I was expecting a long slog through another WWE pay-per-view when I dropped in to watch the Elimination Chamber show for this year. I did figure out their big shows were getting shorter and shorter based on the other ones they were putting out. Even so, I was still surprised when I saw that this year’s Elimination Chamber only ran for less than 3 hours! That’s shorter than your average RAW weekly show! It may sound like a bad thing as it makes the pay-per-view less special than a regular RAW show. On the contrary, I like it! The show went at a very brisk pace without any particular filler moments, which I really liked.
There were only 4 matches in total, well, 5 if you include the really short one including the one with Roman Reigns and the winner of the Smackdown Elimination Chamber match. I most certainly didn’t as it was too short. Actually, there is the aftermath of the RAW Elimination Chamber as well… but I didn’t count that as well. Anyway, it seemed like the WWE put a lot of effort into making these matches much more substantial to make up for the lack of bouts and it seemed like there was always something happening. However, we do have to talk about the matches themselves so let’s get to it!
The first match on the card was the Smackdown Elimination Chamber with the winner facing off against Roman Reigns afterwards. I didn’t like this stipulation because it seems a little too one sided. If the title match for the WWE Universal Championship was to happen later on that night or at Wrestlemania itself, then I wouldn’t have a big issue with it. Anyway, this Elimination Chamber match saw Daniel Bryan, Keven Owens, Jey Uso, Cesaro, Sami Zayn and King Corbin duking it out to see who will get the opportunity at the Reigns’ Universal Championship belt.
I really liked the way the entire match was laid out and unfolded overall. Having the extremely proficient workhorses of Daniel Bryan and Cesaro starting off the match was smart as, even early on, they can deliver on some incredible spots. We had Sami Zayn preventing one side of his pod from opening to hide from King Corbin only to get blasted by Cesaro from the other side. Owens performing a moonsault onto the remaining combatants from the top of a pod. Zayn trying to get him and Owens to rekindle their friendship. The most interesting was when Jey Uso trapped Kevin Owens’ arm in the door and then leveled him with several superkicks. By the way, the door pinching Owens’ arm looked really painful.
The finish had Daniel Bryan and Jey Uso as the remaining participants. Jey Uso attempted a samoan splash from the top of a pod but Bryan got his legs up to counter. One running knee shot later and we have Daniel Bryan getting his title shot against Roman Reigns… which happened instantly after the Elimination Chamber cage was raised.
Roman Reigns tried to make quick work of Daniel Bryan but the Leader of the Yes Movement countered with a Yes Lock. Reigns eventually powers out of the move and wails on an already battered Bryan with a volley of fists. Reigns continued the assault with a powerbomb before locking in a guillotine headlock on a virtually unconscious Bryan to get the submission victory and retain his WWE Universal Championship. However, as the Tribal Leader was celebrating in the ring, out came Edge and speared Reigns, essentially cementing who he was picking to face off against at Wrestlemania later this year. This was a pretty good way to start off a pay-per-view. Lots of good action and, despite the entire thing, including the segment with Edge, lasting for almost an hour, the time just flew by because I was engrossed with everything.
The next bout was a Triple Threat between Riddle, John Morrison and Bobby Lashley for the United States Championship. This was another good match but mostly because of some really good in-ring storytelling involving Lashley. This was a match to really sell Lashley as this unstoppable force and they really worked the premise here. Even with both Riddle and John Morrison ganging up on The All Mighty, Lashley was still able to take on both competitors with very little trouble! Lashley really looked unbeatable!
In a way, I guess this is precisely why they had book this match as a Triple Threat because, one, they had to find a way to take the belt off Lashley without making him come off as weak. Two, they had to get the belt on Riddle somehow. They did this with John Morrison taking MVP’s crutch and threatening to strike Lashley with it. Lashley manages to hook in the Hurt Lock full nelson, leaving Riddle time to take the crutch and blast the All Mighty with it. No DQ as this was a Triple Threat match. Anyway, with Lashley out, Riddle connects with the Bro Derek on Morrison to get the pinfall victory and become the NEW United States Champion!
