WWE Elimination Chamber 2021: Every Match Ranked

The first of two pointless stops on the road to Wrestlemania is behind us, and whether or not you liked this show depends on what you focus on. The majority of the matches were pretty good in terms of in-ring action, they all had something going for them. However, there were several booking decisions that I thought were either questionable or straight-up bad.

My main takeaway was the gigantic gap in quality between the storylines on Raw & Smackdown right now. Smackdown is kicking Raw’s arse creatively right now and has been for some time. If you want proof of that, you just need to look at the landscape for Wrestlemania. Smackdown has their top men’s title match sorted out in Reigns vs Edge, and while it’s yet to be confirmed, they’re pretty clearly building to Bianca vs Sasha. Then, on the Raw side, things are an absolute mess. Asuka was originally announced on the pre-show to be facing a mystery opponent after Lacey Evans was forced to pull out of the match only for it to never be mentioned on the main show, so we’ve got no idea what’s going on there. Then you have the several moving parts around the WWE Championship that could go any number of ways.

You’ve got one show with a clear creative direction and one that doesn’t know up from down, which is ridiculous considering they’re run by the same company.

Enough stalling, let’s look at the goings-on from last night.

6 – Roman Reigns(c) def. Daniel Bryan
(Universal Championship)

This was extremely disappointing.

I was excited going into this show, as I thought that there was room for some fantastic storytelling. I was hoping we would get a performance from Bryan worthy of himself from 2014, where he’d go in a massive underdog and put up a fight greater than the odds thought was possible before ultimately falling at the last hurdle. Instead, we got a match that was just…nothing, really. I’m not saying they should’ve gone 20 minutes, I’m not going to be that demanding, but would it be unreasonable to ask for 8? Not the one and a half we got.

It didn’t even tell that interesting of a story. I never at any point bought Daniel Bryan could win, so the drama of him catching Reigns in the Yes! Lock just didn’t land for me. That’s not just because I’m jaded either; take Bryan vs Lesnar from 2018 as an example. We all knew there was no way Bryan would win that match, but when he kneed Lesnar in the face and went for that cover, I BELIEVED it was possible. This match just didn’t earn that level of investment. It blew its load too early, and by the time Bryan passed out in the guillotine, I’d lost interest.

Now, if this was the start of a slow build to Reigns vs Bryan at Wrestlemania, I’d be on board with that, but given that WWE has announced Reigns vs Edge for Mania, that’s not happening. It’s not impossible Bryan gets added to the match, but I highly doubt that will happen. Instead, it’s probably going to blow off at Fastlane, wasting a money match WWE could’ve saved in their back pocket for a bigger show.

5 – John Morrison def. Mustafa Ali, Ricochet & Elias
(Winner gets added to the United States Championship Match)
(Kickoff Show)

This match is like a distillation of all the potential talent WWE has wasted. That’s the real problem with this match, the action was all good, I just didn’t care. I feel horrible saying that because all of these wrestlers are insanely talented, but WWE has pissed it all away with terrible booking over the past few years. You then hear reports that apparently Vince “sees nothing” in wrestlers like Aleister Black & Shayna Baszler, and it absolutely boggles the mind how this man even got to the position he’s in today.

Now I’ve got that off of my chest, this was a fun 4-way match, and given that the winner was always going to be the fall guy in the US title match, I think John Morrison was a good pick for that role.

4 – Nia Jax & Shayna Baszler(c) def. Sasha Banks & Bianca Belair
(Women’s Tag Team Championships)

This match was a little formulaic in several ways, but I still think it was an enjoyable watch.

I expected the rift between Bianca & Sasha to form more clearly during this match, so I was surprised to see that it didn’t really happen. I can see where the jumping-off point for it is, but the two women were on the same page and quite a joy to watch for the majority of the match. That’s not surprising given how great we know they both are, but in another time, I would love to see these two have an extended run as a tag team. Their connection feels so genuine (probably because it is), and their in-ring styles mesh wonderfully – all the more reason to be excited about the Wrestlemania match.

As I said in my predictions, the champions retaining was definitely the right call. Involving the tag titles in Bianca & Sasha’s upcoming feud would just be a needless complication, and I’d rather see Nia & Baszler do something interesting on their own at Wrestlemania. The finish was a bit odd, but it was a creative way to protect the faces. I don’t know where this thing with Reginald is going, but I’m liking it, for the time being, I only hope it doesn’t outstay it’s welcome.

3 – Riddle def. Bobby Lashley(c) & John Morrison
(United States Championship)

It happened so slowly I barely even noticed, but I’ve really come around to liking Bobby Lashley now. Ever since he stopped talking and/or kissing Lana all the time, he’s slowly been getting better and better. Now he’s this absolute destroyer of a man who wrecks everyone who comes his way, and it’s brilliant.

That said, he wasn’t the start of the show here. His dominance in the early portion of the match gave way to Riddle & Morrison really going at it around the middle. Neither of these men have got much of a chance to display their full potential since coming to Raw (or coming back, in Morrison’s case), and I think this is the best version of both these men we’ve seen in a while. Morrison played his role perfectly, although it does raise the question of how this match was supposed to go before Keith Lee pulled out.

As things got into the final sections, there was plenty to enjoy. The action had a pace I enjoy, and all three men had their ‘almost’ moments coming up the finish. MVP’s crutch being Lashley’s downfall was a nice touch and a believable way to topple someone so seemingly monstrous as Lashley. I didn’t think they would pull the title change, but I’m glad Riddle is getting something worthwhile now. I don’t know where they’re going to go with it. As long as he doesn’t immediately lose it on Raw tonight, I’ll be happy.

2 – Daniel Bryan def. Jey Uso, Cesaro, Kevin Owens, Sami Zayn & King Corbin
(Winner gets a Universal Championship Match)(Elimination Chamber)

While I don’t think either chamber match last night were among the best, they were definitely still worthy versions of the stipulation. Honestly, I think you could reverse the order I’ve ranked these and still think it was reasonable. I just think the other chamber match had a better middle section.

