WWE Elimination Chamber
March 8, 2020
We’re on the road to a WrestleMania that may never happen. The “dreams may disappear” line in the promo package may be a shoot.
Daniel Bryan vs. Drew Gulak
Dan’s reward for carrying the Fiend to something passable in January is jerking the curtain. The good thing about Bryan not getting stuck in some bullshit story and just getting to wrestle gives him an opportunity to actually go out there and have a good match. For WWE it’s actually refreshing. It’s the kind of match I see all the time but never in a WWE ring. They even play up past work with Gulak targeting Bryan’s neck. The one release suplex where Dan lands on his head and Gulak is so worried about him that he cradles his head up off the mat. The feeling of real pain and real consequences is what makes this so great. Gulak does everything he can to best Bryan but ultimately Daniel is the better wrestler and simply counters into the Yeslock for the submission. Sometimes less is more. WWE has had so much bullshit for so long that a wrestling match with plenty of logic and heart made it one of their best pure wrestling matches in ages.
Final Rating: ****
WWE United States Championship
Andrade (c) vs. Humberto Carillo
Increasingly the US title division seems to be full of Mexicans. Lucha can feel very rehearsed but it can be extraordinary. This match is more of the former with touches of the latter. They have decent chemistry and almost everything lands here. They have the odd moment where it gets a bit too dancey for my tastes.
Zelina speaks for us all regarding some of the wacky dives though. Andrade ends up simply countering a roll up and grabbing the tights to retain. Still heading for a four-way at Mania. This was fun.
Final Rating: ***1/4
Smackdown Tag Team Championship
John Morrison & The Miz (c) vs. Heavy Machinery vs. The New Day vs. The Usos vs. Lucha House Party vs. Roode & Ziggler
This is going to be very long and the crowd can sense this before we start and the mood is not good. This is a fine match to chuck some good lucha boys into. So they can do flippy shit and keep me amused in between all of the ‘character’ work. The level of awesome from Gran Metalik here just further demonstrates why he should have been pushed to the moon but isn’t because he can’t speak English. There is a moment here where Lince is supposed to come off the top of a pod but doesn’t and Otis is left looking very confused, going in and out of the ring. Somebody forgot what they were doing. Then Lince goes inside the cage and does a fucking SSP off it. Obviously the most effective team, Lucha House Party, is first out.
There’s an underlying story of Otis vs. Ziggler and Otis is so mad at Dolph that when Ziggler is pitched to him, he catches him (instead of just letting him go splat) and then drops him on the ropes, the softest thing in the entire fucking Chamber. Why Otis? Punish him! But hey it’s ok because they have a cool spot where Otis bashes into the pod and goes straight through to the floor. I thought the whole point of the Chamber was that you couldn’t get out of it. Naturally this leads to Heavy Machinery getting dumped. What we have left is a wasteland of tired old teams and tired old wrestlers. Ziggler & Roode are quickly dispatched leaving three teams with about 15 tag titles between them.
There are some decent ideas in this but they’re not well realised and most of the match is a mess. Kofi gets dumped when he misses a spot off the Chamber pod. You’d think with less moving parts the match would get cleaner towards the end but alas. The Usos vs. the champs has some good content like the Starship Pain with Figure Four. Miz uses the ropes, which is fine because it’s the Chamber match, and the champs retain. This was way too long and at times incoherent.
It’s weird how Miz & Morrison actually feel quite fresh after years and years and years of Usos vs. New Day.
Final Rating: ***
Aleister Black vs. AJ Styles
A few years ago this would have been a dream match on the Indies. Although Tommy End’s stock rose to prominence after AJ was busy elsewhere. I seem to remember End losing on a pre-show to Josh Bodom when AJ was main eventing for Rev Pro.
