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WWE Elimination (2015) Chamber Review
Ever since 2010, the Elimination Chamber has been a transitional Pay Per View sandwiched between Royal Rumble and Wrestlemania - often used as a buildup to the biggest show of the year. It seemed like a sensible choice - Back when there were two world titles, a six man free-for-all seemed like the only way to determine who would get a title shot at an event like Wrestlemania. Meanwhile, whoever had the championship at the end of a match like that would have a ton of momentum going into the match. The Elimination Chamber is also the kind of match that NEEDS some kind of important stake. Building a match around six people wrestling already can not be easy, but six random people are not going to duke it out over nothing.
This year, the WWE booking team moved the Elimination Chamber away from the Wrestlemania build-up - which makes sense. The Royal Rumble and Extreme Rules already hover around Wrestlemania so spreading out the gimmick PPVs may be wise. (Too bad Fast Lane felt like a glorified episode of Raw, but maybe they will get it right next year.) So with no Wrestlemania build-up, the company did have to put something on the line to make the match interesting. After all, the Elimination Chamber - like the Royal Rumble or Money in the Bank - is one of those matches where even if it is not a five star classic, it will usually be entertaining (Then again, this year's Rumble was one of the absolute worst so maybe I should watch what I say). After all, when six guys - usually main eventers mixed with mid-carders on the cusp of being main eventers - have a match, they can usually put out something that is at least worth watching.
So this year, the booking team tried something new - a tag team elimination chamber. Plus, the elimination chamber seemed to be the perfect opportunity to fill the vacant Intercontinental championship. However, there are other matches to fill. So how did Elimination Chamber fair?
The New Day vs. Kidd/Cesaro vs. The Ascension vs. The Prime Time Players vs. Los Matadores vs. The Lucha Dragons - Elimination Chamber for the Tag Team Titles
This was a match that was sort of an inevitability. The elimination chamber has been around for over a decade so WWE had to mix things up sooner or later. I always thought that it would be in the form of a 6-man tag match, but that is probably because that match was playable in some of the previous Smackdown vs. Raw games. After two PPVs in a row where New Day vs. Cesaro/Kidd stole the show, I had high hopes for this match. The match itself was... decent. There was some wild action when three teams were battling at once. The Ascension and Cesaro/Kidd had some impressive double team moves that looked just brutal. El Torito interfered on behalf of Los Matadores. He had some high risk moves and was used as a prop to attack his partners. This is one of those things just silly enough.
Despite some exciting action, what hurt this match is the way Cesaro/Kidd were treated. After tearing down the house two PPVs in a row, the duo spends too much of the match incapacitated, never eliminated anyone, and were unceremoniously eliminated by the Prime Time Players. The New Day kept their tag titles which was the best decision as it makes a group of self-promoting heels that much more contemptible. However, this was kind of undone by the lack of suspense - they got an extra man on their side AND entered last. I get that all of these were done to give these guys more heat, but a little suspense may have made this more effective. Overall, this was a good match, but it could have been more.
Nikki Bella vs. Paige vs. Naomi (Divas Championship)
After two previous articles of either not talking about them or calling them bathroom break matches, it may be safe to assume I don't have much interest in Divas matches - guilty as charged. But I am a fair man, and this match was... watchable. Though realistically the only reason I paid attention was to ogle that milky-skinned goddess Paige. Look, I'm trying to remain professional, but I'm not made of stone, people!
John Cena vs. Kevin Owens
Hopefully anyone who went to the bathroom or zoned out during that Divas match came back for this one. After two PPVs in a row of being reminded why people dislike Cena so strongly, this match was a reminder of why some people stick their neck out for him. For starters, he is a team player who has put guys over - Daniel Bryan, Bray Wyatt, Dolph Ziggler - and he does have good matches. As a matter of fact, Cena vs. Owens was not just good... It was jaw-droppingly good. At first, there was some concern - Owens spent so much of the early match dominating Cena that I was worried it was going to be the typical schtick. Instead Cena started gaining offense, making this an exciting back and forth match. Both men kicked out of each others' finishers at some point. Owens mocked several of Cena's trademark moves, and even escaped the STF. There was a wicked spot where Owens reversed Cena's superplex into a suplex. The match ended when Owens hit the pop up powerbomb which looked just brutal. Remember how empty matches like Sting vs. HHH and Undertaker vs. Lesnar left fans feeling? This is how to do a heel victory: Make the bad guy look good enough to anger the fans so they will want to see the hero knock his block off. Cena will probably get the duke over Owens eventually, but this match shows there are big things in store for Kevins Owens. The right guy won in the match of the... Hey, I wouldn't be surprised if this was the match of the year (2015 will be a great year if something actually tops this one).
