The WWE No Way Out 2003 pay-per-view is one of those shows that was headlined by a non-title match because it was a WrestleMania 18 rematch with The Rock facing Hulk Hogan.
It was a pretty big show – bigger than most No Way Out events – for a couple of reasons. One, the Rock-Hogan rematch was a big deal because of how epic the Rock-Hogan match was one year earlier at WrestleMania 18. Two, it was Steve Austin’s big return after going home in the summer of 2002 when he hated the creative direction of the company.
This event did well on pay-per-view with 450,000 PPV buys. It was the fourth-highest PPV number of the year trailing only WrestleMania, Royal Rumble and SummerSlam. It was also the fourth best No Way Out ever in terms of PPV buys trailing the three years before it.
Another important point to be made about this show is that it was the first WWE PPV Montreal since the infamous “Montreal Incident” at Survivor Series 1997 when Bret Hart was screwed out of the WWE Title by Vince McMahon and Shawn Michaels. Even though Shawn was an active wrestler at this point, he was not in a match on this show. Also, there were several moments in the show where they referenced the Montreal Incident.
Here is the synopsis on WWE Network:
“Hulk Hogan and The Rock meet in a WrestleMania X8 rematch. “Stone Cold” Steve Austin battles Eric Bischoff. Triple H defends the World Heavyweight Championship against Scott Steiner. William Regal & Lance Storm defend the World Tag Team Championship against Kane & Rob Van Dam. Matt Hardy challenges Billy Kidman for the Cruiserweight Championship.” 14+ (L,V)
The DVD looked like this.
WWE No Way Out
From Bell Centre in Montreal, Quebec
February 23, 2003
It was a packed house in Montreal with a lot of noise and signs in the crowd. The Raw commentary team was Jonathon Coachman and Jerry “The King” Lawler since Jim Ross was out with a concussion due to an attack on the previous week’s Raw.
Chris Jericho entered first to boos even though he was in his home country. Jericho got Shawn Michaels banned from ringside for his match. Jeff Hardy got a nice pop from the crowd.
Jeff Hardy vs. Chris Jericho
Pre-match notes: Jeff Hardy was the face while Chris Jericho was the heel.
They fought over armbar, Jericho with a slap and Hardy with a punch. Hardy with a back body drop. Hardy with a headscissors. Jericho was in control after a clothesline and belly to back suplex as the crowd chanted “Y2J” because Canada rules. Jericho went for a splash in the corner that missed leading to Jericho going to the floor. Hardy nailed a springboard dive off the middle rope on Y2J on the outside. Hardy with a springboard moonsault for two. The crowd was chanting TWO! The “TWO” chant became a thing after this. I believe this is where that started. Jericho was outside, so Hardy gut a baseball slide. Rail run by Hardy missed, so Jericho lifted him up and Hardy was sent into the steps. Back in the ring, Jericho was in control with a delayed suplex. Dropkick to the face by Jericho. Hardy reversed a slam into a rollup for TWO! The crowd chanted it again. Jericho with a dropkick leading to a chinlock. Chops by Jericho in the corner. Jericho charged into the corner with Hardy moving, so Jericho hit the ring post. Hardy with punches and a flying forearm. Hardy with knees to the chest for TWO! Dropkick by Jericho for TWO! “Let’s go Jericho” chant starts up. Jericho with a corner whip and a facebuster. Lionsault attempted by Jericho led to knees by Jericho. A DDT by Hardy got TWO! Whisper in the wind by Hardy for another two. Hardy went for an enziguri kick, but Jericho reversed it into the Walls of Jericho. Hardy tried to fight it and he got to the ropes after about 20 seconds. The crowd booed or at least some of them did because they love Jericho. Jericho to the top, Hardy got back up and hit a hiptoss off the top. Swanton Bomb by Hardy. One, two, but Jericho got his foot on the ropes! Jericho went for the Walls of Jericho, but Jeff rolled him up for TWO! Corner whip by Jeff, Jericho jumped off and ate a dropkick. Reverse neckbreaker by Jeff, who went up top again. Jeff missed the Swanton Bomb when Jericho moved. Jericho connected with the Lionsault for two. Jericho went for a back suplex, Jeff reversed for two. A sleeper neckbreaker got two for Jericho, who put his foot on the ropes. Jericho went up top, Jeff met him there, so Jericho got crotched on the top. Jeff went for a hurricanrana, which was reversed into a top rope Powerbomb by Jericho. Walls of Jericho locked in by Jericho and Hardy tapped out. Jericho won it at 12:59.
