No Way Out 2004 was a Smackdown brand show that was the last PPV event before WrestleMania 20. The main event is one of the most celebrated WWE Title matches ever.

I wrote a review of the show live in 2004, so I’ll include that review and add in some updated thoughts in orange font as well.

WWE No Way Out
Cow Palace in San Francisco, California
02/15/04

After the WWE logo appears, Sable and Torrie Wilson walk out on the ramp. They come out holding hands to Sable’s theme song. They’re each wearing black dresses. Cole says the crowd is “late arriving.”

Sable says “Hello San Francisco.” She says they’ve enjoyed the sights in San Fran and now it’s the fans turns to enjoy them. Torrie basically says that the superstars will give you their all. Sable then says there’s nothing they won’t do. That was it.

(They were featured together in Playboy released earlier that month. They also teamed up at WrestleMania.)

The announcers are Michael Cole and Tazz. They welcomed the Spanish announce team as well.

There was a video package highlighting Brock Lesnar and Eddie Guerrero. Good stuff as always. The focus of it was that Lesnar is going to be keeping his eye on Goldberg at ringside while overlooking Guerrero. The pyro signals to start the show.

WWE Tag Titles: Rikishi & Scotty 2 Hotty vs. The Bashams & Shaniqua

(Pre-match notes: Rikishi & Scotty were the face champions while The Bashams were the heels.)

This is a handicap match. Cole says Rikishi & Scotty teamed together for “five years” even though it was actually Scotty and Brian Christopher. The challengers are out first, followed by the champs.

Danny and Scotty start it out. Danny gets some forearms to the back. He chucks Scotty over the top, but he skins the cat back in with some chops. Into the ropes, flying headscissors by Scotty. Tag to Rikishi. Doug gets tagged in, eating some fists. Hip toss by Rikishi. Doug’s hiptoss attempt is blocked by a clothesline. Danny comes in and eats a clothesline. He hurls Shaniqua in, going for a stinkface. Doug saves her. He headbutts Rikishi, but he’s the one that gets hurt. Slam by Rikishi. Tag to Scotty. Into the ropes, double noggin knocker puts them down. Three minutes in and we’re already seeing a KO spot. I’m guessing this match ends quickly. Kip up by Scotty, setting up for the W…O…R…clothesline by Shaniqua. Big heat for that. Tag to Danny, double slingshot suplex by the Bashams. Danny drives Scotty to the corner, then clubs him down. Danny tags in Shaniqua.

Shaniqua with a bodyslam, then she taunts Rikishi. Scotty tries to fight back up, but she decks him down with a forearm. Danny’s in. Scotty tries to tag Rikishi, but Danny holds him. Doug stops the tag from happening by coming in illegally. Doug gets tagged in. Sleeper. Scotty drops down to break it up. Shaniqua sets up Scotty for a powerbomb, but he counters with a backdrop. He tags Rikishi. Doug and Danny go at him, but he decks them with punches, superkick and a DDT. Shaniqua jumps on his back. He whips her down. Rikishi drags her over. He goes to give her the Banzai drop. The Bashams come in and double chokeslam him down. She covers for two. Scotty dives on the Bashams on the ground. Just Rikishi and Shaniqua now. She goes for a clothesline, but he reverses to a Samoan Drop to a big pop. Into the corner, Rikishi drops down with the Banzai drop. That’s it at 8:16.

Winners by pinfall: Rikishi & Scotty

Analysis: *1/2 Poor match with not much reaction from the crowd except for the finish. It was all about the big spot with Rikishi hitting the big move on Shaniqua.

(It was a forgettable match designed to set up the big reaction for Rikishi beating up a woman.)

They showed Goldberg’s empty seat at ringside. They say that when he arrives, Josh Mathews will let us know.

Long video package highlights their history from when they loved eachother to Noble’s mistreating of Nidia when she was blind (after Tajiri spit the mist in her face). Noble comes out first. Nidia is next. She’s wearing a really tight white shirt, jean shorts and boots. Charles Robinson forces Noble to put on a black hood.

