No Way Out 2004 was a professional wrestling pay-per-view (PPV) event produced by World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE), which took place on February 15, 2004 at the Cow Palace in Daly City, California. It was the sixth event produced under the No Way Out name and starred wrestlers from the SmackDown! brand.
During the main event, Eddie Guerrero defeated WWE Champion Brock Lesnar to win the title. Two bouts were featured on the undercard; the first was a Triple Threat match, where the winner would earn a title match against Guerrero at WrestleMania XX; in the match, Kurt Angle defeated The Big Show and John Cena. The second bout was a singles match, in which Chavo Guerrero defeated Rey Mysterio to win the WWE Cruiserweight Championship.
No Way Out grossed over $450,000 ticket sales from an attendance of approximately 11,000 and received 350,000 pay-per-view buys, and was instrumental in helping WWE increase its pay-per-view revenue by $11.9 million compared to the previous year. When the DVD was released, however, it failed to rank on Billboard's Top DVD sales chart.
The event featured eight professional wrestling matches with different wrestlers involved in pre-existing scripted feuds, plots and storylines. Wrestlers were portrayed as either villains or fan favorites as they followed a series of tension-building events, which culminated in a wrestling match or series of matches. All wrestlers belonged to the SmackDown! brand – a storyline division in which WWE assigned its employees to a different program, the other being Raw.
After winning a 15-man Battle royal (a match in which participants are eliminated until one person remains as the winner) on the January 29, 2004 episode of SmackDown!, Eddie Guerrero earned the right to challenge for the WWE Championship at No Way Out against the champion, Brock Lesnar in a standard wrestling match, also known as a singles match. Outside the storyline with Guerrero, Lesnar was involved in a staged rivalry with Goldberg, a member of the Raw program. The feud between Lesnar and Goldberg began at the Royal Rumble, WWE's previous pay-per-view event which featured both brands. Lesnar interfered in the Royal Rumble match, a 30-man battle royal, attacking and eliminating Goldberg from the match. On the week of January 26, 2004, Lesnar and Goldberg conducted promotional in-ring segments on respective episodes of Raw and SmackDown!, in which they insulted each other. The following week on an episode of Raw, as a result of the rivalry extending between the two programs, General Manager Steve Austin gave Goldberg the option of attending No Way Out by giving him a front-row ticket. That Thursday on SmackDown!, the storyline between Guerrero and Lesnar was enhanced when they began a brawl after an in-ring interview segment.
The SmackDown General Manager, Paul Heyman, announced during the February 5, 2004 episode of SmackDown! that a Triple Threat match, a standard wrestling match involving three wrestlers, would take place at No Way Out involving The Big Show, Kurt Angle, and John Cena. The winner of that match would earn the right to face the WWE Champion at WrestleMania XX for the title. The rivalry continued to develop the following week, when Angle was scheduled to team with Guerrero to face The Big Show and Lesnar, though the latter was portrayed as being unconscious backstage. Cena then replaced Angle in the match and defeated the opposition with Guerrero.
In February 2004, WWE Cruiserweight Champion Rey Mysterio produced "Crossing Borders", which was No Way Out's official theme song. In this storyline, Chavo Guerrero became jealous of the attention Mysterio garnered as a result of recording the song. Therefore, Heyman promoted a match between the two at No Way Out for the WWE Cruiserweight title during the February 5, 2004 episode of SmackDown!. The following week on SmackDown!, Mysterio was accompanied by Jorge Páez, a professional boxer and childhood friend of Mysterio who was featured in his "Crossing Borders" music video, to his match against Tajiri. Mysterio defeated Tajiri, though he was scripted to be attacked by Guerrero and Chavo Guerrero, Sr. after the match until Paez intervened and assisted Mysterio.
Before the event began and aired live on pay-per-view, an episode of Sunday Night Heat, one of WWE's secondary television programs, was taped live. In a six-person tag team match, the team of Tajiri, Sakoda, and Akio defeated Último Dragón, Billy Kidman, and Paul London.
