The Hits & Misses Of The Elimination Chamber

Usually, the only time I will set an alarm for a pro wrestling event is New Japan’s signature Tokyo Dome event, Wrestle Kingdom that takes place on January 4th, but in the modern era, streaming technology allows for much more flexibility than in the past with traditional pay-per-view distribution. Aside from scheduling, that flexibility gives WWE brass more options for where these events can take place and thus the revenue that can be generated from it. Aside from the guaranteed cash that is a part of the Peacock deal, the WWE can get site fees to bring those shows to specific cities. For example, Perth, Australia paid some hefty cash to get a major WWE show in their city and a packed stadium in the process. The overseas market, even now remains such untapped territory in many ways because of the travel and logistics involved with importing American-based entertainment so while they are more opportunities to draw from the foreign markets, there still remains a strong demand since live events are relatively rare compared to the amount of events held in domestic markets.

The difference is, instead of an Australian house tour maybe once a year that there was a decade ago, there can be a major pay-per-view event in a stadium with more than 50,000 fans in attendance. Still, with the time difference and the American market not watching at the same time, you have to wonder, would this be a glorified house show or will key pieces of the Wrestlemania puzzle be put into place? One thing is for sure, it says a lot about the power of the WWE brand when they can run another stadium show on their schedule, particularly since there was a time when a stadium event was rare, but it has become more and more common in recent years. Wrestlemania became a stadium show more or less exclusively since 2007, and that was expanded upon with the introduction of a two-night event a few years ago. After that, the “big four” events were held in stadiums, most recently with Summer Slam in Detroit last year and then The Royal Rumble was held in Tampa last month. Now, a few of the other shows, including the Saudi events, are held in stadiums. Don’t get me wrong, it’s very doubtful that WWE pay-per-views will only be held in a stadium, the name value of certain shows just don’t justify or would draw for it, but again, it says a lot about the power of the WWE brand when almost half of the pay-per-views could be held in a stadium.

For organizational purposes, I’m only going to discuss the main card, but the pre-show saw The Kabuki Warriors defeat Candice LeRae and Indi Hartwell to retain the WWE Women’s Tag Team titles. The match was fine, but it was a basic match that seemed to be there more to give the live audience some variety than anything else.

As is usually the case with pay-per-views that have two chamber matches on the card, the show kicked off with one chamber match, but didn’t conclude with the other chamber bout. Instead, WWE brass played into the hometown crowd and put Rhea Ripley in the main event spot. On the surface it makes sense, but is Nia Jax really a main event performer? As far as the start of the show with the chamber match, in some ways this creates and almost natural dip in the pace of the show since it starts with one of the signature matches. The women’s chamber match kicked off the show, and all things considered, it was a solid performance for everyone involved. Each competitor had a chance to shine, and while there were some clunky moments, there were enough highlights that this will be considered a good segment. At just 24, Tiffany Stratton still has time to develop as a perform. She is very athletic and the dive she did from the top of the chamber was a major moment, but you can still see her in-ring inexperience. She’s very good at the choreographed moves that she knows how to do for a routine, but the “glue” of in-ring work for transitions between the moves isn’t there yet. That said, she wasn’t out of place her so it will be interesting to see if she can became a more well-rounded performer as she continues to work with the top-tier talent on the main roster. Bianca Belair was solid as she always is and looked like a total star throughout the match. That being said, based on the interactions on Raw and the fact that Becky Lynch was given the final introduction, it was rather obvious that she was going to win the chamber to advance to WM. Raquel Rodriguez did well in this match, but her character is rather bland so there’s still work to be done there if she’s going to be considered on the same level as the top stars of the women’s division. The quick pin that Becky got on Liv Morgan to win the match after Morgan eliminated Bianca was well done.

The tag team title match had a lot of action and was very entertaining. It was the “work rate” match on a gimmick pay-per-view and provided the substance to go along with the sizzle of the chamber matches. That said, it was obvious that Judgment Day weren’t going to drop the titles so it wasn’t a surprise when Finn Balor got the pin to retain the titles. It looked like Finn suffered a nasty thumb injury at some point near the conclusion on the contest so hopefully, it’s not a serious injury.

I understand why they’d want to have the Grayson Waller segment on the show as another way to play into the hometown aspect, but this whole portion of the show was just too long and it became a rather tedious viewing experience. Austin Theory was there so that the baby faces could dispatch the heel, but this was the same talk show bit that we’ve seen before and it truly added nothing other than to stretch the broadcast. Between this segment, the commercials, and countless video packages, it was two hours into the show and there were only two matches.

Outside of spot where Bobby Lashley speared Logan Paul through the chamber door, this was a rather paint-by-the-numbers chamber match. There’s nothing necessarily wrong with that, but it was more or less just a series of moves rather than a narrative that unfolded throughout the contest. AJ Styles cost LA Knight the match so you can pencil that bout in for WM, which is a good choice since the two will probably have a solid match at the event. Similar to the women’s chamber match, based on the interaction on Raw, it was fairly obvious that Drew McIntyre was going to win the bout to challenge Seth Rollins for the championship. Logan Paul costing Randy Orton the win would imply that they will have business to do at WM, but keep in mind, there wasn’t anything resolved with Kevin Owens and the social media star with the DQ finish at the Royal Rumble last month so it remains to be seen how any of that could play a role in the line-up for April.

If you needed to know how much the audience didn’t look for Nia Jax to be in the main event, despite being in a stadium with more than 50,000 fans, she got a very mediocre crowd reaction during her entrance. Nobody in the building believed it was possible that she was going to beat Rhea Ripley so they were rather indifferent to Nia being the opponent. As far as the match itself, Nia was uncoordinated and her moves were sloppy. The Samoan drop on the announce table looked dangerous and the elbow drop that followed it was clumsy. Outside of being The Rock’s cousin, I’m not sure why Nia is being used in this role. Thankfully, Rhea Ripley retained the title and avoided injury in this match.

The pay-per-view was fine and it had its moments, particularly with the pieces of the puzzle it provided to set up Wrestlemania, which was more or less the entire point of the event. However, there was just too much stalling between matches and with a main card that only had four bouts, it became a very tedious viewing experience over the course of three and hours. Basically, even with implications for the biggest show of the year, this was a show that I would’ve rather watched afterwards to be able to fast forward through the cannon fodder than something that had to be seen during the live broadcast of the event.

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Until next week
-Jim LaMotta

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