on both opponents. Storm whiffs a clothesline and gets taken down with a Russian leg sweep. Storm with the single-leg crab, but Matt saves. Storm accidentally hits Christian with a jumping heel kick. Twist of Fate and Swanton finishes Storm at 6:13 (I treat turmoil as one match bell-to-bell, not as a bunch of 2-minute matches). Christian throws a tantrum in response. The Dudley Boyz (with Stacy Keibler) are the next team in the gauntlet and we get another short slugfest. Bubba yanks the hair of Jeff to save D'Von from Poetry in Motion. Whip and D'Von with a powerslam for two. Bubba with a spine-buster into a modified spinning toe hold. Whip and D'Von with a spinning back elbow for two. Bubba plants Jeff with a slam, but Matt distracts him from executing a second-rope senton. Bubba fights out of a super-plex attempt and misses the senton on the second effort. Matt with a pair of clotheslines and a DDT. He hits the flying leg drop but Bubba saves. Combination leg sweep and side effect to Bubba. Stacy hops in to save Bubba from a Twist of Fate. Lita hits Stacy with a spear and unloads until Bubba breaks things up. Bubba Bomb to Matt. Lita with a flying hurricanrana on Bubba, followed by Jeff hitting a somersault plancha. Matt flips through a back suplex from D'Von and rolls him up for three at 10:54. The Dudleys don't take the loss well and give Jeff the 3-D at ringside.

Billy and Chuck are our penultimate entrants in the turmoil, and have the biggest advantage yet. Matt tries to hold the high ground, but that works for about 9-seconds. Billy misses a diving forearm into the corner and Matt hits Chuck with a diving clothesline. The Twist of Fate is blocked and Matt is finished with a combo Super-Kick and Famouser at 12:22. The APA are the last entrants, and we have a level playing field for the final two teams. Billy brings the fight to Bradshaw on the floor while Faarooq and Chuck square off in the ring. Whip to the corner, Chuck meets an elbow and Faarooq comes off the second rope with a shoulder block for two. Bradshaw unloads on Chuck in the corner as J.R. makes fun of his pigtails. Whip is reversed and Chuck with a clothesline, followed by a discus right hand. Bradshaw catches a body press with the fallaway slam and the APA bulldozes Chuck with a double shoulder block for two. Billy sneaks in and hits Faarooq with a neck breaker to regain control of the match. Bradshaw pitches a fit to distract BOTH referees. Faarooq plants Billy with a spine-buster from heck and Bradshaw gets the hot tag. He hits Chuck with a shoulder block and big boot. They go corner-to-corner with clotheslines until Chuck is dumped. Billy misses a charging nothing into the corner and the Clothesline from Hell finishes at 16:39. The APA is guaranteed a title match at WrestleMania! Possibly the coldest team in the entire match! Like a Battle Royal, Turmoil/Gauntlet style matches like this should be graded on their own scale. This wasn't bad, wasn't great, and had its moments. Best part was easily the section that involved the Hardys. **¾

The Undertaker and Ric Flair have a confrontation backstage that I'm sure won't lead to anything in the following weeks.

Rob Van Dam vs. Goldust:

Goldust made his return at the Royal Rumble, and for several weeks after, made grand promises of making an example of a beloved WWF Superstar as he returned to his former glory. That man turned out to be the poster boy of the PPV, RVD. Goldust's push coming into the show includes a DQ victory over Rikishi, so I've already written this off as little more than a time-filler one-and-done affair. Goldust attacks before the bell, sending RVD over the top rope with a clothesline… well, on the second try. After dropping RVD face-first onto the apron, he has a hard time feeding RVD back in the ring. RVD cuts Goldust off with a spinning heel kick and works him over in the corner. Snap mare and spinning leg drop, followed by a handspring moonsault for two. Whip to the ropes, Goldust hangs back to avoid a jumping whatever and powders out. He picks the legs and pulls RVD out. The plan backfires, as RVD reverses a whip, sending Goldust tumbling over the barricade. RVD lays Goldust halfway across and jumps off the apron with a spinning leg drop. Back inside, Goldust catches RVD with a knee to the face, knocking him to the floor. Goldust comes off the top with a flying elbow and unloads with rights. Whip and Goldust with a jumping hip attack for a one-count. He sends RVD from corner to corner and drives RVD's back into the post. JR and Lawler try to cover for the lack of heat with the old "the crowd didn't expect this" excuse. Slingshot into the ropes, with Goldust resting RVD across his knees for more punishment to the back. RVD fights out of a chin-lock but gets laid out with a clothesline. Whip and RVD counters a hip toss with a back-slide for two. Whip is reversed and RVD hits a spinning heel kick, followed by a monkey flip out of the corner. RVD comes off the top with a missile dropkick for two. Rolling Thunder for another two-count. Goldust with the drop down uppercut and RVD shrugs it off, hitting a senton. Five-Star Frog Splash misses and Goldust plants him with a DDT for a near-fall. RVD counters the Curtain Call and hits a standing heel kick for two. RVD avoids the running bulldog, hits the leg capture heel kick, and finishes with the Five Star Frog Splash at 11:04. Took a few minutes for them to find a rhythm, but by the end, this turned into a solid match. ***