Boyfriend vs. Girlfriend Blindfold Match: Jamie Noble vs. Nidia

(Pre-match notes: Noble was the heel that had to wrestle with a black hood on his head while Nidia was his ex-girlfriend that was a face.)

Noble charges at her, but she goes to the floor. She comes on the apron and slaps him. He takes the hood off, but gets warned to put it on. Nidia’s on the floor. She trips him up. Dropkick to the head for Nidia. She kicks him in the butt when he can’t see. And again. He lunges, but misses. Noble’s an inch away. He doesn’t realize she’s there. She pulls down his pants, leaving him in his white boxers. He puts his shorts back up and gets rolled up for two. He grabs her leg. She headscissors him down to the floor. Noble comes back into the ring. She taunts him mockingly. She’s dancing behind him. She kicks him in the butt again. He runs to the ropes, hitting his own neck on it. She trips him. Noble takes her down, holding her hair. She moves out so he ends up with her hair in his hands. Nidia kicked him down. She goes to the top. Noble lifts the hood up, slams her down. Then he puts her in a dragon sleeper choke. She taps out after at 4:22 giving Noble the win.

Winner by submission: Jamie Noble

Analysis: DUD Not much of match, but the crowd enjoyed it. It was fun at times and got Noble over as a cheating jerk.

(It was an angle more than a match. I’m not sure why WWE felt the need to have two opening matches featuring man on woman violence, but that’s something they loved to do in 2004 apparently.)

Backstage, Josh Matthews interviews Kurt Angle. He asks him why he attacked Cena & Show. He says the other two should be explaining themselves. Angle says he didn’t know who attacked him, but common sense tells him it’s either Cena or Show. If he doesn’t make it through the match, he’ll lose his WrestleMania opportunity. Cena interrupts. He says he’s all about WrestleMania. Cena says that if he’s gonna knock him out, he’s gonna do it right to his face. Cena slaps Angle. They brawl. Officials break it up.

(A simple segment to set up the triple threat match later.)

APA (Faarooq & Bradshaw) vs. World’s Greatest Tag Team (Shelton Benjamin & Charlie Haas)

(Pre-match notes: APA were the faces while WGTT were the heels.) 

Haas & Benjamin are out first. They show Benjamin losing to Bradshaw, highlighting Bradshaw’s hurt arm. APA comes out next with Bradshaw wearing a bandage on his right arm.

Benjamin and Faarooq start out. Benjamin and Haas are wearing blue tights. Team Angle reunion! I hope. Faarooq knees him in the gut. Whip into the rope, Faarooq gets a back elbow for two. Tag to Bradshaw. Double shoulderblock by the APA. Swinging neckbreaker by Bradshaw. Shelton hits him in the arm. Tag to Haas. Whip in by Bradshaw, back elbow with the hurt right arm. Bradshaw with a hard whip into the corner. Tag to Faarooq, who drives his shoulder into Haas’ back for two. Hard whip into the corner. Another whip, Faarooq charges and misses. Haas works on the left arm. Benjamin drops it over the top rope. Hammerlock by Haas, then driving the knee into the left arm. They tag in and out twice, dropping knees onto the left arm. Haas grabs an armbar. Tag to Benjamin, who comes in with a springboard chop to the arm. He pins for two. Jumping armbreaker gets two for Benjamin. He pulls Faarooq over, tagging in Haas. He drops a knee to the arm, then grabs another armbar. Bradshaw urges the crowd to cheer for Faarooq. Cole & Tazz note that the arena is now standing room only. It might be, but I don’t know about that. Faarooq with a spinebuster. Hot tag to Bradshaw. Big boot to Benjamin, backdrop to Haas, slam on Benjamin and a toss of Haas over the top rope. Powerbomb on Benjamin gets two thanks to Haas saving his partner. Faarooq takes a shoulder into the post on the floor. Bradshaw charges in at Benjamin, but eats a back elbow. To the top, Bradshaw counters with the Last Call fallaway slam. Haas tosses him into the rope, Bradshaw avoids an attack and hits a Clothesline from Hell on Haas. Haas is not legal. Benjamin with a superkick on Bradshaw gets the pinfall victory at 7:21.

