WWE threw Elimination Chamber at us just two weeks after Payback, two weeks before Money In The Bank. Some are complaining that this is too quick between major shows, and while I agree in some ways, I'm willing to admit that the industry is changing, especially in the WWE, and this could be part of that. Between the WWE Network, and NXT, the WWE is forming their own competition, giving the fans an alternative. We can watch anything in the WWE library that's posted so far, which is thousands upon thousands of hours of WWF, WCW, ECW, etc. But then there's also tons of new programming, building thousands of hours of behind the scenes, podcasts, and NXT. It's all changing, so Trip and Steph are working hard to change the company's model to keep up with it all. They have done an awe-inspiring job with the Wellness Center, NXT, and moving forward with the times. There's still issues, but I have to admit that I like the direction the WWE is going, and these extra shows are just one more piece to the growing and changing puzzle
Stardust vs Ryder > D+
Not much of a match between these two. Stardust is so much better than this match, but with a showing like that, you wouldn't know it. Stardust didn't look at all stellar in the ring with Ryder, and because of that, there's little to be said about this match. Further, it did almost nothing to rile up the fans for Elimination Chamber and what was to come. Quite sad.
Winner – Stardust (5:58)
Ask Lana > B+
A different styled suit, her hair is lower, pink lipstick, less harsh makeup and eyebrows, and her voice is much less snappish. She sounded much more honest, humble, and caring. I'm sure it's been a rough week for her, as Rusev is actually her boyfriend, they live together, but she had to be back here to perform tonight, no matter what his medical condition is. This was very much a softer, sweeter, kinder, and more humble Lana, and that's what she needed with her face turn. Further, with the softened edges of her accent, she was much more approachable. She looked beautiful, and sold being a face in a most lovely way.
Miz TV > B
I love how Bryan always seems to be so shocked by the fans' reaction to him. It's as if he still doesn't believe the fans love him the way they do. I think that's one of the best things about Bryan, he's so humble and takes every bit of love for him personally.
Typical Miz making this all about him, but that's who Miz is, and why Miz TV works so well. Between the ego and how he handles himself, he's a great character, and a great heel, but he really needs someone to work against. Miz by himself is one of the most boring things I've seen on WWE TV in a very long time, but with Bryan he was really strong.
Bryan claims he will be back. My heart of hearts hopes Bryan will be back, but, until then, Bryan's book comes out two days before my birthday, and Stacy is getting it for me. To me, that's one of the best wrestling related birthday gifts I can think of. I hope they keep Bryan around, maybe put him on announce in some way, to keep him in front of the fans. Bryan keeps stating that he will be back, but I worry, after the two years he's had, that he doth protest too much.
I loved that they brought Macho Mandow and Axelmania to the ring. The more those two work those characters, the better they get at them. It's the littlest nuances in their movements, the way they enter the arena, shake hand, even the lazy big boot and leg drop, they are beautifully executed. I love these characters, and they're great for the summer. Hopefully it's just a summer thing, and into the fall they move on, become more serious, and Sandow moves on to greater things.
Backstage Segment > B+
Ambrose with Eden backstage was as great as ever. Ambrose is his character to his tippy-tippies, and that's why he's being compared to the greats like Stone Cold Steve Austin.
Reigns was even stronger here on mic in those few lines than he had been. Each week he gets better, and I'm sure having Ambrose by his side helped in a huge way. Reigns isn't near Ambrose's league, but still working hard and getting better all the time.
Elimination Chamber Tag Team Championship Match – New Day (c) vs Prime Time Players vs Los Matadores vs Lucha Dragons vs The Ascension vs Cesaro & Kidd > A-
Like a lot of people, I wasn't sure how a Tag Team Championship Elimination Chamber Match would work, but was excited to see it go down. I think few of us were happy to see that The Ascension were in the match and the Meta Powers were not, but at least they got their moment beating down Miz, and, in all honesty, Viktor was fairly decent in this match. It was Konnor who struggled like a blob and didn't do much of interest. The Lucha Dragons were great in the Elimination Chamber, and added such an unexpected flavor, and new moves to this match. I thought Kalisto being stuck on top of New Day's pod, and having his legs pulled in was something new and unexpected, a big step up from RVD's ankles being grabbed at when he climbed up top. Kalisto also through caution to the wind when he climbed to the top of the inside of the Elimination Chamber. It felt very X Division to me, though I have to admit some of the excitement was killed when Kalisto had to wait for everyone below to get into place before he could drop down.
I was also quite impressed with the Prime Time Players. They worked it hard from the moment they got out of their pod, and when O'Neil was stuck through the chains, Young worked the ring hard. Honestly, I hadn't remembered that ever happening before, but after much discussion, it turns out that Orton put Kofi in a choke hold and his head out through the chains during an Elimination Chamber Match in 2010. It was a pretty impressive move, and I love that the WWE waited five years before doing it again.
The big botch of the match was when O'Neil had Kofi's shoulders down for three, but it was Cesaro the ref counted out, as he didn't even see the other cover. That could have really changed the match if the ref had counted there and Kofi hadn't kicked out. I'm not even sure who to call that botch on, but it surely was one.
