Tuesday, 25 February 2014

WWE Elimination Chamber 2014 Review

Since it's inception in 2010, the Elimination Chamber event has always ended up, kind of, alright. Whilst the Chamber matches are usually exciting affairs, the rest of the card has tended to be a bit of a damp squib, with the exceptions only a few exceptions (like The Shield taking on John Cena, Ryback and Sheamus in 2013 or Alberto Del Rio's bout with Kofi Kingston in 2011). So how could the 2013 event buck this trend? Who would walk out of the Chamber WWE World Heavyweight Champion and head to Wrestlemania XXX? Let's find out.

We kick off the show, as usual, with a build up package. It runs down the Elimination Chamber combatants, as well as the ongoing tension between World Heavyweight Champion Randy Orton and The Authority. As you'd expect this well put together, although I would have liked to have The Wyatt Family v The Shield match also talked about in this package.

Michael Cole welcomes us to the Target Centre in Minnesota, Minneapolis in the USA, which has previously hosted Bragging Rights 2010, Judgment Day 2005 and SummerSlam 1999. Another big crowd, seems ready for the action, which is about to get underwa

Intercontinental Championship Match

Jack Swagger with Zeb Colter


Big E (C)

Before the bout get's underway, Zeb Colter is on the mic. He blames the polar vortex on the US' immigration issue and says Big E doesn't deserve to be Intercontinetal Champion because he doesn't benefit North America. You can't fault Colter's delivery of the promo, but the fact that Minneapolis still chants "We The People" along with him, show's that something is going wrong somewhere.

This was a solid opener for to the PPV, with lots of good quality action that got the crowd really pumped up. Early on the pair fought "We Want Ziggler" chants, but quickly made the crowd forget about the former World Heavyweight Champion with a series of well timed and exciting spots, like a spear from Big E into the ring steps or Swagger sending Big E hurtling from the apron to the floor. As the match went on Swagger bumped like a boss for Big E, as the big man made a comeback, including a lovely looking spear through the ring ropes that took both men to the outside. The closing stages of the bout focused on Swagger's Patriot Lock submission, Big E found himself in the hold twice, once getting to the rope and secondly hitting a shocking enziguiri, followed up by the Big Ending to pick up the pinfall victory and retain the Intercontinental Championship. Whilst it perhaps would have been nice to see Swagger working the leg more in anticipation for the Patriot Lock, it probably wouldn't have gone down too well in the opener. Props to Big E for the subtle selling of the ankle post match also.

Winner and STILL Intercontinetal Champion: Big E

Before Big E could celebrate for too long, Bad News Barrett's music hit and he ascended his podium to deliver some Bad News. This time it was about Russia getting more gold medals than the US at the Sochi Winter Olympics. It makes me smile how much Barrett is clearly enjoying his gimmick at the moment, even if he isn't Russian and the US got a ton more medals than us Brits!

A trail for Hulk Hogan's return to WWE the next night on Raw is shown, can't say I'm particulary excited to see Hogan back on my screen after his dire run in TNA, but I do think WWE will be able to put him to use much more effectively.

Cole introduces a recap from last week's Raw and Smackdown, showing Kane's attacks on Daniel Bryan following his matches with Christian and Cesaro respectively. So, expect to see more of that rivalry tonight during the Elimination Chamber.

Byron Saxton then conducted an interview with Daniel Bryan backstage. Bryan delivered a promo on what he was expecting from the Elimination Chamber match, this was essentially to get the crowd chanting "YES!" although it's not that difficult these days.

Tag Team Championship Match
The New Age Outlaws (C)
The Usos

Before this one get's underway, we get the New Age Outlaws obligatory opening schtick. I've had plenty to say about this on Twitter, but they desperately need to stop doing this. If they are supposed to be heels, they should be focused on getting heat, rather than getting cheap pops from saying the town they are in, because at the moment they are hindering The Usos rather than helping them get over.

