WWE PPV Flashbacks: No Way Out (2/17/02) - "A Lethal Dose of Poison"

No Way Out
February 17, 2002
Bradley Center, Milwaukee, WI

We are well and truly along the Road to WrestleMania, but as shall be a common trend in 2002, we've had a major development since our last PPV. While tonight Undisputed Champion Chris Jericho defends against Stone Cold Steve Austin, and Triple H puts his guaranteed title match on the line against Kurt Angle, everyone was talking about one other thing - nWo. It all started the night after the Royal Rumble, when Mr McMahon came out irate over his loss to Ric Flair at the PPV. He claimed that Ric Flair as co-owner was destroying the WWF and he had to do something. Later that week on Smackdown, in some very memorable backstage vignettes, Vince declared that he was going to inject the WWF with a lethal dose of poison....enough to kill everything. He wasn't going to let Ric Flair destroy what he created - he was going to kill it first - with the nWo. And so it was set - the three original members of the New World Order from WCW - Kevin Nash (Diesel), Scott Hall (Razor Ramon) and Hollywood Hulk Hogan, would make their return to the WWF at No Way Out. As always, please send your feedback to me on Twitter at @Mpmcc91 and spread the word about these reviews.

No opening video package to kick things off, as we go right to the pyro. Our announcers are Jim Ross & Jerry Lawler. The nWo theme hits and we are kicking things off with them right from the outset.

Out to the ring come Hogan, Hall and Nash to a huge reaction from the crowd. Nash gets on the mic first and says that while they have heat with the locker room, they only want to make the show even better. Of course, they're all being sarcastic as they speak, clearly being established as heels. Hogan pretends to be all choked up before thanking Vince for bringing them back. The music hits and they head to the back. This was a good way to get the nWo out there to start the show as the crowd was otherwise going to be waiting for them all night. Of course, this would not be the last we saw of them on the PPV.

Number 1 Contender Tag Team Turmoil Match:
Scotty 2 Hotty & Albert vs Hardy Boyz w/Lita vs APA vs Christian & Lance Storm vs Dudley Boyz w/Stacy Keibler vs Billy & Chuck

With the WWF Tag Team Championship to be defended later in the night, we kick the PPV with a number one contender tag team turmoil, which is always a way of just getting the whole tag division on the PPV to fill out the card. The first team out is Scotty 2 Hotty & Albert, still dancing around together as a lower level face team in the mix. They did pick up that upset at Vengeance though. Their opponents to start are Lance Storm & Christian, whom we saw aligned back at the Rumble. Christian has since lost his WWF European Championship by the way, having dropped it to Diamond Dallas Page on Smackdown a few weeks ago. That feud would continue as we'll see next month. Anyway, quick stuff here as Scotty goes for the Worm after the faces build some momentum, but Storm makes the save. Christian takes the opportunity to hit Scotty with the Unprettier to score the first elimination of the match just a few minutes in. The next team out are the reunited Hardy Boyz, back to teaming like nothing went wrong since the whole Taker thing at the Rumble. They have Lita by their side as always and get a good pop. Nobody wanted to see them fighting each other, so it was a good move putting them back together in the short term. They get worked over by the heel team here, but come back with a Twist of Fate. Christian breaks up the fall but after a little more action the tide turns, and Jeff eliminates Storm with the Swanton. Storm & Christian's success would come later in the year. For now, they are gone, and an old rivalry is renewed as the Dudley Boyz are out next, with Stacy by their side as usual. These two teams know each other like the back of their hands at this point, and quickly go at it, with the Dudley Boyz working Jeff over after some initial offence including the Poetry in Motion from the Hardy Boyz. Jeff comes back and goes for the Twist of Fate but Stacy intervenes. This brings Lita in and she spears Stacy before rolling around with her. Bubba throws Lita out and hits a Bubba Bomb on Matt, but Lita comes back with a hurricarana on Bubba. Moments later, Matt busts out a roll up and sends the former champs packing. They don't take the loss well though, as after their elimination, the Dudley Boyz hit the 3D on Jeff outside. This leaves the Hardy Boyz vulnerable for the next team to enter the match - Billy & Chuck. Since the end of the Alliance, Billy & Chuck had turned heel and begun alluding to having a homosexual relationship. They come in here and Billy easily puts Matt away with the Fameasser to advance to the final team in the match. That team is the longtime duo of the APA, who really had not done much at all since the Attitude era. The match turns into a brawl as expected, but Billy & Chuck begin to take control by working over Faarooq when thing settle down. Nonetheless, he comes back with a Spinebuster to Billy and gets the tag to Bradshaw, with the big Texan cleaning house. He puts Billy away with the Clothesline from Hell, and the APA are the new number one contenders to the tag titles at a total time of 16:39. As far as the match goes, it was fine for one of these tag team turmoils, but the end result made no sense. You had a few new teams in this match, along with some veteran teams that were still pretty over, but instead the most stale team in the match that weren't doing anything of note won. What makes it even more head scratching is that the current champions are faces, so you'd think the fresh heel team of Billy & Chuck would win here. They'd actually be the next Tag Team Champions, whilst the APA would continue to do little of substance over the next month, which seems to prove the point that this was a weird result. Oh well, lets move on.
Grade: **