The big issue I had with the match was that Cesaro and Kidd were eliminated before the end. I was totally shocked and convinced that they would last to the end, but looking back, I'm excited for the Prime Time Players, and hope this means there's a push coming for them, as they really showed they have the stuff in this match. Young might be technically better, but O'Neil is captivating to watch. Together they could go far.
Lastly, I'm not shocked New Day won, but I have to say I hope something interesting happens soon, as they're trying really hard and getting the heat, but I find them so terribly boring!
Winners – New Day (24:04)
Backstage Segment > B+
Lana wishing Ziggler good luck. Lana played her softer, sweeter self, and Ziggler looked smitten. Only time will tell.
Triple Threat Divas Championship Match – Nikki Bella (c) vs Naomi vs Paige > C-
I spent much of the match believing Nikki had been knocked loopy early, but at the end it seemed that she was just selling through it all. Honestly, I didn't think Nikki had that type of selling in her, and she impressed me with it. But I cannot say that much of this match was very good. I had hoped for the best, but again the work was too rushed, sloppy, and they made hash out of the time they had. After that, I have to say I don't know why the WWE keeps continuing in this direction with the WWE Divas when the NXT Divas are so much harder hitting in the ring, and really know how to put on great matches. Even Paige, who is the best of these three, looked really off in the ring, and I think it's because Nikki and Naomi just aren't trained the way the NXT Divas are. It's past time they shake up the Divas Division in the WWE, bring up some talent, and send the Divas who really want to work the ring back to NXT to learn how to keep up with the younger talent. Naomi and Nikki are much stronger than we are used to seeing in the WWE, but they're nowhere near as good as the NXT Divas, and that's where the biggest problem lies. Anyone with the WWE Network can watch NXT and know that this match just wasn't up to standards.
I have to wonder if Paige is okay. She looked like she was in some serious pain after a few of the moves, and rolled from the ring before Nikki hit her finisher on Naomi. I hope Paige isn't injured in that match, as it would be a travesty for someone of her talent to be injured in such a lackluster match.
Winner – Nikki (6:07)
John Cena vs Kevin Owens > A+
This was the match so many wanted to see. Yes, it was supposed to be all about the Elimination Chamber, but after the short build between these two after their mic work in the ring, this match could have easily carried the card. Neither of these men are the youngest. Owens said they're of an age, but in reality, Owens is seven years younger than Cena, though they've been in the industry the same length of time. To me Owens physically looks like a lot of indie guys I see in the ring in Maine, but he's one of the lucky ones to make it to the top. Owens has always impressed me with his charisma and ring work, even if he doesn't have the rock hard body that so many wrestlers think is needed to make it far. I loved Steen in ROH, and had always hoped he'd make it to the big leagues, but wasn't sure the WWE would accept his look. I'm thrilled they looked at his ring work and charisma, as he's added so much to NXT so far, and will add so much more to the WWE.
The ring work between these two was stellar. Cena always steps it up at PPVs, hitting bigger and different moves when in front of the bigger crowds, but he really seemed to put that much more heart and fire into this match! Then there were the moves from Owens. Not just his use of Cena's moves, but the creativity from Owens left me in awe. His first WWE match and he went toe to toe with Cena, and looked that much better than he did. I've been saying for awhile that the times are changing, that Cena's type of ring work and character is getting old, and the fans want something new. They might have given Owens heat, but there was also a lot of chants of "Fight, Owens, Fight!" The fans want heels like Owens, and hopefully the WWE is hearing what the fans want. I say that, but obviously they are, as NXT is doing so well, Owens is being pushed and booked the way he is in NXT, and now in the WWE. Owens has a rocket strapped to his back, and could be the next big heel, and I believe he's exactly what the WWE needs right now.
What floored me was the way Owens elevated Cena's work, and Cena helped Owens looked great too. The two of them are going to have some epic matches, and possibly a passing of the torch, something we might have see the start of in this match.
Winner – Owens (19:57)
Neville vs Bo Dallas > C-
Neville and Bo put on some solid matches in NXT, but sadly, this didn't compare. In truth, this match had little chance of doing anything but bringing the fans down from what Cena and Owens had just done in the ring. There was no way the fans could stay pumped for this, and without much fan interaction, what good there was here was lost in the shuffle. I truly feel bad for Neville being stuck in this spot on the card, with Bo who's done nothing but fail on WWE TV. It was a no win situation, and while he made the best of it, it still wasn't really enough.
Winner – Neville (8:56)
Backstage Segment > B+
Trip won't allow Reigns in Ambrose's corner tonight. Shocker! The thing is that the way Trip handled it was great. McMahon had his way of playing it when he was screwing someone over, as did Shane, and as does Steph, but Trip played it his own creative way, ending it with a smile, as if he was doing the best for everyone involved, even though it was only him and his who profited from it all.
Elimination Chamber IC Championship Match – Sheamus vs Ryback vs R-Truth vs Barrett vs Ziggler vs Henry > B+
Much of the start of the match doesn't remain in my head. It's sad when an Elimination Chamber cannot hold your attention. Further, when someone like Ziggler is in the match and it's still not that exciting. Barrett is so bloody boring in the ring, and even though R-Truth is a workhorse, he didn't do much exciting work as well. It was not very exciting until Henry broke out.
