In the era before Super Showdown, Elimination Chamber, Roadblock or Fastlane, No Way Out was the final stop on the road to WrestleMania.
From a sold-out Hartford Civic Center in Connecticut, Vince McMahon’s World Wrestling Federation presents the second annual No Way Out pay per view. The road to WrestleMania 2000 is now full speed ahead.
As with all PPVs of the era, we open with a vignette in which Foley expresses his desire to main event WrestleMania but recognises he has to beat HHH tonight to do so. The crowd are a sea of signs as pyro hits and Jim Ross and Jerry ‘The King’ Lawler welcome us on commentary.
The opening contest sees two champions square off as Chris Jericho defends his WWF Intercontinental Championship against WWF European Champion, The Olympic Gold Medallist, Kurt Angle.
Kurt gets on the mic, claiming that after winning both titles, he will be ending the night as the new Eurocontinental Champion. He bashes the Hartford Whalers, an ice hockey team that had recently left the city and says much like them he will also be leaving the city, but unlike them, he will one day return. The Ninth Wonder of the World, Chyna, then enters the arena to spectate at ringside, having formed an alliance of sorts with Jericho in recent weeks.
Y2J welcomes the crowd to ‘Harford is Jericho’ and ridicules Angle by saying his 3 I’s should stand for idiot, imbecile, and ignoramus, before adding a fourth I of his own; Intercontinental Championship. Jericho berates Angle further, calling him ‘Kirk Angel,’ a long-running trope of Jericho’s being the mispronunciation of opponents’ names.
It must be said how incredible these two were (and indeed still are) on the mic, and it’s pretty crazy to think this was the opening matchup of the show when a couple of years later this match would be the calibre that could main event any event in the world. The match gets underway but the action quickly spills to the outside of the ring, and the two put on a wrestling clinic. The match ended when Angle countered a lionsault by hitting Jericho in the face with one of the title belts while the ref was distracted by Chyna who had inadvertently taken a bump outside the ring. Kurt Angle is now a double champion and holds both the European and Intercontinental titles, your new Eurocontinental champion.
Backstage, the Dudley Boys cut a promo on the New Age Outlaws. The Dudleys say that there are two words the Outlaws and the rest of D-Generation X love to say, but tonight the Dudleys have two words for them; 3 D.
Bubba Ray and D-Von, having debuted in WWF only a matter of months earlier, would challenge reigning champions Road Dogg and Billy Gunn, currently on their sixth reign, for the WWF Tag Team Championships.
The turning point in this match came when Bubba Ray struck Billy on the outside of the ring with a lead pipe, which was not seen by the referee, allowing them a two on one advantage and the opening to hit the 3D to win the titles. A fun enough match, but nothing spectacular. Both teams would return for nostalgia runs in WWE years later.
Meanwhile, Kurt Angle is celebrating with the fans.
A recap of the rivalry so far between Mark Henry and Viscera explains that Viscera had splashed Mae Young on a recent episode of RAW, prompting a beatdown from Henry and setting this clash of the hosses. Looking back, I think Henry’s Three Six Mafia theme was a much better fit for him than ‘Sexual Chocolate’. The mother of Mark Henry’s hand-child, Mae Young interferes and distracts Viscera, creating the opening for Henry to hit his signature World’s Strongest Slam for the pinfall victory.
Tag Team action next, as Edge and Christian square off against the Hardy Boyz to determine the number 1 contenders for the tag title. Terri, who at the time accompanied the Hardys, had hired protection in the form of the APA – Farooq and Bradshaw, who stood at ringside to watch the match.
The match concluded with a swerve when Tori turned on the Hardys, pushing Jeff off of the top rope. This would distract Matt who was in the ring at the time, allowing Christian to take advantage and win the match. The Hardys confront Terri and it becomes clear why she had hired the APA, as Bradshaw and Farooq rush to the ring and beat them up.
