The Smackdown brand was on the road to WrestleMania 22 with one final stop in Baltimore for No Way Out. The show was headlined by World Heavyweight Champion Kurt Angle defending against The Undertaker in a matchup between Smackdown’s two top faces. The other big match on the card was Royal Rumble winner Rey Mysterio putting up his WrestleMania title shot on the line against Randy Orton.
I wrote this review live in 2006, but I am guessing that most of you have never seen this review. My writing style was ab it different back then. I tweaked some of it, but a lot of it remains the same. Let’s get to it.
WWE No Way Out
February 19. 2006
1st Mariner Arena in Baltimore, Maryland
The broadcast began with a TV-14 and “V” rating for Violence on WWE Network.
It started with the usual great video package mostly focused on the World Title match while also covering Mysterio vs. Orton.
The pyro went off in the arena with the crowd cheering. At ringside, the announce team of Michael Cole and Tazz set up the show and we met the Spanish announcers. The hilarious thing was when talking about famous matches in Baltimore, Michael Cole brought up Vince vs. Stephanie McMahon. Cole is REALLY good at sucking up, my friends.
Cruiserweight Open for the Cruiserweight Championship: Gregory Helms, Scotty 2 Hotty, Paul London, Brian Kendrick, Funaki, Super Crazy, Psicosis, Nunzio and Kid Kash
Pre-match notes: This was set up because Helms is a jerk that has made no friends in the Smackdown locker room since he came over from Raw. The rules are they’re all in the ring at once and the first one to score a pinfall or submission will be the champ.
The match starts with Helms ducking out of the ring while the other eight guys start pairing off. Helms is out for a full minute as London & Kendrick hit a double dropkick to take Scotty out the floor. London and Kendrick then get tossed over the ropes by the Mexicools, who then jump on them on the floor. Kash misses a moonsault on Funaki in ring, so Funaki counters with a bulldog for two, which is broken up by Helms. Scotty, Funaki, Crazy, Nunzio and Psicosis go five on one on Helms. London with a hurricanrana on Psicosis, Crazy with a missile dropkick on London. Kendrick misses a dropkick, Mexicools double team Kendrick. Funaki gets two on Nunzio elsewhere. Funaki dropkicks Psicosis out of the ring. Scotty with a big back suplex on Kash. Helms with a death valley driver move into a knee smash. Helms and Kash square off as Scotty sneaks in for a two count on Kash. Helms gets tossed out by Kash, Scotty sends him head first into the turnbuckle. Scotty does a flip off the apron onto Helms on the floor that we never really see. In ring, Psicosis misses a charge on Kash out on the floor, so Kash hops over the top and plants him with a hurricanrana. Nunzio, meanwhile, gets a Sicilian Slice for two. London launches Kendrick into Nunzio and Funaki. Then London and Kendrick each nail splashes off the top onto the floor on three guys. In ring, back elbow by Helms on Crazy, Shining Wizard misses and Crazy gets a spinning heel kick to the face for two as Kendrick breaks it up. Kendrick hits Sliced Bread #2 on Helms for two. London comes off the top with a double stomp on Helms chest for two as Scotty breaks that up. Whip into the ropes, Scotty hits a superkick on London sending him out. Scotty hits the bulldog on Helms, then sets up for the WORM while everybody else fights on the floor. He hits the chop, but Psicosis pulls him out. Kash comes in to fight with Psicosis, Kash gets a kick to the head and then hits the Dead Level brainbuster. Crazy hits a moonsault on Kash as he covers Psicosis and Helms sneaks back in the ring to pin Psicosis for the three count at 9:42.
Winner by pinfall: Gregory Helms
Analysis: **3/4 Good action, but it was hard to follow at times since it wasn’t a traditional match and it was difficult to keep up with everything. The story was good, though, because it got Helms over as a chickenshit heel that escaped with the title. I’m all for adding character to the cruisers. That’s what they needed. It was the smart choice for the opening match.
After the match, Helms celebrated with the title and the other cruiserweights chased after him.
Backstage, Booker T and Sharmell are complaining to Teddy Long about having to wrestle Benoit because of his groin injury. They literally get down on their knees to beg to him to get out of the match. Long tells Booker that he either wrestles or he loses the belt.
