Give It Another Try: Lessons learned from the tag team Elimination Chamber

At the Elimination Chamber event this past Sunday, WWE tried a new match concept: a tag team version of the Elimination Chamber match.

For the most part, I enjoyed the match. It was fresh, there were some cool spots, and the match did a good job at putting the entire tag division over. The New Day looked great with their win, we saw the re-emergence of the Prime Time Players as tag-team contenders, and the Brass Ring Club got another chance to show that they are the glue holding the division up with their technical prowess.

However, as with a lot of "first time ever" matches, there were some glaring flaws. A big one was bad camera work caused by too many participants. Because of the decision to put six full tag-teams in the match, the Chamber soon became crowded and made camera angles difficult. What the viewers ended up seeing was a bunch of lying around by wrestlers not involved in spots or confusion when too many wrestlers were involved in the action at once.

This was most visible in two particular moments in the match. The first was when Kalisto of the Lucha Dragons was climbing to the top of the Chamber. Because this was a planned spot that took a lot of time to set up, there was not an easy way to hide the multiple wrestlers grouping up in the middle of the ring to catch Kalisto when he fell. The second moment came when the Brass Ring Club were eliminated. When Darren Young rolled up Cesaro, Tyson Kidd simultaneously covered Kofi Kingston for a pin. Thanks to the few camera angles that the Chamber affords, added with the commentary team completely ignoring the situation, it was difficult to see the second pin taking place and a potential future storyline was completely thrown out the window.

After that pinfall, the Chamber was left with two teams -- the New Day and the Prime Time Players. This pairing of teams revealed another issue with the Chamber match: the buildup to the match was extremely lackluster. The two teams finished the match well and I liked the ending, but the tension that should have been created in the buildup to this point in the match was missing. The Prime Time Players had little credibility in this spot and it felt like the crowd had no idea how to treat them when they were the last "face" team remaining.

This was of no fault of the Prime Time Players, but rather of the booking leading up to the event. The New Day and the Brass Ring Club have done a lot recently in making the tag-team division feel more relevant, but after those two teams, there's a large drop off in terms of how teams have been booked. When WWE just decided to put all six teams in the Chamber without any sort of build up, that drop off became more apparent and it became difficult to take teams like the Ascension and Los Matadores seriously.

There is a silver-lining to these flaws: they are things that can be fixed rather easily. I believe that WWE should keep their options open and try another tag-team Chamber match in the future. But here is what they should do differently next time:

Limit the Chamber to only 3 or 4 teams

At one point, there were nine active wrestlers in the Chamber.


All of the Chamber's "out-of-ring" space is in full view of the viewer. Because of this, it is hard to hide performers that are out of the current action by having them roll out of the ring. This creates a situation where you have guys essentially lying on the apron for extended periods of time and it just looks awkward for guys to just be selling on the ground for that long in full view of the camera.

The other issue here is obvious: for the viewers, commentators, and even the wrestlers, it is really fucking hard to keep track of where nine people are at once. Things become cluttered, spots become more difficult to pull off, and the announcers have no idea what they are supposed to be calling. The easy fix here is to simply limit the number of teams that can participate to three or four. I will get into the logistics of how three or four teams would work for the Chamber later.


WWE seems to get this wrong quite often. Just look at the buildup to the Money in the Bank event in a couple of weeks. Instead of holding qualifying matches to determine spots for the marquee Money in the Bank ladder match, the WWE decided to book six wrestlers for the match.

No build up. No explanations. Nothing. They six wrestlers already in the match are in because... reasons.

For example, the smarter fans know that Kofi Kingston is in the match purely as a spot monkey, but would it not have worked to have him win a qualifying match on Raw or Smackdown for his spot? Imagine Big E and Xavier Woods doing some fine heeling ringside to cause distractions that allow Kofi to get his spot in the match.

And then there is this from Geno Mrosko's recap of the most recent episode of Raw:

Randy Orton vs. Sheamus: After time away, Orton returned for a standard Raw match with a standard heel to work a standard finish leading to a standard angle. This is the epitome of boring WWE, two wrestlers they see as stars who are so standard it's hard to care.

The matchups could have changed in a way to allow both of these particular wrestlers into the match, but what Geno says here is what is often a problem for Raw/Smackdown matches: why should I care? Why should the viewer care that Sheamus and Randy Orton are about to fight? Put a stipulation on the line like a spot in the Money in the Bank match and suddenly you have that "standard" match turned into something work paying attention to.

It is that kind of booking that would have greatly helped the buildup to Elimination Chamber. WWE just threw all six teams together and had them randomly fight on the buildup to the pay-per-view in matches that literally meant nothing. Remember the 10-on-3 handicap match that Kane set up for the New Day against all of their tag competitors? And then WWE turning around the next day and having the New Day work with Kane so they could have all three of the New Day as participants in the match? That's what we call "writing at the last minute in order to fill television time".

Qualifying matches for the matches would have done two things: build interest in the match itself and build the credibility of the teams in the match. Had the Prime Time Players squashed a couple of teams to earn their spot in the Chamber, people would be more invested in them once they were one of the final two teams remaining.


With three teams, this would have been very easy to work. Two men from opposing teams start off the match with the other four participants each getting their own pod. Every four minutes, a pod door opens and the match effectively becomes a standard elimination tag-match. This would be the easiest way for WWE to set up the match should they only be limited to three teams they feel could work the match.

However, I think the potential storylines and plot devices become a lot more interesting with four teams participating in the match. But how would that work? My vision for this match starts similar to a regular Chamber match: two wrestlers start the match in a one-on-one scenario. But instead of each participant getting their own pod, two teams get an advantage by having their full team in one pod, while the two teams that started the match are handicapped with one teammate in action and the other locked away in the pod. Here's a visual of this scenario:


This gives the non-starting teams an advantage, as when their pod door opens, they get two fresh guys entering into the match as opposed to the other teams only getting one. In this vision, the teams would qualify for these coveted spots, likely with the heel teams receiving the advantage. (Imagine the New Day getting all three in under these rules) In the scenario with four teams, the Chamber would work like it did on Sunday: if any member of a team is pinned, that whole team is out.

Overall, the tag team Elimination Chamber match that occurred on Sunday was fun and an interesting concept. It was interesting enough to me that I think they should give it another shot in the future... just with a few tweaks to make the second go-around much better than the first.

The FanPosts are solely the subjective opinions of Cageside Seats readers and do not necessarily reflect the views of Cageside Seats editors or staff.