No Way Out 2003 was the fourth annual (fifth overall) No Way Out pay-per-view (PPV) event produced by World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE). The event took place on February 23, 2003 at the Bell Centre in Montreal, Quebec, Canada and starred the promotion's Raw and SmackDown! brands.
The main event from the SmackDown! brand was a rematch from WrestleMania X8 between Hulk Hogan and The Rock, which Rock won by pinfall after Sylvain Grenier, the referee of the match, allowed Rock to hit Hogan with a steel chair, which proceeded to a Rock Bottom. The main event from the Raw brand was a World Heavyweight Championship match between Triple H and Scott Steiner, which Triple H won via pinfall, after he hit Steiner with the championship belt and a Pedigree. The main match on the undercard from Raw, was the encounter of Steve Austin and Eric Bischoff, which Austin won via pinfall after three consecutive Stone Cold Stunners. The main match on the undercard from SmackDown! was a Six-man Tag Team match between the team of Team Angle (Kurt Angle, Charlie Haas, and Shelton Benjamin) and the team of Brock Lesnar, Edge, and Chris Benoit, where Edge was unable to participate in the match due to injury. The match, however, was won by Lesnar and Benoit via submission, after Benoit forced Haas to submit to the Crippler Crossface.
On the January 23 edition of SmackDown!, SmackDown General Manager Stephanie McMahon announced the return of Hulk Hogan to the WWE. During the returning segment of Hogan, the WWE Chairman, Vince McMahon, came down to the ring to insult Hogan, resulting in Hogan challenging McMahon into a match, however, Hogan then proceeded to attack McMahon. The attack led to McMahon accepting Hogan's challenge, he however, instead booked a rematch from WrestleMania X8 between Hogan and his representative, The Rock (who had also recently returned), at No Way Out, the following week on SmackDown!; thus the beginning of the Rock-Hogan feud on the SmackDown! brand. During the weeks leading to No Way Out, both Rock and Hogan cut promos on who was the better wrestler. The feud intensified on the February 20, and final edition of SmackDown! before No Way Out, however, where, during a segment, Rock attempted to shake Hogan's hand, and then spat water into Hogan's face, turning heel in the process.
On the January 23 edition of SmackDown!, Kurt Angle confronted his proteges, Team Angle (Charlie Haas and Shelton Benjamin), about their losses that night, as Benjamin was pinned by Edge, while Haas was pinned by Chris Benoit. The following week on SmackDown!, Haas and Benjamin were booked in a tag team match against Edge and Benoit. During the match Angle interfered in Haas and Benjamin's behalf, which led them to pinning Edge and Benoit for the win. Haas and Benjamin would then defeat the then-reigning Tag Team Champions, Los Guerreros, to win the Tag Team Championship on the February 6 episode of SmackDown!. The following week on SmackDown!, General Manager Stephanie McMahon announced a match between Team Angle (Angle, Haas, and Benjamin) against the team of Lesnar, Benoit, and Edge at No Way Out, thus the official beginning of the Team Angle-Team Lesnar feud. On the February 20, and final edition of SmackDown! before No Way Out, Angle was booked in a match against Brock Lesnar, however, before the match started, Angle stated that Lesnar had to defeat Haas and Benjamin before he could wrestle Angle, which Lesnar was able to do. As Lesnar then wrestled Angle, Paul Heyman, who was at ringside, interfered in the match and hit Lesnar with a steel chair, causing Angle to lose by disqualification.
On the January 20 edition of Raw, Eric Bischoff made an announcement about how Stone Cold Steve Austin walked out on Vince McMahon with no explanation and that he would like to give Steve Austin an opportunity to give his side of the story. Bischoff also invited Steve Austin to make an appearance at next month's No Way Out. The following week, Bischoff stated that Austin has agreed to tell his story in the Raw magazine. On the February 3 edition of Raw, Bischoff headed to Texas, to sign Austin to the Raw brand. But, he was unsuccessful in doing so, as he couldn't locate Austin anywhere. The following week on Raw, Bischoff (kayfabe) fired Jim Ross, after Bischoff stated that it was Ross' fault that Austin hasn't signed yet to the brand. Vince McMahon, who the previous week stated he would fire Bischoff and Chief Morely for the way they were running Raw the last couple of weeks, asked Bischoff if he'd signed Austin yet, which prompted Bischoff to say No. J.R. informed McMahon that Austin would be at No Way Out, which led to McMahon booking a match between Bischoff and Austin for the pay-per-view.
At the Royal Rumble, a scheduled match for the World Heavyweight Championship match saw Triple H defend the title against Scott Steiner. The match saw Steiner defeat Triple H by disqualification, after Triple H brought a sledgehammer during the match. As a result, Triple H retained the World Heavyweight title. The next night on Raw, Steiner was put in a match against Batista. In the match, Batista was disqualified after interference by Randy Orton. After the match, Triple H, Ric Flair, Orton and Batista all attack Steiner, which led to Triple H performing a Pedigree on Steiner. On the February 3 edition of Raw, Triple H formed a stable known as Evolution with Flair, Orton, and Batista. That same night, a number one contender's match was scheduled between Chris Jericho and Steiner, in which the winner would meet Triple H at No Way Out for the World Heavyweight title.