After Sunday Night Heat, the pay-per-view began with a handicap match - a tag team match in which a team of two wrestlers face a team of three. WWE Tag Team Champions Rikishi and Scotty 2 Hotty defended their titles against the Basham Brothers (Doug and Danny Basham) and Shaniqua. During the match Hotty attempted to hit Shaniqua, who was lying on her back, with a slap over her chest, but Shaniqua countered by hitting him with her forearm. The challengers had the advantage until Hotty hit both Basham brothers with his forearm, causing them to flip over the top ring rope and into ringside. Afterwards, Rikishi lifted Shaniqua over his shoulders before falling backwards in a Samoan drop. Rikishi then covered Shaniqua to pin her, a move that allowed Rikishi and Hotty to retain their championships. Next was a singles blindfold match, in which Jamie Noble was blindfolded as he faced his storyline girlfriend Nidia. Nidia would take advantage of Noble's inability to see by performing antics that caused him to fall. Eventually, Noble was able to apply the guillotine choke on Nidia. Noble won the match after he forced her to submit with this move.
The third contest was a tag team match, in which The World's Greatest Tag Team (Shelton Benjamin and Charlie Haas) faced the APA (Bradshaw and Faarooq). At one point, Bradshaw performed a high-impact forearm "Clothesline from Hell" attack on Haas. Benjamin then hit Bradshaw with a superkick and pinned him to gain the win for his team. After the match, Goldberg was seen arriving at the arena and being escorted to his seat by arena security. In the ring, General Manager Paul Heyman gave a promotional in-ring segment on how SmackDown! was the better program over Raw. Lesnar would come down to the ring to promote his match and to insult Goldberg. As part of the storyline, Goldberg immediately jumped over the barricade into the ring, where Lesnar performed a spear, a running shoulder block to Goldberg's stomach; however he recuperated and lifted Lesnar vertically in the air before slamming him down to perform the Jackhammer. Goldberg was then escorted out of the arena by security. This altercation was followed by a singles match between Hardcore Holly and Rhyno. Before the match began, Holly and Rhyno were scripted to brawl on the entrance ramp, before they entered the ring. Once there, Holly slammed Rhyno off the top rope with a superplex, though, as they recuperated, Rhyno hit Holly with a spear that caused Holly to roll out of the ring. Afterwards, Holly lifted Rhyno by his legs over his shoulders before throwing him down with an Alabama slam; Holly covered Rhyno for a pinfall.
Main event matches
The fifth match featured the WWE Cruiserweight Champion Rey Mysterio (managed by Jorge Paez), defending against Chavo Guerrero (managed by his father Chavo Guerrero, Sr.) During the fight, Mysterio performed a 619 on Guerrero (at the time positioned on the second ring rope) and hit him in the face with both legs while using the ropes for leverage, leading to an attack by Paez on Guerrero, Sr. As determined by the storyline, the referee ordered Paez backstage. Both fighters wrestled inconclusively until Mysterio hit a second 619. During the second sequence of the move, Guerrero grabbed Mysterio's legs and achieved a position with his shoulders spread so as to win both a pinfall and the WWE Cruiserweight title.
The following match was the Triple Threat between The Big Show, John Cena, and Kurt Angle fighting for the opportunity to face the WWE Champion at WrestleMania XX. For the duration of the match, The Big Show, who stood at 7 feet tall and weighed 500 lbs, used his body size to his advantage as he squashed, or easily and quickly performed moves on, Cena and Angle. Thereafter, Cena lifted The Big Show over his shoulders and threw him down to execute the FU, while Angle lifted The Big Show by the side to throw him out of the ring. Angle then applied an ankle lock on Cena, forcing him to submit. As a result, Angle won a WWE Championship match at WrestleMania XX.
The main event was a singles match in which WWE Champion Brock Lesnar defended his title against Eddie Guerrero. Lesnar did not show any effect from the Jackhammer Goldberg performed on him earlier in the event; similar to the prior match, Lesnar used his size advantage over Guerrero throughout the match. As Lesnar lifted Guerrero over his shoulders to slam his face down to perform an "F-5", he was scripted to knock the referee down. Lesnar then attempted to take advantage of the referee's state, as he went to retrieve the WWE title belt to hit Guerrero. Meanwhile, Goldberg came down into the ring to execute a spear on Lesnar; because the referee was incapacitated, Guerrero could not be disqualified for Goldberg's interference. As Goldberg retreated, the referee regained consciousness while Guerrero drove Lesnar's head onto the WWE title belt Lesnar had left in the ring. Guerrero kicked the belt out of the ring to prevent the referee from seeing it and performed a body splash, known in wrestling as a frog splash, from the top turnbuckle to pin Lesnar and win the WWE Championship from him.