There was a shot of backstage interview Kristal Marshall looking great. Finlay interrupts, saying he wants a fight, so he picks up Kristal and carries her to the ring. Apparently picking up a woman and carrying her to the ring is reason enough to play his theme music too.
Bobby Lashley’s music started to play and he charged down to the ring to fight Finlay. Finlay gets a knee to the groin and some stomps on the head of Lashley. As Finlay beats him down, JBL’s limo arrives and he hurries to the ring to take advantage. Lashley tosses Finlay with a suplex and the match begins. Finlay was escorted to the back by referees.
Analysis: They were doing everything they could to get fans to support Lashley, so having Lashley save a beautiful woman was a way to do it. Lashley dated Kristal around this time and they had a kid together.
John Bradshaw Layfield (w/Jillian Hall) vs. Bobby Lashley
Pre-match notes: JBL was the heel and Lashley was the face on the rise.
Eye poke by JBL, Lashley comes back with punches, kicks and shoulders to the gut. Whip in, charge is countered with a big boot and shoulder block by JBL. Into the ropes, leapfrog by Lashley, shoulder and then after some knees he gets a back body drop. Lashley charges in, then hits a backdrop as JBL bails to the floor. He puts Jillian Hall in front of him, Lashley pauses, eye poke and Lashley rams him into the steps. Jillian smacks Lashley with the clipboard on the back and Lashley hits an overhead belly to belly suplex on JBL on the floor. Back in the ring, kickout at two by JBL. Delayed suplex by Lashley as the crowd wakes up a bit since they are impressed by him. JBL tosses Lashley out through the ropes, then hits a big boot sending Lashley out on the floor. JBL sent Lashley headfirst into the steps as a “JBL sucks” chant starts up. In the ring, JBL hits an elbow off the top that wasn’t exactly Randy Savage-like. That gets two. Forearms and kicks slow down Lashley in the turnbuckle, and then a neck breaker by JBL in the middle of the ring. JBL hit another neckbreaker and a series of elbows lead to a two count. Standing now, they exchange punches until JBL locked in a sleeper. Lashley tries to fight it, but JBL manages to sink him down in the hold. Instead of the ref raising the arm, JBL covers him for two. Boots to the head by JBL send Lashley down. JBL to the top, he leaps off and Lashley counters whatever JBL was doing with a huge powerslam. Lashley hits a couple of clotheslines to send JBL down, then three straight belly to belly suplexes. There’s a fourth one as JBL’s eye area is busted open hardway. Dominator by Lashley escaped by JBL, so Lashley hits a T-Bone suplex for two. Finlay comes in through the crowd, throws ring announcer Tony Chimel into the ring to distract the ref and then Finlay cracks Lashley in the head with the shillelagh. The ref, who was still dealing with Chimel in the ring, never sees it and JBL hits the Clothesline From Hell for the three count at 10:56. That was Lashley’s first singles loss ever.
Winner by pinfall: JBL
Analysis: **1/4 It was just okay with a cheap ending to protect Lashley by using Finlay to help JBL win the match over a common enemy. It was too slow at times, but Lashley’s comeback was impressive and got the crowd going, so that was encouraging to see. I don’t think this was the best way or best time to end Lashley’s winning streak. The announcers tried to put over Lashley’s effort saying he almost beat a former WWE champion.
Post match, JBL celebrated the win with Jillian while JBL had blood around his right eye. Lashley was selling the shillelagh attack.
There was an announcement that WrestleMania 22 would take place in 42 days.
They announced a surprise appearance as Batista gets introduced to a huge ovation. He was in a black suit. He’s here for three reasons, he says. The first reason is because he wants to see Angle vs. Undertaker for the World Title. The second reason is because he misses it, he misses the crowd. He says it’s hard watching Smackdown on the couch every week. The crowd chants his name. The third reason is his torn triceps isn’t torn anymore. He’s in rehab every day and sooner rather than later he’ll be back. It doesn’t matter who the champ is because he will be back and he will reclaim his World Heavyweight Title. After the speech, he hugs some people around ringside as well as Tazz, Cole and the guys at the Spanish announce table. Pretty cool moment if you were there live I think. Good to see Batista again.
