What you didn’t know about No Way Out

The last time the WWE Universe laid eyes upon No Way Out, the calendar read Feb. 15, 2009, and the notion of any chant, let alone a Daniel Bryan-inspired one, usurping “Stone Cold” Steve Austin’s long-ubiquitous “What?” was little more than a distant fantasy.

More than three years removed from that date, however, and No Way Out is set to return to pay-per-view on June 17 in East Rutherford, N.J. Despite its long recess, the event’s return is an occasion for celebration and, perhaps, a little reflection.

After all, outside of the tent-pole four pay-per-views (WrestleMania, SummerSlam, Survivor Series and Royal Rumble), No Way Out is perhaps the most storied event on the 2012 lineup. Since 1998, the year of No Way Out’s inconspicuous birth as part of the In Your House series, the event has taken place 11 times, skipping only 1999, 2010 and 2011. This year marks the first time No Way Out, historically a February event, is held in the summertime. 

Besides its recent absence and In Your House origin, though, what’s so special about No Way Out? Plenty, actually.

To reacquaint the WWE Universe with this time-honored event, WWE.com examines a few of the most memorable matches and historical footnotes that made No Way Out stand out from the pack.

It was cagey

Throughout much of its history, No Way Out had an on-again/off-again relationship with the most intimidating of wrestling devices, the steel cage. The flirtation began in 2000, when No Way Out played host to the sixth-ever Hell in a Cell Match – an exacting contest between WWE Champion Triple H and Cactus Jack. ( WATCH)

From there, No Way Out’s courtship of the metallic mesh only grew more intense. At the 2001 edition, The Game again found himself inside a cage, only this time as part of a Three Stages of Hell Match against “Stone Cold” Steve Austin. The multi-fall event comprised three separate bouts: a standard singles match, a Street Fight and, lastly, a Steel Cage Match.

After a four-year breakup, No Way Out and the steel cage rekindled their warm feelings in 2005 with a rarely seen Barbed Wire Steel Cage Match between WWE Champion JBL and Big Show. Three years later, No Way Out became the first pay-per-view to feature two Elimination Chamber Matches the same night. That tradition carried into 2009 before No Way Out was phased out of the lineup and a dedicated Elimination Chamber event sprouted in 2010.

Edge lost and won World Championships there … in one night

In a truism that has been oft-repeated, anything can happen in WWE, and No Way Out is proof of that. From Savio Vega’s last-minute substitution into the eight-Superstar main event of the inaugural No Way Out, to Tatanka’s surprise appearance as Matt Hardy’s mystery partner in a 2006 tag team match, the event has packed some head-scratching moments.

Yet, perhaps the biggest curveball ever witnessed at No Way Out was one tossed by “The Ultimate Opportunist” Edge in 2009. Although Edge entered the KeyArena in Seattle that night as WWE Champion, he left as World Heavyweight Champion.

The Rated-R Superstar was the first competitor pinned in No Way Out’s opening bout – an Elimination Chamber Match for his WWE Championship. ( WATCH FULL MATCH) Incensed over losing his precious championship gold, Edge returned later in the evening and attacked Kofi Kingston moments before Kingston was set to participate in the second Elimination Chamber, which was for John Cena’s World Heavyweight Championship. Roughly half-an-hour later, Edge was still a World Champion, just by a different title.

The New World Order debuted there


The nWo stained the undershorts of sports-entertainment long before 2002. Yet, it wasn’t until that year’s No Way Out that the black-and-white outfit – infamous for, among other dastardly acts, launching a young Rey Mysterio like a lawn dart into a production trailer and creating a generally unsafe work environment for WCW employees – landed in a WWE ring.

Brought in by a reluctant Mr. McMahon, The nWo’s main cogs – “Hollywood” Hulk Hogan, Kevin Nash and Scott Hall – opened up the No Way Out pay-per-view with an uncharacteristically modest (and, as it would turn out, insincere) plea for a blank slate, a fresh start. For Nash and Hall, the speech was the first time either man had stepped into a WWE ring since leaving in 1996. For Hogan, the return ended a nearly decade-long absence from WWE.

