WWE Elimination Chamber
February 25 2018
We’re in Las Vegas, Nevada. Hosts are Michael Cole, Corey Graves and The Coach.
RAW Women’s Championship
Alexa Bliss (c) vs. Sasha Banks vs. Mickie James vs. Mandy Rose vs. Sonya Deville vs. Bayley
There are some interesting dynamics here. Alexa has tried to get Mickie James onside, out of desperation and odds, with Absolution together and Sasha Banks and Bayley coming in as pals.
The bookers make a fatal error from the get go by not having the seasoned pro Mickie out there to control the pacing, nor ‘super worker’ Sasha Banks. That said Sonya vs. Bayley isn’t the worst combination of guys to start with. Sympathetic babyface vs. badass shooter. Unfortunately Sonya isn’t that experienced, lets Bayley lead and the opening segment is not good.
Next in is Mandy Rose, which is bad news for Bayley as she’ll spend the whole of the next segment two on one. Luckily the crowd responds positively in her favour. Absolution, perhaps showing inexperience, merely beat Bayley up and never attempt to pin her. Next in is Sasha Banks to even the scores. Banks Statement puts Mandy out and it’s telling that Bayley wipes out Sonya to allow it to happen. The best friends on the same page, unlike in the Rumble. Mickie James comes in next, leaving Alexa alone in the pods. In the Rumble match Mickie’s veteran status was hardly even a thing, due to the mass of comebacks, but here her experience is a positive boon.
She knows the importance of patience and big spots and she takes out Sonya by coming off the top of the pod. The best friends team up to dump Mickie though and the whole Alexa/Mickie storyline didn’t even begin. Now we know it’s all about Sasha/Bayley, which does make it about the two biggest stars although there’s a telling “let her stay” chant as Mickie is leaving.
Alexa has to develop a new strategy and goes climbing, leading to a cool spot where she’s ‘treed’ between the other two. Sasha kicks Bayley right in the face in the middle of this, leading to a big “yes” chant. When will Bayley learn to not trust Sasha in the big matches? Although it’s pretty dumb of Sasha to break up the duo while Alexa is unhurt and fresh. It’s a tough balance here with Sasha and Bayley looking to steal the show but the storyline also having to include champion Alexa Bliss, who is a lesser wrestler but a fine character. Alexa rolls up the unfortunate Bayley, just as she’d gotten the better of Sasha. The trouble with Alexa is she’s everything WWE want in a wrestler, bar the top level in-ring. Which has been an issue in the company for years. I like Alexa but her work isn’t at the higher level they’ve been trying for of late. She does get to hit the best spot in the match; a Sparkle Splash off the pod. When Sasha tries to go up top, Alexa shoves her face first into the pod and hits a DDT off the ropes to retain. This was a little sluggish at the start but Mickie’s arrival pepped things up and the last three women sequence was all good. Plus it hopefully sets up Sasha vs. Bayley as a secondary feud on a show that struggles beyond title matches.
Final Rating: ***1/2
Post Match: Alexa cuts a babyface promo about dreaming big before shutting the crowd down. There is no one in wrestling who can switch gears on a promo like Alexa.
I like how the camera hovers around Sasha for ages after the match, showing how disappointed she is. This wasn’t just a normal loss for her. She betrayed her best friend to get that title and didn’t win. This is a big story beat in her 2018.
RAW Tag Team Championship
The Bar (c) vs. Titus Worldwide
Well, three of these wrestlers are really good and Titus can…um…he’s a fine father figure. This has clearly been inserted in the death spot after an Elimination Chamber match. They treat it as such with Apollo getting isolated and Sheamus resorting to chinlocks and lazy armlocks. Nobody gives a shit. They might as well have not bothered leaving the locker room.
Dana Brooke amuses herself by making notes of “statistics”. Number of rest holds: too fucking many. Titus has been on the WWE main roster for six years. How? I can only put it down to his charity work. He’s good PR. The idea should be that Apollo does the legwork while Titus ensures the group stays over. Which doesn’t work here because the Bar don’t give him anything before double teaming for the win. This was not good but it was in the death spot so who cares?
