Monday, February 24, 2014

WWE Elimination Chamber 2014

Here it is, the last stop on the Road to Wrestlemania, the Elimination Chamber PPV! Billed as the most brutal match in WWE history, this match saw six of the top superstars doing battle in the Chamber. I was really looking forward to the Shield vs. The Wyatt Family and the Chamber match itself, but more on those later.

Pre-show match: The Rhodes Brothers vs. Rybaxel

This match saw Curtis Axel’s grandfather, Larry “The Axe” Hennig accompany the team for moral support. Ryback started the match using his power and strength to earn advantages especially during the “commercial break”. Goldust was isolated for most of that time, but Cody got a flurry of offense once he was tagged in, hitting his signature Disaster Kick to Ryback on the outside, and then finished off Curtis Axel with Cross Roads. I felt this was an entertaining match, although the outcome was never in doubt. Because it was the pre-show, it felt like a match I’d see on RAW.

Intercontinental Championship: Jack Swagger vs. Big E

This was the official kick-off match for the PPV and it was our first look of the evening at Zeb Colter as he accompanied Jack Swagger to the ring (he would accompany Cesaro to the Chamber later on in the evening).  Early on in the match, both men effectively demonstrated their great amateur backgrounds and it was pretty even. Both earned advantages outside the ring, but Swagger seemed to be the better man for this part of the match, hitting a front suplex on Langston from the top rope. Swagger went for his Patriot Lock twice before Langston countered with a kick to the head. He then delivered the Big Ending to Swagger and retained his title. I think this match was a great showing for both men, and for a brief time I wondered if Langston’s title reign was ending, but on this night it wasn’t meant to be. My favourite part of this match actually happened after the bell rang when Bad News Barrett, on a raising platform (that would later malfunction), talked about how Russia had gotten more medals at the now closed Olympic games and in four years’ time, Europe would once again prove its superiority over the United States.

Unified Tag Team Championship: The Usos vs. The New Age Outlaws

This was another match where the outcome was never really in doubt, despite Michael Cole saying that the Usos have the Outlaws number. Outlaws got the first real advantage after Jay Uso was hip-tossed into the corner (with an awkward landing), but Jay later got a roundhouse kick in on the Road Dogg, allowing both teams to get a tag. After a missed Fame Asser by Billy Gunn, the Road Dogg provided a distraction from the outside, allowing Billy to retain the tag titles on a roll-up pin. This match pretty much went exactly like the other Uso matches, although I wish WWE wasn’t so liberal with the use of roll-up pins and superstars gaining victory in that way. For the second time Bad News Barrett would make an appearance. This time his bad news was that Daniel Bryan was not going to win the Elimination Chamber match and, at that point, the Yes Movement would cease to exist.

Darren Young vs. Titus O’Neal

Most of this match was Titus O’Neal proving (as he already has) that he’s the stronger of the two. For the most part this was Darren Young getting beaten up, his only real good offensive move being a neck breaker on the apron. O’Neal would spend most of the match working on Young’s back, then hit him with a sit-down power bomb to win the match.  For me this match wasn’t necessary for the card as there was enough going on and I think the lack of crowd reaction for this match is proof of that. No one was into the match at all because no one really cared about either of these guys. I honestly forgot that Darren Young was still around and his loss in this match is a good explanation of why. After this match we saw the third appearance of Bad News Barrett and this time he barraged the audience with insults towards Minnesota’s NFL team and about how he is better than Hulk Hogan (who will host Wrestlemania XXX next month)

The Wyatt Family vs. The Shield

This was the most anticipated match of the night, both for myself and for the crowd, who were cheering  “This is Awesome!” before the match even started. Two of the most dominant teams during the past year finally squared off and everyone was waiting for the chaos that would ensue. During a long stand-off between the two sides, the crowd was split between The Shield and the Wyatts and when the match finally got under way, it was the Shield with the early advantage. Dean Ambrose had the weakest appearance for the Shield, being isolated by the Wyatts and later disappearing entirely from the arena during the match. Rollins showed great athleticism landing on his feet after an attempted German suplex from the top rope by Luke Harper, but once Roman Reigns got tagged in, the chaos the fans wanted so badly finally happened. We saw Luke Harper dive through the second rope at Ambrose, followed by Rollins diving over the top rope at Harper. Ambrose and Bray would fight into the crowd, at which time Ambrose would leave the arena and never return. In WWE, chaos usually means the poor Spanish announce table will have to be destroyed and this match was no different as Seth Rollins was slammed through the aforementioned table from the top of the English announce table. That left Roman Reigns all alone and, despite a great effort at fighting off the Wyatts, he suffered the fate of Sister Abigail’s Kiss from Bray Wyatt, and the Shield was handed one of their very few losses as a team. There was a lot of hype leading up to this match, and to me it delivered on that hype. It was exactly what you’d expect to happen between these two teams and it was thoroughly entertaining. Personally I would rather have seen the Shield win, but I suspect this loss will create more dissension and problems between the Shield members as we move towards Wrestlemania.

