This Week in Wrestling

ThisWeekInWrestling

 EliminationChamber

Winners: Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson, Alexa Bliss, Sheamus and Cesaro, Asuka, Matt Hardy, Roman Reigns

The barebones card got a bit of a bolstering with an impromptu tag team match between Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson and Curtis Axel and Bo Dallas. This was an odd pairing; are the Club faces now? It’s really difficult to tell in this day and age and what’s going on from one minute to the next but, last I saw, they (and, by extension, Finn Balor) were tweeners who edged towards face or heel depending on the situation. Either way, is this the first time the Miz-tourage have operated as a tag team in a tag team match? I literally cannot remember but seem to recall them only ever being flunkies or teaming with the Miz in six-man scenarios. As a result, with their stock as a tag team basically zero, they got their asses handed to them and allowed the Club to actually get a win. More of that, please.

Surprisingly, the historic first-ever Women’s Elimination Chamber match wasn’t the main event of the evening but, instead, was the first official match of the night. Once again, I have to ask: when will we get the historic first-ever Mid-Card Championship Elimination Chamber and the historic first-ever cruiserweight Elimination Chamber? It’s all very well and good saying you want the women to “be on par” with the men when most of the men aren’t on par with each other! Anyway, Sonya Deville and Bayley started the match, with Bayley getting pretty much cut off every time she tried to mount some kind of offense. Mandy Rose joined the fray and, somehow, that allowed Bayley to take control and shift the momentum, sending them out to the floor before they remember that, hey, we’re a team and there’s two of us so…let’s team up! Sasha Banks then got to make a heroic save and took Rose and Deville out with a flurry before her and Bayley joined forces, allowing Sasha to tap Rose out with the Banks Statement.

Mickie James was released next, taking the fight to all the women; everything starts to break down a bit as they all try to get quick pins and roll-ups, with Deville the next to go, followed quickly by Mickie. Sasha and Bayley decide to rest up and wait for Alexa Bliss to be released, which I guess is pretty smart but there can still be only one winner, girls. Alexa tries to escape but end sup trapped and fighting them off from atop the Chamber pod. After beating up Alexa a bit, the supposed “best friends” remember that it’s every woman for herself and start going at it, with Bayley getting the upper hand until Alexa rolls her up out of nowhere. Ugh, so it’s down to the golden girl Sasha Banks and Alexa Bliss. Sasha throws Alexa about, into the pods and tries to lock in the Banks Statement. Alexa escaped and then Sasha started going to the top rope, which was….odd…anyway, Alexa tripped her, hits a DDT, and thankfully retained the championship. I was certain the WWE would screw Alexa out of walking into WrestleMania with the championship but am very happy to have been proven wrong. This also wasn’t a massive botch-fest or a cluster fuck so good job, ladies.

It’s the match literally nobody was asking for as Titus O’Neil and Apollo Crews (oops, my bad, apparently he’s just “Apollo” now…odd) finally get their “long-awaited” shot at the Raw Tag Team Champions. Sheamus and Cesaro put in some solid work, really emphasising their teamwork and dynamic by isolating Apollo and working him over with quick tags and double teams. The crowd wasn’t exactly buying Apollo as the “face in peril” or chomping at the bit to see Titus make the “hot tag” and were more interested in Cesaro and Sheamus kicking ass. Apollo finally makes the tag and Titus starts throwing his weight around before Cesaro turns it around and the hits an Uppercut/White Noise combination to retain the belts. Again, I’m all for building up teams and reinvigorating the WWE’s lacklustre tag team division but Titus Worldwide’s fluke wins came out of nowhere and I’m beyond annoyed that they got the push towards the shot over the Revival or the Club.

Asuka took on Nia Jax next; Nia used her strength and power and Asuka attacked with the strikes and kicks. This was no thrills, all contact action; it’s always amazing to see how graceful Nia Jax can be in the ring and, as much as I love Alexa Bliss, I still wish that she was the current dominating champion for Asuka to cut down. Instead, Asuka cut her down here, meaning that Nia Jax will not be in the Raw Women’s Championship match at WrestleMania.

