No Way Out
February 23, 2003
Bell Centre, Montreal, QC

The Road to WrestleMania traditionally sees a return of star power to the roster as the pieces are laid for the biggest event of the year. February of 2003 was no exception to this trend as within the space of a month, arguably the three biggest superstars in the history of the WWE – Hulk Hogan, Stone Cold Steve Austin and The Rock – all made their return to the company and were a huge part of the promotion hype for No Way Out. The main event of our final PPV before the big one would indeed be a rematch from last year’s Mania, as the Rock and Hogan would face off once again, this time in reverse roles. Meanwhile, Steve Austin would make his return after walking out on the company in mid 2002, and was set to take out his frustrations on the man who fired him from WCW, Raw general manager Eric Bischoff. Down on the third most important match of the card we would see a rematch that nobody wanted to see, as Scott Steiner would battle Triple H once more for the World Heavyweight Championship. Meanwhile, WrestleMania opponents Kurt Angle and Brock Lesnar would be on opposite sides in tag team action as a preview for their much anticipated showdown. Lets get it rolling.

Don’t forget to follow me on Twitter at @Mpmcc91 and share your thoughts.

No opening video package tonight as we kick off with the pyro as we enter the arena. We have a bit of an announcer change on this night. The Smackdown duo consists of the usual Michael Cole & Tazz, however from Raw we have Jonathan Coachman & Jerry Lawler calling the action. JR had been taken out by Bischoff as part of the feud with Austin, but we’ll see him later on.

Jeff Hardy vs Chris Jericho
We kick the night off with Raw action, although this was not the originally scheduled match. Chris Jericho was actually supposed to face Test here, going back to Test eliminating Jericho last month at the Rumble thanks to the interference of Shawn Michaels. The build to the match that was supposed to take place saw Jericho miss a chairshot to Test and instead nail his manager Stacy Keibler. The following week Shawn Michaels would reprimand Jericho for not taking responsibility for his actions, leading to a brawl between the two to further tease their coming Mania showdown. With Jericho dealing with Test, Michaels meanwhile took on a mentor relationship to Jeff Hardy, challenging him to reach his potential. Hardy would end up saving Stacy from Jericho, leading to a match on Raw between the two which Y2J would win. From there, Jericho was set to move onto Test, however on the Raw before the PPV, both Test and Stacy were legitimately unable to get to the show due to travel issues. The decision was then made to insert Hardy into this match instead, with Jeff getting the momentum heading in as he would team with Shawn against Jericho and Christian in a tag team match in which the young Hardy would pin Y2J. Of course, this was the very definition of a transitional feud as the build to Jericho/Michaels was already on. Hardy’s momentum had cooled off greatly since mid 2002, but it was interesting to see this brief renewed push here. Of course, he was really getting burned out due to the travel schedule and personal issues and it was beginning to show in his week to week ring work despite remaining over with the crowd. This is an exception however as these two put on a fairly decent match to open the show. Jericho starts the match taking control but we quickly move into some back and forth. Being in Canada, Jericho gets a fair amount of cheers as well despite being a heel. To his credit, Jericho really did a good job at keeping this match running smoothly despite Jeff’s erratic offence. After working over Hardy some more as the action moved on, Jericho locked in the Walls, only for Jeff to escape the hold. That led to a burst of momentum and a near fall for Hardy following a successful Swanton Bomb. This leads to some more back and forth with the crowd into the action, but in the end it is Y2J who comes out on top as he catches Jeff in the Walls of Jericho once again, this time scoring the submission victory at 12:59. A solid match that surpassed my expectations knowing Jeff’s reputation at the time. He’d be gone from the company in a few months with this being his final PPV appearance before heading to TNA and getting his life sorted out. He’d be back a few years later and better than ever. This was all about giving Jericho a win to set him up for HBK next month. That feud is furthered here as Jericho refuses to break the Walls. Shawn comes out to make the save to a chorus of boos (we’re in Montreal, remember the screwjob?). Christian runs out to join Jericho in beating Shawn down, but in the end HBK fights them both off. Solid feud progression.
Grade: ***

Backstage, Kurt Angle is joined by Shelton Benjamin and Charlie Haas. Kurt rips on the Canadian crowd and says when they chant “You Suck” its because they are jealous. He promises they will be victorious in their tag match later on.