The match itself was passable tag team action, taking a shape that most wrestling fans will be familiar with. The problem being that the New Age Outlaws have absolutely no heat and don't seem to be trying to get any, so when working over Jey Uso for sometime, the crowd were quite happy to chant for the Outlaws, this of course lead to them getting bored pretty quickly as the chants for the Outlaws were replaced with a LOUD "CM Punk" chant. After the hot tag things certainly picked up with the Uso's exciting move set able to garner them some fan support, especially after a dive over the top rope from Jimmy onto Road Dogg. The final minute of so was the strongest part of the match,  with a nice false finish for Jimmy after a Superkick on Gunn, followed up by Dogg getting involved to halt a Superfly Splash attempt and take out Jey, Gunn then missed a Fame Asser, Jimmy Superkicked Dogg from the apron before an O'Connor Roll from Gunn picked up the victory and allowed the Outlaws to retain the Tag Team Champions. I enjoyed the finish a lot, and hopefully we'll see The Usos able to get revenge at Wrestlemania XXX, but unless Dogg and Gunn start working the crowd for some heat, it's not going to mean as much as it should.

Winners and STILL Tag Team Champions: The New Age Outlaws

After the bout, Bad News Barrett was out again. Credit to Barrett for improvising a clever line once his podium broken "I've had to come down to your level". This time around the Bad News was the Daniel Bryan wouldn't be winning the Elimination Chamber. Twitter began to get annoyed that we were seeing Barrett twice in one night, so the concept seemed to be working!

Wrestlemania XXX is 42 days away!

Michael Cole, Jerry Lawler and John Bradshaw Layfield taught us how to use the WWE Network. Is the average WWE viewer this thick? Or do WWE just think they are? Made me feel about six years old, Michael Cole might be the most patronising man in history.

Singles Match
Darren Young
Titus O'Neil

THE PRIME TIME PLAYERS....EXPLODE! This match would have been much more captivating if the Prime Time Players had been treated as relevant for more than two months after Darren Young came out as gay, just prior to this years SummerSlam. This meant the crowd was fairly uninterested for the majority of the match, chanting "We Want Lesnar" and "We Want Ziggler" instead. The match itself was an entertaining seven or eight minutes, with Young bumping like crazy for O'Neil, including an Irish Whip that sent Young over the turnbuckle and to the outside. The highlight of the bout for me was a good-looking spinning neckbreaker on the apron from Young. The finish saw O'Neil slip out of a Gutcheck attempt, and hit Clash of the Titus to pick up the pinfall victory. It will be interesting to see how O'Neil is postioned on the card going forward, he has potential but could easily get lost in the mix with Wrestlemania XXX just around the corner.

Winner: Titus O'Neil

Guess who was back again? Yes, it's was our boy, Bad News Barrett. This time out Barrett's Bad News was focused on Hulk Hogan. A nice way of continuing to promote Hogan's return, while keeping Barrett on my screen.

It was then up to the Kick Off panel, hosted by Josh Matthews, who was joined by Mark Henry, The Miz and Rey Mysterio. They showed the finish of the Kick-Off match that saw Cody Rhodes and Goldust go over Rybaxel. Mark Henry did a good job putting over Titus O'Neil and his feud with Darren Young, The Miz said something about the Intercontinental title match and Rey Mysterio desperately tried to stay relevant.

Six Man Tag Team MatchThe Shieldvs.The Wyatt Family

Before this one got under way, a hype video was shown outlining the rivalry between these two factions, as well as the tensions between The Shields, Roman Reigns and Dean Ambrose, with Seth Rollins looking like a child whose parents are about to divorce. I didn't think I could get any more hyped for this one, but this package got me absolutely buzzing and ready to go, good work WWE.

