For years No Way Out was almost one of the classic line-ups of the non Big 4 PPVs along with Backlash, Judgment Day, Unforgiven, No Mercy and Armageddon. It got dropped in 2010 but two years later it makes its return as this year's June PPV that the WWE team can't seem to settle on (Fatal 4 Way was awesome, I demand that be reinstated) and on watching the whole show, it fell in line with the rest of the solid PPVs WWE has been delivering since WrestleMania. True we got a lot of stuff added last minute but overall it was a solid card with very good matches.
1) Sheamus* vs Dolph Ziggler (World Heavyweight Championship):
I always make no secret of my opinion on having a show open with a world title match but considering this was literally put together one week before the PPV then it doesn't really warrant a high place on the card. I was looking forward to this match and I was pleased with how it turned out. Ziggler has restored my faith in him ever since his disappointing match against CM Punk at the Royal Rumble and he's more over than ever. I don't know whether WWE will do a face turn to accommodate this but I'm hoping not and they just get him to do properly despicable heel things because he hasn't really done anything in a while to give people reason to boo him. There was a really nice psychology to this match that maybe some people didn't pick up on - Ziggler went after Sheamus's neck. Now personally I know that back when he was wrestling in Ireland, Sheamus broke his neck during a match so with knowledge of that, it added a lot more to the match for me. The commentators could have drawn attention to the fact that Sheamus had broken his neck before and that would have helped get Ziggler over as opportunistic. The crowd was very pro-Ziggler as I expected which means WWE should really find heels that the fans don't actually like to feud with Sheamus (I realise Del Rio filled that role so I won't complain too much). With regards to management's stance on Ziggler, I have a feeling they had doubts in his potential as a world title contender after his lacklustre performance at the Royal Rumble so this was more a test for him than ever. And I think he fared much better against Sheamus than he did against Punk as in this match he and Sheamus were made to look like equals whereas against Punk you knew he had no chance of winning. I reserve what I said about Sheamus in my Raw Recap in that he makes a great face in peril and is able to make his opponent look strong in a way that Cena has never really got the hang of. And of course he sold that X-Factor off the top to perfection. I expected Jack Swagger to make an appearance in the match but here we just got Sheamus getting a clean win so I guess whatever story progression will happen on Raw with Ziggler somehow blaming Swagger for not being there. As I wrote in my predictions, if done right then a feud between Ziggler and Swagger has all the potential in the world. Really enjoyable and hard-hitting opening match. 7.5/10
Big Johnny was looking pretty snazzy in that suit of his and it's a real shame he didn't burst out in a rendition of "Candyman" or "Lollipop" to sway Vince's feelings. As an aside I feel Josh Matthews could have become a good wrestler if he'd stuck with it. But then again he likely wouldn't be the longest lasting Tough Enough contestant in WWE today.
2) Santino Marella vs Ricardo Rodriguez (Tuxedo Match):
I was seriously hoping this would be the second last match on the card to give people a break between main events but alas, hope, dashed. I can't really comment on this spectacle apart from now knowing how the women felt when the Bra and Panties matches and Evening Gown matches were going on. And let's be fair, those were always over a lot quicker than this was. No Justin Bieber shirt for Ricardo this time but we did see a tiny bit of wrestling from our US Champion who hasn't defended his title in how long again? I guess it's just small relief that this "match" wasn't for the title. 1/10
The first of many AJ-centered backstage segments was nice enough and I guess we can count Matt Stryker as one of the men she doesn't want. The list had been looking rather small before last night.
