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The Elimination Chamber was a PPV that in a lot of ways was defined by who wasn't on the card. Seth Rollins, the number one contender for the Universal Championship was off the show completely. At a time when Rollins should be building momentum for his world title match against Brock Lesnar; he was missing entirely from a WWE PPV. Also marked absent was the Universal Champion, Lesnar.
I think because of that, WWE ended up building the show around a lot of angles and moments, but ones with little long-term significance. While Elimination Chamber usually serves as a springboard for angles at WrestleMania, it feels like this was the kind of show where most of the developments can be undone this week on RAW and SmackDown. The Miz and Shane McMahon can win their titles back; Lashley can get back together with Lio Rush and get revenge on Balor and Strowman is probably going to kill Corbin on RAW.
Becky Lynch didn't have a match on the show; although she later appeared and was the most-over performer of the night. Since WWE needed Lynch to appear, they put on an unnecessary title match that Ronda Rousey sleep-walked through so they could get to the actual segment people cared about.
The show wasn't very long, but it didn't seem like a lot of thought was put into it. WWE has so much programming that it often feels like they do things like mid-card title changes and teams splitting up as a way to get the crowd to react, without any long-time thought put into those title changes and splits. There were definitely some highlights, but I wouldn't call this is a great show because it didn't feel like WWE was really invested in a lot of the angles and finishes they booked tonight.
Men's Elimination Chamber: ****1/4
The way this match built up to Kofi Kingston vs Daniel Bryan was one of the most well-executed WWE matches in recent memory. Kingston scraped his way to the final matchup and the crowd was behind him all the way. Unlike a lot of the pushes in WWE, the crowd's support of Kingston felt wholly organic and not like he was a corporate choice, selected by WWE to be shoved down the throat of fans. It felt strange to be watching a WWE show where the fans were really behind a babyface in the main event of a match; it's unfortunate it doesn't happen more often.
The big winner here was Daniel Bryan. I think beating a babyface that fans genuinely wanted to see win really helps the narcissistic heel champion. Bryan has been doing awesome work, and I think the momentum he will gain from beating Kingston, clean, will propel him even further as a top heel.
Women's Elimination Chamber: ***
I thought this match overachieved; Bayley and Sasha Banks were really invaluable here as the most experienced team and carried the match from start to finish. I also thought Mandy Rose and Sonya Deville had probably their best showing in WWE, and they felt like a real tag team that deserved to be in the ring at the end of the match with Bayley and Banks.
I worry a bit about the long-term future of the women's tag titles. WWE has a lot of championships, and once WWE can't claim a title match as being historic I wonder how invested the company will be in shining a spotlight on the titles. Asuka was M.I.A. tonight despite holding what should be one of the main titles in WWE. I'm sure throughout Bayley and Banks' reign the titles will be treated as important, but long-term I'm not sure the titles will be appearing on every PPV.
Ronda Rousey vs Ruby Riott: *
This was basically just an excuse to for Becky Lynch to come out in front of the crowd. Ruby Riott has a record of 1-14 in 2019, so it was pretty hard to believe she deserved a title shot. The real story was the post-match segment with Lynch destroying both Charlotte and Rousey with the crutch. The goal is to continue to get Lynch over as a Stone Cold-like figure and this was ripped right out of the 1998 WWF Playbook. The crowd popped for Lynch more than anyone else on the show so you'd have to say it was a success.
Shane McMahon and The Miz vs The Usos: **3/4
Tag team wrestling really suits Shane McMahon. He can get the few over spots he does in every match in, but he also doesn't have to sell a lot, or throw too many wild punches, or just in general exposing the business. The Usos are a really good tag team and their versatility and selling really made this match work. I wouldn't have changed the titles here; I think there is still more life in McMahon and Miz being the champions and they could have done a DQ or count-out finish here. Taking the titles off of them so quickly seems like kind of a waste given how much they've built everything up. They can always just give them the titles again, but I'm against just changing the titles for the sake of having a title change.
Lio Rush and Bobby Lashley vs Finn Balor: **½
The work here was pretty good, although the match was pretty shor. Balor wins the Intercontinental Championship, which gives him some gold but I don't really think it moves him any further up the ladder. I did not like the post-match angle with Lashley turning on Rush and destroying him. I thought their act was mutually beneficial and it felt like WWE broke them up just to do an angle; because I don't think them splitting is going to benefit either of them.
Baron Corbin vs Braun Strowman: *¼
Not much to this match; they did about four minutes of work before Drew McIntyre and Lashley ran down and beat down Strowman. This was pretty much garbage. I can't believe WWE has McIntyre, who checks all of the boxes when it comes to being a superstar, yet they currently have him as a lackey to Baron Corbin. What a waste of a super-talented guy. Part of the reason I thought McIntyre needed to win the Rumble was because I thought he needed some direction; without that kind of direction, he has found himself as a servant to Corbin. Bleh.
Must Watch Matches:
Hiroshi Tanhashi vs Jay White: ****¼ - NJPW New Beginning in Osaka
Averno, Chessman and Super Fly vs El Hijo del Vikingo, Murder Clown and Myzteziz Jr. : **** AAA Conquista Total Gira