Winners by pinfall: Haas & Benjamin

Analysis: *1/2 I think Haas & Benjamin are great. APA did okay, but at this point they’re not expected to have good matches.

(It was about the power of APA vs. the technical wrestling of WGTT. I liked the finish. The rest of it was poor. This was towards the end of APA’s run as a team because Bradshaw became JBL a few months later while Faarooq/Simmons retired.)

Bill Goldberg is shown arriving through the crowd along with security. He sits in the front row because he had a ticket given to him by Steve Austin. He’s wearing his own merchandise, it looks like.

(Goldberg had one more match on his WWE contract and it was at WrestleMania. He was there to set that up.)

They show the video package that covers the reason for the Goldberg-Lesnar feud. It included a clip of Goldberg hitting Paul Heyman with a Spear. They show some fans high-fiving Goldberg. He’s sitting in row one.

Paul Heyman, the Smackdown GM, comes out to the ring. He holds his ribs, staring at Goldberg sitting at ringside. Heyman asks Goldberg who he thinks he is. Fans chant his name. Heyman says that while Goldberg was on the inferior brand at Raw, all he’s going to do is witness this event. Heyman says that he’ll arrest Goldberg if he does anything.

Brock Lesnar walks down the aisle. Heyman tells Goldberg that they have a saying on Smackdown that goes like this: “Here comes the pain!” Lesnar gets on the mic to say that he came out here to prove that he’s not intimidated by Goldberg. Lesnar tells him to come at him. Heyman says stop. Lesnar says come at him. Lesnar says that Goldberg’s scared. Lesnar says that Austin would not get in the ring with Lesnar either. He tells Goldberg to sit there to “be the bitch that you are.” Goldberg goes in the ring. Heyman tells him to get back in his seat. They take off their shirts. The crowd is going nuts. Heyman distracts Goldberg. Lesnar goes at him with a shoulder tackle. Goes for a F5. Goldberg reverses it and hits Lesnar with a huge Jackhammer. The crowd is going nuts. Heyman yells for security. Goldberg puts his hands behind his back, letting the cops and security to take him away in handcuffs.

It’s worth noting that Tazz and Cole both ripped on Goldberg because he’s not welcome on Smackdown. The crowd, meanwhile, chanted his name. Very good segment right there.

(Great angle. The crowd was hot for all of it with Lesnar showing that he could deliver a good promo when needed. A lot of people remember the WrestleMania match being disappointing, but the build to it was really well done thanks to what they did at the Royal Rumble and moments like this. I also liked the announcers hating that Goldberg was there because he’s a Raw guy.)

Lesnar’s still in the ring. Hardcore Holly goes after him, but Brock slides out and to the back. Rhyno comes out next for his match.

Hardcore Holly vs. Rhyno

(Pre-match notes: They set up the match on the previous Smackdown, so there wasn’t much interest in it. Holly was a face and I think Rhyno was a heel.)

They meet in the aisle way, brawling from the start. Holly comes out, but Rhyno rams him back first into the side of the ring. Whip into the corner, shoulder to the gut by Rhyno. Knee to the gut by Rhyno gets two. Forearm to the face by Rhyno. On the mat, Rhyno puts Holly into a leg/body scissors. Holly fights back to his fight. Rhyno hits a punch to the gut. Vertical suplex on the ropes, dropping Holly’s ribs across the top ropes. Rhyno spits on him, then decks him with a punch. Holly counters something with a back suplex. Kick to the gut by Rhyno gets him two. Whip into the corner, Holly crumbles, selling the ribs. Boots to the gut for Rhyno. Another whip into the corner sends Holly down. Another strong whip. Holly fights out with a clothesline that sends them both down. Ref does a long count. During the count, we hear some of the Spanish commentary. Can’t understand a damn thing. They get back up, exchanging punches with Holly winning. Holly gets a couple clotheslines. Dropkick for Holly gets two. To the top, Rhyno blocks him with a punch to the head. Superplex for Rhyno gets two. Holly reverses something into a reverse DDT. Rhyno shoves him into the corner, Holly comes out and Rhyno hits a beautiful spinning spinebuster. Rhyno hits a Gore. Holly rolls to the floor because the Gore was near the apron. Ref is counting him on the floor. Holly gets back in at the nine count. Rhyno tries to whip him into the ropes, but Holly reverses through it and hits the Alabama Slam for the three count at 9:54.

