WWE Elimination Chamber 2015
May 31, 2015
Corpus Christi, Texas
American Bank Center

Watch: WWENetwork

Eager to sell WWE Network subscriptions on the final day of month, WWE converted a house show into a “special event” and brought back to dormant Elimination Chamber gimmick. The highlight for some was the special event debut of NXT superstar and former indie wrestling darling Kevin Owens taking on United States Champion John Cena. As one could reasonably guess, the match delivered and delivered big time. The rest of the show was a debatable mix of spotty, sloppy, disappointing and confusing. It wasn’t a bad event by any means but it was a very inconsistent showing from WWE and may have missed its mark for selling subscriptions into June. – Rich Kraetsch

(Kickoff Show) Stardust def. Zack Ryder

Rob McCarron (@ShakeThemRopes): This match was a WWE Superstars caliber opener, and the commentary team spent the entire match dissecting the possible, but unlikely, future Summerslam match of Stardust vs Stephen Amell. Amell is a C-list star that I’m apparently uncool for not being familiar with. I’m sure he’s a nice guy, though. Stardust won with the Queen’s Crossbow because HE’S NOT CODY! *1/2

Alex Wendland (@AlexWendland): This match happened. I feel confident in saying this pre show match won’t steal the show the way the tag team title match did a few months ago. God, I hope it doesn’t. I don’t harbor the standard Voices of Wrestling hatred for Stardust (or the entirely unaffiliated Cody Rhodes, for that matter), but he’s gotten very stale. In the WWE, however, even actual stale bread goes over Zack Ryder. *

Rich Kraetsch (@VoicesWrestling): Glad to see people have joined us in the Stardust Sucks movement. For such a budding, under-utilized star, he sure does have a long list of mediocre matches. Anyway, this was perfectly acceptable and worked as more of a backdrop for a potential (and in WWE’s mind hopeful) SummerSlam showdown between Cody and Stephen Amell.

Garrett Kidney (@GarrettKidney): Stardust is the dirt worst. Dirt. Worst. I’m not going to pretend Stephen Amell is a huge star or anything but Arrow is a pretty popular show and of all the people they choose to work a program with him they go with Stardust. Great to see them following up on the Cena match really strong with Ryder, you know by losing an unannounced pre show match to Stardust. And again I’m not going to pretend Ryder has this huge upside but there’s no point in giving these guys strong showings against Cena and then it all leading absolutely nowhere for them. *1/2

Tag Team Elimination Chamber Match – WWE Tag Team Championship
The New Day © def. The Lucha Dragons vs. Tyson Kidd & Cesaro vs. The Prime Time Players vs. The Ascension vs. Los Matadores

Rob McCarron: Sin Cara hits La Mistica, a fun spot. What is commentary doing? Making fun of Jerry Lawler’s “JR” botch. Story of the match. Cesaro was breaking up pinfalls when opponents were being pinned, which made zero sense. Torito was allowed in the cage, but didn’t have to go in the pod. So why not? The whole thing was just a stuntshow without many stunts, and then there was Kalisto spending ten hours to set up spots he couldn’t finish. Not the best start, by any means. **


Alex Wendland: How do you succinctly review something like this? The match was choppy and the spots were clearly being called and planned, especially early on. At the same time, good on all 10 guys (Woods and bull included) for putting it all on the line and doing some crazy spots. There were obviously things I liked: I don’t think anyone left the match in worse shape than they went in (character-wise or physically, really), the Ascension looked like a halfway legitimate tag team and Kalisto survived a dive from the top of the chamber without anyone catching him. I just wish it could’ve all made a little bit more sense. **3/4

Rich Kraetsch: Sloppy and unspectacular. Those are the two words that come to my mind after watching this match. Was it what I expected? Yes and no. There were a ton of guys locked into a Chamber, of course there was going to dives from high places, coordinated spots and stunts galore. Yet this just didn’t seem to click. The first half was outwardly bad as the Lucha Dragons, Matadores and The Ascension were the focal points. It picked up towards the end with The Prime Time Players and New Day as the final two but overall, I still didn’t enjoy it much. The booking and psychology was all over the place and the stunts weren’t particularly exciting or original. The man below me can probably attest to this but it felt like a 2008 TNA gimmick match where the guys try to do everything possible and nothing really sticks or means anything. Oh well, can’t win ‘em all.  **1/4

Garrett Kidney: Going in this was either going to be a trainwreck or a pleasant surprise and sadly it was more the former than the latter. In many ways this added up to less than the sum of its parts, the effort was certainly there but lumping that many bodies into a confined space was always going to be a stretch (and for some reason they decided to involve Torito and Woods as if enough wasn’t going on already). In the early stages of the match I at least took solace in the fact that we were probably going at least get a really hot closing stretch and then Kidd and Cesaro were eliminated. The air came out of the match for me after that. I can’t fault the effort, but this was strangely booked and the crowd didn’t care about any of the four of the teams. As Rich mentioned, it indeed felt like a Steel Asylum/TerrorDome match, and not even a particularly well executed one.  **1/2