Winner by submission: Chris Jericho
Analysis: ***1/2 Great match. It was a smart choice for an opener because both guys were big stars and knew how to get crowd reactions especially at this point in their careers. While Jeff kept coming with his offense, Jericho managed to avoid a second Swanton Bomb and picked up the win soon after. Jericho was consistently very good during this heel run while Hardy was always fun to watch. It made sense for Jericho to win since they were building him for a WrestleMania match against Shawn Michaels.
Post match, Jericho held onto the Walls of Jericho. Shawn Michaels ran out for the save and he was booed loudly! Christian showed up to save Jericho by going after Michaels. The crowd liked that. They don’t forget Survivor Series ’97. Michaels hit a double DDT on Jericho/Christian. Michaels with a clothesline for Jericho and a superkick for Christian. Some people cheered, but some of them were booing. Jericho and Michaels had a staredown.
Analysis: Nice job of getting people ready for the Jericho vs. Michaels match at WrestleMania. The crowd reaction for Michaels was negative early, but then it turned to cheers.
Kurt Angle was shown talking to his Team Angle buddies Shelton Benjamin and Charlie Haas. Angle ripped on the crowd in Montreal for not having Olympic heroes. Angle told his guys not to listen to the “You Suck” chants. Angle said that they are going to win. Angle had an idea to give them an advantage as the camera panned away at that point.
Triple H, the World Heavyweight Champion, was shown arriving with his Evolution buddies Randy Orton, Batista and Ric Flair. Steve Austin’s truck was also parked nearby, so the fans popped for that.
Rob Van Dam and Kane entered separately for their Tag Team Title match. The champions Lance Storm and William Regal were next.
World Tag Team Championships: Lance Storm & William Regal vs. Kane & Rob Van Dam
Pre-match notes: Storm and Regal were the heel champions while Kane and RVD were faces. Kane was in a mask here. He would be unmasked for the first time a few months later.
RVD outwrestled Storm early on including a spinning kick, so Storm tagged in Regal. Spinning kick by RVD and a split-legged moonsault by RVD got a two count. Monkey flip by RVD, tag to Kane and an elbow drop hit for two. A body slam by Kane and Storm broke up the pin. Regal looked like he was knocked out legit. He looked dazed. Tag out to Storm. Press slam by Kane. Clothesline by Kane for two. They showed the replay of the slam and the back of Regal’s head hit the mat. I think it was Kane’s fault because the slam was sloppy. Storm bailed to the floor, legal man RVD hit Storm with a flip over the top to the floor. RVD with a leg drop. Regal tagged in, so I guess he’s alright. Kicks and shoulder thrusts by RVD in the corner. RVD wit ha jumping kick onto Regal. To the top, Storm shoved RVD outside where RVD landed on the barricade. The heels worked over RVD including Regal hitting an overhead suplex dropping RVD on his head. A dropkick by Storm for two. Regal back in with three two counts in a row. A sunset flip by RVD on Regal while Strom tagged back in without RVD seeing it. DDT by Storm for two. Legdrop by Storm for two and he goes into a chinlock. The crowd was into it. Rollup by RVD for two. RVD tried to tag out but Regal cut him off. Spinning heel kick by RVD got Kane in for the clothesline off the top. Kane with a back body drop for Storm, and a boot for Regal. Kane with clotheslines in the corner, a boot to the face and that got two. Kane signaled for the Chokeslam on Regal but Storm blocks it while ripping at Kane’s mask and gouging the eyes. It was enough to “blind” Kane somehow. Storm shoved RVD into Kane so Kane gave a Chokeslam to RVD because he couldn’t see who it was. Kane was all confused. Regal pinned RVD to retain the belts. It went 9:20.
Winners by pinfall: Lance Storm & William Regal
Analysis: **1/2 Good tag team match with the heels winning in a clever manner by outsmarting Kane. It looked like Regal was legitimately knocked out by that body slam, but he recovered enough to finish the match. The story here was that Kane accidentally hit RVD and that cost them the win.
Post match, Kane helped RVD up, RVD was frustrated and RVD left the ring looking unhappy.
Analysis: I remember thinking at the time that this would lead to Kane vs. RVD at WrestleMania 19. Nope. Instead, they didn’t even make the main card and lost in a pre-show match.
Josh Matthews interviewed Matt Hardy with Shannon Moore. Matt said that Mattitude believed in the impossible to happen. Matt walked up to brother Jeff Hardy backstage. Matt said if Jeff had more Mattitude he wouldn’t lose “every match” all the time. Jeff slapped his brother and left while Shannon Moore tried to calm Matt down.
The Smackdown announce team of Michael Cole and Tazz were on commentary for the next match.
Billy Kidman entered as the Cruiserweight Champion. There wasn’t much of a reaction for him. Matt Hardy made his entrance with Shannon more along with some Matt Facts on the screen: “Matt is annoyed by snow & ice” and “Matt takes hot tea with milk & sweetener.”
