We’re on the road to Wrestlemania but, like with every year, we do have to go through a couple of detours before we make it to WWE’s Showcase of the Immortals. The first stop? The Elimination Chamber. This is usually when the WWE cleans up a few loose ends as well as further establish storylines which will permeate all to Wrestlemania. This year is no different as the Women’s Elimination Chamber match will determine who will compete against Bianca Belair’s RAW Women’s Championship at Wrestlemania. That’s obviously not the only match as there is a lot to get into so let’s not waste any time and check out what happened during this year’s Elimination Chamber.
The night started out with the Women’s Elimination Chamber match with, as mentioned, the winner going on to Wrestlemania to due battle with Bianca Belair for a chance to become the RAW Women’s Champion. I’ll be honest as I wasn’t really looking forward to this match as I was pretty sure Asuka was going to win it all. After all, who else could it be? Natalya? Liv Morgan? Nikki Cross? Raquel Rodriguez? Carmella? Don’t make me laugh! Although, come to think of it, I wouldn’t mind seeing Raquel Rodriguez make the surprise win and compete against Bianca Belair. Then again, the WWE wouldn’t do something as risky like putting a newcomer on the Show of Shows competing for such a high profile title.
Anyway, there were a few neat little moments peppered throughout the match. Things like Nikki Cross’ cross body from the top of one of the pods and Liv Morgan appearing from out of nowhere to do a sunset flip powerbomb on Raquel Rodriguez comes to mind. I also did enjoy Carmella’s antics of trying to escape the action by running back into the pods. I also gotta say Raquel Rodriguez looked particularly impressive in the Elimination Chamber. Hopefully, the WWE will recognize they have a hidden star in her in the future.
The finish came after Carmella eliminated Natalya, leaving Raquel Rodriguez, Carmella and Asuka as the last 3 survivors. Carmella and Asuka briefly joined forces, going on a kicking spree on Raquel Rodriguez, leading to the latter’s elimination. Asuka gets blindsided by one of Carmella’s superkicks while she was reveling in Raquel’s elimination. The Empress of Tomorrow then quickly recovers and rallies, eventually locking in an armbar on Carmella. Carmella taps out and Asuka punches her ticket to Wrestlemania against Bianca Belair for the RAW Women’s Championship.
I was not as impressed by this match like the live audience was. It certainly didn’t help you could see the eventual winner coming a mile away. Still, I appreciate this more rather than the WWE doing a swerve just to screw with the fans. The action was just okay but there were no spots to write home about this time around. This year’s Women’s Elimination Chamber match was not bad nor was it good. It was just okay.
The next match had Brock Lesnar take on Bobby Lashley for what seems like the 26th time. Thankfully, they didn’t waste a lot of time for this match as it was just hard-hitting action from the instant the bell rang. Lesnar beat down on Lashley before switching and then it became a finisher fest, with Lashley kicking out of the F5 and Lesnar doing the same after getting smashed by Lashley’s spear.
The finish came after Lashley managed to lock in the Hurt Lock for a 2nd time. Lesnar tried to power out of the hold but to no avail. Desperate to break free, The Beast kicked the All Mighty in his All Mighty nether regions in full view of the official. The referee calls for the disqualification, handing the victory to Lashley. Lesnar goes ballistic, first nailing Lashley with an F5 before giving one to the referee. The Beast continued his rampage, tossing Lashley through the announcer’s table with another F5 and, just to be consistent, did the same thing with the referee.
This was fun for what it was: a couple of guys doing high impact moves. The finish leaves a lot to be desired but I bet it’s all in service of a bigger picture, possibly giving these two another match in the future, maybe at Wrestlemania, with a crazy stipulation like a No Holds Barred or making it a Submission match. The match itself was fine and it didn’t overstay its welcome.
The next match of the night had The Judgement Day members Finn Balor and Rhea Ripley taking on Edge and Beth Phoenix. This, hopefully, is the end of the feud as I do feel it’s run its course. The Judgement Day already has Rhea Ripley going to take on Charlotte for the Smackdown Women’s Championship at Wrestlemania and there’s also the Dominik Mysterio storyline. Having Edge still feuding with the faction he created feels moot at this point in time.
The match did come off as really good if a little bit uneven. While they did a good job of making Beth Phoenix look like a star as she was able to stand toe-to-toe with Rhea Ripley, Edge seemed to get the upper hand against Finn Balor too easily. That’s disappointing as Balor is the first ever WWE Universal Champion and things like this makes him look like an upper mid-card performer rather than the former big time champion he was. I will give it to Dominik for playing the heel role perfectly as the fans really hate his guts. A lot of really cool spots, mostly involving Beth Phoenix and Rhea Ripley displaying their power.
