Roman Reigns survived the Elimination Chamber and a historic performance from Braun Strowman to win Sunday night and earn a shot at Brock Lesnar at WrestleMania.
The first-ever seven-man Elimination Chamber started off slowly, as Miz, Seth Rollins and Finn Balor took their time. It picked up somewhat when John Cena and Roman Reigns entered the fray, but the crowd still seemed a bit off. It wasn't until Braun Strowman entered the match that the crowd came alive, and Strowman gave them every reason. He was a frenzied wave of destruction, destroying every competitor in the match. One by one he picked them off, even as they all ganged up against him. He kicked out of a four-man pin after a powerbomb at one point, and even Elias entering didn't slow him down. He eliminated every person (Miz, Elias, Cena, Balor, and Rollins in that order) before facing down Reigns.
Despite the fact that the group teaming up before couldn't take down Strowman, Reigns, after a few reversals, was able to hit Strowman with a spear for the win. As Reigns celebrated his punched ticket to WrestleMania, though, Strowman attacked. He continued the beatdown and sent Reigns through a pod, and as the show went off the air, Reigns was left lying.
Yes, Reigns’ winning was predictable. They've been setting this up since last year's WrestleMania, and decided to follow through on their plans. And while that is going to draw some fans' ire, at least they're following through on long-term booking, which has to be commended to a point. Having him pin Strowman after four men all hitting finishers on him couldn't do the trick, though? Well, that was a questionable decision for sure. Strowman was the star of the match, and while he looked great, even with the post-match beatdown, the question remains of what he's going to do for WrestleMania. After a performance like that, what could be big enough for the Monster Among Men … unless he's added to the Lesnar/Reigns match?
As for the rest of the competitors, the WrestleMania card seems very much up in the air. Cena went on “Raw Talk” after the show and cut another sad promo about not knowing what he was going to do for WrestleMania. Finn Balor and Seth Rollins still have nothing to do, though the Miz defending the Intercontinental title could easily solve that. I was surprised we didn't get a little more development on that front during the match, though the decision to feature Braun is certainly an understandable one.
Monday's Raw will be an important one to settle some of these remaining questions as while one big question was answered, many more remain as we journey down the road to WrestleMania.
The rest of Elimination Chamber
While Reigns punching his ticket to the main event of WrestleMania might have been the most important news, the biggest segment was perhaps Ronda Rousey's contract signing.
As any wrestling fan can tell you, that wasn't going off without a hitch. The segment started with Kurt Angle, Stephanie McMahon and Triple H taking the ring. After celebrating how big Rousey was, they brought her out. It seemed like everything was going fine (well, with the exception of Rousey's mic work), and they even announced that Ronda would be competing at WrestleMania. Then, Kurt Angle brought up Rousey's appearance at WrestleMania 31, and then said that Triple H and Stephanie bad-mouthed Rousey when she wasn't around. After getting in the face of both Triple H and Stephanie, Rousey would slam Triple H through the table before signing the contract. For anyone doubting whether Rousey could get over, or if she still had her “aura,” by the end of this segment, that was answered.
» Alexa Bliss won the first-ever women's elimination chamber match. This was an extremely strong match, especially once it got down to the final three of Bliss, Sasha Banks and Bayley. And yes, Sasha Banks presumably had the heel turn that everyone had been waiting for as she went to help Bayley to the top of a pod and then threw her off, invoking images of Scar dropping Mufasa in “The Lion King.” While that was a great image, Bayley was the next to be eliminated, leaving Alexa and Sasha as the two remaining people, which slightly took the rub off the heel turn as Sasha had to act as the face between the two. However, the two managed to have an excellent sequence, and Alexa finally took advantage for the win.
» Asuka beat Nia Jax to continue her winning streak. It is interesting to note that the broadcast team did mention that Asuka does still have the right to challenge for the SmackDown title instead of Raw, despite the fact that they continually said that if Nia won, the match would become a triple threat.
» Matt Hardy beat Bray Wyatt. While a Final Deletion-style match between these two would be great, this feud has almost no heat right now, and it would not surprise me if they just dropped it.
» The Bar successfully defended their titles against Titus Worldwide.
» Gallows and Anderson beat the Miztourage on the preshow.
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