Cruiserweight Championship: Billy Kidman vs. Matt Hardy (w/Shannon Moore)
Pre-match notes: Kidman was the babyface champion while Matt was the heel.
Matt did some jumping jacks to taunt Kidman. A body slam by Hardy, followed by a V1 pose. Arm drags by Kidman. Hurricanrana by Kidman is called a “leg scissors” by Cole. A cool spot sees Hardy whip Kidman, standing on the apron, into the ring post that sends Kidman to the ring post. A leg drop from Hardy gets two. Not that many people yelling “two” now. A fist drop and neckbreaker by Matt for two. Matt with a “criss cross choke” as said by Tazz. Corner whip, Kidman reversed the Side Effect into a rollup for two. Another neckbreaker by Matt for two. Matt choked Kidman on the ropes along with a running splash against the ropes. There was a chinlock by Matt, Kidman came back with a sleeper of his own and Matt hit an elbow to the chest. Kidman did a one-leg kip-up into an enziguri kick. Clotheslines by Kidman and a sky-high spinebuster for two. Hardy with a clothesline and second rope leg drop got two. The crowd was getting into it a bit more. Dropkick by Kidman sent Matt to the floor. Kidman followed out with a plancha over the top onto Hardy. Kidman up top, he jumped off, Hardy with a kick and Kidman got two on the counter. Moore on the apron, Kidman ran into him, and another Side Effect by Hardy got two. Kidman with a move similar to the Dudley Dog stepping on Moore and dropping Matt with a bulldog. Kidman set him up for the Shooting Star Press, but Matt rolled out. Twist of Fate of Fate by Matt got the 1, 2…but Kidman kicks out. That was a surprise as a nearfall. Matt set him on the top for a superplex, but Kidman shoved him down. Moore distracted Kidman. Matt was back up and hit a Twist of Fate off the top! Matt Hardy wins the cruiserweight title at 9:31.
Winner by pinfall AND NEW Cruiserweight Champion: Matt Hardy
Analysis: *** A pretty good match here by two talented athletes to get the heel Hardy the title since he was doing a nice job as this V1 character. They never got the crowd into it. Great finish, though. I had never seen that finish before (Matt doing the Twist of Fate off the top), so I liked seeing that. Props to Kidman for selling it perfectly. The fans didn’t care much about Kidman for most of the match even though he was a talented wrestler. He just wasn’t a big personality.
Matt Hardy celebrated with the Cruiserweight Champion along with his buddy, the MFer (Mattitude Follower) Shannon Moore.
Analysis: Matt would go on to WrestleMania 19 to defend the Cruiserweight Championship against Rye Mysterio in the opening match of that great show.
There was a backstage scene with Edge down in a heap in the backstage area. Chris Benoit and Brock Lesnar were checking on Edge while Smackdown GM Stephanie McMahon was there as well. Medical personnel showed up to check on Edge.
Analysis: It was supposed to be Lesnar, Benoit and Edge against Team Angle. Edge had a neck injury at this point, so this was an injury angle. Edge missed over a year of action after neck surgery.
A video aired about The Undertaker’s feud with Big Show. It started with Big Show attacking Undertaker four months earlier, then Undertaker came back at Royal Rumble and Taker wanted Big Show to fight him. Paul Heyman, who was Show’s manager, had somebody come out to deliver a personal message. It was a young Brian Kendrick before he was a regular in WWE. Brother Love wanted Undertaker to forgive Big Show, so Taker gave Brother Love a Chokeslam. The late great Chris Kanyon also was part of it and Taker kicked his ass as well. There were two crates in the ring, one of them had a puppy and then Big Show attacked Undertaker from behind to give Show the advantage going into the match.
Analysis: These guys feuded a lot in their careers. It was rarely that good or interesting.
Big Show entered with Paul Heyman. The Undertaker made his entrance on a motorcycle and he circled the ring two times. Big pop for Taker, who went after Show with punches on the floor before the bell rang to start the match.
The Undertaker vs. Big Show (w/Paul Heyman)
Pre-match notes: The Undertaker was the babyface while Show was the heel.
