I recently reviewed the DVD for WrestleMania and found it enjoyable. So I decided to look at No Way Out, the WWE's transitional pay-per-view event between the annual March event (WrestleMania) and the "Royal Rumble" pay-per-view, which is normally held in January. The No Way Out event serves as an opportunity to throw out something called the Elimination Chamber (EC), which is kind of like a steel cage match, except the chamber has small compartments for wrestlers to stand in until they're released and free to do battle. However, like just about everything else that any entertainment sector produces in February, the results are underwhelming.
Held on February 15, 2009, in Seattle, No Way Out has fewer matches than other pay-per-view shows, yet it's approximately same length (just under three hours) because the EC matches include a half dozen participants, and each of those matches runs 30 minutes. And there are two of these things on the card! The matches are as follows:
Edge vs. Triple H vs. MVP vs. Undertaker vs. Jeff Hardy vs. Big Show vs. Vladimir Kozlov (EC Match for the WWE Championship)
Randy Orton vs. Shane McMahon (No Holds Barred Match)
Finlay vs. Jack Swagger (ECW Championship Match)
JBL vs. Shawn Michaels (Extreme Rules Match)
Edge vs. John Cena vs. Rey Mysterio vs. Chris Jericho vs. Mike Knox vs. Kane (EC Match for the World Heavyweight Championship)
Generally the EC matches are the big draw. For a change of pace, the decision to have two of these matches (one for each of the RAW and Smackdown! brands) on the card was a bit surprising, and to have Edge eventually work both was a turn of sorts. He was knocked out of the first EC match in the first several minutes, a problem for the WWE Champion. Later during the event, he attacked Kofi Kingston, who was slated to be in the second EC match, and worked long and hard through the match to win the World Heavyweight Championship. It was almost a shame too, because as good as he was in the match, he lost in arguably the better of the two EC matches. In the first match, Edge was pinned early by Hardy, and Hardy, HHH, Undertaker and Big Show performed their collective arses off in the match (which HHH wound up winning) and seeing these veterans essentially opening the show with this performance was exciting.
After that, things took a downturn. On the whole, Orton is relentlessly pushed as a heel, though I have never really understood (or even cared) why. And in a time-honored strategy, when you want to try to elevate him, you pit him against the boss that everyone now likes, which is a virtual carbon copy of the famed McMahons-Steve Austin feud from a decade ago, with reversed roles. Orton had injured Vince McMahon by kicking him in the head as if he was punting a football, so naturally Vince's son Shane wanted to do something about it. The match was another chance for Shane to both take and give crazy stunts that inflicted punishment. He's done it before, and I didn't really see the need for it again, let alone another McMahon feud. I don't know who Jack Swagger and Finlay are, thus I wasn't impressed by what they were doing. Shawn Michaels is a good athlete, but against JBL he doesn't get to use his athleticism, and their match is boring as a result.
Wrapping up the show is the second EC match. Edge, Jericho, Cena and Mysterio are all solid workers who are capable of carrying a match fairly well, while Kane and Knox are bigger, slower, and do what they can to keep up. Thankfully, Kane and Knox are the first two eliminated, so the smaller guys can have fun and they do a great job in closing out the show in a match perhaps as good as the one that began the event.
Overall, while seeing some of the stars of the WWE in this environment who do a good job, I was impressed and surprised. The problem is that there is more to the card, and the rest of the matches simply don't do it. I feel it's a case of "one and done" for me; I've seen it, I'm done with it, I can move on now.
The WWE has this thing where their DVDs are in full-frame video, but I hope that they start presented these events in widescreen for standard definition. The event looks okay, though with all the lights and pyrotechnics, there are some occasional pixelation issues. There's some artifacting and image noise as well, but this is generally a solid disc without serious complaint.
Dolby Digital 5.1 surround, which appears to be the norm for WWE productions. And that's not a problem, as they employ a bit of surround usage, you don't worry about center channel balance all that much because this is a sporting event, but the play-by-play commentary sounds fine. During the pre-recorded segments that lead up to the match, there's even a hint of subwoofer activity. Those rasslin' folk can sure extend entertainment value, I'll give them that.
A post last match/pre-RAW promo with Edge after winning the World Heavyweight Championship is included for your review and consideration, but at 49 seconds is kind of skippable. A rematch with Orton and McMahon on the following night's RAW is here too. The problem with it is that it kills the fun from the previous night's pay-per-view, but starts the programmed feud with Orton and Triple H, as Orton hit the RKO (his finishing move) on Stephanie McMahon, Shane's brother and wife of Triple H. The match is a carbon copy from the one 24 hours before, so it's not worth the time.
No Way Out doth bring the goods in the matches that are the presumed gems, but shouldn't the boys bring it in all the pay-per-views? Honestly, there's no reason to buy this unless you were there or something, and I'm guessing most of these guys aren't fighting one another anymore. If you really want to see two EC matches, go for it and check out the disc, but don't go out of your way to do so.