Steve Austin is wandering the halls and comes across the nWo. They each recognize him with some sarcastic tone of his various nicknames. Scott Hall has a gift for Austin, a six-pack of beer. Austin says he isn't thirsty and tosses it aside. In less than an hour, we've got Scott Hall, a recovering alcoholic, talking about drinking beer after the show, then offering Austin a six-pack. This is the same man who was taking medication that would result in unpleasantness if he consumed alcohol, and you've got him talking about and handling stuff (real or fake)? DID THIS COMPANY NOT LEARN FROM THE JAKE ROBERTS NONSENSE IN 1996?!

WWF Tag Team Championship Match:
Tazz & Spike Dudley (c) vs. Booker T & Test:

Color me surprised that Spike and Tazz held onto the belts for as long as they have. Booker and Test have singles victories over both men in recent weeks, though Spike does have a win over Booker in one of those "slip on a banana peel" finishes. Test and Booker jump the bell for the early advantage. Test puts the boots to Tazz in the corner while Spike struggles getting to his corner. Whip across the ring, Tazz gets the elbow up and lays Test out with a clothesline. Spike comes off the top with a missile dropkick. Tazz helps Spike pull off a sunset flip but Booker has the referee distracted. Test regains control and holds Spike up for Booker to hit with a jumping heel kick. Whip to the ropes and Booker with a clothesline. Test with the illegal switch, choking Spike across the rope. Whip to the corner and Test follows in with a clothesline. Spike avoids an elbow drop and throws a series of rights. Spike uses his head as a battering ram, but the Dudley Dog is countered with Test dropping him on the top rope. There's zero heat to this match and it's making it a chore to sit through. Booker with the Scissors Kick and Spinarooni. Tazz makes the save again and gets the business from the referee. Booker wastes time jawing at Tazz and gets hit with a Tornado DDT. Tazz with the lack-of-reaction hot tag and runs wild with clotheslines. Northern Lights Suplex gets two. Tazz fights off a double-team but can't get the Tazzmission locked. Spike hits the Dudley Dog but Tazz can't cover in a reasonable time. Test tries stacking him up in the corner but the referee catches him with feet on the ropes. Test gets into a shoving match with Jack Doan, gets caught in the Tazzmission and taps immediately at 7:17. Tazz and Spike's reign lives to see another day! This was all over the place and wouldn't be a quality match for Heat, let alone PPV. *

Jonathan Coachman is backstage with The Rock. He wants to know how the Rock's physical condition is after taking a Tombstone Piledriver on top of a limo. Rock has been at home for 10 days thinking about whooping Undertaker's candy a$$ all over Milwaukee. Tonight, the Undertaker is exactly what he says he is, "dead man walking."