Analysis: Batista returned to the ring about five months later in July 2006. He missed about six months of action after surgery on his arm.
Backstage, they show Kurt Angle in his locker room watching the TV. Randy Orton walks into the room talking to Angle. Orton says he’ll be the World Champion when Batista gets back. Angle says he’s the World Heavyweight Championship and he said he’s he’s not thinking about Orton because he’s focused on The Undertaker.
They show JBL and Jillian backstage talking to WWE.com about his match.
MNM (Johnny Nitro and Joey Mercury) w/Melina vs. Matt Hardy & Tatanka
Pre-match notes: MNM were the WWE Tag Team Champions, but this was not a title match. It was Melina challenging Matt Hardy and a partner to a tag team match.
This is non-title, which should let you know who is winning it. The surprise here is Tatanka is Matt Hardy’s partner. It gets a mild reaction at best. The announcers talked about how Tatanka was a good choice. Not really.
Analysis: A line from my 2006 review: “I can’t believe I’m writing about a Tatanka match in 2006.” It was so weird that they brought him back. It felt so random.
Mercury jumps Hardy before the match, but Matt comes fighting back with some fists to get the advantage. Armbar, then a legdrop on the arm by Hardy on the mat. Tag to Tatanka, he chops Mercury, but Joey gets an eye gouge and tags in Nitro, who gets arm dragged by Hardy. Tag to Hardy, double back body drop and then a double elbow followed up by a double fallaway slam type of move on Mercury as MNM regroups on the floor. Mercury chokes Hardy on the ropes, then Nitro in ring stomps away on Matt. Nitro chokes him on the ropes, Melina bitchslaps him pretty hard because he turned down her offer to join the MNM team. Double neckbreaker by Matt, then he tags in Tatanka who hits a bunch of clotheslines and chops. Mercury ducks out on the floor, Tatanka follows and chops him a bunch of times, with final chop being extremely hard. MNM triple teams Tatanka on the floor with Melina doing the thumb to the eye and Nitro coming off the apron with a dropkick. Back in the ring again, they double team Tatanka. Mercury hits a knee drop for two. Melina does her scream that I love. Nitro hits a running knee in the corner. “Cole, you’ve never heard a girl scream like that unless you asked them on a date.” I love Tazz sometimes. Tatanka’s comeback attempt fails as he gets beat down and they make a tag again leading to a double elbow. Really loud Melina yell again. I’m with Tazz on this, I like it too. Tatanka tries another comeback, but Mercury hits a reverse neckbreaker on him. To the top, Tatanka catches him on the leap and hits an atomic drop. Nitro off the top with nothing, Tatanka chops him down and he gets the hot tag to Hardy. Matt hits some clotheslines and a tilt a whirl sideslam on Mercury, then a bulldog/clothesline combo on both guys. Slam on Mercury, then the middle rope elbow. Sloppy Side Effect by Hardy to Nitro. Twist of Fate to Mercury is shoved off as Nitro hits a superkick on Hardy. Double whip in, Hardy gets a double clothesline again. Tag to Tatanka who comes off the top with chops to each guy. Tatanka with a Samoan Drop on Mercury, Hardy with a Twist of Fate on Nitro and Tatanka scores the pin on Mercury at 10:28. The finish drew a good pop with Cole calling it an upset.
Winners by pinfall: Matt Hardy & Tatanka
Analysis: *3/4 The match was just okay. I wasn’t a fan of Tatanka being on the receiving end of punishment for much of the match because his comebacks were weak. The fact that it was non-title pretty much confirmed the finish. It wasn’t a bad match, but it was nothing special either. This was WWE’s attempt at trying to boost the tag team division that was weak at the time.
WrestleMania 22 is Big Time apparently because they used the song “Big Time” from Peter Gabriel as the theme song for WrestleMania 22.
The video package aired for Booker T defending the US Title against Chris Benoit. The story here is they had the best of 7 series, Booker hurt his groin and Orton won the title for him at the end of that series thanks to Booker attacking Benoit with the US Title. Benoit won a number one contender’s match a title shot. The week before Smackdown, we learned Booker was faking a groin injury for weeks leading up to this match.
