The road to WrestleMania has taken a detour and stopped at the Elimination Chamber for the first time in a good while and here’s what happened at the SmackDown Live exclusive event!
I was gonna touch upon the pre-show match, but I just can’t remember anything about it for the life of me. It just happened so there.
Becky Lynch defeated Mickie James
Becky and Mickie started the main show off on a decent bout that did more to add on their current feud. Mickie’s heel role is still believable and made her performance in the ring interesting to watch in proving her point to Becky and the audience about what all she did for the wrestling business long before Becky was a part of the revolution of it. Its simple storytelling like that gets you to invest and have fun with wrestling.
Now Becky herself was good as well conveying the straight fire she is known for and holding her own against Mickie that had plenty of good back and fourth action between both women. Its a very good showcase of old vs. new and it seems it’ll keep building since Becky won the match out of nowhere with a surprise roll-up pin. I’m certainly willing to see this go on just a little longer since there is still a very good story to be told and if they can keep it up, I’ll be excited for the rematch.
Apollo Crews & Kalisto defeated Dolph Ziggler
This match is still confounding me. It’s a handicap match where the single person in the match is the heel and he’s going off against a couple of babyfaces. What is the full logic there? The biggest thing that happened in this match wasn’t even in the match and that was when Ziggler came out during Kalisto’s entrance and wrecked him against the stage set. That was the lone highlight of this rather unremarkable match to be honest. Ziggler still is playing up his heel run very well and this match more than not proved how Apollo Crews deserves much better in WWE right now. I just felt like this added nothing to the overall proceedings.
American Alpha retain the WWE SmackDown Tag Team Championship in a Tag Team Turmoil Match
Well there couldn’t just be one match with multiple eliminations on this night. While there are several damn good tag teams in the WWE right now, they more or less seem to end up in more matches where they face each other more than have one viable team go after the champions. It’s a big problem for both SmackDown and Raw.
The turmoil match itself was okay, but certainly got better as it went along, particularly when the Usos got involved. I really liked their performance and it certainly livened up the match considerably even before American Alpha entered the match and put on what was the best part of it. The section involving these two teams shows there can be a worthwhile singular feud there and while I ain’t calling Jimmy and Jey slouches in the ring, Chad Gable and Jason Jordan are magnificent and two of those wrestlers you could see get the best wrestling match ever out of a broomstick.
Though the Ascension being the last team in is as much a surprise as their win on the recent SmackDown Live and when they hit the Fall of Man right away I would have lost my mind if they won, but nope. Alpha retained after a neat little back and fourth with an outstanding Grand Amplitude. I love that move so much.
Nikki Bella vs. Natalya ended in a double countout
I thought this was going to be the logical blowoff match between Nikki and Natalya since the logic in this feud seemed to dictate that and also I’m kinda ready for this to be over with, but nope! I really do wonder how much longer this feud could last. But onto the match itself, it was going decently enough with Nikki putting on a good show and Natalya putting on a better show and there was plenty to enjoy. A blistering superplex perked me up midway through and well Nikki Bella knows how to put on one hell of an STF. Maybe John Cena needs to take some pointers from his lady.
It was getting really good and picking up plenty of steam before both women brawled to the outside and got counted out. A false finish was not what I expected here and it took the air right out of the event at that moment. I don’t see what the point of this was and hopefully it can lead to a bigger and more final payoff, but yeah it just seemed to be a rather odd decision for the match to end the way it did.
Randy Orton defeated Luke Harper
Well thankfully what happened next restarted the fire under this show and nearly stole it! The Wyatt Family drama and tension has been captivating across the board and to see a showdown between the disciples of Bray Wyatt made for some great excitement.
I honestly believe the whole storyline with Bray has reignited Randy Orton to me and made him his most entertaining in a while, but then you add in a very agile big man in Luke Harper and you got a recipe for success. This was far and away more entertaining than their recent bout of SmackDown, but that could be due to the fact they had a little more time to breathe here as opposed to there, but regardless, both men looks spectacular.