At WrestleMania XX, WWE Champion Eddie Guerrero defeated challenger Kurt Angle via pinfall and retained his title. John "Bradshaw" Layfield was scripted at the time to portray a new character after the APA broke up and Faarooq announced his semi-retirement. A storyline was then created in which Layfield challenged Guerrero for the WWE title; at The Great American Bash, Layfield defeated Guerrero to win his first World Heavyweight Championship. Guerrero failed to recapture the title from Layfield in a steel cage match, a match where the ring was enclosed in a steel cage, on the July 15, 2004 episode of SmackDown!. After Guerrero's death in November 2005, WWE held Tribute Shows on Raw and SmackDown!. During these programs, No Way Out was the main highlight of Guerrero's career, as it was where he won his only World Championship. Eventually, John Cena was scripted into a rivalry with The Big Show over his WWE United States Championship. At WrestleMania XX, Cena defeated the Big Show to win the WWE United States title. Goldberg and Lesnar continued their rivalry, leading to a match promoted at WrestleMania XX, in which Goldberg defeated Lesnar. After their match, Goldberg and Lesnar were released from the company.
Rey Mysterio and Chavo Guerrero's storyline over the WWE Cruiserweight Championship also continued, culminating in a battle royal match at WrestleMania XX involving other wrestlers. Guerrero last eliminated Mysterio to retain his title in this match. After the Draft Lottery, a mock sports draft lottery in which wrestlers switched programs, Rico was drafted to SmackDown!, while Shelton Benjamin was drafted to Raw, in the process splitting up The World's Greatest Tag Team. Afterward, Haas and Rico were written into a storyline that led to them winning the WWE Tag Team Championship from Rikishi and Scotty 2 Hotty on the April 22, 2004 episode of SmackDown!.
The Cow Palace arena can usually accommodate 13,000 people, but the capacity was reduced for No Way Out 2004. This event grossed over $450,000 from an approximate attendance of 11,000 which was the maximum allowed. It also received 350,000 pay-per-view buys. No Way Out helped World Wrestling Entertainment earn $43.7 million in revenue from pay-per-view events versus $31.8 million the previous year; Linda McMahon, then CEO of WWE, confirmed this statement on June 21, 2004 in a quarterly financial report. Canadian Online Explorer 's professional wrestling section described the event as "Smackdown! us our money's worth last night but they also set up what's probably going to be the best match at Wrestlemania ." Kevin Sowers from PWTorch described the main event between Eddie Guerrero and Brock Lesnar as "one to remember for a long time." The event was released on DVD on March 16, 2004; however, it did not reach the Billboard's Top DVD Sales Chart. After its release, the DVD received a rating of 8.5 out of 10 points by IGN.
- Numbers in parentheses indicate the length of the match.
- (c) refers to the champion(s) heading into the match.
- Sunday Night Heat: Tajiri, Akio, and Sakoda defeated Billy Kidman, Paul London, and Último Dragón (5:35)
- Rikishi and Scotty 2 Hotty (c) defeated The Basham Brothers (Doug and Danny) and Shaniqua in an Intergender two-on-three handicap match to retain the WWE Tag Team Championship (8:16)
- Jamie Noble defeated Nidia in a Blindfold match (04:23)
- The World's Greatest Tag Team (Shelton Benjamin and Charlie Haas) defeated The APA (Bradshaw and Faarooq) (7:21)
- Hardcore Holly defeated Rhyno (9:54)
- Chavo Guerrero (w/ Chavo Guerrero, Sr.) defeated Rey Mysterio (c) (w/ Jorge Páez) to win the WWE Cruiserweight Championship (17:21)
- Kurt Angle defeated The Big Show and John Cena in a Triple Threat match (12:18)
- Eddie Guerrero defeated Brock Lesnar (c) to win the WWE Championship (30:07)
Other on-screen talent
- No Way Out 2004 Official site
- No Way Out 2004 at CAGEMATCH.net
- No Way Out 2004 at Online World of Wrestling
- No Way Out 2004 on WWE Network
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