Reviews

TJR Retro: WWE No Way Out 2002 Review (Jericho vs. Austin, New World Order Debuts in WWE)

The No Way Out 2002 pay-per-view was the WWE debut of the New World Order. This was nearly one year after WWE bought WCW, they did the Invasion angle that ended at Survivor Series 2001 and as we headed towards WrestleMania 18, Vince McMahon made the decision to bring the NWO in to “poison” WWE.

The NWO trio of Hulk Hogan, Scott Hall and Kevin Nash were promoted heavily going into this show. It was Hogan’s first time appearing on a WWE show since a live event in August 1993 and it was the first time Hall/Nash were back in WWE since the spring of 1996. What would they do and who would they target? We had to tune in to find out.

In terms of PPV buyrates, advertising the NWO probably helped to some degree because they did 575,000 buys. That’s the second-highest number of buys for a February PPV (2001 was the best) and that number beat every PPV that year except for WrestleMania and Royal Rumble. It did even better than SummerSlam and Survivor Series, which were both outstanding shows in 2002. The presence of the NWO was a big factor for sure, but there were also some huge matches on this show.

This event followed the 2002 Royal Rumble and was the lead-in to WrestleMania 18.

Here’s the synopsis on WWE Network:

“Undisputed Champion Chris Jericho puts the title on the line against “Stone Cold” Steve Austin. Kurt Angle and Triple H battle in a No. 1 Contender’s Match for the Undisputed Championship. The Rock takes on The Undertaker. William Regal defends the Intercontinental Championship against Edge in a Brass Knuckles on a Pole Match and much more.” 14+ (L, V)

Check out the full list of my WWE PPV Review archive right here. Let’s get to the show.

The original poster for this show had this generic photo of Rob Van Dam on it.

If you go to WWE Network, this is the graphic you’ll see for No Way Out 2002.

WWE No Way Out
February 17, 2002
From the Bradley Center in Milwaukee, Wisconsin

There was no video package to start the show, at least on the WWE Network version of the broadcast. The pyro went off in the arena and there were plenty of signs there. The announce team of Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler welcomed us to the show.

Let’s Hear from the New World Order

The New World Order trio of “Hollywood” Hulk Hogan, Kevin Nash and Scott Hall made their entrance to the classic NWO theme song as the screen went black and white for them. They were decked out in NWO gear. The crowd reacted to them in a big way as they stood in the ring.

Kevin Nash said that they were there to set the record straight while noting that they had a lot of heat with the boys. Lots of “WHAT?” chants from the crowd. Nash said that some of the stares were frightening and for what, some reputation that they had? Nash said that in the last few weeks, words like poison, cancer and self-servant have been used about them. Nash said that some people have used profanity saying they are “company killing bastards.” Nash said that hurts their feelings, which was comical. Nash wondered what awful thing have they done? JR: “Give me a break.” Nash said they wanted a fair chance, a clean slate and to prove to the fans that nobody can do it quite like them.

Hall greeted the fans with the “Hey yo” leading to cheers. Hall said that they’re not the bad guys, we’re a bunch of marks – we’re fans. Hall said that they wanted to work with some of the great WWF superstars. Hall said maybe some autographs, some pictures and maybe drink some beer with the boys, but Nash and Hogan tried to tell Scott “no” to that. Hall said that they don’t want any trouble because deep down they’re like the fans.

“Hollywood” Hulk Hogan got a big reaction before he could even speak. Hogan said that they are not there to kill the WWF, they’re there to make it better. Hogan said that they wanted to give the WWF fans exactly what they want and all they want from the fans is a chance. Hogan said in all sincerity there is one man that gave the NWO a chance – Vince McMahon. The fans booed. Hulk thanked Vince and said that they will not let them down. Hulk: “God bless Vince McMahon.” Boos from the crowd. Hulk said “God bless” to the fans and God Bless America, so at least those two got cheers, unlike Vince. The NWO left as JR ripped on them for being selfish.

Analysis: It was a simple promo from the NWO threesome to try to relay their message to the fans. They tried to be sincere and team players, but it was up to the audience to figure out if they were being genuine in terms of what they said. The crowd did react to them as big stars, so that was a good thing at least.

Tag Team Turmoil: Scotty 2 Hotty & Albert vs. Christian & Lance Storm

Pre-match notes: Scotty and Albert (aka The Hip Hop Hippo~!) were faces while Christian and Storm were heels.

Scotty got a rollup on Storm for two. Albert tagged in with a press slam on Storm and then a swing to Christian. Albert with a pump kick on Storm for two as Christian made the save. Albert with the headbutt, JR mentioned his head size as usual and Storm hit a spin kick. Christian tagged in, but Albert cleared house with a clothesline. Scotty sent Storm over the top to the floor and a superkick on Christian for two with Storm making the save. Albert missed a corner splash when both opponents moved and Albert was sent out of the ring with a clothesline. Scotty with a bulldog on Christian leading to the W-O-R-M, but Storm stopped the chop attempt. Scotty punched Storm. Christian hit the Unprettier on Scotty to eliminate them.