When a match kicks off with a "This is Awesome" chant, then you know you're doing something right! Usually when a match is a hyped up as this one, it ends up being slightly disappointing, but this was not the case here, from start to finish this was roller coaster ride of exciting spots and sound wrestling psychology. Both teams took turns working over an opponent, but this one really stepped up a gear when Luke Harper pulled out a drop kick that a man his size has no right to deliver to well! Harper continued to impress in probably the best sequence of the match opposite Seth Rollins, with Rollins flipping out of Back Superplex attempt and landing a suicide dive shortly after. The excitement continued with Bray Wyatt hitting Rollins with a huge leaping Senton on the outside to give The Wyatt's the upper hand. A really well-worked false finish had the fans on the edge of their seats, with Harper hitting a ridiculous suicide dive onto Dean Ambrose, before Rollins leapt over the top to hit a somersault dive on Harper. The distraction allowed Reigns to school boy Erick Rowan for a long two count. As the match began to break down, The Wyatts took a leaf out of CM Punk's book from TLC 2013 as they began to divide and conquer strategy. Wyatt and Ambrose brawled around the arena with Ambrose disappearing somewhere off camera, Rowan and Harper double chokeslamed Rollins through the Spanish Announce Table. This meant that The Wyatts could close in on Reigns, in a scene reminiscent of The Shield's attacks on numerous individuals since late 2012. Reigns fight back was magnificent, breaking out Wyatt's Sister Abigail's Kiss attempt, with the crowd going nuts as Reign's built for a spear. However, it was Harper who took the Spear, allowing Wyatt to regain control and hit Sister Abigail's Kiss to give the Wyatt Family the pinfall victory. A well crafted six man tag, that played to everyone's strengths, the finish was built well to allow The Wyatt's to pick up the victory without harming Roman Reigns. It will be interesting to see how this one is viewed en masse once the initial frenzy dies down.

Winners: The Wyatt Family

Up next an advert for some microwaveable food produce. On PPV? Go home.

Followed up another advert for the WWE Network, this time with Hulk Hogan doing his best used car salesman expression!

Backstage, the lovely Renee Young interviewed Christian about the upcoming Elimination Chamber match. Another solid outing from Christian on the mic here, adding an extra layer of depth to the Chamber match as he talked about recent losses to Randy Orton and Daniel Bryan, as well as this possibly being his last chance at the World Heavyweight Championship, meaning that he is desperate to win and therefore he'll do anything to win. 

Jerry Lawler shills the theme for Elimination Chamber, not sure if Nero is his cup of tea though. 

Diva's Championship Match
AJ Lee (C) with Tamina Snuka

Before this impromptu match could get underway, Diva's Champion AJ Lee got on the mic to boast about the length of her title run, saying that there is no competition in the Diva's division, I'm not sure if that's a particularly great way to build up to the upcoming match, but hey ho. 

There really wasn't a lot of substance to this match, apart from a bit of skipping and neither wrestler being able to get the desired reaction from the crowd, mainly down to the fact that Lee is the only woman who has a character on the main roster and therefore get's cheered by default. There really wasn't a lot of note to talk about beyond an awful looking Thesz Press from Cameron. The finish saw Tamina Snuka accidentally Superkick Lee in the head, although Cameron's timing was so poor it made it look like Snuka had kicked Lee on purpose, which I'm sure wasn't the intention. With Cameron attempting to get the pin, Snuka interjected putting Lee's feet on the ropes, Cameron went to get revenge, but go levelled by a Snuka clothesline, leading to the Disqualification. I'd imagine this is to set up Lee v Snuka at Wrestlemania, hopefully they'll be given enough time on TV to build a decent story that the fans can get behind.

Winner: Cameron

Still Diva's Champion: AJ Lee

Bad News Barrett was out again, this time to talk about the WWE Network...which will apparently lead to everyone becoming homeless. An interesting promotional concept.

A backstage segment followed up, with Santino Marella being joined by Emma, The Great Khali and Los Matadores to play with some tiny action figures. It neither made me want the action figures or laugh. How Khali get's on is his day to day life is beyond me.