Divas Championship: Cameron vs. AJ Lee

Before the match, AJ once again got on the microphone to trash talk (something she does really well) her original opponent Naomi who suffered an injury and couldn’t compete. Instead she faced Cameron who looked good up until Tamina (who was at ringside) got involved. In an effort to help AJ, Tamina went for a super kick, but missed Cameron and hit AJ by accident. Cameron would have won with that, but Tamina again interfered causing AJ the disqualification, but allowing her to retain her title belt. This was a very short match, that didn’t have any surprises. I think everyone knew AJ was going to win and she did. What the audience didn’t expect was Bad News Barrett making his fourth appearance of the night, this time saying how people will be so mesmerized by the WWE Network that they will forsake all other responsibilities (school, work, even garbage collection) and end up living on the street.

Batista vs. Alberto Del Rio

In this match, we got to see if Batista had finally managed to win over the crowd, but alas it was not the case as Del Rio had crowd support for the entire match. Del Rio came out at the start of the match sporting a neck brace and a crutch saying he’s too injured to compete, right up until he started beating Batista with the crutch before the opening bell and breaking it. Once the bell rang, Del Rio would continue the assault on the legs and left arm of Batista much to the delight of the crowd. Batista got booed pretty hard when he had any offense at all and eventually hit the Batista bomb on Del Rio to win the match. The fans have pretty much had it with Batista (despite only being back a month) and told him so by chanting for other wrestlers like Y2J and Brock Lesnar during his match. JBL remarked on Del Rio’s uncharacteristic fan support during a match where he was clearly the designated villain. This marks the second match back for Batista and there was no unpredictability in the match as there was no way Batista was going to lose.

Elimination Chamber Match for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship: John Cena vs. Christian vs. Randy Orton vs. Daniel Bryan vs. Cesaro vs. Sheamus

We finally got to see these six superstars in the Elimination Chamber Match and how each of them would fare in such an unforgiving structure. Sheamus and Cesaro started the match and traded offensive moves until the next entrant, Daniel Bryan got involved. Bryan, who entered the match with a heavily taped shoulder (thanks to his impromptu match against Kane on the previous episode of RAW), was the first to suffer an “OMG” moment when he got thrown through the side of an empty pod, bad shoulder first. Christian was the fourth entrant and he went right after Daniel Bryan, but was also thrown through the side of an empty pod by Cesaro who got a near fall out of it. John Cena entered fifth, suffered White Noise from Sheamus, and that left Randy Orton the final man to enter the match. When it got a little hot in the kitchen for Orton he tried to reseal himself in an empty pod, but it proved a futile attempt when Sheamus Brogue Kicked the pod and broke the glass. Sheamus was the first man to be eliminated when Christian delivered a splash from the top of a pod. Christian was eliminated soon after when he walked into a running knee by Daniel Bryan. Next up on the chopping block was Cesaro who suffered an Attitude Adjustment on the steel floor and then tapped out to the STF. Cena then put Orton in the STF when the shock of the night happened: the Wyatt family appeared in the chamber and proceeded to do a number on John Cena, costing him his chance at the Wrestlemania Main Event. This brought Kane out to the ring to get the Wyatt’s out of the arena, but while he was there Daniel Bryan attacked him with a drop kick. Bryan would later hit Orton with his running knee only to have Kane interrupt the count, costing Byran the title. After Bryan kicked out of the first RKO, Kane once again got involved causing Bryan to suffer a second RKO, which allowed Randy Orton to retain his championship. I thought this match also did a great job living up to the hype and was a strong showing for every participant. Christian got the first elimination of the night, Cesaro managed to get a Giant Swing in the match, but there was entirely too much interference in this match for my liking. I know it’s the only way Cena can lose the match, but I felt that all the distractions took away from the great performances of the guys who were little more than place holders.

Overall thoughts

I found this to be a thoroughly entertaining PPV all the way through. The card looked pretty good, although I could have done without the Titus O’Neal-Darren Young match entirely. It was a short match that held very little interest in the crowd, but it did nicely set up the crowd for the Shield-Wyatt Family match that followed. I mentioned WWE’s liberal use of roll up pins, but thankfully only the Tag Title match ended that way and not one of the more important matches, especially the chamber match. My favourite part of the goes to Bad News Barrett. I loved seeing him figure so prominently despite not being in a match. I think WWE shows could use a lot more of that going forward. This event has always been as much about setting up Wrestlemania storylines as it has been about the chamber match for the major titles and this year it was no different. It served that purpose while still being entertaining. It will be interesting to watch RAW this evening and see how the storylines will start playing out. Next month is WWE’s Superbowl, the grandest stage of them all: Wrestlemania. I look forward to another entertaining night with Hulk Hogan as the special guest host.

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