The action in this match was pretty much all great. Bryan & Cesaro were absolutely the correct choices to start things off, and their battle kept that early portion of the match interesting. Sami Zayn was easily the star of the show early on, his stuff before the match was as great as always, and his contributions once he actually entered the match were the scheming heelish beats we’ve come to know and love from the man.

Once Corbin & Zayn were out of the way is when I think things got really good. Having three faces going up against a single heel could’ve been a bit awkward, but it was paced really well and felt more like Jey Uso putting together a gameplan than overcoming any odds. The spot with Owens’ arm in the chamber door was something we hadn’t seen before and quite brutal when you think about it. This definitely feels like the end of Owens being involved with Reigns & Uso, which is a bit of a shame because he’s been terrific, but I’m also looking forward to seeing what he does next.

The final three was excellent. As much as I wanted Cesaro to win, he had a fantastic showing here. His work against Bryan was technical mastery, and he worked well (albeit briefly) against Jey. As I’ve said, I don’t think Bryan was the right pick to win, but the fashion in which he did it certainly gives me nothing to complain about. This underdog style of wrestling is what I (and I think many others) love him for, and this was just like the old days.

1 – Drew McIntyre(c) def. AJ Styles, Sheamus, Jeff Hardy, Kofi Kingston & Randy Orton
(WWE Championship)
(Elimination Chamber)

AND

The Miz def. Drew McIntyre(c)
(WWE Championship)
(Money in the Bank Cash-In)

This was my preferred chamber match out of the two purely because I thought it was more consistently entertaining.

The mix of different styles in this match worked well, and we moved through some different phases are people came in. Things were a bit slower to start off with between Hardy & Orton, but as soon as Drew got in there, things picked up significantly. Kofi did better than I thought he was going to as well, eliminating Orton, which was quite a surprise. I’m sure many of us were expecting The Fiend or Alexa Bliss to get involved with Orton somehow, so to see him just get eliminated so quickly like that was quite the surprise, especially as it would be another 15 minutes before anyone else got eliminated.

Once everyone was out of their pods, there was plenty of fun to be had. Drew facing off against Sheamus was great, and I hope they’re not done with each other yet, even if they wait until after Wrestlemania. Styles got a better showing than I was expecting too, and that spot with Omos ripping the back off of the pod was another unique thing and fit Styles well. Speaking of Styles, that finish was something else, easily one of the best Claymore kicks I’ve seen, ending things with a bang.

The main headline, though, happened after the match, where Bobby Lashley came down, wrecked Drew, which Miz used as an opportunity to cash-in Money in the Bank and win the world title. I’m slightly torn on this.

In a bubble, I’m happy to see Miz get another world title run; he definitely deserves it. However, this isn’t 2017 Miz, the best heel in the company. This is 2020/21 Miz, who has been booked like a chump for over a year. He & Morrison have been portrayed as the most ineffective wrestlers on the planet. They haven’t been able to beat anyone, even when it’s 2 on 1. It just seems like such a leap to make.

However, I’m pretty confident Miz is just a transitional champion. They showed hints of collusion between Miz & The Hurt Business, and the deal was almost certainly giving Lashley the first shot at the title. I’ll honestly be surprised if Miz is still champion come Wrestlemania, and there’s absolutely no way he’s walking out of that show with the title. I think Lashley is going to win that title soon – something I’m definitely in favour of – it’s just a matter of whether he gets it a Fastlane and drops it to Drew at Mania, or Drew gets it back at Fastlane, only to drop it to Lashley at Mania.

It’s all still up in the air and a bit of a mess, but I’m interested to see where it goes.

WWE Elimination Chamber 2021: Predictions & Analysis

Well, that PPV cycle sure went quick. The Royal Rumble feels like it was just a week ago, and I could’ve sworn this PPV was scheduled for next weekend, but that shows what I know, I guess. The bright side is that this time of year always has me excited for wrestling shows, even if the TV isn’t the best.

This show is a bit of an interesting one because it’s pretty much entirely wheel spinning. Usually, Elimination Chamber will at least set the stage for a Wrestlemania match or two, but this one really has no bearing on the Mania card. I know both of the titles are up for grabs, but if you think either of them are going to change hands on Sunday, then you’re clearly new to wrestling. On top of that, no number 1 contenders are being decided; the only possibility is that Edge will come and confront the champion he wants to face at Wrestlemania, but even that already feels like a done deal.

That said, I really like the Elimination Chamber. It’s not WWE’s best gimmick match by a long shot, but I think (2020 notwithstanding) the past few years have produced a lot of really great chamber matches, and this year promises to add to that.

NOTE: About the Asuka vs Lacey Evans match. WWE still seems to be advertising it as happening, but if it’s true that Lacey is pregnant (which just about everywhere seems to be reporting she is) that match won’t be going ahead. I’m not sure what WWE are going to do about it, but given that I don’t think it’s taking place, I’m not going to predict it. I don’t know who WWE would put up as a replacement, it wouldn’t surprise me if they just didn’t bother, but either way, I think Asuka will still be champion by the end of the night.

Nia Jax & Shayna Baszler(c) vs Sasha Banks & Bianca Belair
(Women’s Tag Team Championships)

Remember when the women’s tag division had actual tag teams to challenge the champs and not just some pairings thrown together on a whim? No, me neither, which is sort of the problem with the whole endeavour right now.

While it’s not been anything incredible, the build has been fairly enjoyable week-to-week, mostly thanks to the overall high quality of Smackdown so far this year. It’s not without problems, though, mainly how the build has focused around Bianca’s uneasy alliance with Banks and that Bianca is definitely going to challenge Sasha at Mania. Jax & Baszler have once again been kicked to the curb a bit in favour of the feuds involving the ‘bigger stars’.

