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Elimination Chamber 2023 recap & reactions: Helluva night in Montreal

Sami Zayn and Roman Reigns continue the greatest story wrestling ever told with another thrilling chapter.

Who’s your daddy, Montreal? Possibly Roman Reigns now but not for the reasons one might think if one missed Elimination Chamber. WWE’s calm before the storm that is WrestleMania invaded Canada with an incredible show that really needs no introduction.

But here I am with one and here’s Claire with what she does best.

Oh and before I forget, shoutout to Liv Morgan for rocking Spider-Man colors during the women’s Elimination Chamber. Spidey is the key to my heart.

Let’s talk Elimination Chamber!


Can Sami Zayn do what no else could for a three years and defeat Roman Reigns? More than the mob boss story, more than said mob boss’ paranoia at now, this was the most prescient question surrounding the Elimination Chamber main event. The real world question was how WWE might handle what is possibly the best story in their history? They fell backwards into something special, and the match taking place Zayn’s backyard, in front of his friends, wife, and a 17,000 extended family members is icing on their well portioned sundae.

Given all those variables, WWE handled this as well as possible and gave us something memorable, emotional, and, an answer for anyone who wonders why we like professional wrestling.

Look, most of us knew the WWE Undisputed Universal championship wasn’t changing waists in Montreal. But we had hope. I’ll bet all the money in my pockets—$0—that Montreal knew that too. But they believed in the impossible. They started the match at a 10 and stayed there until the closing credits. Roman and Sami fed into that emotion early and let the crowd do all the work before they even touched each other. Sami soaked it in while Roman soaked it in, shrugged it off, then showed it got to him. Him telling Zayn’s wife that he didn’t want it to be like this and that he wanted them all to be one big happy family was incredible character work from a man who truly is the best in the world right now.

Roman so thoroughly understands his character that he adapts to any situation and plays it accordingly. Exchanging “pleasantries” with Mrs. Zayn and the rest of Montreal in a way that conveyed his hurt, frustration, and condescension isn’t easy but he made it work.

Sami is a great heel but this match showed why he’s an even better babyface. He sold Roman’s early offense beautifully and truly looked like a man in over his head. But not since Michael Jordan’s 1995-96 season have I seen a better comeback. Sami came alive at just the right moment and gave the crowd hope when they needed it most. He took Roman’s best shots and kept getting up. But Roman took his best shots and kept getting up as well. And with that attention to detail, we got the answer to the main question: Yes, Sammi Zayn can beat Roman Reigns.

But there’s an addendum to that, one Sami knew going into the match and one he mentioned to Cody Rhodes. Beating Roman is one thing but beating the Bloodline is an entirely different beast. After the first ref went down and Sami missed his best chance for a victory, Jimmy Uso showed up and did his best to get the Tribal Chief a W. When the second ref hit the ring after Jimmy’s superkick and splash, Sami kept going! He didn’t stay down, even after taking all of that. Sami even took out Jimmy with a Helluva Kick and found his second, third, or fourth gear.

And yes, the second ref went down too. That’s when the storytelling hit another gear as Jey Uso showed up. Jey stood between Roman and Sami, as the former looked ready to smash the latter with a steel chair. I figured that was the moment where Jey made his allegiance clear and healed all wounds within the Bloodline. Apparently I was wrong because all they did was add more intrigue when Roman handed Jey the chair and Jey hesitated far longer than Roman wanted.

Their old dynamic returned instantly, with Roman berating his younger cousin and disrespecting him in ways that usually call for someone to throw hands. Jey had enough and got into Roman’s face but the champ quickly moved as he saw Sami barreling toward him. Zayn speared possibly his only friend in the world and my heart broke into a million and one pieces.

Nothing else in wrestling moves like this story and handles all of its angles with this much aplomb. I’m a broken record saying that but it seems like they top themselves every month. There’s so much human emotion here between everyone involved that it’s hard understanding why nothing else gets the same attention to detail or breathing room. This story just sings and it hits every note at the right pitch, tone, and tenor. Even the ending, while deflating, only felt that way because of the disappointment.

I knew the winner before the bell rang yet my heart sank when Roman went to town with multiple chair shots and a final spear to win the thing after the match’s first ref miraculously came to at just the right moment and counted three. Montreal still went home just a little happy when KO’s music hit.

I’m not sure if Kevin Owens saved Sami from a post match beatdown as much as he got his revenge. Things are still incredibly complicated between those two and their eventual rekindling needs a very slow burn. They didn’t embrace after KO saved Sami and served up Roman on a silver platter for another Helluva Kick. They didn’t shake hands either. Instead, we got two old friends looking at each other from afar, sizing each other up and figuring out what it all meant.

Sami and KO’s relationship might be the most realistic thing WWE has going for it at the moment. After all the words and actions exchanged between them, their reunion can't happen swiftly or feel unearned. We six weeks until WrestleMania so I fully expect a “will they/won’t they” scenario between both men for the bulk of that time.

As for the Bloodline, Roman and Paul will get in Jey’s head because it’s what they do best. I hope it doesn’t work but I fear it will because of the sentence I typed preceding this one. We’re a long way from any cohesion in the crew and the tag team champs aren’t exactly on the same page or in the same book at the moment.