Scotty 2 Hotty & Albert were eliminated.

Tag Team Turmoil: Christian & Lance Storm vs. The Hardy Boyz (Matt and Jeff Hardy) (w/Lita)

Pre-match notes: Christian and Storm were the heels while the Hardys were heels.

The Hardys did a double team slam on Christian sending Christian into the mat. Matt with a body slam, but then Storm kicked Hardy off the turnbuckle. Storm with a jawbreaker and a dropkick on Matt. Christian tagged in with Matt sending him throat first into the top rope. Jeff tagged in to a big pop as he hit a double leg drop on Storm and a leaping forearm shot to the face. Jeff with a Russian legsweep and then a double leg drop on the legs for a two count. Storm with a takedown into a half crab submission on Jeff, but Matt made the save. Storm jumped up, Christian held Matt and Storm kicked Christian by mistake. Matt with a Twist of Fate on Storm and Jeff hit a Swanton Bomb off the top for the pinfall win.

Christian & Lance Storm were eliminated.

Tag Team Turmoil: The Hardy Boyz (Matt and Jeff Hardy) (w/Lita) vs. The Dudley Boyz (Bubba Ray and D-Von Dudley) (w/Stacy Keibler)

Pre-match notes: The Hardy Boyz were faces while Dudley Boyz were heels although with the way Stacy looked, it was hard to boo her.

The Hardys were aggressive early on, but the Dudleys overpowered them. D-Von hit a powerslam on Jeff for two. Bubba trapped Jeff in a leg submission and Matt broke that up with JR messing up the Hardy Boyz’ names. D-Von with a running elbow on Jeff for two. Bubba back in with a body slam, Matt distracted the referee and Jeff punched Bubba in the groin for a low blow. Bubba missed an attack off the turnbuckle when Jeff moved and Bubba hit the mat hard. Matt was back in with a DDT on Bubba and a leg drop on D-Von got two. Jeff with a dropkick on Bubba, double legsweep on Bubba and Matt went after Bubba, but Stacy got in the ring, so Lita tackled Stacy and punched her. Bubba punched Matt down, Lita broke free from Bubba and then Bubba hit a Bubba Bomb on Matt. Lita jumped off the top with a hurricanrana on Bubba. Jeff with a somersault dive onto Bubba on the floor. Matt countered a D-Von move and Matt did the ROLLUP OF DEATH~! to pin D-Von to win.

The Dudley Boyz were eliminated.

The Dudleys were mad about being eliminated, so they gave Jeff a 3D on the floor.

Tag Team Turmoil: The Hardy Boyz (Matt and Jeff Hardy) (w/Lita) vs. Billy & Chuck

Pre-match notes: The Hardy Boyz were the faces while Billy & Chuck were heels.

Matt avoided a splash from Billy and hit a Side Effect on Chuck, then Billy shoved Matt into a superkick from Chuck. Billy hit a Fameasser on Matt and pinned him to move on since Jeff was out on the floor.

The Hardy Boyz were eliminated.

Tag Team Turmoil: Billy & Chuck vs. APA (Bradshaw and Faarooq)

Pre-match notes: Billy & Chuck were heels while APA were faces. This was the last match in the Tag Team Turmoil match.

Bradshaw sent Billy into the steel steps while Faarooq hit a back elbow on Chuck followed by a shoulder tackle. Bradshaw worked over Chuck with punches and forearms. Chuck with a punch, then he ran the ropes into Bradshaw’s arms leading to Bradshaw hitting a fallaway slam. Bradshaw and Faarooq hit a double shoulder tackle on Chuck. Billy went in illegally with a neckbreaker on Faarooq to give the heels control. Chuck worked over Faarooq with punches leading to Billy grabbing a headlock. Billy ran the ropes right into a spinebuster by Faarooq. Bradshaw got the hot tag with a shoulder tackle, kick and two clotheslines on Chuck. Billy sent Bradshaw into the ropes and then Bradshaw bounced off the ropes with a Clothesline from Hell with Billy doing a flip bump. Bradshaw pinned Billy to win the match at 16:38. The fans popped for the win.

Winners of Tag Team Turmoil: APA (Bradshaw and Faarooq)

Analysis: *3/4 A way to get a lot of tag teams on the show for a match that took up a decent amount of time. It was boring overall. I did like the story of the Dudleys injuring Jeff Hardy causing Matt to fight alone and failing, which led to B&C making the finals against APA, who found a way to win. The finishing clothesline by Bradshaw on Billy looked great especially because of the sell job by Billy.

