Buddy Murphy (C) def. Akira Tozawa – Cruiserweight Championship
It’s always weird watching Cruiserweight matches that have Akira Tozawa and Buddy Murphy in it, because the former gives up around 50 pounds to the latter. I mean, putting them side by side, Akira looks like he could be Murphy’s little cousin.
That doesn’t matter, however, because this match was pretty damn entertaining for a pre-show match. When WWE has main roster PPV’s that can top 6 to 7 hours in length, there was no good reason for this to be bumped to the pre-show. They told a basic story, but they told it well enough to get the crowd engaged.
It was also pretty evident to me that WWE didn’t care much for it, since a backstage interview aired during the match. While I don’t think this was the level of awesome in which you’d feel bad if you missed it, I’d definitely see this match bell to bell. Another high quality performance from the Cruiserweights. Murphy is still awesome. ***3/4
Sasha Banks and Bayley def. Mandy Rose and Sonya Deville, Nia Jax and Tamina, Naomi and Carmella, The IIconics and The Riott Squad – Women’s Tag Team Championship (Tag Team Elimination Chamber)
So, this match is kind of hard to grade because we don’t have much of a precedent for this kind of match. There’s only ever been one tag team chamber match ever, it was 4 years ago, and I hated the hell out of it. So I’m not sure what my expectations coming into this match was.
First, we’ll get to the things I didn’t like. I thought some of the spots early on were overly choreographed. I suppose the temptation to do that with tag teams in the chamber is too overwhelming to ignore, but I prefer the spots to flow naturally.
Also, when more and more tag teams got in, everything got too cramped and sloppy, which was the same issue the first tag chamber got. Folks like Liv Morgan just looked awkward trying to dodge punches and getting punched anyway. When too many tag teams get in, it’s basically a tornado tag with less space because of the chamber surrounding them.
As for the good, the final segment between Absolution and Sasha Banks/Bayley was pretty well done, though I could have done without Sasha essentially taking out both Mandy and Sonya by herself. Some of the near falls were also very believable, and Nia Jax/Tamina Snuka thankfully didn’t kill anyone.
I’d like to believe there was more good than bad, but the concept of a tag team chamber match just never appealed to me to begin with. It certainly wasn’t the worst thing ever, and a solid effort was given. Sasha Banks and Bayley deserve this moment like no others, and if the moment didn’t feel kinda forced, I might have shed a tear. Surprised Trish Stratus and Lita didn’t come out. ***1/2
The Usos def. The Miz (C) and Shane McMahon (C) – Smackdown Tag Team Championship
This match had the most unpredictable winner of the night. I just didn’t know how long WWE was intending to have Shane McMahon and The Miz beat established tag teams. This makes me question why bother giving them the tag titles in the first place if you’re just going to give it back to an established team on the next PPV.
As for the actual match, it was solid, I suppose. I liked their Royal Rumble performance a bit better, because there was more drama towards the finish while the Uso flash pin sort of just came out of nowhere. Match was definitely solid, though. ***
Finn Bálor def. Bobby Lashley (C) and Lio Rush – Intercontinental Championship
I hate handicap matches. If the one guy wins, the two guys look weak. If the two guys win, they still look weak for needing two people to beat one guy. I’m also surprised they decided to give Finn the title here. I thought they’d save it for a bigger stage or have something stupid like having Lio Rush roll up Finn Bálor.
The match was kind of whatever. It was basically two matches in one. Of course, if Finn was going to win this match, as all knew he was pinning the Cruiserweight and that’s kind of sad. But hey, if Finn is going to be champion for more than a day now, I’m cool with that. And now that Bobby turned on Lio, who’s gonna speak for him? **1/4
Ronda Rousey (C) def. Ruby Riott – Raw Women’s Championship
I won’t pretend to be disappointed, because Ruby Riott really had no business being out there. This was all about Ronda Rousey, Becky Lynch and Charlotte Flair. I don’t even know they even bothered announcing this match. If you’re not going to give Ruby Riott any offense, you might as well just can the match altogether and not blatantly show how unimportant she is right now.
Match obviously gets no rating.
Baron Corbin def. Braun Strowman – No Disqualification Match
I just don’t get it. I’m rarely at a loss for words, but I just do not understand WWE’s infatuation is with this whole Braun Strowman getting jumped by the same trio for three months routine. Sure, The Shield jumped Ryback for Vince McMahon knows how long, but they were trying to establish themselves. This is just baffling.
