The SmarK Rant for WWE Elimination Chamber 2018 – 02.25.18
(Originally written 02.25.18)
Live from Las Vegas, NV
Your hosts are Michael Cole, Corey Graves & Coach
RAW Women’s title: Alexa Bliss v. Bayley v. Mandy Rose v. Sonya DeVille v. Mickie James v. Sasha Banks
I feel like this “evolution” of the women’s side would be more meaningful if anyone really cared about the Chamber gimmick or many of the women in the match. Specifically, Mandy and Sonya. Anyway, I expect that the match will quickly grind to a halt from the audience chanting “Thank You Stephanie” due to her inventing women’s wrestling and all. Frankly I will be disappointed if it doesn’t happen.
We start with Bayley and Sonya and Bayley gets a bulldog and runs her into the turnbuckles, but Sonya punches her in the gut to take over as they leisurely use up the initial 5:00. Bayley does the Spider-Man climb of the cage and they fight on the apron until Bayley takes her down for two. Bayley with a suplex for two. Bayley goes up and Sonya tries to escape to the apron, so Bayley drops an elbow on her out there instead. Well that was dumb of Sonya. Back in, that gets two for Bayley.
Mandy Rose is unsurprisingly the next person into the match, and Bayley fights off both Absolution girls with corner splashes, but gets speared on the apron. The mean girls double-team Bayley and ram her into the cage (while the smart-asses in the front row chant “One more time”) and that gets two. They hang Bayley on the cage and beat her up, keeping in mind that they’ve got 5:00 alone with one person and this is the best they can come up with for strategy. It’s like when SD Jones is tagging with some higher-level guy in a squash situation and he gets a hot tag and then has no idea what to do before losing.
Next up is Sasha (after only 4:00) and she makes the save for Bayley and runs wild on the geekettes, then puts Sonya down with double knees for two. Double knees on Sonya in the corner gets two. Bayley and Sasha double-team Sonya and hurl her into the cage a few times, but Mandy makes a comeback on Sasha, only to walk into a backstabber and Bank Statement at 13:48. What a geek.
Next into the match is Mickie James, who is “a trailblazer of the women’s evolution”. And here I thought she was just Trish’s lesbian stalker. All that time she was a TRAILBLAZER! Anyway, she gets her shit in until Sonya cuts her off and runs her into the cage a few times. Mickie comes back with a rana and climbs onto the pod, then pins Sonya with a senton at 17:33. And then Sasha hits a backstabber into a Bayley belly to belly and the trailblazer is blazed out of the match at 18:09. Crowd boos the shit out of that one. So Bayley and Sasha relax for the last 2:00 and wait for Alexa to come out last. Alexa tries to run away and hides on top of the cage, but the babyfaces trap her on top of a pod. And then Sasha turns on Bayley anyway because Sasha is smart and Bayley is booked like a complete moron. Bayley runs Sasha into the pod to get revenge, but now she’s alone with a fresh Bliss. Alexa gets two on Bayley and chokes away, but Bayley comes back with a suplex and then Sasha turns on her AGAIN. So they slug it out in the corner and Alexa hits Dummy McDummerson with a superplex and Sasha hits a frog splash on Bayley for two. Bayley hits Sasha with the belly to belly, but Alexa cradles Bayley at 25:33 and she’s gone. Crowd has no sympathy for that whole situation. Bliss goes up with the splash and hits knees, but Sasha gets tripped up in the cage and Bliss puts her down with a neckbreaker. She goes up to the pod and hits the Twisted splash, but Sasha rolls her into the Bank Statement off that. Bliss breaks out of that in the corner and now she tries for the pod, but Bliss brings her down with a DDT for the pin to retain at 29:33. Wasn’t terrible, but it was WAY too long for the people involved and people had no patience for Bayley tonight. There was a lot of stalling and dead space between the big spots, too. Plus, let’s face it, Alexa just isn’t very good at that kind of level, no matter how much they keep booking her to win against all odds. **1/2 And then she gives a babyface speech after the win before turning on the crowd, and yet they all cheer for her anyway. I’m not sure who in the audience didn’t think she would win tonight, unless perhaps they bussed in a group of blind orphans who had never watched wrestling before tonight and couldn’t figure it out for themselves.
