I’m pretty fresh off watching WWE’s Elimination Chamber PPV, and I have to say it was one of the worst ones in a while. It may not have been entirely their fault, but they didn’t exactly help themselves either.
The card itself had 5 matches total. Two elimination chambers (hence the name), a Divas title match (bathroom time), a US Title Match (filler), and the Cena vs Kane embrace the hate ambulance match. That means that if just two matches don’t go well, then 40% of the program is a failure. Considering there is a Divas match here we aren’t off to a good start.
Lets go one match at a time. The show opened up with the WWE Championship match with Punk, Jericho, Miz, Ziggler, Kingston and R-Truth. This was the main reason I was interested in this PPV because I was looking for some light to shed on where the Punk Jericho feud was going. Punk and Kofi started strong and definitely got the crowd into it. I don’t think Kingston gets enough praise for what he can do in the ring. It seems like every time I see him he does something I’ve never seen before. Ziggler, Miz and Truth come in, blah blah blah, Truth gets eliminated by a Punk flying elbow (glad that finally finished a match with no botch involved), and finally Jericho comes in. Expectedly we get a taste of Punk vs Jericho which gets broken up with everyone else involved. One nitpick I always have with these matches is that there is too much time with only two guys doing anything. At any given point there were two or more wrestlers laying on the floor for over 10 minutes. It doesn’t have to be the Royal Rumble, but would having two battles on different sides of the ring be too much to follow? Is it because there is only one in ring camera man? I guess we’ll never know.
Now up to this point everything had been going okay. Not spectacular, but certainly entertaining enough. However after Chris Jericho eliminated Kofi Kingston with the Walls of Jericho (let’s be real, it’s a boston crab), then continued eliminating him for a few more minutes, CM Punk delivered a kick to the face near the open entrance gate, where Jericho fell out and hit his head on a camera or something. At this point, accidentally or not, everything came to a screeching halt. The staff came to check out Jericho, and pretty early on he was deemed unable to continue. The fact that they cut to him just in time for the phrase “he’s not going to be able to continue” to be said so clearly makes me think this was planned. However the expression on Punk’s face, and that he stopped everything while they looked at him, along with giving the “X” signal to call for medical aid, made me think it wasn’t scripted at all. Eventually the match picked up again (without Jericho) but al the juice was taken out of the building. Miz and Punk finished things up with Punk winning on a GTS, and while it would have been fine for an ending to a one on one match on RAW, for a major championship match on PPV it just didn’t cut. The whole ending seemed off and a bit improvised, which makes me a) think the Jericho injury is real, and b) wonder what would have happened had Jericho stuck around. Overall, pretty disappointing start to a PPV. Four matches to go.
Next was the Divas title match between Beth Phoenix and Tamina Snuka. It was an above average Divas match, but it was still a Divas match. I did like that Phoenix (who kept her title) wore an outfit tributing Rowdy Roddy Piper, adding a little Piper/Snuka nostalgia factor. 40% through and I’m not exactly thrilled will what I’ve seen so far.
Needing to fill 3 hours (what seemed like 5 at times) we reached the promo portion of the program. Hey did you know that WrestleMania is just 6 weeks away? Well I certainly do, and I’ll likely never forget it thats to WWE programming. Hype video for Cena, a shot of Jericho getting his head checked out (which made me think it was fake again), and we got to the other majar part of the program. IN RING MONOLOGUES! Johnny Ace came out to gloat about not being fired, but also to say that Smackdown GM Teddy Long should go through the same review that he did. At this point a handfull of, soon to be returning, injured wrestlers came out in support of the idea that Laurinaitis should take over for both RAW and Smackdown. First we had Mark Henry (out for a few weeks), Christian (who had been out forever) and Alberto Del Rio (ditto). All three coming back should help bolster the lineup of heels that just isn’t cutting it right now. More on that in a bit. Teddy Long also is now interesting in controlling both shows, which means we could see some more inter-brand activity in the near future. Perhaps this could lead to both shows sharing talent instead of just RAW getting the lion’s share while Smackdown gets the scraps. The roster just isn’t deep enough right now to have two shows with totally different rosters.
With all that out of the way we had the second elimination chamber match for Smackdown’s World Heavyweight Championship. The original lineup had me pretty interested in this one. Bryan, Big Show, Henry, Rhodes, Orton and Barrett. However take out Orton and Henry (injuries), and replace them with Khali and Santino (a stiff and a clown), and suddenly things are not looking to good. Surprisingly enough though this ended up being the match of the night. Barrett and Rhodes are about as dependable as you can get, Khali is an absolute joke who was thankfully taken out 90 seconds after he got in, and the Big Show/Bryan feud got just enough action. Big Show breaking the chains at the top of Bryan’s pod to get in with him while he couldn’t run away was a great spot (even though Bryan’s door was opened 15 seconds later). I was down on Bryan before but I really like where Bryan’s character has been going. However I feel like he has one bad looking botch in every big match I see him in. For someone who is supposed to be so great in the ring, it’s just way to much for me. I’m down on him again.
Then there is Santino. For a guy who wasn’t set to be in the match at all until last week, he absolutely stole the show. He did his usual schtick that is occasionally funny while at the same time definitely wearing thin, but little guy kept hanging around and by the end it was just him and Bryan remaining, and the place was electric. It never got louder the whole night than it did for Santino, and even though you knew there was no way he would walk out with the title, it was pretty fun just entertaining the idea, especially after he nearly got the pin off the cobra. Bryan won right after that with the Lebell Lock briefly had a chance to celebrate before Sheamus entered to knock him out, essentially announcing that it’s be Sheamus vs Bryan at WrestleMania.
Jack Swagger put up his US Championship against Justin Gabriel because Hornswaggle accidentally compared Swagger and Vicki to cheese or something. Just passing the time until Kane/Cena. Now 80% through and we’ve only had one match worth remembering.
Finally, we find out if John Cena will embrace the hate, or if Kane has more moves in his current arsenal than an uppercut and a half assed chokeslam. Turns out, the answers to those questions are kinda and not at all. Most of the match played out between the ramp and the stage, which I hate because it just means that you get nothing but guys throwing each other into walls and no actual wrestling moves. In other words it’s perfect for Cena and Kane. Oh boy does Kane look bad. I keep hoping that he just needs to get into groove with reps but he’s been working for a couple months now and it’s just not there. His chokeslam into the announce table was pretty weak, and aside from a leap from the top rope he didn’t really do anything. Cena was Cena. Showed off how strong he is but also showed how limited he is. Finish was fine. Cena giving an attitude adjustment to Kane off the ambulance to knock him out so he can put him in the ambulance to end it. Pretty anticlimactic. Somehow the highlight of the match was Cena walking up the steps with Kane on his shoulders.
So did Cena embrace the hate? Beats the hell out of me. Cena won but he enjoyed hitting Kane with steel steps a little too much. Didn’t Kane say he wanted Cena to beat him anyway? That he can only win if he embraced the hate or whatever? Is that it for Kane now since he was driven away in an ambulance and who knows where those things go? Is that it for the Ryder/Eve/Cena storyline? Ryder’s out of action and he’s in the friend zone so there really isn’t anywhere else to go there. I was kind of hoping Ryder would get pushed down the ramp jackass style but oh well. I don’t really care either way. I’m just annoyed that two months passed with nothing happening. That’s being a wrestling fan I guess.