After watching last night's (Sun., Feb. 19, 2012) Elimination Chamber, I've concluded the pay-per-view is dead in the water. What was once a unique Eric Bischoff "original" has become an overused match that contains a few stars that are barely more than cannon fodder.
That is not to say that the match can't be done right, of course. Last night's RAW Chamber was a hell of a match, but you must look at the rarity of the workers within it. You had the perfect combination with guys like Jericho, Ziggler, and Punk. (Side note: Ziggler could sell death better than if he was actually dying.) You had guys who can put on a solid, if not tolerable, in-ring performance with some decent acrobatics in R-Truth and Kingston. Even Miz didn't do as dreadful as expected.
However, the Smackdown Chamber was nothing short of ho-hum until Santino and Daniel Bryan's square-off at the end. Save for Big Show ripping off the roof of Daniel Bryan's pod to get at him, there really wasn't anything noteworthy. No one was over except for Marella and Bryan and that showed, as the crowd wasn't into the match until that final stanza. Even as someone who might be the biggest detractor of Santino's cheesy comedic shtick, the match-up between he and Bryan at the end was nothing short of entertaining.
Save for a great Divas match between the stellar Beth Phoenix and an ever-improving Tamina, this pay-per-view didn't deliver a lot of bang for our buck. Is there a solution to the saturation point of the Elimination Chamber?
WWE needs to get away from match-centric pay-per-views with events like Hell in a Cell, Elimination Chamber, and Tables, Ladders, and Chairs. What once were special matches that fans could mark out over when the concept would be announced has become a predictable annual experience that has delivered matches where the confines of the Cell or the Elimination Chamber aren't entirely necessary.
In my usual curmudgeonly fashion, I recall a time where February meant something. No Way Out always delivered a pay-per-view worthy of the hefty price tag for viewing. It captured the setups and beginnings of feuds that would go into WrestleMania.
It also helped build hype for the WWE's biggest show, so performers had to go all-out in their performances. Some classics went down at this event. With matches like Eddie Guerrero vs. Brock Lesnar, The Rock vs. Kurt Angle, Jericho vs. Stone Cold Steve Austin, and Rock vs. Hulk Hogan, there was always some excitement that helped make the "Road to Wrestlemania" a little more fun for the fans.
In addition to the classics this event delivered, the event also gave the WWE an avenue to put on some unique matches, for better or worse. You had your barnburners like the Three Stages of Hell bout between Triple H and Stone Cold or the Cell match between Cactus Jack and "The Game." Then you had your barbed-wire steel cage matches between John Bradshaw Layfield and Big Show.
Regardless of crazy stipulations, the unpredictable nature of No Way Out always kicked off your path to Wrestlemania in an interesting way. With an event and match like Elimination Chamber slowly becoming stale and overused, why not go back?
Or is there No Way Out of these gimmick events?