That said, I’m hopeful this will be a good one. This should get a decent amount of time thanks to the lack of matches booked for this show, and three of the four women are among WWE’s best. I’d imagine WWE would be eager to showcase Bianca especially following her Rumble win.

I think it’s a pretty solid lock that Nia Jax & Shayna Baszler are going to retain. They may lose the titles only to get them back when Sasha & Bianca fall out, but they literally just did that with Charlotte, so I don’t see the point in doing it again. I think it’d be much better for Sasha & Bianca to fall out here, and we get going with their Wrestlemania build properly. I’m interested to see how that build goes because Bianca is 100% the face that everyone will be behind, but I don’t think it’d be a good idea to turn Banks heel again this soon. Hopefully, WWE will be smart enough to let Banks skirt the line between heel & face a bit, as she’s more than capable of doing it. Either way, having the women’s tag titles involved would just needlessly complicate things, so keep them on the champs for now.

Bobby Lashley(c) vs Keith Lee vs Riddle
(United States Championship)

This build has been messy as all hell.

Riddle’s been chasing Lashley for quite a while now, even running the gauntlet of The Hurt Business and fighting them off at every opportunity. So it seems really weird for Keith Lee to suddenly step in on his scene like this. I mean, sure, why shouldn’t he? And I love Keith Lee, so I’m not going to complain too much; it just seems like a real dick move to pull on Riddle. The Hurt Business has continued to be the best part of Raw the past couple of months, giving us some much needed entertaining promo segments on a Raw that is currently an absolute chore to get through every week.

I’m looking forward to the match, though. I wasn’t huge on Lashley for a while, but I’ve come around to him now he’s got a faction backing him up and just needs to rely on destroying fools. Riddle & Lee are both excellent, so I can only imagine the chemistry they’ll have in the ring. Additionally, the triple threat factor means that this match should be a lot of fun with a fast pace and high-impact action.

I can see the result going all three ways if I’m honest with you. Putting the belt on Keith Lee would be something I’m in favour of as he’s not been featured very well in recent months, but it might feel a bit out of nowhere for him to suddenly show up and win the title. Riddle winning the title is a possibility too, he’s been chasing The Hurt Business for ages now, and it’d seem a bit cruel for him to not get it here. Ultimately though, I’m going with Bobby Lashley. In a situation like this, picking the champ to retain is always a safe bet, and I think by keeping the belt on Lashley, the door is open for Lee to take the title in a singles match at Mania.

Drew McIntyre(c) vs Randy Orton vs AJ Styles vs Sheamus vs Jeff Hardy vs Kofi Kingston
(WWE Championship)
(Elimination Chamber)

Generally, I’d go through each of the participants for a match like this and give my thoughts on their chances in the match, but there’s really only one outcome here.

In a clear example of the fact that WWE has no idea who Drew’s going to face at Mania, they’ve thrown this match together on a whim, and while it’s pointless, it will probably be very good. There’s the right mix of hard-hitters and high-flyers in this match, and I think we’ll get a lot of varied action as the thing progresses.

The only real problem here is that I don’t have all that much to say about it. The build’s been very short and okay, I guess; gauntlet matches are pretty fun. All that’s really left to talk about is the winner, and as I’ve already made obvious, I’m picking Drew McIntyre to retain. The dude just beat Goldberg clean, so there’s no way they’d have him suddenly drop the title to Jeff Hardy on a b-show PPV. Not to mention the fact that they’ve already put together the Wrestlemania promo package, which shows both Drew & Reigns holding their titles.

The only person I thought had any potential to take the title was Orton, but it’s clear that he’s going to be dealing with The Fiend at Mania, so that rules him out. Styles already lost his shot in December, and while they’re all former world champions, Sheamus, Hardy & Kingston have not been booked on a main-event level at all over the past year and don’t fit the title at the moment.

Kevin Owens vs Jey Uso vs Daniel Bryan vs King Corbin vs Sami Zayn vs Cesaro
(Elimination Chamber)

AND

Roman Reigns(c) vs The Winner of the Elimination Chamber Match
(Universal Championship)

This is the chamber match that I’m far more excited to see because – with one exception – I adore all of the talent involved, and it’s sure to be a blinder of a match. What’s better is the result of this one isn’t super obvious, so I can go through it person by person.

King Corbin – While Corbin is one of those people that could be catapulted into the main event out of nowhere at any time, it’s not going to happen here. He’s been booked like a chump in the latter half of the past year, and with Reigns on top, there’s no room for another main-event heel.

Sami Zayn –Zayn’s work of late has been fantastic, even if I don’t think it’s going to lead anywhere. The conspiracy theory stuff allows Zayn to get the best out of himself and do wonderfully entertaining things like handcuffing himself to barricade for half of Smackdown. That said, I don’t think it’s going to lead to a real main-event push, and, as I said before, while Reigns is the champion, no other heel is getting a look in.

Jey Uso – Jey’s story with Roman was one of WWE’s better stories of 2020, but it feels like it’s reached a status quo for now, at least until Jimmy returns from injury. While it would be entertaining to watch, I don’t think there’s anything to be gained from Uso fighting Reigns again. They could do a finger-poke of doom thing, but that would make everyone very angry, so no.

Daniel Bryan – Now we’re getting into the people I think might win. Bryan & Reigns started building a feud around November, but it got dropped out of nowhere, and they never returned to it. It seemed like it was going to be the Mania match, but now Edge has won the Rumble, and it seems pretty likely he’s going to fight Roman at Mania instead. Bryan would be a good strong win for Reigns, and it’d be perfect for the underdog story of having to go through a Chamber match before fighting Reigns.

I just don’t quite see it. If it’s going to lead to a Mania match (which it might), then I’d be in favour of it, but I don’t think that’s the direction WWE want to go, and given how big of a match Reigns vs Bryan is, I don’t think they’d give it away on a b-show like this.

