I cannot remember the last time WWE did failure as well as they did at Elimination Chamber.
Kofi Kingston shined in the Gauntlet Match last week on SmackDown Live. So much so, in fact, that the fans immediately rallied to his cause. He’s been in WWE for 11 years and he’s never held a major title. And if you listened to the crowd at Elimination Chamber, they clearly had something to say about that.
Kingston entered the match third and had a scare early when Samoa Joe caught him in a Coquina Clutch. He tried to counter into a pin attempt, but Joe rolled through and kept his submission locked in. Kingston had to quickly try another counter and barely slipped away. Luckily, AJ Styles was there with a Phenomenal Forearm to eliminate Joe from the match.
From there, Kingston lingered on the outskirts of the fight. Daniel Bryan eliminated Jeff Hardy with a Busaiku Knee. Randy Orton caught Styles with an RKO. Kingston appeared once more to fell Orton and the crowd finally lost its mind.
It had felt like Kingston’s loss was inevitable until that point, you know? But once Kofi reached the final two and was squaring up with a man he had just defeated five days ago, hope soared back into the picture. Houston went into a frenzy and this match got so damn good.
Credit first to both guys. Both Bryan and Kingston were in tune with how emotional that moment was and they did the right thing by leaving all the “pretty” wrestling by the wayside. The final minutes of this match were grisly, brutal, and nerve-wracking.
Kofi hit Bryan with his best shot. He kicked out of Bryan’s finisher, wormed his way out of a LeBell Lock, and did everything he could to survive the Champion. Unfortunately, he took one risk too many and couldn’t survive a second Busaiku Knee.
That was my favorite moment of this match, if you’d believe it. Bryan had delivered a sneering diatribe before the match claiming that the fans needed him. Now, the crowd was silent. And in that moment of defeat, Xavier Wood and Big E raced to the ring and clutched their friend. Big E said “We love you. We love you.”
They picked Kofi back up, and so did the fans. They chanted his name as he left the Chamber and Woods used the fans to encourage Kofi even more. “That’s for you! You did that!”
This shouldn’t be the end of Kofi’s title chase, in my opinion. In fact, it should be the beginning. Because after this past week, WWE, I’m not sure I’d be happy with any other WWE Championship match at WrestleMania other than Daniel Bryan vs. Kofi Kingston. This was fantastic.
Sasha Banks’ turn to carry
Bayley has had to carry the workload for a few weeks now in her matches since Banks has been injured. At Elimination Chamber, that script got flipped.
I wasn’t a fan of this match until about halfway through. Everything felt so obviously contrived and the wrestling was sloppy. “Hey, let’s put all the heel teams in first to beat up Bayley and Sasha while leaving Nia Jax until the end!” It just makes me tune out until things get good.
Luckily, things picked up once Naomi and Carmella entered the Chamber. Naomi got a chance to corner Mandy Rose, but her tunnel vision allowed the IIconics to eliminate her team.
The IIconics had a moment to preen, but once Jax and Tamina joined the match, they cowered in a Chamber pod. It didn’t go so great for them. The Riott Squad got taken out by Jax and Tamina as well and everything felt completely predictable in that moment. We were going to continue on in this vein until only Bayley and Banks remained, right? Well...
And then Jax crashed through a Chamber pod and knocked herself out. The remaining teams scrambled to team up on Tamina and all four women stacked on top of her to get the pin fall.
From there, we got two cool storytelling moments to end the match. They did a callback to Banks kicking Bayley off a Chamber pod in last year’s match. That was awesome. We also got Banks having to go it alone once Bayley got rammed into a steel support beam. Banks was working with an injured wing, but still found a way to escape the Chamber with the titles for her team.
I thought that was great! Any other option than the Boss and Hug Connection was going to feel hollow to me, so I’m glad they won. I think WWE did a wonderful job with the storytelling at the end as well – which is COMPLETELY overdue considering how poorly both Bayley and Banks have been booked in the past year. The match wasn’t stellar but that’s fine, to be honest.
The Man’s Back
Well that didn’t take long, did it?
Ronda Rousey had a title match against Ruby Riott but who cares, really? It was a short affair and one more notable for Rousey’s new ring attire than anything else. Charlotte Flair was at ringside being a delightfully annoying troll, and decided to step into the ring after Rousey’s match to try to intimidate her WrestleMania opponent.
...What? And no one invited The Man? The camera panned to the Becky Lynch working her way through the crowd on crutches. And if you’re one for foreshadowing, she was essentially dressed as Uma Thurman from Kill Bill. Not that you really needed foreshadowing, considering it’s The Man we’re talking about.
Lynch got in the ring with her crutches and stared both women down before beating the ever-loving hell out of Charlotte with a crutch. Rousey watched on impassively for a minute before Lynch offered her a go at Charlotte.
And Rousey? WHAT THE HECK ARE YOU DOING ACCEPTING THAT OFFER? As soon as Rousey picked up a crutch and reared back to swing, Lynch beat the Raw Women’s Champion to a pulp as well. Lynch’s crutch shots were vicious; she bloodied both women with them before being led out of the arena by security.
I’m glad that WWE didn’t wait long to return Lynch to our televisions. I’ve mentioned that Raw’s been severely lacking in fire power and I’ll take Kill Bill Becky any day of the week. I’d imagine Vince McMahon’s opening the show on Raw to fume over this result.
The Usos def. The Miz and Shane McMahon for the SmackDown Live Tag Team Championships – Now this is pretty interesting in the context of the story being told. Going into this match, the Usos claimed that the the Miz and McMahon weren’t a TRUE tag team. Well here’s their first dose of adversity. After dominating for a large portion of their match, the Miz hit Jimmy Uso with a Skull Crushing Not-So-Finale. Miz went for a lazy cover and Jimmy took the opportunity to roll Miz up.
The greatest tag team in the world just got got.
Miz was in shock, of course. In a match where Shane McMahon went diving through every surface that he could to secure the victory, Miz lost it with a lazy pin attempt. After sitting there with his head in his hands for a moment, Miz went out of the ring to collect his red-faced partner and help him to the back. I thought the match was pretty fun, but I’m honestly more interested in the story that gets told moving forward.
Finn Balor def. Lio Rush, Bobby Lashley for the Intercontinental Championship – Can we take a second to marvel over how completely Balor dominated Lashley and Rush for three straight weeks? Rush’s claim that Lashley was as good as Lesnar was always ridiculous, but damn...
Dasha Fuentes planted a seed of doubt in Lashley’s mind before the match that Rush could end up being the weak link and that’s exactly what happened. Rush tagged himself in in a moment of bravado and then Balor hit him with a whirlwind of offense and stole Lashley’s title.
Lashley was understandably pissed. And in a moment of anger, he took it out on Rush. I’m not sure that moment constitutes a breakup, but I was glad for the character progression. Lashley needed it after Balor ran circles around him in this feud. Of course I say that until...
Baron Corbin def. Braun Strowman – The potty break of all potty break matches. I’m not exactly enthused that Corbin, Drew McIntyre, and Lashley seem to be teaming up again.
Buddy Murphy def. Akira Tozawa – Cruiserweight wrestling is such an exciting spectacle and both these guys are so good. So why does WWE make viewing them so inconvenient? I’m hoping they get a show on Fox whenever the new TV deal kicks in.
I’ve griped in a few of my more recent reviews that WWE’s not been delivering big moments on the way to WrestleMania. I cannot say the same for Elimination Chamber. We got some awesome moments and the show rocked because of it.
Also THIS is how long a show should be, WWE. Not six hours like Royal Rumble.