Ric Flair was interviewed by Michael Cole with Ric in the role of Co-Owner of the WWF. Flair called out the NWO about their words earlier and said that a lot of the WWF guys are ready to teach the NWO guys about respect. The Undertaker warned Flair about keeping an eye on who is coming after him, Flair said it was Undertaker and Undertaker said that was right.

Analysis: This was done to tease the WrestleMania 18 match between The Undertaker and Flair.

Goldust made his entrance. They showed clips of Goldust attacking Rob Van Dam from behind recently. Rob Van Dam got a good pop as usual during this era.

Rob Van Dam vs. Goldust

Pre-match notes: Rob Van Dam was the babyface in this match while Goldust was a heel. They tried to get Goldust going as a heel again, but then he would become a comedy babyface a few months later.

Goldust attacked before the match, but Van Dam managed to come back with a shoulder tackle and a spinning leg drop. RVD with the Rolling Thunder combo into a moonsault for a two count. Goldust slipped out of the ring to avoid an attack. Goldust walked up the aisle towards the back, but then he went back into the ring before the ten count. They were battling on the floor with RVD whipping Goldust into the barricade. RVD did his patented move where he jumped off the apron with a leg drop to the back. Goldust got a knee up to knock RVD off the apron to the floor. Goldust with an elbow smash onto RVD on the floor followed by punches. Back in the ring, Goldust with a hip attack for a two count. Goldust set up RVD on the top rope and stretched RVD’s back across the top rope against the ring post. Goldust with a slingshot that sent RVD throat first into the top rope and Goldust hit a knee drop for two. Goldust sent RVD throat first into the rope again. Goldust with a chinlock as the fans chanted for RVD, who got back up only for Goldust to connect with a clothesline. RVD with a backslide for two. RVD with a standing side kick to the chest. RVD with a spinning heel kick followed by a monkey flip. RVD jumped off the top with a kick to the chest for a two count. RVD hit the Rolling Thunder attack for a two count. RVD avoided an uppercut and did a senton splash. RVD went up top, he jumped off with the Frog Splash and Goldust moved leading to Goldust hitting a DDT for two. Goldust set up for the Curtain Call, but RVD landed on his feet and hit a spinning heel kick for two. RVD countered a bulldog by knocking down Goldust and RVD hit a spinning heel kick to the face. RVD up top, he jumped off and connected with the Five Star Frog Splash for the pinfall win at 11:08.

Winner by pinfall: Rob Van Dam

Analysis: **1/4 It was an average match with Goldust controlling most of the match until RVD made the comeback and finished him off. There was a good nearfall near the end of the match with Goldust hitting the DDT after RVD missed the Frog Splash. Shortly after that, RVD hit the Frog Splash to win. I don’t remember this Goldust heel run going anywhere while RVD was consistently pushed as an upper midcard face for several years.

The great “Stone Cold” Steve Austin was shown walking backstage. Austin walked up to the three NWO guys standing in his way. Hall brought them a six-pack of Budweiser. Austin did the “What?” routine while telling them he’s not thirsty and then Austin tossed the beer down. Hogan told his guys to let Austin through, so Austin kept on walking.

Booker T and Test entered for a Tag Team Title match. They were actually former Tag Team Champions, which most people probably don’t remember. I certainly didn’t remember it until JR said it. The team of Tazz and Spike Dudley entered as the champions. They were the smallest tag team champions in WWE history.

Analysis: Booker was in heel mode at this point. He would turn face as a tag team with Goldust in a few months. That was a fun alliance that worked really well.

WWE Tag Team Championships: Tazz and Spike Dudley vs. Booker T and Test

Pre-match notes: Tazz and Spike were the babyface champions while Booker T and Test were the heels. Tazz and Spike won the titles about six weeks earlier.

Test worked over Tazz with punches and kicks. Tazz came back with a back elbow and a running clothesline. Spike tagged back in with a missile dropkick on Test and countered a slam by Test. Spike got a pin attempt on Test, Booker was distracting the referee and Test was able to break free with punches. Booker tagged in with a jumping kick on Spike. Test worked over Spike with punches and some choking on the ropes. Test with two corner clotheslines. Test with a body slam, Spike avoided an elbow drop and Spike did a headbutt to the ribs. Spike went for the Dudley Dog, but Test tossed him onto the ropes leading to Spike bumping on the floor. Booker sent Spike back in. Booker went for the Scissors Kick that he used as a finisher sometimes and then a Spinarooni, but Tazz broke up the pin attempt. The fans woke up from their nap to react a bit to the Spinarooni. Spike countered Booker with a DDT out of the corner. Tazz got the tag with clotheslines and a Northern Lights Suplex. Tazz avoided a Test charge and hit Booker with a clothesline. Tazz sent Booker out of the ring, Spike was in illegally and he hit the Dudley Dog on Test. Booker pulled Spike out of the ring and Spike sent Booker into the ring post. Test with an elbow shot followed by Test doing a pin attempt with his feet on the bottom rope. Test shoved referee Jack Doan, who shoved back and Taz slapped on the Tazmission on Test, who quickly tapped out at 7:16.

