WrestleWatch: No Way Out 2009
With this year's installment of the Elimination Chamber happening in mere days (Sunday night in America, Monday morning for me here in Australia), I decided to turn the clock back a decade and watch one of my favourite Elimination Chamber matches in WWE history. The PPV- No Way Out 2009. Like the upcoming Elimination Chamber 2019 PPV, it took place in February, wedged between the Rumble and Wrestlemania, and like the upcoming PPV, No Way Out boasted not one, but two, Chamber matches. Let's get to the show!
Look at that line-up. Look at that fucking line-up. A slew of future WWE Hall Of Famers... and Vladimir Kozlov & Mike Knox.
When I review shows from 2005, I give you a context section because I'm actually watching all the Raw and Smackdowns for that time period. I cherry-picked No Way Out 2009 as my Elimination Chamber prep, so sorry, don't have the context. Going in, Cena is World Heavyweight Champion, defending his belt in the Raw Chamber Match against the men beside him in the above picture, while Edge is WWE Champion and Smackdown head honcho, seen above surrounded by his challengers. Of note, at this time Edge was married to Smackdown General Manager, Vickie Guerrero. Yay, nepotism! And that's as good as I can do for you. Show time!
We kick things off with the Undertaker's signature gong, so we know it's big time. The Smackdown Chamber match is jerking the curtain.
Match 1: WWE Championship- Elimination Chamber- Edge (c) vs. Jeff Hardy vs. Vladimir Kozlov vs. Big Show vs. Triple H vs. The Undertaker.
The commentary team was JR and Tazz, which caught me a little off-guard, I thought they were off commentary at this point. A nice surprise though, even though Tazz doesn't have the chemistry with Ross as he had with Michael Cole. The Chamber starts with Edge, the reigning champion, and Jeff Hardy, who had recently lost the WWE Championship to Edge at the Royal Rumble. Edge and Hardy work a surprisingly fast pace given they are starting a match that they could theoretically be in for 20+ minutes. It soon becomes apparent why, as we get the first fall in the opening 5 minutes. Jeff misses the Swanton, Edge goes for the Spear, but Jeff counters with a small package (hey yo) for the shock 3 count! Edge is eliminated, we are guaranteed a new WWE Champion!
Kozlov is the next to enter. He was the latest big man WWE tried to push to the moon as a monster heel, one of several throughout the mid to late 2000s- Heidenreich, Snitsky, Luther Reigns etc. To his credit, Kozlov wasn't too bad here. He does a nice job throwing Hardy around and nailing some wicked looking strikes. 5 minutes goes by and it's time for a new entrant- The Big Show. Boy, Jeff Hardy is in trouble.
Kozlov and Show take turns demolishing Jeff, who ragdolls brilliantly around the ring. Hardy survives the next 5 minutes, then it's time to play The Game. Triple H is released from his pod. A babyface at this time, Hunter takes it to both big men as the crowd cheers, including a nice spinebuster on Show. Undertaker, the final entrant to join the match, starts punching his pod (not as bad as it sounds) in anticipation.
Taker joins the match and immediately takes it to Kozlov and Show. Kozlov does an awful job taking the snake eyes, but it doesn't matter too much- the pace has picked up and the crowd is hot. Kozlov tries to rally against Taker in the corner with big punches, but the Deadman counters with the Last Ride. And Kozlov is eliminated. With one of the big men taken out, the focus turns to the Big Show. Undertaker drives Show to the mat with a ring-rattling superplex. Triple H follows up with a Pedigree on Show. And finally, Jeff Hardy nails a Swanton. Big Show is done.
We are down to Triple H, Undertaker and Jeff Hardy- as Jim Ross so rightfully puts it, three of the most popular Superstars in WWE. Hardy soon falls victim to the Tombstone, and we're down to Triple H vs. Undertaker. This was before WWE did this match 5000 times over the last decade or so, so the live crowd in Seattle was hot for it, making for a tremendous atmosphere. They start hitting their big signature moves- chokeslams, spinebusters... and Taker hits Hunter with the Tombstone for a great near fall, but The Game gets his foot on the ropes. Now, if the Chamber is a No DQ match, should rope breaks count? The Chamber rules do specify that the victory needs to occur in the ring though, so Hunter poking his toes out could count as breaking that boundary, I guess. Triple H comes back with a Pedigree, but only scores a 2 count. Talk about an opening match that could be a main event. The rest of the show has a tough act to follow. Triple H goes for punches in the corner, but much like Kozlov earlier, Taker looks to counter with the Last Ride. However, Triple H counters and nails another Pedigree. This time it's good for a 3 count!