Neville vs. Bo Dallas
I really pity these fools for having to follow Cena-Owens. It was pretty obvious this was a filler match. The beginning was exciting with some high spots from Neville, and we did see the Red Arrow, but the match was slowed down in the middle by some rest holds that went on too long. Not a bad match, but it did not feel like it belonged on the Pay Per View. Then again, fans must have needed some buffer between Owens-Cena and the Elimination Chamber match.
Ryback vs. Bad News Barrett vs. Dolph Ziggler vs. Mark Henry vs. Sheamus vs. R-Truth - Elimination Chamber match for the vacant Intercontinental Championship
Using the elimination chamber to fill the vacant intercontinental championship seemed like a wise idea because it is a built-in reason to have a lot of guys compete over the title at once. However, it also had the issue that none of these guys had much heat with each other going into the match. The larger problem is that the one guy who would have benefited from winning - Rusev - was injured. Think of it this way, he needed a major win to recoup three straight pay per view losses to Cena, but the feud was also high profile enough that he could have added a little prestige to the title. Would Rusev have taken the title if he had been healthy? The world will never know.
So with the most viable candidate injured, the company replaced Rusev with... Mark Henry. Because, you know, the booking team really couldn't think of anything better. (Rumors floated around that Bray Wyatt would have replaced Rusev. Of course, he is actually over and he could have won and added a little prestige to the stagnant intercontinental title. Seriously, is Wyatt injured? Seriously, why Mark Henry and not Bray Wyatt?)
As for the match itself, this was serviceable. These guys did not really break any new ground or innovate the match in an any way, but the six men kept the flow of the match going, and there were some exciting spots. But, again, the match lacked tension, and nothing truly memorable happened. This was a popcorn match - entertaining while it happens, but fans will forget about it after they watch it. Ryback won, which considering the cards in the deck, was ostensibly the best choice since he was the only competitor who had never won a championship yet.
Dean Ambrose vs. Seth Rollins for the WWE Championship
Now this is a world title match to be excited about - The best heel the company has had in a while (at least full time) squaring off against someone the fans are genuinely rooting for. The buildup was good, making Dean Ambrose look like a legit hero. In fact, he may have looked TOO good. He was dominating to the point where it looked like he couldn't actually win. The match was good but flawed. There were a ton of high spots such as Dean Ambrose pulling a dive to the outside. However, there were a few rest holds that slowed the match down. There was a ref bump and Dean Ambrose hit Dirty Deeds. Ambrose pinned Rollins and a second ref dashed to the ring and counted the three. The house erupted as fan favorite Dean Ambrose finally won the WWE Championship - and well deserved.
Wait a minute... NOBODY ever wins a match as soon as the second ref comes out. Yeah, we got the old Dusty finish. Rollins was disqualified which led to a brawl between Ambrose and Rollins and both of their cohorts. The show ended with Ambrose stealing Rollins's championship belt. It kind of stinks seeing a match in a Dusty finish, but this does work. Rollins and Ambrose already have a red hot feud. By having Rollins keep his title in such a cheap manner, it is like pouring gasoline on the fire - thus giving an even bigger build for their next match. Besides, Dean Ambrose still needed at least one match before gaining the big one. Hopefully this was it.
Overall, Elimination Chamber was a pretty good show. Since it was only two weeks removed from Payback so there was concern that this show would be thrown together or filler. But everything was pretty solid. Yeah, the show had some filler, but even the filler was at least watchable. Overall, Elimination Chambers comes recommended. Seriously, Owens-Cena makes this show worthwhile, but stay for the rest of it.