Elsewhere we see a limo pull up and the recently formed Evolution step out. More on that later.

World Tag Team Championship:
William Regal & Lance Storm (c) vs Kane & Rob Van Dam
More Raw action up next. Now last month at the Rumble we witnessed a title change as the Dudley Boyz defeated William Regal & Lance Storm for the tag titles. As I mentioned in that review however, their reign did not last long. The very next night, Chief Morley called out the Dudley Boyz, leading to Storm & Regal jumping the new champions. Having been beat down by the former champs, the Dudleyz were immediately forced to defend their titles in a rematch by Morley, and in that rematch Storm & Regal regained the gold. Meanwhile, the duo of Kane & Rob Van Dam earned a shot at the titles after defeating 3 Minute Warning in a match on Raw. The following week, RVD defeated Lance Storm to give the new contenders the momentum advantage heading into this show. I remember liking the Kane/RVD team at the time, even if it is clear they’ve dropped down the card over the past few months by being in this slot. RVD in particular gets a good pop as always, although Coach slips up on commentary saying he made his debut last year at No Way Out against Goldust. He probably meant to say his No Way Out debut. Anyway, the challengers start out strong here as we open with RVD and Lance Storm facing off. The match continues with both Regal and Kane tagging in, and as they go at it, we get a scary bump as Regal hits his head off a bodyslam from Kane which looked like something went wrong. Storm immediately tags in to cover for his partner and the match continues, allowing Regal to regain his composure. As the match goes on, Kane starts building momentum and it looks like we might be in for a title change, but Storm comes in and twists Kane’s mask around in a neat spot. That of course obscures Kane’s vision and he accidentally chokeslams RVD instead. That allows Regal to cover Van Dam to retain the titles for his team at 9:20. A decent match that served its purpose and also made the champions look intelligent and resourceful with the way they used Kane’s mask against him. After the match RVD confronts Kane as they tease some dissension, although they would smooth things over in the weeks that followed. This would actually be the last time we see Regal on PPV for a while though as he would come down with an infection on a tour to India that would actually be quite serious, sidelining him for over a year. For now though, the Bischoff Administration keeps the titles.
Grade: **1/4

Backstage, Josh Mathews is standing by with Matt Hardy and Shannon Moore. Matt talks about losing weight over the past few weeks to be eligible for a Cruiserweight title shot before he sees his brother Jeff nearby. Matt approaches him and says if he had kept being a Mattitude follower he might have won his match. Jeff slapped Matt in response, but Shannon Moore pulled Matt away as his match was up next.

WWE Cruiserweight Championship:
Billy Kidman (c) vs Matt Hardy w/Shannon Moore
The build to this match was actually quite fun and really played into the awesomeness of the Version 1.0 character. It all started on an episode of Smackdown where Kidman picked up a victory over Shannon Moore, only for Matt to attack the Cruiserweight Champion afterwards. This led to a non-title match between the two the following week in which Matt Hardy was victorious. Following his victory, Matt claimed he would lose ten pounds in two weeks so as to be able to challenge Kidman for the title at the PPV. What followed would be a series of hilarious skits in which Shannon Moore acted as Hardy’s coach to drop the weight, resulting in this match being able to go ahead. Kidman’s had a fairly nondescript title reign to this point having not been on PPV since beating Noble at Survivor Series, so the outcome of this match was pretty easy to predict with Matt’s momentum due to his awesome character. By the way, Matt Facts of the night are Matt dislikes snow and ice, and Matt takes hot tea with milk and sweetener. Yep, I loved Matt Hardy Version 1.0. Such awesomeness. He’s hilarious as the match gets started as well, jumping on the spot to show off his conditioning thanks to Shannon Moore’s training. Tazz is awesome on commentary getting the story over as well. Anyway, Matt has the early advantage in this one as he targets the champion’s back. Matt’s frustration at being unable to put Kidman away allows his opponent to come back however and despite some Shannon Moore interference attempts, he starts building momentum. Kidman goes for the Shooting Star Press but misses, which leads to a Twist of Fate from Matt from which the champion kicks out. That serves to frustrate Hardy even further, but he stays on top of things. Moments later he delivers another Twist of Fate, this time from the top rope, and thats enough to put Kidman away for the three at 9:31. Matt Hardy is the new Cruiserweight Champion after what was a decent short encounter. Putting the title on Matt was the right move as the Kidman reign wasn’t doing much for the division. Besides, there was a certain face challenger in the division waiting in the shadows for a shot against a heel champion.
Grade: **3/4