Winner: Triple H at 36:00 (****1/2) Outstanding Chamber Match. The star power and depth of talent here was ridiculous. Everyone played to their strengths- Hardy got to fly around early and then build great sympathy selling. Kozlov and Show got to look effective using short bursts of power and not overstaying their welcome. Triple H and Undertaker put in a world-class finishing sequence showing why they're two of the greatest to ever do it. And finally, Edge got the newsworthy moment of the quick elimination, which he sold like a million bucks. Seemed on the verge of losing his mind, perfect for his character.
Match 2: No Holds Barred- Randy Orton vs. Shane McMahon
This was during Orton's "IED" phase, where he would have this random "out of control" bursts of aggression. The video package reminds us that Randy booted Vince McMahon in the skull pretty hard (legit), so Shane O Mac comes in to avenge his dad's honour. Stephanie McMahon seems to be playing a babyface of sorts, or at least a tweener, which seems really odd after all these years of her heeling it up with The Authority. As limited as Shane is as a wrestler, and his punches are the worst, he's always good for a stunt show, and that's basically what Shane and Orton gave us here. Lots of gimmicks- tables, trash cans, kendo sticks... Ted Dibiase Jr and Cody Rhodes get involved, as they were part of Orton's "Legacy" stable at this time. Orton is busted open badly due to a stray shot with a TV monitor. Shane is able to fight off Dibiase and Rhodes, and manages to nail Rhodes with the Coast to Coast. He then lines Orton up for his patented diving elbow through the announce table, but Randy moves, and Shane crashes and burns. Orton follows up in the ring with a superplex through the table. Orton goes for a punt, Shane counters with a rough tackle. Shane grabs a chair, but Orton is able to strike with the RKO, putting the young McMahon away.
Winner: Randy Orton at 18:00 (**) If it doesn't seem like I wrote a lot for an 18 minute match, that's because all the big spots were very spaced out. Lot of dead air, which took away from the intensity that this feud and match needed. At least the right person won. Shane looked a bit too dominant at times, especially in fighting back against Legacy, which was a bit ridiculous given that Shane was in his late 30s, hadn't really wrestled for a while, and was always better presented as a daredevil who sacrificed himself to take it to his opponents, rather than being positioned as an equal athlete or fighter to full-time wrestlers.
Match 3: ECW Championship- Jack Swagger vs. Finlay (w/ Hornswoggle)
This was not a fun watch. Swagger had a very quick rise, from ECW rookie to ECW Champion, which commentators Grisham and Striker draw attention to. The problem was, Swagger hadn't really shown much to be ready for that spot. He was a big, young prospect, but hadn't really delivered in a big match situation. He did not manage to achieve that here, either. The veteran Finlay did his best, but whenever Swagger went on offense, it was slow, boring and devoid of intensity. Finlay was also hampered by having Hornswoggle at ringside, a point heel commentator Striker brings up, but it was a little too true. Hornswoggle gets knocked off the apron, and the distraction allows Swagger to hit the gutwrench powerbomb to retain the gold (or silver).
Winner: Jack Swagger at 8:00 (*) This was definitely a chore to watch. We're at the point in WWECW's run where nobody is expecting the original ECW anymore, but it was just a lifeless wrestling match, regardless of the banner you put it under. Christian is name-dropped, considering he returned to WWE on the ECW brand the week before, and based on this, I cannot wait for Christian to take lead of WWECW. I remember him having some really good matches on WWE's third brand from bits and pieces of 2009 that I've seen.
Match 4: Shawn Michaels vs. JBL
Ooh, I completely forgot about this feud/story, but the pre-match video catches us up nicely. Despite being a main event level superstar in WWE for the past 7 years or so, HBK had somehow fallen on financial hard times- it's explained as bad investments or something. So, Shawn decides to work for JBL, almost taking on the Orlando Jordan role. Finally, Shawn has had enough, and Bradshaw makes an offer- beat me in a match at No Way Out, you get your money and freedom. Lose the match, and Michaels is stuck being JBL's servant, basically.
HBK starts fired up, with big punches towards his fellow Texan. JBL tries to goad him into getting disqualified, trying to take advantage of the anger. Shawn's wife Rebecca is shown at ringside for additional emotional gravitas. JBL uses his size and power to gain the advantage and delivers a barrage of elbow drops, taunting Rebecca in between each one. He follows up with a long bearhug, which Shawn sells with screams of agony. HBK tries to fight back and deliver a top rope elbow drop, but JBL rolls out of the way at the last moment. JBL follows up with a series of clotheslines that drain the remaining life from the body of the Showstopper, knocking him out of the ring. HBK somehow drags himself back into the ring at the count of 9.5. JBL promptly throws Michaels out of the ring again, and proceeds to trash-talk his wife at ringside. Rebecca smacks JBL across the face, and this brings Shawn to life. He begins his trademark comeback- flying forearm, nip up, the big top rope elbow drop finally lands. HBK tunes up the band and nails Sweet Chin Music right to the jaw of JBL. Shawn has won his freedom!