Winner: Hardcore Holly

Analysis: ** Decent match. It was physical, it had good psychology and it had some good nearfalls. Nothing special, though.

(They were in a tough spot following a great Goldberg/Lesnar segment. Good effort with a strong finish, but it’s tough when there’s no storyline or heat for a PPV match.)

A long video package set up Mysterio vs. Chavo for the Cruiserweight Title.

Before the cruiser title match, the lights went out, the gong sounded and another Undertaker video played. The package ended with “In 28 Days, the dead will rise again.” Crowd loved it.

(Undertaker was off television since he was attacked by Kane at Survivor Series 2003. This marked his return as the traditional Undertaker at WrestleMania 20, which was 28 days away.)

The challenger Chavo Jr. comes out with his father. Mysterio is out next, along with boxer Jorge Paez. The announcers list some of Paez’ credentials, mainly that he had 48 KOs in his career.

Cruiserweight Title: Rey Mysterio (w/Jorge Paez) vs. Chavo Guerrero (w/Chavo Sr.)

(Pre-match notes: Rey was the face champion and Chavo was the heel challenger.)

Lockup to start is won by Rey with an armbar. Chavo counters with an armbar, Rey rolls through and gets an arm drag to grab the advantage. Mysterio whips Chavo in, and then gets knocked down by a shoulderblock from Chavo. Chavo tries to take the mask off. Rey fights back with a dropkick, sending Chavo to the floor. “Chavo Sucks” chant by the fans. He slaps Rey, whip in, Rey counters with a boot and a headscissors. Mysterio counters something into a rollup for two. Into the ropes, Chavo seeks advantage with a flapjack. Seated dropkick gets him two. Slam by Chavo gets him two. Chavo gets an armbar. Mysterio fights out with back elbows. Springboard misses. He sets Chavo up on the middle rope. Rey hits the 619. He goes for the West Coast Pop, but Chavo Sr. holds his leg, which causes Rey to fall to the floor. Paez decks Chavo Sr. The referee, Jimmy Korderas, sends Paez to the back. Chavo checks on his dad. Rey’s in the ring and leaps onto him with a springboard crossbody on the floor. Springboard legdrop in the ring gets two. Good nearfall there.

In the corner, Mysterio gets a dropkick. Chavo’s whip in the corner, Rey slides out. Rollup gets him two. Rey charges him in the corner, knee to the face for Chavo. He sets up for the Swinging DDT. Mysterio fights out, climbs up for something. Chavo reverses into a top rope gutbuster! It was actually the side of Mysterio’s ribs. Awesome move. Chavo chops him hard in the right side. Small package gets him two. Abdominal stretch for Chavo. Mysterio counters it, falling on top for a lateral press that gets two. Chavo gets a variation of a single leg crab submission. Mysterio fights out with kicks. Chavo gets back on top with some kicks to the ribs. He works for some two counts, they’re holding hands, Mysterio gets up on his shoulders and rolls him up for two. Chavo quickly gets a gutbuster as we’re past the ten minute mark now.

Chavo grabs a writslock. Mysterio fights out with kicks. Single leg is countered by Mysterio. Chavo lifts him up, Mysterio counters with a bulldog variation that gets him two. Hard knee to the gut gets two for Chavo. Chavo sets Rey up on his shoulders in a DVD position, but Rey counters with a sidekick to the face. Into the corner, Rey gets a headscissors, propelling Chavo shoulder first into the steel post. Ref counts them down. They exchange blows, Mysterio sneaks behind and hits him with a reverse Russian legsweep for two. Boot to the face, then a double kick to the face. On the apron, Rey grabs a headlock and DDT’s Chavo on the apron! Cool move with Rey falling to the mat. That gets him two. Into the ropes, springboard crossbody by Rey is ducked by Chavo. Chavo with a sitout gore buster (reverse suplex) for a long two. Great nearfall. Chavo sets Rey up on top, but Rey fights out with a back elbow. Moonsault on a standing Chavo gets one…two…foot on the rope! Awesome nearfall. They exchange blows. Chavo sets him up into a reverse powerbomb type thing that puts Rey down facefirst. That gets him two. Mysterio headscissors him over. 619 for Mysterio. Mysterio goes for the West Coast Pop, but Chavo rolls through into that single leg crab again. Mysterio makes it to the ropes. On the apron, Mysterio fights back. Chavo’s in the middle of the ring with the ref looking at him. Mysterio to the top and Chavo Sr. shoves Mysterio off the top, choking him on the top rope. Chavo rolls him up, grabs tights and gets the three count! It went 17:21.