Backstage, Michael Cole is standing by with WWF co-owner, Ric Flair. He talks about the nWo and says he doesn't believe their comments earlier. The Undertaker interrupts and says that instead of the nWo, Flair should be worried about someone who has their eye on him.

Rob Van Dam vs Goldust
The next match of the night is a rather interesting combination. Of course, Goldust had made his big return as a participant in last month's Rumble, and in the weeks that followed started up a rivalry with the popular RVD. This all started on an episode of Raw, when following an RVD match, Goldust appeared on the screen and revealed his recent threats towards a rising star were directed to RVD. He would then surprise Van Dam by attacking him from behind in the ring. The following week, RVD would get some retribution by attacking the Bizarre One during a match with Rikishi. It was a basic little feud thrown together to give RVD something to do for this show before heading towards Mania. Goldust starts out on offence briefly here after jumping RVD before the bell, but Van Dam fights his way back. Goldust ends up wanting to take a count out after RVD builds some momentum, but then decides to return to the ring. The action continues on the floor and RVD busts out his usual spinning legdrop on the barricade to his opponent. Back in the ring, Goldust gets back in control after catching Van Dam on the top of the turnbuckle. He goes for a chinlock, but RVD fights his way out and kicks Goldust in the face and follows up with the Rolling Thunder. He then goes up top looking for the Five Star, but Goldust moves out of the way and hits Van Dam with a DDT instead. The Bizarre One attempts the Curtain Call from there, but RVD counters and hits a lariat. He follows up with a successful Five Star for the win at 11:08. A decent enough match here but nothing special. This was just a way to give RVD over a credible veteran opponent to bring his momentum back on track heading in to the biggest show of the year. Goldust looked good in there in his first major singles match since returning to the company as well.
Grade: **1/4

We now go to the back where the nWo comes across Stone Cold. Seeing Austin and Hogan on screen at the same time is always special. The nWo give Austin a six pack of beers as a peace offering, but Stone Cold throws it away before walking off.

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

Our first title match of the night sees the underdog WWF Tag Team Champions continuing their reign, coming off an unexpected successful title defence against the Dudley Boy on our last PPV. Here they take on a reunited team from the Alliance days, former champions in their own right - Booker T & Test. They're basically teaming up here because they aren't doing anything of note at the moment. Booker's brief feud with Stone Cold is over by this point and he's settling back into the midcard, whilst Test is a guy the announcers continue to build up in a huge way but doesn't really seem to be moving up the card, which is strange. Anyway, Test starts this one out with Tazz in the ring, but its not long before Spike gets tagged in and delivers a missile dropkick to Test. From there however, the challengers take control by working over the smallest man in the match. Spike attempts to fight back with a Dudley Dog, but he gets shoved off to the floor instead. Back in the ring, Booker connects with the Scissor Kick, but instead of covering, he goes for the Spinaroonie, which disgusts JR because he's a heel. Anyway, that gave Spike the chance to pull himself together, and he gets the hot tag to Tazz. The Human Suplex Machine comes in and sends Booker to the floor. Test tags in and scoop slams Tazz. He goes for a cover with his feet on the ropes, but the ref sees it and confronts Test over it. The two get into an argument and that allows Tazz to come back and lock Test in the Tazmission, which gets the submission victory for the champs at 7:19. The reign of the unlikely champions continues, but it would not last much longer. This would actually be it for Tazz on PPV as an active member of the roster. He'd take on a new role that he's probably more famous for in the WWE soon enough. Again I'm surprised that Test keeps falling down the card with the way he has been built up. The match was okay, but really nothing more than a TV title defence.
Grade: **