Matt Hardy and Bray Wyatt went head to head again in a match with no gimmicks or odd-ball antics attached to it, which seems really weird and against both men’s strengths. Wyatt worked a power and ground game while Matt tried to use speed but he’s nowhere near the speedy Cruiserweight Champion he used to be so this was honestly a bit of a slog to watch and the crowd totally tuned out. In the end, after a bit of finisher countering, Matt landed the Twist of Fate and got the win. Seriously, who thought a bog-standard match between these two would be a good idea? Matt Hardy, for all his character work, has never been that great between the ropes and he and Wyatt never really clicked that well; gimmicks, smoke, and mirrors were really needed here to allow these two crackpots to just go at it. Instead, we got this, and I have no doubt that the WWE will use this match as an excuse to short change us on a fully-fledged Broken Universe or putting the machine behind Wyatt.

Ronda Rousey officially signed up to be a competitor on Raw. Kurt Angle, Triple H, and Stephanie McMahon were all there and, shock of shocks, it can talk! Ronda credited Rowdy Roddy Piper for inspiring her and then, amidst a bit of poorly placed wording from the authority figures, Ronda end sup slamming Triple H through a table and getting slapped by Stephanie (because obviously!) so I guess it’ll be Ronda and Angle against Triple H and Steph at WrestleMania, which is honestly better than Ronda just walking into a championship match she didn’t earn. Aside from the spectacle of Ronda attacking Triple H, though, this was very awkward; Ronda needs to practice her mic work a bit more.

So the main event sees the Miz, Finn Balor, and Seth Rollins start the historic first-ever seven man Elimination Chamber match. Miz tried to forge alliances with both men, which served only to inspire them to team up and kick his ass. Rollins was the first to get bored and bring the knees to Balor, leading to things breaking down between all three men before John Cena jumps into the mix. He stalls, talking smack, and then gets into a brawl with Rollins. He then attacks Miz so Balor cuts his momentum off; Cena tries for a double Attitude Adjustment on Rollins and Balor but they weasel out of it and Cena and Balor end up brawling outside the ring. Eventually, Cena and Rollins hit tandem Suplexes on Miz and Balor so that all four men are down and out when the BIG DAWG~!! is released from his pod.

With everyone a bit exhausted and hurt, Reigns easily takes control before getting distracted by Rollins, which allowed the Miz to attack them both. Reigns remembers that he’s the golden boy and starts tossing everyone around with his power moves before Braun Strowman joins the party. Strowman attacks everyone indiscriminately; the guys try to team up against him but Strowman shrugs them all off, repeatedly slamming the Miz into the Chamber before eliminating him with the Running Powerslam. The guy nobody wanted to see in the main event, Elias, is finally released and everyone goes for Braun, landing the Shield Powerbomb and piling onto him but he powers out of the pin attempt. Cena hits him with the Attitude Adjustment, but Braun says “fuck that!” and kicks out at one! Reigns hits the Spear, but Braun kicks out again; Rollins lands the Blackout, Balor hits the Coup de Grâce but the alliance ends before Braun can be eliminated.

Everyone goes for everyone, trying for pins and tossing out anything that works, giving Strowman time to recuperate on the outside; he Powerslams Elias, ending that waste of time for the time being, and then eliminates Cena with another Powerslam! Hah! Strowman continues his path of destruction but Balor rallies against him with strikes and the Shotgun Dropkick; he lands another Coup de Grâce and then tries to pin Rollins with the 1916, to no avail, before having his WrestleMania main event dreams dashed by Strowman’s Running Powerslam. So it’s Rollins, Reigns, and Strowman as the final three; Rollins and Reigns team up against Strowman, desperate to put him away, but he powers through and gets rid of Rollins. Reigns rallies with what he’s best at; strikes, Superman Punches, and Spears, dodging out of the Running Powerslam and finally doing Strowman in to earn his way into his four consecutive WrestleMania main event.

