One of the biggest guilty pleasures that I partake of is my love for professional wrestling. Yes, I used the word wrestling and not sports entertainment. When I was a kid, I was all in on Hulk Hogan and saying my prayers and taking my vitamins. My Mom was not all in on it and actually banned it from being watched in the house. That did not stop me and my brother though! We would plan a night where he would sleep in my room every so often and we would have some brotherly bonding time. In reality, I had the television in my room and whenever WWE would have their Saturday Night programming on, we would gather in my room, stuff shirts in the cracks of my door to block the light, and watch whatever crazy stories were being told. We were pretty faithful to the wrestling shows up through the Hulk Hogan vs Zeus storyline. I think when that story had ran its course, we too had moved on to other interests. It wouldn't be until years later when one Saturday night I came across a company called WCW and started watching wrestling again. I would finish dinner and then every Saturday faithfully tune in to see what was going on. The WCW style of wrestling featured more matches and less of the dramatic story lines of the WWE. Slowly over time I got my entire family hooked on wrestling and we were pretty faithful to WCW throughout all of the Monday night wars, all the way to the end of the company when Shane McMahan appeared on Monday Nitro to announce that he had purchased the company.
Years passed and I would watch wrestling only occasionally. I really don't know when I got back into wrestling on a regular basis, but the closes that I can peg it to would be when NXT began to take shape. I loved that the program felt more like what WCW offered than a WWE product. It rekindled my interest and slowly over time drew me back in due to them bringing in guys like AJ Styles, Samoa Joe, and other really talented guys who WWE had deemed to be too small in the past. They won me completely over when they signed Sting to the company finally. While that run didn't really go the way I would have preferred to have seen it go, it did accomplish one thing... it got me hooked. This post though is not about my love affair with wrestling or my all time favorite wrestlers, but instead is about the most recent "premium live event", Elimination Chamber! First off, the elimination chamber matches have always been hands down some of my favorite matches of all time. I just love the way that they designed this cage style set and the thrill of waiting to see what wrestler will be unleashed upon the chamber next! So having said that, let's take a look at the matches and share my thoughts on how things went.
The show kicked off with the women's elimination chamber match. The six competitors were Asuka, Carmella, Raquel Rodriguez, Nikki Cross, Natalya, and Liv Morgan. The winner gets a shot at Bianca Belair's title at WrestleMania. I always feel like WWE struggles with their opening segments of the shows. I miss the old days of WCW's Cruiserweight Division. There was a great formula where WCW would kick off their shows with the men who could not only perform at a high level, but also at a very fast pace. WWE has never really captured that with any of their versions of the Cruiserweights or with how they open their shows, and once again, I feel they missed the mark with this show. Having said that, the match was entertaining and I enjoyed it far more than I expected to. I feel like for Carmella, Niki, and Raquel, it wasn't really anything great. You could have replaced any of them with any other wrestler as there are no moments that came out of their participation in the match that will make you remember that they were there. No offense meant to these great performers, but it just didn't feel like there was any reason for them to be there aside from the fact that they needed six women for the match. When it came down to the remaining three I felt like Natalya was there to simply get a pop from the crowd, which she did. Liv has been one of those wrestlers who WWE consistently flirts with pushing to the top, but seems to more content to keep them as a number one contender type of character... always the bridesmaid, never the bride. I feel like it was pretty clear that Asuka was going to be the winner and I am okay with that. I enjoyed a few of the spots in the match and it was definitely a more up-tempo match, but just felt like there was meat left on the bones so to say. No matter what, we now know that Asuka is on a collision course with Bianca.
Next match up was Lashley vs Lesnar and this match just felt like such a let down. We had a couple spears and a couple F5s and then we saw the match end in a DQ. I don't know why WWE wants to do this stuff. Yes, they (in theory) make both wrestlers look strong and can continue the rivalry into the future if they want, but at the expense of what could have been an amazing match. I don't get it and I guess I never will. In the end, we know that Bray Wyatt will now have his sight set firmly upon Lashley and that will be interesting what WWE decides to do there. (I am a little concerned about the Wyatt storyline at this point, but that is a topic for another day.) My guess is that WWE will suspend Lesnar and we will not hear much out of him for a while.
Up next was Edge and Beth Phoenix taking on the Judgement Day's Finn Baylor and Rhea Ripley. It was very clear that WWE was trying to cater to the local crowd with all of the "hometown" wrestlers, but this match seemed like another pointless one to me. Yes it was cool to see Edge and Beth hit the shatter machine and the comedic elements involved with Dominic is actually winning me over, but what did it serve for any of the wrestlers involved? The loss makes Finn and Rhea appear weaker in my opinion. Finn Baylor is an amazing wrestler and he deserves to be in contention for the IC or US title at the very least. Rhea has a main event match scheduled against Charlotte Flair at WrestleMania already. There was literally nothing that came out of this match that was needed by anyone. Hopefully we can tag the toe on this feud.
Next was the men's elimination chamber match for the US Title featuring Austin Theory defending his title against Bronson Reed, Damian Priest, Johnny Gargano, Montez Ford, and Seth Rollins. The early portions of this match I really liked. I think the men put on a stellar match, but they lost me with the whole Montez Ford dangling from the ceiling while the other competitors just hung around waiting for him to drop down to them. These moments in the matches never really impress me because they take sooooooooo long to set up. Speaking of Montez Ford, I really like him as a wrestler, but I felt he was a little too over the top across the board last night. As soon as they started taking an eternity to get him out, I knew there was a work about to happen and sure enough it did happen. Honestly, Logan Paul has impressed me in his matches so far in WWE, but I wasn't thrilled with how they incorporated him into the match last night. It just took way toon long to get Montez out and Logan in. Having said that, the ending was not very impressive and represents everything that I think is wrong with WWE. The company relies too much on outside interference or DQs to end matches or make certain wrestlers appear strong while also attempting to make the losing opponent remain strong. Wasn't a fan at all on how that ended.
Finally we are at the match that everyone was waiting for, Roman Reigns vs Sammy Zayn. Sammy came out and the place erupted. I haven't heard a reaction to a wrestler like that in a very, very long time. It was awesome to see and so much credit needs to be given to all the men involved in this story. Seeing Sammy's face and him trying to hold it together was great. So happy for him on so many levels. Roman has also developed into a great heel. He knows how to take the crowd and make them respond how he wants them to. The match was a far greater match than I had expected to see, both men hit their spots and the crowd was completely invested in this match. In the end though, WWE chose not to move the title to Sammy. I think they missed an opportunity here. There was a clip I saw not that long ago by Jericho and he was talking about how you just don't see those moments like we did during the Monday Night Wars where people would lose their minds cheering and/or jeering and buying all in! This was probably one of those moments that the WWE really missed out on. Yes, Sammy would have been a transitional champion more than likely, but it would have been an amazing story and the crowd would have gone insane. The match did leave a lot of questions regarding the relationship between the members of the Bloodline, Sammy and Kevin, and Sammy and Jey. My guess is that we are going to eventually see Sammy and Kevin come together to take on the Usos at WrestleMania.
Overall the Elimination Chamber was very entertaining. I did not find myself checking my phone or scrolling through Facebook. It kept my attention and it honestly has made me interested to see what happens on the next episode of Raw. I think we are about six weeks away from WrestleMania and I feel like some of the story lines have been catapulted to the right level, even if by the wrong methods, but there is a lot of show to fill on the grandest stage of them all and I don't think WWE has enough in place yet to fill up two nights worth of top caliber matches just yet. Well, that's my two cents worth, what did you all think?
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