No Way Out 2003 – Review

The final stop on the road to WrestleMania, a WWE PPV event on the scene of the famous screwjob of 1997, a February show in Montreal headlined by a MUST-SEE match for the ages. Yes, this could all be said about the WWE’s Elimination Chamber show in 2023, but it was also all the case for a show TWENTY YEARS ago this very month. Falling in between the 2003 Royal Rumble show (where Kurt Angle and Triple H walked out with the world titles, and a young guy by the name of… BROCK LESNAR, whatever happened to that guy…, won the Rumble match itself), and the upcoming WrestleMania 19 show (a brilliant show, one I have also previously reviewed, a very underrated and underappreciated Mania), No Way Out 2003 was… well there’s many reasons I’ve always wanted to talk about this show. And given what’s happening in modern day WWE soon, the timing couldn’t be more appropriate.

As mentioned this was of course the first WWE PPV to take place in Montreal since the night where BRET SCREWED BRET (fight me), so drama was almost a guarantee. and boy oh BOY did we get some drama on this show…

There’s an argument to be made that the 2002/2003 roster is the most stacked in company history. By now everyone who was once in WCW was either in WWE, or in the case of Goldberg was well on his way, the same with ECW, and we also had a number of young stars who would go on to be mainstays of the company for decades to come, and so this show reads somewhat like a dream-card… An opener of Canadian hero Chris Jericho vs the ever-popular Jeff Hardy sets the tone, Triple H rematches with Scott Steiner once again for the world title (it looks… something… on paper, OK…), but the main attractions of this show are the return to TV of Stone Cold Steve Austin (after he went and retrieved his ‘ball’ and came back to work) and a main event of one of the most revered WrestleMania matches of all-time, with ‘Hollywood’ The Rock once again taking on Hulk Hogan, once again in Canada, but this time around the two stars were viewed very very differently by the fans in the arena and watching at home… and by the end of this PPV that would be the case even more so… so sit back, get comfy, and enjoy my review of a classic WWE PPV from one of my formulaic years as a fan, 2003 with the No Way Out PPV, from Montreal, Canada!

As if it couldn’t be anymore of a show from 2003, the PPV theme song was the all-time classic ‘Bring Me To Life’ by Evanescence. Your Raw commentary team for (most of) this show were Jonathan Coachman & Jerry Lawler, with Michael Cole and Tazz calling the SmackDown matches. And it will be of no shock to those attentive ones of you that this Montreal crowd was, you could say, a raucous one pretty much all show.

Chris Jericho defeated Jeff Hardy

This was the best match of the show for me, or at least the best one I want to talk about. At this time, Jericho was approaching the point of his career where he struggled NOT to have a banger match, and Jeff was approaching his peak years. This match was action-packed from start to finish, and even against a Canadian-native in Y2J, the crowd was really into Hardy. Jeff flew all over the place in this match (to the surprise of nobody), even hitting a springboard Whisper In The Wind to Jericho on the outside, which was most impressive. Hardy also sold so good as the babyface in peril, as Jericho tried to get the submission with the Walls Of Jericho, which as someone who couldn’t even guess at when Jericho last won a match with that move it was nice to see him get a win with it here, even if it was 20 years ago. Maybe the big headline of this match came afterwards, when Christian came out to try and give the heels an advantage, when of ALL PEOPLE, who should show up in MONTREAL as the BABYFACE saviour… but SHAWN MICHAELS (whom commentary had told us Jericho had HBK banned from ringside during the match after speaking with Raw GM Eric Bischoff)! The crowd reaction wasn’t quite cheers, but definitely wasn’t full boos either, but they were definitely LOUD for HBK. He soon got rid of Jericho before hitting Christian with the superkick. He posed for the crowd after, who again were making a heck of a lot of noise. This was a fun run-in/angle to follow a very good match.


We then cut to Team Angle in the locker room (WWE Champion Kurt Angle, and the WWE Tag Team Champions Shelton Benjamin & Charlie Haas). They were strategizing ahead of their match later in the show, with Angle saying he had a plan for how they’d have a big advantage

We then saw a limo pulling into the backstage area, and from it came Evolution (World Heavyweight Champion Triple H, Ric Flair, Batista & Randy Orton). The Camera, and commentary also pointed out the other vehicle in the area… A large black truck with the skull logo of a certain Texas Rattlesnake on the side.

