LIVE from Jeddah, it’s Elimination Chamber! Saturday afternoon is a great time for wrestling for anyone old enough to remember when WWF Superstars used to air at noon in syndication. Does the Elimination Chamber compete with any episode of Superstars from the 1990s? Read on to find out, although the lack of Mr. Perfect on commentary is definitely a knock against WWE’s latest premium event.
Sean has you covered with the play-by-play and I’m covering the color commentary.
Let’s talk Elimination Chamber!
Kick in the Door
I often complain that WWE only cares about a four or five people. And while that complaint is valid and clearly hurts a lot of storytelling and booking, I completely understand why Brock Lesnar is one of those people. Dude is pure, unadulterated spectacle. His presence alone changes every match or segment. Brock brings a quality that no one else on the roster can, even on their best day. It’s an intangible not easily defined, so I won’t even try. That’s one of the reasons Brock is facing Roman Reigns at WrestleMania and one of the reasons he is the new WWE champion.
That said, the men’s elimination chamber match was a mess. Mostly because it was all built around a man who clearly has no equal in this match. I say that because Bobby Lashley, the former WWE champ, was escorted to the back by WWE officials after Seth Rollins launched Austin Theory into the All Mighty’s pod. We were told Lashley was in concussion protocol, which is funny since he was limping to the locker room, implying it was a leg injury. But hey, WWE is a billion dollar organization who clearly has no time for details.
With that snark out of my system, we got Seth vs. Theory vs. Riddle for a while, which was upstaged by the officials—hey, Jason Jordan!—tending to Lashley in the corner. AJ Styles entered the match, which resulted in a cool sequence where Rollins and Styles fought over the right to suplex Riddle from the top rope. They stopped bickering to settle on a double suplex, only for Theory to slam them both to the mat, then catch a Floating Bro from a recovered Riddle.
More stuff like that and the match is worth talking about. Unfortunately, once Brock
came in kicked open his pod and business picked up, the match went downhill. Brock is just positioned to look stronger and better than anyone in the ring. Even the way he enters the match outclasses the wrestlers around him. So it’s believable he proceeds to eliminate EVERYONE. Annoying as hell? Yes. But credible. First Seth, then Riddle, then AJ. The final two were Austin Theory and Brock Lesnar.
And this was another huge sin of the match. Austin Theory and Brock? Word? AJ vs. Brock at least gives some suspense on the winner, while bringing some credibility to the match itself. But nope, we went with Vince McMahon’s pet project—I know what I said—who got thrown around like a rag doll.
Austin tried to escape the cage but the Beast had other plans. Brock climbed to the top of the cage in two steps, put Theory on his shoulders, and sent him straight to hell courtesy of an F5 to the cage floor.
You know what happened at that point. Brock’s the new champ, and it’s either champion vs. champion at WrestleMania or title vs. title. WWE sent mixed messages meaning they’re not entirely sure as of yet.
I already said the match was a cuss show and I stand by that.
I wish I had more to say but it is what it is regarding the WWE championship picture, the participants, and the booking.
I’ll say this for Theory though: At least he got more offense in on Brock than Kofi Kingston.
EST Stay the EST
To all the ladies in the place with style and grace? Props for putting on a very dope match while encumbered in ways they normally aren’t. And those are ways the men on WWE’s roster don’t even have to think about. Rhea Ripley’s attire reminded Sean and I of Venom. We are brutality?
The elimination chamber match is always tricky to judge because there are so many different things going on and at times, those things are colliding with each other. This one was a bit more controlled though, and I appreciated the change of pace.
Liv Morgan and Nikki A.S.H. set it off, with Nikki doing her best to put Liv away early before anyone else intervened.
Yeah, but then Doudrop showed up and, to quote a certain chairman, plans changed.
Doudrop dominated and I mean DOMINATED the match. Which makes sense when she’s facing the likes of Liv and Nikki. But, as per usual the case with Doudrop, her momentum was used against her as she would eventually hit the showers courtesy of Liv Morgan and a top rope power bomb.
Nikki was undone by Rhea Ripley. Nikki got in Rhea’s face early, claimed she wanted the smoke, but ran away as soon as the furnace started cooking. And come on, let’s be real: Any match between these two over the past few weeks always ends the same so this was no shock. I thought for a second Rhea might be distracted by Nikki but she treated her like a boot treats an ant.
Alexa Bliss was the the wild card here. As soon as she entered, Rhea stepped back and got wide-eyed. Alexa’s past makes the women’s roster look at her funny. And therapy, as we all know, is a long process. A few sessions with Dr. Glasses doesn’t mean she’s completely cured. What Rhea got wasn’t crazy, but instead a more traditional Alexa Bliss. No theatrics, no Shang Tsung parlor tricks, just straight five feet of fury.
But when it’s Alexa Bliss and Liv Morgan in the ring with Bianca Belair and Rhea Ripley, it’s only a matter of time before the latter two assert their power. We got a feat of strength tandem from the two. Their convenient marriage dissolved mad quick, and their wrestling showcased devolved into a serious brawl. A long-term feud between Rhea and Brianna could light up the spring/summer, so count me in as down for that.
Bliss eliminated Liv with a Twisted Bliss, while Bianca’s second K.O.D. attempt on Rhea was more successful than her first, sending Rhea to the locker room and setting the stage for Alexa and Bianca. Honestly, we all knew this was coming, right?
Bianca and Alexa put on a pretty good show themselves, with Bianca showing just how powerful she is and Alexa selling her ass off to make it look great.
The reason Bianca is going to WrestleMania and Alexa currently isn't, is because the latter refused to hit the Mandible Claw to finish the job. Alexa’s therapy worked so well that she refuses to give in to her inner demons. That’s an interesting note to play and I’m curious to see how it works going forward. Like I said, therapy isn’t a “few weeks” thing. Alexa still needs to have a full transformation. She still uses the same theme music and same hairstyle, so clearly she’s not as cured as she wants us to believe.