Winners by pinfall: Tazz and Spike Dudley

Analysis: *1/2 A boring tag team match with the fans barely reacting to most of the match. They were dead quiet for a lot of it. The finish was done that way because Test had issues with the referee, so the referee pushing Test right into Tazz furthered that story of Test having problems with the referees.

Tazz and Spike celebrated the win. They would lose the titles two days later to Billy & Chuck at the next Smackdown tapings.

The Rock was interviewed backstage by Jonathon Coachman, who mentioned The Undertaker gave Rock a Tombstone on a limousine. Rock repeatedly mentioned that The Undertaker tried to end The Rock’s career. Rock said that for ten days straight, he sat at home and thought about one thing only – whooping Undertaker’s candy ass all over Milwaukee! Big pop for that. Rock told Undertaker he is exactly what he says he is: “Dead man walking.” Rock ended it with the “if you smell” line to a big pop.

Analysis: A very good promo from Rock as usual. It was serious since he was seeking revenge on Undertaker. That’s why there was less comedy this time around.

Edge made his entrance to a nice ovation from the crowd. This was when Edge had the “Never Gonna Stop” theme song. William Regal made his entrance as referee Jimmy Korderas checked him for weapons.

Brass Knuckles on a Pole for the Intercontinental Championship: William Regal vs. Edge

Pre-match notes: William Regal was the heel IC Champion while Edge was a face. If you climbed the Brass Knuckles on the pole then you can use them.

Edge was aggressive early on with a suplex followed by a back body drop. Regal tried to climb for the brass knuckles, but Edge stopped him and hit a dropkick. Regal sent Edge to the apron, Edge tried to climb up, Regal stopped that and they went brawling to the floor with Edge sending Regal into the steel steps. Edge tossed Regal over the barricade. Edge went back in the ring to climb the pole, but Regal stopped that. Edge hit a missile dropkick off the middle ropes. Regal sent Edge ribs first into the top rope along with an abdominal stretch with Regal grabbing the ropes. There were “Regal Sucks” chants as Edge hit a hip toss and Edge dumped Regal over the top to the floor. Edge was on the top rope reaching up the pole, but Regal shoved him off the ropes leading to a bump into the barricade. Regal hit a double underhook Powerbomb on the floor. Regal slapped on the Regal Stretch submission that was an STF and Edge was bleeding from the mouth. Edge grabbed the bottom rope to break the hold. Regal with a double underhook Powerbomb in the ring for two. Regal tried to climb the pole again, but Edge tripped him up to crotch Regal across the top rope. Regal went for a Powerbomb on the apron, Edge grabbed the ropes and they bounced off the apron to the floor. I’m not sure what they were going for there or if that was the plan. Regal punched Edge down and got a hold of the brass knuckles, but Edge hit Regal with a belly to back suplex off the top rope. The brad knuckles were in the ring, available for anybody to use. Regal kicked the brass knucks out of the ring and Edge hit a sitout neckbreaker for two. Edge hit a Spear with no pin attempt because Edge left the ring to get the brass knuckles. Edge put the brass knuckles on his right hand, Regal punched Edge in the ribs, the referee was behind Edge and Regal had another pair of brass knuckles that he put on his left hand. Regal punched Edge in the face and covered for the pinfall win at 10:22.

Winner by pinfall: William Regal

Analysis: **1/2 This was an average match with Regal cheating to win a match where you could use a weapon legally, yet Regal used a different pair of brass knuckles to get the win. I liked the creativity of the finish to screw Edge out of the win because it fit Regal’s character. The early portion of the match was boring. That spot on the apron was also dangerous, so whatever they tried there didn’t really help the match.

Regal left with the title while the referee checked on the bloody Edge in the ring.

Analysis: I remember thinking they did a cheap ending here so that Edge could win the IC Title at home in Toronto at WrestleMania 18. Nope. Instead, Edge beat Booker T in a match (the dreaded “shampoo commercial” feud) and it was RVD that beat Regal to win the title.

Kurt Angle was interviewed backstage by Lilian Garcia. Angle said he was confident about his match against Triple H as the fans chanted “WHAT?” at him. Angle bragged about being an Olympic gold medalist. Angle said that Stephanie McMahon lying about her pregnancy was the best thing he ever heard because Triple H would have made a lousy father. Angle said that he’s going to be Triple H’s daddy and “daddy” is walking out with the title match at WrestleMania. That match is later.

There was a video package about The Rock facing The Undertaker. It was caused by The Rock making fun of The Undertaker for being eliminated by Maven in the Royal Rumble. The Undertaker cost Rock a match against Kurt Angle, so the rivalry picked up from there including Undertaker hitting Rock with a lead pipe to the head. The Rock also cost Undertaker a Hardcore Title match against Maven. Undertaker came back from that with a Tombstone on top of a car.