Cesaro – One of the most surprising aspects of 2021 so far is that fact that Cesaro has actually been getting somewhat of a sustained singles pushed. He’s beaten Daniel Bryan clean twice now, and word was he was originally going to get the ironman spot in that gauntlet match in January. As such, I think he’s in with a shout of getting this one-and-done shot the title on this show. Having Cesaro gut it out in the Chamber, put on an exciting but ultimately unsuccessful showing against might be a brilliant way to build him up even further.

Kevin Owens – The final leading contender here, and this would definitely make the most narrative sense. Owens has addressed the fact that he was totally screwed out of the win at the Rumble, and you’d think that would mean there’s still a loose thread to pull on here. On top of that, Owens has all the momentum in the world, and it would be a shame to see it dropped all of a sudden.

I’m struggling to make my pick here. As I said, Owens seems like the obvious choice, but I’m not so sure. While there is that loose thread to pull on, I just don’t see what can be gained from Reigns beating Owens again. It may be a great performance for Owens, but I don’t think it’ll benefit him any more than the Last Man Standing match did, and Reigns doesn’t look all that great beating a guy he’s already beat twice before, even if it was dirty.

I’ve decided I’m going to go with what I want to happen instead, and I’m picking Cesaro to win the Chamber match. It might not lead to anything huge for the guy, but I think it could be an extremely entertaining story and let Cesaro show that he can hang in the main event, like so many of us have known for years. He’s not going to win, though, and come the end of the night, Roman Reigns will still be Universal Champion.

So there you have it! Thank you very much for taking the time to read this post. Please, let me know what you think is going to happen on Sunday, either in the comments below or on Twitter @SStyleSmark. Finally, make sure to come back here this time on Monday for my review of the show!

WWE Elimination Chamber 2020: Every Match Ranked

The final PPV before Wrestlemania (I fucking hope) is finally in the books and…yeah, it was alright, I guess. It pretty much exactly met my expectations, most of the matches that I thought would be good were good and the ones that I thought would be boring were boring and in the end, I think the show came out at about 50/50 in terms of quality and ultimately, I don’t think it was a necessary stop on the way to Wrestlemania.

Let’s look at the matches then.

8 – The Viking Raiders def. Zack Ryder & Curt Hawkins
(Kickoff Show)

Remember every pre-show tag team match from the past two years? Yeah, this was one of those only slightly shorter.

It honestly blows my mind who in WWE took a look at the Viking Raiders and thought “yeah, let’s have Hawkins & Ryder get in loads of offence against them”, so what if they’re former Raw Tag Champions? I bet most people didn’t even remember that was a thing until I just said it right then. I don’t want to be that guy who sits around and moans about how Raw & Smackdown “bury” NXT talent, but I think the sheer lack of interest whoever’s running Raw is showing the Viking Raiders is an absolutely huge waste.

Yes, I know, they won the match, but this should’ve been a 2-minute squash at best, but whatever, not like anyone’s going to remember or care about it by the time Raw airs.

7 – Sami Zayn & Shinsuke Nakamura & Cesaro def. Braun Strowman(c)
(Intercontinental Championship)
(3 on 1 Handicap)

Oh…well ok then.

I don’t quite know how to feel about this if I’m honest. I mean, the match was an absolute bore, hence why it’s placed this low but in terms of the result, I can see both sides. On the one hand, it’s a disaster for Strowman, not just the result, but how he looked throughout the match too. This is a man we’ve seen get up from just about anything, he spent months getting beaten down by Roman Reigns and continuously getting back up, for God’s sake, this is the guy who was in the back of an ambulance as it crashed, at speed, into a wall and WALKED AWAY, but apparently, Nakamura stomping him in the corner 2 minutes into the match is enough to keep him down.

I mentioned in my predictions that any result other than Strowman winning would be a massive anti-climax and to a certain extent, I stand by that. The whole match felt so desperately like it was building to Strowman coming back and wiping the floor with all three of them, but that never came to pass. Instead, they did that weird-ass looking suplex/kick to the head that honestly looks so weak and Sami Zayn won the Intercontinental Championship.

Now…

Sami Zayn winning the Intercontinental Championship is a good thing, of course it is. Zayn’s been so undervalued for so long and to see him finally win a title is brilliant. However. I think Strowman retaining would’ve been a better option, especially if the result of this is just going to be Strowman squashing Zayn at Mania, which it probably will be. Maybe I’m wrong and if this turns into a really entertaining heel reign as champion then I’ll hold my hands up and admit it, but I’m not optimistic.

6 – Aleister Black def. AJ Styles
(No Disqualification)

It pains me to do this, it really does, but this match sucked.

While I understand the no DQ stipulation was necessary to tell the story they wanted to tell, but it totally screwed the match in terms of quality. I know that these two could put on a fever-pitched classic if they were given the opportunity, but instead, this started slow and got slower as it went on. It wasn’t all boring, I did enjoy the focus on the leg because it makes perfect sense when fighting a guy like Black and it led to a rather tense spot as Styles locked in the Calf Crusher.

This match certainly wasn’t helped by a completely dead crowd. I understand why though. They’d just watched a rather tiring Chamber match and they were waiting for The Undertaker to show up, but it definitely detracted from my enjoyment of the match and likely contributed to the slow pace. Speaking of The Undertaker, although his appearance was predictable, it was still exciting and was absolutely the right move for both the story and the general context of both guy’s strength on the current roster.

While I would’ve liked Black to win without any assists, it wasn’t feasible when Styles had to be kept strong for The Undertaker. I’d rather they hadn’t booked this match at all, but since they did, I think this was the best way to get out of it. Doesn’t make it interesting to watch though.

5 – The Steet Profits(c) def. Seth Rollins & Murphy
(Raw Tag Team Championships)

I’ll be honest, I was quite disappointed with how this one turned out.

After their entertaining showing at Super ShowDown, I was expecting this match to build off of that and put on a really fun tag match, but instead, I don’t think it ever quite got going. Things were nice and fast out of the gate and I thought that everyone involved here had a strong sense of character and it made all of the story beats – including Viking Raiders showing up to deal with AOP – quite entertaining and I continue to become more and more involved in this story as a whole.