I’ve found AJ Styles work over the past two years to be nowhere near his peak stuff. His WWE run peaked with getting a couple of bangers out of Roman Reigns and his long title run saw a slow decline in quality. The no DQ stipulation means they have to shoot for epic, rather than having a solid 10-12 minute match. They do a leg match as well, which is starting to become one of my least favourite match types unless there’s a follow through on it to the finish. Which, of course, they don’t. The match is overwhelmingly sluggish. As if they went out there with no plan and just started filling time. Not even aware of how long they need to wrestle, waiting for the ‘go home’ signal from the ref.
This whole match is stupid because the OC is at ringside the whole time but after 20 minutes they jump in and interfere because it’s no DQ. Why not just jump in at the start and save us the trouble? The Undertaker appears, apparently still enraged at WWE not tagging Michelle McCool in their tweets, and hits a chokeslam before disappearing again. Black Mass, and it’s a peach, finishes. This whole thing felt like killing time until the Undertaker run in.
Final Rating: **1/2
RAW Tag Team Championship
Street Profits (c) vs. Seth Rollins & “I’m not your Buddy” Murphy
I’ve always liked Street Profits so it’s nice to see them doing well. It goes to show how even the most mediocre of talents can make it on the coattails on a superstar. Montez Ford has dollar signs all over him and he’s still green as shit. Imagine how over he’ll be when he can actually put a match together? This match isn’t particularly good due to various incidents of poor timing. AOP interfere but the Viking Raiders come out stop that. The match feels very strange. As if it’s the latest in a string of matches that don’t feel particularly important. Luckily Murphy is still trying to prove himself at this level so he and the Profits are up for it. Seth sitting back like a Dad, watching his kids play little league. Kevin Owens is the deciding factor here. He comes down chewing popcorn to distract Seth.
Murphy gets picked off. Owens vs. Seth at Mania presumably. If the show even goes on at this point.
Final Rating: **3/4
WWE Intercontinental Championship
Braun Strowman (c) vs. Shinsuke Nakamura, Cesaro & Sami Zayn
Handicap matches suck. This is a prime example of how WWE have no idea how to use anyone. At least they’re aware that Sami is a terrific mouth piece but he’s also a terrific wrestler and I don’t remember the last time I saw him wrestle. I think it may have been when he got squashed by Bob Lashley in 2018. This is another dumb match where they tag in and out. Nakamura looks on autopilot here. He’s clearly bored. Helluva Kick finishes Braun after multiple finishers. This match sucked.
Happy to see Zayn with the strap though. Hopefully they can move Braun on to something else and build on Sami as the champ.
Final Rating: *1/2
RAW Women’s Championship #1 Contender’s Match
Asuka vs. Sarah Logan vs. Liv Morgan vs. Shayna Baszler vs. Ruby Riott vs. Natalya
Ruby missed eight months injured and when she returned ditched the Riott Squad. Liv is mad about it. The crowd is absolutely dead. Perhaps suddenly aware that this show is offering nothing more than this. The card was always middling but even the most middling of cards usually has a finish planned worth seeing. The result is a “CM Punk” chant. Mainly because there’s only two stars in this; Shayna and Asuka. The Ruby vs. Logan/Liv storyline is a good one but people don’t seem to care. It’s only when Shayna comes in that business picks up. Kirifuda Clutch gets rid of Logan. Same for Ruby. This is why nobody cared. Same for Nattie. Shayna treating all these women like something she stepped in. The lack of star power was a major issue in this match and WWE’s booking has merely reinforced that.
They even have Shayna just stand around while the clock counts down for minutes on end. Just get on with it for fuck’s sake. Liv is in next and Shayna kills her by swinging her head first into the pod. Holy shit. Liv gets choked out but gets bonus points for being too tough to tap. Respect. So, it’s Shayna vs. Asuka. As it always should have been, which makes you wonder why they even bothered to put it inside an Elimination Chamber. It’s a turgid 25 minutes to set up a hot finish. They go back and forth before the Kirifuda Clutch finishes and Shayna is going to WrestleMania. The last five minutes was pretty good, as was Shayna murdering people but everything was a hard pass.
Final Rating: **1/4