WWE Elimination Chamber 2023 takes place tonight (Sat., Feb. 18) from the Bell Centre in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. It begins at 7:00 pm ET with the Kickoff show leading right on into the main card at 8 pm ET on Peacock in the U.S., WWE Network everywhere else, or your local cable pay-per-view provider.
This is the most anticipated WWE title match in over a decade
It’s finally happening. Sami Zayn is challenging Roman Reigns for the WWE Universal championship tonight, and Sami is doing it in front of a raucous hometown crowd who will give him one of the loudest receptions you will ever hear in pro wrestling. This is WWE’s most anticipated main event and title match since CM Punk challenged John Cena for the WWE championship at Money in the Bank 2011 in Chicago.
The story of Zayn working his way into The Bloodline last year, winning over Jey Uso’s trust at WarGames, and then turning his back on Roman Reigns for taking things too far with Kevin Owens at Royal Rumble has been a true masterpiece. Zayn has become the most popular star in WWE, potentially disrupting the company’s plan for a WrestleMania 39 main event title match of Reigns vs. Cody Rhodes.
It’s hard to prove that a wrestler is a draw in this era where WWE’s business model has moved away from traditional PPV buys, house show ticket sales are not that big of a deal, Saudi Arabia is throwing 100+ million dollars a year at WWE for their brand name, WrestleMania practically sells itself, and TV rights fees are the main driver of WWE’s revenue despite widespread cord cutting. That’s why it stands out that Zayn’s push has coincided with a clear ratings spike on SmackDown. The guy is moving numbers in an era where it’s hard to do that, and WWE should take advantage if the idea is to make the most money.
The problem is that WWE did not expect Zayn to catch fire like this. He was just some goofball who lost a match to Johnny Knoxville last year and served as comic relief to freshen up The Bloodline during a lull in Roman’s multi-year run as champion. WWE was focused on booking Cody Rhodes as the number one babyface at WrestleMania 39, but they should have reconsidered those plans due to Zayn’s undeniable popularity.
So, how will things play out tonight in Montreal? A lot of people think WWE’s plan is to have Sami lose after Jey Uso betrays him, leading to a Kevin Owens return and a tag team title match with the Usos at WrestleMania. One problem with deviating away from this plan for Zayn to lose is that WWE already pulled the trigger on Cody as the Royal Rumble winner, and a WrestleMania main event of Zayn vs. Rhodes doesn’t really make sense.
What it all boils down to is the WrestleMania main event should have been Zayn vs. Reigns, but that appears to be off the board because it’s happening tonight. Is there some way WWE can book the finish here to still get Sami involved in Roman’s main event match at WrestleMania?
At this point, I think it’s too late for WWE to make the change. The fans will go apeshit tonight rooting their guy, and nearly everyone watching at home will feel the same way about Sami Zayn, but unlike Punk vs. Cena in Chicago, this match doesn’t end with the hometown hero going over.
The rest of the card
Here are the four remaining matches that are currently advertised for Elimination Chamber:
Women’s Elimination Chamber match
Raw Women’s Champion Bianca Belair needs a new challenger for WrestleMania 39, and that spot is on the line in an Elimination Chamber match featuring Asuka, Carmella, Natalya, Nikki Cross, Raquel Rodriguez, and Liv Morgan.
The rules are as follows: Two wrestlers will start the match in the ring, with the four remaining competitors locked in separate pods located at the corners of the chamber. Every three to five minutes, one pod will be opened at random and the wrestler inside will join the match. This continues until all four pods have been unlocked. Pin falls and submissions can occur at any time, and the last wrestler left standing after the other five are eliminated is the winner.
Here’s a quick rundown of all six participants:
Natalya is the babyface Canadian who will be heavily cheered.
Carmella just recently returned to WWE after nearly six months off TV.
Nikki Cross is here because she was one of the final survivors in the Royal Rumble match.
Liv Morgan is taking things to the extreme these days and might be the one who does a crazy dive from high up in the chamber.
Asuka recently returned to WWE as a murder clown and is one of the favorites to win this match. She dominated the field and repeatedly forced Liv Morgan to tap out this week.
Raquel Rodriguez is the other favorite, as she went toe-to-toe with Ronda Rousey multiple times last year, and would be a fresh new opponent for Belair at WrestleMania.
Men’s Elimination Chamber match
Austin Theory puts his United States championship on the line in the men’s Elimination Chamber match. The other five participants are Seth Rollins, Johnny Gargano, Bronson Reed, Montez Ford, and Damian Priest. The rules here are the same as the women’s chamber match.
Rollins is the biggest star out of all six men and the only former WWE champion in the group. He has traded the US title with Theory and represents his biggest threat in kayfabe. However, a Rollins vs. Logan Paul match at WrestleMania seems likely, and the US title might not be the best fit for that story.
Once you get passed Rollins and Theory, the four remaining wrestlers are all looking for that big win to propel them into WWE’s upper card.
Bronson Reed recently returned to WWE and has yet to be pinned or tap out. That will have to change inside the chamber if he isn’t winning.
Johnny Gargano had a rough start to his main roster run last year, but is on a little bit of a roll now after taking some time off to recover from an injury.
Montez Ford is a tag team wrestler who many fans expect will eventually break out as a singles star.
Damian Priest has a regular presence on TV as a member of The Judgment Day, and it might be time for that group to finally win some championship gold.
Brock Lesnar vs. Bobby Lashley
Bobby Lashley is one of the only wrestlers on the WWE roster who has been able to stand toe-to-toe with Brock Lesnar over the last two years. He defeated Brock last year at Royal Rumble 2022, beat the shit out of Brock and laid him out after losing the rematch last November in Saudi Arabia, and then easily eliminated Lesnar from this year’s Royal Rumble match.
Even so, Lesnar continues being dismissive of Lashley, often referring to him with the phrase “Bobby Who?”
Brock screwed Bob over in a United States championship match on Raw last month, and now he wants to prove he’s the true alpha male by beating him in the rubber match at Elimination Chamber. Bray Wyatt has essentially called next on whoever wins this match, adding more intrigue to the finish with WrestleMania 39 right around the corner.
Edge & Beth Phoenix vs. Rhea Ripley & Finn Balor
Edge created The Judgment Day almost one year ago, recruiting Damian Priest and Rhea Ripley into the fold as two wrestlers who would no longer be underappreciated or overlooked. However, things quickly went awry in June when Finn Balor joined the group. Balor, Priest, and Ripley immediately turned on Edge and have been forging their own path together ever since, with Dominik Mysterio later joining up.
Edge has been focused on revenge and destroying his creation ever since that day, but his plan went horribly wrong again last October at Extreme Rules. Balor forced Edge to watch as Ripley delivered a devastating conchairto to his wife, Beth Phoenix.
Edge and Beth took some time off from WWE, but they both returned at Royal Rumble and immediately got their hands on Balor, Ripley, and the rest of the group. And now they’ll try to finish this war tonight in a mixed tag team match.
There is no filler on this packed lineup. All five matches are compelling in their own way, capped off with one of the most anticipated WWE championship matches in history. It’s a must-watch event for the main event match alone.
What will you be looking for at Elimination Chamber?