After Rollins & Murphy took control towards the middle, I thought we were building to somewhat of an explosive final 5 minutes once Ford got the hot-tag, but it just didn’t happen. There were hints of it in there, but I didn’t find any of the action all the engaging and then Kevin Owens showed up (with some top-notch acting to be fair) and the whole match just sort of stopped to focus on that instead. The finish that came immediately after it felt quite sudden too and I was left feeling quite deflated by the end of it all.

4 – Shayna Baszler def. Sarah Logan & Ruby Riott & Natalya & Liv Morgan & Asuka
(Winner faces Becky Lynch at Wrestlemania)

Ok, we can all breathe a sigh of relief, they didn’t fuck it up.

Probably the only thing on this show to actually matter, this match did everything we wanted it to do for Shayna Baszler. She wiped the floor with absolutely everyone and looked like a monster in the process, a lot of the offence she got in looked absolutely brutal and I’m not entirely sure Liv Morgan is ever going to be able to walk again after Baszler damn near caved her head in at certain points.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t the most entertaining match to watch. Riott & Natalya started off well enough, but everything they were doing is stuff we’ve seen in Elimination Chamber matches seemingly hundreds of times before and I can’t say I was all that engaged by it. Then, once Baszler got in and had dispatched of everyone, we just had to watch her shouting at the people in the pod for what felt like forever and I just lost interest. Don’t get me wrong, you’ve gotta have a bit of that to help Baszler look great, but it dragged on for way too long and it’s not like anyone would care if the clock ran down a little faster. I was hoping we’d get a little bit more between Baszler & Asuka at the end, but I’m ok with it going shorter than it could’ve because you don’t want to give that away right now when it could be a big match later down the line.

Although I have my complaints, I’m happy with how this all turned out. It’s a rare case with WWE, where I’m fine with forgiving something not quite as good right now because I’m confident it’s going to lead to something really great in a month or so.

3 – Andrade(c) def. Humberto Carrillo
(United States Championship)

You know, it’s only just dawned on me exactly how long this feud has been going on. No wonder they’re putting on matches like this after so much time together.

After many months of not quite understanding who Carrillo is, the stuff with Garza has helped Carrillo grow a bit of an edge to him as a character and I think it’s helped his in-ring style too. He felt a lot more hard-hitting here and I’m finally getting behind him more as a character than I have been in previous encounters.

This lead to what I thought was quite an entertaining match. It started out fast and furious and it really got the crowd involved for the length of the match. Things slowed in the middle but I think it kept the action fresh for when things eventually began to accelerate again. The finish was a little weird, but I do have a soft spot for spots with constant roll-ups and it’s a rare treat that one of them actually gets the win. I perhaps would’ve preferred a clean finish, but this gives Carrillo a decent enough excuse to get himself in on whatever multi-man affair happens around Mania, so I think it’s fair enough.

2 – The Miz & John Morrison(c) def. Lucha House Party & Heavy Machinery & Dolph Ziggler & Robert Roode & The New Day & The Usos
(Smackdown Tag Team Championships)
(Elimination Chamber)

Once again, this was about as good as I was expecting it to be, which is pretty nice.

Usos vs New Day was easily the best choice to start things out and it kept the action going for long enough until the ring started to fill up. Each subsequent team that entered each added something new to the action, I was surprised that Lucha House Party looked as good as they did and once Miz & Morrison got involved, it added a lot of great heel work into the action. Heavy Machinery are also on an absolute tear right now. I’m still not entirely behind them as characters, but as wrestlers, I totally get it now.

There were downsides though. For one thing, I don’t think there was enough good use of the time between entrants. There seemed to be a big spot when a team first enters and just before the next team enters, but a lot of the time in between was spent milling around or with some rather boring action, it would’ve been nice to see some actual interesting wrestling while waiting for more entrants.

When I say “interesting wrestling” I don’t mean more dives off the top of the pod because, by my count, there were five of these in this match (six if you count Ziggler being thrown off by Tucker) and it’s just not an impactful spot anymore. Speaking of, Dorado’s Moonsault from the top of the chamber looked cool, although the setup was a bit weird as all of the wrestlers were watching him climb around and we all just had to pretend not to notice until he was in position.

Once things got down to the final three business really picked up and I had a lot of fun watching the action. Miz & Morrison did exactly what they needed to do, picking their spots to get the eliminations at the perfect moments and the final battle between them and The Usos was a magnificent little sequence that whetted my appetite for more of it in the weeks and months to come.

Overall, it won’t go down as one of the best chamber matches ever, but for what it was I really enjoyed it, especially towards the end when the pace accelerated exponentially until the finish.

1 – Daniel Bryan def. Drew Gualk

Oh, so we’re treating Gulak like a real wrestler now? Took you long enough.

This was such an interesting match to watch because it’s not the kind of style we see very often in WWE anymore. This mat-based style of wrestling walks such a fine line between being tense & interesting and slow & boring, luckily, this landed on the better side of that line. It was never a match that was never going to pop a modern American crowd, but I still think it did wonders for Gulak’s credibility.

I really got into the story being told here and I just loved how Gulak seemed to have just about everything in Bryan’s arsenal scouted. It gives the impression of him being the thinking man’s heel, winning matches through actually being smart, rather than cheating. Bryan filled his role here perfectly too, being surprised by Gulak’s competence early on but slowly feeling him out and adapting to his style, eventually getting to the point where Bryan could also counter whatever Gulak was throwing his way.

The finish was brilliant too because it didn’t make Gulak look weak, despite the fact he tapped. The way Bryan so smoothly slipped into the LeBelle lock gives me in the impression that Bryan learnt Gulak’s game and adapted, while Gulak stuck to his gameplan and couldn’t quite out-think Bryan once he started innovating. I’m not sure where this will lead, but I just hope it’s somewhere, I think WWE have stumbled upon a really interesting story here and they shouldn’t let it slip through their fingers.

