No Way Out 2003

Kurt Angle, Shelton Benjamin & Charlie Haas vs. Brock Lesnar & Chris Benoit
Due to Edge’s elimination this is now a three-on-two handicap match. Being Canadian, Benoit is over huge. Angle is WWE Champion and Lesnar won the Royal Rumble, so this match is filler ahead of an Angle vs. Lesnar showdown at WrestleMania. Everyone in this match is, at the very least, good at the mat grappling game, so that leads to lots of tasty mat sequences. Prior to his elevation to WWE’s main roster, Lesnar used to team with Shelton in OVW as the Minnesota Stretching Crew, so they’re familiar with each other. It leads to Lesnar selling a lot more for Benjamin than he usually does for anyone under the top tier of WWE stars. What has to be considered a weird curio about this match is that they run the heat segment on Brock. That’s a rarity, but Angle is the one who does most of the damage; a way to sell WrestleMania and make Brock look vulnerable. When Benoit gets the hot tag he goes on a joyous suplexing rampage. Almost everyone takes silly bumps, even Lesnar, who flies off the apron and lands on his hip. Considering it’s a month before WrestleMania, the effort levels are a lot higher than you’d expect. Benoit doesn’t have a big match at the annual extravaganza, so his hard work is expected, but Angle taking high angle bumps on his neck is a little surprising. Especially in light of Edge’s injury. Angle vs. Benoit was a ***** epic a month earlier, and their clashes in this one are almost on that level. It’s only the lack of stakes that takes the edge off the match. They still run a brilliant ankle lock to crossface submissions sequence, but the lack of reaction is telling. Benoit traps Haas in the crossface while Brock destroys the others around him, and Charlie has no choice but to submit. Lesnar’s F-5 on Angle while the tap out is going down is perfect timing. In retrospect this match suffers from being stuck in between Angle-Benoit and Angle-Lesnar at the PPV either side of it. Plus the crowd weren’t that into it as there was next to nothing at stake. Still easily MOTN.
Final Rating: ***¾

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