We now cut backstage where Brock Lesnar and Chris Benoit find Edge laid out. He was supposed to be their partner against Team Angle later in the night. It was implied that Team Angle was responsible, and the announcers promise to keep us updated on the situation. In reality Edge needed neck surgery and had to be written out of the match. He’s another guy that would miss over a year. From there we go to a video package looking at the Taker/Show rivalry.

Undertaker vs Big Show w/Paul Heyman
This is all about Taker looking for revenge after Show put him out of action following No Mercy last year. After returning at the Rumble, Taker vowed retribution against Show which led to Paul Heyman coming out and instead having Taker face the A-Train. Taker would be victorious in their match and in the weeks that followed, Heyman and Show would play a series of mind games with Taker through a number of presents being given each week. The first present was a telegram from preliminary wrestler Brian Kendrick, who sang a song to Taker only to be destroyed by the American Bad Ass. The following week, Brother Love emerged from the gift box. Love reminded Taker that he was his original manager and told him that he needed to embrace the love in his heart. Taker laid Love out with a chokeslam as well. A week later it would be the returning Kanyon that would meet a similar fate. The mind games would culminate on the Smackdown before the PPV, where two gift boxes awaited Taker. The first contained a dog, whilst the second was empty. A confused Taker would then be jumped from behind by the Big Show, laying him out with a chokeslam to prove the whole thing was a charade. Taker is out for revenge here and he gets a good reaction for his first singles match back on PPV since October. It shows the sudden increase in star power that Taker is this low in the card. 2003 would be a strange year for him overall as we will see going forward. Anyway, what you have here is the type of power match you expect from these two big guys going at it, but it isn’t bad by any stretch. Nothing spectacular, but Show and Taker always had a decent amount of chemistry when they faced off. After an initial burst of offence by Taker. big Show goes on offence and uses his size advantage to do damage to his opponent’s back with the idea being that his finishers required the back strength. Again, Cole & Tazz were awesome at getting this across. Taker actually gets busted open by Show as the beating continues with a series of head butts from the giant. It really is Show dominating the Undertaker for much of the match which wasn’t what I thought would be how it played out going in. Taker finally launches into a comeback, but before he can build up too much momentum, A-Train runs out for the distraction. It does not prove to be all that productive however, as Taker dives over the top with a plancha and takes down both Train and Heyman at once to a big pop. From there he returns to the ring and walks right into a chokeslam attempt from Show, only to counter it into the Triangle Choke submission hold for the tap out win at 14:08. Taker’s celebration is cut short however as A-Train comes in and hits him with the Derailer and leaves with Show to set up Taker’s program for Mania. This was better than you might have thought it would be even if its nothing earth shattering.
Grade: **1/2

We go backstage again where Edge is being tended to by medical staff and being checked on by Stephanie McMahon. He’s stretchered out on a neck brace and Stephanie says she’ll look after him as Brock and Benoit still want Team Angle.

Elsewhere Eric Bischoff and Chief Morley are gloating about the match with Austin as Bischoff seems to have a plan. All of a sudden Mr McMahon walks in and says there will be no interference in the match, and if anybody does they will be fired. Bischoff is no longer so cocky.