Analysis: These two legends didn’t have many major singles matches in their careers. The best match they were involved in together was a triple threat at Vengeance 2002 with Kurt Angle that I have already reviewed.

The Undertaker made his entrance on his motorcycle with Limp Bizkit’s “Rollin’” as his theme song. The Rock’s music played and instead of a slow entrance to soak in the cheers, Rock sprinted down to the ring to go after Undertaker.

The Rock vs. The Undertaker

Pre-match notes: The Rock was the face here and The Undertaker was the heel.

Rock was aggressive with punches followed by a leaping clothesline. Rock with punches, but then Taker stopped him with a boot to the face. Taker with some punches to work over Rock a bit, then Rock bounced off the ropes and hit a sloppy looking neckbreaker because there wasn’t much of a twist. Taker set up Rock in the corner with punches, elbows and a headbutt. Rock came back with punches, bounced off the ropes and Undertaker hit a sidewalk slam for a two count. Taker with a chinlock, Rock got out of that and Taker kicked Rock repeatedly to keep him down. Taker with a running boot, Rock moved, Undertaker was trapped on the top rope and Rock punched him out of the ring to the floor. Rock sent Taker into the steel steps. JR was using the “Booger Red” name for Taker, which JR questioned and JR still used it sometimes. Rock cleared off the Spanish announce table and Taker sent Rock into the steel steps. The referee was in the ring not really counting. Taker sent Rock groin first across the top of the barricade. Taker broke the referee’s count and then back out of the ring. Taker punched Rock over the barricade with the referee Mike Chioda joining them as they fought into the crowd. Rock whipped Taker into a door leading to a hallway and Taker brought Rock back towards the ringside area. Taker hit a leg drop on the back of the head/neck of Rock on the apron in a spot that Taker did many times in his career. Rock made a comeback with punches, but then he ducked his head and Undertaker hit a leaping DDT for a two count. Taker slapped on a dreaded bearhug for about one minute. Rock came back with a leaping clothesline.

Rock and Taker exchanged punches, Rock hit several punches in a row and Rock hit a kick to the gut leading to the DDT. Rock kipped up right into a spinebuster that JR loved to call the “spine on the pine.” Rock set up for the People’s Elbow, Undertaker got back up, choke by Taker and Rock kicked him in the groin with the referee Mike Chioda right there, but the referee did nothing about it. Rock with more punches, then Taker came back with a choke right into a Chokeslam for a two count. Undertaker left the ring and sat on his motorcycle reaching for some object, but he couldn’t find it. At one point he yelled out “MIKE” so referee Chioda could come talk to him on the floor. That led to Taker shoving Chioda into the steel steps. Taker grabbed a lead pipe that was attached to the bike and Ric Flair ran out there to stop Taker. Flair with some chops, Taker no-sold it and hit a boot to the face of Flair. Rock hit a spinebuster on Taker and slapped on a Sharpshooter as the referee Chioda got back in the ring. Vince McMahon ran down to the ring, Chioda was distracted by him and Rock flipped Vince into the ring. Rock punched Vince and Taker hit a clothesline to the back of Rock. Taker picked up Rock for a Tombstone, but Flair was back in with a lead pipe shot to Undertaker (the referee checking on Vince) and Rock hit a Rock Bottom on Undertaker to win at 17:25.

Winner by pinfall: The Rock

Analysis: **3/4 Two legends in a match that was good, but not great or memorable in any way. The spot with Taker looking for the lead pipe felt like it too long although once that happened the fans really got into the match and loved seeing Rock win. It was probably a few minutes too long. The brawling out of the ring should have led to a DQ since it was a regular match in terms of the rules, but the referee allowed a lot of it to happen. I just think if you’re going to do the match that way, just make it a Street Fight instead. When you see the final few minutes, it’s understandable why it was a regular match, but I think they could have come up with a better match structure here. Flair’s involvement set up his WrestleMania 18 match with Undertaker, who lost because of Flair.

The Rock celebrated the win as the fans popped big for him since Rock was very popular at this point. Undertaker was pissed off about the loss.

Analysis: The Rock would go on to have a huge match with Hulk Hogan at WrestleMania 18. That would be set up on the next night on Raw.

The legendary Mr. Perfect was at WWF New York watching the show. Perfect ripped on some of the fans being ugly. Perfect did a promo about how he was a perfect role model. There wasn’t much to this.

A video package aired to set up Triple H vs. Kurt Angle with Stephanie McMahon as the referee. Hunter won the Royal Rumble, last eliminating Angle. Angle attacked Hunter claiming he should have won the Rumble, so that set up this match with Hunter’s WrestleMania title shot on the line. Meanwhile, Stephanie McMahon-Helmsley wanted to renew her wedding vows with Hunter, he said no and then Stephanie claimed she was pregnant. Hunter was excited about that. However, Linda McMahon informed Hunter that Stephanie wasn’t really pregnant. At the marriage vow renewal ceremony, Stephanie and Vince had no idea that knew that Stephanie was faking the pregnancy. Hunter called her a “no good, lying bitch” and said that they were through. Stephanie informed Hunter that she would be the guest referee.