Show grabbed Taker in his arms and drove him into the ring post along with a whip into the barricade. Back in the ring, a low dropkick by Taker. Elbows to the throat by Taker along with the leg drop on the ring apron across the chest. Taker brought in a chair and Earl Hebner told him to put it down. Taker shoved the ref, so Show punches the chair into Taker’s face. There was a whip into the turnbuckle, Show eats a boot from Taker. Punches and kicks by Taker. Show missed a splash. Taker went for a slam, but Show landed on him for two. Show worked on the back with shoulder tackles to the back. Suplex by Show for two. Elbows to the chest by Show. They announced that Edge was taken to a local medical facility (they always hate saying “hospital”) for observation. After five or six elbows (I was starting to doze off), Show got two. Bearhug by Show. After about 45 seconds, Taker broke out with what? Punches, of course. Taker charged at him, Show hit a sidewalk slam for two. Show looked so tired. Show tossed Taker to the outside and doesn’t follow. Taker was rolled back in. Taker was bleeding from the head. From what? I have no idea. Show did some headbutts and punches to the head. The crowd chanted for Taker. I think Taker bladed on the floor or in the ring before Show hit him with headbutts. Taker worked him over in the corner. Two splashes in the corner. A Chokeslam was set up by Undertaker, but it was blocked with a headbutt. Taker hit a leaping clothesline for two and was shocked that Show kicked out of that with power. Yeah, Taker, you always beat people with that. Old school clothesline off the top, but Show was still up. A Chokeslam was set up again. Show choked Taker leading to the referee getting hit by somebody’s arm. Taker gets a no blow without the ref seeing it and a leaping DDT for a long two. Nice two count there.
Taker called for the Last Ride. Show shoved him off the ropes and hit him with a spinebuster for two. Tazz mentions the bad back. Yeah, the back that Show forgot about five minutes ago. Show does a snake eyes into the turnbuckle, a clothesline and waits a long time to cover for two. Show tried to pick him up, so Taker put him in the dragon sleeper, but Heyman got up on the apron so Taker broke the hold. Heyman was up again. Here’s A-Train. Taker knocked him off the apron and ran across the ropes to do a NO HANDS PLANCHA over the top rope the way he did at Ground Zero 1997! Sweet! The crowd marks out huge for that, as do I. Taker mostly hit A-Train, but Heyman took some of the bump as well. The crowd came alive for Taker doing the throat slash. In the ring, Show hit a chokeslam for 1…2…, but Taker reversed it into a triangle choke armbar. Big Show passed out from it to give Taker the submission win at 14:08
Winner by submission: The Undertaker
Analysis: **1/4 A slow-paced and boring match at times, but the last few minutes were very good with Undertaker showing a lot of energy. I liked the no hands plancha from Taker. You have to be impressed by a 6’10” guy that can do that. The offense by Show was horrible and the fact that they forgot about the injured back hurt the final rating. It made sense for Taker to win to get revenge for Show’s cheap attack against him several months earlier.
Post match, Taker brought in a chair. Here’s A-Train again and he gave Taker the Derailer (aka Baldo Bomb). A-Train said that this is his yard. A-Train stood tall over a fallen Undertaker and checked on Big Show as well.
Analysis: It seemed like they would go with Undertaker vs. A-Train at WrestleMania. However, it ended up being A-Train & Big Show against Undertaker & newcomer Nathan Jones at WrestleMania 19, but then Jones was so bad at getting ready for the match that they took him out of it.
Edge was shown getting placed on a stretcher while Stephanie told Lesnar and Benoit they had to go have their match.
Eric Bischoff and Chief Sean Morley were shown getting ready for Bischoff’s match against Steve Austin. Bischoff was confident about his match. Vince McMahon walked into the office saying he was so impressed by Eric’s karate demonstration. Vince said he saw Austin vs. Bischoff as a one on one match with no one else appearing whatsoever. Vince said if anyone gets involved in this match, he’ll fire their ass on the spot. Bischoff and Morley didn’t like that while the fans cheered.
Analysis: Poor Bischoff. The plan for Bischoff was to get some help to deal with Steve Austin, but Vince changed that plan.
Kurt Angle, the WWE Champion, made his entrance with Team Angle members Shelton Benjamin and Charlie Haas, who were the WWE Tag Team Champions on Smackdown. Chris Benoit got a big pop from the Canadian crowd wearing a “Toothless Aggression” shirt. There was an even bigger ovation for Brock Lesnar, who won the Royal Rumble one month earlier and was set for his dream match against Angle at WrestleMania 19.
Kurt Angle, Charlie Haas & Shelton Benjamin (w/Paul Heyman) vs. Brock Lesnar & Chris Benoit
Pre-match notes: Team Angle were the heels while Lesnar/Benoit were faces.