Despite its claims that they weren’t out for trouble, the rambunctious nWo's tactics of old quickly reared their head, with all three original members attacking “Stone Cold” Steve Austin during Austin’s title match that night against Undisputed World Champion Chris Jericho.

It was a proving ground

The diabolical Cactus Jack encourages Triple H to deliver more punishment as Stephanie cheers on The Game from outside Hell in a Cell at No Way Out on February 27, 2000.

No Way Out repeatedly served as an arena in which Superstars proved their mettle, be it to themselves, to the WWE Universe or to industry naysayers. In some instances, that meant establishing a reputation for ruggedness; in other cases, it was making the jump into serious title contention.

An early example would be Triple H’s aforementioned title defense against Cactus Jack in 2000. The Game was already on WWE Title reign No. 3 when he and Jack tied up inside Hell in a Cell. Despite his obvious success, though, Triple H’s status as the toughest guy on the block was still in question with certain segments of the WWE fanbase. His nightmarish brawl inside the Cell, however, laid to rest any doubt as to The Game’s fortitude.

The career of John Cena, too, progressed mightily because of an occurrence at No Way Out. By early 2005, the Cenation leader was perceived as a serious upper-midcard threat, but he had yet to break through to the main event level. That would all change at that year’s No Way Out. Standing across the ring from former WWE Champion Kurt Angle – the very Superstar against whom Cena debuted in 2002 – Cena was ready to do battle in a tournament final that would determine the No. 1 contender to the WWE Championship. After prevailing that night, Cena would go on to unseat JBL for the WWE Championship at WrestleMania XXI – the first of Cena’s 10 WWE Title reigns to date.

Latino Heat struck gold there

In many ways, Eddie Guerrero was a precursor to this generation’s CM Punk and Daniel Bryan. Arguably the most gifted in-ring performer of his time, Latino Heat was undersized by traditional heavyweight standards and thus considered a long shot to ever win the ultimate prize – a World Championship. As is the case with Punk and Bryan nowadays, however, the cream always rises to the top, and Guerrero was no different.

At No Way Out 2004, Latino Heat captured his first and only WWE Championship in a stunning defeat of Brock Lesnar. Even though the supremely talented Latino Heat had long enjoyed the utmost respect from his peers, World Championship glory amazingly eluded him for an overwhelming majority of his career. Against the explosive, farm-strong Lesnar, however, Guerrero came out on top and, in the process, won the prize for which he so dearly strived.

It used to be part of the blue brand

From 2004 to 2007, WWE pay-per-views outside of the Big Four were split up by brand. No Way Out fell under the purview of SmackDown.

As such, No Way Out turned into something of a haven for high flyers, whose primary object of desire – the now-defunct WWE Cruiserweight Title – was defended exclusively on SmackDown. In all but one of the four editions of SmackDown’s No Way Out, the Cruiserweight Championship was up for grabs in death-defying Cruiserweight Opens. Chavo Guerrero won the gold in a six-Superstar bout in 2005, champion Shane Helms survived a nine-competitor melee in 2006 ( WATCH FULL MATCH), and in an eight-Superstar one in 2007, Guerrero again came away with the title.

An ‘iconic’ rematch happened there

The heroes of two very different generations – one a “Rock ‘n’ Wrestling” representative and the other an Attitude Era flag bearer – “Hollywood” Hulk Hogan and The Rock famously clashed in an “Icon vs. Icon” match at WrestleMania X8 before a thunderously loud live audience in Toronto.

When WWE returned to Canada nearly a year later for No Way Out in Montreal, Hogan had already jettisoned his “Hollywood” moniker and nWo threads in favor of his vitamins and prayers training regimen and classic yellow-and-red attire. The Rock, meanwhile, had rediscovered his inner jerk.

Every bit as captivating as their first fight, the all-star rematch was cut short by the underhanded tactics of a decidedly anti-Hogan Mr. McMahon.

What's in store for the WWE Universe when No Way Out makes its long-awaited return? Only time will tell, but in the interim, relive the past 11 events in this action-packed photo gallery.

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