“These are just going to serve as another RAW in terms of quality.”
Somehow, someway, the WWE managed to pull off another strong PPV event with the Elimination Chamber. The difference with this event was that it was a WWE Network exclusive and would not be offered on regular pay-per-view television. The fact that this show took place only 2 weeks after Payback, and 2 weeks prior to Money in the Bank raised some questions about how well it would perform. As this event was randomly thrown into place a few weeks ago, the card had some very intriguing matches and it delivered in almost all of them. The buzz before and after the event was centered on the match between NXT Champion Kevin Owens and US Champion John Cena and rightfully so. But we’ll talk more when we get there.
The pre-show featured Zack Ryder against Stardust in a quick little match. Nothing too great and Stardust picked up the win against Long Island Iced Z rather quickly. Rumors are running rampant about Stardust possibly wrestling actor Stephen Amell at SummerSlam in August and although denied by Amell, I think that there is a definite possibility that it occurs.
In the first ever Tag Team Elimination Chamber match, the six teams involved did a great job at creating a mayhem-induced pace of action. Kalisto hung on to the top of the chamber like a spider and fell onto the other combatants which was a cool spot. Each team had a moment to shine and proved that they are part of a tag division looking to improve on depth. Los Matadores was eliminated first by The Ascension. The Lucha Dragons also fell waste to The Ascension before the Prime Time Players (who I had the chance to interview 2 years ago) eliminated them. My favorite to win, Tyson Kidd and Cesaro, was eliminated by the PTP as well. The New Day, who were competing under the Freebird Rule (all members of team can participate) successfully defended their championships by defeating the Prime Time Players in a match that although was chaotic, succeeded in showcasing the WWE tag team division’s depth.
Nikki Bella successfully defended her Divas Championship against Naomi and Paige in another chaotic contest. A bunch of random but exciting moves were performed by these 3 who probably wanted to prove themselves a little considering the Lynch/Banks match at NXT: Unstoppable was incredible. I enjoyed this match and it succeeded in quick entertainment.
Here’s a quick story. January 25, 2014. I had the opportunity to interview one wrestler from the Ring of Honor locker room for my college newspaper. I chose Kevin Steen. I had been a fan of his for 7+ years and at the time, he was just about finished in ROH as rumors of him signing with the WWE were widespread. As Kevin Kelly came to me and said “I got Steen for you.”, I smiled wider than I ever had before. This was my opportunity for a great interview with a great talent. It was 10 minutes and I loved every second. However, if you would have told me that in 7 months, Steen would sign with the WWE, win the NXT Title in 13 months, and within a year and a half, challenge John Cena to a match at a WWE PPV, I would have laughed harder than ever before. Fast forward to May 18, 2015. Steen, now known as Kevin Owens, shows up during John Cena’s US Open Challenge. He doesn’t have a match, but he does powerbomb Cena and step on the US Title. He gets elevated from NXT Champion to main roster mega heel in one night. The match was then announced for tonight. One on one, non-title, Cena vs. Owens. I figured because it was a non-title match that Owens would somehow find a way to win. Being a mega heel, a distraction, foreign object, or some other unforeseen underhanded way of winning would give Owens the victory. I also figured that due to the WWE releasing 2 new Kevin Owens shirts before the PPV, that anything other than at least Owens standing tall, regardless of victory, would occur. As the match began and progressed, I increasingly feared a dreaded Attitude Adjustment out of nowhere leading to Cena winning. For years and years I have seen Cena overcome so many “odds” to win so many big matches and I was losing hope for Owens fast. The match itself was incredible. Great heel/face tradeoffs with both men, and multiple finishers for each. The springboard stunner and top rope legdrop were used by Cena. Owens missed an incredible looking moonsault from the top rope that Vader would be proud of. He did however, connect on an Attitude Adjustment on his own, and hit a senton from the top rope. After two clotheslines in a row that turned Owens inside out, Owens ducked a third and lifted Cena up for a destructive pop-up powerbomb in the center of the ring. As Owens covered Cena and the referee’s hand hit the mat for 3, it seemed as if the world stopped. I was stunned and said nothing as those around me were screaming in disbelief and happiness. Never in a million years would I have believed that Kevin Owens, who I had followed since 2007 and even got the privilege to interview, would defeat the face of the WWE in the center of the ring. After his victory, a 3:16-esque promo was delivered by Owens.