Winner by pinfall: Chavo Guerrero

Analysis: ***3/4 Very good match. They were given time and they delivered. The psychology was great, the moves were different from the normal cruiser match and the nearfalls were perfect. The crowd was into the match from the beginning to the end. Fun match. Easily the best of the night so far.

(They had a lot of awesome matches together and this was one of their better matches. They got a lot of time to tell an interesting story with Mysterio continuing to come back and looking like he was going to win, but Chavo managed to outsmart him. The crowd reaction was telling too. They were emotionally invested in this match and it pissed them off that Mysterio lost. Great job by both guys. The finish was a ROLLUP OF DEATH~! by the way, but I wasn’t using that term in my reviews at the time.)

Backstage, Josh Mathews interviews Chavo. Chavo says he’s a winner. Conveniently, they’re by Eddie’s dressing room. Chavo says that Eddie is a loser that is addicted to losing. He says he’s the real champion of the Guerrero family.

(This period of time was when Chavo was doing the best work of his career. He was consistently good for a long time, but never broke through above the midcard.)

Triple threat up next. No video package. Angle comes out first. Show comes out next carrying the US title. It’s not on the line, obviously. Cena is out last. Huge pops for Angle and Cena. Cena comes out to rap. He tells Kurt he didn’t knock him out and that he’d smack him. “You want to know who hit you. Here’s a clue. He smells like crap and he’s standing right next to you.” There was more, but I don’t type fast enough. It was good, though, trust me.

Number One Contender’s Match: Big Show vs. Kurt Angle vs. John Cena

(Pre-match notes: Show was the heel US Champion, Angle was a tweener and Cena was a face on the rise.)

The winner of this match gets a WWE Title match at WrestleMania.

Show and Angle start up with Show winning a shove off. Bodyslam by Show. Cena watches it, rooting on Show. Cena locks up with Show and then he gets shoved down. Angle laughs. Show shoves Cena down with his left hand. Angle and Cena exchange blows for a bit. Whip into the ropes, Angle hits a belly-to-belly overhead that is broken up by Show. Show tosses Angle into Cena, who was on the apron, and that sends Cena down, clutching his left knee. Angle punches Show, charges at him and eats a sidewalk slam for two. Show pounds down Cena. Slam by Show on Cena. Tazz says he picks Show to win. That pretty much ensures that he won’t. Headbutt by Show, then another big slam. Two legdrops on Cena. Angle grabs him before he can get a third. Show grabs him by the neck on the apron. Angle tries to German Suplex Show to the floor, but he holds on. Cena gets shoved into the ref, so Angle low blows Show. He pulls Cena out, then slams him headfirst into the steps. Back in the ring, Angle gets two. Angle pounds him with some punches and chops. Into the ropes, Cena gets a back elbow. Spinning slam gets two on Angle.

