It’s the Elimination Chamber! Or, as my Mac might prefer, the Slimination Chamber.
It’s the most wonderful time of the [WWE] year, guys! We had the Rumble, WrestleMania is imminent, and in between, we get one of WWE’s best gimmick pay-per-views (with only Money In The Bank challenging its second-place-to-the-Rumble status), the Elimination Chamber!
(And, uh, oh yeah. Next month we get Fastlane. So there’s that, too, I suppose. Fastlane, woo)
What an odd scheduled card for the Elimination Chamber this year. One of the scheduled matches (Evans vs Asuka) was pulled, and Keith Lee was removed from his scheduled title bout against Riddle and Lashley. When I heard that news, I immediately thought “Ah, they want to give Lee a BIGGER moment of winning at WrestleMania to end Lashley’s reign of terror!”, but as it would turn out… not so much.
I am notoriously the last person to know when Lee is out for legitimate reasons (see my above-linked Royal Rumble review), so maybe he had some new issue arise? With how the Chamber PPV shook out, I don’t see any storyline reasons for his absence.
Speaking of: how DID the Elimination Chamber shake out? Well…
Match 1: Smackdown Elimination Chamber Match / Universal Title Match
So… did WWE spend the first hour of their PPV crafting the perfect story for why Daniel Bryan should be Roman’s challenger at WrestleMania, just to IMMEDIATELY make the story Roman Reigns Vs Edge instead?
Why, yes. Yes they did.
Daniel Bryan lasted from the beginning of the Chamber match until the end despite suffering a knee injury, had to face a fully armed and operational Roman Reigns in the aftermath, and lost despite putting up some resistance. The story was there! “You couldn’t beat me if I was fresh, Roman!”. But… no. Edge. Okay.
Which means we will probably get Reigns vs Bryan at Fastlane in a completely drama-free affair. It wouldn’t be the first time!
Aside from that, this was the contest of the night pretty easily. Sami was entertaining throughout, and everybody brought their work boots for this one. It’s a shame we had Corbin involved instead of, say, Nakamura (whose brief push has dissipated since Cesaro signed his new deal), but Corbin held up his end of everything. From beginning to end, this was high octane and plenty enjoyable.
But still… I know Edge spearing Reigns was supposed to pop us, but it just deflated me. I suppose I can hope for a Triple Threat including Daniel at ‘Mania, but that seems unlikely at this point.
This is VERY MUCH a “your mileage may vary” situation, but I went from “Hey, this is a big storyline I am excited for” to “Oh yeah… him” in however long it took Reigns to celebrate his win over Daniel.
Match 2: Bobby Lashley vs Riddle vs John Morrison
Again with the telling the wrong stories, WWE! Granted, I don’t know where WWE is going with the WWE Title for ‘Mania–Lashley may well be penciled in to be involved there–but WWE could have saved Lashley dropping the belt until the biggest show of the year to put over Lee.
I think I’m falling into the trap of assuming WWE has more planned for Lee than they do.
Instead we get Bobby dropping the title to Riddle when the latter pinned John Morrison. So yeah, they have to be keeping Lashley in reserve for big ‘Mania plans, despite the fact that Lashley was one of the very first championship challengers Drew ever vanquished.
It’s fine. I’m fine. This is fine.
I know Riddle is WILDLY divisive, but I get a kick out of him. Nothing about his Dumb Stoner gimmick screams “Main Event”, but he can go in the ring and is funny outside of it. I’m happy to see him get a boost to the upper midcard, which is probably his ceiling unless he radically changes his character.
Match 3: Sasha Banks & Bianca Belair vs Nia Jax & Shayna Baszler
Look, I don’t like to pile on, and I know I’m hardly breaking new ground here, but damn did Nia Jax just bring this match down. She was extremely off her cues early on, most notably at one point where she left Bianca to stand around and wait on her to throw Sasha, and everything about the match improved when she was on the outside.
Speaking of which: how much do I want a Sasha Banks vs Shayna Baszler angle right now? In their interactions here, I saw a lot of spark. I think they would be a dynamite pairing. Picture a full match of Rubber Band Banks selling for the Queen of Spades.
I’m also keen on this storyline with Sasha and Reginald. Reginald just seems so earnest, but I would also buy it if he is putting on a show to lower Sasha’s guard for Carmella again. I genuinely could accept any direction this goes.
Oh yeah, the winner of the Royal Rumble, Bianca Belair, was involved! She very much felt like a passenger along for the ride here. I’m hoping she ends up challenging Asuka at ‘Mania because there isn’t a ton of chemistry between her and Sasha yet. But considering that would greatly unbalance the Raw/Smackdown women’s divisions… I doubt it.
Match 4: Raw Elimination Chamber Match / Money In The Bank cash-in
A month and a half out of WrestleMania, and The Miz is suddenly the WWE Champion.
I am actually not going to trash this, for one simple reason:
The Hurt Business.
Shortly after John Morrison helped cost Bobby Lashley his US Title by bringing MVP’s crutch into the match, Morrison’s partner was seen backstage working out a deal with MVP. This paid off later when Lashley battered Drew McIntyre so that The Miz could cash in his Money In The Bank.
Now… I get it. I’m the sucker. I’m the mark.
I JUST WATCHED WWE spend a few months building a Sheamus/Drew McIntyre story that had a lot of promise but then fizzled out when it felt like Creative skipped the second act of the feud and go straight to their hating each other. And hey, remember this time last year when an angle between Mandy Rose, Otis, and Sonya DeVille was the best thing going? How did that turn out for everyone?
I continue to sit here and see stuff like the Reginald build over on Smackdown and then this Hurt Business/Miz/Morrison/Drew web tonight, and… I still get excited. These are storylines that could bloom! They are engaging; I am engaged! Where does this leave Morrison? What do The Miz and MVP have planned? What Faustian deal did Miz strike? How will Drew fair with all of these new obstacles in front of him? So many questions!
Anyway, there was a Chamber match that preceded all of this!
It was okay. Nothing really stuck with me. Randy Orton went out first, and it DIDN’T have anything to do with The Fiend of Alex Bless. I am actually admiring WWE’s restraint in how long they are dragging out his return. No tact whatsoever to that Sheamus/Drew angle; I guess because they are putting all of their patience here.
So… did I love this show? No. It was not a lovable show. Do I love the POTENTIAL of this show? I do! We could end up with Daniel Bryan vs Edge vs Roman Reigns at WrestleMania!
We won’t, but we COULD.
We could also end up with some sort of Miz/Bobby Lashley/John Morrison/Drew McIntyre[/Sheamus?] cluster at WrestleMania!
We… probably will, actually! But I also worry it won’t be as wonderfully clustery as I am hoping for.
We also could end up with Reginald the Sommelier winning the Smackdown Women’s–
Nope! I don’t even want to put that out into the universe. I’ll stop while I’m ahead.
Let me know your thoughts on the Elimination Chamber 2021 show! What are YOU hoping to see at WrestleMania this year?
Until next time… take care!