By Al Muirez
Looking at the card for this year’s Elimination Chamber, I was a bit concerned it looked rather thin. No US title, no SMACKDOWN tag title or women’s title either. And a really random match between Baron Corbin and Braun Strowman. (More of that later).
For me it was a mixed bag. We had some great spots and some really shambolic bookings too. WWE at the moment feels like a company that’s struggling with it’s direction and identity.
Cruiserweight Championship: Champion Buddy Murphy has been really impressive lately and tonight was no exception. Going up against challenger Akira Tozawa in the Kickoff Show, this match could easily have gone on for another 5 minutes or so, with sterling efforts by both men. Murphy eventually put Towaza away with a pinfall after hitting a slightly messy Murphy’s Law. This was after some great work from Towaza including a senton on to the middle rope. 7/10
Women’s Tag Team Championship in the Elimination Chamber: Starting the main show with this match was a brave mood for the WWE and to be fair it really set the tone. A great way to start! The women of the WWE have worked so hard for this and even though the match got off to a bit of a slow start, it really delivered once it got going. Bayley and Sasha banks opened the match, squaring up against Sonya Deville and Mandy Rose. Bayley and Rose had some great interaction, but the match really started for me when the first pod opened and The Riott Squad came charging out. These six women are always a delight to watch with special mention going to Sarah Logan. We got to see a great 5 women pyramid superplex off the top rope with Deville and Rose, slamming Morgan and Logan (who were still holding Bayley into the canvas. Bayley definitely felt that one! The IIconics entered and set about trying to pin everbody before they could recover! Then another pod opened and the Glow Girls of Naomi and Carmella joined the fight. Some very slick coordination. Eventually, Billie Kaye of The IIconics suplexed Naomi with a bridge, and Peyton Royce did a great flip over her to help wrap it up for the first elimination.
Nia Jax and Tamina’s pod opened next and predictibly they set about beating the stuffing out of everybody. Everybody that is except The IIconics, who slid back into their pod and shut the doors!
Their pod was quickly torn apart by Jax and Tamina, who hit matching Samoan Drops for the combination pin. We then got some great scrapping outside the ropes with all remaining teams trying to take out Jax & Tamina. The riott Squad took to the top of a pod and splashed down knocking everyone to the floor. Nia Jax was first on her feet, hitting Liv Morgan with a Samoan Drop from the ropes, allowing Tamina to pin both members of The Riott Squad. Truly gutted, as I really waned them to win! 3 eliminations down.
Some quick legwork from Bayley saw Nia Jax’s attempted charge go hideously wrong and sent her crashing into a pod, taking out both the pod and Jax.
The other four women seized this opportunity to gang up on Tamina with Banks hitting a Meteora and Bayley nailing an elbow drop as the Boss & Hug Connection covered her for the pinfall.
Leaving the same four women in the ring that started this match, we get to see some great work from both teams. Banks selling her shoulder injury, they nearly got the win with Banks’ back stabber into Bayley’s belly to belly, which would have finished off Deville if Rose hadn’t saved her just before the 3 count. Rose climbed a pod, and was quickly followed by Sasha and Bayley with Deville soon following them. A miscommunication saw Deville accidentally spear Rose, but Banks’s injured shoulder prevented her from locking in the Banks Statement. great improvisation, she switched to using her legt and forced Deville to tap out. The long road was finally over as Sasha Banks and Bayley become the new WWE Women’s tag-team champions. The crowd loved it, and so did I. 8/10
SmackDown Tag Team Championship: Before the match began, Maryse came out to the stage and announced she and Miz were having another baby. Yay, well done Miz, your gear still works!
The match itself was solid, without being much to talk about.
McMahon hit a Coast-to-Coast on Jimmy Uso but then got blasted with a superkick from Jey, who nearly got the pin, but Miz broke it up at the last possible moment.
A rare drop in concentration from the Usos saw one splash into the other outside the ring which Shano Mac took capitalised on by climbing to the top rope and hitting an elbow drop into Jey through the announce table. After some great back and fore action inside the ring, Miz eventually hit Jimmy Uso with a Skull-Crushing Finale, but Jimmy converted Miz’s pin into a backslide at, getting the win to regain the titles.
Miz was proper gutted after the match and so was McMahon. Cue lots of cuddles and “I’m sorry”s from both parties before they shuffled off up the ramp. This is the most ‘Face’ I’ve seen The Miz in years, and I’m hoping it’s only temporary. 7/10
Intercontinental Championship: Finn Balor, once again without his Demon persona (why bother with the toys and posters when he hardly ever uses it?) was up against BOTH Bobby Lashley & Lio Rush.. It would be too easy to be horrible about this match so I’ll try and focus on the few positives there were….
