July 25, 2005
Charles Williams

Kurt Angle vs. WWE US Champion The Big Show vs. John Cena
Winner becomes #1 Contender to the WWE World Title
No Way Out 04
February 15, 2004
San Francisco, CA
Cow Palace

My first thought before I watched this one was that there could be some cool spots in the match, since they could build the match around two small faces teaming up against one large heel, but that formula also has the potential to work against them by making Show sympathetic. Triple threat matches are a major double-edged sword. I wish I understood John Cena's appeal, as the crowd goes wild for his pre-match promo filled with corny insults that rhyme! I guess that makes it a poem, doesn't it? He just seems so childish. Did I just answer my own question? His work in this match is pretty spotty, for a variety of reasons. He gets tossed out of the ring early on and starts selling his knee, which Cole hammers home was injured when he was eliminated from the Royal Rumble. He decides to sell it at times, but also turns it off at times. He has no problems running the ropes, kicking with that leg and picking Show up for the FU, but he'll perform the move normally then start selling, which means he's not really selling, he's just lying around. If he was selling, there would be cause and effect. A lot of it also seems ingenuine, like he's not really hurting, but he's going to make a face like he is anyway because that's what he was taught to do in OVW. His punches also look pretty shitty. Thankfully, that sort of thing does improve as the match goes on ... at times. There was one point in the match when he was on offense and Show tried to stop it, but Cena countered him. He then got up and acted like he was making a comeback, but that's sort of hard to do when you never really went anywhere anyway.

Kurt Angle is Kurt Angle here, which means he does most things in perfectly acceptable fashion, but he misses quite a few opportunities. He lands some great punches on Show, which Show sells beautifully, and then he is dominating Cena for a couple of minutes, but doesn't really deviate from punching and kicking, despite having all the tools to vary things up a little. I don't really care for the way he does the rolling Germans, but his missile dropkick on Big Show is fantastic, and it surprised me, since I'd never seen him do that move before. I wish he wouldn't have used the Olympic Slam to get a cheap pop when he had so much other stuff at his disposal, and I think it's safe to say the move is officially dead -- the crowd barely pops for the false finish after Show kicks out. He's easily the most athletic of the three, but he would have been better here if he could have figured out if he wanted to be a face or a heel.

Big Show is the best performer in this match. Sure, he's not as athletic as Angle or as charismatic as Cena, but he understands his role, which is more than I can say for the other two. At times, he does indeed look like the babyface, if only because Angle and Cena seem to be there in the early stages to clown around and upstage each other, while Show came to win. So, the end result of Show being sympathetic is the same, but it's for entirely different reasons than I feared. He drops some nice legdrops on Cena at one point, and also catches him with an awesome vertical suplex in the best spot of the match. When Cena forgets that his knee hurts, Show is there to remind him by stepping on it. He also suplexes him knee first into the turnbuckle. How cool is that? He also sells the anklelock far more effectively than Cena, screaming out in pain, creating a very weak and tiny pitch out of a very large and strong body.

The last part of the match is finisher, finisher, finisher, finisher attempt, finisher attempt, finisher attempt, finisher. Bobby Finisher, where is he? I don't know. I don't know. Angle finally gets lucky with the anklelock, Cena taps out, and the stage is set for Wrestlemania. This match did do a better job of working within the one-man-out limitation than many of the other three-ways I've seen, so it does have that to its credit. The crowd was also red hot throughout, which makes for an enjoyable viewing, and they were admittedly popping for some of the work just as much as they were the personalities involved in it. Some of the biggest pops, in fact, come from moves that are *attempted* but never happen, like Show's hopeful chokeslam off the apron, or Angle's German suplex to the floor that was never executed. I think there's something to be said for that because it's smart work -- it creates the illusion that the audience is seeing a potentially dangerous match, even if they're not. Cole and Tazz also hold up their end of the deal by calling the match as concisely as they possibly can. This is neither the best nor the worst triple threat match I've seen. It would probably end up somewhere above the HHH/HBK/Benoit match at Backlash, but it would be behind Rey/Juvi/Kidman or the WM XX main event. So to give my short answer to your long-winded question, decent in parts, but spotty and without flow, and not something worth going out of your way to see.

(As a total aside, Cena tapping wasn't a horrible decision, but damn, they could have done so much to play off it with his singles match with Show around the corner for Wrestlemania. If you recall, Cena was telling anyone who would listen around that time that he was going to headline Wrestlemania XX, and Show could have pointed out that when he had that opportunity, he blew it, and that he's coming for revenge, because Cena fucked not only himself over, but Show as well. "We're scheduled for the opener now when I should have been in the main event!" Show could have declared, leaving Cena with something major to prove come pay-per-view time.)

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