Now that the final PPV before Wrestlemania has come to an end, I’ll quickly dive you right into my take on the 2014 Elimination Chamber.
The pre-show match with Rhodes/Goldust vs. Ryback/Axel was solid. The crowd responded well to the hometown boy Axel, who smartly brought his grandfather Larry Axel to ringside with him. Ryback visibly stepped his game up and pulled out a few new things we haven’t really seen from him. Axel may be a little dry in personality, but he can really go in the ring. The Runnels boys looked great as always. This was the only pick I had wrong, as Rhodes/Goldust won and didn’t tease their breakup any farther. Nothing stand-out here, but a solid match from all four that worked hard and got the crowd opened up. Served it’s purpose.
The IC Title match between Big E and Swagger was actually my 3rd favorite match of the night. I knew this would be solid, but both guys risked their bodies and went above and beyond to stand out. Some nice spots included a spear into the steps and a spear from the inside to the outside of the ring. Big E still needs to find his exact niche. He has a ton of charisma (a lot of which we haven’t seen yet), and his move-set still seems slightly limited. But both men worked very hard here and had a better match than anyone could have expected. Good win for Big E and a nice title defense.
The Tag Title match between the Outlaws and the Usos was also very solid. Not nearly as good as the other title match, but certainly not bad. The Usos are very fun to watch, and Billy Gunn did a nice job of hanging with them when he had to. The Outlaws have done their part since their return for sure. I like them going over here and dropping the straps (hopefully) at Mania. That gives the Usos (or whomever wins) a bigger stage and moment.
Titus O’Neil and Darren Young were just….there. The crowd was totally dead for this match, and it came off a little sloppily. Young is underrated and Titus is hit or miss…but this really missed. Young’s fire/comeback had no energy, and Titus seemed a little lost when he was on top. I know they really want to give Titus a chance to be a breakout guy, but I saw NOTHING in him here. There are far too many other good big guys (Henry, Reigns, Big E) that are way ahead of where Titus is.
Now for the Shield vs. the Wyatts. Wow, this was everything I expected and more. The crowd was chanting “this is awesome” even before anyone touched each other, and their prognostications were right. The audience was on fire the whole time (including dueling “let’s go Wyatts/let’s go Shield” chants), and the match was given plenty of time. It was paced out well and told and incredible story. All six men came away looking like gold, and each man had a chance to shine throughout. Seth Rollins again proved why he’s not a weak link by ANY means, and Bray Wyatt gets better as he goes along. This had that old pier-six brawl feel to it, and the ending with all three Wyatts cornering Reigns was great. The ending gives the Wyatts a huge win going into Mania, and gives Reigns a reason to blame the other two Shield members for his loss. If only they could feud for 6 more months and make this a huge program…
Next up came AJ vs. Cameron, simply because I think they didn’t want Batista trying to follow that last awesome six-man tag. A short, choppy match that saw Cameron win by DQ when Tamina kicked AJ, then broke up the pin. Cameron looked really weak here, she’s nowhere near as good as Naomi. And I hope Tamina isn’t gearing up for a singles push, because she’s one of the worst workers in a bad division. Not to mention super dangerous and boring.
Now we’re up to Batista vs. Del Rio. I gotta hand it to big Dave, I never thought anyone could get an audience to cheer for Del Rio. Batista is the most hated guy in the company right now by the fans…which is why he’s supposed to be a top babyface. The match was ok for what it was, nothing special, but not horrid. Del Rio did some nice arm work before being buried. If WWE decides to go with Batista vs. Orton to main event Wrestlemania, the show is gonna close with 70,000 people booing and chanting for Daniel Bryan. Let’s hope they figure something out. Can’t wait until Batista shoots his next movie so he can go away again.
And finally, we’re up to the six-man chamber main event for the WWE Title. I won’t get into too many long specifics, but I really enjoyed this one. I have it as my second best match of the night (behind the Shield/Wyatts). Christian did a really solid job with his heel work, and also scaled the cage a few times (including a cool frog splash from one of the pods). Cesaro had the crowd on his side, and really put in another very strong performance here. He may have been the best of the 6. They had him in the final four (with Orton, Bryan and Cena), which is a credit to how hard he’s been working. The ending was fun to watch unravel, but terribly predictable. Every one of the 10 people I was watching with called the exact finish before the match even started. But nonetheless, it sets up Cena/Wyatt for Mania, and potentially furthers a Bryan/Kane or Bryan/HHH program if that’s where they decide to go.
Overall, a pretty solid show. There are two matches that are very good (Chamber and the IC Title match) and one that you MUST go out of your way to see (Six man tag), with a few duds in-between. It will be interesting to see how Raw goes in the coming weeks and how the Mania card shapes up. Until the next opening bell, valued readers…