WWE Elimination Chamber recap: CM Punk, Chris Jericho, Santino Marella are bright spots of solid pay-per-view

Fans had many expectations heading into Sunday night's Elimination Chamber pay-per-view, fueled largely by Internet speculation.

Rumors had been running rampant of returning superstars, changes to the world title matches and the addition of undercard bouts to round out a four-match card.


In the end, some of the expectations proved true while others ultimately failed to materialize.

Two injured superstars returned from injury -- albeit in an in-ring segment rather than matches -- while Santino Marella proved doubters wrong and Jack Swagger defended his United States Championship for the first time on pay-per-view.

Both world champions also retained their titles, and the stage seems to have been set for WrestleMania.

Overall, WWE produced a solid pay-per-view that won't be remembered as the best of the year, but it likely won't be the worst either.

Here's a match-by-match look at the show:

WWE Championship Elimination Chamber

CM Punk vs. Chris Jericho vs. Dolph Ziggler vs. Kofi Kingston vs. The Miz vs. R-Truth

Five of the six men in this match showed a lot of fire and drive in the match, which was given the opening slot on the card. While Kingston and Ziggler were among the early eliminations, both young stars shined bright. Kingston's leaping DDT off the cage onto Ziggler may have been the spot of the night. But don't take this the wrong way, all these men did more than just provide big spots; they worked a solid match that kept the crowd engaged for the duration. Punk and Jericho continued to work well together, and Jericho's removal from the match due to injury sets the stage perfectly for Y2J to claim he never truly lost the match, thus establishing a singles match at WrestleMania. R-Truth was the only one who didn't really have the chance to shine, but with so much star power in the match, someone had to be the sacrificial lamb.

Other highlights of the match included Punk showing the severity of his issues with Jericho by releasing the Anaconda Vice he had applied on The Miz to enter a staredown with Y2J, Jericho retreating to the pod to escape Punk, Jericho slamming Punk's limbs into the pod door, Jericho's continued assault on Kingston after eliminating him from the match and Miz scoring a nearfall on Punk following a Skull-Crushing Finale. That's a lot of Punk and Jericho, but really, is anyone surprised by that?

Divas Championship

Beth Phoenix vs. Tamina Snuka

These two women unsurprisingly put on a solid divas match. Many people will bash and trash it simply because it's a divas match, but both women worked hard. Tamina looked strong for at least being able to hit her finisher, though Phoenix kicked out at two. Phoenix followed up with a Glam Slam for the victory. This match was better than most divas matches in 2011, but it will be interesting to see what's in store for Phoenix at WrestleMania.

John Laurinaitis Announcement

Laurinaitis came to the ring to announce that several superstars have been filing complaints against Smackdown General Manager Teddy Long. He was soon joined by the returning Alberto Del Rio and Christian, as well as Mark Henry. Not much came of this segment other than the returns and Laurinaitis announcing his intentions of becoming general manager of both Raw and Smackdown. I have to question why this segment received time on the pay-per-view while the tag team champions were left on the sidelines.


World Heavyweight Championship Elimination Chamber

Daniel Bryan vs. Big Show vs. Great Khali vs. Cody Rhodes vs. Wade Barrett vs. Santino Marella

Anyone who questioned Marella's inclusion this match needs only look at the reaction he received from the Milwaukee crowd to see how it was justified. The match seemed to be dragging on, and the crowd was chanting "Boring" up until Marella entered the bout. "The Milan Miracle" managed to eliminate both Rhodes and Barrett from the match, albeit with assistance. Marella stood out as the real star of the group, as he came in with the lowest expectations and exceeded them by leaps and bounds. Khali's presence was treated as a joke, as he was eliminated in 45 seconds, negating the build he received. Rhodes and Barrett gave solid performances, and Bryan continued to shine in his role. After the match, Sheamus officially sent a message to the champ to prepare for WrestleMania. Weird, yet amazing, to think that last year's dark match will be repeated as a world title match this year.

United States Championship

Jack Swagger vs. Justin Gabriel

This impromptu match was added as a result of a backstage segment involving Natalya's farting gimmick. The match itself wasn't bad; Gabriel definitely deserves a shot as a midcarder. There's not much else to say. This match was what it was: an impromptu match added to fill time on pay-per-view. Both Swagger and Gabriel made the most of the time they were given, and it would be nice to see Swagger getting more television time -- and title defenses -- heading into WrestleMania.

Ambulance Match

John Cena vs. Kane

This match was more of a brawl, as most people expected. Cena and Kane brawled around the arena before hitting a few big spots on the ramp, near the ambulance. The match, for the most part, was the letdown of the night for me. These two men have been embroiled in a bitter feud, and I just didn't get that feel from this match. The two spots that stand out were Kane's chokeslam through a table from the ring steps and Cena's Attitude Adjustment off the top of the ambulance. The crowd seemed into the match, but it didn't come across that well, to me at least. At least now Cena has risen about the hate and can prepare for his battle with The Rock at WrestleMania.

Match Rundown

CM Punk d. Chris Jericho, The Miz, R-Truth, Kofi Kingston and Dolph Ziggler to retain the WWE Championship

Beth Phoenix d. Tamina Snuka to retain the Divas Championship

Daniel Bryan d. Big Show, Cody Rhodes, Wade Barrett and Santino Marella to retain the World Heavyweight Championship

Jack Swagger d. Justin Gabriel to retain the United States Championship

John Cena d. Kane in an ambulance match

My Take

Overall, Elimination Chamber was an enjoyable show. As I mentioned in the intro, I don't think it will be the best show of the year, but it almost certainly won't be the worst either. It would have been nice to see one of the world title matches close out the show, especially given the lack of surprises and shock in the Cena-Kane match. Overall, though, the show did a successful job building toward WrestleMania.

Comment of the Night

"Wade Barrett and Cody Rhodes wrestle while Big Show lays on the ground eating the Mallomar he snuck into the ring." - Langdon Alger, @KeepItFiveStar


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