And there you have it! Those are my thoughts on Elimination Chamber 2020. Thank you very much for taking the time to read this and please let me know what you thought of the show, either in the comments below or on Twitter @10ryawoo. Finally, make sure to come back this time on Saturday where I’ll be running down my favourite Virtual Reality games!

WWE Elimination Chamber 2020: Predictions & Analysis

No rest for the wicked and this is WWE so…

Once again, the Saudi Arabia shows have a weird knock-on effect, because despite the fact that this happens EVERY TIME and we end up building to two PPVs right next to one another, WWE never learn their lesson and schedule their shows just a little bit further apart for once, do they?

As it stands, this is looking up to be a pretty inconsequential show. The only match that promises to have a direct effect on the Wrestlemania card is arguably the easiest to predict on the whole show and everything else is just wheel spinning. At the very least, I’m confident that at least a few of the matches will be good ones to watch, so at least it might not be a total waste of time.

Daniel Bryan vs Drew Gualk

Well, if it gets Gulak on Pay-Per-View, I suppose I can’t argue.

I’m not entirely certain what the point of this story is. Are we finally trying to get Gulak over as a serious competitor, or are we just reminding everyone that Daniel Bryan exists ahead of Wrestlemania? I know Bryan has reportedly been pushing for some of the guys lower down the totem pole to get some feature matches, so is this a part of that?

Regardless of the motivation behind it, the match should be brilliant, even if it only lasts 10 minutes or so. I stand firm in the belief that Gulak is the best technical wrestler WWE’s revived Cruiserweight division ever saw and I’ve made my feelings about Daniel Bryan very clear of the years, so these two technical masters meeting in the ring should be a real treat.

Given that it’s a fresh storyline, there’s a chance that some shenanigans will happen here in order to set something up for Wrestlemania, but I’m leaning more towards this being a stop-gap for something bigger that WWE has in store for Bryan, maybe an Intercontinental title match? Please? Either way, I’m pretty confident that Daniel Bryan is going to come away with the win on this one.

Aleister Black vs AJ Styles
(No Disqualification)

This is a bad idea.

Don’t get me wrong, I adore both of these wrestlers and I’m sure that given the chance they could put on a match of the year contender, but this is just such a bad time to have them clash like this and I really don’t see a positive outcome here. Styles has a match with The Undertaker on the horizon and needs to look good, but Black has barely had room to breathe on Raw and a loss here could totally destroy his credibility and start a long descent into Cedric Alexander territory.

I’m not even sure they’ll be given all that much of an opportunity to show their stuff in this match either. The no DQ stipulation likely means Black will be fighting off Gallows & Anderson the whole time and the match will be generally much slower than it needs to be in order to play to the strengths of these two.

For a winner, I’m picking Aleister Black, but it’s not going to be clean. I think the most likely scenario is that The Undertaker gets involved somehow, maybe physically, but it’s more likely that towards the end of the match, a gong will go off, which will distract Styles and let Black get the win. This whole thing isn’t an ideal scenario, but I think that’s the circumstance that lets both men get away with as little damage to their credibility as possible.

Andrade(c) vs Humberto Carrillo
(United States Championship)

Want a United States title opportunity? It’s easy! Just lose a match on Pay-Per-View and it’s yours!

I like Humberto Carrillo, I honestly do, but I really think it’d be a mistake to have him win the title here. Not only has Carrillo already lost to Andrade at Royal Rumble, but he also lost just over a week ago to Angel Garza, a wrestler who is much more deserving of this opportunity at the present time.

Hopefully, the match will be pretty good as long as it doesn’t get dumped on the pre-show. These two have proved before that they can work extremely well together and I have every faith in them that they’ll make the most of whatever time they get to put on a compelling contest. I’m not too sure on the winner, but Andrade retaining feels right to me, especially going into Wrestlemania, where I think it’s likely we’ll have some sort of multi-man affair, hopefully in ladder form.

The Street Profits(c) vs Seth Rollins & Murphy
(Raw Tag Team Championships)

Oh…I’ll be honest, I thought the Rollins & Murphy thing was going somewhere.

WWE have really done their job of compressing this feud into basically no time at all. I thought it was likely that we’d see this match again on this show, but I certainly didn’t expect The Street Profits to be walking in as champions. It’s nice that they’ve won the titles, but I’m not entirely sure it was the right move for the story, especially if they’re just going to drop the titles right back again.

As much as I think The Street Profits are great, the story and the momentum is with Rollins & Murphy right now. I know that he’s likely going to finally get his big singles match with Owens going into Wrestlemania, but I thought it would’ve been cool with Rollins & Murphy still had the titles during that time.

If Rollins weren’t about to be fighting Owens, then I’d pick him & Murphy to win, however, I think The Street Profits are going to slip away with the titles in this one. I’m not sure what they’re going to do with the belts and I have a horrible feeling that the titles are going to return to their status as the least important belts in the entire company, but at least this match will probably be a good one.

Braun Strowman(c) vs Shinsuke Nakamura & Sami Zayn & Cesaro
(Intercontinental Championship)
(3 on 1 Handicap)

Oh boy, time to make three of the best wrestlers on the planet look totally worthless.

From a story standpoint, I’ve mostly enjoyed this stuff with Nakamura & Zayn. It’s a bit weird how Cesaro had been thrown in with little explanation, but Zayn is easily one of the best managers we’ve seen in WWE for a long time and as for Nakamura, it’s just nice to see him on TV regularly for a change.

In terms of quality, I’m not sure which way this match will go. If it’s a bit of a clusterfuck with Cesaro, Zayn & Nakamura constantly moving in for the kill while Strowman desperately tries to fend them off from all angles, it could actually be a lot of fun and something we don’t see very often. Unfortunately, I don’t think it’s going to be that interesting. I think what’s more likely is the trio use the numbers advantage to pummel Strowman for a while until he makes a comeback, destroys all three of them before probably pinning them all at once.