Final Rating: ½*
Asuka vs. Nia Jax
If Nia wins, she’s inserted into the WrestleMania title situation. They needed Asuka to do something with her February. Rather than just sit around waiting for her ‘Mania title shot. Asuka is 246-0 since joining NXT. While Nia has occasionally looked like a dominant force it’s kinda telling that she’s never won a title. WWE have never felt the urge to get behind her for a full-on run.
Nia does sometimes look like a killer but she never makes me scared for her opponents, or intimidated by her demeanour. Which is something all monster heels have; Vader or even Braun Strowman. The crowd get incredibly fired up, thanks to a vocal support from the minority for Nia. She’s not like most girls. That uniqueness appeals. The match becomes a competition between Nia’s power and Asuka kicking the shit out of her. Nia manages to flip bump onto Asuka’s leg, which wasn’t supposed to happen. Nia starts yelling at Asuka but that gets her nowhere and she’s rolled up for the pin. Obviously Asuka was never losing here but they did a decent job of making it competitive thanks to Nia’s size and aggression. Anyway it’s Alexa vs. Asuka at WrestleMania. If you’re a betting man that’s Asuka all the way. It would be pretty dense to have her first loss be to a heel in failing to win a title. Have her win it, hold it for ages, make it mean something and turn into a total dick. Then lose to a plucky babyface.
Final Rating: **3/4
Video Control takes us backstage where Roman Reigns is interviewed. The crowd loathe him. He’s getting booed out of the building. He says “spoiler alert” he’s going to ‘Mania and beating Brock Lesnar. That might actually be a spoiler alert, if Vince McMahon gets his way. Which he always does.
Matt Hardy vs. Bray Wyatt
The appeal of this feud was never the in-ring. I’d rather they just stuck to doing stupid promos and any match should have taken place in an unusual setting. There’s a lot of crowd noise but it looks like a beach ball is being tossed around. Bray Wyatt does not look happy about that. Shouldn’t be such a fucking boring wrestler then mate. This is a weird match. The crowd are weird. Bray doesn’t care. Matt wins with Twist of Fate. Huh. I never thought Vince would put this version of Matt over anyone, much less someone he’s personally invested in. But hey, Bray sucks so it’s fine.
Final Rating: *1/4
Ronda Rousey Contract Signing
Kurt Angle is out here to host but before he can say anything here comes Triple H and Stephanie McMahon. Oh fuck, are they doing Rousey vs. Steph? I was hoping that the passage of time would have killed that idea off. HHH compares Rousey’s signing to Angle signing back in 1999. If I was Brock Lesnar I’d be upset. My favourite thing about Rousey so far is that she comes out to “Bad Reputation”. I love Joan Jett. Ronda has a little trouble cutting a promo. It’s a pressure situation.
Doing in Vegas, where she made her name, is definitely the right decision. The crowd are not only forgiving but they’re hugely supportive. HHH tells Rousey when she signs that contract she’ll be making her debut at WrestleMania. Kurt Angle points out HHH and Steph want Rousey here so they can crush her for messing with them at ‘Mania three years ago. Aww, I hoped they’d forgotten about that. Apparently Steph called Ronda a “has-been and even I could take her”. This gets Triple H put through a table and WWE’s crack production guys fuck up the shot of Rousey turning to stare Steph down. You have two cameramen out there and neither of them get the shot? That’s embarrassing. Anyway, Rousey signs and she’s probably got Steph at ‘Mania. I’m sure it’ll be a great ‘moment’ and then she can get on with the wrestling.
#1 Contender’s Match
Elias vs. Braun Strowman vs. John Cena vs. Roman Reigns vs. The Miz vs. Seth Rollins vs. Finn Balor
There is a full hour left on the show, giving us plenty of time to establish a number one contender. Less once Elias has sung for a bit and everyone has made their way out here.
The Big Dogs are all locked away; Braun, Cena and Reigns. Only Cena and Miz have wrestled in the Chamber before. Finn clearly doesn’t think the chamber is a big deal as he’s not wearing any makeup.
I love how Braun breathes out when Finn poses in front of him. Because we have seven guys three must start. That’s Balor, Ironman Rollins and the Miz.