Chris Benoit made his entrance first. Booker T was up next with Sharmell and the US Title was in his hands. Before the match starts, Booker cuts a promo in ring saying he’s made up his mind. He says there will not be a US championship match tonight. Booker asks Teddy Long to come out there. He says he can beat Benoit when he was healthy, but tonight because he’s not healthy. And here comes Long. Booker says he’s going to forfeit the US Title. Then he goes to walk out of the ring, steps through the ropes and is on the floor as Benoit grabs the microphone starting a “Coward! Coward!” chant that the crowd picks up on. Benoit says there is no way in hell he’s going to take the title by forfeit, so he wants Booker to get back in there and take it like a man. Sharmell blames Benoit for Booker’s injury and slaps Benoit three times as Booker comes in from behind with a forearm. The match is on.
Analysis: That was just Booker doing the cowardly heel thing to get heat on him wanting to get out of the match.
United States Championship: Booker T. (c) w/Sharmell vs. Chris Benoit
Pre-match notes: Booker was the heel US Champion with wife Sharmell by his side and Benoit was the face challenger.
Booker pounds on him in the corner. Benoit fights back with the usual array of chops and punches. Benoit dumps him out to the floor, then follows him out there with some more nasty chops. Back in the ring, Booker gets in a few boots to the ribs. Benoit blocks a suplex, then hits a snap suplex of his own. Back suplex gets two for Benoit. More hard chops in the corner. Booker goes for a rolling cradle out of the corner, Benoit counters it and punches him in the face. Baseball slide by Benoit sends Booker out to the floor. He works on the back by ramming Booker back first into the apron and then the shoulder by whipping him hard into the steel steps. The camera closes in on Booker as he tells Charles Robinson his groin hurts, Benoit gives him some time and Booker tosses him knee first into the steps showing he was faking his groin injury at that moment. In ring, standing sidekick gets two for Booker. Wristlock by Booker, then a go behind takedown as Benoit tries to roll away. Benoit trips him up with his leg as Booker sinks in a full nelson. Or is it a Bookerlock? A hammerlock by Booker is countered with elbows by Benoit and then a release German Suplex. The crowd is quiet for this match, but they pick up with Benoit’s crossface attempt that Booker rolls out of and hits a nice spin kick to the mush of Benoit that gets two.
Booker whips Benoit in the ropes and catches him with a sleeper hold as the crowd starts up a “Let’s Go Benoit” chant. Long sleeper hold, the arm drops twice and Benoit keeps it from going down a third time. Shocking, no? Back Suplex by Benoit. Back up with both guys staggering, Booker hits a stun gun. Love that move. Suplex by Booker and then another gets him a two count. With both guys standing up again, they have a chop contest that Benoit wins. Whip in, charge and Booker counters with a boot to the face. Kick to the gut, Scissors Kick misses, more chops by Benoit, then the running back elbows followed by the rolling vertical suplexes (Three Amigos) as the crowd cheers loudly for the two count. Booker counters a whip, then hits a jumping spin kick to the jaw. Booker to the top, Benoit headbutts him to weaken him and hits a superplex that gets a good nearfall. Benoit charges in, Booker catches him and hits a hard spinebuster. Booker up top, Harlem Hangover! Benoit moved to avoid the flipping leg drop. It’s been a long time since Booker has done that move, that’s for sure. They just called it a front flip. Way to know your history, boys. Benoit hits the three rolling German suplexes. To the top for the headbutt, Sharmell is on the apron and Booker crotches Benoit. Scissors kick by Booker, he’s slow to cover and Benoit kicks out at two to a huge pop. Great nearfall because that was one of Booker’s finishers and the fans didn’t expect a kickout there. Into the ropes, Booker does his rollup out of the corner move, Benoit rolls through that and goes for the Sharpshooter. Sharmell’s on the apron, Booker shrugs Benoit off and he goes into the ropes knocking Sharmell down by accident. It looked a bit too choreographed, but it was effective anyway. Kick by Booker misses, Sharpshooter by Benoit in the middle of the ring. Booker’s about to tap, Benoit drops down and slaps on the Crossface as Booker taps out rather quickly to that at 18:13.