“John Cena, your time is way up. My time is now! And the champ is HERE!”
Although a clean victory against Cena elevates Owens high into the echelon of WWE, he now faces a rematch against Cena at the Money in the Bank PPV in 2 weeks and it will be very interesting to see how this story continues to pan out. All in all, this feud, although short, has captivated many fans and has garnered almost more attention than any in the WWE right now.
After this match, the crowd did not recover well. Emotionally drained and weak this crowd seemed after Owens and Cena stole the show, and the matches that followed didn’t seem to deliver nearly as well. Neville vs. Bo Dallas was next, which featured two former NXT Champions who are really at opposite ends of the spectrum. Dallas has been sporadic at best on WWE television while Neville has been showcased well and has won some important matches early in his WWE tenure. Neville won this match with the Red Arrow and I still see a promising future for him, as long as he keeps winning.
Aside from the ending to Owens/Cena being untouchable, I was shocked just as much with the ending to the Intercontinental Championship Elimination Chamber Match. With King Barrett being eliminated first, by R-Truth of all people, this match was interesting from the get go. Due to his fractured foot, Rusev was replaced by Mark Henry. After R-Truth was eliminated, Henry didn’t fare well either, being eliminated by Sheamus. After Dolph Ziggler got eliminated by Sheamus as well, it seemed as if it would be easy pickings for the Celtic Warrior to win the IC Title. However, in a finish I certainly did not see coming, “The Big Guy”, Ryback, hit Sheamus with the Shell Shocked and won his first singles title. It will be interesting to see where this win takes Ryback as the summer progresses.
After two solid Chamber matches and Kevin Owens pinning John Cena clean in the center of the ring, the main event STILL didn’t occur. That shows that even though this seemed like a show just thrown together haphazardly, it had some unforeseen depth. I’ll try to make my take on this match between Ambrose and Rollins for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship short and sweet. The match was back and forth, had a ton of interference by the end of it, and ended with Dean Ambrose walking out with the title. BUT, it was by way of a Disqualification and “Dusty Finish”, which is a term for an ending with a small technicality being the cause for a reversal of a decision. This was used by Dusty Rhodes during his matches while he was head booker. Rollins threw the referee into Ambrose as he came off the top rope. Ambrose struck the referee with his knee and hit the Dirty Deeds DDT on Rollins. With no referee in sight, he covered Rollins and waited for another referee to appear. One did, and made the 3 count, which was as much of a surprise as the ending to Owens/Cena. After the crowd popped huge for the win and the announcers sold it with great fervor and energy, Kane told the referee that Rollins was actually disqualified for throwing the referee into Ambrose. Technically, Ambrose wins the match, but he doesn’t win the belt. His “Lunatic Fringe” attitude took over, however, and he ran through the crowd with the WWE World Heavyweight Title, alongside his former Shield brethren, Roman Reigns. As it seems to me, Seth Rollins looks like he will still be the champion by the time SummerSlam rolls around, and Brock Lesnar and Roman Reigns will both be knocking at his door.
Until then, Money in the Bank is in 2 weeks and no WWE World Title match has been set yet. 6 members of the Money in the Bank Contract Ladder Match have been announced and along with the others to be named soon, it’s shaping up to be one of the best yet. (Ziggler/Neville/Orton/Reigns/Kingston/Sheamus have been announced at the time of this) As always, the Money in the Bank Ladder Match will be heavily hyped, and for good reason, as 87% of winners have gone on to successfully cash-in and win the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. Of course, current WWE Champion Seth Rollins was the latest to cash-in, being the first to do it at a WrestleMania. An early favorite for this match in my opinion would be Roman Reigns, who would likely cash in at SummerSlam, with or without Brock Lesnar in the discussion. It remains to be seen, however, who the other entrants (probably 2) are going to be. I would not be completely shocked if Lesnar is actually in this match and it would elevate this match’s interest twofold.
Reflecting on the WWE Elimination Chamber event as a whole, we all learned a few valuable things. The tag-team division has great depth, all the former members of The Shield are dominating the main event scene, and Kevin Owens is the real deal. I see nothing but a great future for Owens and it’s been incredible to see him rise through the business to where he is today. I thought this Network exclusive PPV was another nice segway into the Money in the Bank in 2 weeks and that show will begin a road to SummerSlam that will no doubt be filled with excitement, uncertainty, and Brock Lesnar.