Lance Storm & William Regal (C) defeated Rob Van Dam & Kane to retain the World Tag Team Championship

Even with Storm being Canadian, the crowd were really behind the challengers, particularly RVD. This was a really solid match, not shocking given the participants. Although we did have one scary moment in the middle, when William Regal got knocked loopy, by of all things a side slam… Kane slammed Regal, who seemed to catch his head badly on the canvas, and it was apparent he wasn’t right. A tag was hastily made, and he did actually carry on with the rest of the match, which of course he shouldn’t have, and in 2023 I’d like to think they would’ve pulled him out of there right away. The finish was quite fun though, and it continued with the long running story, which was still a few months from its crescendo, of Kane losing his mind… As the heels went to try and take Kane’s mask off, with his vision blurred as a result, Kane just chokeslammed the first person he could, which unbeknownst to him was his tag team partner, and thus as a result Storm and Regal were able to pick up the win and escape with the titles.


We had a fun little segment backstage next ahead of our next match… As Matt Hardy and his ‘Mattitude’ had a backstage interview, when someone nearby caught his eye…

Matt Hardy V1 (With Shannon Moore) defeated Billy Kidman (C) to win the Cruiserweight Championship

Sadly, the crowd was a little dead for this, but it was still a solid enough match. The story here was Kidman beat Hardy in a match and Hardy was so incensed by it that he got himself down to the Cruiserweight weight limit to challenge Kidman for the title. I think Kidman still works (or at least has done) as a WWE Producer, such was his in-ring capabilities. The finish of this match was quite fun too… with Kidman missing his finish as a result of Shannon Moore’s interference, Hardy then hit a Twist of Fate off the top for the win. Matt Hardy as Cruiserweight Champion still feels very odd to me, but indeed he walked out with the belt here.


We then cut to a panicked situation backstage, where Edge had been found laid out. SmackDown GM Stephanie McMahon was among those to witness the scene as various medical officials, and Brock Lesnar (who said he was walking by when he saw Edge had been taken out). It appeared apparent this was the ‘plan’ that Kurt Angle had been referring to earlier in the show. (It should be noted that this segment was done to explain the fact that Edge was going to be out for quite a long time, as he required neck surgery).

The Undertaker defeated Big Show

This was never going to be a classic lets be honest. But the pre-match video that told the story of this feud (so far) was pretty impressive. One particularly impressive spot of the match was when Undertaker did his now classic dive over the ropes, this time onto Paul Heyman and A-Train who were on the outside, although given the size of Undertaker, this spot will never fail to impress me. The finish saw Taker win via submission, in what was a form of Triangle Choke hold… but it was after the match the real impact was made by the oncoming A-TRAIN! As Undertaker went for a chair to really finish Big Show, A-Train got involved in laying out The Undertaker. And so the feud MUST continue…!!!


We then went backstage again, to see Edge be placed into an ambulance, with Stephanie McMahon saying that the team had ‘made their decision’ ahead of the next match…

We then cut to another backstage segment, where Raw GM Eric Bischoff was with his chief (kiss-ass) Chief Morley… Bischoff was very confident ahead of his match later with Steve Austin. Into the office came Vince McMahon, who eventually proclaimed the match would definitely be 1on1 with Bischoff and Austin, adding that if anyone interfered in the match, they would be ‘fired on the spot’. And with that, Bischoff’s plans were up in smoke…

(The next match was a Handicap match that saw Team Angle take on a team that included Brock Lesnar. I don’t apologize for this, but I don’t want to talk much about the match given one of the participants. I will say, if you are OK with watching matches with this person, that the match was very good at around ****1/4 , and it did a great job as a pre-cursor and to continue to build the story towards Brock vs Kurt at the upcoming WrestleMania.)