After his Hell In A Cell match with Brock Lesnar at No Mercy in October, The Undertaker came to the ring and called out Lesnar who apologized to Undertaker for bringing his wife Sara into the mix and stated that he earned his respect. After Lesnar left, Big Show came out and stated that it was because of him that Lesnar was able to defeat Undertaker and called him a broken down has-been. Undertaker responded by stating that he would rather be a broken down has-been than a giant that never-was. When Undertaker walked up to the stage and celebrated with the crowd, Big Show came out and attacked him, then gorilla pressed him over his head and threw him off the stage. As a result of the attack, Undertaker was placed out of action for over three months. In January, he returned at the Royal Rumble and was the last to be eliminated by Lesnar who won the match. On the January 23 edition of SmackDown!, Undertaker returned and called out Big Show but instead Big Show sent out A-Train to face Undertaker who won the match. The following three weeks saw Big Show through his agent Paul Heyman sending Undertaker gifts such as Brother Love, Boy George (who turned out to be Chris Kanyon) and finally a puppy in what turned out to be an ambush as Big Show attacked Undertaker from behind and chokeslamed him. This led to a match between Undertaker and Big Show at No Way Out.
Before the event aired live on pay-per-view, Rey Mysterio pinned Jamie Noble on Sunday Night Heat. The first match that aired was the encounter of Jeff Hardy and Chris Jericho. In the beginning, Hardy and Jericho exchanged control over the match, however, Hardy gained the advantage midway into the match after he hit a Whisper in the Wind on Jericho. Hardy however, missed a Swanton Bomb, which allowed Jericho to hit a Lionsault, which gave Jericho a near pinfall. Jericho would then climb to the top turnbuckle where he gave Hardy a powerbomb, which proceeded to Jericho applying the Walls of Jericho, which forced Hardy to submit, thus, Jericho won the match. Next, was a World Tag Team Championship match between the team of Kane and Rob Van Dam against the defending champions, William Regal and Lance Storm. As Van Dam and Storm started the match, Van Dam gained the advantage over Storm, however, as Regal was tagged into the match, Van Dam attempted an aerial maneuver, Storm however, pushed him off, allowing Regal to gain the advantage. After Kane was tagged into the match, Storm attempted to pull his mask off, which resulted in the mask covering Kane's eyes. Following the incident, Regal pushed Van Dam into Kane, resulting in Kane delivering a chokeslam on Van Dam, as he was unable to see what had occurred. Regal and Storm retained the World Tag Team Championship following a pinfall after the chokeslam.
The third match was a Cruiserweight Championship match between Matt Hardy and the defending champion, Billy Kidman. Hardy gained the advantage early into the match; he remained in control until midway into the match, where Kidman hit an enzurigi on Hardy. Kidman would then attempt an aerial maneuver to no avail, which allowed Hardy to hit a Twist of Fate into a near pinfall. Hardy then attempted to Superplex Kidman off the top turnbuckle, however, Kidman was able to avoid the move by pushing Hardy down to the ring mat. As Kidman attempted an aerial maneuver, Shannon Moore, who was in Hardy's corner, however, hit a low blow on Kidman, which allowed Hardy to retaliate by hitting a Twist of Fate off the top turnbuckle into a successful pinfall, thus, Hardy won the match and the Cruiserweight Championship. Next was the encounter of The Big Show and The Undertaker. Show gained the advantage over The Undertaker, where he remained with the advantage, until The Undertaker delivered Old School on him. As Undertaker applied a Dragon sleeper, Paul Heyman, who was in Show's corner, distracted the referee, which allowed A-Train to interfere into the match. The interference distracted The Undertaker, which allowed Show to deliver a chokeslam into a pinfall attempt, however, The Undertaker countered the attempt into a Triangle choke, which forced Show to submit, thus The Undertaker won the match.
The fourth match was a Six-man tag team match between the team of Team Angle (Kurt Angle, Charlie Haas, and Shelton Benjamin) against the team of Brock Lesnar, Edge, and Chris Benoit. Before the match, Edge was attacked backstage and it was announced he could not participate in the match, thus the match became a Three-on-Two Handicap match. Lesnar and Benoit gained the advantage in the beginning of the match over Haas and Benjamin, however, Angle distracted Lesnar, which allowed Benjamin to superkick him, thus Team Angle gaining control of the match. Team Angle would remain in control, until Benoit countered an Ankle Lock attempt by Angle, who was illegally in the match, into a Crippler Crossface, however, Benjamin, who was also illegally in the match, interfered and broke the hold. Lesnar would then enter the ring and F-5 Angle, which allowed Benoit to apply the Crossface on Haas, the legal wrestler in the match, forcing him to submit, thus Brock Lesnar and Chris Benoit won the match. Next was a World Heavyweight Championship match between Scott Steiner and the defending champion, Triple H. Steiner gained the advantage early into the match by working over Triple H's leg, however, as he chased Ric Flair at ringside, who was in Triple H's corner, this allowed Triple H to hit Steiner on the steel ringsteps. Steiner however, retaliated by hitting a Belly-to-Belly Suplex on Triple H. As Steiner regained the advantage, Flair called down the remaining members of Evolution (Randy Orton and Batista), to interfere in the match to no avail, as Steiner attacked them and caused the referee, Earl Hebner, to ban Flair, Orton, and Batista from ringside and sent them to the backstage area. As the referee did so, Triple H hit Steiner with the World Heavyweight Championship belt, and proceeded to hitting a Pedigree into a pinfall, thus, Triple H won the match and retained the World Heavyweight Championship.