The finish came after Rhea Ripley and Dominik Mysterio dragged Beth Phoenix to the outside. Rhea tried to perform a one-woman con-chair-to to Beth but the Glamazon avoids the chair shot and nails Ripley with the Glam Slam on the outside. Edge then takes out Dominik with a suicide dive before diverting his attention back to Balor. Edge goes for a Spear but The Prince reverses it into a sling blade. Balor then goes for his shotgun dropkick, only for him to eat a Spear from Edge. Edge and Beth then connect with Shatter Machine to Balor, allowing Edge to get the pinfall victory.
This was a really fun match, mostly because of all the heat involved but the super hot crowd also added to it. This was a grudge match so, while there were no titles on the line, it was engrossing because it was personal. The Judgement Day really played their heel roles perfectly, especially with Dominik trying several things, like grabbing onto Beth Phoenix’s leg and tossing his Mami’s some brass knuckles as he distracted the official. As good as this match is, however, I wouldn’t want to see them go at it again. This would be the perfect match to close the chapter on.
The next match was the Men’s Elimination Chamber match with the United States Championship going home with the victor. There was a good mix of WWE Superstars as they had some up-and-comers like Bronson Reed, Damien Priest and the current United States Champion, Austin Theory, here while also having veteran crowd pleasers such as Seth Rollins and Johnny Gargano. I was surprised to see someone like Montez Ford but I guess they needed a really exciting high flier. Everyone did get to show their stuff and there was a lot of fun moments, like Rollins and Gargano beating down on Theory in one of the pods, the kick sequence with Rollins, Gargano, Theory and Priest, Reed performing a fallaway slam on both Rollins and Gargano at the same time, Rollins doing a flying clothesline to Gargano so Johnny Wrestling does a headscissors takedown on Reed and Ford climbing to the top of the Elimination Chamber’s roof to splash down on all the competitors. Come to think of it, that’s a lot of Rollins and Gargano, huh?
Things really sped up after that. Bronson Reed got eliminated after Rollins, Gargano and Ford triple-teamed him. Johnny Gargano’s chances were dashed in a rather anti-climactic way after eating a Razor’s Edge from Damien Priest. Priest then goes after Rollins, assaulting him with kicks before he spots Montez Ford climbing the corner so he turns his attention towards him. However, the Visionary snatches Priest up in a powerbomb position only for Ford to do a blockbuster to Priest. This allows Ford to cover Priest to eliminate The Judgement Day member.
It’s just Austin Theory, Montez Ford and Seth Rollins now. Montez Ford and Seth Rollins face each other now, trading blows in the middle of the ring. Ford goes for a big enziguri but Rollins ducks underneath it but doesn’t avoid the second enziguri attempt. Ford then does flipping cannonballs to Theory and Rollins. The Now tries to do his A-Town Down finisher but Ford reverses it with a Rock Bottom. The high flyer then went for a frog splash but Theory got his knees up in time. This leads Rollins to connect with a Curb Stomp to Ford with Theory finishing the tag team specialist with a pinfall.
Ford is apparently too hurt to leave the Elimination Chamber on his own so more officials are brought in to assist. However, while this was going on, the Chamber door was left open, allowing Logan Paul to rush in and blindside Rollins with a Buckshot Lariat! Logan Paul wasn’t done, though, he went back to nail a curb stomp to Rollins for good measure! This allowed Theory to pick up the pieces and hit his A-Town Down finisher on Rollins to get the pinfall victory and retain his United States Championship.
This was all sorts of great. While it is obvious in retrospect it was mostly Seth Rollins and Johnny Gargano weaving the story in this Elimination Chamber match, everyone got time to strut their stuff. Bronson Reed looked like a monster. Damien Priest had a really good showing. Montez Ford looked like he was ready to become a solo wrestler. Austin Theory was a great blend of comedy and serious wrestling here. I normally don’t like outside interference in matches with No Disqualification but I will accept the Logan Paul run-in as this more than sets up for Seth Rollins to try to get his revenge at Wrestlemania. A stunningly good Elimination Chamber match this year.
We now come to the main event and probably the biggest reason all of us tuned in to watch this year’s Elimination Chamber: Sami Zayn vs. Roman Reigns for the Undisputed WWE Universal Championship. Sami Zayn’s story is probably the most engaging storyline the WWE has put together in a long while and it certainly helps that Sami Zayn is fighting in his home country of Canada. Still, we all know he’s going to lose but what we want to see is what’s going to happen here.
The match started out slow. I mean, real slow. After the bell rang, Zayn and Reigns just stood in their respective corner for ages before even approaching each other to lock up! I understand why as the fans were allowed to soak up the moment but, as a home viewer, it was excruciatingly long! When things did get going, both Sami Zayn and Roman Reigns did a great job playing to the crowd. Zayn kept on hyping out the live audience while Reigns tried to shush them by beating on the hometown hero and playing mind games with Sami Zayn’s wife and father. Really great in-ring storytelling.