Cena goes for a punch on Angle, but it’s reversed into the triple German suplex for Angle. That gets one due to Show coming back in. Show whips Angle shoulder first into the steel post. Chop to Cena. Boot to the knee for Show. Clubbing forearm keeps him down. He steps on Cena. Another big chop for Show. Long vertical suplex for Show gets him two. Show misses something, so Cena dropkicks him in the knee. To the top, Cena hits an elbow. Angle to the top, he gets a dropkick that is broken up by Cena. Angle is tossed by Cena. Cena picks up Show and hits the FU on Big Show! Huge pop for that. Angle comes in for Angle Slam, but Cena slips out with a DDT. He covers Show for two. He charges Angle, but he ducks and Cena goes to the floor. Angle Slam on Big Show! One…two…no, shoulder is up. Cena comes in for FU, Angle counters with an ankle lock. Show is up, chokeslam to Angle. Cena comes in for a school boy on Show for two. That looked awkward. Chokeslam by Show on Cena. Angle breaks it up at two. Angle puts Show in the ankle lock. Show kicks him off. Cena comes in, spinebuster and five knuckle shuffle. Cena picks Angle up, but can’t do anything because Show clips him. He picks Cena up, slamming his left knee across the top turnbuckle. Angle gives Show an Angle Slam over the top to the floor! That was great. Angle clipped the left leg of Cena. Angle hooked the leg and applied the ankle lock! Cena taps at 12:18. Angle goes on to WrestleMania.

Winner by submission: Kurt Angle

Analysis: ***1/4 Good match with the right man going over. The last six minutes or so were outstanding. All three men did their jobs well with Angle carrying the majority of it. Nice stuff here. Angle winning was very predictable.

After the match, the refs checked on Cena. He was just selling the pain. Main event is up next.

(The reason the last few minutes were great because they did the typical spots in a triple threat with everybody hitting finishing moves while the third man was there to make the save. It’s a formula that worked very well. Angle really did carry the match as the guy that made everybody look better and he made it all look easy as well. Cena was still pretty raw as a worker. He improved a lot over the next few years. Big Show was too big at this point in his career, but he was better as a heel like he was in this match. That spot where Angle gave Show an Angle Slam over the top rope was great.)

The victory set up Angle for a WWE Title match at WrestleMania while Cena challenged Big Show for the US Title at WrestleMania.

There was a great video package highlighting the Lesnar/Guerrero feud. Eddie earned the title shot during a Smackdown only Royal Rumble match won by Eddie with Angle as the runner up.

Lesnar comes out first. Shouldn’t the champ come out last? Breaking tradition here. Eddie comes out in the lowrider, but since there’s a ramp he doesn’t go down the middle. Just the side. It should be noted that Eddie’s song still mentions Chavo in it. Maybe he can get a new song? Oh well. The crowd is really hot, chanting “Eddie” from the outset.

WWE Championship: Brock Lesnar vs. Eddie Guerrero

(Pre-match notes: Lesnar was the heel champion while Guerrero was the face challenger.)

Hard lockup to start with Lesnar overpowering him. Eddie gets overpowered some more. Lesnar chokes him with his boot. Hard whip and a backdrop for Lesnar. He’s not selling the Jackhammer from before. Snap suplex for Lesnar. Lesnar buries the knees to the ribs. Lesnar charges him the corner, Guerrero fights out, but Lesnar hits another knee to the ribs. To the corner, Eddie goes for a headscissors. Lesnar blocks it with a STIFF powerbomb. That had to hurt. Overhead belly-to-belly suplex for Lesnar. There’s another one. Lesnar is great. Whip to the corner, Lesnar gets a leaping knee to the jaw. He stole a HHH move there. Uh oh, Brock, that’s not smart. Guerrero’s punches are thwarted with another knee lift. Another huge belly to belly suplex by Lesnar all the way across the ring to the floor. Guerrero comes in at around eight and Lesnar sends him to the ground again. Guerrero on the apron. Again, Lesnar knees him down. This is total domination so far. Shoulder to the gut for Eddie followed by a stun gun. He wraps Lesnar’s knee around the ringpost a few times. Lesnar reverses it the third time, sending Guerrero shoulder first into the post.