WWF Intercontinental Championship; Brass Knuckles on a Pole Match:
William Regal (c) vs. Edge:

Somewhere, Vince Russo is probably in need of a change of boxer shorts. These two have feuded for 2-months and everything is summed up in one sentence: Regal cheats with brass knuckles, and they've taken turns attacking each other from behind. EPIC STORYTELLING. The referee checks Regal and for the third match in a row, someone gets the jump before the bell, with Edge taking Regal on a trip around ringside. Edge with a clothesline and suplex and wastes little time attempting to retrieve the knuckles. Regal cuts him off ("you can't turn your back on a southpaw") and has his own failed attempt going for the knuckles. They take the action to the floor, with Regal getting dumped into the crowd. Edge busts out a missile dropkick for a near-fall. They go through a series of counters until Regal leaves Edge out to dry with interesting technique. Regal busts out the abdominal stretch and uses the ropes for leverage. Edge escapes and dumps Regal over the top rope. Edge climbs for the pole but Regal shoves him to the arena floor. Instead of going for the knuckles, Regal plants Edge with a double underhook powerbomb. Back inside, the Regal Stretch is applied as we see Edge has a busted mouth. Edge fights for the ropes, forcing a break. Regal with another powerbomb for a near-fall. Regal climbs and gets straddled on the rope for his effort. We get an ugly botch on the apron where Regal set up for a Powerbomb and nearly dumped Edge on his head, and they ended up selling it like a head-scissors counter. Regal wins a battle of forearm strikes and gets the knuckles. Before he can use them, Edge takes him off the top rope with a back suplex. Regal kicks the knuckles out of Edge's reach. Edge ducks a left hand and pulls Regal back into a pinning combination for two. Edge hits the Spear, and instead of making a cover, he grabs the knuckles from ringside. Regal cuts him off with a body blow and uses the Power of the Punch with a second set of Knuckles to retain at 10:28. It's almost becoming comical with that finish. I hate the "Blank on a Pole" concept and this was no exception. Too much dead time going for the pole and these two just don't click together. *½

Lillian Garcia is backstage with Kurt Angle. She assumes his confidence is because of Stephanie McMahon-Helmsley being the special referee. Angle downplays it, saying he's better than Triple H in every way, and shows off his gold medal. He got them because he was the best, not from a county fair or from a box of Lucky Charms.

The Rock vs. The Undertaker:

One of those classic "throw something together" feuds where Undertaker and Rock had a brief altercation, and it snowballs into them having a match on PPV. Along the way, Rock humiliated Taker by directly costing him a match against Maven (and thus getting the albatross of the Hardcore Title from around Taker's neck), and as mentioned earlier, Taker's revenge was spiking Rock on a limo with a Tombstone. The Rock sprints to the ring to engage in a slugfest. Rock ducks under a clothesline and bounces off the ropes with a diving clothesline of his own. Taker cuts Rock off with a big boot and covers for two as we get another reference to that awful "Booger Red" nickname from J.R. Rock fires off more right hands, but Taker remains in control. Whip to the ropes and Rock counters with a swinging neck breaker. The whole execution from both was butt-ugly, by the way, and Taker doesn't sell for more than 5-seconds before slowing things down with his usual brand of clubbing offense. Rock with his 3rd or 4th flurry of punches until Taker catches him with a side slam. We're not even 4-minutes into the match and all we've had is Rock doing the "fired up babyface punching" spot. Rock fights out of a chin-lock but takes a knee to the midsection. Taker misses a boot, straddling the top rope, and gets knocked to the floor with a clothesline. Rock follows, taking Taker on a walk around ringside. Taker blocks being rammed into the steps and gives Rock a taste of the steel instead. I know I'm looking too deep, but the referee is making no effort to cover for the fact they've spent 2 minutes uninterrupted on the floor.

They brawl into the crowd and Rock sends Taker crashing through a door. Taker returns the favor and leads Rock on a walk back to the ringside area. That was the most pointless brawl into the crowd spot I've ever seen. Taker busts out a leg drop on the apron and covers for two. Rock fights out of another chin-lock and is cut off again, this time with a DDT. Whip and Taker with a BEARHUG. OH BOY. Rock with MORE RIGHT HANDS AND A DIVING CLOTHESLINE. Both men are slow to their feet, leading to an exchange of right hands. Rock wins the battle and connects with a DDT of his own. He plants Taker with a spine-buster but Taker pops up to block a People's Elbow. Rock goes low to escape a Chokeslam, but that only slows the deadman down for about 6-seconds. Taker hits the Chokeslam on the second try but it only gets two. Taker exits the ring to grab a lead pipe from his motorcycle. Mike Chioda takes a bump into the steps selling being INTIMIDATED by the Undertaker. Flair rushes to the ring and lays into Taker, who no-sells it all and hits Flair with a big boot. Rock has had suitable time to recover, hits the spine-buster, and turns Taker over with a Sharpshooter. Now we've got Mr. McMahon running to ringside, drawing Rock's attention. That buys Taker time to recover and set up for the Tombstone, but Flair whacks Taker with the lead pipe and the Rock Bottom finishes this mess at 17:25. We've got Taker treating Rock like a geek, the referee like a geek, Flair like a geek, and sleepwalking through a match that had no business going nearly 20-minutes. 2002 Undertaker is the worst. *½