Speaking of, Braun Strowman is absolutely retaining his title here, not only has he not had any chance to do anything with the title yet, but it’s one of those situations where the odds have been stacked SO heavily against him if he didn’t win it’d seem like a gigantic anti-climax. While I’m not happy about having Nakamura, Zayn & Cesaro treated like chumps, if this is what we have to go through in order to get Strowman into a credible position for a great Wrestlemania match (hopefully against Daniel Bryan), then I think I’m willing to make that sacrifice.

The Miz & John Morrison(c) vs The New Day vs The Usos vs Heavy Machinery vs Dolph Ziggler & Bobby Roode vs Lucha House Party
(Smackdown Tag Tema Championships)
(Elimination Chamber)

I always think these tag team chamber matches are going to be confusing messes, but then they never are.

I’m actually quite excited to see how this one plays out, New Day, Usos and Niz & Morrison are all great in-ring tag teams and the other three teams are certainly nothing to turn your nose up at either. There are a nice few interlinking stories going into this one too. The Usos have been trying to get up in The New Day’s grill the past couple of weeks, while New Day seek revenge for Miz & Morrison stealing their titles. Add on top of that the surprisingly compelling stuff between Otis & Ziggler and we’ve got a recipe for a very entertaining match ahead of us. Oh, and Lucha House Party are also there I guess.

As entertaining as this should be, I don’t think there’s much argument to be made about the winner. The Miz & John Morrison only won the titles 9 days ago and they’ve still got so much that they can do with the belts going into Wrestlemania. It would make no sense if they lost the titles this soon, so I think they’re going to find a way to sneak of the chamber still champions.

Asuka vs Shayna Baszler vs Liv Morgan vs Ruby Riott vs Natalya vs Sarah Logan
(Winner faces Becky Lynch at Wrestlemania)
(Elimination Chamber)

Look, I know it was always going to be obvious, but it would’ve been nice if WWE had at least pretended someone other than Shayna stands a chance of winning this.

I don’t think many people will disagree with me when I say that this match’s only purpose is to show off how much of a beast Shayna Baszler is ahead of her Wrestlemania match with Becky. Hopefully, we’ll get a little bit of action between the three former Riott Squad members, but the spotlight here should be firmly on Shayna as she rips everyone apart.

In case you hadn’t already worked it out I think Shayna Baszler is going to win this one. As much as I love them, Riott, Morgan & logan just haven’t been built even nearly enough to have a featured Wrestlemania spot against WWE’s most popular star. Natalya & Asuka would both be legitimate contenders, however, they’ve already had big matches with Becky over the past year, so they’re out. Baszler is white-hot, has already started talking to Becky like she’s got the match and still had outstanding beef with Becky from Survivor Series, everything points to her and nothing will convince me otherwise.

So there you have! Thank you very much for taking the time to read these predictions, please, let me know what you think is going to happen on Sunday, either in the comments below or on Twitter @10ryawoo. Finally, make sure to come back on Monday, where I’ll be recapping the show!

WWE Elimination Chamber 2019: Every Match Ranked

Another good one! Which means WWE is already doing better than they do at the start of most years in terms of good shows.

I don’t know if I just wasn’t expecting very much, or it really was that good but coming away from this show I found myself really surprised at how good it was. Both of the gimmick matches delivered and most of the mid-card was really entertaining too. It’s the kind of thing you don’t really expect from a February PPV, but here we are.

It wasn’t all brilliant though, so let’s take a look as I rank every match from Elimination Chamber 2019.

7 – Baron Corbin def. Braun Strowman
(No Disqualification)

As much as I liked this show, it is kind of weird how it turned into Raw for 45 minutes before the main event.

I moaned in my predictions about how we’re already back to the same old crap despite being told by WWE that times are changing, and that was very clearly on display here.

I get that there’s some poetic justice to Braun having done to him what was done to Corbin at TLC, but this feud has been the most boring part of Raw since Crown Jewel and needlessly extending it like seems like a horrible choice; especially considering Braun will likely get his win back on Raw. I also don’t quite understand why Lashley cares about any of this. He’s just lost IC title and outside of a meaningless 6 man tag match on Raw, he hasn’t been aligned with Corbin since last November.

If this is going to lead to Drew vs Braun at Mania then I guess this will be worth it, but we’ve still got a whole other PPV to go before then, and I really can’t be bothered to watch this every single week for another month.

6 – Ronda Rousey(c) def. Ruby Riott
(Raw Women’s Championship)

Admittedly the real story here is everything that happened after the match, but the actual match is what gets ranked here, and it wasn’t long enough to go any higher.

I get that Ruby Riott was only intended as cannon fodder for Rousey and was never going to win, but couldn’t you have at least tried to make her look good? Rousey’s really good at getting the best out of her opponent and I really think these two could’ve put on a solid match if they’d been given the chance.

Instead, the armbar was on pretty much instantly and Ruby tapped just as quick, and before the camera even had the chance to cut away Ruby was walking to the back. Everything that happened after that point was pretty good, not quite as good as what had been going on between these ladies on Raw the past few weeks, but still pretty good. I just feel that if this was always your goal, then instead advertise a “face to face” between Rousey and Charlotte, then have Becky show up during that instead of having Ruby Riott look like a chump.

5 – Buddy Murphey(c) def. Akira Tozowa
(Cruiserweight Championship)

This match was good, but I don’t really have a lot to say about it.

That’s the problem with these matches being the pre-show really, you can only watch so many before you run out of things to say about them. Like I said this match was good with a lot of fun stuff in it, but there aren’t any headlines outside of “Buddy Murphey retains”.