Analysis: At this point in the real relationship, Hunter and Stephanie had been dating for a few years after becoming an on-screen couple in December 1999. They were storyline married at that point and then when Hunter came back as a face in early 2002, they had problems because Stephanie was a heel while WWE wanted Hunter to be a babyface. That led to this story where they were going through a divorce. They actually got married in October 2003 and have three daughters together. When their daughters are winning titles in WWE, I’ll feel really old.

Stephanie McMahon-Helmsley entered as the referee wearing leather referee gear and shorts. Stephanie told ring announcer Howard Finkel to say something, so Howard said it was just Stephanie McMahon now since they were going through a divorce. Kurt Angle made his entrance and Stephanie shook his hand when he entered. Triple H got a nice pop for his entrance because he was in babyface mode during this storyline.

Triple H vs. Kurt Angle (Stephanie McMahon is the referee)

Pre-match: Triple H was the babyface Royal Rumble winner. Kurt Angle was a heel. Stephanie was a heel referee. Triple H’s WrestleMania title shot was on the line.

Angle got a couple of quick rollups for two count with Stephanie counting fast. Hunter knocked down Angle and Hunter argued with Stephanie. Angle stomped on Hunter repeatedly, but then Hunter came back with a clothesline. Hunter stomped away on Angle as fans chanted “slut” at Stephanie. Hunter with a clothesline on Angle followed by another clothesline. Angle with a belly to back suplex. Stephanie was standing up against the ropes, Angle charged, Hunter ducked and Angle gave Stephanie a clothesline over the top to the floor. Good bump by Stephanie there! The fans popped big for that as Stephanie was out on the floor. Hunter with an elbow smash on Angle. Hunter with a back body drop and a clothesline that sent Angle out of the ring. Hunter laughed at Stephanie being out on the floor while referees and others checked on her. Hunger hit a swinging neckbreaker and then referee Tim White took over as the referee to count a two count. Stephanie was helped to the back. Hunter with punches against the turnbuckle and Angle came back with three German Suplexes for a two count. Angle with an elbow smash for two as the fans chanted “Angle sucks” at Kurt. Hunter got a boot up, but then Hunter hit a belly-to-belly suplex for two. Angle with two more belly to belly suplexes across the ring for a two count. Angle slapped on a sleeper hold, Hunter backed into the turnbuckle to try to break free and Hunter sent Angle face first into the turnbuckle. Angle with punches against the turnbuckle, but Hunter countered with a Powerbomb out of the corner. That’s a spot that The Undertaker loved doing in his career. Hunter hit the running knee to the face, Angle with a boot and Hunter hit a spinebuster for two. Hunter with a facebuster into the top of the leg for a two count. Angle bailed to the floor, then around the ring and Angle hit referee Tim White with a forearm to the back of the head. Angle with a low blow punch to Hunter and Angle hit the Angle Slam. That led to Stephanie running/bouncing out there for a two count. Angle pinned two more times, but Hunter managed to kick out.

Angle went for the Ankle Lock, but Hunter kicked Angle into Stephanie against the turnbuckle. Hunter came back with a kick to the gut into a DDT with no referee able to count. Hunter picked up Time White, Angle hit Hunter in the back and he bumped into White to knock him out of the ring. Angle with a German Suplex on Hunter. Angle grabbed a steel chair, Hunter ducked a chair shot and Hunter hit a Pedigree. Tim White crawled back into the ring to count the one…two…and Stephanie elbowed White to stop the count. Stephanie kicked White in the groin. Hunter got in Stephanie’s face, grabbed her by the hair and then Angle hit Hunter in the back with a steel chair. Angle hit Hunter in the head with a chair and Hunter blocked it with his right arm. Angle hit the Angle Slam with Stephanie counting for one…two…and three. She did not count fast. The match went 14:39.

Winner by pinfall: Kurt Angle

Analysis: ***1/4 This was pretty good like most of their matches together. All of the ref bumping and craziness at the end hurt the rating a bit. The fans really got into it when Stephanie came back to take over as the referee later in the match. Angle’s win was very cheap with the steel chair shot and the Angle Slam. It made you feel sorry for Hunter getting screwed out of the win after coming back from a seven-month long injury only to lose this match in cheap fashion. I would assume that most people watching this match figured Triple H would win to keep his WrestleMania title shot, so WWE went for the swerve finish by having Angle win the match.

Kurt Angle celebrated the win along with Stephanie thinking that Angle was getting the WWE Title shot at WrestleMania. The fans chanted “you suck” as Angle’s music played and Stephanie raised Kurt’s hand as the winner. Hunter was down selling while slobbering a bit from the mouth. Hey, that is Big Show’s gimmick!

