WWE announced the Elimination Chamber attendance at 14,101, a legitimate sellout from the Target Center in Minneapolis, MN.
Cody Rhodes & Goldust beat Curtis Axel & Ryback on the Elimination Chamber Kickoff. This was a surprisingly good match, not surprisingly carried by the strong in-ring work of Goldust and Cody Rhodes. Hot spots saw a great double-team by The Rhodes Brothers with Goldust going off the apron and Rhodes out of the ring in suicide-dive type moves onto their opponents, a hurricanrana by Goldust on Ryback and Cody hitting a moonsault on Axel. The finish saw Cody hit Cross Rhodes on Axel and pin him for the victory. Axel's grandfather, Larry "The Axe" Hennig, was ringside for Axel and I'll also note Cody hit a Sweet Disaster Kick on Ryback on the outside. I termed Cody & Goldust "the show stealers" in the latter part of last year and they certainly answered the call in a pre-show match.
WWE Intercontinental Champion Big E beat Jack Swagger to retain. Another strong match, carrying the momentum from the Kickoff into the main show. Zeb Colter cut a promo when he came out with Swagger, Cesaro didn't come out. I thought at the time it was a good idea to distance Cesaro since he's turned somewhat babyface but there were still loud "We The People" chants. Swagger had his mouth busted open but the spot everyone is going to talk about is Big E's "spear through the ring." He literally ran through Swagger, taking them both to the outside. Big E is a big dude but he carries himself with great versatility.
After the match, Bad News Barrett had some bad news. He put over the fact the Russians have won more medals than the Americans [at the Winter Olympics] and they'd have to wait four years to do anything about it. WWE covered Hulk Hogan's return to Monday Night Raw by showing clips from various media interviews. Daniel Bryan did a backstage interview with Byron Saxton that got the "Yes!" chants going.
Billy Gunn rolled up an Uso for The New Age Outlaws to retain the WWE Championship. This match slowed down a little bit and as soon as it did, loud "CM Punk" chants filled the air. They quickly died off and The Usos were able to find a rhythm that allowed the Outlaws to play the natural heels they are. Jimmy Uso landed a great suicide dive on Road Dogg on the outside but Dogg's head appeared to bounce hard off the outside mat to break his fall. This match wasn't as good as the other two but nothing bad by any means.
Bad News Barrett had bad news about Daniel Bryan's chances tonight. I know some have said Bad News Barrett is horrible but I disagree. The over-the-top heel gimmick for Barrett is great and one day, he's going to get back in the ring. They're doing a considerable amount of WWE Network plugging on this show to the point it's obnoxious. Perhaps they want to protect against more PPV providers dropping them. Let's remember that 85% of households will have the option to order Wrestlemania XXX under the traditional model but that's what the company was told before WWE Network launch.
Titus O'Neil beat Darren Young after hitting Clash of the Titus. There was concern about this bout going in, with the fear the crowd would hijack it with "CM Punk" chants. That wasn't completely realized but there were chants that overshadowed this at times, including "we want Divas." Titus O'Neil and Darren Young worked hard with the strength of O'Neil on display. At one point, Titus threw his former partner over the top of the ring to the outside.
Bad News Barrett had some bad news. An interruption in the power supply at the Target Center broke his platform so he was out in front of the Anonymous General Manager podium at the top of the ramp on the stage. He ranted on the return of Hulk Hogan to the dismay of the live crowd, proclaiming that his own greatness would overshadow Hogan. I love the #BNB gimmick but hate to hear he won't be using the elevated podium the rest of the night.
The Wyatt Family beat The Shield in a 6-man tag team match when Bray Wyatt hit Sister Abigail on Roman Reigns and pinned him clean in a Match of the Year candidate. This was as advertised. It was built as a war and a war is what they gave us. I'm going to fall over myself praising all six men. These guys are not experienced (at least not by WWE standards), yet answered the call like seasoned veterans. The future of WWE is very bright and the future is now.
Luke Harper hit a great dropkick on Dean Ambrose off an Erick Rowan distraction. He followed it up later in the match with a stellar suplex on Ambrose as well. Harper had a slight slip-up (I mean that literally) when he fell on his backside when trying to pry Seth Rollins off the top rope. A cool spot followed as Rollins took Rowan off the top, landed on his feet, followed it with a clothesline and a suicide dive. The sequence had the crowd chanting "this is awesome."
The sheer physicality of the match was outstanding with an all-out brawl between Ambrose and Bray Wyatt making its way into the crowd. It felt real and unlike anything we normally see in matches like this. Rowan and Harper absolutely destroyed Seth Rollins through the Spanish announce table. There was a great false finish between the group leaders, Bray Wyatt and Roman Reigns, as Wyatt went for Sister Abigail and Reigns countered with a Samoan Drop. The crowd went crazy. In the end the bout was impossible to follow and one of the best things you'll ever see on WWE TV.
They debuted a new Hulk Hogan/WWE Network commercial. This is one of the biggest reasons they're bringing Hogan back, sell the Network and entice lapsed fans to order. Christian told Renee Young he's desperate and that makes him dangerous.
WWE Divas Champion AJ Lee came out with Tamina and mocked Naomi for "breaking her face." Michael Cole explained her injury and said she needed surgery. Either he misspoke or something has changed, as last we heard, she doesn't need surgery.