Winner and NEW United States Champion: Chris Benoit
There was a huge pop by the fans for Benoit win. Cole and Tazz put it over as a big title change.
Analysis: ***1/2 It was a very good match. They had such great chemistry together that they always are going to pull off a three-star match if they get over 15 minutes of ring time. Getting nearly 20 minutes for a US Title match showed that WWE cared about their secondary title on Smackdown and this felt like a big deal even though these guys wrestled a lot in the previous three months leading up to this. I really liked the finish, especially the finish with Benoit dropping from the Sharpshooter into the Crossface. Also, props to Booker for having such a good match after being out for a couple months.
Benoit celebrated with the US Title. The announcers put over the title change as a big deal. The fans chanted “you tapped out” at Booker as he left with Sharmell.
Analysis: Benoit went on to defend the US Title at WrestleMania 22 against JBL at, who won earlier in the show. Poor Booker was forced to “wrestle” The Boogeyman during a low point of that WrestleMania.
Backstage, Rey Mysterio hugged Chris Benoit. Teddy Long congratulated Benoit as well. Then other Smackdown babyfaces are there to congratulate him as well, even Pat Patterson. Chavo Guerrero and Vickie Guerrero, Eddie’s widow, are there to hug him. Benoit tells Rey that he’ll see him later after Rey beats Randy Orton. Benoit says Rey is doing it for everybody there, as well as Eddie Guerrero.
The video package aired to set up Rey Mysterio vs. Randy Orton. The story here is Rey Mysterio won the Royal Rumble to go on to WrestleMania to challenge for the World Heavyweight Title. Mysterio won the Rumble by last eliminating Orton. Orton bitched about it, then pissed him off by tarnishing the name of Eddie Guerrero and said that Eddie was not in heaven, he was in hell. Orton’s comments pissed off Mysterio, so Rey agreed to put the number one contendership on the line in this match.
Analysis: The Orton comments about Eddie being in hell really pissed off a lot of fans at the time. It’s easy to see why people were mad that WWE was tarnishing Eddie’s name like that. They also mentioned Eddie’s death often on Smackdown, so there were a lot of questions about whether it was the best thing to do. I thought they used Eddie’s name and memory too much, but it didn’t surprise me that WWE would do that.
Randy Orton made his entrance to good heat with Michael Cole calling Orton a “disgraceful man” for the things he said about Guerrero in the build up to this match. Rey Mysterio got a loud ovation for his entrance. Before the match, they showed Rey’s wife and daughter at ringside.
Number One Contender’s Match: Randy Orton vs. Rey Mysterio
Pre-match notes: Orton was the heel and Mysterio was the face.
There are lots of “Eddie” chants as the bell rings. They start slow with Orton getting the physical advantage on Rey in the early going. Rey takes him down with a side headlock takedown, into the ropes and he hits one of his crazy face first bulldogs for two. Rey pounds on him in the corner as the crowd chants “619” for him. Springboard crossbody by Rey misses due to Randy moving out of the way. Knee to the face by Orton in the corner, then a boot and some forearms to Mysterio’s back. Hard cross corner whip sends Mysterio down hard getting a two count for Orton. Another “Eddie” chant as Orton mocks one of his Eddie’s signature dances for some heat. Tilt a whirl headscissors by Rey sends Orton out to the floor. Rey charges on the apron, he leaps, Orton catches him and slams him side first into the ringpost. Ouch. Orton tosses him back in the ring, then works on the arm with a standing armbar. Rey fights out, kick to the face, Orton blocks a comeback, puts him on his shoulder and drops down with a neckbreaker. Cool move. Obviously, he can’t do that against just any opponent and Rey sold it great. Mysterio tries to fight out with kicks, Orton hits the arm, but Rey finally hits a hurricanrana off the ropes as he continues to sell the arm injury. Orton stomps on Rey’s shoulder as Michael Cole goes over the top with his criticisms of Orton. Meanwhile, Orton uses the steps to injure Rey’s left hand and arm. Back in the ring, Orton gets a two count.