Analysis: The next night on Raw, Angle faced Hunter again with Ric Flair banning Stephanie from ringside. Hunter won that match, so Hunter got the title shot at WrestleMania. Why even do this match on this show, then? To fill out the card and to add a big match to Raw the next night.

Kurt Angle was shown out in the parking lot celebrating his win. Angle asked a parking lot attendant if his car is ready, the guy said yeah and Angle said he was going to WrestleMania.

The Rock was shown backstage when the NWO trio of Hulk Hogan, Kevin Nash and Scott Hall walked up to him. Hogan said that Rock is his son’s favorite wrestler, so he wanted a picture. Rock took a picture with Hogan. Rock told “Chico” Razor Ramon to take the camera and shove it up his ass. Rock called Nash “Diesel” and did some truck sounds. Rock told Hogan to take that camera, eat your vitamins, say your prayers and stick that camera up all of your candy’s asses.

Analysis: The next night was when Rock vs. Hogan was set up for WrestleMania 18. This was their first interaction on screen.

The Undisputed Champion Chris Jericho was shown walking backstage for his match up next.

The video package aired for Undisputed Champion Chris Jericho defending the title(s) against Steve Austin. Austin beat Angle in a match on Raw to earn the WWE Title shot at No Way Out. Chris Jericho reminded us that he beat Austin to become the Undisputed Champion. Jericho said he would beat the hell out of Austin, who said his drug of choice is the WWF Championship. The video was just average by WWE’s high standards.

The great “Stone Cold” Steve Austin made his entrance to a big pop with JR saying that Austin was looking to become a 7-time WWE Champion. Austin did his usual posing to a huge reaction from the crowd.

Analysis: If you would have told me in January 2002 that Austin was not going to be WWE Champion again I would have thought you were crazy. However, he never won the title again.

Chris Jericho made his entrance as the Undisputed WWE Champion. This was when the title consisted of the WWF Championship and the WCW World Heavyweight Championship, so Jericho had to carry two titles down to the ring. It would become one title after WrestleMania.

Undisputed WWE Championship: Chris Jericho vs. Steve Austin

Pre-match notes: Chris Jericho was the heel champion. Steve Austin was the babyface challenger. Jericho won the titles at the Vengeance PPV two months earlier.

Jericho started with a middle finger to the face, so Austin did a middle finger salute right back at him. Jericho with a kick to the gut, Austin with punches and he sent Jericho out of the ring. Back in the ring, Austin with a high elbow to the face. Austin worked over Jericho with several chops to the chest. Austin sent Jericho into the turnbuckle with the fans chanting “WHAT” every time Austin did it. Austin with a clothesline leading to two straight suplexes. Austin with more chops, but then Jericho came back with a neckbreaker. Jericho with some chops of his own leading to an elbow smash. Jericho jumped off the top, Austin with a punch to the ribs and Austin hit a clothesline over the top to the floor. They left the ring with Austin sending Jericho into the ring post and steel steps leading to more chops from Austin. They were back in the ring with Austin doing shoulder tackles to the ribs as the fans chanted “WHAT” again. Austin sent Jericho into the turnbuckle, Austin charged, Jericho moved and Austin hit his left shoulder into the turnbuckle. Jericho with chops and then he sent Austin into the steel steps. They went brawling up the aisle with referee Earl Hebner following them instead of counting them out. Austin threw Jericho into two of the tractor-trailer trucks by the entrance. Austin sent Jericho into the barricade in the aisle. Back at ringside, Jericho sent Austin into the top of the barricade, more chops from Chris and Jericho sent Austin back into the ring. Austin with more chops to the body and Austin with a superplex while standing on the middle rope. Austin with another superplex off the middle rope. Austin connected with a third straight superplex from the middle rope for a two count. Austin with more chops to the chest, then whips into the turnbuckle and Austin hit a clothesline. Jericho positioned the referee in front of him and then Jericho hit a low blow uppercut on Austin. Jericho with elbow smashes to the back of Austin. Jericho with more chops, Austin went for a kick, Jericho caught the foot and went for the Walls of Jericho with Austin able to turn it to get out of it. Jericho with more knee shots to the face. Austin with punches, then a Stun Gun into the ropes (his finisher in WCW) and Austin with an elbow drop for two. Jericho avoided an Austin charge and sent Austin out of the ring. Jericho sent Austin into the security wall. Jericho went for a chair shot, Austin kicked him in the ribs and the referee took the chair away. Austin with more chops and then Jericho sent Austin into the barricade at ringside. Jericho sent Austin into the English announce table. Jericho brought Austin back into the ring.

