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Analysis of the timing of the 2021 Elimination Chamber matches

Let’s check out the timing of the Elimination Chamber matches from this year’s (Feb. 21, 2021) event of the same name.

The way the timing of this match typically works is that the first two entrants are supposed to wrestle for five minutes, at which point a countdown clock reaches zero. I’ll define that as the end of Period 1. After that happens, about 8 to 10 seconds lapse with a light rotating around the pods, and a buzzer goes off to “randomly” select which wrestler enters the match next. I don’t consider these 8 to 10 seconds to be part of any waiting period, it’s just the time between waiting periods. When the buzzer finally goes off to select the next pod to open, that’s the beginning of Period 2. This repeats for a total of four waiting periods, though the final wrestler to enter the match doesn’t have to wait those extra 8 to 10 seconds for their pod to be selected.

For the wrestlers who begin the match locked inside a pod, their survival time begins once their pod is unlocked.

At this year’s event, WWE did not specify an exact time that each waiting period was supposed to last. They said there would be “regular” intervals, which implies the waiting periods should be the same length within each match.

The SmackDown Elimination Chamber match lasted 34m 09s. Here are the survival times for the six wrestlers who competed in this match:

  • 34m 09s: Daniel Bryan
  • 32m 41s: Cesaro
  • 14m 54s: Sami Zayn
  • 12m 21s: King Corbin
  • 11m 06s: Jey Uso
  • 8m 30s: Kevin Owens

Bryan and Cesaro started the match together and were still alive in the final minutes. None of the other four men lasted even half as long they each did.

Kevin Owens’ short survival time of 8m 30s stands out in particular, since one of his main traits over the last three months has been his refusal to stay down. Jey Uso had a much easier time disposing of Owens in this match than Roman Reigns had during their previous gimmick matches in recent months.

Here is how long each waiting period lasted in the SmackDown Elimination Chamber match:

  • Period 1: 5m 10s
  • Period 2: 5m 00s
  • Period 3: 7m 30s
  • Period 4: 4m 53s

As you can see, three of the four waiting periods hovered around the typical five minute mark. That third waiting period is the outlier, lasting about 50% longer than it should have according to the rules. During this time, Cesaro and Sami Zayn were climbing high up the chamber for a planned spot. Afterwards, Cesaro and King Corbin had an extended one-on-one battle that culminated in Corbin’s elimination. Shortly after Corbin was gone, the 10 second clock appeared on the screen to count down towards the end of Period 3. It seems that WWE wanted to get Corbin out of the ring before Kevin Owens entered the match.

Once all wrestlers were released from their respective pods, the remaining portion of the match lasted 11m 06s, and that’s when Daniel Bryan emerged as the winner.

The Raw Elimination Chamber match lasted 31m 21s. Here are the survival times for the six wrestlers who competed in this match:

  • 27m 01s: Drew McIntyre
  • 25m 30s: Jeff Hardy
  • 21m 42s: AJ Styles
  • 15m 26s: Kofi Kingston
  • 14m 28s: Sheamus
  • 8m 53s: Randy Orton

Randy Orton joined Kevin Owens as the only wrestlers across both chamber matches who failed to survive for at least ten minutes. Considering that Orton also skipped out on most of last month’s Royal Rumble match, being physically present in the ring for less than 10 minutes there as well, I’d say the Viper is really good at minimizing input and maximizing output. His large paycheck cashes either way, right?

Over the last few months, Jeff Hardy has often been doing lower card (and even Main Event) level things with folks like Elias and Ricochet, as well as being a chew toy for Bobby Lashley throughout December. I definitely wasn’t expecting him to have the second longest survival time during this chamber match.

Here is how long each waiting period lasted in the Raw Elimination Chamber match, with significant caveats for the final two periods:

  • Period 1: 4m 12s
  • Period 2: 3m 52s
  • Period 3: 1m 18s
  • Period 4: 6m 17s

The first two periods make it look like the regular waiting interval for this match was more like four minutes instead of five minutes. After that, things went off the rails thanks to AJ Styles.

Kofi Kingston entered the match during the beginning of Period 3 and immediately eliminated Randy Orton. Orton then RKO’d Kingston and Hardy before getting out of Dodge. Styles decided that instead of waiting for the remaining 3+ minutes left in the period, he wanted to enter early because the remaining superstars inside the chamber were all down and vulnerable. Omos busted his pod early. AJ ran around the exterior of the chamber and entered the match from the front door of the Elimination Chamber.

As a result, there was no clock, buzzer, or rotating light to signify the end of Period 3 and the beginning of Period 4. The moment when Styles walked through the front door is the boundary point I used to mark the end of Period 3 and the start of Period 4. That’s also the point I used to start the clock on AJ’s survival time, rather than the point when Omos busted open the back of his pod. The above numbers indicate that about 6m 17s lapsed between the time when AJ walked through the front door, and when Sheamus entered the match.

The sum of the lengths of Period 3 and Period 4 is 7m 35s. If this match was supposed to have four minute intervals, as the first two waiting periods suggest, then the final two waiting periods combined to fall a bit short of the expected 8m 00s sum.

Once all wrestlers were released from their respective pods, the remaining portion of the match lasted 15m 25s, and that’s when Drew McIntyre emerged as the winner.

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