The final match on the undercard was the encounter of Eric Bischoff and Steve Austin. Before the match began, Bischoff offered Austin to forfeit the match, however, Austin proceeded to attacking him. As Austin attacked Bishoff, Bischoff would attempt to escape by running around ringside only to be attacked once again by Austin. As Austin rolled Bischoff back into the ring, he hit a Stone Cold Stunner on him, however, as Austin pinned Bischoff, Austin deliberately broke the pinfall, only to hit two more Stone Cold Stunners on Bischoff into a pinfall, thus Austin won the match. The main event was the WrestleMania X8 rematch between Hulk Hogan and The Rock. Rock gain early advantage into the match, as he hit a Rock Bottom on Hogan, and applied two consecutive Sharpshooters. However, Hogan retaliated by hitting a Big Boot and a Leg drop, however, as the referee counted the pinfall, the lights in the arena went pitch black. As the lights came back on, the referee, Sylvain Grenier, was unconscious, which caused Vince McMahon to come down to the ring, only to distract Hogan, which allowed the referee to hand a steel chair to Rock, in which he used on Hogan. The chairshot proceeded into another Rockbottom and a pinfall, thus The Rock won the match.
On the February 27 edition of SmackDown!, Vince McMahon announced that The Rock had chosen to be part of the Raw brand, thus making him Raw exclusive and ending the Rock-Hogan feud. On the Raw brand, The Rock began a feud with Steve Austin, as on the March 3 edition of Raw, Rock challenged Austin to a match at WrestleMania XIX, however, General Manager, Eric Bischoff, announced that if Rock defeated Booker T the following week on Raw, he would have the choice to either face Austin or have a World Heavyweight Championship match against Triple H. The following week on Raw, Rock announced that instead of facing Booker T, he would choose his own opponent, in which he chose The Hurricane. During the match, however, Austin came out to the ring and distracted Rock, which allowed Hurricane to Roll-up Rock into a pinfall; despite losing the match, Rock chose Austin as his WrestleMania XIX opponent. At WrestleMania XIX, The Rock defeated Steve Austin via pinfall.
After No Way Out, Vince McMahon continued his feud with Hulk Hogan, in which he proclaimed that Hulkamania was dead and proclaiming a new 'mania; McMahonamania. On the March 6 episode of SmackDown!, Hogan informed McMahon that Hulkamania was not dead and that McMahon had nothing to do with creating it. McMahon informed Hogan that he did not hate Hulkamaniacs or Hulkamania, but he hated Hogan; McMahon explained that he hated Hogan, because he left WWE and went to work for Ted Turner's promotion World Championship Wrestling (WCW). McMahon challenged Hogan to a match at WrestleMania XIX, to the stipulation that if he beats Hogan, he will never wrestle again and stating he would kill Hulkamania. On the March 20 edition of SmackDown!, the contract signing between McMahon and Hogan's match at WrestleMania took place. During the contract signing, McMahon attacked Hogan from behind with a steel chair. The attack led to McMahon stabbing Hogan with a pen in the forehead and forcing him to sign the contract in his blood.
- Numbers in parentheses indicate the length of the match.
- (c) refers to the champion(s) heading into the match.
- Sunday Night Heat: Rey Mysterio defeated Jamie Noble (04:35)
- Chris Jericho defeated Jeff Hardy (12:59)
- William Regal and Lance Storm (c) defeated Kane and Rob Van Dam for the World Tag Team Championship (09:20)
- Matt Hardy (w/ Shannon Moore) defeated Billy Kidman (c) for the WWE Cruiserweight Championship (09:31)
- The Undertaker defeated The Big Show (w/ Paul Heyman) (14:08)
- Brock Lesnar and Chris Benoit defeated Team Angle (Kurt Angle, Shelton Benjamin, and Charlie Haas) (w/ Paul Heyman) in a 3-on-2 Handicap match (13:19)
- Triple H (c) (w/ Ric Flair, Randy Orton and Batista) defeated Scott Steiner to retain the World Heavyweight Championship (13:01)
- Steve Austin defeated Eric Bischoff (04:26)
- The Rock defeated Hulk Hogan with Sylvain Grenier as the special guest referee (12:20)
Other on-screen talent
- Official No Way Out 2003 Website
- No Way Out 2003 at CAGEMATCH.net
- No Way Out 2003 at Online World of Wrestling
- No Way Out 2003 on WWE Network
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