We have Bobby Lashley turning on his manager but then he sees Drew McIntyre and Baron Corbin jumping Braun Strowman, and then something goes off in his head thinking he needs to be there, too.
Why does Drew McIntyre still have beef with Braun Strowman? I can get Baron Corbin, but why can’t we just let Drew McIntyre be dominant on his own? What’s the purpose in putting him in a faction that’s accomplished nothing?
Where was Kurt Angle? Or Finn Bálor? If we are going to be consistent, why do the faces only decide to show up when they want to? Are they just that cowardly?
Oh, and why didn’t Braun Strowman foresee that the No DQ stipulation made something like this liable to happen? Did he not have some sort of contingency plan in place? Did getting beat up by the same three same guys not signal to you that you maybe need people in your corner?
As you can see, this match left me with more questions that shouldn’t exist than closure. The worst part? It’ll probably continue.
This was all just awful, unneeded, unnecessary and nonsensical. They just basically did on PPV what they’ve been doing on Raw, but just wanted to make it a match. Braun Strowman loses another big match, looks helpless and no one benefits. Utterly pathetic. -***
Daniel Bryan (C) def. Randy Orton, Samoa Joe, Jeff Hardy, AJ Styles and Kofi Kingston – WWE Championship (Elimination Chamber)
Who would have thought an injury to Mustafa Ali would have resulted in such a fabulous story. Reports say that everything Kofi Kingston was going through was what Mustafa Ali was supposed to get, and I guess that was a blessing in disguise. Because holy crap, what a match.
First, let’s unpack the obvious. Everyone in this match not named Daniel Bryan or Kofi Kingston was irrelevant. It was clear from the get go that this match was going to be about continuing the Kofi Kingston Cinderella story.
Everything before the final sequence was pretty good, as the other four got some offense in, though most of their eliminations came without any drama.
Joe was literally eliminated out of nowhere since AJ Styles wasn’t even on our screen. Jeff Hardy was never lasting more than around 5 or so minutes, Randy Orton kind of just balked and AJ Styles’ elimination came from the RKO from not exactly out of nowhere.
Let’s get into the meat and potatoes of this match. Kofi Kingston performed is freaking soul out. What made the segment between Daniel Bryan and Kofi Kingston so intense was that you could believe Kingston could do it. Especially after he kicked out of Daniel Bryan’s finisher, which he NEVER does.
Remember when Daniel Bryan was in the Elimination Chamber match 7 years ago and it was down to him and Santino Marella? For a brief second you thought Santino Marella could defeat him with a sock puppet, but let’s face it, he was never carrying that title into WrestleMania. Kofi Kingston had just pinned Daniel Bryan last week, and he had been waiting 11 years for the moment.
Also, it was competitive. Each near fall took my breath away. I had no idea what was going to come next. The story of Kofi Kingston just going for broke and being desperate was awesome. ELEVEN YEARS! Now, even with all that, I didn’t think WWE had the balls to pull the trigger, and I was right.
But I don’t seriously think there would have been anything wrong with giving him at least a brief run. Maybe you could have taken it off of him at Fastlane if you wanted. Oh, and it’s Black History Month. Come on, man.
At the very least, I have faith that this performance will net that title for Kofi Kingston that eluded him his entire career. While WWE hasn’t trusted him to give him the ball after all this time, this was a star making performance for him. And if we can live in a world where you could experiment with Jinder Mahal for 6 months with the WWE Title, what harm would Kofi Kingston cause?
Daniel Bryan was equally awesome in being the bad guy and making sure that he was the guy everyone wanted to lose. That made the desire to want Kofi Kingston to win all the more greater.
The sequence between Daniel Bryan and Kofi Kingston is worth the price of admission alone, and that made for what I think you could say is a top 3-5 chamber match. Awesome stuff all around. ****3/4
The main event is definitely a treat, and some of the other stuff on the card was good, including three title changes. If you can get past the atrocity that was Baron Corbin and Braun Strowman, I think there’s more good than bad on the show. At best, everything else other than the main event was underwhelming. Becky Lynch going full Stone Cold never fails though.
As for must watch material, catch the Cruiserweight match, the final 10 or so minutes of the tag chamber and the main event. I think you’ll be satisfied with that at least.