Wrestling Review: WWE Elimination Chamber (2017)

Thanks to moving house, and therefore losing my internet for a week or so, I am well and truly behind in my wrestling viewings. I still have some WCPW and two huge NJPW shows to watch, and more Rev Pro and Progress coming out seemingly every week but I thought I’d get started with some WWE in the form of Elimination Chamber. I’ll try something a bit different with this one, so there will be full spoilers for this show, as I write in a ‘stream of consciousness’ style, so you can all see what my mind is like as I watch wrestling. This show originally took place on February 12, so I figure if you don’t know the spoilers by now you won’t be looking up reviews for it. Without further ado…

(This was all written as I watched it, before the follow-up SmackDown shows. So, some thing I hope for have already been proven wrong, whilst others are going right along with my wishlist.)

The pre-show opens up with Renee Young, along with mainstay Booker T, and personal favourite wrestling podcast host Sam “notsam” Roberts. Joining the trio is Carmella, who spends the time more interested with her phone and an attempt to get a coffee. Carmella is a good character, but I guess with every other SmackDown woman busy (sans Eva Marie — oh god, imaginge a Carmella/Eva Marie match!) she had nothing else to do. Either way, it was good that they still allowed her to feature her character. The Becky Lynch “social media lounge segment” was what it was; not nearly as entertaining as Owens/Jericho, or any other heel segment, but Becky is so gosh darn cute it hard to fault her.

Pre show match: Mojo Rawley def. Curt Hawkins
I have to say, this was surprisingly good. The crowd was really behind Mojo, and his comeback spots got a really nice reaction, even thought the crowd was still filing in. I can’t fathom why someone like Curt Hawkins would want to come back to the WWE only to be put in the place he is. This makes me wonder where Jack Swagger has gone.

The main show begins, and after a fantastic video package (seriously, the WWE behind-the-scenes guys don’t get enarly enough credit) we get straight to the action.

Becky Lynch def. Mickie James
Honestly, I found this to be far too slow, and therefore quite boring. Both of these two are so great in the ring, so it was a shame this was decided to be such a plodding matchup. A few clumsy transitions (or intentional ruses, who can tell these days) made for some awkward pauses which took me right out of the already uninspired action.

Apollo Crews & Kalisto def. Dolph Ziggler
The entire concept of two good guys teaming up against one bad guy is just unimaginably stupid, because all it does is make for ‘hope spots’ for the lone competitor, which here is the bad guy — surely we are not meant to want the bad guy to win? Either way, after a pre-match beatdown by Ziggler removed Kalisto from the equation, this was essentially a low-card singles match between Ziggler and Crews, which is a match we have certainly seen at least a billion times in the last month? It certainly feels like it. Kalisto’s earlier attack was rendered almost entirely moot by the fact he was jumping and running around as if he was not injured whatsoever. The two babyfaces overcoming the heel made for the best outcome, but it still begs the question of why we should care for either of these two when it takes two of them to beat a middle-of-the-road threat like Ziggler anyway. Thankfully, some post-match shenanigans brought the crowd back from their silent death.

wwe_eliminationchamber_2017_2.png
The Ascension enters Tag Team Turmoil (screenshot via WWE Network)

American Alpha survive Tag Team Turmoil, to retain the Smackdown Tag Team Championships
This match started with SlateRhyno (didn’t they break up already?) versus Breezango, who imo should be going by the far superior team moniker of The Fashion Police, because that gimmick is absolutely straight MONEY. This was another match which was not given much time, as it was the first of seven parts to this one match, but it was still really well done. Fandango in particular looked so smooth and managed to really get Rhyno over as a beast. As much as the crowd loved Slater and Rhyno, it was Breezango who garnered the bigger response.
Once Beauty and the Manbeast managed to eliminate Breezango, it was another jobber team of the Vaudevillains who were quickly disposed of. The Vaudevillains could be a good babyface team if they were given the same sort of vignettes they were given in NXT, but at the moment they are so useless it is a miracle they are still employed.
The fourth team out was The Usos, and the Samoan twins managed to outlast the now vulnerable Heath Slater and Rhyno, giving way for American Alpha, the defending champs, to finally enter the match. American Alpha versus The Usos is a rivalry that has been a sort of stop-start series, and I think given the proper time they could put on one hell of a main event match. The Usos, with this new ‘we’re sick of your shit’ persona, have all the making of a top heel team. Part of me thinks that is the plan, as this match had a very sudden ending, leading to yet another in a long line of post-match beatdowns from The Usos onto American Alpha.
The Ascension made the final entrance of the match, complete with an awesome new face mask on Konnor, and I feel the need to say I still well on board the Ascension hype train. Sadly, it seems noone in the WWE writing staff is, because these two were beaten handily, even after American Alpha’s beatdown, in a matter of minutes. These two, much like the Vaudevillains earlier, could be something really special in the Smackdown tag team division, but for whatever reason the WWE have chosen to use them as enhancement talent only. The Ascension will always be one of my boys – a list of wrestlers who are just not appreciated enough (also on the list are both of Breezango, Erick Rowan, Jack Swagger and Mojo Rawley). Nonetheless, that is the end of the Smackdown tag team division for the night. I’ll be interested where this goes, heading forward, especially with Wrestlemania looming.

Nikki Bella fought Natalya to a double countout
With one of the more fleshed out stories on the show, even if the story is a bit cliched, and a good worker facing a great worker. To go along with the story of Natalya being the better wrestler than Nikki (which, obviously, she is), Nikki did not just smash the hell out of Natalya early, and instead opted to go from hold to hold in an attempt to out-wrestle the Hart Dungeon graduate in a catch-as-catch-can pissing contest. The crowd was into it, so who am I to judge, and Natalya played up her new bitchy attitude to perfection, as she talked trash to Nikki throughout, and even taunted Nikki’s mum who was in the crowd. Eventually, Nikki did begin the smashing I was waiting for, and Nikki even busted out a really tight looking STF in an ode to boyfriend John Cena, who was a focus of this feud from the beginning. The match ended as the two were too busy brawling to answer the referee’s ten count, and we were left with two non-winners of the match. I’m not entirely sure if this was the best outcome for this match, and I would have thought this was the end of this feud and needed a definitve ending either way. Some backstage brawling later, including an interesting run-in with Maryse, proves this rivalry is far from done.

But we’re only half way. There is a Women’s Championship match and a battle of brotherly hate still to come, along with the titular Elimination Chamber match for the WWE Championship. Check out my thoughts on those matches, as well as some more random thoughts and a list of some MVPs for the entire show, on page 2!

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