Highly unusual, and rumored to be the norm from now on, WWE aired last night’s “pay per view” (though that name hardly applies anymore), Elimination Chamber just two weeks after the last one, Payback. WWE creative is rumored to prefer the two week timeframe for the set up and payoff of story lines versus the usual month, but they’ll definitely have their work cut out for them keeping things fresh. Last night’s show was a mixed bag, as these things tend to be. But going forward there’s a lot of opportunity for interesting and innovative storytelling in the weeks ahead. Hopefully the writers can take advantage of it.
Let’s start at the end, and the not entirely satisfying conclusion of the show in general and the world title match between Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose in particular. These two are great workers and put on a fun match but it was nothing we hadn’t seen before. The finish saw Rollins toss the Referee in front of a flying Ambrose, another Ref having to come down and perform the 3 count after Dean hit Dirty Deeds on Seth.
Initially believing he had won the championship, Ambrose began to celebrate but once the first Ref came to he declared the win a disqualification, meaning the belt wouldn’t change hands after all. The Lunatic Fringe was understandably upset and the whole thing turned into a big brawl with The Authority, Roman Reigns coming to Ambrose’s aid, them escaping through the crowd with the WWE belt at the end.
I don’t really have high hopes for where this is going. Seth’s probably going to have Dean arrested again, in a repeat of last week’s Raw. Maybe creative has something better up their sleeve though. Wish in one hand…, as they say.
Also not entirely exciting we’re the obligatory Divas match (Where’s Becky Lynch when you need her?), and the somewhat pointless altercation between Bo Dallas and Neville. It’s always great to see Neville “get his shit in” as Steve Austin would say, but Dallas didn’t really give him much to work with. At least Neville won.
The name of the show was Elimination Chamber for a reason though and the matches employing the massive structure of steel, chain and fiberglass definitely delivered, though surprisingly the tag match was quite a bit better than the singles one for Daniel Bryan’s vacated IC strap, earning the night’s only “this is awesome” chants from the Texas crowd.
The IC Title Match began with “King” Barett and Dolph Ziggler in the ring, with Ryback, R-Truth, Sheamus and Mark Henry of all people (replacing the injured Rusev) locked in fiberglass pods around the ring to be released into the match in 3 minute intervals until all are eliminated by a traditional 3 count and one man remains. Barett took down Ziggler early and was right after Truth in his own pod as soon as it was unlocked. Mark Henry’s pod was broken in the ensuing fracas and he escaped early to nearly eliminate Barrett. Ryback was next to be released as Truth took down Barett. Everyone then decided to team up on Henry but the alliance was short lived and Ryback hit a Shellshock on R-Truth to eliminate him.
Now let’s talk about Sheamus. He came to the ring wearing this giant cross necklace that looked like it came from Lil’ Wayne’s yard sale. This is important, I guess, because then Sheamus got stuck in his pod for what seemed like an eternity and finally broke out using the cross. Um… okay. Ziggler and Henry were then eliminated by the Celtic Warrior which left him face to face with Ryback for the strap. Ryback dominated from here on out with Sheamus only managing to shortly turn the tide outside of the ring, trying to get that cross back to use it as a weapon but the pod was locked again. Yeeeeeeeeah. Ryback got Sheamus back in the ring to hit the second Shellshock of the match and score a well deserved win.
After the match Daniel Bryan entered the ring to present Ryback with the belt. I kind of thought for a minute that The Big Guy would turn heel here and smack the Goat around for awhile, albeit gently of course since Bryan is legitimately injured. But no, the two gentlemen put each other over and that was the end of it.
The Tag Match definitely fared better, and not just because there wasn’t some giant pale ginger douche there to bollocks the whole thing up with his dumb necklace. Ascension and Lucha Dragons started things off and Cesaro and Kidd were the first team released, The Swiss Superman nailing Callisto with an awesome superplex. Los Matadores were the second team released, El Toroto in tow for some reason (“…for some reason” should be WWE’s new slogan, or at least it seems to be). Callisto pulls off an awesome spot where he climbs to the top of the chamber and drops down on everyone, Torito attempts the same and is caught by one of the Ascension and thrown into a Matador. Poor little guy. Ascension then eliminates The Lucha Dragons and Matadores, with the Prime Time Players then being released and eliminating them.
Defending champions New Day are released last, allowed to have all 3 members active at once, and are immediately treated to an amazing looking quadruple suplex by Cesaro, Kidd, Darren Young and Titus O’Neal. Kidd and Cesaro then lock Xavier Woods back in his pod, evening the odds, and nail Kofi Kingston with the giant swing before immediately being eliminated by PTP. New Day and PTP then go at it, with Young managing to fight them all off but New Day ultimately retaining after dog piling on Titus O’Neal. It would’ve been nice to see the titles change hands but it was still a great match overall, and would’ve been my favorite of the show if not for…
Owens vs Cena.
It was basically a squash, Cena managed to mount some minimal defense but it was mostly the KO show, and it was glorious. Owens pulled off a moonsault that Cena avoided, but he nailed the Senton. Cena attempted a superplex but Owens reversed it into this weird but amazing looking twisting slam. Owens then hit Cena with his own AA and scored the pinfall after a second pop up powerbomb. Awesome.
Cena and Owens are already scheduled for a rematch in two weeks at Money in the Bank, and I’ll be keeping the WWE Network just for that. WWE isn’t perfect but it can definitely surprise you sometimes, and you can say what you want about Cena but you have to hand it to him for putting over up-in-comers like Owens. I couldn’t see The Rock or Austin doing the same in their heyday.