Orton uses the bottom rope to stretch Rey’s arm underneath it. Orton goes for that neckbreaker again while Rey fights out of it with an arm drag. Flying forearm by Mysterio and then a drop toe hold to slow Orton down. Mysterio to the top, Orton puts him on his shoulders, steps on the middle ropes with him in an electric chair position and Mysterio counters it into a sunset flip powerbomb for two. Great move. Whip in, Rey gets a dropkick to the knees, then the springboard seated senton off the top followed by a rolling necksnap for two. The crowd is getting into it now. Mysterio with a kick to the knee, springboard moonsault attempt is caught by Orton and Rey reverses into something that I’d call a reverse bulldog. Randy slows it down with a thumb to the eye, Rey comes back with kicks. Rey goes up top for a crossbody, but he jumps right into Orton hitting a beautiful dropkick. Orton goes for an RKO, Rey counters with a dropkick of his own. There’s 619 by Rey, Orton ducks out, schoolboy, ref counts, one…rope is grabbed…two…three. The referee Jimmy Korderas never saw the hand on the ropes for Orton, so Orton wins it at 17:28.
Winner by pinfall: Randy Orton
Analysis: ***1/4 The match was solid with a cheap finish that was fitting for a heel like Orton that had no problem cheating. Much like some of the other matches on this show, the outcome was predictable. I think they were saving a lot of the more intense stuff for a future match because they worked a pace that was slower than I would have expected. Plus, there were no finishers that connected. I wasn’t a huge fan of Rey selling the left arm because Orton never really attempted submission moves that were believable finishers, but he did a pretty good job doing it. It’s a good match, but I thought it would be better.
Post match, Orton is on the entrance ramp. Orton grabs the microphone: “I am going to the main event of WrestleMania. Where are you going?” Orton posed and left.
With Randy gone, they show Rey in ring struggling with his emotions as everybody is quiet. Rey makes his way to the back while the announcers talk about the missed opportunity by Mysterio.
They show Rey backstage as he meets up with Chavo and Vickie. Rey says sorry. Chavo tells Rey to pick his chin up, gives him a hug and tells him he didn’t let anybody down. Rey hugs Vickie and she tells him it’s okay. Rey walks down the locker room to see the other Smackdown babyfaces who don’t really know what to say to him. I like when they show stuff like that. It puts over how important wins and losses are, which is what pro wrestling is supposed to do.
Analysis: At the time, we didn’t know what was going to happen next. We all learned on Smackdown the next week that Rey was in the World Title match anyway. The best thing would have been to not have Rey put the title shot up for grabs and just say if Orton won he’d be added to the main event because everybody knew what the outcome was going to be.
There was a video package for the main event. They show Kurt Angle winning the World Title in the battle royal with Angle barely beating Mark Henry to win it. After Angle beat Henry at the Royal Rumble, The Undertaker showed up and focused on Angle to set up this match. There were video packages on both men showing the success they have had in their careers.
Kurt Angle made his entrance first as the World Heavyweight Champion. I like when the champ goes last, but when The Undertaker was involved, WWE liked having him go last. Big ovation for Undertaker. Angle got a pretty good pop too. The announcers did an awesome job of making this seem big time by calling it arguably the greatest match in Smackdown history.
Analysis: I’m going to leave in my live play by play from 2006 when I wrote about this live just to let you see how I excited I was about it. Angle was my favorite guy in wrestling at the time while I knew Undertaker could have a great match with him. We just didn’t know what kind of match they were going to have.
World Heavyweight Championship: Kurt Angle (c) vs. The Undertaker
Pre-match notes: Angle was the World Heavyweight Champion. Angle and Undertaker were both faces.