Back in the ring, Lesnar with a forearm to the back. Delayed Fisherman’s buster by Lesnar. Awesome move gets two. Lesnar gets a leg grapevine on the mat. Guerrero fights out after about 45 seconds. Jawbreaker by Guerrero. Gorilla press is avoided by Eddie, dropkick to Lesnar’s left knee. Eddie into the ropes, but Brock counters with a big clothesline. Stiff German suplex by Lesnar. He didn’t get a good grip on it. Lesnar kicks at the ribs some more. Shoulder tackle to the back of Guerrero. Headfirst to the turnbuckle followed by his patented shoulder tackles. Lesnar goes for another high knee. Eddie ducks and Lesnar goes over the top to the floor, clutching the left knee. Huge momentum move there. Springboard crossbody to the floor by Guerrero. They crawl back in at the nine count. Dropkick to the knee by Guerrero. Back suplex by Guerrero. Eddie charges at him, Lesnar catches him and drops him throat first onto the top rope for two. Lesnar verbally taunts him. Eddie counters him into some sort of ankle hold. He then grabs the STF. Great move. Crowd is going nuts. Lesnar fights out. Eddie slams the knee into the mat. He stomps at the left knee some more. Figure four by Guerrero is blocked by Lesnar. Guerrero grabs the knee, Lesnar kicks him off. Seated dropkick to the head. Lesnar shoves him off again. Lesnar catches him, then tosses him with an overhead belly to belly. Crowd chants for Goldberg. Vertical suplex countered, Eddie into the rope and a flying headscissors plants Lesnar right on his head. Figure four by Guerrero. Crowd is cheering and “WHOO”-ing ala Ric Flair. Shoulders down for two. Lesnar drags him to the ropes about a minute after the hold was applied. We’re 17 minutes in now and the time is 10:18pm, so there’s lots of time.

Guerrero kicks him in the back of the knee, sending him down. Texas Cloverleaf by Guerrero. Then another STF by Guerrero, this time on the right knee. Lesnar fights out of the hold, hitting Guerrero with a release German Suplex. Guerrero charges the ropes, Lesnar catches him and hits a huge spinebuster for two. Another cover for two. Lesnar grabs the body scissors now, then turns it into a chinlock due to Guerrero fighting out. Guerrero uses his momentum to send Lesnar jaw first into the middle turnbuckle. To the top, missile dropkick is ducked by Lesnar. The momentum in this match has gone back and forth. One-legged suplex by Lesnar. Way to sell the left knee injury. Close-up of Lesnar shows a bloody knows. He tells Eddie to “just die” and locks him into a gut wrench on the mat, working on the ribs as he has all match. We’re past 20 minutes now. Guerrero gets to his feet after about a minute, so Lesnar just tosses him in a move we call the gut wrench suplex. Lesnar grabs him by the waist, rolling him on the ground for two unsuccessful pin attempts. Back to their feet, it’s a reverse bearhug now. The crowd chants for Eddie, which helps him out of it with some headbutts. Into the ropes, another dropkick to the knee and one to the head. Flying headscissors for Guerrero. Lesnar whips him into the corner, charge misses. In the center of the ring, Guerrero hits the rolling vertical suplexes, spinning the hips for three in a row. Eddie yells out, Hulking up. To the top, the frog splash is missed due to Lesnar sliding out of the way.

To their feet, Lesnar with a kick to the gut and he F5’s Guerrero into the referee, knocking Brian Hebner down. Not shocked to see a ref bump. Lesnar covers, but there’s no ref to count. Crowd chants Goldberg because they know what’s coming. Like the great heel that he is, Lesnar rolls to the floor, grabbing the title. He rolls back in as the ref is still down. The crowd starts yelling as Goldberg comes into the ring, Lesnar turns around and he gets speared by Goldberg. Goldberg leaves the ring. Everybody is down as the crowd is going bonkers. “Eddie” chant starts up. Guerrero crawls on top of Lesnar. The ref crawls over for the one…two…shoulder up! I thought that was it. Great nearfall. With Hebner still down, Eddie grabs the belt in his hand. Lesnar crawls up to his feet, turns around and the belt shot is ducked by Lesnar, who gets another knee to the gut. Lesnar picks him up for a F5. Guerrero reverses it into a DDT onto the title (it was really Eddie’s arm that hit it rather than his head). Eddie throws the title out of the ring. To the top, Guerrero with a frog splash. Cover. One…two…THREE! WHOO! YEAH! YES! Eddie Guerrero wins the match and is the new WWE Champion! The match went 30:07.