Up next, we go to Jonathan Coachman, who is backstage with the Rock. Rock cuts his typically great promo about getting payback on the Undertaker for being attacked recently and that he'll find out what respect is all about tonight.

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

With Regal's use of the brass knuckles a key point in this rivalry, particularly with him using them to defeat Edge to win the I.C title back at the Rumble, these two men are set to do battle once more, this time in the rubber match of their PPV series. The contest is a brass knuckles on a pole match, which means if you retrieve the knucks, you can legally use them on your opponent, although you still win by pinfall. Anyway, Edge jumps Regal right from the outset here and he goes for the brass knucks early on, wanting some revenge on the man who took his title in controversial fashion. Regal stops him in his tracks however, pulling him down, and from there we get numerous thwarted attempts by both men to get their hands on the weapon above the ring. We get some USA chants from the crowd despite neither man being from the States. Regal ends up knocking Edge down to the floor and onto the barricade off an attempt to grab the knucks and this leads to Regal taking control on the outside. He bombs Regal on the floor before bringing him back into the ring for the Regal Stretch followed by another powerbomb for a near fall. With Edge still down, Regal goes for the knucks again, but Edge stops him and suplexes him down moments later. The knucks end up getting knocked off the pole as the two continue to trade blows, and Regal kicks them away from Edge. Nonetheless, the challenger hits Regal with the Edge-O-Matic followed by the Spear. Rather than covering the champ however, Edge wants to punish him and he picks up the pair of brass knucks that have fallen into the ring. While this is going on though, Regal recovers and reaches into his trunks for his own pair of brass knuckles. He nails and unexpecting Edge with them and that gets the pin for the champion to retain at 10:22. An okay match, but not all that great. Definitely not as good as their Rumble match as the stipulation got in the way. Its hard to be too harsh on that though with the brass knuckles being a key element in the feud, so it was a decent pay off in that regard. Anyway, Regal reigns on whilst Edge moves on to new things.
Grade: **1/4

In the back, Lillian Garcia speaks with Kurt Angle. She suggests that Kurt is working with Stephanie and will use that to his advantage tonight against Triple H. Kurt denies the accusations and says he can beat Triple H on his own. After all, he didn't win his gold medals from a box of lucky charms. We then go to a video package for our upcoming match between Rock and the Undertaker.