It’s hard to quantify this match; Miz got a good showing but Elias should not have been in the match at all. Rollins got to do the iron man thing, but didn’t make it to the final two. Cena shockingly has no plans for WrestleMania now and was hardly a factor in the match; he barely did anything and then Strowman killed the AA but we’re supposed to give a shit that he’s got “no clear path for WrestleMania”? Strowman got to look like an absolute beast and Reigns like a boss for slaying him, setting up his inevitable win against the Beast, Brock Lesnar, at WrestleMania. After the match, Strowman Powerslammed Reigns and tossed him into one of the pods to continue to hammer home the point that he is the unstoppable monster champion Raw deserves and continue to make Reigns look like this underdog figure, when he’s obviously anything but.

Raw

Panic over, people! Alexa Bliss and Mickie James are still friends! Phew! Anyway, Alexa puts herself, and Mickie, over to open Raw. This rubs Asuka up the wrong way, so she pops out to endure some casual racism from Alexa and then get attacked by Nia Jax. But it’s okay because also-still-friends Bayley and Sasha Banks rush out for a bit of a brawl that, of course, leads into a now-traditional six-person tag team match between all the same women we’ve seen tag together a hundred times. The big story of this match was that Bayley dropped from the ring apron as Sasha went for a tag and left her cry-baby, smug ass in the ring to take some heat. It didn’t really matter, though, as Asuka tagged herself in and locked up Mickie until she tapped out.

Speaking of cry-baby whiners, it’s John Cena! Oh, poor me, wahwahwah, I don’t have anything lined up for WrestleMania. He tries to take his failure on the chin and talk about owning his inability to get this shit together for WrestleMania and then trolls the crowd by teasing a match against the Undertaker. Instead, resigned to the fact that the match apparently is impossible, Cena decides to pack up his bags and head to SmackDown! Live because, apparently, he can’t get into any feuds at all on Raw. How about against Finn Balor? Seth Rollins? Even Elias, for Christ’s sake! But, no, Raw has nothing for Cena with all these weeks still to go so he’s gonna try his luck on the Blue Brand. Ridiculous, like I give two shits that Cena hasn’t got a Road to WrestleMania this year. You know who else doesn’t? Everyone on Raw except for Roman Reigns and Brock Lesnar! Hell, even Asuka technically hasn’t said she’s definitely going to face Alexa Bliss so….fuck off, John!

Bray Wyatt kicked seven kinds of shit out of Heath Slater and Rhyno and calls out Matt Hardy! Ugh, unless they actually let them go at it in some kind of gimmick match (like…I dunno…a cage within a cage with…umm…ladders in the ring and you have to climb the ladder out of one cage, throw the opponent off the next cage and through a table, then…err….dump gunk on them?)

Anyway, the Miz pops out to find who he’ll be defending the Intercontinental Championship against at WrestleMania; great fire from Miz but Seth Rollins answered the call by beating Miz in a match. Sure, it was a pretty good match, but should the…oh, wait, here comes Finn Balor to also defeat Miz! So…I guess it’ll be Miz/Balor/Rollins for the Intercontinental Championship? That’s much better than Rollins/Jordan and Balor/fuck all, for sure. I heard a rumour that Rollins will be facing Reigns for the Universal Championship after WrestleMania so could this be Balor’s time to shine with some gold around his waist at last? Great to see these guys helping bring some legitimacy to the Intercontinental Championship scene but I’m not, and never will be, a fan of the champion being beaten, especially twice in a row. Couldn’t Rollins and Balor have each answered Miz’s challenge and got into a brawl this week and then had a match to see who’ll face Miz next week or something, if only to not job Miz out?

OH MY GAWD, IT’S DAH BIG DAWG! Roman Reigns pulls a worked shoot on Brock Lesnar for being a part-timer, no-shower, and a coward in a surprisingly great promo. But is it too little too late for Reigns? The crowd shower him with boos when his entrance music hits and throughout his matches, even after the boost from the ill-fated Shield reunion, and cheer for his signature moves and when he wins because they’re all a bunch of hypocrites.