But that’s for later. For now? Bask in what everything revolving around this story because it truly is everyone operating on a different level. This is what happens when people have genuine emotion in what they see in the ring. It’s what makes a match go beyond “this is awesome” chants because everyone is too riveted form any words or sounds other than “ooooh,” “ahhh,” or anything else that comes out when the mind just can’t find the words so the body reacts.


Rocky III

Well...I’m speechless. Of all the possible finishes for Bobby Lashley vs. Brock Lesnar III, Lashley getting the DQ win thanks to Brock’s low blow wasn’t one of them. While I don’t like the finish at all, I do like the implication.

Brock can’t beat Lashley. That’s the story in front of our faces. The All Mighty won the first match, Brock got extremely lucky in the second match, and now Lesnar goes low because, once again, the Hurt Lock is too much for him.

Brock took his frustrations out on the referee post match, and then did extra work on Lashley. He F-5’d both men through the commentary table and left Montreal cheering his name. That sounds like a suspension coming Brock’s way, which keeps him off television at least until WrestleMania.

I dig this story more with this uncertainty coming from the Beast. Seriously, does he even want Bobby again?

Prior to that, I always appreciate the texture of Brock Lesnar matches. They’re like playing Street Fighter or Mortal Kombat and both players doing nothing but special moves. Lashley fits perfectly into that style and there’s something special about watching Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah in real life.

Queen of Sugar

The women’s elimination chamber match was a great opening track to the album that is Elimination Chamber. it was fun, filled with energy, and even told a little story with Carmela and Asuka.

Carmela, for basketball reasons I assume, kept picking fights with Asuka while the Empress watched from her pod. Mela taunted, teased, poked, and prodded like a little sibling towards a big sibling. Or like Mobb Deep against Def Squad back in the day.

Well, much like Prodigy back in the day, that didn’t go well for Mela. Asuka entered the chamber last with Nikki Cross as the only eliminated participant. But no matter what happened in the match, before Asuka entered and certainly after, the story was about her and Carmela.

Naturally, it came down to those two for a trip to WrestleMania, which makes perfect sense. Asuka and Carmela are perfect foils. Their personalities clash, their styles clash, their outlook on the world clashes. Them teaming up and eliminating Raquel Rodriguez served as a nice moment too. And despite how I feel like Raquel’s booking gives the crowd no reason to really rally behind her or make her look anything but bland, the fact that it took two women to put her down is a big deal.

Despite the fact it came down to Mela and Asuka, the Empress made quick work of Staten Island’s princess.

Asuka getting the W here is absolutely the correct call because she and Bianca Belair at WrestleMania might light SoFi Stadium on fire.

Date Night

I look forward to the amounts of digital ink spilt on Edge and Beth Phoenix beating the Judgment Day via the Shatter Machine. Whew, these are the moments that make me glad I’m not addicted to Twitter.

Anyway, outside of one near pinfall miscue, this match rocked. I didn’t expect a Judgment Day L because I figured they wanted more heat on Edge’s former crew. Heat that might finally erupt in a Rated R Superstar WrestleMania triumph. But I suppose this fits because Rhea Ripley didn’t take the pin, and Finn Balor clearly wants more of Edge. Edge looked pleased with the W and waved bye-bye to his former crew. Which makes me wonder how Finn goads match into a match at the Showcase of the Immortals.

That said, Finn screamed that the Grit Couple cheated and he’s not entirely wrong. While it’s rich that Finn made that accusation after Rhea used brass knuckles, the WWE hall of famers did violate the rules the minute they hit that Shatter Machine. If Finn wants an in, maybe that irritates Edge enough to grant him that one-on-one.

Chaos Theory

Austin Theory entered the match after Seth Rollins and Johnny Gargano started. Theory stopped fighting and told his former partner/father figure that the crowd only cares about Rollins. They don’t care about Johnny, Austin, or anything “they had” together. Theory extended his hand in solidarity but Johnny not only slapped it away, but did the exact opposite of what Theory wanted.

I absolutely loved that moment and loved what happened next even more. Seth and Johnny tag teamed against Theory, who hid in his pod for safety.

That moment was the moment of the match. I mean, it held that title for at least 15 min. And it signaled a mini partnership between Seth and Johnny that warmed my heart. But the moment, and the match, belonged to Montez Ford. And even then, someone might disagree with me and I can’t be mad at that.

Ford climbed to the very top of the cage, pulled himself up, and dropped on his opponents from above like a bomb. It was the illest thing I’ve ever seen in an Elimination Chamber match and scared me while watching.

Tez didn’t win but he clearly came out stronger than he did when the match started. He even got the crowd chanting his name during an injury spot. I’m not sure if they’re writing him off TV for a while or just engineered something so the man could get his props from the crowd. But either way, as I wrote for seemingly months, the expiration date on the Street Profits fast approaches.

Outside of that, the other big moment, besides Bronson Reed being Bronson Reed, was Logan Paul costing Seth the United States championship. It was obvious, it was the right move, and it logically gets us to a Seth Rollins vs. Logan Paul match at WrestleMania. Thankfully, they finally settled on Paul’s alignment: heel.

No matter what he does in the ring, people want to boo that man, so let them.

Austin Theory now heads to WrestleMania without an opponent but I’m guessing someone from this match fills that void.


I don’t need to say anything else.

Those are my thoughts, right or wrong (right). Just how I was feeling at the time. What about you?

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