RAW tag team titles: Sheamus & Cesaro v. Titus O’Neil & Apollo
Now, I’m not a statistician like Dana Brooke, but I’m pretty sure there’s a theory that states “Once Titus O’Neil is booked on a WWE PPV in a tag title match on the main show, it’s time to end the brand split.” The Worldwide Jobbers (Roadblock and The Gambler!) clear the ring and Apollo hits the Bar with a dive, and into the ring with a flying splash on Cesaro for two. The champs cut off Apollo on the floor and work him over in their corner and Cesaro goes to a chinlock. Sheamus drops a knee for two and goes to a top wristlock as the bored crowd gets distracted by something, probably security confiscating a beach ball. The Bar continues getting the “heat” on Apollo with more chinlocks and cutting off the ring. I should note that Titus is FLAGRANTLY ignoring the tag rope. Some role model he is. Anyway, hot tag Titus and no one cares while he runs wild. Big boot gets two on Cesaro. Sheamus cuts him off, but walks into Clash of the Titus and that gets two. The champs decide to walk out, so Apollo hits them with a dive and brings Sheamus in for two. Sheamus cradles him for two while Cesaro gets rid of Titus on the floor, and back in they clip the knee of Apollo and finish with a double-team springboard dealie to retain at 10:45. They lost the crowd early and never got them back. Meanwhile, the tag titles continue to tread water with no direction. *1/2 But hey, Wrestlemania is coming, just stick 14 teams in a ladder match and call it a day.
Asuka v. Nia Jax
So if Asuka wins, she can still choose the champion she wants to face, but if Nia wins, then it’s a triple threat and Asuka has to face Alexa? I don’t really get the logic there. Asuka tries with dropkicks to start and dodges a charging Nia, but walks into a knee from the apron. Nia stomps her into the mat to take over and gets a corner splash and elbow for two, but the crowd is distracted by something AGAIN. Seriously, Vegas? Some guy at ringside has a sign that says “Simon Miller is my dad.” Like, the “Today I Found Out” guy from YouTube? Nia with a torture rack, but Asuka jumps into a guillotine attempt and Nia powers into a jackhammer to escape. Asuka fights back with kicks to the leg and puts her down for two. Nia tries a pump splash, but Asuka moves, only to walk into a collision with Nia that she loses. Nia misses a senton, but still lands on Asuka’s knee in a move that could have gone really wrong. Asuka jumps into the armbar, but Nia rams her into the corner to break. Nia makes the mistake of POINTING TO SIGN and tries a powerbomb, allowing Asuka to roll her up for the pin at 8:16. Never point to the sign until AFTER you’re going to Wrestlemania! That was a total rookie error. Good match, just long enough and hard-hitting. ***1/4 And then Nia spears her through the timekeeper’s barricade afterwards, which I’m assuming is “putting the locker room on notice.” It’s OK, Asuka is only supposed to be the undefeated monster challenging for the World title at Wrestlemania.
Matt Hardy v. Bray Wyatt
Bray mysteriously appears in the ring after Matt’s entrance, but Matt equally mysteriously disappears and sings the Obsolete song to him from the ether or void or whatever. Matt attacks from under the ring and laughs a bunch, and he’s unimpressed by Bray’s upside-down pose in the corner. DDT gets two. Bray puts him down with a forearm and gets a DDT for two, and we hit the chinlock while the announcers have one of their wacky bickering sessions. And then the crowd gets DISTRACTED AGAIN. Oh Jesus, maybe they should push the fucking beach ball instead of Reigns. They fight on the apron and the entire crowd is watching some other match in the stands and not paying attention in the least. They head to the floor and Bray tries a uranage on the stairs, but Matt escapes and then walks into a clothesline anyway. Back in, that gets two for Bray. Bray chokes away, but Matt fights back and now the crowd is doing the wave and they might as well give it up here. Matt with the Side Effect for two, but Bray counters the Side Effect with the uranage for two. Bray goes up and misses a senton, but recovers with a corner splash, only to walk into the Twist of Fate at 9:55. This Woken thing is deader than Sister Abigail. Perhaps he should recruit the beach ball as the new Vanguard-1. Match was OK, basically identical to the house show match they had here a couple of weeks ago. *1/2 This crowd, though…
Ronda Rousey is out to sign her contract, but HHH clarifies that she’ll be wrestling at Wrestlemania. Not in a championship match, but in some kind of match. So at this point, Angle chimes in about how HHH and Steph are trying to manipulate her to get revenge for Wrestlemania 31, at which point Ronda gets in Stephanie’s face until HHH plays peacemaker like he does in real life. So Ronda suplexes him through the table, which triggers a slap from Stephanie, who then runs away before she can get her comeuppance. This finally woke up the crowd, although it would have been better served on RAW. Although on the good side, we finally got Mean Face Ronda Being a Badass instead of whatever she was trying for at the Rumble.