Mr. Perfect is hanging out at WWF New York and seems like he's had a little too much to drink before his spot.

Triple H vs. Kurt Angle:

Winner gets Triple H's shot at the Undisputed Championship at WrestleMania (set up by Angle using Mr. McMahon's disdain for Helmsley at this time to put Hunter's Rumble-winning title shot on the line), and Stephanie McMahon-Helmsley, Hunter's recently estranged wife, is the special referee and seeking revenge for her husband humiliating her on Monday Night Raw. Angle sneaks up on a distracted Hunter and rolls him up for a fast-count near-fall. Oh man, if THAT was the finish, without a bell officially starting the match, I'd call it an all-time finish. Small package and another quick count. Hunter counters an O'Connor Roll but Stephanie doesn't count, claiming Angle was in the ropes. Angle puts the boots to Hunter in the corner while the heel referee cheers him on. IS THIS MATCH OVER YET? Hunter stomps Angle down and whacks him with a short-arm clothesline. Angle counters a whip, taking Helmsley down with a back suplex. Hunter ducks a clothesline, causing Stephanie to take the bullet. Angle lands on his head taking a clothesline over the ropes as a group of referees come to ringside and check on Princess Stephanie. She's carried away as Hunter hits a swinging neck breaker. Tim White takes over referee duties, and I'm sure we've seen the last of Stephanie tonight.

Angle survives a flurry of gorilla right hands and hits Hunter with the German suplex trio for a two-count. Whip and Angle with an elbow on the chin for two. Whip to the corner, Angle meets a boot but recovers to catch Hunter with an overhead belly-to-belly suplex for two. Angle with two more overhead throws with the same result. Hunter fights back with right hands but Angle cuts him off with a sleeper. Ross fishes for sympathy on Hunter's behalf. Hunter rams Angle into the turnbuckle to break the hold and takes Angle out of the corner with a powerbomb. Whip to the ropes and Hunter with a high knee, followed by a spine-buster for a two-count. Whip is reversed and Helmsley with a knee to the face for another two-count. Angle leads Hunter on a chase around ringside and blatantly whacks Tim White. Hunter with the neck breaker on Angle. He wastes time checking on White, allowing Angle to recover and hit him low. Angle Slam connects and here's Stephanie to count the near-fall. SHE'S NOT EVEN LOOKING AT HIS SHOULDERS, SHE'S LOOKING AT HIS FEET! Helmsley escapes the Ankle Lock, giving us our second Stephanie ref bump of the match. Hunter with a DDT and two referees incapable of counting the fall. White gets bumped a second time and Angle hits Hunter with a German suplex. Angle fetches a chair, but Hunter fights it out of his hands and hits the Pedigree. Tim White tries to count, but Stephanie elbow drops him and kicks him low for the hell of it. Hunter wastes time focusing his attention on Stephanie, buying Angle time to recover. Angle saves Stephanie from a Pedigree, hitting Hunter with the chair. Angle with a second chair shot and Angle Slam to get the three-count and WrestleMania title shot at 14:40. What an overbooked mess. There was about 9-minutes of a good match, then a circus when Stephanie was directly involved in the story. **½

The Rock is the latest Superstar to come across the nWo. Hogan wants a picture with the Rock because he's his son's favorite wrestler and makes a smart-a$$ remark "so much for the People's taste." Hilarity ensues as Rock tears into all three of them and tells them to shove a camera up all their candy a$$es.

