The Live Wire - By Tony Cottam

TLW: WWE No Way Out 2004 Thoughts

Well, hello. It’s that time once more, the Monday after a PPV. The Monday after the picks of one lone columnist, possibly hampered by the lack of a functioning brain, have gone down the drain. That columnist… is me. Of the matches that were actually announced for the PPV before Sunday Night Heat, I went to a respectable (in light of past performances, anyway) 4 and 2… I’m relatively happy with that, especially given the main event’s eventual winner, but we’ll get to that in due time…

Well, hello. It’s that time once more, the Monday after a PPV. The Monday after the picks of one lone columnist, possibly hampered by the lack of a functioning brain, have gone down the drain. That columnist… is me.

Of the matches that were actually announced for the PPV before Sunday Night Heat, I went to a respectable (in light of past performances, anyway) 4 and 2… I’m relatively happy with that, especially given the main event’s eventual winner, but we’ll get to that in due time…

I wanted to start by just making a few casual observations… Heat was bearable after they had their 45 minutes worth of “PLEASE BUY THE PPV!” hype out of the way – the six man London, Kidman, and Ultimo Dragon vs. Akio, Sakoda and Tajiri tag match was damned good, and wouldn’t you have loved to have seen that given an extra 10 minutes and be put on the PPV to fill in time?

If they want to make a serious go of the Tag division, then Akio & Sakoda and London & Kidman look capable of doing it, and Tajiri and Ultimo would be a great feud to build up and put on the card at WrestleMania… it would maybe make up for the blatant disrespect shown to Ultimo over the past few months, but what do we know? All I know is that there wasn’t a huge amount of people in the arena, but Ultimo still got a decent pop…

Anyway, unusually good Heat match out of the way, and the show got underway with the expected (by me, anyway) opener of Rikishi and Scotty against The Bashams and Shaniqua. Now, probably the most notable thing for me about this match wasn’t anything that was happening in the ring… if you have this taped, or can catch the replay – check the crowd at ringside…

If you look just to the left of the aisle in the centre, hiding behind a big yellow sign… it’s VINCE RUSSO!!! If it’s not, he has a brother or a very good impersonator. He wasn’t in that seat after this match, and to be honest, it’s a good thing, as watching out for him took my mind totally off the match.

Still, I forced myself to ignore him when I watched it again this morning, and it was actually a fairly passable match. There wasn’t a lot of groundbreaking stuff, but you don’t always need it to pop the crowd and set the night off to a good start. Scotty & Rikishi may not be the greatest wrestlers out there, but they know how to work a crowd, and that’s what they do. I’m not gonna knock them for it.

My heart was in my mouth at one point, when Scotty attempted a head scissors and nearly landed both himself and Danny Basham square on top of their heads, but apart from that, solid enough. No Worm and no Stinkface, though… surprising. With the rumours of Shaniqua being a pain in the ass backstage, it could well be that Rikishi’s ass will be the last action she’ll see in ‘the big leagues’ for a while… what a fitting way to go out…

Jamie Noble’s blindfold match wasn’t really worth rating as a wrestling match – because it wasn’t. What it was – was entertaining. The crowd lapped it up, and it made me laugh. Whether or not that means I’m easily pleased or not, I don’t know – but the name of the game is entertain the fans – and this did that.

Yes, it was probably a waste of Noble’s undoubted wrestling skills, but the fact is that the match has restored the heel edge to his character, and that counts for something. For a comedy throwaway match, it did what it was supposed to, and it was short enough not to bother you for too long.

Something really hit home to me when I watched the next match… I despise Bradshaw. Really, I do. Just everything the guy does makes me want to hurl the nearest heavy object at my TV screen… and that’s just not good at all. Bradshaw’s partner in the APA, Faarooq is nearing the end of his in-ring career, and last night, it really did show. Much as I like Faarooq, he just can’t handle the pace these days, and I really felt sorry for him last night. To save his once great reputation, surely he must be thinking of retiring soon.

Still, The World’s Greatest Tag Team made sure this match wasn’t a snoozefest, and put in a solid, assured performance. Shelton Benjamin in particular continues to improve every time I see him, and looks to be the best bet out of the two to achieve eventual success. Seeing Bradshaw take the superkick and be pinned is one of the highlights of the night for me, though… poor Bradshaw – BWAH hahaha!!!

Following this, we had the inevitable plot moment surrounding the arrival of Goldberg, which led to the arrival of Paul Heyman, and Brock Lesnar to trade promos. Paul Heyman continues to demonstrate to the rest of the roster exactly how to cut a promo, and made this segment extremely watchable.