The Rock vs Undertaker
This rivalry all started the night after the Royal Rumble. On that episode of Raw, the Rock made fun of the Undertaker for being eliminated by the rookie Maven. Undertaker was not happy about being disrespected, and would cost Rock a contender tournament match against Kurt Angle later in the night. Rock would retaliate later that week on Smackdown after a tag match, by Rock Bottoming Taker through the announce table. Taker would respond on the following Raw though, assaulting Rock with a lead pipe. Things would become even more personal a few days later on Smackdown, when the Rock helped Maven defeat the Undertaker to win the WWF Hardcore Championship in another huge upset. Big Evil was pissed, and he delivered a Tombstone to the Rock on top of a limo later in the night, with the two set to meet here at No Way Out to settle their differences. With Rock out for revenge, he rushes to the ring here and unloads on Taker in the early going. Taker takes control moments later, getting the better of the slug fest. They go to the floor early on, where Taker crotches the Great One on the barricade. They fight out to a door to the back before returning to the ring with Big Evil still in control. Back in the ring he applies a bear hug. After being decimated for the entire match thus far, Rock finally fights back and builds some momentum. He DDTs Taker and follows with the Spinebuster to set up the People's Elbow. Taker gets up before it can connect and goes to chokeslam Rock instead, but the Great One goes low to block it. Nonetheless, Taker comes back and hits the chokeslam on another attempt moments later. Rock kicks out at two, so Taker goes outside to his bike. The ref tries to get him back in the ring, so the American Bad Ass tosses him into the ring steps. He then grabs the lead pipe which he had stored on his motorcycle. Before he can use it to punish the Rock, Ric Flair runs out and tries to get it from him. Taker shoves him away, but the distraction allows Rock to avoid the pipe and get Taker in the Sharpshooter. Mr McMahon now follows in the way of his co-owner by coming out to ringside, so Rock breaks the hold to go after him. With this going on, Flair gets back in the ring and nails Taker with the lead pipe. Rock gets back in the ring and connects with the Rock Bottom on Taker, and that gets the win for the most electrifying man in all of entertainment at 17:28. A fairly long, but decent match here between two men who weren't known for having great chemistry together. I really enjoyed Taker's heel run in early 2002, and I got into this match as a result. The Flair interference would set up Taker's Mania program, while Rock would move on to something nobody would have thought possible just a month or two ago. This wasn't a great match or anything, but it was solid, and I really enjoyed it.
Grade: ***

We now cross to WWF New York, where a drunken Mr Perfect is standing by. Sad to see him already not doing anything after an awesome return last month. We then go to a video package for the next match.

Number 1 Contender Match:
Triple H vs Kurt Angle
Special Guest Referee: Stephanie McMahon-Helmsley

Our next match sees the winner of the Royal Rumble, Triple H, putting his guaranteed Undisputed title shot at Mania on the line against the man he last eliminated, Kurt Angle. With Angle upset with being eliminated after thinking he had won the Rumble, the Olympic Gold Medallist would complain the following night, leading to Triple H agreeing to face him at No Way Out if his title shot was put on the line. The real story here was between the Game and his wife. Since returning to camera, Triple H had become distant with Stephanie, who still resorted to her heel ways despite the Game's newfound heroic status. Triple H would acknowledge the tension, but Stephanie claimed everything was fine and that she had a way to prove her husband still loved her. She would end up asking Triple H to renew their wedding vows together on an episode of Raw. Triple H did not seem keen on the idea, so Stephanie began to cry before claiming that she was pregnant. After hearing this news, Triple H agreed to renew the vows. The following week however, Triple H recieved a video from Linda McMahon which showed that Stephanie had hired an actor to portray a doctor and that she was lying about the pregnancy to try to keep her husband. The ceremony would go ahead later in the night, which led to a great moment. Triple H said that he saw Stephanie for exactly what she was...a no good lying bitch! The line drew a huge pop and the Game trashed the wedding set and floored Mr McMahon with a Pedigree. Stephanie vowed revenge on her husband and announced that she would be the guest referee for her husband's match at the PPV. She's looking quite lovely in her referee costume as well. I should also point out that this is the first show where I've really noticed the You Suck chants that would become synonymous with his entrance music over the years. Big pop for the Game of course. The match starts out back and forth, with Stephanie attempting to quick count her husband at any chance possible as you would expect. Angle takes control after a while and grounds the Game with a belly to back suplex. He goes to follow up with a clothesline to his opponent, but he accidentally nails Steph, who falls to the floor. This brings a regular ref out whilst Angle remains in control with some more suplexes. Triple H eventually comes back and hits a Spinebuster, but Kurt retreats to the floor before he can gain too much momentum. Angle nails the ref out of frustration and then hits a low blow on Trips. He follows up with an Angle Slam, but there's no ref to count it. Stephanie eventually runs back out and counts, but Trips manages to kick out at two. Kurt follows up with the Ankle Lock, but Trips fights out and sends him into Stephanie, taking her out once more. Angle grabs a chair from the outside in response, but Triple H avoids it and hits the Pedigree instead. The regular ref goes to count it, but Stephanie takes him out. That allows Angle to get the chair and nail Trips with it twice and then delivering the Angle Slam for the shocking win at 14:42. This was a major shock as you figured even with Stephanie's officiating, Hunter would move on to Mania after beating Kurt here. Trips would end up winning back his title shot on Raw, but its still strange that Kurt won here. I'm fine with the Stephanie involvement here, as with Triple H as a face now you needed to split them, however I think that storyline should have ended here with Triple H getting his revenge by beating Kurt. Instead, Stephanie's attempt for revenge would overshadow Triple H's quest for the Undisputed title, as we shall see next time. The match was okay, but obviously the storyline elements got in the way of them having a better match.
Grade: **1/2