Cameron beat WWE Divas Champion AJ Lee via disqualification. This was an impossible spot to be on this card but it was added as a comedown. I can confirm it was on the big board backstage. There wasn't much to the work but Tamina took Cameron out on the outside and AJ was disqualified and retained the title. When the crowd started to chant "CM Punk," AJ Lee grabbed Cameron's pom poms and bent over. I don't know if it was in reaction to the chant or not but every time the chants get started, they're quickly killed off.
Bad News Barrett talked about adults losing their jobs because they won't be able to get off the WWE Network when it premieres on Monday. They did a backstage comedy segment with The Great Khali, Santino Marella, Los Matadores, El Torito and Emma playing with the new WWE Stack Down figures.
Batista beat Alberto Del Rio. Batista entered first and Del Rio came out in street clothes with a crutch and neck brace. He proclaimed he couldn't compete but ended up using the crutch to beat Batista down in a classic cheap heel beat down. Del Rio removed his street clothes to unveil his wrestling tights underneath. The crowd in Minneapolis didn't forget what happened at Royal Rumble in Pittsburgh. The loudest "CM Punk" chants of the night along with "Y2J," "Boostista," "RVD" and "Brock Lesnar." They hated him and refused to accept him as a babyface, even after the cheap heel beat down. The crowd made Del Rio the babyface and it killed Batista's come back in the match that ended with a Batista Bomb and a three count. If Vince and Hunter think they can do Orton vs. Batista at Wrestlemania XXX for the title, they have another thing coming. They're going to have to get Daniel Bryan in that match or risk a disastrous title match at the biggest show of the year.
Randy Orton won the Elimination Chamber Match to retain the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. WWE stuck to the book in the main event, nearly booking the eliminations as I favored the winners in Friday's Ask WNW. The only change was that Cena eliminated Cesaro, thus Cesaro didn't outlast him in the match. This was good and while it didn't live up to The Shield vs. The Wyatts from earlier, that was a rare five-star bout.
Sheamus and Cesaro started the match with Sheamus very physical. Cesaro hit a lot European uppercuts and really showcased his strength. Cesaro doesn't carry himself like a mid carder or even an upper mid carder, Cesaro carries himself like he belongs in there with the top guys. Bryan entered third with his shoulder taped up to sell "injuries" and played the crowd, landing a missile dropkick off the top rope. Do you want to know why he's better than everyone else? How about this sequence from DB - suplex on Cesaro while Sheamus was locked in a submission. Cesaro counted with a nice backbreaker and he put Bryan through the plexiglass pod off an Irish whip.
Christian took some big bumps, one in particular on the steel. Orton entered last but the entire field was still in the match. Sheamus hit a monster Brogue Kick on Orton through the pod. In one of the bigger spots of the night, and that's saying something on this show, Christian climbed to the top of the pods and dove off to eliminate Sheamus first. It didn't last long as Bryan caught him with a knee and eliminated him. While it was probably kayfabe, WWE's ringside physician was checking out Christian on his way out.
Cesaro, who as I said, had his strength on display, hit a German suplex on John Cena AND Daniel Bryan. I can't make this stuff up. He put Orton in the Cesaro Swing earlier in the match and I believe the crowd counted 30 revolutions. Cesaro ended up tapping in the STF, which was probably the only thing that wasn't by the book.
When Cena was trying to eliminate Orton the arena went black and the Wyatt's video played. The lights came back on and The Wyatt Family was in the structure. They took out Bryan but focused on Cena. They're clearly going with Cena vs. Bray Wyatt, it'll just be interesting to see what they do with the others. Cena was mauled and finished off with Sister Abigail from Wyatt. The crowd chanted "thank you" as Orton pinned Cena to eliminate him.
The final two left were Orton and Bryan but Kane came out to get involved. He sent The Wyatts to the back and checked on Cena. When he did, Bryan attacked him. This allowed for Orton to come back. Bryan countered and looked to have it won but Kane pulled the referee out. The distraction resulted in Orton hitting an RKO and pinning Bryan. He kicked out and countered again, nearly winning with a roll-up. Kane came back and hit a cheap shot, allowing Orton to hit a second RKO and pinned Bryan for the three count.
The announcers, more specially Michael Cole, played up outrage of Bryan being screwed since SummerSlam and the out is certainly there if WWE wants to add Bryan to the WWE World Heavyweight Championship match at Wrestlemania XXX. If WWE goes forward with Batista vs. Orton with the title, they could have a riot on their hands. The only worker the crowd hated as bad as Batista tonight was Orton. At least that's the response WWE wants him to generate. Batista's return as a babyface has failed.
Overall this was a really good effort from WWE. It was predictable but not to the point where it was frustrating or hard to watch. I was entertained throughout and thought the show featured a lot of good in-ring work. The 6-man tag between The Shield and The Wyatt Family was as good as anything that you will see in WWE and you need to go out of your way to watch it. They even topped Cena vs. Cesaro from Raw and that's still less than a week old. Even the most negative fan can walk away from this show feeling good about WWE's future with the work of The Shield, The Wyatt Family, Daniel Bryan and Cesaro. Those eight guys are here to stay and it's going to be fun if they're starting out at this level.