Winner by pinfall and NEW WWE Champion: Eddie Guerrero

Analysis: ****1/2 Loved this match. I’d say it’s an early contender for match of the year. The psychology was fantastic with Lesnar working on the ribs while Guerrero worked on the left knee. It was fast paced, it was slow when it had to be and it had the kind of finish that people are going to remember forever. The only things that kept it from being higher rated is the ref bump and the interference. Other than that, this was outstanding wrestling.

(It’s one of my favorite matches ever. I liked the psychology of the match with Guerrero working on the knee as a way to slow Lesnar down while Brock targeted Eddie’s shoulder area because it was an easy part of the body for him to work on. The pacing of the match was perfect too. It was slow at the right times and fast at the right times too. The best thing was it wasn’t too long. Sometimes a match will go thirty and you’ll groan because it would have been better at twenty. This one was the right amount of time because of all the work both guys did in trying to slow the other one down. The only things that kept it from being higher rated is the ref bump and the interference. Other than that, this was outstanding wrestling. My favorite story in any wrestling match is always the big man vs. little man dynamic. I loved it in past matches like Michaels vs. Undertaker in the first Hell in a Cell match, Flair vs. Vader at WCW’s Starrcade ’93 and Michaels vs. Diesel back in April of ’96. I think big man vs. little man sets up the easiest storyline for a match. All you have to do is look at the size of the guys and you have your story right there. It’s that easy. Anything you can put on top of that is just gravy, which is what this match had due to Guerrero never being at the top of the mountain before while Lesnar played the bully role so well. It’s a shame Lesnar walked out because this was their first match on PPV and I think it’s safe to assume that if they had more they would be just as good as this one.

The finish was well booked. Goldberg attacked Lesnar, but I like the Eddie didn’t win right after that Spear by Goldberg. It would have been too cheap for Eddie if they did it that way. That’s not the right way to put over a face for a title. Eddie getting the win shortly after that thanks to the DDT and the Frog Splash was the perfect way to end it.)

Eddie jumps into the crowd as they go BONKERS for him. He is handed the belt. He hugs his mom and one of his brothers at ringside. He dances on the announce table with the WWE Title. Tazz and Cole say they are shocked. They put over Eddie’s performance by saying he never quit.

Eddie walks up the aisle with the title in his hand. Lesnar looked frustrated in the ring. Eddie kneels on the ramps, tears in his eyes, holding the title aloft in the air. Great moment there as the show ended.

(The crowd reaction to this moment was one of the best I’ve heard for a title celebration. Eddie was as beloved as anybody at this point in his career because we saw him go through time times. For him to overcome that to become an undersized WWE Champion was a special moment. The fans in San Francisco were amazing.)

The show has a run time of 2 hours, 28 minutes on WWE Network. That’s on the short side because most PPVs ran 2 hours, 45 minutes in this era. I’m not sure if they edited much out either. It was just a shorter PPV show.

 

FIVE STARS

1. Eddie Guerrero

2. Brock Lesnar

3. Rey Mysterio

4. Chavo Guerrero

5. Kurt Angle

 

Best Match: Eddie Guerrero vs. Brock Lesnar (****1/2 out of five)

Worst Match: Jamie Noble vs. Nidia (DUD)

Show Rating (out of 10): 7.5

 

FINAL THOUGHTS

This was a three match show headlined by one of the best WWE Title matches ever. The first four matches on the card were nothing above average. They were just filler.

In my 2004 final thoughts I wrote this: “The main event was a match that needs to be remembered for years to come as a classic. I hope that it is. It was the coming out party for a guy who has spent nearly two decades in the business that he truly loves. Forget about booking for a second here. Cherish the moment because stuff like this doesn’t happen all the time in the wrestling business. It’s a case of a good person earning something that he has worked his ass off for all these years.”

I’m sitting here 13 years later and I really do believe that fans think of it as a classic match that is a favorite among a lot of fans as well.

If you want to re-watch the entire show, I would recommend skipping the first four matches. Just jump to the last three matches and you’ll love it.

I’m glad Eddie had this moment. You could tell how much it meant to him. I’ll never forget No Way Out 2004.

Next up: WrestleMania 20.

Thanks for reading.

John Canton – mrjohncanton@gmail.com

Twitter @johnreport

 

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