The ref, Nick Patrick, holds the belt up and the bell rings. Undertaker charges, Angle moves under it and gets a waistlock while Undertaker counters, making it to the ropes. Angle bails to the floor after another Undertaker charge. Side headlock by Taker, then a shoulder knockdown gets a one count. Armbar by Taker and he rams Angle’s left wrist/hand into the top rope. He picks Angle up by his hand, flips him down and drops the leg on his arm for a short arm scissors followed by a key lock on that arm. Two future Hall of Famers, Tazz says. He’s right, unless they piss off Vince. The crowd does the dueling chants, half chanting “Let’s Go Taker!” and the other half going “Let’s Go Angle!” Old school top rope clothesline by Undertaker, then he hits a flatliner for two. It was not called that, but that’s the move. Angle avoided the big boot to the face and hit a German Suplex for two. Angle works him over in the corner, Undertaker gets control, charges in the opposite corner, high kick misses and he gets crotched. Taker’s on the apron, Angle charges and Undertaker falls off the apron heading side first into the barrier. Angle meets him on the floor, rams him headfirst on the steps. He goes in to break the count, then leaps out on Taker who catches him and drives Angle back first into the steps. Taker drives an elbow to Angle’s neck, then hits the legdrop on the apron across the throat of Angle. I love that move. Back in the ring, Taker gets two. Chokeslam attempt by Taker, Angle kicks him in the knees and Taker comes back with a big right hand to the mouth. Whip in, Angle gets a clip to the left knee with his forearm. Then he stomps on the left knee. He pulls him out to the corner, then rams Undertaker’s left knee into the pole twice. Ringpost figure four! Woo! I love this move. The announcers didn’t reference Bret Hart, but he’s the one that brought that move to WWE in 1997. Back in the ring, Angle covers for just one. This match is great so far.
Angle stomps on Undertaker on the mat, Undertaker tries to grab him so Kurt punches him in the face a bunch of times. Angle works on the knee some more using the ropes for help. Undertaker manages to shove him out of the ring through the ropes. Taker gets some high knees to Angle’s mouth, then after hanging Angle on the apron again, he boots him in the face. He goes for another legdrop on the apron, but Angle blocked it. He caught Undertaker’s right leg and turned it into the Ankle Lock on the floor. The ref is counting them out. Angle breaks it, then goes out again and puts it on the bad left knee now. The ref is at eight, Angle breaks it again and rolls Undertaker back in. Loving the strategy of this. Loving it! Angle works on the knee some more with stomps and kneebars. Undertaker uses his right leg to break the hold, but Angle is relentless with a double leg takedown leading to some fists to the head. Angle gets off him a bit, so Undertaker hooks the head and arms of Angle into the Triangle Choke. Angle breaks it by getting to the ropes, then he rolls out to the ropes. Taker follows him out to the floor, then chucks him into the ring announcer Tony Chimel. Taker punches him in the face, then throws a kick to the mouth. Taker takes off the stuff on the English announce table, then rolls back in, scares the ref and comes back out only to be caught by Angle into an Angle Slam onto the Spanish Announce Table causing that to break. What a great counter. Did I mention I am loving this match? I am. A lot. When Angle finally gets back into the ring like a minute later the ref counts again. He gets up to nine and Angle tells the ref he doesn’t want a countout win. He wants to beat him 1, 2, 3 in the ring. He throws in a couple swear words while doing it too. That’s just more reason to love Angle. Angle goes to toss Taker into the steps, Undertaker counters and Angle crashes shoulder first into them while also hitting his throat on a piece of wood from the table. With Angle back in the ring, Undertaker went to the top. At least Michael Cole pointed out Undertaker never does that. Kurt catches him up there, but his superplex attempt is blocked by Undertaker who shoves him off. Undertaker balances himself, then Angle hits the pop-up superplex for a very good nearfall. They stagger up to their feet punching eachother, but Taker wins that thanks to a right boot to the jaw.