Elimination Chamber: Elias v. Roman Reigns v. John Cena v. Seth Rollins v. Finn Balor v. Braun Strowman v. The Miz
So after TWENTY MINUTES of entrances, we finally start with Seth, Finn and Miz. And here I thought I’d get to go to bed at a decent hour. Finn fights off Seth and gets a low dropkick on Miz for two, and a kick to the back of Rollins for two. Seth comes back on both guys with even the announcers talking about how it’s kind of slow thus far, and Big Match John is next into the match at 6:00. Great, make the show EVEN LONGER by stretching out entrance times. Cena and Rollins get all in each other’s face and HOLY SHIT THE KNEE FINALLY HAS A NAME. It’s apparently called “The Revolution Knee”. Like the women’s revolution? Cena gets a double shuffle on Miz and Rollins, but Balor stomps him for two. Miz tries the Finale on Balor and gets rolled up for two, and Rollins superkicks Finn. Rollins escapes an AA from Cena and puts him down with the enzuigiri, but Miz hits Rollins with a neckbreaker for two. Cena and Rollins go with stereo superplexes on Miz and Balor and everyone is out and Roman is next in.
Roman punches everyone down, but Miz sneaks in with a DDT on Rollins for two. Miz hits everyone with the kicks, but Roman takes him out as well and gets a springboard clothesline on Balor for two. Powerbomb on Miz gets two. Everyone is out via the awesome power of the Big Dog, but Braun is the next guy in. Braun calmly comes in and lays waste, then hits Cena and Rollins with a double suplex. He kills Miz, then chases him up the pod and throws him down onto everyone else, then powerslams him for the pin at 20:15. After all that, Elias is the last guy in the match and everyone gangs up on Braun like COWARDS. So everyone teams up to powerbomb him, and Cena hits an AA for two. Then Roman with a spear on Braun for two. Rollins with a curb stomp and Balor with a double stomp on the apron. And then everyone else turns on each other and everyone is out. So at this point Elias comes in and gets two on everyone in sequence. Powerbomb on Reigns gets two. Finally Strowman recovers and Elias goes after him, which results in a powerslam and pin at 26:07.
Everyone goes back after Strowman again, and Cena dives at him and gets powerslammed at 27:24. OH MY GOD YOU GUYS CENA MIGHT NOT HAVE A CLEAR PATH TO WRESTLEMANIA NOW. You know, the 7 hour show where 300 people get shoved on there to fill the time? Braun fights off the other three guys left as we’ve got a weird dynamic with four babyfaces. Balor tries first with some kicks that take Braun off his feet, and he follows with the double stomp to the back of the head for two. Balor and Rollins trade enzuigiris and Balor hits the 1916 for two and then dropkicks Roman into the corner and follows with the coup de grace, but Strowman powerslams him at 31:38. Next, Reigns and Rollins decide to team up on Strowman, but Rollins decides to turn on Reigns, apparently not having read the booking sheet. Turnbuckle bomb is no-sold and Roman hits a Superman punch and both guys are out. Seth recovers and climbs to the top of the pod for a frog splash on Strowman, but that only gets two. The Shield teams up on him again, but Strowman fights them off and shakes off two superkicks from Rollins before pinning him at 37:30. So Braun tries for the powerslam on Reigns, but Roman fights him off and Strowman accidentally runs through the pod like a big oaf. Roman with the superman punch, but Strowman catches him on the spear attempt. Roman with another superman punch, and a spear for the pin at 41:05. Wow, what a shocker. And then Braun interrupts the sign-pointing and attacks Roman, laying him out with the powerslam and then putting him through one of the pods.
So lemme get this straight: They have Braun Strowman, who isn’t going to main event Wrestlemania, beat FIVE GUYS in this match and basically be untouchable, then lay out the winner and kill him? But ROMAN is supposed to be the big star of the company? I just legitimately don’t get it. If they don’t want to pull the trigger on Strowman, why keep pushing him in these situations? Why even have him in the match here? Clearly they like the guy and want him to be a big star, but they book him to fail EVERY SINGLE TIME.
Anyway, this was a real low-level Chamber match, slow and dull for the most part and shockingly lacking in heat for something so packed with supposed top stars. **3/4
Complete waste of time. Like, literally this show advanced nothing and told us nothing we didn’t already have figured out a year ago. Plus two of the top Wrestlemania challengers got laid out by people who are not facing them at Wrestlemania. Just a baffling and overly-long PPV that is Exhibit A for why dual brand PPVs are a thing of the past as of May. Thumbs down.
(In retrospect, that whole main event booking run ended up so senseless and self-defeating, with Braun getting killed off for good over the course of the year, Roman failing twice after his big Chamber win, and every other top babyface having their knees cut out from under them.)