Benjamin started with Benoit as Benoit hit a shoulder block followed by the chops and a whip into the corner. Shelton drove Benoit to the corner, so Haas tagged in. Benoit with a back body drop, clothesline and a tag to Lesnar. Big pop. Clubbing and shoulders in the corner. Suplex and a giant hiptoss by Lesnar to Haas. Brock with a huge press slam on Haas and on Benjamin as well. Lesnar worked over Haas in the corner, staring at Angle the whole time. Haas whipped Brock to the ropes, so Kurt choked Lesnar. The heels used a referee distraction leading to Benjamin with a superkick on Lesnar. Angle decided to come in and used a strong chokehold with his legs wrapped around Lesnar’s waist. After about two minutes in the move, Lesnar got to his feet and ran Angle headfirst, while still on his back, into the turnbuckle. Cool move. Lesnar brought in Benoit with a suplex to Haas onto Benjamin and he took care of Team Angle with suplexes. Benoit with a German Suplex on Angle, plus three rolling Germans on Benjamin. The crowd chanted “one, two, three” during them. Benoit to the top. Top rope belly to belly suplex by Angle! It’s so great. Brock grabbed Angle on the apron, but Shelton knocked Lesnar down to the ground. Shelton grounded Benoit with an armbar. In comes Haas with an overhead belly to belly suplex on Benoit for two. Team Angle worked over Benoit behind the ref’s back. Snapmare by Kurt on Benoit into a front facelock. Benoit with chops and a rollup by Benoit for two. Suplex into a lateral press by Benoit for two. Release German suplex by Angle for two. Cole mentioned that Angle & Benoit each have two wins against eachother. Tazz finally mentioned the constant “TWO” chants asking what they are. Team Angle did the move where Haas held the guy over the top rope and Shelton jumped over his partner with a splash on the back/ribs. Benoit chopped Shelton, but he couldn’t get the tag because his leg was being held. Enziguri kick by Benoit misses, but a mule kick gave Benoit freedom. Hot tag to Lesnar.
Brock tagged in with clotheslines for Team Angle. Belly to belly overhead by Lesnar for Shelton and Kurt. After clotheslines, Kurt hit Brock from behind and Kurt goes for the Angle slam, but Brock slipped out of it. Brock went for the F5, Shelton broke it up dropkick and Angle bumped to the floor. Benoit tagged in with a German Suplex on Haas. Here comes Angle. Ankle lock by Angle on Benoit! Crossface by Benoit! Ankle lock again! Crossface again! Team Angle saved Kurt. This was fast-paced action. Crossface by Benoit on Haas, but Shelton saved. Lesnar took out Benjamin. Lesnar hit an F5 on Angle while legal man Benoit made other legal man Haas tap out to the Crossface. Lesnar & Benoit win at 13:19.
Winners by submission: Brock Lesnar & Chris Benoit
Analysis: ***3/4 Great match with a lot of action. Best match of the night. That finish was excellent and the last few minutes were full of excitement with everybody hitting big moves. I had a hard time keeping up with all the moves. It was the kind of nonstop action that I love. The match started out very good, then it slowed down in the middle a fair bit. However, the last five minutes were about as good as you can get in a 2 on 3 match. The crowd was into it the whole time especially when Lesnar got his hands on Angle, who kept trying to run away. Some people might think that it’s wrong for the team with two guys beat the team with three guys, but I think it made sense in terms of wanting to keep Lesnar strong after his Royal Rumble. Since Kurt wasn’t pinned, it kept him strong too.
A video aired about the World Heavyweight Title match with Triple H defending Scott Steiner in a rematch from the Royal Rumble. That match at the Rumble sucked. Triple H got disqualified since he couldn’t beat Steiner, so that led to the rematch at No Way Out. Steiner had to deal with the new four man group called Evolution that was made up of Triple H, Randy Orton, Batista and Ric Flair. Steiner beat Chris Jericho to earn another World Title match at No Way Out.
Scott Steiner was cheered for his entrance as the sirens went off in the arena. Triple H walked out with Ric Flair and Hunter had a big bandage around his left knee/thigh area.
World Heavyweight Championship: Triple H (w/Ric Flair) vs. Scott Steiner
Pre-match notes: Triple H was the heel World Heavyweight Champion on Raw while Steiner was a face. Steiner returned/debuted in WWE in November 2002.