That hesitation cost her and one K.O.D. later, Bianca Belair is the number one contender for Becky Lynch’s belt.
Rowdy in Saudi
YO! People! You’ll never guess what happened? WWE Official Sonya Deville was faking this entire time! Gasp. Shock. Pearls clutched. Her arm was never broken, so Naomi and the one-handed Ronda Rousey were, effectively, fighting at a disadvantage. Sonya took most of the punishment here for obvious reasons. Charlotte was disinterested, while Naomi and Ronda both have bones to pick with Ms. Deville.
Naomi, as per usual, looked great. Especially when taking out months of frustration on Deville. Ronda, decked out in a cool judo gi she donned at the Olympics, did what she could with one arm. Which is to say, plenty of hip throws and arm bars.
To show just how many F’s Charlotte was fresh out of for this match, she didn’t even intervene to break up Ronda’s submission attempt on Sonya, even when Rousey begged her to do something.
Naomi and Ronda made the crowd happy, Charlotte barely broke a sweat on her way to WrestleMania, and Sonya took a very well-deserved L.
The match was okay as they weren’t clearly going for anything great. Low expectations? Maybe
The Universal championship match between Roman Reigns and Goldberg was all about the spear. Surprisingly, this wasn’t a quick affair and Goldberg managed to at least look like he can hold his own against the Tribal Chief. For my money, the match went a little too long because there’s nothing anyone can ever do to make me believe Goldberg has a shot on this earth, or the 51 other earths, at beating Reigns.
I mean, the match started with a collar and elbow tie-up for goodness sakes. It eventually became the brawl it should be, but even then it strained credulity. For me anyway. The crowd in Jeddah ate it up and I loved that for them. I say that with no snark and my tongue firmly out of my cheek.
Goldberg had two moments to make the crowd think he was ready to, no pun intended, reign supreme. And those were the two spears he hit on the champ. The first time resulted in a dodge by the champ, while the second resulted in a sweet counter into a Guillotine. No, not the flying guillotine, although that would be very dope. Goldberg didn’t tap but he did pass out, which makes him look strong enough to do this again next year, while making Reigns look like the god he says he is. All in all? Meh, not offensive by any means but still meh.
No PlayStation for You
Gotta love The Miz. Seriously, dude does the Lord’s work. Miz is one of the best at getting the crowd to detest him more than tax season, while making his opponent look like a conquering hero. It also helps when his dance partner is Rey Mysterio.
This was a fun match that always had one ending: Miz getting his ass whipped by Rey and Dominik. Miz had a moment where he pulled an Eddie Guerrero and got Domink thrown to the back for seemingly interfering on his dad’s behalf. The problem is the match ended shortly after Miz’s chicanery, so there was really no drama. Especially since Dominik wasn’t even halfway up the entrance ramp before the ref counted three to give Rey the W.
After the match, Miz teased a partner. A partner of similar status, just as handsome, with many superlatives to his name. He used a lot of words to say “Cody Rhodes.” Right?
Go get WWE 2K22!
Not Ready for the Big Time
The story narrative is Becky Lynch survived this match against Lita, winning by the skin of her teeth. The reality is this was a sloppy affair that didn’t do either woman justice.
I love Lita and maybe it was the jet lag or the heat, but she wasn’t on her A game. Not even her B or C game. Lita was several steps slow, there was very little fluidity, and it clearly took a long time for the match to find its rhythm.
Unfortunately, it ended just as soon as it got out of first gear. And it was a rather abrupt ending too. Becky hit two Manhandle Slams. Lita escaped the first one by putting her foot on the ropes. No such luck the second time.
I wanted to like this match. No, that’s a lie. I wanted to love this match. Alas, it didn’t work for me. Maybe in a different setting under different circumstances. these two can do something great.
Grand Opening, Grand Closing
I’m not even mad The Uso’s didn’t defend their titles against the Viking Raiders. As the challengers made their way to the ring, puffing their chests out and looking real tough, Jimmy and Jey attacked them. Screaming that the Raiders “aren’t on their level,” the tag champs issued a critical beatdown—shoutout to the Ultramagnetic MCs—and that was all she wrote. No match, no contest. Hope you didn’t watch for this match.
The match wasn’t the best and truthfully, it didn’t hold my interest. BUT, big shouts to Madcap Moss for even finishing the match. If you missed it, the falls count anywhere match didn’t truly take advantage of the stipulation. And yes, Happy Corbin interfered at times because the rules allowed for such treachery. None of that mattered after Drew McIntyre’s Alabama Slam gone really bad. Somehow, Moss landed square on the top of his head. It wasn’t malicious on Drew’s part, but it looked really nasty and scary. Even more amazing was the fact Moss kept wrestling!
Seriously, the dude kept going. And they didn’t slow down the match or avoid anything. Moss took the L because, duh, and Corbin almost got beheaded by Angela.
Nope, not even going to talk about the irony there so let’s move along.
I didn’t think the match was great. It was perfectly competent. But Moss gets all the props in the world for finishing what he started. Let’s pray he’s okay.
Elimination Chamber gave us two real stinkers. What’s most unfortunate is they were high profile matches. The rest of the card either lived up to high expectations or settled neatly in the “it’s cool” realm. An average show that rarely punched above its level. But Lord have mercy is the show hurt by the last match. That’s the lasting impression and as any good director or writer will tell you, sticking the landing is probably the most important aspect of any story. This landing didn’t stick so much as it slipped on several banana peels and tumbled down 30 flights of stairs.
That’s my grade and I’m sticking to it. Your turn.