Brock Lesnar & Chris Benoit vs Kurt Angle & Team Angle w/Paul Heyman
Our next match is all about continuing the WWE title rivalry between Kurt Angle and Brock Lesnar heading into WrestleMania. You knew that match was happening so there was no point having another WWE title match on this show, especially with the returning star power carrying the marquee on this event. Of course, Edge was supposed to be in this match before his injury, which has resulted in it being changed to a handicap contest. Benoit and Edge were brought into the feud when they picked up victories over Shelton Benjamin and Charlie Haas in singles action on Smackdown, angering Kurt in the process. Team Angle would regroup however as they defeated Edge & Benoit in a tag title contender match, and followed up by defeating Los Guerreros to become the new WWE Tag Team Champions, titles they hold at this show. On the same night that new tag champions were crowned, Kurt Angle defended his WWE title against Chris Benoit in a rematch from the Rumble. Once again Angle was victorious, but he and Team Angle beat Benoit down after the match. This led to Edge and Brock Lesnar making the save, resulting in the six man tag being set for the PPV. The tension between Brock and Kurt would meanwhile escalate on the Smackdown before the PPV as they were set to face off in singles action in what seemed to be a surprising decision given their Mania encounter looming on the horizon. Of course, Angle had a plan up his sleeve and said Brock first had to beat Benjamin and Haas in a handicap match. Lesnar would do just that, but before the match between champion and number one contender could get underway, Paul Heyman jumped Lesnar from behind with a chair. From an in ring standpoint, this is probably the match of the night, which isn’t really a surprise looking at who was involved. Haas and Benjamin are still very new but they definitely did not look out of place in there. Giving them the rub by working with Angle right away was a great move for them and they were no slouches in this one. They were both very talented young athletes who never reached their full potential in my opinion, but thats something we’ll track over the next many years. It sucks that Edge was sidelined here as he had been on the biggest role of his career thus far on Smackdown and it would take a while for him to regain that level of momentum on his return, but thats way down the line. Meanwhile, Benoit gets a huge pop from the Canadian crowd. Lesnar gets a decent response as well, but Benoit’s definitely the most over guy in the match. His push would be scaled back a bit as 2003 progressed but he would have his time down the track. Anyway, the early part of this match sees great teamwork from Brock and Benoit as they take control of Benjamin and Haas. Lesnar wants Kurt, but the WWE Champion refuses to tag in until his proteges finally manage to wear the Rumble winner down. With the advantage, Kurt works over Brock before Benoit gets the hot tag. The Wolverine cleans house, but some Team Angle triple teaming leads to a momentum shift once more as Benoit now plays the face in peril. After much torment, Brock finally gets the tag in again and he takes the fight to his opponents. Benoit gets back into it as well as the match kicks into high gear leading into the closing moments. Brock gets sent to the floor leading to some submission holds and reversals between Benoit and Angle, with Benoit getting Kurt in the Crossface before Haas breaks it up. That leads to Benoit locking in the Crossface on Haas instead, while Brock hits the F-5 to stop Angle from intervening. Haas taps out and the faces get the victory at 13:19. Really good action here that did a good job at furthering Angle/Lesnar while also keeping Benoit strong. I am surprised they didn’t have Lesnar score the pin for the victory, but its not like he needed a huge amount of momentum – it was already going strong for him. The right team won as we set the stage for what will be an unforgettable showdown.
Grade: ***1/2

Up next is the dreaded Steiner/Triple H rematch, so we get a video package hyping the feud. One good thing came out of this – the formation of Evolution.