Next up… oh boy… I will say, at least the pre match hype video was cool… But I am also thankful that WWE uploaded this full match to YouTube. Steiner’s body was beginning to break down it seemed, yes he’s still doing stuff now, but his knees were as such that he just couldn’t go at the levels that were needed for him to do as he did both here, and at the Royal Rumble ppv prior to this, and that’s compete for the World title…

Triple H (C) defeated Scott Steiner to retain the World Heavyweight Championship


Next we see Eric Bischoff backstage… and as he walks towards the entrance way area, he just so happens to walk past a large group of Raw superstars, gathered in front of a monitor, awaiting the next match… and naturally they … ‘Wish him luck’… and then … it was ON!

Stone Cold Steve Austin defeated Eric Bischoff

There was an excellent video package before the match, telling the story of how Bischoff was under pressure from Vince McMahon to improve in his performance as Raw GM. This led Bischoff to eventually get Stone Cold Steve Austin (who hadn’t been seen in WWE since his infamous ‘walkout’ several months prior), and a match was made by McMahon between the two… Before Bischoff and Austin came out, so did Jim Ross to join the Raw commentary team for the match. As shown in the aforementioned video package, Ross had a CINDER BLOCK smashed over his head by Bischoff, to try and entire and antagonise Austin before their match. Ross was pumped in his hatred of Bischoff, and his overwhelming joy at the prospect of Austin facing him here… Austin gets an ENORMOUS pop from the Montreal crowd. And then, as you can see in the video, proceeds to kick Bischoff’s ass. Sadly he didn’t have too many more days like this, but it’s in-arguable that there has ever been anything quite like Austin in wrestling history…


Another excellent video package told the story of the show’s main event, a rematch of one of the all-time great WrestleMania matches, one that another Canadian crowd helped turn into a classic. However this time around, it was very clear that the one in this match that the fans were ‘supposed’ to cheer for and the one they wanted to, were very much one and the same…

The Rock defeated Hulk Hogan

As good as the first? No, of course not. But I very much enjoyed this match. The Rock is an awesome heel, better than his face work in my opinion, and the debut run out of ‘Hollywood’ Rock was awesome here. This really was The Rock flexing his proverbial muscles as a performer, and Hogan was a great fighting babyface. The finish was… well if you accept that the means will justify the ends, then it’s easier to understand… but essentially, Hogan does the big fire up spot and finishes that with the Leg Drop… that’s when the lights go out… When they come back on it appears that the referee (who is Sylvain Grenier by the way, who started here as a ‘crooked referee’, and by the end of 2003 was a tag team champion) had been laid out, that’s when Vince McMahon comes out, and with Hogan focused on Vince, the referee slides The Rock a chair… and Rock hits Hogan with the chair, then a Rock Bottom. 1, 2, 3. Yes indeed, we have a SCREWJOB in MONTREAL…


After the match; Rock, the crooked ref and Vince all celebrate together… and this is when Vince decides now is his time to strike on a beaten Hogan… Vince takes off his own shirt to reveal a mock up of a Hogan shirt… Vince then basically imitates and humiliates Hogan. And we go off the air with Vince having the last laugh in Montreal…

This would of course set the ground work for Vince vs Hogan at WrestleMania. Where we would also see The Rock vs Steve Austin, and Brock Lesnar vs Kurt Angle. As well as a handicap with A-Train & Big Show facing The Undertaker, and Triple H defending the world title against Booker T. I did do a review of WrestleMania 19 before, and it was a brilliant show so feel free to go back and seek out that review. As for this show, you might not think it from my star ratings on the whole, but No Way Out 2003 served as both a good, drama-filled show in its own right, and a perfect ‘set-up’ show for the upcoming Mania. Aside from one or two matches, the Montreal crowd certainly helped, as did the absurdly stacked roster on display. Let’s hope (particularly for one FORMER honorary Uce) that the 2023 pre-Mania PPV in Montreal is just as fun and dramatic as No Way Out 2003 was.

(My apologies for this blog not being the most detailed review of a show I’ve ever done. I got very ill on the Tuesday, before this blog was released on the Friday (I’ve still not fully recovered) … and I thought it was essential I publish it before Saturday’s Elimination Chamber show. I have a few blogs planned between now and WrestleMania 39, so stay tuned… Also if some of the video links don’t work then my apologies, and they’re easy enough to find on YouTube anyway)…


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