Am I the only one unhappy with how last year’s WWE brand split affected Elimination Chamber? Before the brand split, there used to be two Elimination Chamber matches, one for Raw and one for Smackdown. However, since the decided that they were going to divvy out the pay-per-views and it fell to Smackdown, we don’t get to see the members of the “red” side duke it out in one of the most unique and brutal structures in the WWE? That’s disappointing.
No matter. It’s still Elimination Chamber and I’m sure the Superstars of Smackdown can bring it. So let’s go see what they did!
Match #1: Becky Lynch vs. Mickie James
Great to see Mickie James back in action in a WWE pay-per-view event, even if it is against one of my favorite female wrestlers.
I will say that I don’t really like how they built up this feud by the way. I understand why WWE pitted Mickie James against Becky Lynch as both of them are veteran wrestlers. However, making Mickie start out as a lackey for Alexa Bliss kind of demeans the almost legendary women’s wrestler.
I will say that the match was really good. Becky Lynch started off by dominating Mickey James. However, after that initial burst, it was generally Mickey James that was in control for the majority of the match, focusing on the Irish Lass Kicker’s right arm. Everyone had a chance to hit their signature moves; Becky with her exploder suplex and Mickie even got her Mick Kick in. Both women did really great action in the ring and sold their stuff well.
The finish came after the Mick Kick. As Becky put her leg under the bottom rope, preventing a pinfall after the devastating kick, this allowed the red-headed wrestler to recover enough to kick out after being dragged to the center of the ring. Mickie tried to use her patented jumping DDT but Becky reversed it with a back body drop. Becky then tried to lock in her Dis-arm-her submission hold but Mickie countered with a rollup attempt. However, the pinfall counter was then countered by the Irish Lass Kicker with a jacknife cover, resulting in a pinfall victory for Becky Lynch.
Overall, this match was good but was just lacking a little more back and forth. They did a good job in making Mickie James look strong as she did dominate the majority of the match. Making Becky Lynch win via rollup made her look like she could beat odds. I think the match would’ve been better if it was given around 2-3 minutes more for the action to build up at the end.
Rating: 6.5 of 10 Mick-Kicks
Match #2: Kalisto and Apollo Crews vs Dolph Ziggler in a two-on-one Handicap Match
Wait, so the guys with the advantage are the “good guys,” huh? That’s such a bad idea! It’s a terrible idea because it’s usually the “good guys” that are the underdogs, which makes you want to cheer on them more. Since the roles are reversed, you automatically root for the guy who has the disadvantage, which would be Dolph Ziggler, the “bad guy” in this case… which is what happened.
There was some early heat with Dolph Ziggler beating on and taking out Kalisto as the Lucha Dragon made his way to the ring. So, it became a one-on-one match at the start. However, after that, things slowed down incredibly. I do like Ziggler as a performer in the ring but Apollo Crews is just not charismatic enough to carry a match yet. He is athletic and a powerhouse but he still doesn’t know how to get the crowd to react. I guess you can give him a chance but he does need to pick it up now and maybe learn from guys who had slow starts like The Rock.
Anyway, the match plodded along until Kalisto limped his way back into the ring. Crews, who was being beat down in the ring like a chump, manages to make the hot tag to Kalisto. The Lucha Dragon then poured on the offense, stunning Ziggler with a myriad of high flying attacks. Kalisto then attempted his finisher, Salida del Sol, but the Showoff blocked it and pushed the Lucha Dragon to the corner where he tagged in a recovering Crews. Kalisto then backflips to dodge a clothesline from Ziggler and kicks his for in the mush. This allowed Crews to run in and hit a (pretty amazing looking) running spinning sitout powerbomb for the pinfall victory.
Ziggler didn’t take the loss lightly as he took out Kalisto while he was celebrating. Dolph Ziggler then focused his attention on Crews, assaulting him with a chair and wrecking Apollo Crew’s leg… to the approval and cheers of the crowd. Told you it was a bad decision!
This was a brutally bad match with only the stuff that happened before and after the actual fight was good. Ziggler’s heel turn isn’t working out so well, is it? He did it so he would start winning matches but all he still does is lose to put some in the win columns for the new guys.
Rating: 3.5 of 10 bad Dolph Ziggler career moves.