World Heavyweight Championship:
Triple H (c) w/Ric Flair vs Scott Steiner
This obviously stems from Triple H getting himself intentionally disqualified at the Rumble to save his title. The next night on Raw, Triple H said that Scott Steiner would not receive a rematch for the title, and Big Poppa Pump instead had a match against Batista. Steiner would win that match by DQ when the returning Randy Orton attacked, with Triple H and Ric Flair also joining in. The next week the heel foursome were officially united, and Evolution was officially born. The faction would become a focal point of Raw over the next few years and was based around the idea that Triple H was wrestling’s present, Flair was wrestling’s past, and Orton and Batista were wrestling’s future. Meanwhile on the same night that Evolution was formed, Scott Steiner defeated Chris Jericho in a number one contender match to earn a rematch with the Game at this show. Steiner is well and truly done as a top guy by this point though, and the crowd is almost completely behind Triple H despite his mega heel status after dishing out countless beatings over the weeks with his Evolution partners. In fact, audible boos are heard as Steiner kicks off the action by dominating the champion. Its a slow and plodding match that does not have the atmosphere that made the Rumble match memorable for all the wrong reasons – this one is just flat. Flair is at ringside as usual and he tries to get the crowd into it, but he can only do so much. With Steiner in control, Triple H tries to get disqualified like last month as he shoves the ref, but Earl Hebner knows what he is trying to do and refuses to call for the bell. Of course, being in Montreal, attacking Hebner just gets the fans even more behind the Game. The whole thing is a mess and after countless Steiner suplexes, Ric Flair breaks up a near fall. This brings out Orton and Batista to give Triple H the advantage, but Steiner fights both young studs off. The ref ends up ejecting Orton and Batista, but that gives Triple H the opportunity to nail his opponent with the title belt for a near fall. From there however, Triple H puts us out of our misery by delivering a Pedigree and scoring the decisive win to retain the title at 13:01. Scott Steiner’s time as a main eventer is over, and he wouldn’t even be a part of WrestleMania the following month. Interestingly enough, Triple H’s next opponent was not on this show at all which I found strange. Anyway, this feud is thankfully at an end. Its not been a good year so far for the World Heavyweight Championship. This was shorter than the Rumble and thus not quite as bad, but still pretty terrible.
Grade: 1/2*

Up next we go backstage to see Eric Bischoff about to head out into the arena. A bunch of superstars are looking on and laughing ready to see the evil boss get what was coming to him. That takes us to a video package for the Austin/Bischoff match.

Back in the arena, Boomer Sooner hits and Jim Ross makes his way out to join Coach and Lawler to call the return of his good friend. This was his return after being taken out by Bischoff on Raw and he would take back over from Coach going forward.

Steve Austin vs Eric Bischoff
Our Raw main event of the night is all about seeing the long awaited return of the man who unceremoniously walked out on the company midway through 2002. That man was arguably the biggest star in the history of wrestling, Stone Cold Steve Austin. As far as the storylines were concerned, this goes back to Mr McMahon giving Eric Bischoff 30 days notice to make some ground breaking changes to Raw, which I mentioned back at the Rumble. Well, the night after the Rumble, Bischoff promised Vince that he would do just that. The Raw GM announced that he was giving Austin space in the Raw magazine to explain his side of his departure last year, and also invited the Texas Rattlesnake to return to Raw at the PPV. In the weeks that followed however, there was no sign that Austin had accepted Bischoff’s offer. Bischoff even made his way to a bar in Texas but was unsuccessful in finding Stone Cold. Angry that his inability to get in touch with Austin was going to cost him his job, Bischoff began to turn his frustration to Austin’s good friend Jim Ross. Bischoff said that he would fire JR if he did not convince Austin to re-sign with Raw. Later that night however, Mr McMahon came out and called Bischoff to the ring. With the 30 days expiring and there being no sign of Austin, Vince did indeed fire Bischoff. At the end of the night, McMahon was about to name a new general manager when JR came out. JR announced that Austin had agreed to return at No Way Out after all, and so Vince rehired Bischoff and JR. He would also force Bischoff to face Austin at the PPV however. The following week, Bischoff decided he wanted a warm up match and booked himself in a no holds barred match against JR! With Chief Morley preventing Lawler from coming to his broadcast partner’s aid, Bischoff smashed a cinder block over JR’s face, hence his absence until just before the match starts at this PPV. Anyway, this was obviously not going to be a wrestling match. This was a spectacle that would bring Austin back onto the scene and please the crowd by handing Bischoff his ass. Of course, there was legitimate history there too, with Bischoff firing Austin back in his WCW days. Austin gets the massive ovation that you would expect on his return and JR is over the moon on commentary as well. Bischoff tries to talk his way out of it, but Austin goes right after him and proceeds to stomp a mudhole in the evil Raw GM. The crowd loves every second of it and Austin delivers stunners but refuses to pin his adversary, wanting to prolong the beating. After a fun four minutes of beating on Bischoff, Austin finally puts this one away with a third stunner at 4:26. The Texas Rattlesnake is back and while this isn’t the kind of thing you can rate properly, this was booked exactly as it should have been. JR was hilarious on commentary screaming for Austin as well. Austin’s in ring days were actually numbered here, but his rivalry with Bischoff would take a turn later in the year and become an important part of Monday nights. Fun stuff even if the grade reflects otherwise. Its all about the moment.
Grade: *

After crossing to Cole & Tazz (who are still laughing over JR acting as Austin’s cheerleader), we go to a video package hyping the main event.

