Elimination Chamber was a strong pay-per-view top to bottom, which finished with an entertaining Chamber match, even if many fans didn't get the result they wanted.
Randy Orton retained his title in a Chamber match with six strong competitors that all were allowed to shine at various times during the match. The match included some great spots, and some excellent storytelling, especially by the final two combatants: Orton and Daniel Bryan.
The first three wrestlers eliminated were (in order) Sheamus, Christian and Cesaro. Each of those three got to pull off some big moves, and all were given an ample amount of time in the ring.
Christian pinned Sheamus by doing a splash off the top of one of the cells, Cesaro threw people around the Chamber and had one of the longest Giant Swings he’s had yet -- on Randy Orton -- and Sheamus had an impressive move when he did a Brogue Kick to the pod as Orton hid inside it, refusing to come out. So each definitely got his moment to shine.
When it got down to Orton, Bryan and Cena, it looked like Cena would force Randy Orton to come out, when the Wyatt’s quick spot played. After a few seconds of darkness, the lights came back on and the Wyatts were in the ring. They beat down Cena, and then Orton pinned him.
After the Wyatts attacked, Kane came out, ordering the Wyatts to the back. As Kane came into the ring, Bryan attacked him. Bryan and Orton then have a solid back-and-forth, which ended with Bryan hitting the running knee. Kane pulled the ref before he could count to three. Orton then hit Bryan with the RKO, but Bryan kicked out to the delight of the crowd. A few moves later, Kane got up, decked Bryan, and Orton hit the second RKO for the win.
This match featured great storyline that really started to put Wrestlemania and the next few weeks into focus. Cena/Wyatt is almost a certainty now, and after the way that Daniel Bryan lost, it would be surprising if he didn’t make it into the title match at Wrestlemania (especially with the way the fans booed Orton and Batista throughout the night). Christian also showed off his new heel persona, and it wouldn’t shock me if he ended up facing Sheamus at Wrestlemania after their encounters in the past week.
All in all, this Chamber match was the best in several years, a springboard to Wrestlemania and a cap on a very solid night for the WWE.
The Rest of Elimination Chamber:
** The Wyatts/Shield match did not disappoint. Six-man matches can be hard enough to do, and when there’s no firmly established face/heel dynamic, it can be even tougher. However, both of these teams worked brilliantly. It didn’t turn into a spotfest, as many of these larger tag matches do, and the pacing was incredibly even throughout. While almost all the guys looked great, Seth Rollins might have been the star of the match, taking the face-in-peril role early (even though he’s not really a face) and then turning it around when he was able to land on his feet after a top rope almost-German suplex attempt. He may have had the spot of the match when he flipped over the top rope to land on Harper, and then later in the match he took a double-chokeslam through the Spanish announce table. Again, Reigns looked strong, breaking out of the Sister Abigail toward the end of the match before eventually falling victim to Bray Wyatt’s finisher. I said last week that the Cena/Cesaro match on RAW was an early candidate for Match of the Year, but this match topped it.
** Big E and Jack Swagger had a very good match to kick off the pay-per-view. Nothing overly fancy, just two wrestlers who are larger and who are also athletic showing what they could do. Big E diving through the ropes to spear Swagger was an incredibly impressive move for a man his size. Big E ended up retaining, but Swagger looked very good.
** It was great to see Larry "The Axe" Hennig join his grandson, Curtis Axel, at ringside for the pre-show match. I was surprised that he didn’t get more of a reaction from the crowd, though I’m sure much of the crowd didn’t know who he was. I hope that’s one thing the WWE Network helps with. Many fans know of the '70s and '80s legends, but some of the earlier guys fall by the wayside. This match was solid, with the Rhodes Brothers picking up the victory.
** Batista beat Alberto Del Rio in a match that was only notable for the reception that Batista had. There were a lot of boos, and even a “Bootista” chant at one point during the match. Batista also continues to look incredibly rusty and possibly out of shape. Del Rio tried to get a solid match out of him, but he really couldn’t do it. Batista won, of course, but he really needs to do some heavy training before Wrestlemania.
** As expected, the New Age Outlaws retained their titles in a cheap fashion. The Usos got in most of the offense and then the Outlaws were able to get a sneaky rollup. This should set up a match where the Usos can go over at Wrestlemania. I wonder if they will add more teams to that match however, as tonight’s match was nothing to write home about. I could see a 4-way tag match with the Outlaws, Usos, Rhodes and someone else, either Curtis Axel and Ryback or the Real Americans.
** Titus O’Neil beat Darren Young in a pretty dominating manner. I’d think that this is likely the end of the feud, and I’m somewhat concerned about where Young goes at this point. He has shown flashes in his run with the Prime Time Players, and I hope he doesn’t just slip through the cracks at this point.
** AJ had a surprise match against Cameron. AJ ended up losing by DQ when Tamina got involved. The ending was a bit of an awkward sequence when Tamina tried to kick Cameron but hit AJ instead, Cameron tried to pin, and again Tamina got involved, pulling AJ to the rope, but they continued the match until Tamina hit Cameron, which caused the DQ.
** Bad News Barrett came out several times during the night, trolling the crowd with comments about Russia having the most medals in the Olympics, Daniel Bryan, the WWE Network and more. I’m enjoying this character, but at some point it does have to go somewhere.
What did you think of the show? Leave a comment in the section below, or find me on twitter: @TheAOster