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The Smark Henry Pay-Per-Review: Elimination Chamber 2015

I find it funny how I was in outrage over the fact that Elimination Chamber was slated to happen a mere two weeks after Payback. But as the card basically got assembled before our very eyes on RAW the next day, I got all excited for it. Then Elimination Chamber the PPV came and went much like the Elimination Chamber matches themselves, and I found myself asking the same question post-Payback: Now, what?

I know that’s not supposed to be a good thing, but for some reason, I feel nonchalant about it. This must be an effect of being overexposed to this kind of booking from Creative for far too long.

But that doesn’t mean there weren’t any takeaways from Elimination Chamber. In fact, I had a lot of takeaways from the show, so let’s just get to it!

Stardust def. Zack Ryder

He's coming for you, Stephen Amell.
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After toiling into oblivion—well not the type of oblivion Kevin Owens was talking about—it was nice seeing Zack Ryder back on a PPV card. Since his match against Cena last week, it appears that Ryder’s being given a bit more time to show what he’s got and we saw that in the match against Stardust. He was able to throw in some offense, which is much more than we’re used to seeing with him. I would like to see him bust out the 450 more as a signature move, or even as a new finisher.

The bigger story here is that Stardust has renamed Cross Rhodes into the Queen’s Crossbow, a clear reference to Arrow. And if the rumors are indeed true, then we are just a few months away from Stephen Amell locking up with Stardust at SummerSlam.

The New Day (c) def. the Prime Time Players, Tyson Kidd & Cesaro, the Ascension, the Lucha Dragons and Los Matadores in an Elimination Chamber Match to retain the WWE Tag Team Championship

We got us a flying Kalisto!
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They picked the right Chamber match to open the show, and I actually thought it was a lot of fun. Having the Ascension and the Lucha Dragons start was a nice touch, since they have a history dating back to NXT. I was pretty disappointed that Harper & Rowan didn’t come out to attack Los Matadores, but I guess this is a case of me expecting too much and then getting disappointed.

Kalisto & Sin Cara were all over the Chamber, climbing up to the top of the pods, and in Kalisto’s case, all the way to the top of the Chamber as if he were a spider! I loved how the New Day held Kalisto’s leg down when he was on top of the New Day’s pod. I thought that was brilliant heel work in a setting where you’re supposedly idle, except for the part where they held Kalisto down a little too long. How about the Ascension eliminating Los Matadores and the Lucha Dragons though? If we had babyface tag champs, Konnor & Viktor could work their way towards a good feud over the championships.

It was surprising to see Kidd & Cesaro eliminated before the final two teams, and I wish that the Lucha Dragons would have lasted longer, too. I felt like there wouldn’t have been much of a lull during the final stretch of this match. For what it’s worth, WWE attempted to make stars out of the Prime Time Players by making them the last team to be eliminated. It’s not all that surprising because as much as I love Kidd & Cesaro, the New Day does need a new challenger for the Tag Team Championships.

Nikki Bella (c) def. Paige and Naomi in a Triple Threat Match to retain the Divas Championship

Female Cena, everybody!
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Nikki basically wrestled as if she were John Cena’s female equivalent. I get that Nikki’s long title run is being established, but I, along with my SGP Podcast co-hosts and a sizable portion of the IWC, thought that this was Naomi’s time to win the Divas title. It was odd that the Authority banned both Brie Bella and Tamina from ringside because I wanted to see how those two would play into the match. I also wanted to see Paige as an underdog being the only “lone wolf” character in the match. Alas, the match ended with Nikki harnessing her inner Super Cena to retain.

NXT Champion Kevin Owens def. United States Champion John Cena

How's that for veteran advice, Jearn?
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Easily the match of the night, Owens vs. Cena had the big fight feel from the moment Owens’ music hit. He came in sporting new gear for the second week in a row, and it just has to be pointed out how Owens makes his in-ring gear look legit despite it being different from what we’re all used to seeing. Once Cena joined Owens in the ring, JBL made a great point comparing this matchup to one of the NBA’s greatest what ifs: if ABA Dr. J ever faced Magic Johnson or Larry Bird in the NBA. I am glad we’re living in the WWE of 2015 simply because of Cena vs. Owens.

