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Chair Shots: WWE Elimination Chamber results, review and analysis

Say what you will about the build-up or the participants, but for the past several years, the February pay-per-view between the much more ballyhooed Royal Rumble and WrestleMania -- whether called No Way Out or Elimination Chamber -- has delivered. The 2012 edition was no different and the match many thought was destined to be a stinker -- you know, the one with Santino Marella and the Great Khali wrestling for a World Championship? -- was easily the best of the night.

In fact, Santino was the star of the show. He pinned Cody Rhodes and Wade Barrett and, if only for a fleeting second, had you believing he might actually defeat Daniel Bryan and walk out of the Chamber as the World Champion. The crowd was rocking and rolling when it came down to him and Bryan. Despite a valiant effort -- and some incredible facial expressions as he tried to break the LaBell Lock -- Santino finally tapped out allowing Bryan to retain.

Underdog stories are great ones when used sporatically. Obviously, Santino is a WWE mid-carder for life. But at times like this -- and the Royal Rumble last year -- there's no reason not to book him as a scrappy competitor against guys who are clearly higher on the card than him. Not only does it generate great heat on the heel, but it elicits fantastic crowd reactions from the fans because Santino is a universally loved character.

Have Santino be part of the main event weekly, and fans would tire of his antics and less-than-believable moveset. But giving him an occassional big spot as a reward for being more over than most of the locker room, and you'll have a fulfilling match. ...

If Santino was the star of the show, then the Big Show was a close second. He started the Elimination Chamber match along with Wade Barrett and went about 25 minutes into the match. He gave us a memorable moment when, after eliminating Khali with a spear about 90 seconds after Khali got into the match, he ripped the chains off the top of Bryan's pod and and climbed into it, tossing around the World Champion until his pod opened and he was able to escape. Even then, Show ended up tossing him through the plexiglass back into the pod in another great spot.

Show was on the receiving end of some big spots too, mainly from Barrett and Rhodes, who made a nice team when they weren't beating each other up. They hit Show with an awesome high-low, a double suplex onto the steel outside the ring, and a barrage (no pun intended) of kicks to the head, a Rhodes DDT and Barrett elbow drop to eliminate Show.

Show gets a bad rap from fans who don't like "giant" wrestlers, but he's easily the best working big man ever. (I'm not counting the Undertaker, who's under 300 pounds. Only guys 350 or more apply here.) ...

During Bryan's post-match celebration, Sheamus made his WrestleMania intentions known by coming to the ring and hitting Bryan with the Celtic Cross. They set this up on Smackdown two days earlier. With Orton unable to compete, Bryan was forced into a match with Sheamus. He won by disqualification after he spat in Sheamus' face, causing the Great White to display his Irish temper and get disqualified. The two only went about seven minutes or so Friday, so it was just a taste of what to expect at WrestleMania. ...

In the other chamber match, CM Punk retained by last eliminating the Miz, who had a really nice showing after a few weeks of rumors flying that his work has slipped and no one liked him. He seemed out to prove himself. In one particularly nice spot, he countered Punk's springboard clothesline into the Skull Crushing Finale for a believable near fall. Ultimately, Punk pinned him after Miz charged the WWE Champion in the corner and missed, hitting his head on the pod, then ate a GTS.

Fans like me had been wondering how they were going to pull off Punk-Jericho at WrestleMania without either man losing his heat by getting beaten in this match. They found a way. Jericho eliminated Kofi Kingston with the Liontamer (essentially, the Walls of Jericho, but with his knee on the back of his opponent's head, which makes the move look more painful) but continued to beat up Kingston as officials tried to get him out of the ring. Jericho threw him out the door of the chamber, but turned to receive a stiff kick to the head from Punk. Jericho himself fell out the chamber, striking a camera man and hitting his head on a light box on his way to the floor. Officials and EMTs rushed to his aid, declared his was unconscious and unable to finish the match.

Punk retains, giving him an impressive chamber victory in which he was the first entrant. He joins John Cena, Undertaker and Edge as the only men to start the match and win -- pretty elite company. Jericho gets his out for not winning the title, which he discusses in the below video, setting up a WrestleMania match between the two "Best in the World."