Match #3: American Alpha, The Usos, Heath Slater and Rhyno, The Ascension, Breezango and the Vaudevillains in a Tag Team Turmoil match for the Smackdown Tag Team Titles
I don’t like what they’ve been doing with the Smackdown Tag Team division.
The match started with Heath Slater and Rhyno vs Breezango. After a few antics, Rhyno nails a Gore on Tyler Breeze for the pinfall elimination. Next to come out were The Vaudevillans. The Villains double team Rhyno and temporarily take him out of the picture but Heath Slater holds his own long enough for Rhyno to recover from the beating. Rhyno nails Simon Gotch with a Gore and Slater takes out Aiden English with an Impaler DDT to move on. The Usos are out next and, after a few minutes of back and forth, eliminate Slated with a superkick. American Alpha is out next and start a run.
The Usos then mounted a comeback and isolate Chad Gable but Gable was eventually able to tag to Jason Jordan, leading to American Alpha getting a pinfall after Gable rolled up one of the Usos for the win. The Usos, irate from their loss, beat up on American Alpha as the Ascension waited in the wings to come in. Although Konnor and Viktor seems like shoo-ins to become the new Smackdown Tag Team Champions; too bad the Ascension sucks! American Alpha immediately launch a comeback and they take out Viktor with their back suplex into bridge double team move to retain the Smackdown Tag Team belts.
This match was, at best, okay. But the biggest problem with it were the teams involved. I just didn’t care for any of them as they don’t have any feuds with each other. Professional wrestling is more than just the action in the ring. A huge part of what makes pro wrestling and the WWE exciting are the stories. Currently, the Smackdown Tag Team division doesn’t have a single story. So, while I can admire what they did in the ring and they did pull off some good spots, I can’t really rate it that high because I was so indifferent with what was happening.
Rating: 5.5 of 10 *yawns*
Match #4: Nikki Bella vs Natalya
This will contradict what I just said regarding storylines but in a weird way. While I like stories with my wrestling, I just want good stories. This feud between Nikki Bella and Natalya just sucks! The story and motivations for both characters have just gotten incredibly weird and convoluted. Natalya claiming that she would’ve married John Cena if she wasn’t hitched to Tyson Kidd? Get out of here!
It certainly doesn’t help that, while both of them have a solid foundation regarding wrestling, they just don’t have the ability of attracting heat from the audiences. Everything they do to try to get the fans into the match is just repetitive. Nikki raises her hand like she needs permission to go to the bathroom. Natalya spreading her arms and nodding like she’s a weird bird. It’s just terrible.
The match ended just when it was kind of getting good. After Natalya connected with a superplex, the niece of Bret Hart locked in the Sharpshooter. But Nikki, being the great technical wrestler she is (have to find a good way to write stuff sarcastically), reverses it and locks in a modified version of John Cena’s STF, which actually looks more like a chokehold than a headlock. Both competitors spill to the outside, where they are both counted out.
Terrible match with the only highlight being the superplex. The wrestling was slow and it looked like they were going through predetermined spots instead of looking organic ie. like a real fight. Since it’s a count out does that mean we’ll see this feud continue? Oh joy.
Rating: 3.0 of 10 “Fearless” boredom
Match #5: Luke Harper vs. Randy Orton
Well, this should be interesting. Unlike the previous two matches, this had a story that I actually cared about!
The buildup to this match may be a little abrupt but the animosity between the two has been brewing for a while. With Randy Orton winning the Royal Rumble, it only makes sense to close the book on this feud before he starts preparing for his fight with whoever is going to be Smackdown World Champion, right? It’s a good thing this match was a great way to close the book on their squabble.
The match was pretty good with both competitors actually looking strong. Both of them took as much as they gave with great back and forth between them. This actually could be the match that proves that Luke Harper doesn’t have to live in Bray Wyatt’s shadow to be successful in the WWE. This was his chance to show that he was a viable singles competitor and he definitely proved it by taking some impressive spills and nailing some great moves like a picture perfect sitout powerbomb.
The finish was pretty good. After the aforementioned sitout powerbomb, both Orton and Harper staggered to their feet, exchanging blows. Harper eventually got the upper hand, stunning The Viper. Harper then attempted his discus clothesline finisher but Orton blocked it and nailed an RKO for the pinfall victory.
Really good match. While it did start our rather slow, it generally followed a good pace with the match building and building into a great match. This was mostly a showcase of what Luke Harper can offer the WWE and what he had to offer looked great.