Singles Match



Alberto Del Rio

In one of wrestling's cliche moments, Alberto Del Rio came out for this one in a track suit, hobbling along on a crutch and with a brace around his neck. Del Rio got on the mic, claiming that he couldn't wrestle tonight because of Batista's attack on him two week's ago on Raw. Of course, that wasn't the case and Del Rio took the crutch to The Animal before the bell could ring. If Batista was over in any fashion it probably would have gotten some heat and garnered some sympathy for The Animal as it goes the crowd decided that "Si" chants were much more appropriate.

The crowd wanted absolute nothing to do with Batista for the whole night, chanting for "Daniel Bryan" "CM Punk" "Y2J" and "RVD", although my personal favourite has to be "Boo-Tista". Batista didn't exactly give them anything to cheer for either, looking completely shattered from about three minutes in and ruining not one but two false finishes. Firstly, Batista grabbed the bottom rope before a two count and then secondly Batista was simply looking around as Del Rio pinned him off a superkick. For his part, Del Rio put in a decent effort and the psychology of the bout seeing Del Rio work Bastista's arm in set up for the Cross Armbreaker. I'm not sure whether Batista was remembering to sell the arm or whether it was actually hurt. The finish saw Batista reverse Del Rio's Cross Armbreaker attempt, sending Del Rio into an exposed turnbuckle, allowing Batista to hit the Batista Bomb and pick up the pinfall victory. WWE's decision to have Batista in the main event of Wrestlemania XXX is looking more stupid by the day. Not only do the fans not want to see, but Batista himself doesn't look ready for anything more than squash matches.

Winner: Batista

Another advert for the WWE Network was up next, expect a lot of this over the next couple of weeks and months.

It was back to the Kick Off Panel for their predictions for the Elimination Chamber match. The Miz went for Daniel Bryan, because when an audience get's behind someone it gives them added motivation to win, because The Miz knows all about crowd support. Mark Henry went for Sheamus as he is fresh, which is sound logic, whilst Rey Mysterio choosing Cesaro because he's never been in an Elimination Chamber was not. The goofball Josh Matthews made a point of saying no one had chosen Randy Orton, he might as well have held up a sign saying Orton was going to win!

World Heavyweight Championship Elimination Chamber Match
John Cena
Randy Orton (C)
Daniel Bryan

Before the match got started they aired a video package based around the Elimination Chamber match, explaining the rules and showing past highlights from the Chamber. I'm surprised they didn't show something more specific, as WWE seemed to have made a real effort to create an interesting story heading into the Chamber, based around Randy Orton's inability to pick up victories as of late.

The Elimination Chamber has always been about the big spots and memorable moments and there was plenty of them in this outing. Sheamus and Cesaro kicked off the contest with a hard hitting brawl around the Chamber, highlighted by Diving Double Stomp to the outside from Cesaro, as well as Cena mocking John Cena with the U Can't C Me hand gesture. The crowd exploded with Daniel Bryan's entrance into match, with Bryan running through a series of his popular moves, working the crowd into an absolute frenzy. The first near fall of the bout came from a lovely Surfboard/Northern Light's Suplex combination from Bryan onto Sheamus and Cesaro respectively. Bryan was used sparingly throughout the contest, firstly being taken out by Cesaro, who sent Bryan crashing through one of the pods, before Cesaro recieved a Rolling Senton onto the steel floor. Christian was out next and in a nice piece of storytelling focused on Daniel Bryan's injured shoulder, delivering a number of blows and even slamming the arm in between the door of one of the pods. It's a shame that Bryan didn't really sell the arm for too long, as this could have really added to the latter stages of the match. 

Another on-going story throughout the bout was Cesaro numerous attempts to hit the Cesaro Swing, really building the crowds anticipation of the move. The first attempt was thwarted by Christian, who after a nice series of reversals ended up taking a powerbomb into one of the pods. One draws back on the match was the use of part of the broken pod in a sequence between Cesaro and Sheamus, as the "lexane" (You don't have to put on the red light) just looked to flimsy and didn't look like it would cause any damage. Having said that Cesaro and Sheamus were probably the MVP's of this one, with a lot of hard hitting action and both taking a lot of bumps, whenever the match would seem to lull, Cesaro and Sheamus were there to keep the pace up. After John Cena entered the match, both he and Bryan took false eliminations with Bryan kicking out of Killswitch from Christian and Cena kicking out of White Noise from Sheamus. Cena continued taking a battering, as Cesaro hit a huge launching uppercut for another near fall. 