Jericho remained in control with chops to the chest and an elbow smash, but Jericho’s Lionsault missed as Austin moved out of the way. Jericho slapped on a sleeper hold (“ask him!”) and Austin got out of that after about two minutes. That took a while. Austin held the ropes to avoid a dropkick and Austin went for the Walls of Jericho, but Chris fought it and Austin did a catapult that sent Jericho into the turnbuckle. Austin with a spinebuster. Austin countered a Jericho leapfrog attempt into a powerslam for two. Jericho with a bulldog leading to the Lionsault off the ropes. That didn’t look great, so Jericho hit a second Lionsault. The crowd wasn’t reacting that much as Austin kicked out at two. Jericho with hard chops, Austin moved and Jericho went running into the ring post. Jericho countered a Thesz Press attempt into the Walls of Jericho submission with Austin trying to fight it off leading to Austin crawling to the bottom rope to break the hold. Jericho brought the WWE Title into the ring, Austin punched him leading to Jericho bumping into referee Earl Hebner against the turnbuckle. Austin with a spinebuster right onto the WWE Title for a two count. Hebner was selling a back injury. Jericho hit the Breakdown face first into the WWE Title for a two count. Jericho went for a clothesline, Austin ducked and Jericho hit a clothesline on referee Hebner to knock him out of the ring. Austin slapped on the Walls of Jericho on Jericho, who tapped out, but there was no referee there to see the tapout. Jericho tried attacking with the WWE Title and Austin avoided that and hit the Stunner. The NWO trio of Hogan, Hall and Nash went after Austin in the ring. Austin knocked them down with punches, but then Nash and Hogan jumped on Austin while Austin was punching Hall. That led to Hall hitting a shitty looking Stunner on Austin and the NWO trio left. It looked more like a Diamond Cutter. Jericho brought referee Hebner back into the ring and Jericho covered Austin to win the match at 21:33.

Winner by pinfall: Chris Jericho

Analysis: *** The match was good in terms of the work with a lot of action. I’m not sure what was up with Austin in the match, but I’ve never seen him throw so many chops in a match. However, they did have better matches together. It was disappointing to hear how quiet the crowd was at times. All of the work they did in the match didn’t mean that much by the end when the NWO showed up to cost Austin the win. Austin even had the match won before the NWO guys showed up. It’s not like Jericho was working with the NWO, but Jericho benefitted from their presence. Most of Jericho’s title matches during this period had cheap finishes because WWE wasn’t going to put him over guys like Austin or Rock in a clean way.

After the match was over, the NWO trio went into the ring to attack Austin with Hogan and Nash connecting with punches while Austin tripped up Hall. Hogan, Nash and Hall punched Austin again. Hall hit another Stunner on Austin. This one looked a bit better than the one before. Hogan brought in two cans of spray paint as Hall wrote NWO on Austin’s back. The NWO theme song played to end as the trio left the ring with Austin down in the ring. JR was screaming about it. The NWO walked towards the back to end the show.

Analysis: It worked as a cheap attack to get heat on the NWO doing a beatdown of Austin. The reason that Hall did a lot of it was because he was Austin’s WrestleMania opponent (not yet known at this time), so they wanted to focus on Hall there. I think from a logical standpoint the problem was that the NWO was supposed to be hated by the locker room, yet there was nobody that tried to help Austin. I realize it was done to get heat and it worked in that regard, but it could have been booked better.

This event has a runtime of 2:36:42 on WWE Network.

 

FINAL THOUGHTS

Show rating (out of 10): 5.5

This was just a slightly better than average show that was weird in some ways. You would think a PPV with matches like Jericho/Austin, Angle/Triple H and Rock/Undertaker would be some all-time great show, but every one of those matches had cheap finishes. There were ref bumps, there was interference, there were weapons being used and by the end of it, I just felt like WWE overdid in terms of how they booked these matches. Three straight matches with ref bumps? That’s too much. I understood why it happened because they were building to WrestleMania 18 matches. I just think that all of the cheap finishes did more harm than good. When I look at the match quality on the show, there just isn’t that much to like.

It’s an interesting show to look back on due to the New World Order members Hogan, Nash and Hall returning to WWE, but it’s not like they made the show better. You can say No Way Out 2002 is a historically important show that did a nice job of planting some seeds for WrestleMania 18. However, it wasn’t a great show on its own.

 

FIVE STARS

  1. Kurt Angle
  2. Triple H
  3. Chris Jericho
  4. Steve Austin
  5. The Rock

 

OPINIONS

Best Match: Kurt Angle vs. Triple H (***1/4 out of 5)

Worst Match: Tazz and Spike Dudley vs. Booker T and Test (*1/2)

Most Memorable Moment: Stephanie McMahon making the count to cost Triple H his match against Kurt Angle. It meant nothing one night later, but it did feel like a big deal at the time.

That’s all for me. Check out the full list of my WWE PPV Review archive right here. Thanks for reading.

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John Canton

Email mrjohncanton@gmail.com

Twitter @johnreport