Henry is skinny! Well, skinnier than I've seen him since his Nation of Domination days! I really wasn't thrilled with the thought of Henry being involved with this match, until I saw him come to the ring. I know he's struggled with his weight for most of his life, but he looks fantastic and deserves props for his weight loss. I loved that Ziggler was slammed into Henry's pod and popped it open. People were wondering if Henry was going to get in trouble for coming out early, but would you really want to be the ref to tell Henry he's not allowed out of his pod? Further, I love that Sheamus' pod was 'jammed shut' for a bit, and he couldn't come out. It was a creative way to make up time. It was even more creative that Sheamus used his cross necklace to release himself from the pod. "Are you not entertained!?" screamed Sheamus with that smile of his. Even when he's a heel, I see bits of Sheamus as a face leaking out. Maybe they're him trying to be heel, but I don't buy it. What else I don't buy is that one brogue kick takes out Henry? Since when? How many AAs did Owens take? How about Ryback's shellshocked? Earlier it seemed as though finsher meant nothing, but now one kick to the face takes out the world's strongest man? Seems rather fishy to me.
What I did really like was the work between Ryback and Sheamus, but I've said that previously in recent weeks. They work well together, and are about equally over with the fans in their own way. Most hate Sheamus' hair, and an equal amount chant "Feed me more!" Watching them work the ring together, even after being in this match for over twenty minutes, is still a great thing to see. They actually started hitting moves out on the steel, something this match had been missing compared to the first Elimination Chamber Match of the night.
I will say that I loved the moment between Ryback and Bryan in the ring. They were both honest and endearing. Bryan is always that way, but Ryback really seems to have grown over this past year, and become someone who is much more humble and willing to work with others. Maybe much of Ryback's problem really was Punk. It hasn't seemed as though he's had many issues, if any, since Punk left the WWE. Don't know if it's true, just find it interesting that Ryback turned into a totally different person in the year that his biggest problem and detractor is no longer in the company. Coincidences only account for so much in this world.
Winner – Ryback (26:13)
WWE WHC Match – Seth Rollins (c) vs Dean Ambrose > A&F
Jon Moxley and Tyler Black sure gave us a great match. Wait, you know what I mean! These were two indie sweethearts who always brought out fans who couldn't help but love them for their creativity, their charms, and the way they'd leave it all out there, no matter how many butts were in the seats.
These two left it all out there, as they always do. It's almost as if these two know what the other is going to do, above and beyond the booking. They work that ring hard with everyone, but when working together, they really work it. Rollins' grace and style mixed with Ambrose's creativity and charisma, they entertain the fans and leave us all in awe. The worst part of it all is the interference we see every time Rollins is in the ring. In all honesty, it's killing Rollins' character. He's looking weaker and weaker by the week. Yes, his ring work is great, but if he cannot win the matches on his own, he looks like he can only get so much done on his own. They need to change Rollins' character up soon so that Rollins has a chance to repair his character before it's too late.
I figured that The Authority would do something screwy in this match to make sure Rollins retained, but when Ambrose won the way he did, I think they would have been smarter to hold off on screwing Ambrose until Raw, letting Elimination Chamber end clean and keep the fans from complaining about every main event seen on the WWE Network turning out screwy. The way they did things left a lot of hardcore fans with a bad taste in their mouths. In the Open Thread Discussions there's a lot of regulars, and a lot of lurkers. When the regulars are upset to the point that some minor cuss words come through, it's obvious that the WWE upset the fans, but when lurkers, people who rarely or never say anything in the chat, start throwing expletives out after I relax the rules, that means the hardcore, longtime fans are livid about the main event ending screwy, yet again. I don't know if the WWE realizes how they're alienating so many fans with ending every PPV in a screwy way, but they might want to rethink how things are done at every PPV, watch the patterns, and change them up a bit. I'm not saying that these people are going to stop watching the WWE because of this, or stop their WWE Network subscriptions, or even that one of those people will stop watching Raw, we are here at WNW because we love wrestling with all we are, and the WWE is THE top company, and has given us the majority of the best in the industry in this country. But that doesn't mean we won't all complain, and loudly, until things change.
Winner – Ambrose via DQ (21:54)
I have to thank Jesse for keeping me smiling through the show, as he missed much of the early matches, and while I filled him in on what was happening, he was keeping me focused on the best parts. I also have to thank both Botch and Lewis for their comments and keeping my thoughts running through the WNW Open Thread Discussion for this Elimination Chamber. We seemed to be on the same page for much of the show, and bounced ideas off each other that helped me think this article through more deeply. Lastly, I have to thank Jason B for his help finding the info on Kofi head being forced out of the Elimination Chamber in 2010, and posted pics for me to see how it happened. These are WNW staff and readers going above and beyond the call of duty, and one of the reasons I love this site. We've really become a community, and that is something that helps me deal with the fact that none of my local friends are wrestling fans, and most think I'm loony for loving it the way I do.