Steiner started out with an armbar. Hunter fought him off with punches and beat him up in the corner a bit. Steiner kicked him in the injured thigh. Steiner punched the thigh a bit. Steiner was getting booed loudly, while Hunter was cheered. Steiner with a clothesline, a kiss elbow and some pushups. Steiner took off part of Hunter’s bandage, then he worked over the knee some more. Steiner almost ripped the whole bandage off the leg. Steiner wrenched on the left leg, but Hunter fought out. Kick to the back of the leg by Scotty to Hunter two times in a row. The crowd chanted: “Steiner Sucks.” Steiner with an overhead suplex followed by a Figure Four Leglock. There’s Ric Flair with an eye rake to Steiner leading to “WOO” chants. Steiner chases Flair on the outside and decked him with a punch. The crowd boos some more. On the apron, Hunter punched Steiner and Scott took a face bump on the top of the steps. Hunter on the outside leading to Steiner being sent into the steel steps. Neckbreaker for TWO. The crowd chanted: “Boring.” I love this crowd. Steiner tried to come back, the crowd booed, and another neckbreaker from Hunter for TWO. After some punches are exchanged, Steiner nailed an overhead belly to belly as the crowd continued to turn on Steiner. In the corner, Hunter got his boot up and tried to put his feet on the ropes for a pin, but Earl Hebner caught it. Hunter shoved Hebner, who said he’s not going to disqualify him. The crowd cheered the Hebner abuse. Small “You screwed Bret” starts up. Every time Hebner pushed Hunter the crowd boos.
Analysis: That spot with Hunter/Earl shoving eachother always led to a reaction from the crowd, but this crowd hated Hebner because of the Montreal Incident in 1997, so it had the opposite effect here.
Steiner back up with a back body drop. Spinning belly to belly got two for Steiner. I like that move. Hunter was whipped into the corner and he took the over the top rope, face first bump into the barricade that he did in nearly every match. Steiner sent Hunter into the steps again. Back in the ring, Steiner hit a second overhead belly to belly for two. Steiner set him up on the top rope. Steiner hit a Samoan Drop while standing on the middle rope, but Flair saved Hunter at two by pulling Hunter’s leg. Steiner said that’s it. Steiner Recliner time, so Flair called for Evolution to come and that led to Randy Orton/Batista appearing. Steiner knocked down Orton and Batista easily with Steiner sending Batista into the steel steps. Flair up on the apron, so he was knocked down by a Steiner punch. Hunter went for Pedigree to a pop, but Steiner threw him out of the ring. Randy Orton on the top and Steiner threw him down. In the ring, Steiner sent Orton over the top onto Batista. Referee Hebner left the ring to eject Flair, Orton and Batista from ringside. Hunter hit Steiner with a belt shot to the head. Hebner back in for a long two, and the crowd booed. Kick to the gut, Pedigree connected for Hunter and that was enough for the pinfall win with the crowd cheering for the heel. It went 13:01. Goodbye to Steiner’s push.
Winner by pinfall: Triple H
Analysis: *1/2 The match was better than the Royal Rumble, but it was a bit too silly with some of the spots and too overbooked for my tastes. I didn’t like how Steiner worked over the knee at the start and didn’t do it again later in the match. I give Steiner credit for bumping better and working harder this time around, but the crowd absolutely hated Steiner while cheering for Triple H, who was the top heel. The most fascinating about the match was how much they rejected Steiner, they hated Hebner and they cheered at the end because they were happy it was over. This Triple H/Steiner feud was a big failure.
Eric Bischoff was shown walking backstage where some wrestlers were sitting on chairs watching on a television. They were laughing at Bischoff.
A video package aired featuring Eric Bischoff’s match against Steve Austin. There was a promo with Vince McMahon complaining to Bischoff about how he had to turn Raw around and that led to Bischoff saying he was going to sign Steve Austin to help save Raw. It was 30 days later with Eric telling Vince he didn’t sign Stone Cold for No Way Out. Jim Ross told Vince that Austin would show up at No Way Out and Vince announced that Bischoff will face Austin in a match.
Analysis: The return of Steve Austin was a huge selling point for this show because he left in the summer of 2002. The fans missed him. Seeing him against Bischoff was an easy way to book something that the fans loved.
Jim Ross made his entrance with a bandage on his forehead to sell the attack from Raw, so JR was calling this match. JR: “I came here to see a man get his ass whipped.” Good reason to be there.
Eric Bischoff made his entrance in a black outfit with some black gloves on his hands. Bischoff took the microphone to say that nobody wanted to see him face Austin in a match. Bischoff said he will forfeit the match, but the glass breaks! There’s Austin! The crowd was going crazy. Austin was wearing blue jean shorts and a black leather jacket. My god, what a pop! The crowd was chanting for Austin. Bischoff said they don’t have to fight. Austin tackled Bischoff followed by punches. The bell rang to start the match.
Analysis: That was one of the loudest pops of Austin’s legendary career. The fans missed him big time.
“Stone Cold” Steve Austin vs. Eric Bischoff
Pre-match notes: Austin was the face while Bischoff was the heel.
