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What’s happened since the last No Way Out?
The last No Way Out before this year’s, the 2009 edition, saw both World Championships change hands inside the Elimination Chamber. Edge lost the WWE Championship in a Chamber match eventually won by Triple H. Then, the Rated-R Superstar went on to not only steal Kofi Kingston’s spot in the World Heavyweight Championship Elimination Chamber, but also win that bout.
So, what’s changed since Feb. 15 2009? Titles – many times over.
Between then and now (May 23, 2012), the WWE Title has changed hands 21 times and the World Heavyweight Championship 22 times, respectively. Going further down the card, the Intercontinental Championship has changed ownership 15 times, the United States Championship 13 times, the WWE Tag Team Championships 13 times and the Divas Championship 15 times.
General Manager volatility
As of Feb. 15, 2009, the GMs of Raw and SmackDown were Stephanie McMahon and Vickie Guerrero, respectively. Those appointees would not be permanent.
Since then, the lineages of the shows’ GMs have looked something like this: On Raw, it went from Stephanie to Vickie to WWE Hall of Famer Bret Hart to an anonymous being who communicated via laptop to John Laurinaitis. Also in the mix, though not officially GMs, were celebrity guest hosts through much of 2009 and 2010.
On the comparatively stable SmackDown, Theodore Long succeeded Vickie as GM in April 2009 – his second turn at the helm – and inconceivably held on to that position all the way through to this past April, when his team of Superstars loss to Laurinaitis’ Team Johnny at WrestleMania XXVIII.
Since the most recent No Way Out, 294,943 members of the WWE Universe have attended WrestleMania. If the combined number of attendees for WrestleManias XXV, XXVI, XXVII and XXVIII were a U.S. city, that passionate and fun-loving city would land somewhere between Anchorage, Alaska, and Lexington, Ky., in terms of population.
At WrestleMania XXV, 72,744 fans showed up to the Reliant Stadium in Houston to see Triple H vs. Randy Orton, John Cena vs. Edge vs. Big Show and The Undertaker vs. Shawn Michaels, among other matches.
The following year, 72,219 fans turned out to the University of Phoenix Stadium for WrestleMania XXVI, where The Undertaker retired HBK, Cena and Batista wrestled for the WWE Championship and Chris Jericho and Edge battled over the World Heavyweight Title.
WrestleMania XXVII, held at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, featured Cena vs. The Miz for the WWE Championship, Edge vs. Alberto Del Rio for the World Heavyweight Title and The Undertaker vs. Triple H. That Show of Shows was witnessed live by 71,617.
Finally, at WrestleMania XXVIII in Miami, 78,363 fans broke the Sun Life Stadium attendance record to watch the “Once in a Lifetime” Match between The Rock and John Cena, the “End of an Era” Hell in a Cell Match between The Game and The Undertaker, as well as WWE Champion CM Punk vs. Chris Jericho.
Also occurring at WrestleMania XXVIII: The Team Johnny vs. Team Teddy match, in which John Laurinaitis won control over both Raw and SmackDown. Heading into No Way Out, which features Big Show against Cena, "People Power" is in the driver's seat.
A changing of the guard
Despite those significant losses, the talent pool remains deep. Although CM Punk was already a former World Heavyweight Champion as of February 2009, The Second City Saint has since cemented his place in the main event, having captured the World Heavyweight Title and the WWE Championship twice more each since then. Daniel Bryan has rocketed to the top, and World Heavyweight Champion Sheamus, much like Punk, has only added to his own formidability these last three years.
Meanwhile, The Rock has returned “home,” and Brock Lesnar made a remarkable, albeit brief, comeback to the squared circle. WWE has also experienced a wide-ranging influx of new blood: Alberto Del Rio, Antonio Cesaro, Damien Sandow, Kharma, Sin Cara, Tensai, Ryback and Brodus Clay, to name a few.
With such a stacked roster of up-and-comers looking to make an impression, not to mention the wide field of veteran Superstars who have championship ambitions, this year’s No Way Out appears ready to uphold the event’s tradition of inescapable excitement.