Undertaker sets him up for a chokeslam again, Angle counters with a roll through and puts the ankle lock on the bad left leg of the Undertaker. Throughout the match the announcers mentioned that neither guy has ever tapped out in their career. Undertaker counters the ankle lock by rolling out and putting the Triangle Choke on again. Angle rolls through that into another ankle lock. Man, this is awesome. Just freakin’ awesome. Undertaker gets out of that, hits a chokeslam and is a bit slow to cover due to the leg. One…two…no! Awesome nearfall. Tazz was yelling “new champ” the whole time and some of the crowd booed when Kurt kicked out. Kick to the gut, Last Ride powerbomb, Angle rolls through THAT and puts the ankle lock on the left leg again. Wow. Undertaker gets close to the ropes, so Angle pulls him back out. Undertaker uses his right leg to power out of that. Clothesline attempt countered into the Angle Slam for the one…two…th…NO! Another tremendous nearfall as each guy is kicking out of finishers. Angle pulls the straps down, Undertaker sits up. The crowd is going nuts! They trade punches, Undertaker wins that and sets him up for a Tombstone piledriver. Angle counters that for one of his own maybe, but Undertaker wins that battle and Angle using his hands crawled down Undertaker’s leg to slap on the ankle lock on the left ankle again. Holy shit, what a tremendous exchange that was! I’ve never seen a counter to the Tombstone like that before. I know I sound like a lame announcer, but that was amazing. Angle drops down on the ankle lock this time. Not many have gotten out of this position. Undertaker is close to tapping, crowd is going batshit, Undertaker turns to his back and uses his right foot to boot Angle in the face enough times to break the hold. Angle pops up again with an Angle Slam, goes for another ankle lock, but Undertaker counters into the Triangle Choke. Angle’s left arm is close to tapping as Kurt’s head is turning red, the arm gets lifted twice, but Kurt rolls forward into a bridge for a pinfall for the one…two…three after 29:38 minutes of fantastic professional wrestling. While the ref counted the pinfall, Undertaker still had Angle locked into the Triangle Choke submission.
Winner by pinfall: Kurt Angle
Analysis: ****1/2 Wow. That was awesome. It’s a fantastic match that elevated the World Title to a really high level. I loved how each guy worked on a body part although I would have liked to see Undertaker work on Angle’s arm more in the second half of the match. That’s just a very minor gripe, though. Angle’s work on the leg was perfect because it makes sense considering that’s going to make his finishing move easier to apply and also because he’s the smaller man. The best way to describe the match was that it was a smart match in terms of wrestling psychology. It’s about as “real” as a WWE match is going to be. These are two guys that obviously are big on keeping it real with Angle having the amateur background while Undertaker is a huge fan of MMA that was known as a striker. This was one of those matches where all you can do is tip your hat to both guys for a job well done. I knew Angle had it in him because having great matches is what he does. I wasn’t sure about Undertaker, but he proved he could hang with Angle here. Given the opportunity with the right opponent, The Undertaker showed that he can still go. It was one of the best matches of the year. If this match was at WrestleMania, it would be remembered way better as a classic championship match. Since it was just No Way Out, I doubt a lot of fans remember it as fondly and that’s a shame.
Post match, there’s a lot of confusion as the referee tells Tony Chimel that Kurt Angle wins by pinfall. Undertaker is shocked. He goes to Angle, picks him up and puts him in the corner. He leans in to say he’s not done with him yet and that he’s got his number. The show ended with Taker and Angle have a staredown.
Analysis: They had a rematch on the March 6, 2006 edition of Smackdown that was outstanding also. Undertaker was attacked by Mark Henry for the DQ finish, which set up Taker vs. Henry at WrestleMania. That Angle/Undertaker match was very good too, around the four star level.
The show had a run time of 2:44:42 on WWE Network.
Show Rating (out of 10): 7.5
This was one of the best brand exclusive (meaning Raw or Smackdown), PPV events in WWE history thanks to a main event that was outstanding. It’s a shame that every main event can’t be that good because this one was special. Angle and Undertaker had a very memorable match that was one of the best matches of both men’s careers.
With the Orton/Mysterio match, I think it was more about getting Orton a cheap win rather than having the best match possible. What people will remember most is that Orton cheated to win. The Benoit/Booker match was fine. It would have been nice if they got to have a gimmick match just once because then they’d be able to do something above their usual three star regular match.
The rest of the show was the usual from Smackdown in this era. There wasn’t anything too memorable, but nothing horrible either. Seven matches in three hours meant that everything was given a good amount of time and nothing felt rushed.
When looking at the show overall, having a main event that’s nearly five stars is pretty and then two matches higher than three, that’s a show that is definitely above average.
Best Match: Kurt Angle vs. The Undertaker (****1/2 out of 5)
Worst Match: Matt Hardy and Tatanka vs. MNM (*3/4)
Five Stars of the Night
1. Kurt Angle
2. The Undertaker
3. Booker T.
4. Chris Benoit
5. (tie) Randy Orton
5. (tie) Rey Mysterio
Next up: WrestleMania 22 from 2006.
Thanks for reading.
John Canton – firstname.lastname@example.org