3) Christian* vs Cody Rhodes (Intercontinental Championship):
Match of the Night as far as I'm concerned. I wrote back in my review of Over The Limit that I felt their last match felt rushed and put together at the last minute (and that was before I learned about Rhodes and his drug test mix-up) as well as looking forward to a rematch where I felt they could do much better. And lo and behold, guess who was totally right. Much like the opening World Heavyweight Championship match there was a great display of psychology only instead of the neck it was the arm this time. Rhodes proves why he is one to watch in WWE for the rest of the year and he is my pick to win the Money In The Bank briefcase. Though I did get a chuckle out of Christian punching and kicking at his face the whole time in the early moments, remembering what Rhodes's last gimmick was. Rhodes's offence targeting the arm was very crisp and well storied, he even made me wince and say "ouch" when he just bent Christian's elbow and stamped on it. Yeesh that can't have been too pleasant. Anyway spot of the match of course has to go to Christian's near perfect tornado DDT off the ring steps. My head actually went around and followed their journey through the air and down to the floor. Amazing sight to see. I also cringed (in a good way) when Christian rammed himself shoulder-first into the ring post. The end of this match really made it move from "great" into "excellent" territory with all the near-falls and false finishes, though as soon as the Killswitch was blocked I had a feeling Christian would win with the spear. I was very worried going into this match that the hot potato with the Intercontinental title would keep going on but thankfully Christian has broken the curse and kept the title for longer than a month. I don't expect him to hold it as long as Rhodes did last year but a good respectable reign would be nice as well as a fresh challenger that we haven't see before. I can suggest no one so I leave it up to the whims of the bookers. Once again, MOTN for all the right reasons. 8.5/10
4) The Prime Time Players vs The Usos vs Primo & Epico vs Tyson Kidd & Justin Gabriel (#1 Contender's Match):
What's the best option if you have PPV time to fill and one of your tag champs has a foot injury? Why add a number 1 contender's match to the card of course. I can't remember the last time we've actually had a match to crown challengers for the tag titles, mostly because the division has been wafer-thin for as long as I can remember. But now you see there is life in the division yet with four teams battling for the opportunity and even better you know that there are actually more teams around who weren't in that match. I'll admit it was very hectic starting off, as to be expected with eight guys out there and I was afraid it would go the same way as Team Teddy vs Team Johnny at WrestleMania but eventually some form of order was established with Justin Gabriel being the one getting worked over by whoever. I was surprised at the length this match got because I expected a quick five-minute spotfest but it was a lot better than that and felt important. It's almost as though with the Divas and the Tag Teams that while Raw and Smackdown are a bust in terms of match time and storyline development, the PPVs themselves are slowly becoming a good outlet for them and that's much better than NXT as here they are getting chances to reach the wider audience. Before I talk about the match some more, can I say I was extremely impressed with The Usos. How over were they during the match? Some of the faces today should take note and remember to actually try and involving the crowd in their matches if they want to get over. I feel The Usos could be really over if WWE gave them a push, judging from how the crowd was responding to them. Honestly I was pulling for any of the teams to get a win, with Tyson and Gabriel being my number 1 pick. I was itching for Tyson to get tagged in and he once again shows why he is one of the most underrated superstars on the roster. I'm a little sad he didn't get a better reaction but I'm sure they took note after that amazing Frankensteiner spot. If I'm being a little more honest, the team that won was the team I least wanted to. Both Darren Young and Titus O'Neil are still pretty green although they did perform well on this rare PPV spot and with AW behind them that gives them some possible storyline opportunities. Also does this mean a face turn for Primo and Epico? I mean, they got betrayed and usually this signals a turn of some sort in WWE. Not really sure about that though neither of them are good heels really so keeping them heel or turning them face wouldn't make much of a difference to me. Well as long as Rosa keeps her dancing going on at least. 6.5/10
The second AJ backstage segment has her giving Daniel Bryan a peck on the cheek. I was afraid that would mean the match was up next but thankfully no.
Triple H gets a video package for his promo when a simple replay would have done the job just fine. However his promo wasn't as long as I was afraid, it served its purpose and set up his match against Brock Lesnar at SummerSlam. Call me crazy but I'm looking forward to it.
5) Layla* vs Beth Phoenix (Divas' Championship):
We had a war of words to start this match off, which I liked though I was expecting Kharma's music to interrupt them any second. It's almost as though they felt that, since the creative team had given them no story going into this match, that they would add their own. I felt it added a bit to the match though the comedy from Layla was a little jarring to watch. But then again that's what Layla is known and loved for so why not? She was able to make her comedy work in a fun babyface way thanks to Beth giving her something to play off. Unlike the Tuxedo match however, this one found a balance between comedy and actual wrestling as things got serious eventually. It was on-par with their last match and I noticed Layla was taking quite a few big bumps which left me a little worried for her wellbeing considering she's coming off an ACL injury. It seems like she's almost going the same route as Melina after her face turn in making her matches exciting with big moves and big bumps. Since Melina got crazily over then that's a direction I agree with her going in. That one spot with the move from the corner to counter the Glam Slam was a little sloppy but overall it was a nice match and another successful title defence for Layla. Though lord knows who she's actually going to feud with next since Kharma didn't return at the end of the match and I don't expect her to show up on Raw until the 1000th episode. Then again at this point I'd settle for Layla just being on TV for the next few weeks. 7/10
And the final AJ-centred backstage segment takes us to the dark depths of the arena where Kane feels right at home and AJ gives him a big passionate kiss. Knowing that a kiss on the lips from AJ is especially bad luck to people, this is called foreshadowing.