Kevin Owens was masterful throughout the match, especially with how he didn’t hold back against Cena. When most heels run their mouth during a match, they usually do it by taunting the crowd or by yelling at their opponent or the referee. Owens literally got in Cena’s face, and that brash side is refreshing to see in a heel.

At one point, I lost it and thought that Owens busted out the package piledriver, only to mistake it for a tease. Nonetheless, he busted out moves and countermoves that we know he saved for the big show. My biggest takeaway from the match was that any doubts about Kevin Owens’ readiness for the bright lights of the main roster should be silenced after this match.

It should be noted that John Cena has a history of only putting a select group of superstars over cleanly. Kevin Owens joins the likes of CM Punk and Daniel Bryan, who have ironically been Cena-approved. If you’re the type of WWE fan who’s looking for a new IWC hero and if you haven’t gotten behind Kevin Owens yet, you should be now. The rematch at Money in the Bank should be even better.

Neville def. Bo Dallas

Clearly, Neville is not a Bolieber.
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It’s been mentioned on this site that this match was basically a throwaway win for Neville. My one takeaway from this match was that I didn’t realize that I could tune out of a Neville match. Bo Dallas is no longer as green as he was as recently as last year, but he hasn’t improved his style to the point that he can exploit a size advantage against a smaller opponent. Sure, Neville is more jacked than Bo despite being the shorter wrestler, but the point still stands.

While he can let the mean streak take over his character and make him come across as a dastardly villain, I don’t think his in-ring work helps him back it up. He could use some work on his ring psychology so that he could tell a better story with his opponent. It didn’t help that this match came in between the Cena-Owens match and the Intercontinental Championship Elimination Chamber match, so it served as the nominal “bathroom break” of the show.

Ryback def. Sheamus, Dolph Ziggler, Mark Henry, R-Truth, and King Barrett in an Elimination Chamber Match to win the Intercontinental Championship

Sheamus's look says it all. What the bloody fuck's going on?
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The last time the Intercontinental Championship was vacated due to injury, the injured former champion, Bad News Barrett, was supposed to be present when the new champion was to be crowned. In fact, they built up to that segment, only to see Barrett get written out of it without any explanation.

This time around, they brought in Daniel Bryan and announced that he would be present to crown the new champion during the MizTV segment in the kickoff. I thought it was a nice touch because whoever would have won--babyface or heel--could use the Daniel Bryan rub. Having Bryan sit at ringside throughout the match was bittersweet because I could tell that Bryan really wanted to be in the match and just working. At the same time, it relieved me that Bryan wouldn’t get written out of the story unlike Barrett before him.

Speaking of Barrett, it was weird that they eliminated him first. I would have figured he would at least make the final three. Eliminating the King of the Ring first doesn’t add value to the prestige of the KOTR title. Sure, it’s not as big of a midcard title as the IC or US titles, but why organize a tournament and a Network exclusive for it when you’ll treat the winner like a chump anyway?

This site’s spirit animal, Mark Henry, made his return through this match as Rusev’s replacement, though it was weird seeing him in that spot when you had an idle Bray Wyatt waiting in the wings. Plus the fact that Henry worked babyface meant that you had an imbalanced field with four faces and just two heels. When Barrett was eliminated so early, you had the other four players squaring off against each other with not much tension other than the shared desire to become champion.

We also saw a few mishaps in that match, with the first being the awkward moment when Ziggler, Ryback, Truth, and Mizark didn’t know what to do. The second awkward moment was when Sheamus’ pod refused to open, and he had to use his Celtic Cross necklace to break free. I thought that it was unintentionally funny since production failed to properly show how Sheamus actually used the necklace to lock himself in the pod. The original idea was for Sheamus to let everyone else beat each other senseless so that he can come in when there were only two competitors left. It didn’t help that everyone else in the match legitimately didn’t seem to know what to do while all of the hullaballoo was going on. It was just a whole lot of mess.

