WWE went rolling right on through the Target Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota, last night (Sun., Feb. 23, 2014) with Elimination Chamber, its annual February pay-per-view (PPV) extravaganza that keeps us rolling right on down the "Road to WrestleMania".
And it was damn good, too.
Let's not waste any more time with pleasantries and get right to reactions to the show. Click here for the live blog with full match coverage and here for all the fallout from the event. You can also listen to us yak about the show on the Cageside Live podcast here.
- They brought out Larry "The Axe" with Curtis Axel in the man's hometown and still couldn't get anyone to care about him. That takes some special kind of suck. Actually, it only takes a great deal of apathy. Thankfully, THE BIG GUY was right there tweeting and deleting. (This may be me just disliking Axel to an insane degree. He did get some reaction. A little. Bout a half cup.)
- Always really enjoy when big muscle bound wrestlers like Ryback do simple but still impressive stuff like holding a suplex for a solid 30 seconds before dropping their opponent down.
- The Rhodes Brothers defeated Rybaxel because of course they would.
- It's the little things I love in pro wrestling, and Zeb Colter is the master of them. Jack Swagger hits a big spot on Big E and when he goes for the pin, Zeb starts climbing in the ring like he knows the match is over. Absolutely love that attention to detail and minor character work.
- Swagger vs. Big E, by the way, was far, far better than it had any business being. That spear through the ropes spot was beautiful and while there were a few miscommunications that led to an ugly spot or two, but this was pretty damn good.
- Maybe it was fitting that the New Age Outlaws used veteran smarts to defeat The Usos in a relatively short match. If they were going to win, and they probably should have considering the WWE Network launch and what not, this was the right way to do it. The Usos, mind you, have improved by leaps and bounds and I can remember a day they would do the "when I say Us, you say O" schtick and no one would respond. It isn't that way anymore, not at all, and a WrestleMania title win would be nice to see. Pay off all that hard work and all.
- Well, we thought it would die in front of a live crowd and it died in front of a live crowd. Darren Young has the fire of a good babyface, and he's a good enough seller, but Titus O'Neil has too much room to improve to be all that entertaining in a bout like this right now. I wouldn't call this a complete dud, but it could have been a lot better. O'Neil winning surprises me, though I guess it means they think he's the one of the two who actually has a future.
- Is it just me or did I hear some boos when Bad News Barrett talked about Hulk Hogan coming back to WWE?
- The video package before The Shield vs. Wyatt Family was something else. Actually, it was just as good as the booking of these two teams leading up to it. Then, they stared each other down and the crowd hit them with a dueling chant and I hadn't turned into more of a mark since Mark Henry's retirement swerve and Dolph Ziggler's Money in the Bank cash in to win the world heavyweight title. Everything about this was perfect and done beautifully. Then, much to my surprise, they booked this EXACTLY the way I hoped they would and started things off with a big ass brawl with all six guys tearing each other apart in a mass of violence and chaos. And this was ALL before the bell for the actual match. Top marks all around here.
- Reigns' Samoan Drop is awesome. Rollins' suicide dive is great too. Eve Luke Harper has a great suicide dive, we learned here. Dean Ambrose attacks like a wild monkey when he breaks out the aggression. This match was so damn awesome, I just can't even deal with it. It absolutely lived up to the hype. It may have exceeded it. It was incredible and amazing and epic and legendary and I can't wait to watch it over and over and over in 30 days on the Network. Surprised they pinned Reigns, but they booked him incredibly strong and, really, Wyatt looks all that stronger for getting the job done against him. I probably would have gone another route -- and no break up happened here -- but this was incredible. A five-star match, no doubt about it.
- Of course they had a Divas title match in the pocket to cool the crowd down. Anything to avoid putting Batista on after that unreal showing from two talented teams everyone actually really cares about and wants to see on top. Slightly surprised AJ retained the title here, but that was the right call.
- As it were, Batista got the luke warm reception anyway. Not only that, Alberto Del Rio pulled a nice little swerve coming out wearing a neck brace and a crutch saying he couldn't work because of Batista beating him down then beating Batista down with said crutch. The crowd loved this and responded with "Si" chants. Throughout the rest of the match, they chanted for various things other than the match, like Daniel Bryan, CM Punk, Y2J, Brock Lesnar. The message is clear: We don't want Batista like this, WWE, and you've got to stop pushing him this way. He is not the hero in our story, he's the guy getting in the way of our hero and it's incredibly annoying. Here's to hoping tonight's showing convinced the powers that be to call an audible on WrestleMania 30.
- I mean, they have to call the audible now, right? RIGHT?
- Cesaro's uppercuts. Just that.
- Enjoyed the spot with Sheamus kicking the pod in when Randy Orton tried to lock himself into it, but enjoyed Orton's death sell even more. Once the kick happened, he just fell down dead and it was glorious.
- The camera guys have to stop with the zoom in and out on Cesaro's Swing. I can't. We all upchucked at my house. It's awful. I want to see it and enjoy it, not experience it.
- That Cena-Bryan confrontation didn't have nearly the right emotion behind it from the live crowd. Surprising, too, because it felt like a set up for something later. In fact, when I saw it live, I thought for sure WWE was thinking that would be a better replacement main event for WrestleMania 30. Either way, it felt like it should have been bigger. This was almost three hours into the show, though.
- Cesaro had a great showing in the Chamber match, even if his exit was super anticlimactic.
- Daniel Bryan was outstanding and the chemistry he has with Orton is truly astounding. They had me buying in that Bryan might actually win the title, though I knew in the back of my mind it wouldn't really happen. Or maybe I didn't and that's the power of what they were able to do. I didn't like the booking as a fan because it sure feels like we're headed for Batista vs. Orton and Kane vs. Bryan, but it was the right decision for the story being told right now. Either way, the Chamber match was much better than expected going in, especially considering the quality of the Shield vs. Wyatt match earlier.
This was a strong show, both because the wrestling was damn good when it wasn't expected to be (Big E-Swagger, Chamber), the booking was solid, and The Shield vs. The Wyatt Family was the best thing you'll see all year.
That's it from me, Cagesiders. Now it's your turn to sound off in the comments section below with all your thoughts on last night's show. How did you like it, if you liked it at all?