It’s the Elimination Chamber rematch of the Raw Tag Team Championship match nobody wanted next as Cesaro and Sheamus faced Titus O’Neil and Apollo once again but it’s 2 out of 3 falls! …so Sheamus lays out Titus with the Brogue Kick and pins him within seconds, then the champions once again work over Apollo for a huge length of time but Titus makes his patented luke-warm tag but all for nothing as the champions retained. Afterwards, Sheamus and Cesaro talked about how dominant and fantastic they are and raised a really good point that there’s no-one left for them to face as they’ve beaten everyone so I guess we’ll be getting another NXT team called up rather than, you know, push the Club and the Revival into a kick-ass three-way for the belts.

Braun Strowman looked to quench his hunger by feeding on that undeserving rat bastard Elias next, only to lose by disqualification when Elias hit him with a fire extinguisher and then ran away liked a bitch. Finally, the main event was more of Ronda Rousey struggling to get to grips with talking to a live crowd and setup for her mixed tag team match at WrestleMania as, after Rousey forcing Stephanie to apologise, Triple H randomly punched Kurt Angle in the head. Ooh, the tension!

SmackDownLive

And here’s Big Match John. John Cena comes out to say that he wants to be involved in the WWE Championship match at Fastlane but also says he doesn’t want a hand out; he wants to earn it. Okay John, fuck off out of the ring and have some matches against SmackDown! Live guys over the next few weeks and earn your way into the title picture. Oop, nope, no need for that as Daniel Bryan says that Cena can have a handout and be in the Fastlane match if he can beat AJ Styles in the main event later in the night. I mean…really? Cena loses at Elimination Chamber after a lacklustre performance, cries on Raw despite their being plenty of WrestleMania opportunities for him, and then is instantly in talks for a WWE Championship just for gracing SmackDown! Live with his presence? You know what I would have preferred? Cena talks his shit and then ends up getting into it with Shinsuke Nakamura so that Nakamura actually has something interesting to do at Fastlane and Cena stay the hell away from the WWE Championship!

Baron Corbin took on Sami Zayn next in a weird tweener/heel match up that was constantly interrupted by Shane McMahon and Daniel Bryan arguing backstage and then more physically interrupted by Dolph Ziggler, who distracted Zayn enough for Corbin to plant him with the End of Days and win the match. Ziggler than hit the Zig-Zag on Corbin because he’s playing no favourites.

The never-ending feud between the Riott Squad and the SmackDown! Live faces continues, this time with Ruby Riot beating Naomi. Is Ruby the number one contender? Does Carmella still have that damn briefcase? Do I really care? Afterwards, the Usos and the New Day yell at each other to reignite their never-ending feud but, on the plus side, Big E showed some real fire and promise in his promo. Oh, and afterwards, the Bludgeon Brothers scattered all five men as though they aren’t a jobber squashing team of nobodies.

Oh, my God! it’s the 2018 Royal Rumble winner, Shinsuke Nakamura, on SmackDown! Live and in a match! Will wonders ever cease!? And it’s against SmackDown! Live’s top heel. No, no, no, not Rusev; it’s Aiden English! I mean, it could’ve been John Cena but who wants that!? Nakamura put his ass down with a Kinshasa and then shared a glare with Cena on his way to the ring for his big match. In between all the unnecessary pointing at the WrestleMania sign, Cena had an admittedly fantastic match against AJ Styles. Still full of Cena’s usual over-hyped spots but exciting, nevertheless. Unfortunately for me, Cena won after slamming Styles through an announce table, fighting out of the Calf Crusher, and pinning the champion after hitting the Attitude Adjustment (the fifth (or fourth) of the match, of course). Afterwards, a big brawl broke out between all of the Fastlane main eventers, with Cena standing tall because, you know, of course he did. I can only hope that Cena puts in as good a performance at Fastlane as he did at Elimination Chamber and gets to fight the Undertaker or Rey Mysterio or fucking Shane McMahon or whoever at WrestleMania.

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