No Way Out 2003

WWE Cruiserweight Championship
Kidman (c) vs. Matt Hardy
Matt Fact: Matt is annoyed by snow and ice. Matt Fact #2: Matt takes hot tea with milk and sweetener. The genius of the Matt Facts is you’re learning stuff about the jackass heel without having to listen to a load of droning promos or silly skits. V1 was Matt’s best singles run in the business, but for some reason it didn’t quite take with the fans. Matt tries to be the new Jamie Noble, by grounding the match and controlling the tempo. They even give the outing an extra couple of minutes due to Matt’s star power, but he’s not actually as good at this as Noble. Nor is Shannon Moore, the little MF’er who looks like a teenage girl, anywhere near as good as Nidia in the role of second. Despite a smattering of big spots the crowd is relatively quiet, perhaps outlining the relative lack of personality of those involved. While Matt’s ideas and match structure have always been outstanding (he’s a born booker, agent, or trainer) he lacks the personality to get those ideas over. Hence why this great gimmick didn’t really work. Kidman misses the SSP, as usual messing up the rotation, and the Twist of Fate… gets two. Kidman was booked a lot stronger than you’d think. His resilience was notable. It’s a pity the first Twist of Fate didn’t finish, as Kidman head-spiked it beautifully. They do a second Twist of Fate off the ropes for the finish to give Matt his first, and only, run with the belt.
Final Rating: **¼

 

Video Control takes us backstage where Edge is down and injured. It’s never revealed who attacked him but it’s implied that Team Angle did it. Edge had originally been booked into a trios match with Benoit & Lesnar vs. Team Angle but severely injured his neck. He’d already been on the shelf for a few weeks prior to this. The angle allowed him to take some time off and get an operation on his damaged neck, which was the real source of the issues. The surgery was pretty intense and his recovery time was long. Edge’s next match didn’t come until fourteen months later at Backlash 2004. In years gone by Edge would surely have been rushed back early, against doctors orders, and probably ended up without the use of his legs in later life.

 

One of the benefits of the WWE having no real competition was that when their wrestlers got hurt they could rehab them properly without worrying about ratings. This serious neck injury was a sad reminder that the hard-bumping style that made the SmackDown! Six so wildly entertaining was having a massive cost on the wrestler’s wellbeing. Edge ended up retiring with neck problems in 2011, later admitting that he might have died in the ring like Mitsuharu Misawa had he taken one more bad bump on his neck. Of the others, the tragic tales of Eddie Guerrero and Chris Benoit have been recounted many times. Rey Mysterio suffered with chronic knee problems throughout the latter part of his WWE run, often missing months at a time due to surgeries. Kurt Angle, like Edge, endured neck problems for years and had to undergo surgery a number of times. Unlike Edge, he continued to wrestle on it. Eventually Vince McMahon deemed him too big a risk and let him go, terrified at the prospect of the media grilling he would receive if an Olympic hero died on his watch. Angle ended up in TNA, where they were less concerned. Only Chavo Guerrero appeared to have come out unscathed, managing a WWE run that lasted until 2011, before forging a successful career on the independent scene with TNA, Lucha Underground and others. The story of the SmackDown! Six serves as a stark reminder about the perils of the big-bumping, high impact style of modern pro wrestling.

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