World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) brings its traveling circus to the IZOD Center in East Rutherford, New Jersey, tonight (Sun., June 17, 2012) for the No Way Out pay-per-view (PPV) event scheduled to begin at 8 p.m. ET.
As always, CagesideSeats.com will provide live coverage of the proceedings, from the pre-show Brodus Clay vs. David Otunga match to the John Cena vs. Big Show main event. We're like gravy, folks.
Tonight's show marks the return of the No Way Out name, the first of its kind since 2009 when WWE decided to do away with it in favor of simply naming its February PPV offering Elimination Chamber in the hopes that it would sell better by way of obvious marketing.
It did, too, at least at first.
Tonight's event, like the Elimination Chamber, was originally supposed to be a gimmick show. Each match, in one way or another, was supposed to depict a certain storyline tone that dictates the participants in each match have no way out. Get it? Yeah, that's WWE for you.
The only match that has that general vibe is the main event, with Cena and Show so overloaded with stipulations you need a notepad and a pen to keep them all straight. That's without mentioning the many plot holes in the story they've been crafting for months now, but Vince McMahon is involved and we all know how fickle he can be.
The biggest question heading into the show is how WWE feels it can rightfully sell Cena vs. Show as a PPV headliner in 2012. Those who watch weekly know Show is doing some of the best work of his career but good luck selling this to a casual.
That's not to say it's all bad. In fact, I expect no less than three good to great matches on tonight's card. That should be considered a win for fans of actual wrestling. Let them overload the main event with silly unbelievable stipulations, so long as the undercard remains interesting. Thankfully, it does.
So let's get down to the business at hand. I don't give match predictions for WWE as though it matters who wins, but rather, it matters how they get there. With that in mind, let's jump into the match card.
John Cena vs. Big Show -- WWE knew they had a weak main event so they went with a million stipulations to make it top heavy. The problem, of course, is that means the inevitable crash will be that much harder. If Show wins, Cena is fired and John Laurinaitis gets to keep his job at Raw and Smackdown General Manager. If Cena wins, Laurinaitis will be fired on the spot by Vince McMahon, who will be sitting ringside with "Ace" during the match. Obviously, this thing is set up for an overbooked mess that could end up being far more entertaining than it has any business being. That said, this feels like one of those times where they give us a "Cena fired" stipulation thinking we won't buy into it in a million years and then they pull the trigger on it just to see how fans will react to it. If nothing else, the pro wrestling media will pick it up and Raw will pop a bigger rating tomorrow because of it. So it's entirely possible Show goes over here but I don't suspect he'll be allowed to look as strong as he has in recent weeks, which would be the right play if he's going to keep his giant heel image. Prediction: Vince gets knocked out by an errant WMD and Laurinaitis helps Show pick up the victory.
CM Punk vs. Kane vs. Daniel Bryan -- The X-Factor in this match is the lovely AJ, who has been spending the past several weeks playing all three sides. She's still in love with Bryan because you don't ever get over your first, she sees a heart inside Kane so she made out with him and she just thinks Punk is just the totally coolest guy in the world, oh my god, like, totally, like, wow. I would think the logical conclusion would be that AJ helps one of the three men win and that man is the one she chooses with Punk being the most likely, Kane coming in second and Bryan bringing up the rear. The best move, in my mind, is having her turn on Punk and Kane and reveal she was in cahoots with Bryan all along. That would mean giving him the WWE championship but it would also mean another PPV match against Punk. Kane is a bit player here and he can easily move on to other things. AJ and Bryan could be a monster heel couple after the care WWE put into their storyline on Smackdown over the last year and a big turn, done correctly, could be oh so beautiful. It would also serve to reinvigorate Punk and give him some fire, seeing as his best lately has consisted of calling Bryan "goat face." Prediction: AJ acts as though she'll save Punk but turns and helps Bryan win the gold while Kane looks on and gets his heart broken.
Sheamus vs. Dolph Ziggler -- Here's the thing about this match -- it's pointless, at least in terms of advancing any storyline. And that's because it doesn't really have one, or not one relative to these two having issues with each other. This is more about Ziggler branching away from Jack Swagger and WWE finally acknowledging, in a roundabout way of course, that Dolph is a top level talent who is far too good to be toiling away in the mid-card in a worthless tag team. The problem, of course, is that he's simply not on the level of a guy like Sheamus, whom WWE is pushing to the moon in the hopes he'll become the next great babyface who can carry the company on his broad white shoulders. And maybe he will. What does he need to do such a thing? Super talented workers to consistently give him great matches. Hmmm, I wonder who fits the bill perfectly? Prediction: Sheamus gets the win after Ziggler gives him one of the best matches of his career before falling back down into the mid-card to finish up his business with Swagger.
Layla vs. Beth Phoenix -- Some folks believe we here at Cageside Seats are unnecessarily (Orton) hard on the Divas and I suppose I can see where some of those complaints are coming from. But the reality of the situation is WWE simply doesn't believe there's any money to be made on women wrestling so they give minimal effort to doing anything interesting with any of the ladies on the roster, no matter how talented they are. And as long as that's the case, I won't have anything to put in a space like this other than saying what I'm saying now, which is there is nothing to put in this space. Prediction: Layla goes over after a short heat killing match while fans wonder when Kharma will return to make the Divas division palatable again.
Christian vs. Cody Rhodes -- The classic case of two supremely talented individuals who inspire very little response based on their vanilla characters. Why am I supposed to care about either guy right now, aside from the fact that they can both go when they get between the ropes? Christian is just kind of there right now, rolling right along as a workhorse champion who constantly defends his title. And that's cool but WWE hasn't really focused much on that. They've just sort of sent him out to the ring and let him beat on guys creative doesn't have anything for. Same for Rhodes. The silver lining, of course, is the match itself will be good no matter what so there's not really much reason to complain, ultimately. Prediction: Christian drops the belt to Rhodes out of some weird punishment for going to TNA and not getting a bigger pop even though WWE allowed him to do so in a trade for Ric Flair appearing at the Hall of Fame (hey, these are my predictions and I can do what I want with them).
Santino Marella vs. Ricardo Rodriguez -- If the Divas are going to be the heat killing cool down match of the night then this is undoubtedly the comedic change of pace match. I'm not sure there's anything worth mentioning other than I'm completely comfortable with laughing at Rodriguez for wearing a Justin Bieber shirt because I'm pretty sure Justin Bieber is Satan. Prediction: Something happens and people laugh.
Brodus Clay vs. David Otunga -- This is the pre-show match, which essentially amounts to "guys who don't have a good enough reason to be on the PPV show but are big enough names to help sell another thousand buys or so, maybe." The one good thing here is the Funkasaurus has been showing more personality and depth of character as of late and if that continues here, we can't ask for much more. Otunga losing again will suck but you don't need to win to be a smarmy, conniving backstage player. In fact, it's probably better that he loses. Prediction: It's a Brodus Clay match, the hell you think is going to happen?
That's it from me, Cagesiders.
Now it's your turn to sound off in the comments section below with all your thoughts on tonight's No Way Out match card and how it's all going to play out.