Hulk Hogan vs The Rock
The rematch from WrestleMania X8 takes place as our main event on this night as the star power boost continues. Back at the Royal Rumble, I mentioned that Stephanie McMahon promised to make a blockbuster announcement on the next episode of Smackdown. That announcement would be that she was the return of Hulk Hogan to Thursday nights, after he was written of television over the course of the previous summer. Hogan got a great ovation, but his return was interrupted by Mr McMahon himself. Vince reprimanded Stephanie for bringing back Hogan, referring to the Hulkster as a has been. In response, Hogan challenged Vince to a match, but Vince did not accept. The following week Mr McMahon said that he had a return of his own and that man would be Hogan’s opponent at No Way Out – The Rock! Indeed after being booed back at SummerSlam and at the Raw tenth anniversary special, the Rock turned heel and fed off the resentment that many fans had developed towards him for his frequent trips to Hollywood. And just like that, one of the greatest runs of any character in history began – the affectionately known ‘Hollywood Rock’. In the weeks that followed, Rock cut a number of hilarious promos via satellite ripping on Hogan before finally making his actual return on the Smackdown before the PPV. On that night Rock teased shaking Hogan’s hand, but after doing so spat water in the Hulkster’s face, cementing his heel persona. That brings us to this match. I have to just say, I loved Rock’s heel work starting here throughout early 2003. It would be short lived, but at the same time some of the very best work of his career. He has a new entrance theme here complete with long intro and its awesome. One of my favourite entrances of all time. It gives me goosebumps to this day. Meanwhile Hogan gets a huge pop as expected. He’s still using Voodoo Child like his 2002 run by the way. Now, the last time these two faced off, we witnessed something special. It was one of the most difficult matches to rate in company history (I ended up giving it five stars) as while the ring work was okay at best, the atmosphere was electric in the Toronto Skydome. This match lacks that, as while this was billed as a big rematch, it was really just designed to transition into the Vince/Hogan feud for Mania. Thats fine, it just affects the overall quality of this match, but it wasn’t going to live up to their Mania encounter anyway. By the way, the referee in this match is Sylvain Grenier, a developmental wrestler who would play a role towards the ending. Rock starts this one out with stalling tactics to further get the crowd behind Hogan by the time he gets his hands on the ‘sold out’ Great One. When he does, Hogan hits Rock with his own spit punch, but the mind games continue as the Rock comes back and puts on Hogan’s bandanna before whipping at Hogan with his own belt. After Rock dishes out an entertaining beatdown, complete with the People’s Elbow, Hogan comes back as he begins Hulking up. The boot connects followed by the legdrop, but just as Hogan goes to cover, the lights go out! As they turn back on, the ref is laid out as well as the Rock, and Mr McMahon struts out. He provides the distraction and jaw jacks with Hogan, meanwhile the ref shows his true colours by sliding a chair to Rock. It was a set up – another Montreal Screwjob if you will! Rock nails Hogan with the chair and follows up with the Rock Bottom to get the victory at 12:20. As the Rock celebrates his win, Vince adds insult to injury as he reveals a customised Hogan shirt and rips it off, mocking the Hulkster as we go off the air. Sure, its not your traditional main event as far as being a quality match, and this and WrestleMania X8 are like night and day, but this was a fun match that added further tension between Vince and Hogan for their building program. Rock would move onto other things from here, so in a sense it was fine that McMahon took the focus at the end. Its not like Rock needed a rub or anything at this stage in his career after all. Not at all a match that will make any top PPV match lists, but a fun story driven affair. Hollywood Rock was great.
Grade: **1/4