WWF Undisputed Championship Match:
Chris Jericho (c) vs. "Stone Cold" Steve Austin:

Austin won a shot at the Championship by winning a mini-tournament, and the creative team has attempted to manufacture a feud between the two, though it comes across as one-sided in the challenger's favor. The hype package has clearly edited out whatever licensed music was the official theme song of the PPV (I'm almost positive I mentioned it was a Rob Zombie song, but I don't remember which one). They share some thoughts for each other, including an exchange of middle fingers. Lockup into the corner and Jericho surprisingly gives a clean break. After a third lockup, Jericho pops Austin with a forearm. Austin fights out of a wrist-lock with a well-placed right hand and chases Jericho around ringside. Back inside, Austin nails Jericho with an elbow and lights him up with chops. He gives Jericho a plentiful serving of turnbuckle and takes him over with a suplex. Whip to the ropes and Jericho surprises Austin with a swinging neck breaker. Momentum doesn't stay with him, as Austin counters a flying nothing and sends Jericho over the top rope with a clothesline. Austin follows and throws more chops. Back inside, Austin misses a charge into the corner, smacking his shoulder on the post. Jericho follows him to the floor and the chop-fest continues. They fight down the aisle and Austin throws Jericho into the 18-wheelers used to dress up the entrance area. Remember when every show had a unique entrance? They return to ringside, with Jericho dumping Austin across the barricade. Back inside, Jericho's climb to the top rope is interrupted and Austin throws MORE CHOPS before taking him down with a super-plex. Austin hits him with two more for a near-fall. I'm not a physician, but a guy with the neck problems of Austin probably shouldn't take that bump often, especially three times in about 60-seconds. Austin sends Jericho from corner to corner and lays him out with a clothesline. Jericho nudges Hebner, giving him an opening to go low on Austin. Oh please, Hebner has looked clear as day at those for a decade and never called a DQ. You're fine, Chris. Austin blocks a Walls of Jericho attempt but Jericho remains in control. Austin puts the brakes on a whip to the ropes and hits a "Hot Shot" (it's the STUN GUN IN THIS CASE, J.R.!), but that only gets two.

Jericho cuts Austin off and sends him to the floor again. Hebner stops Jericho from using a chair, leaving him open for Austin to land a boot to the midsection. Jericho reverses a whip into the barricade, and of course Austin hits his lower back on the corner where they change the angle of the set-up. Back inside, Austin rolls away from the Lionsault, but Jericho pops up and grabs a sleeper. Austin shows a middle finger to signal he's not done and fights to his feet. He hangs back to avoid a dropkick and launches Jericho into the corner. Jericho flips through a back suplex and avoids the Stunner. Austin catches him with a spine-buster and powerslam for a near-fall. Jericho avoids another charge to the corner and hits the Lionsault twice for a near-fall. Jericho counters the Thesz Press and turns Austin over with the Walls of Jericho, but Austin is able to get to the ropes. Jericho fetches the title belt and wow, ANOTHER REF BUMP (well, nudge). Someone was low on ideas coming into this show. Austin with a spine-buster onto the belt for two. Jericho counters a Stunner with the Breakdown onto the belt for a near-fall. Austin ducks a bulldog and Hebner takes a clothesline, knocking him to the outside. COME ON. Austin with the Walls of Jericho and Jericho taps, but there's no referee. Austin hits the Stunner and here comes the nWo. Austin fights them off for a few moments, but Hall hits a butt-ugly Stunner to cut him off. Jericho revives the referee and covers to retain at 21:35. Post-match, the nWo return to lay a whooping on Austin, and at least Hall's second Stunner is somewhat decent. Austin gets the spray-paint job as we fade to black. This was a much better match than I remember, but I'm sure I'm saying that because watching it live, Austin was clearly a lame-duck challenger. I don't get the excessive use of referee bumps in the last three matches, but that doesn't take away the level of performance from Austin and Jericho. ****

Final Thoughts: I wasn't a fan of this show when it happened 21 years ago, and it definitely didn't age well, with an under-card of random filler matches and a triple main event where overbooking took control. Austin vs. Jericho is worth giving a look, but Triple H vs Angle is ruined by the inclusion of Stephanie McMahon, and the Rock vs. Undertaker was some weird wank-fest for Taker to make everyone he comes across look like a geek before doing the cheap job. This wasn't an all-time bad event, but definitely one you can skip and not worry about missing much. Mild recommendation to avoid.

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