Anyway, when Ziggler, Ryback, and Sheamus emerged as the final three, it would have been safe to assume that Beezy would be sent packing next as the Show-Off and the Celtic Warrior would have their grudge match one-on-one for the vacated IC title. This is why I was pretty surprised that Sheamus eliminated Dolph, only for himself to be eliminated later by Ryback.

Biggest takeaway of the match? Ryback has won his first singles title despite having debuted on the main roster as the next big thing three years ago. Take a look at this list of names: Dean Ambrose, Seth Rollins, Rusev, Cesaro, Big E, Luke Harper, and Curtis Axel. What do all of them have in common? They all debuted either at the same time as Ryback or after him, and they all won a singles title before he did. Let that sink in for a moment.

When Daniel Bryan presented the IC title to Ryback, part of me wanted Ryback to then turn on DB and attack him. My reasoning behind that is if Ryback did assault Bryan, that would tell us that Bryan was already okay and ready to return and their feud would instantly be set up. Man, I need to find Jesus.

Dean Ambrose def. Seth Rollins (c) via disqualification in a match for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship

Presenting Seth Rollins' "Huli ka, balbon!" moment.
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When Ambrose was announced as the winner and when he had his subsequent championship celebration in the ring, I thought I was seeing things. It had to be a dusty finish. It just had to. I mean, these two have been feuding for the past year, and yet, the latest chapter in their rivalry turned out to be pretty SAWFT compared to their previous outings. I don’t care if their last one-on-one encounter in a PPV was inside Hell in a Cell. This match is for the world title, dammit! Act like it.

We called for a Roman Reigns heel turn both in this site and on the podcast, and it was frankly disappointing that it didn’t happen. I feel like having Reigns and Ambrose team up in 2015 is just one year too late. This should have happened last year when Rollins and the Authority were ganging up on Ambrose. Smarter fans can argue that having Reigns and Ambrose teaming up right now makes Roman look like a big idiot for having taken this long to realize that he had a powerful ally and brother in Dean Ambrose all this time.

It also makes him look even more asinine because he was easily distracted by bigger pursuits like the WWE World Heavyweight Championship when he had a bigger grudge against Seth Rollins that had to be resolved. One last note on Roman: after all that’s happened between him, Seth and Dean, Roman coming to Dean’s aid and being his partner from out of nowhere looks suspiciously insincere.

In the end, the dusty finish worked in the sense that Dean still got to be the same old chaotic lunatic we’ve come to know and love. He left the arena with the WWE World Heavyweight Championship belt anyway, much to Rollins’ chagrin. It’s just really awkward seeing Reigns smiling side-by-side next to Ambrose as they pull a fast one over the Authority. I mean, it’ll only be a matter of time until Reigns recognizes that belt as his carrot and turns on his brother, too. Then we’ll have an epic chapter in the Shield’s story.


Like I said at the top of this column, I wasn’t too impressed by the end of the PPV because a lot of the moments fell flat, particularly in the last two matches. The Divas title match was also a bit of a letdown. If I had to isolate one match from the show that would still make it worth watching, it would be Cena vs. Owens. It is a must-see match, and as early as now, it’s a Match of the Year candidate. As for the show overall, I would give it a C.

What did you think of Elimination Chamber? Which was your favorite match of the night? Did your picks in the Chamber matches win? Sound off in the comments section and stay tuned for my RAW Report, where I have more things to say about Cena vs. Owens and the current Ambrose/Reigns vs. Rollins/Authority storylines.

Stan Sy is a radio DJ, an events host, a freelance writer, one of the hosts of the Smark Gilas-Pilipinas Podcast, and Smark Henry's official PPV reviewer. He enjoys watching WWE, NXT, Lucha Underground, and the occasional New Japan match. Every now and then, he dresses up in fancy suits to book matches as PWR's longest-tenured General Manager to date. Follow him on Twitter: @_stansy

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