I also adore Miz trying to form an alliance with Seth, getting shut down and immediately trying the same thing with Balor, complete with Too Sweet hand gesture. What a prick. The opening segment is mainly stalling for time until the next entrant; John Cena. The match is very sluggish. As if they had nothing really planned until one of the big boys comes in. Speaking of which; the Big Dog is in next. To greet him…everyone lies around selling. Holy shit, this match is dying on it’s ass. When Roman squares off with Seth it gets no reaction at all. Have the fans finally decided that rather than booing Roman they’re just going to ignore him until he goes away? The awful structure continues as Roman drops to his knees after one shot and precedes to sit there taking kicks off Miz while everyone else lies around doing nothing. Only Braun Strowman can save this match from horrific mediocrity.
Braun kills everyone, obviously. Miz tries to leg it but that just gets him hurled off the top of the pod. Nowhere to run, nowhere to hide. The match still suffers from the obvious, glaring selling issues. Cena has basically taken two punches in the whole match and yet has spent ten minutes lying on the floor. Powerslam gets rid of Miz and that clears a space for Elias to enter. It takes the combined efforts of four guys to get Braun off his feet but even after a four man Shield bomb he still won’t stay down. Braun kicking out of the AA at one is beautiful. Interesting to note Braun kicks out of the Spear too, a move that’s super protected. The logic seemed to be that it was a killer move for Roman until ‘Mania but there we are. Shows how useful Braun has become for WWE. The normal Elimination Chamber matches feature lame eliminations, like old Survivor Series matches, but there’s a huge number of kick-outs going on. Elias gets to manhandle Roman Reigns. His stock has certainly risen of late. He tries the powerbomb on Braun though and the powerslam gets rid of him. Braun is rightly the focal point of the match and his powerslam puts Cena away. That’s huge but Cena’s path through this match was bizarre. He barely did anything, barely took anything and got beat. Much like his presence in the Survivor Series match.
I like how Balor learns from his early interactions with Braun. Like a John Woo that’s completely no sold. He doesn’t charge in again. Knowing he faces an immovable object, unless he’s softened Braun up. Seth and Roman do more lying around. There’s been way too much of that. Normally guys can hide out on the floor but with the cage being there it all becomes so much more obvious what’s going on. Like at Survivor Series Finn gets a run of impressive moves, to remind people why he was put in there, before he’s also crushed by Braun. Four eliminations, all by Braun, all via powerslam.
The booking is to make sure everyone knows damn well Braun is the monster here. The Shield boys know they need to team up but four guys, including them, tried to beat Braun earlier and couldn’t. When they abandon this, because Seth is a jerk who you can’t trust, and they fight each other it’s pretty good. Rollins’ idea to get shot of Braun is a splash off the top of the pod. This is another chance for Braun to get worn down. Braun isn’t getting beaten with one spot but a series of spots? Maybe. Seth charges at him and gets hit with the powerslam. That’s FIVE guys beaten by the powerslam. Braun tearing up the record books. Now it’s him or the Big Dog. “Come get these hands boy!” yells Strowman in a moment of sheer poetry.
Braun is his own worst enemy here. He’s dominated the match without taking any risks but when he charges outside the ring he smashes through the pod. Roman gives Braun two spears, to protect the guy who just beat five other men, and Roman heads to ‘Mania. Of course he does. The problem with that is that Braun has become a better monster than Lesnar and Roman has won the harder battle to get to the easier one, if Brock could ever be called easy. This was predictable and until Braun entered it was downright bad. 40 minutes is a long-ass match too. Especially when it’s not very good.
Final Rating: **1/2
The Road to WrestleMania is a long and arduous one. This particular stop-off used to be an exciting one, where the pieces would change on the board to ‘Mania but here…status quo maintained throughout. We’re on course for Brock-Roman, Rousey-Steph (Rousey-Angle vs. Steph-HHH) and Alexa-Asuka. I honestly don’t care about any of those and I loved Brock-Roman the first time around. None of the men’s matches delivered on this show, both of the women’s matches did. That has to be a concern for WWE. Especially as the most noteworthy occurrence here was the contract signing with Rousey. Three segments for the women hit, three men’s segments missed horribly. If it wasn’t for Braun Strowman saving the main event with his big hands and powerful slams this could have gone down as a complete disaster. Like the tail end of Survivor Series last year. You can skip this one.