For the first time, the whole Lesnar / Goldberg issue did look like a big deal. From the time Goldberg jumped into the ring and squared up to Lesnar, to the Jackhammer, and Goldberg’s ‘arrest’ the whole confrontation looked to be a really big issue, and bodes well for their eventual WrestleMania showdown. Heyman’s screaming for security and jumping about outside the ring did nearly steal the show, though…

After that ‘excitement’ came the hastily scheduled Hardcore Holly vs. Rhyno match. Not a bad match to be honest, with Rhyno really dishing out some stiff looking punishment to Holly… not a bad thing, when you think about it. Seemed a bit strange for Hardcore to just pop up out of nowhere and take the win, but I guess that just means that Rhyno isn’t totally out of the WWE doghouse yet.

Next, the WWE finally delivered what a lot of peeps, including me, have been wanting for a long time – a Cruiserweight match on PPV, given more than 10 minutes. Chavo and Rey were allowed over 17 minutes – the second longest of the night – to put on a great match.

If the WWE are serious about finally allowing the Cruisers some decent TV time and a decent push, then this could be the match that swings it. The crowd were hot for this one, and full marks to both Rey and Chavo Jr. for building on it and really turning the heat up. Even Chavo Sr. and that boxer (whose name I still don’t know, or really care about) kept their involvement to a minimum.

Chavo Sr. did interfere with Rey to bring about the loss, but that is just classic heel work. Hopefully, we’ll get a huge rematch at WrestleMania out this issue – I don’t think it’s over and done with quite yet. Nice touch to interview Chavo after his win backstage – it does add a touch of legitimacy to the title that at the moment, it sorely needs.

It wasn’t really a surprise to see Kurt end up as the #1 contender for the WWE title, it was a kind of surprise to see the match only go for about 12 minutes – I thought that this would have come in at least 20 minutes. Big Show and Cena’s injuries are obviously taking more of a toll than previously though.

Big Show continues to impress me with his desire to work, even if his body can’t quite keep up with the pace. The bump he took in the closing moments of the match – an Angle Slam over the top rope to the floor – was extremely impressive. Top marks, that man!

In the end, Angle would make Cena tap – and I still maintain that Angle will turn 100% heel in the next couple of weeks, and it will be revealed that he attacked Eddie the night of the Smackdown rumble, and that his ‘mystery attacker’ last week was just a plan of his… he’s a devious one, is Kurt… Still, this was a good, solid match, especially allowing for injuries to 2 out of the 3 participants.

The build up to the main event was fantastic – Brock came out first, which allowed Eddie to milk the crowd and turn the Cow Palace (great name!) into Guerrero heaven… the crowd were 100% behind Eddie all the way, and that made for a great atmosphere.

We all knew Goldberg would return to cost Brock the title (well, I did anyway – ha!) but it was a matter of when, and how the match would go before that. I really think that this was Brock’s finest hour since he debuted in the WWE… the booking was perfect, it allowed Brock to do what he does best, and showed that Eddie couldn’t match him for strength, and had to rely on his veteran instincts.

Brock and Eddie put on easily the best match of the year so far for me – this will be in the running for Match Of The Year come December – and told a great story all the way through. Even the continuity in the match was spot on – Brock charged at Eddie with a high knee early in the match; later on he tried the same again, Eddie ducked, which sent Brock spilling to the outside and set up the Guerrero assault on his leg… great attention to detail.

And what a finish! Goldberg’s interference (quick question – how did he have time to break his handcuffs, escape from the police and put a shirt on?) may have stolen the headlines from the WWE’s point of view, but Eddie’s Tornado DDT counter to the F5 was just incredible… and what a moment when he took the pin. The crowd reaction seemed to be reminiscent of Mick Foley’s first title win, and Eddie celebrating with his family was a great way to end the show.

It’s good to see Eddie finally getting the recognition he deserves, he’s been incredible over the past year, and it’s strange to think that the WWE is now on the brink of having Eddie Guerrero and Chris Benoit as the respective brand’s champions… Real wrestling is coming back peeps! Whooo!

So, to sum up – it was a good show, better than I thought it would be. The extended cruiserweight match and the classic main event – I don’t do star ratings, but I would give it five without even thinking – really made it seem that little bit special.

Smackdown’s PPVs continue to wipe the floor with the Raw PPVs… oh it’s true… it’s DAMN true.

Here’s my highlights of the night (apologies to Chris Jericho) :

Line of the night : “Oh, you’re GOLDBERG… well, sir – I’m HEYMAN – Paul Heyman” — Paul Heyman addressing Goldberg at ringside.
Move of the night : Eddie Guerrero’s Tornado DDT counter to Lesnar’s F5.
Moment of the night : Eddie celebrating with his parents after he won the WWE Championship.

So with that – I’ll see you next week. Until then, have fun, go mad.

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Tony Cottam

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