Austin choked him with the shirt and stomped a mudhole. The crowd was still chanting for Austin. They showed the other wrestlers laughing in the back. Austin took off Bischoff’s gloves. Austin was in great shape after a long layoff as Austin sent Bischoff into the turnbuckle. The crowd chanted “WHAT?” for every kick in the corner. Austin with a finger to the ref, and the crowd loved it. Bischoff with a poke to the eye, plus a kick to the chest but Austin no sold it and laughed at him. Bischoff went to the outside, so Austin chopped him five times for it. Austin grabbed somebody’s orange juice and threw it on Bischoff. Austin tossed Bischoff into the front row. Back in the ring. Another “Austin” chant. Austin looked at the watch. Kick to the gut by Austin and the Stone Cold Stunner. When Austin covered, he lifted Eric’s arm up at two. Austin did that twice. Another Stunner by Austin. Bischoff sold it well. Austin lifted Eric’s arm up at two. Another Austin chant. There was third Stone Cold Stunner by Austin and another good bump by Bischoff. That’s it. Austin won at 4:26.
Winner by pinfall: “Stone Cold” Steve Austin
Analysis: 1/2* It wasn’t about the match rating. It was about Austin showing that he was back in a WWE ring and the fans welcomed him back with a huge ovation as well lots of chanting of Austin’s name. Bischoff barely got any offense just like it should have been. The fans missed Austin. They wanted to see him kick ass again. That’s exactly what they got to see.
JR stood up and yelled out “Stone Cold!” three times like he did many times. They showed the wrestlers in the cheering for Austin. JR yelled more than normal because of what Bischoff did to him. More Austin chants. Loud ovation from the crowd. Austin soaked up the cheers some more. The fans absolutely loved this guy. Austin stood Bischoff up again and Austin hit Eric with Stunner number four. Eric knew how to sell it well.
Austin walked up the ramp and looked at the crowd. Austin took off his belt and he ran back into the ring for another ovation. This crowd did not shut up for over five minutes. No beer for Austin, though. Stone Cold was back.
Analysis: Like I said above it really wasn’t about the match. They told us Austin would be there, they said he would kick Bischoff’s ass and that’s exactly what Austin did. Great moment. Good booking. Austin got a lot of big ovations in his career and huge pops that we’ll remember forever. Don’t forget about this one because the Montreal crowd loved him at No Way Out 2003. That’s for sure.
The video package aired for the main event: The Rock vs. Hulk Hogan. It was a rematch of their famous WrestleMania 18 match one year earlier. Rock beat Hogan, but the crowd loved Hogan that night. They shook hands post match. In January 2003, Hogan was back in WWE saying he signed a brand new contract. The story was that Smackdown GM Stephanie McMahon signed Hogan. Vince McMahon didn’t like that, so he announced Hogan would face The Rock. When Rock came back, he was an arrogant, cocky heel and Rock spit some water in Hogan’s face.
The Rock had new theme music for this match. They showed a helicopter flying over buildings. Somebody had a “Rocka Jabroni” sign. That was a name that Hogan called Rock in the build to the match. Rock got some big time heel heat on his way down to the ring. The biggest heel of the night, by far. The WWE Network version of Hogan’s entrance meant a generic rock song that was dubbed over “Voodoo Child” by the great Jimi Hendrix. Hogan walked out in the famous red & yellow gear to a huge babyface pop. This crowd was very loud. Cole said that Rock “lost home ice advantage” to Hogan. It was a way to say that the crowd favored Hogan.
Hulk Hogan vs. The Rock
Pre-match notes: Hogan was the face while Rock was a heel. Hogan was 49 years old at the time of this match and turned 50 later that year. The Rock was 30 years old here. As I write this in February 2022, Rock is 49 and turning 50 in May.
What was noticeable right away when I first watched this in 2003 is that the referee was not a regular WWE official. It was Sylvan Grenier, who would become a regular WWE superstar after this. That was a way to tip us off to let us know that there could be something fishy here.
After lot of stalling on the floor, Rock got in the ring. Whip in the ropes by Hogan, so Rock bailed to the floor to massive heat. More stalling by Rock. Rock went in the ring to break the count and back out again. Hogan left the ring to punch Rock a few times. Back in the ring, Rock with a kick in the back followed by punches that kept Hogan down. Hogan blocked a slam into the turnbuckle and slammed Rock into the top buckle ten times for the pop. Hogan with a spit punch to Rock. Look out everybody because the Hulkster was expanding the moveset! On the apron, Rock hit a stun gun move that put Hogan down. Back in the ring, Rock Bottom to Hogan barely got Hogan up in the air and it got a two count. It takes two to do the move. Hogan couldn’t even leave the ground. Rock put on the Hulkamania bandana and stole Hogan’s weightlifting belt. Rock whipped Hogan the belt about ten times. Rock went for some water, but when he turned around, Hogan got a clothesline. Hogan whipped Rock with the belt. The crowd loved it. Hogan with the punches, Rock hit a DDT and a kip up. Rock did an awesome pose where he “smells” the crowd. I love this guy. How can you not? Sharpshooter by Rocky. When was the last time a sharpshooter was used at a PPV in Montreal? Survivor Series 1997. Interesting, isn’t it? Rock sat in the Sharpshooter for almost two minutes as the “25-year-veteran” Hogan wouldn’t give up. Hulk got up in a push-up position that sent Rocky flying to the outside in a huge oversell.