The match was great as they really made Lashley to look like a monster. Riddle managed to show off some of his stuff but, if the WWE really wanted to promote him, they could’ve made him pin Lashley after the blindside with the crutch. I also think John Morrison, while he played his part well, seemed out of place in the grand scheme of things. Maybe because it was supposed to be Keith Lee in his place. Those are basically nitpicks to an otherwise fine match, though.
We now have to talk about the only Women’s match in the Elimination Chamber and it was for the Women’s Tag Team Titles. This has Sasha Banks and Bianca Belair trying to take the straps off Shayna Baszler and Nia Jax. As much as I am a Sasha Banks fan, this was not one of her best matches and I have to say this was the worst match for the entire Elimination Chamber. The match seemed very basic and strangely artificial. The biggest problem is she just didn’t gel well with Biana Belair. Then again, I could say the same thing about Shayna Baszler and Nia Jax. In hindsight, that might have exasperated the issues I have with the match because, if the tag teams don’t work well together, then how can the match work?
The finish was really stupid as well. Reginald made it to ringside to apparently cheer for Sasha Banks. The Boss locked in the Bank Statement on Nia Jax but the Irresistible Force made it to the ropes to break the hold. Reginald handed a bottle to Banks and suggested she use it as a weapon to get the victory. Banks, even though she didn’t want to use it, was caught by the referee as she was already holding the bottle. The official took the bottle away as Banks pleaded her case. This allowed Jax to blindside Banks with a samoan drop to take the pinfall victory and retain her team’s Women’s Tag Team Championships. This match had a lot of problems and it just didn’t feel as tight as it should be. There were some parts, like Shayna Baszler’s use of unique submission holds, which kept me entertained but this was far from the exciting match it should have been.
We now close out the show with the RAW side of the Elimination Chamber featuring Kofi Kingston, Jeff Hardy, AJ Styles, Randy Orton, Sheamus and the defending World Heavyweight Champion Drew McIntyre. This was just an okay match as, while it was mostly good, it seemed to lack the intensity of something as hellacious as an Elimination Chamber match suggests. There were a few neat and surprising spots, such as Orton going ham after getting eliminated and nailing everyone in his vicinity with RKOs, Omos ripping open AJ Styles plexiglass pod to let him enter the match early and that sequence which eventually led to Jeff Hardy’s elimination did stand out.
The finish was good but kind of too abrupt for my liking. After eliminating Sheamus, AJ Styles decided to go for a Phenomenal Forearm on Drew McIntyre, who was still recovering from a Brogue Kick. Styles leapt from the top rope only to eat a Claymore kick from The Scottish Warrior and, 3 seconds later, Drew McIntyre gets his arm raised to retain his WWE World Heavyweight Championship… except it’s not over!
After the Elimination Chamber cage was raised, Lashey rushed in and pummeled an already hurt McIntyre. This allowed The Miz to basically get the early upper hand as he cashed in his Money in the Bank contract. The Scottish Warrior tried to put up a fight but, after a Skull Crushing Finale, The Miz gets the 3-count to become the NEW WWE World Heavyweight Champion! Like I said, this was ultimately a good match but just lacked a certain oomph to make it actually great.
I also have a nitpick with the title changing hands the way it it. No, it’s not because The Miz won (I actually like the guy as a wrestler). It doesn’t make sense to take the belt of McIntyre this close to Wrestlemania and put the belt on The Miz. However, I have a theory which involves a mini-feud with Lashley and The Miz, which will allow Lashley to eventually take the belt from the A-Lister, leading to McIntyre’s quest to take the WWE World Heavyweight Championship at Wrestlemania. It does make a modicum of sense but, at the same time, it’s a really convoluted path to take. They could have easily showed Lashley as this unbeatable force of nature who wants to take the belt from McIntyre at The Showcase of the Immortals and it would still work. I guess they want McIntyre to get this glorious victory at Wrestlemania again?
Anyway, this was a very streamlined Elimination Chamber and, while I can see some fans complaining how much shorter it is this year, I definitely welcome the change of pace. Having everything move at a brisk pace like this was a breath of fresh air as they cut out a lot of the unnecessary matches which sometimes bloat the WWE’s pay-per-view events. Besides, you just know they’ll make up for it with a 6-hour Wrestlemania this year.
What did you think of this year’s Elimination Chamber? Let me know in the comments section below!