We now go to the back for an awesome backstage segment as the nWo come across the Rock. Hogan asks to get a photo with Rock for his son. Rock obliges but after he leaves, Hogan comments on his son's poor taste. Rock overhears this and comes back and rips on all three nWo members in hilarious fashion. "Diesel - Toot, Toot!". This segment must be seen to be appreciated.

Anyway, the main event is up next, so we get the usual video hype.

Undisputed WWF Championship:
Chris Jericho (c) vs Steve Austin

The build to our main event was fairly simple. Stone Cold defeated Kurt Angle in the finals of a tournament to crown the number one contender to Jericho's title to earn this shot. The two men would trade insults and attacks in the weeks that followed, with Jericho going so far to lay Austin out and pour beer all over him. It was basically a title defence for Jericho against a highly credible opponent, although I know a lot of people, myself included, thought Austin would win here to get the big Austin/Triple H title match that was originally planned for 2001. It wasn't completely far fetched either since Rock beat Angle to win the WWF title a month before Mania last year. Anyway, now that I've spoiled the way this match goes, lets move into it. Big pop for Stone Cold, but that much is obvious. This starts off with a stare down, with both men flipping the middle finger at the other. That gets under Austin's skin and he chases the champion all around ringside. Back in the ring, with Jericho still running, Austin clotheslines the champ to the outside and the action continues out there. Jericho gets his shots in after sending the Rattlesnake into the ring post. The brawl continues up to the entrance area, where Austin throws Y2J into the set. They finally get back into the ring, with Stone Cold firmly in control. He delivers a trio of suplexes to the champion, but after a near fall, Jericho turns the tide with a low blow. Jericho now builds some momentum of his own, going for the Walls of Jericho after chopping at the challenger. Austin blocks the hold and the fight goes out to the floor once more. Jericho ends up throwing Austin back into the ring, and connects moments later with a Lionsault. He then resorts to a sleeper, but the Rattlesnake stays in it. After some back and forth, Y2J dishes out two consecutive Lionsaults, but Stone Cold remains in the fight and sends the champion into the ring post. Austin goes for the Thesz Press, but Y2J counters into the Walls yet again. This time Austin forces the break with the ropes, so Jericho grabs his title belt. The ref tries to take it off him, but he gets nailed in the ensuing struggle. After some more action Jericho hits Austin with the Breakdown on top of the title belt. Stone Cold kicks out and the ref goes down again moments later due to an accidental clothesline from Y2J. Austin now locks Jericho in the Walls himself. He follows up with a Stunner to the champion, but there's nobody to count the fall. Cue the nWo. All three rush to the ring, and Austin immediately fights them off. Austin holds his own at first but is eventually overwhelmed by the number disadvantage. Scott Hall hits a Stunner on the Rattlesnake and Jericho capitalises by covering him as the ref regains consciousness. That scores the win for the champion at 21:35. Chris Jericho is heading to Mania as the Undisputed Champion, but the real story here is that the nWo has screwed Stone Cold. Believe it or not, this would be the last PPV that Stone Cold main evented. A very interesting time was ahead and from here you really see a change in the way Stone Cold is used. Back to the matcb at hand, I've seen people rate this one not all that well, but I enjoyed it. It wasn't a great four star match or anything, but it was still solid. Jericho doesn't look very strong heading into Mania though, with the nWo being the only reason he kept his title. It would get worse for Y2J.
Grade: ***1/4

After the match, Jericho leaves ringside with his title. Meanwhile the nWo continue their attack on Stone Cold. The show ends with them spray painting their trademark tag on the Rattlesnake's back.