Balor was on fire from the bell and his enthusiasm and energy are always a joy to watch, but Lashley started to dominate. This would have spelled the end for Finn, but cheeky little Rush did a blind tag and missed with a frog splash, allowing Balor to take advantage, and win the match by beating the non-champion with a coup-de-grace and a pin. As you can imagine, the big fella (Lashley) was slightly miffed by this and took it out on his mouthy friend by spiking him to the mat before walking off on his own.
Maybe now, Balor can get a good storyline and some decent bookings, and we can forget all about Bobby Lashley’s awful IC run. 4/10
Raw Women’s Championship:I was really looking froward to this. A chance to forget about Becky Lynch and her gammy leg, and Charlotte once again being handed the top spot for a bit, and have a great match between Ronda and the fantastic Ruby Riott. Ronda, the champion looking great in her Sonya Blade inspired outfit did not take long to finish Riott with a quick armbar and a tap out.
Really? Really WWE? Ruby Riott has a locker full of moves. A personality. An incredible fanbase, and you treat her like this?
It’s this kind of lazy pointless writing that has seen WWE become stagnant. I can understand they want Ronda as champ, but for crying out loud, USE THE TALENT! It’s not Ronda Rousey’s fault. She’s been a RAW competitor for just one year and has done everything asked of her. They could have had an incredible match.
We then get 10 minutes of Becky Lynch, Charlotte Flair and the champ getting battered with crutches. Boring. Lazy. Forgettable. 3/10
Corbin vs Strowman: The booking of Baron Corbin against Braun Strowman was puzzling to begin with. A non DQ match. No title on the line. Waste of time.
After a fairly average match with way too much emphasis on weaponry we get to see both Drew McIntyre come out to the ring with a steel chair and then Bobby Lashley. The lads then brought two bottom steel steps into the ring and two tables, stacking the tables one on top of the other.
A SHIELD style 3 way drop sends Strowman through the tables. Corbin pins him and then rejoins the other two on the steps for much back-slapping etc.
A truly awful The booking with no explanation.
The only way to save this would be to bring Bray Wyatt back to rescue Strowman, but even the eater of worlds would struggle against this story-telling. 3/10
A strong start with the Cruiserweights and a shot in the arm from the ladies, going into a reasonable effort from the tag-team boys, I’m now sat here half asleep, hoping the final match can not only wake me up, but save this pretty poor pay-per-view.
WWE Championship inside the Elimination Chamber: Daniel Bryan has to defend his title against AJ Styles, Randy Orton, Samoa Joe, Jeff Hardy and Kofi Kingston.
I love Daniel Bryan, but I’m struggling to enjoy this heel-turn. Although his new entrance video is pretty cool. Bryan’s new friend Rowan was ejected from ringside much to the champions chagrin!
Starting off against Samoa Joe, Bryan tried to stay out of his way, but Joe got some great licks in. Then the man of the hour Kofi Kingston entered and things really started to heat up. Lots of high risk manoeuvres with both Kofi and Bryan doing some high falls from the chains. which saw the three men really staggering. Next up AJ Styles’ pod opened and he was sensational! AJ cleaned house against his 3 opponents, including knocking Bryan from the chains with a Phenomenal Forearm, before eliminating Joe, after a stunner from Kofi and another elbow from AJ.
Jeff Hardy was out next and went straight after Styles. Nailing him with an incredible Senton Bomb from the top of the pod with Styles perched atop the ropes. Bryan took full advantage over a groggy Hardy with a running knee and got the 3 count.
Styles then turned his attention to Kofi with another Phenomenal Forearm, but Randy Orton appeared out of nowhere to grab Styles’s and hit him with an RKO straight off the top rope. Randy then managed an elevated DDT against Kofi, with Daniel Bryan spoiling the RKO party . Kofi catches a dazed Orton with his Trouble in Paradise and get a quick 1-2-3 which the crowd absolutely loved! Kofi chants galore!
Daniel Bryan and Kofi Kingston then put on an absolute master-class. It’s truly awe-inspiring to see two athletes at the top of their game.
We get to see Bryan’s nasty side with him slamming Kofi’s head into a pod. We get to see Kofi’s daredevil antics as he dives off the top of a pod.
The pods really go used in this match! Disaster strike as Kofi misses a splash, and the Champ takes him out with a running knee and gets the pin.
The crowd are full on ‘Kofi, Kofi, Kofi!’ now and as Rowan helps Bryan out of the ring the New Day rush to Kingston. Wrestlemania 35 is just around the corner and there is no reason why these 2 couldn’t pull an hour and give us something truly wonderful. 9/10
A great start and a great end to an otherwise dull affair.
The WWE need so start using the talent they have properly or the viewing figures are going to continue to drop.