Rating: 7.0 of 10 perfectly executed sitout powerbombs
Match #6: Naomi vs Alexa Bliss for the Smackdown Women’s Championship
Mark my words: Alexa Bliss will be the next breakout star much like AJ Lee was.
While the diminutive wrestler isn’t all that good in the ring yet, she manages to attract fans, partially because of her looks, but mostly because of her in-ring charisma. If this was a match on who had the most appeal as a wrestler and not technique, Alexa Bliss would’ve handily beat Naomi. But that’s a different story…
The match itself wasn’t all that great. At best, the match was inconsistent with some fun looking moves and spots which appeared infrequently. If felt like there were more rest holds than actual action. It was like the action just happened in short bursts rather than follow an consistent pace, which made the match seem slow and really meandering at times.
The finish was pretty sloppy. Naomi went for a split legged moonsault and Bliss supposedly rolled out of the way but it looked like she couldn’t get clear in time. Bliss then tried a pinning combination and she put her foot on the bottom rope for leverage but got caught by the referee. Bliss then climbed the top rope and tried her Twisted Bliss spinning splash but Naomi got her knees up in time. Bliss then… rolled right into the path of a second split legged moonsault for the pinfall victory and giving Naomi her first ever title since entering the WWE.
I was generally okay with the match but I hated the ending. It looked too unnatural and looked really fake, especially since Bliss had to roll a great distance to get nailed by the finish. Naomi should’ve at least dragged her close, right?
Rating: 6.0 of 10 rolling into a finisher
Match #7: John Cena vs AJ Styles vs Bray Wyatt vs Dean Ambrose vs Baron Corbin vs The Miz in an Elimination Chamber match for the WWE Smackdown World Championship
I expected brutality and action and I got brutality and action.
Maybe it was because the other matches on the card were pretty lackluster but this year’s Elimination Chamber match was much better than I expected. Starting off the match with John Cena and AJ Styles was a great decision since these two have a proven track record together and they certainly made things interesting until subsequent participant eventually were introduced to the match.
Everyone got their own time to shine and play their part well. Baron Corbin seemed more dangerous this time around and they definitely made him to look like a new force to reckon with. The Miz slinked around the pod and only leaped into the fray when it suited him (and when it was safe). Bray Wyatt got to be ferocious as he could. And, of course, Dean Ambrose did some insane things.Everything moved at a really great pace and the action pause just briefly so that the audience can admire the carnage that just occurred.
The match did have a lot of highlights but things got really good when everyone was released from their pods. After Ambrose eliminated Corbin with a rollup, The Lone Wolf went ballistic on the Lunatic Fringe, possibly setting off a feud between the two for the Intercontinental belt. The Miz took advantage and pinned Ambrose, eliminating him. Cena once again displayed his strength by rolling through a crossbody attempt by The Miz and then reversing it into the Attitude Adjustment for the pin.
I will admit, I was incredibly shocked to see Cena not going the distance and getting pinned by AJ Styles after the Styles Clash. This meant that we were going to have a new Smackdown World Champion! There’s no way Bray Wyatt would win, right? I mean, that would mean he would have to fight one of his new family members, Randy Orton, for the title at Wrestlemania. There’s no way…
I loved the ending for a whole lot of reasons. Having Bray Wyatt as the new Smackdown World Champion is intriguing to say the least. He always had main event calibre but was just never pushed that way. But now… now things will be pretty unpredictable. I do hope he stays champ until Wrestlemania because I think a match between Bray Wyatt and Randy Orton would be fantastic.
This was a great Elimination Chamber match. Action was consistent and there were a lot of noteworthy spots. Everyone played their roles just right and shocking the world by making Bray Wyatt the champ is just the icing on the cake.
Rating: 8.5 of 10 Wyatt Family endings
Overall rating for WWE Elimination Chamber 2017:
I could summarize the entire Elimination Chamber pay-per-view by saying that the Elimination Chamber is actually the only match of note. Even when the Smackdown Women’s title changed hands, it didn’t feel all that exciting. I will say the thing was worth watching just for the main event. Skip to the actual Elimination Chamber match and don’t bother with the rest.
Rating: 7.0 of 10 lackluster matches.
Have you seen this year’s WWE Elimination Chamber? What did you think of it? Let me know in the comments section below!