This PPV is memorable for one reason - the return to the WWF of Scott Hall, Kevin Nash and Hollywood Hulk Hogan. As far as the rest of the show goes, it was really just an average show. After a few great shows in recent years in this month, this PPV returned to the trend of the February show being a throwaway one to set things up for Mania. I feel like the only match that had a major feud heading into it on this show was the Triple H/Kurt Angle one, and even so that was more about Triple H/Stephanie. As I said, I think that was fine for the feud there, but knowing what lay ahead now, I wish Triple H had won that match and got his revenge on Steph out of the way, leaving him free to focus on the Undisputed title at the biggest show of the year. The main event and Rock/Taker matches were decent, but they were mainly to set up other feuds and there was nothing on this show that you really need to go out of your way to seek out. The undercard especially felt like filler for the most part. Heading out of this PPV, WrestleMania looks uncertain. You figured Triple H was still going to be in the title match at Mania despite his loss. But where did this leave Kurt Angle? Austin is clearly going to want revenge on the nWo, but how will that play out, especially with the Rock also in the mix. The only thing that really seems like a given at this point is that Taker will be up against Flair. We'll see next time how things play out for the eighteenth installment of the Showcase of the Immortals.

Three Stars of the Night:
1. Steve Austin - his last PPV main event, and despite coming up short, the crowd were behind him as always. A clash with the nWo seems inevitable.
2. Chris Jericho - despite a cheap win and a title defence not up to the standards of those previous, he was still involved in the best match of the night. The afterthought thing would get much worse though.
3. The Rock - solid win here and an amazing showing on the mic backstage.

FINAL GRADE: 4.5 out of 10

What I do here is add the three stars of the night with each review so as to keep track of who we can say overall is the greatest PPV performer to any given time. First place scores 3 points, second 2 and third 1.

Steve Austin = 111
Bret Hart = 83
Shawn Michaels = 67
The Rock = 62
Triple H = 54
Mick Foley = 38
Kurt Angle = 29
Randy Savage = 28
Chris Jericho = 27
Undertaker = 26
Owen Hart = 21
Hulk Hogan = 18
X-Pac = 18
Chris Benoit = 16
Jeff Hardy = 16
Diesel = 15
Matt Hardy = 14
Ultimate Warrior = 13
Vader = 13
British Bulldog = 12
Christian = 12
Edge = 12
Ted DiBiase = 10
Razor Ramon = 10
Vince McMahon = 10
Ric Flair = 8
Jim Neidhart = 7
Bubba Ray Dudley = 7
D-Von Dudley = 7
Jerry Lawler = 6
Dynamite Kid = 5
Arn Anderson = 5
Roddy Piper = 5
Mr Perfect = 5
Marty Jannetty = 5
Bob Backlund = 5
Shane McMahon = 5
Rob Van Dam = 5
Ricky Steamboat = 4
Ax = 4
Smash = 4
Bobby Heenan = 4
D’Lo Brown = 4
Rikishi = 4
Kane = 4
Greg Valentine = 3
Tully Blanchard = 3
Tanaka = 3
Bam Bam Bigelow = 3
Sato = 3
Jake Roberts = 3
Hakushi = 3
Yokozuna = 3
Savio Vega = 3
Ken Shamrock = 3
Chyna = 3
Brutus Beefcake = 2
Paul Orndorff = 2
Andre the Giant = 2
Rick Rude = 2
Sgt Slaughter = 2
Jeff Jarrett = 2
Jesse Ventura = 1
Texas Tornado = 1
Tito Santana = 1
Virgil = 1
Scott Steiner = 1
Rick Steiner = 1
Lex Luger = 1
The Roadie = 1
Billy Gunn = 1
Bart Gunn = 1
Marc Mero = 1
Flash Funk = 1
Animal = 1
Hawk = 1
Taka Michinoku = 1
Test = 1
Big Show = 1
Dean Malenko = 1
Scotty 2 Hotty = 1
Rhyno = 1

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