Winner: Shawn Michaels at 14:00 (**3/4) Not a HBK classic, but definitely at the upper end of what you could expect out of JBL in the ring during 2008/2009- Bradshaw would retire the following month for good at Wrestlemania, losing to Rey Mysterio in seconds. But this was a simple and effective story told. Rebecca played her role well at ringside, even mustering some tears.
Match 5: World Heavyweight Championship- Elimination Chamber- John Cena vs. Chris Jericho vs. Rey Mysterio vs. Kane vs. Mike Knox vs. Edge
Kofi Kingston was supposed to be in this match, but during entrances, Edge attacked Kofi, taking him out with a Con-Chair-To against the stairs. Edge locks himself in a Chamber pod and apparently they're going to allow it. So, here we go.
The first two are Jericho and Mysterio. Nice choice to start, as they have the skills and cardio to go at a high, exciting pace for the majority of this match if required. Mysterio busts out the big guns early, scaling the side of the Chamber and leaping off with a hurricanrana on Jericho, sending him flying across the steel grate.
Kane enters at the 5 minute mark, bringing some power to proceedings. Uppercuts, boots and side slams all around. Rey eventually counters Kane with a headscissors takedown into the second rope, setting him up for a 619. Kane goes for a chokeslam counter, Rey counters again and this time is able to hit the 619. Jericho comes in at the perfect time with a Codebreaker. Mysterio takes Jericho to the outside grate with another hurricanrana, and scales to the top of the Chamber pod. Mysterio leaps onto the Big Red Machine with a seated senton and it's good for the 3 count! Kane is eliminated!
Mike Knox is in next to replace Kane as the token big guy. He targets Mysterio first, then goes for Jericho. Mysterio uses the distracted focus to jump onto Knox's back with a sleeper hold, but is countered and powerslammed into the steel chains of the Chamber walls. Knox looks to follow up on Rey in the ring with his Roll The Dice finisher, but Jericho catches him with the Codebreaker instead! Mike Knox is eliminated. Short stay in the Chamber for Knox, probably for the best. He was able to look good in a short burst without being asked to do too much.
Edge entered the fray soon after and Rey goes right for him- of note, at the start of the match, Mysterio ran out, forgoing his proper entrance to check on Kofi after Edge's attack. Edge, Rey and Jericho quicken the pace. Mysterio goes for a 619 on Edge, Jericho intercepts. Tower of Doom spot before the arrival of the defending champ, John Cena.
Cena goes into his Five Moves Of Doom pretty quickly on Edge. Cena goes for the AA, but Jericho catches him with a Codebreaker. Rey follows up by hitting Cena with the 619. Edge finishes the job with a Spear on Cena. John Cena is eliminated. Much like the opening Chamber match, the defending champion doesn't make it to the end of the match, we are guaranteed a new World Champion!
Down to the final three of Edge, Mysterio and Jericho. Mysterio and Jericho have been in since the beginning. Cole and Lawler on commentary make the valid point that Edge doesn't deserve to be in the match, and question why it is being allowed, and what will happen going forward. Nevertheless, the action continues. Rey goes for the West Coast Pop, Jericho looks to counter with the Walls, Rey turns it into a roll up for the 3. Chris Jericho is eliminated.
Down to Edge and Rey and the arena is shaking. Edge lines Rey up for the Spear, but Rey moves and counters with a schoolboy in a nice callback to Edge's loss to Jeff Hardy earlier. Rey picks up speed and scores some close near falls- first with a body press, then a big seated kick, and finally a massive satellite DDT. Edge of your seat action, no pun intended. The action spills out onto the steel grate. Mysterio charges at Edge, who absolutely launches him into the air, sending him crashing face first through the Chamber pod. A huge Spear in the ring follows, and Edge is your new World Heavyweight Champion!
Winner: Edge at 29:00 (****1/2). Every bit as good as the opener, yet different. This was my favourite of the two, just because I'm partial to the faster paced flashy style that the likes of Mysterio, Jericho and Edge bring. Edge entering the way he did was ridiculous, but hey, I'm sure there was some explanation on Raw or Smackdown the next week. Bell to bell, it was awesome. Rey Mysterio was the real MVP. I called him the best opening match wrestler in a recent review, but let's be honest, he rocks in main events too. Rey is the damn man.
Overall Score: 8/10
Bookended by two amazing Chamber matches, and a very dramatic story-driven co-main event in Shawn Michaels vs. JBL, I believe this was one of the better PPVs of 2009, although I probably need to watch a couple in the latter half of the year. 2009 was a year that I went off WWE, with the PG direction gradually pushing me away more and more. But this event was definitely a quality watch, and has heightened my anticipation for the Elimination Chamber 2019 PPV!
Until next time, take care,