The action itself was, well, a little lackluster if you watch it from a more technical standpoint. The action was pretty standard and there weren’t really any dangerous stunts pulled here. However, they more than made up for it with emotional moments. Each time Zayn tried to fight back, you could hear everyone in attendance cheering for their hero. The boos against Roman Reigns was also deafening. So, despite the action just being a fairly standard match, things did get elevated up to 11 because of how everyone was invested in every little thing that happened in the ring. This is why even simple things like Sami Zayn smooching his wife had the crowd pop loudly. Speaking of his wife, kudos to her for really showing concern for her husband in the ring. She added another layer of believability to what was happening in the ring.
That’s not to say the action didn’t get good. While I say the action was standard, it looked like it was a life and death situation because of how I myself was invested in what was going on. For a brief moment, I thought Zayn was going to walk away with the Undisputed WWE Universal Championship when he tried to take out the Head of the Table after knocking him over with a Superman punch-Helluva Kick combo. That’s how much my emotions took over instead of cold, hard logic and knowledge of wrestling patterns.
The finish came after the referee was knocked out as Roman Reigns tried to get out of another Blue Thunder Bomb attempt by Zayn. Zayn connected with the Helluva Kick for a second time but, with the official out, there was no one to count the pinfall. This allowed Jimmy Uso to rush in and nail Zayn with a several superkicks and a splash. Jimmy dragged Reigns over Zayn as a new official rushed in but Zayn kicked out. The Tribal Chief then took the advantage over the former Honorary Uce but Zayn rallied. Jimmy tried to distract Zayn but was taken out by a Helluva Kick. This did allow Reigns to recover enough to spear Zayn. It looked like it was over but Zayn managed to kick out! Even I didn’t see that coming!
Reigns then berated Zayn but Zayn tried to fight back. This led to Reigns throwing a Superman Punch at Zayn but the wily veteran ducked and The Head of the Table hit the second official, knocking him out! Zayn and Reigns then traded Superman Punches, laying each other out. Reigns recovered first and Paul Heyman handed the Tribal Chief a steel chair. However, Jey Uso popped up and stood between Reigns and his fallen foe!
Reigns then gave an ultimatum to Jey: hit Zayn with the steel chair or he’s out. Jey looked hesitant but he did eventually grab hold of the chair. Then, flashbacks to the Royal Rumble, as the scene mimicked what happened, with Jey in perfect position to strike Reigns from behind with the chair! Jey didn’t do anything, though. This upset Reigns and he started berating his cousin. Sami Zayn recovered and tried to spear Reigns but the Tribal Chief sidestepped and this send Zayn smashing right into Jey Uso!
Reigns started waiting on Zayn with the steel chair. Reigns then connected with a spear and, as luck would have it, the original referee got back into the ring, counted the 3-count victory for The Head of the Table. Roman Reigns is still your reigning Undisputed WWE Universal Championship.
Reigns wasn’t done, though. He and Jimmy Uso started beating down on Sami Zayn. Kevin Owen’s music hits, however, and walks towards the ring. Jimmy tried to head him off but Owens takes him out. KO then makes a beeline at Reigns and starts pummeling the Tribal Chief with blows. He knocks out Reigns with a Stunner and does the same with Jimmy Uso as he ran back into the ring. KO finally lays out Jimmy Uso with a Pop-Up Powerbomb to the announcer’s table. Owens sets his sights on Reigns but Paul Heyman tries to intervene. The Wise Man eats a Stunner for his troubles. Zayn makes it back to his feet and KO acknowledges this by stepping out of the way, allowing Zayn to strike Reigns with a Helluva Kick to close out the Elimination Chamber pay-per-view.
Like I’ve been espousing all this time, this was a really emotional match. While the action wasn’t exception and even got a little dumb, like the second official not calling for the DQ as he should’ve seen Jimmy attacking Zayn and getting laid out as well, the emotional aspect more than made up for it. The closing moments wasn’t exactly the catharsis needed but I guess we’ll go see what will happen with Sami Zayn, Kevin Owens and Jey Uso in the future.
This was an excellent Elimination Chamber show. The only real “bad” matches would be the Women’s Elimination Chamber and the one involving Brock Lesnar and Bobby Lashey but even those were fun to watch. The Men’s Elimination Chamber and the match for the Undisputed WWE Universal Championship were extremely good for different reasons. The former was good because the action was excellent while the latter served up the emotion. Definitely something to watch.
What did you think of this year’s Elimination Chamber? Let me know in the comments section below!