Orton’s slow build towards going utterly crazy mixed with the brute strength and surprisingly nimbleness of Harper is winning formula that complimented each other. Both men are dangerous and will set out to prove that no matter what. That was further evident when they both had brutal spots on the announce table where it didn’t break and looked painful as it could get. We knew already how much Harper could go in the ring, but he was on fire here. He was set out to prove he didn’t need Wyatt anymore and is a more than capable competitor on his own and that was on display. Seeing a man of his size pull off a devastating superkick like he did reminded me how much fun and exciting professional wrestling can be.
It just kept building and building until of course the RKO out of nowhere did Harper in. What a match. Exciting!
WWE SmackDown Women’s Championship: Naomi defeated Alexa Bliss (c)
Setting out to prove she’s amazing as her theme and entrance are, Naomi did just that. Going back to the Royal Rumble, the end of the six-woman tag was just a small sampling of just how good Naomi and Bliss work together.
They got to prove that further as both women gave their absolute best in the ring. The thing I love about both women is that they can have this great burst of offense suddenly out of nowhere and really perk up the match. That’s nothing really new sure, but how fast these two can fly off is impressive.
Naomi’s win was a stunning result, but also a right result. Here has been one of the most consistently great talents on the roster regardless of gender for years, and it’s paying off big time. The chants of “you deserve it” were very true and seeing how good Bliss was chasing the belt, imagine how good she’ll be trying to get it back.
Elimination Chamber Match for the WWE Championship: Bray Wyatt defeated John Cena (c), AJ Styles, The Miz, Dean Ambrose, and Baron Corbin
Now it’s on to the main match itself and before we get to the action, I really do like the new design of the Elimination Chamber. It doesn’t look as imposing as the previous design, but its still very interesting to gaze upon and will most certainly make for a great new toy set.
So now to the match itself, which started off with Cena and Styles picking up from their Match of the Year contender at the Royal Rumble until Dean Ambrose was the first man out and they picked up from that great triple threat back at No Mercy. Then out came Wyatt then Corbin and The Miz hesitantly entered last as Corbin was laying waste to Ambrose for eliminating him, thus setting up their inevitable Intercontinental Championship bout at Mania.
Also speaking of The Miz, I seriously love this man. He’s a good hand in the ring, but in terms of being a true character he’s the best at it bar none in WWE. His cowardly heel antics are always great as seen eliminating a beaten down Ambrose the moment he gets out of his pod and also mimicking the move set of Daniel Bryan to the hatred of all the fans in attendance. Its a great lesson in how to really get the crowd to just hate you and I bought into it.
When Miz is outed we get a great sequence with Cena, Wyatt, and Styles as our final three and each man puts on a really good show that kept the audience captivated since there is plenty of possibilities there as to what this would mean for the WWE Title at WrestleMania. Cena being the next to last eliminated certainly delivered there and then we got Wyatt vs. Styles. It was really good as you’d expect from two of the very best in the world right now, but Bray Wyatt winning was a true shock.
I predicted Wyatt winning, but never thought WWE might pull the trigger on that and they did. Bray Wyatt’s journey ever since coming to WWE has been a weird and strange one that seems to finally have paid off ever since the program with Orton this past summer. Wyatt is deserving of the title for both being an incredible worker and also putting on a really good performance here. The victory was made all the better as the show ended with him and Orton glaring at each other from afar. I’m certainly excited to catch SmackDown this week.
What Else Happened?
Aside from all that there were cutaways to James Ellsworth and Carmella in a skybox that was only amusing for Ellsworth dropping the mic and more Nikki and Natalya brawling backstage that seemed to more so setup Miz/Maryse vs. Cena/Nikki for Mania.
While not the most exciting of shows there was some solid performances all around, plenty of pleasant surprises, and seeds sowed for WrestleMania. The second half was far superior once Harper and Orton kicked things off and the Chamber match felt exciting as well. Elimination Chamber gets a B from me.
What did you think of the event? What was your favorite match? Let us know in the comments below!