Rock got up and hit a clothesline on the floor because Hogan was on the floor. In another funny moment, Rock was slapping his hands in a mocking manner as he told the crowd to cheer for Hogan now. Rock got a chair, he swung it and Hogan moved, so Rock hit the steel post. Hogan hit Rock in the back with the steel chair. No DQ? I guess not. Back in, Hogan tried to swing the chair again, but the referee blocked it and then Rock hit a low blow punch on Hogan. Spinebuster by Rocky leading right into a very famous move, the People’s Elbow for Rock. The crowd booed the setup but cheered the execution. Rock did a People’s Elbow for the second time. On the second one, he did a Hulkamania pose before dropping the elbow. That got two for Rock. Time for Hogan to hulk up. The usual punches from Rock set up the big boot. Leg drop. One, two…and the lights go out. When the lights came on, the referee was knocked out. Vince McMahon appeared on the ramp with his arms out as if to ask what happened. The crowd chanted: “You Screwed Bret.” The referee slid the steel chair to the Rock. Chair to the head by Rock to Hogan leading to Hogan blading in the ring although the camera was not on him. Hogan was busted open after. Vince was smiling. Rock Bottom connected for Rock. The referee jumped up quickly and counted the three. It went 12:20. Cole: “This is a damn screwjob!” Pretty much.
Winner by pinfall: The Rock
Analysis: ** It wasn’t a great match by any means, but I think the story was strong. It was good for getting a rise out of the crowd. If people doubted heel Rock after years of him being a face, I think he showed that he knows how to get people to hate him. He was an awesome heel. It was pretty easy to tell what would happen as soon as you realized the referee wasn’t a normal referee. I think everybody saw a Rock win coming. This match is mostly forgotten while the WrestleMania match is celebrated with good reason. It gave Rock another big win over Hogan to give Rock momentum while Hogan was screwed by Vince, so that set up their WrestleMania match as well.
Post match, Vince raised the hands of Rock and the referee at the same time. Cole mentioned Sylvan Grenier by name while Vince shook the referee’s hand.
Vince McMahon sent Rock and the ref to the back. Vince took off his shirt to reveal a Hulkamania shirt with the word “Nothing” written on the front of a Hulkamania shirt. Vince shoved Hogan back to the ground. On the back, the shirt said: “BROTHER” with “Sucks” written underneath it. Vince took off the fake Hulkamania shirt and threw it on Hogan. Vince left while his music played. Hogan stared at Mr. McMahon posing at the top of the ramp. Vince and Hogan had the staredown with Vince doing some flexing as well. That was the end of the show.
Analysis: This set the stage for their WrestleMania match. It had been rumored and expected for weeks going into this show, so ending the show with Vince and Hogan was another way to have people get ready for their
This event had a runtime of 2:34:34 on WWE Network.
Show rating (out of 10): 6
It’s a bad show in some ways when you think about Triple H/Steiner especially, but there’s enough good on here for me to say it was slightly better than average. I liked certain things about it. The Austin pop was amazing. Yeah, the match with Bischoff was a squash, but it made the fans happy, so that’s what mattered. Rock beat Hogan in controversial fashion. It’s not a classic by any means. It’s still a big match that the crowd was into while poor Hogan was screwed over by Rock, Vinny Mac and evil “referee” Sylvan Grenier.
If you’re looking for good matches, the Lesnar/Benoit win over three Team Angle guys was excellent. I liked Chris Jericho vs. Jeff Hardy too and Matt Hardy getting the Cruiserweight Title was solid too.
It was the last PPV before WrestleMania and they definitely set up some things well.
- Steve Austin
- The Rock
- Brock Lesnar
- Team Angle
- Chris Jericho/Jeff Hardy
Best Match: Brock Lesnar & Chris Benoit vs. Kurt Angle, Charlie Haas & Shelton Benjamin (***3/4 out of 5)
Worst Match: Steve Austin vs. Eric Bischoff (1/2*) – Based on ratings, Austin/Bischoff was worse, but Triple H/Steiner was bad for a World Title match given a lot of time.
Most Memorable Moment: The ovation for Steve Austin for his entrance. Some people might say Rock/Hogan, but I think Austin’s pop here was significant.
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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