The final entrant into the match was World Heavyweight Champion Randy Orton, with everyone else down Orton went to work laying in his signature stomps, as the crowd chanted "Boreton", Orton took note and slowed right down to cut his signature pose. Orton's really coming into his own lately in my opinion, and his face when Sheamus, Bryan and Cena began to close in was perfect. With Orton hiding back in his pod, and some fantastic camera work, Sheamus hit a Brogue Kick onto the pod. Cesaro was then finally able to get Orton into the Cesaro Swing, for a huge 30 resolutions, getting a massive pop from the live crowd.

The first elimination came after a strong sequence between Sheamus and Christian, lead to Christian hitting a huge splash from the top of the pod to elimate Sheamus. Christian himself was then eliminated following a Busaiku Knee from Daniel Bryan. This meant we were down to our final four, with the remaining combatants getting a nice reaction as they eyed each other up, as did another showdown between Bryan and Cena, reminiscent of last year's SummerSlam. The two engaged in another entertaining battle, until Cesaro recovered to save Bryan from an Attitude Adjustment, delivering a German Suplex to Cena, meaning Cena hit a Samoan Drop on Bryan. Cena attempted a hurrcanrana on Cesaro, as a reversal for a gutwrench, he still can't hit that move and should probably leave it to guys like Bryan. Cena then overpowered Cesaro hitting an Attitude Adjustment onto the steel, before locking in an STF to eliminate Cesaro.

As we headed into the final three, it was time for shenanigans a plenty! With Cena locking in an STF on Orton, the light went out and the familiar noise of The Wyatt Family making their entrance. Wyatt, Harper and Rowan went on to destroy Cena, with Wyatt finishing off Cena with Sister Abigail's Kiss. The Wyatt's entrance would have been much more impressive if they had been over the other side of the Chamber and Charles Robinson hadn't opened the door of the Chamber so soon after. After The Wyatt Family had left the Chamber, Orton snuck into place to pick up the pinfall victory and eliminate Cena. 

We were down to a final two, with Randy Orton and Daniel Bryan, harking back to late Summer and Autumn when the two dominate WWE programming. Before the two could reignite their feud, the director operations for The Authority, Kane was out admonish The Wyatt Family and check on John Cena, and ended up taking a flying knee from Bryan for his troubles. Quickly after attacking Kane, Bryan was able to connect with a Busaiku Knee on Orton, with the Target Centre errupting, thinking that Bryan had finally won the World title, however this was not to be as Kane pulled the referee out of the way. After Bryan had got some revenge with a roundhouse kick to Kane, he walked into an RKO from Orton for a well worked false finish. This was followed by another as Orton kicked out of Bryan's small package. With Bryan rolling and setting up for another knee in the corner, Kane recovered hitting Bryan with a swinging punch, allowing Orton hit another RKO to pick up the pinfall victory and retain the World Heavyweight Championship. The crowd didn't quite know how to react, but I enjoyed the finish of this one. I'm not looking forward to Orton v Batista as a main event at Wrestlemania XXX one little bit, but Bryan and Kane could open up some interesting avenues over the upcoming weeks.

Winner and STILL World Heavyweight Champion: Randy Orton

Overall, I found Elimination Chamber 2014 to be entertaining viewing with The Wyatt Family and The Shield producing the match of the night. The Elimination Chamber match was another good outing for the gimmick, with each man working hard to create some memorable moments. It's clear however that Batista is not ready for a Wrestlemania main event, will he be ready in six weeks? Will anyone want to watch him face off with Randy Orton? Maybe not.

Until next time...

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