The match between Tazz and The Big Boss Man lasted only 83 seconds. Tazz had applied his signature Tazzmission hold to Big Boss Man, prompting Prince Albert who was at ringside to attack Tazz, awarding him the win via disqualification. Albert and Boss Man would continue to beat down Tazz following this.
In a shock result, X-Pac defeated Kane in a No Holds Barred match. The match started with the two brawling outside the ring and on the entrance ramp. X-Pac picked up the victory after drop-kicking a set of steel steps which connected with Kane’s head, which was enough to keep the Big Red Machine out for the pinfall.
Backstage, the Radicalz say they are here to make a statement. The group had recently defected from WCW, with Benoit, Malenko, and Saturn all featuring on the WCW Souled Out PPV just one month earlier, a show that I had the pleasure of retro reviewing last month. Eddie Guerrero is currently injured with a dislocated elbow but says he will be there for ‘moral support’ as he reveals a steel pipe.
The Too Cool trio of Rikishi, Scotty Too Hotty, and Grandmaster Sexay would defeat the Radicalz team of Dean Malenko, Chris Benoit, and Perry Saturn in a six-man tag team match. Benoit gets a stinkface which must have had him wondering whether the grass was greener in the WWF, and we are treated to the crowd favourite ‘Worm’ delivered by Scotty Too Hotty. Rikishi would pin Dean Malenko after hitting a Banzai Drop.
The previous month’s Royal Rumble match had seen The Rock win the Rumble match, last eliminating The Big Show. It would later transpire that the Brahma Bull’s feet had touched the floor during the elimination, meaning that Big Show was the rightful winner of the match. As a result, the two faced off in a number 1 contender’s match this evening to settle who will be heading to the Main Event of WrestleMania 16 to challenge for the WWF Championship, currently held by Triple H.
The match would prove to be full of controversy, as referee Tim White would get knocked out, only to later recover and fight with Earl Hebner who had filled in in White’s absence. This scuffle would cause White to miss a visual pinfall as Shane McMahon emerged to intervene. Just as it looked as though The People’s Champion was about to win, McMahon struck him with a chair which would allow Big Show the pin, and a place in the main event of WrestleMania.
The main event would see Mick Foley under his Cactus Jack persona challenge Triple H for the WWF Championship in a Hell in a Cell match. Trips had defeated Catcus in a Street Fight at the previous month’s Royal Rumble, and if Jack couldn’t win the title tonight he would “retire” from wrestling.
A violent Hell in a Cell match that saw HHH have most of the opening offence, attacking Cactus with the stairs as well as a steel chair. Foley would fight back with a series of chair related moves, including a diving chair from the top turnbuckle to the outside of the ring. Cactus threw the stairs, missing Triple H but instead breaking open the cell. The two fought outside the cell and Cactus piledrove Triple H on the announcer’s table and continued the onslaught with a barbed wire baseball bat. Triple H retreated to the top of the cell, and when Foley attempted to chase him, Triple H stopped him from climbing to the top of the cell, sending him through the announce table.
Foley would eventually find his way to the top of the cage and attacked Triple H with a flaming barbed wired two-by-four, which he attempted to piledrive Triple H on to. This would prove to be his downfall, as it led to a huge spot with Foley falling through the cell, breaking a section of the ring with the impact. There was no way Foley could continue after that so another Pedigree put him away, with Triple H retaining the WWF Championship.
This match is definitely worth going back and watching on the WWE Network, and it featured a lot of crazy bumps that are often overlooked when compared to Foley’s first falls off and through the cell in his infamous match with The Undertaker. Foley is phenomenal at making his opponent look good – Triple H came out of this match looking like an absolute star thanks to Foley, much like Edge and Randy Orton did after their matches with Foley years later.
As so the main event of WrestleMania 2000 is now set to be Triple H vs. The Big Show… or is it? The match would go on to become a fatal four-way match also including The Rock and Cactus Jack who had seemingly changed his mind on the retirement.