Especially on this show, which ended about 15 minutes early, you could’ve quite easily put this on the main show, and some throwaway tag team match like Rusev & Nakamura vs The Club on the pre-show instead. I know that’s not the best solution, but at least it makes more sense than constantly putting these amazing wrestlers (and an entire division) on the pre-show despite often putting on some of the best matches of the night.

4 – Finn Balor def. Bobby Lashley(c) & Lio Rush
(2 on 1 Handicap)
(Intercontinental Championship)

Well, colour me surprised.

I know the way this went down seems fairly obvious in hindsight, but I was really certain Balor wouldn’t be picking up the title here, not that I’m complaining. The match itself was nothing special, but watching it actually felt quite exciting, which was probably helped by the crowd being red hot throughout the entire show last night.

As much as Lio Rush being called the weak link isn’t great considering his talent, it makes story sense that he’s the reason Lashley lost the IC title. I imagine we’ll get a one on one match where Balor retains clean at some point before Mania anyway, but this is certainly a good first step in the story.

I’m also kind of looking forward to seeing a Lashley vs Rush match since I imagine Rush’s unique style of offence will bounce well off of Bobby’s fairly generic hoss style. So actually, this move seemed to be quite a good one that will likely lead to lots of interesting stuff.

3 – The Usos def. Shane Mcmahon & The Miz(c)
(Smackdown Tag Team Championships)

Yet another surprising title change! I’m starting to understand why I feel so good about this show.

I’ve bitched and moaned about the Shane and Miz tag team since day one, but I have to admit both of their Tag Title matches have been really quite entertaining to watch. Shane’s shock value stuff doesn’t really flow all that well in a singles match, in a tag team match where it can be broken up by everything the other three guys in the match can do.

This match also was able to tell a pretty good story of chemistry in a tag team, with the Usos often being able to outmanoeuvre Shane and Miz just by knowing each other way better. This also came into the finish where The Miz lost the match for his team and seemingly took it upon himself that he lost. Surprisingly it seems like there’s a lot more mileage to get out of this story and – I can’t believe I’m saying this – but I’m really looking forward to seeing what these two do on Tuesday.

Also, the titles being back on The Usos is just generally a great thing for whoever they end up facing next.

2 – Sasha Banks & Bayley def. Absolution, Nia Jax & Tamania, The Riott Squad, The IIconics, Naomi & Carmella
(Elimination Chamber)
(Women’s Tag Team Championships)

As much as I liked both Chamber matches, they were very much in two halves.

This first match had a little bit of everything throughout it. Sasha & Bayley starting off against Absolution turned out to be a pretty good combination, as the teams bounced well off each other, despite having very little experience wrestling each other in the past. As the match moved on everyone got their licks in, the best of which was – as you’d expect – The IIconics doing everything they do best.

The action picked up properly once Naomi and Carmella made their entrance and it didn’t really slow down from that point, with lots of quick action and eliminations and actual intelligence from the wrestlers in the match and all teaming up on the massive threats in Nia and Tamina.

The last 5 minutes or so genuinely had me on the edge of my seat, Nia and Tamina getting eliminated before the final two was a huge shock, and the remaining women put on such an exciting contest for the rest of the match. The drama and tension build up perfectly as both teams went back and forth, to point where they were actually able to create a moment where I genuinely thought Absolution were about to win after Sonya laid Bayley out and Mandy planted Sasha.

Eventually though, Sasha and Bayley would come out victorious and the emotion in that moment was quite heavy. The post-match interview felt genuine and heartwarming and hearing Beth Phoenix start to tear up on commentary hit me in just the right way. What a brilliant moment to kick the show off with and hopefully this will lead to something fantastic in the coming months.

1 – Daniel Bryan(c) def. Kofi Kingston, Randy Orton, AJ Styles, Jeff Hardy, Samoa Joe
(Elimination Chamber)
(WWE Championship)

Who would’ve thought that in 2019 Kofi Kingston would’ve been the most popular star on Smackdown?

This match is more obviously split into two halves than the women’s one. There was everything before the final two, and the final two of Bryan and Kofi facing off.

The first half was good, but nothing special. There were some fun highlights like AJ hitting a Phenomenal Forearm out of nowhere to eliminate Joe, followed up by a rather heavily telegraphed RKO to eliminate AJ. Not entirely sure what the point of Jeff Hardy being in there was, considering he was around for roughly 6 seconds before being eliminated by Daniel Bryan.

However, none of that really mattered by the end as Bryan and Kofi absolutely stole the show in this match. The constant back and forth that lasted for a whopping twelve minutes at the end of this match was absolutely fantastic with some brilliantly edge-of-your-seat moments. I’ve never heard a reaction quite like the one we got when Kofi kicked out of the first Running Knee, every single person in the arena was expecting the ref’s hand to hit three there and it got almost a collective gasp when Kofi kicked out.

Going into the match there was no doubt in my mind Bryan was walking out as champion, but during those final 12 minutes, I  genuinely had no idea who was going to win, and every finisher and kickout was perfectly timed. It’s these nail-biting moments that make you feel like a fan again, sure I could’ve thrown a hissy fit over there being a ropebreak in an Elimination Chamber match, but I didn’t want to, because what we were seeing was so good that why would I want to be miserable about it?

This is what Daniel Bryan being WWE Champion is amazing for, that man can elevate anyone he wrestles to a top tier competitor, of course, Kofi has to be given plenty of credit, but you’ve got to give some to Bryan too for making us all fall back in love with Kofi like we have. If we’re not going to get Bryan vs Kofi at Mania then I at least hope we get it at Fastlane, because giving these two a full 20-30 minutes could create one of the best matches of the year.

So there you have it! That’s my review of every match that took place at Elimination Chamber 2019. I really hope WWE can keep this good momentum going into the next couple months to create some really awesome moment on their shows in the first half of the year.

As always, thank you very much for taking the time out to read this, I’d appreciate it if you were to share this around on all your favourite social media sites, and of course, follow me on Twitter @10ryawoo for updates and the chance to be notified as soon as an article is posted!