This was one of those shows that was really difficult to grade. From an in-ring perspective, this wasn’t a great show, as we only had one match that was higher than the three star mark, that being the Smackdown handicap match. Thats not all there is to a show though. What this show lacked in match quality, it made up for in star power and storyline progression. The February PPV is traditionally there to set things up for Mania, and this show served that purpose reasonably well. The Angle/Lesnar, Hogan/Vince, Shawn/Jericho and Taker/Show-Train rivalries were all progressed on this show, and we also reintroduced two other major stars in Stone Cold and the Rock. The only part of the show that was really bad was the World title one, but thankfully the Triple H – Scott Steiner feud is well and truly done. We still don’t have any real indication as to who will challenge Triple H for Raw’s top title at the biggest show of the year though, which is even more strange when you consider the man it turns out to be was nowhere to be found on this PPV. That aside, this was a fun show to watch, and thats why I giving it a middle of the line grade even if the match scores should indicate something lower.

Three Stars of the Night:
1. The Rock – not the best match of the night by any stretch, but his character work was hilarious. Wrestling fans are divided on many things, but I don’t think I’ve ever heard a negative opinion on Hollywood Rock.
2. Chris Benoit – I was thinking of giving this to Brock, but he’ll get his chances as the year progresses. Benoit would have a rocky 2003, but he looked really strong in the handicap match coming off his classic last month and the crowd were into him big time.
3. Shelton Benjamin & Charlie Haas – this isn’t a knock on Kurt himself, but I was really impressed by his proteges in the handicap match. They were both very new to the main roster but they did not look out of place in the match with the big stars at all. Both men had great talent.

FINAL GRADE: 5 out of 10

What I do here is add the three stars of the night with each review so as to keep track of who we can say overall is the greatest PPV performer to any given time. First place scores 3 points, second 2 and third 1.

Steve Austin = 111
Bret Hart = 83
Shawn Michaels = 76
The Rock = 70
Triple H = 66
Kurt Angle = 44
Mick Foley = 38
Undertaker = 31
Chris Jericho = 31
Chris Benoit = 31
Randy Savage = 28
Hulk Hogan = 25
Owen Hart = 21
Edge = 19
X-Pac = 18
Jeff Hardy = 16
Diesel = 15
Matt Hardy = 14
Ultimate Warrior = 13
Vader = 13
British Bulldog = 12
Christian = 12
Ted DiBiase = 10
Razor Ramon = 10
Vince McMahon = 10
Ric Flair = 8
Jim Neidhart = 7
Bubba Ray Dudley = 7
D-Von Dudley = 7
Rob Van Dam = 7
Brock Lesnar = 7
Jerry Lawler = 6
Dynamite Kid = 5
Arn Anderson = 5
Roddy Piper = 5
Mr Perfect = 5
Marty Jannetty = 5
Bob Backlund = 5
Shane McMahon = 5
Eddie Guerrero = 5
Ricky Steamboat = 4
Ax = 4
Smash = 4
Bobby Heenan = 4
D’Lo Brown = 4
Rikishi = 4
Kane = 4
Greg Valentine = 3
Tully Blanchard = 3
Tanaka = 3
Bam Bam Bigelow = 3
Sato = 3
Jake Roberts = 3
Hakushi = 3
Yokozuna = 3
Savio Vega = 3
Ken Shamrock = 3
Chyna = 3
Brutus Beefcake = 2
Paul Orndorff = 2
Andre the Giant = 2
Rick Rude = 2
Sgt Slaughter = 2
Jeff Jarrett = 2
Rey Mysterio = 2
Chavo Guerrero = 2
Jesse Ventura = 1
Texas Tornado = 1
Tito Santana = 1
Virgil = 1
Scott Steiner = 1
Rick Steiner = 1
Lex Luger = 1
The Roadie = 1
Billy Gunn = 1
Bart Gunn = 1
Marc Mero = 1
Flash Funk = 1
Animal = 1
Hawk = 1
Taka Michinoku = 1
Test = 1
Big Show = 1
Dean Malenko = 1
Scotty 2 Hotty = 1
Rhyno = 1
Shelton Benjamin = 1
Charlie Haas = 1

Don’t forget to follow me on Twitter: @Mpmcc91. Thanks for reading!

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