Kofi Kingston had a nice showing in the match, by the way. He and Punk hit a double springboard clothesline on each other, springboarded from the ropes to grab the cage then into a tornado DDT on Dolph Ziggler, and hit a flying crossbody on Punk and Miz from the top of one of the pods.

Ziggler and R-Truth were disappointing. Truth was eliminated pretty early in the match, and Ziggler bumped for everyone, but didn't really do anything special before being uncerimoniously pinned by Jericho. I would've thought Miz would've been gone earlier and Ziggler had that final spot with Punk. Oh well. ...

The main event of the show was John Cena vs. Kane in an ambulance match, which Cena naturally won. Despite being huge parts of the storyline leading up to this contest, neither Eve Torres nor Zack Ryder were in sight. Ryder not being around made sense, but you'd think Cena would've at least had a run-in with Eve backstage or something.

The match itself was OK, but had a lot to live up to after two strong chamber matches. It was what you would expect for a brawl. There was a nice sequence after they brawled through the crowd and back near the ringside area that saw Cena unload on Kane with steel steps a few times, smack him with a TV monitor, ask Booker T if he was in his fav five, and try an Attitude Adjustment from the steps through the announce table. Kane reversed and chokeslammed Cena through the table. Kane used the stretcher to get Cena back to the ambulance, where he almost won but Cena kicked the ambulance door back in his face.

After some more brawling, Cena climbed on top the ambulance and baited Kane to follow. The Big Red Monster did, and Cena gave him the AA off the top of the ambulance onto a platform next to it. It was a cool visual seeing Cena drop him from so high, but because of the padding it didn't look as bad as they wanted it too. As I've said about this feud from the very beginning, the story they've tried to tell was a good one, but the execution of everything -- from the overacting, the poor cuts from the producers, and the angles at which certain big spots were shot that made them look weak -- made it hard to really suspend disbelief. But I digress. After the big spot, Cena dragged Kane back to the ambulance and locked him in for the victory.

No hate embraced. No heel turn. No interference from the other players in this storyline. But at least Cena looks good heading into his WrestleMania match against the Rock. ...

Beth Phoenix retained her Divas Championship in a very good Divas match with Tamina Snuka. I was concerned that fans were hyping up Tamina a bit too much because she doesn't look like the traditional Divas, which must mean she can wrestle. Personally, I don't think she was any worse or any better than say Eve or Kelly, she just has a look closer to Beth's, and therefore is perceived as more "talented" in the ring. Whatever. Still a good match. Beth kicked out the Superfly Splash, which was surprising, then won with a Glam Slam. Kharma didn't show up afterward, but I find it odd the announcers aren't talking about her, especially since she eliminated Michael Cole at the Royal Rumble. Ah well, I guess they want it to be a surprise again. ...

Hey, United States Champion Jack Swagger not only got a PPV match, he actually won! Swagger tapped out Justin Gabriel in about 3 minutes. It was a decent enough "come down" match between the Smackdown chamber and the Ambulance match. So what if we needed a Hornswoggle/Natalya "cut the cheese" segment to get there? ...

John Laurinaitis' big announcement was that ... actually, I have no idea what his announcement was. I think it was that Teddy Long should be under the same scrutinity as he was. Then Alberto Del Rio, Mark Henry and Christian came to ring individually, and proclaimed why Long isn't good at his job. (I don't get Del Rio's gripe, unless it dates back to when he was on Smackdown.) David Otunga then had them all pose for a picture, which was funny -- especially Henry, who looked annoyed at the whole process. Essentially, they brought a bunch of guys back and furthered the idea that Laurinaitis wants to be GM of both shows. In a backstage segment later, when Long made the Swagger-Gabriel match, said he agreed that Laurinaitis should run both shows and Long said he wants to run both shows. Hmmm. Anyone else smell some sort of multi-man elimination tag at WrestleMania featuring Laurinaitis' squad versus Long's team to determine who runs Raw and Smackdown? ...

As for Raw tonight, it was announced on the PPV that Undertaker will be there to call out Triple H. The latest Undertaker vignette was also posted on WWE.com. That alone should make the show worth watching. With six weeks until WrestleMania, the build-up for that and the rest of the card should really start to take shape tonight.

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