6) Hunico vs Sin Cara:
Wahey, yet another match between the two of them that not only is a rematch from Hell In A Cell but two weeks ago on Raw. I'm just wondering how WWE plan to push Sin Cara if he can't talk so that really negates his feuding possibilities. However he's definitely been spending his time away from the TV tapings sharpening his in-ring skills because he has been pretty solid with most of his matches since he's returned. And this PPV match was a bit different from those matches he's been having. This wasn't just the typical "job to Sin Cara's flashy moves" ordeal that the likes of Curt Hawkins and Chavo Guerrero had to deal with. Sin Cara really had to work for his victory this time. It was a hard-fought and largely Hunico-dominated affair and that made the match feel a bit less like filler to kill time. Hunico delivered a really sick powerbomb to Sin Cara as well as dodging a lot of his signature aerial techniques. And all of Sin Cara's offence that connected looked very solid and was in turn sold well by Hunico. La Mistica is one of my favourite finishers in WWE right now because when it's done right it looks great, as it did here. I expected Sin Cara to get a PPV match though as always some actual build-up would be nice. Let's just hope Hunico isn't still the only person on the roster that'd be able to sell Sin Cara's moves. 6/10
7) CM Punk* vs Kane vs Daniel Bryan (WWE Championship):
This was probably the hottest anticipated match of the night as Punk has had the title for quite some time and with Kane being added into the feud it gave us a new possibility of who could end up dominating the division for the rest of the Summer. And that's not to mention wondering what AJ would do and who she would help win. Triple threat matches are always hit or miss, as a quick look at any FCW triple threat will confirm. The key to making a triple threat work is to tell a story with alliances in the ring and letting each person get their spotlight, instead of one face getting dominated by two heels etc. Here there was that as Punk and Bryan formed an unexpected alliance early on to take Kane out of the running. I was wondering whether Kane would be able to hang with these two talents and I can't say he did very well. There was more of the stuff that annoyed me in his WrestleMania match with Randy Orton in that he resorted to a brawling style with his weak looking forearms that were also very slow and therefore worked against him in the match. Here's an idea - if your forearms look bad then don't use them. Thankfully whenever he did actual moves they were fine and didn't hurt the match. I was able to overlook Kane's sloppy offence in favour of the story being told and the excitement over who would win. I didn't like that first spot where they kept trying to do the superplex and got stopped. It went on too long and looked like something went wrong, though Daniel Bryan's double missile dropkick was a thing of beauty. I did however love that Doomsday Device spot which was a pleasant surprise when I was expecting a Tower of Doom. If there's anything else that can be said about this match it's that it was really stiff. Definitely stiffest match of the night. Punk and Bryan were really going to town with stiff kicks and I loved it. I can imagine the two of them would wake up with some nice bruises the next morning. Now as for AJ's involvement at the end, she really came out of nowhere. At first I thought I saw Punk very obviously check to see if she was on the apron before shoving Kane into her and I thought it looked bad but judging from how he didn't check on her after the match and that smirk she was giving him as Kane carried her away, the two of them planned this out. This is very intriguing to me as it seems the two of them in cahoots to pull the wool over Kane's eyes comes across as pretty heelish, even for Punk's character. Perhaps AJ will continue to pull stunts like this in Punk's future matches, causing him to get sick of it and she ends up costing him the title in revenge. A solid match and great storyline possibilities to come out of it, hopefully we'll get some exciting follow-up on Raw tonight. 8/10
8) Ryback vs Rob Grymes & Dan Delaney:
What does it say about WWE when two jobbers who aren't even on the roster get a PPV spot when so many others who are deserving don't. And really, how does Ryback feel to pretty much be making a career out of being the piss break match between main events. His offence was new this time but I'm more than bored of the Ryback squashes now and I'd like to see him move onto a proper feud. Ryback vs Tensai, WWE, make it happen. 2/10
9) John Cena vs Big Show (Steel Cage Match):
I went into this match with low expectations and they were met. Despite WWE doing their best efforts to get me to give a crap about this match, I wasn't feeling it. It's a match we've seen too many times before and it's a formula that doesn't work. Put Cena in a steel cage with a monster heel and you get what you'd expect - many minutes of Cena being completely dominated with a few casual hope spots in there where he sells everything like he's just been run over. And then his Second Wind magically comes out of nowhere as usual. Cena has put on great matches against Punk, Rey Mysterio and The Rock and even put on a passable one with Kane but this was just bland, boring and unimaginative. Big Show as well can move well for a giant his size but putting them together does not create a winning formula. There were small flashes of brilliance in there but I still wasn't feeling the match. That being said, the end moments were a little better with other members of the roster coming down to try and stop him. I was actually excited when I knew it was finally going to be over and thankfully Cena wins and Big Johnny is history. He's been an on-screen figure for nearly a year and done almost nothing worth treasuring in your memory so now it's time to kill him off and bring in someone new. I like the idea of a heel GM so make it Eve instead. Dud of a match but nice ending and does create excitement going into tonight's Raw. 5/10