WWE Divas Championship
Nikki Bella © def. Paige vs. Naomi

Rob McCarron: Naomi’s glowing boots are great. Naomi’s reverse ranas are not great. You’ll see plenty of this match on the next Botchamania, and even more on the next season of Total Divas. Nikki Bella winning was a surprise, because after two years of having awful timing, this seemingly was Naomi’s best shot so far. **

Alex Wendland: I was all ready to get on my high horse and ask why the main roster women can’t match the level of the NXT women’s matches, especially after watching the first half of this match and knowing that all three of the women in this match can go. Then, as if on cue, they turned it on. This wasn’t on the level of the NXT women’s four-way, but there were some great high-impact moves and most everything look instinctual. The talent is all there, now the women’s division is putting the pieces together. I thought this would’ve been a good spot to give the heel the title win, but then again I’m trying to figure out when the Bellas turned face. **3/4

Rich Kraetsch: This was better than I expected but continued the apparent Botchamania theme we’re going for tonight. Namoi nearly killed Paige while attempting a Reverse ‘Rana, not a great idea. Otherwise, the action was better than expected, it wasn’t the classic WWE-style triple threat match. Nothing was particularly great but this was perfectly passable from three of the top main roster women’s workers. When’s Naomi going to get her title win, by the way? **1/4

Garrett Kidney: In the Payback review I mentioned the Bellas specialty – the (relatively) competently wrestled, entirely forgettable match. This followed that trend. The women’s division needs fresh blood. **


Kevin Owens def. John Cena

Rob McCarron: Kevin Owens is the new WWE Linear Champion, and I agree with everything good that is about to be said by the reviewers who follow me. Owens not only has proven that he belongs, but that he deserves a top of the card spot at WrestleMania in Dallas. Yes, this was that important of a win. Hyperbolic? Maybe. But this guy just did what we all hoped Rusev would do, and did it on the first show Rusev has missed due to his recent injury. Timing. ****1/2

Alex Wendland: Ho-lee shit. The NXT champ just went over CLEAN on the greatest star of the 21st Century. And that NXT champ is KEVIN OWENS. What a time we’re living in, folks. This is monumental, and to make it that much better, the match was an instant classic. Cena vs. Owens was the best I’ve seen since WrestleMania, at least. Owens is the best heel in the business, and looking at it from the point of view of the millions of WWE fans who don’t watch NXT, has come out of obscurity and beat the reigning hero. In his debut. Kudos to Cena for stepping up and believing in his body of work – he’s proving to be the anti-Hogan. Great job by everyone, the in-ring work was off the charts and the storytelling was next level stuff. I’m over the moon for this one. ****3/4

Rich Kraetsch: Fuck, this was great. Owens showed why so many of us think he can be a superstar. Looking outside the “MOVEZ” he has a presence, a swagger and an ability to get the crowd’s energy up. Everything in-between the moves, his facials, taunting the guy he’s in the ring with, working the crowd, dude is so good. Oh and then the MOVEZ. Dude’s great, everything here was worked perfectly and this had a WrestleMania feel with multiple finisher kickouts and consistent pacing. Cena stepped up big time and this was as perfect of a first matchup between these two could be. I’m ready for Round Two. ****1/2

Garrett Kidney: I was very firmly in the Owens has to win camp before this match because too often have we seen the valiant defeat vs. Cena do absolutely nothing for anybody. So Owens winning makes me so happy. This was the perfect way to introduce Owens. Having him go toe to toe on PPV vs. Cena, the biggest star best and best big match performer in the company, and win gives him instant credibility. It’s the best launching pad possible for him going forward. I could nitpick little things like Cena kicking out of the Powerbomb and Cena’s never ending insistence on the strong kickout, but realistically who cares, this was awesome. ****1/2



Neville def. Bo Dallas

Rob McCarron: No one told Bo and Neville that this wasn’t a house show anymore. **1/4

Alex Wendland: Following Cena vs. Owens with this match shows the impact that NXT is already having on the main roster (and the World Heavyweight Title match between NXT vets is yet to come).

That said, Adrian Neville in a popcorn match? What an unfortunate place for this match to be following Cena and Owens. These are two of my favorites in the midcard these days and they had a perfectly enjoyable matchup. NXT is giving this next generation of superstars lengthy backstories and histories that could lead to career-long feuds to be revisited for years to come: Owens/Zayn, Ambrose/Rollins, Neville/Dallas. Neville and Dallas will get another chance and hopefully they won’t be following an instant classic next time. **3/4

Rich Kraetsch: This bad boy didn’t stand a chance. Neville worked his ass off and the two had a solid match but the crowd couldn’t be bothered to make a peep. Neville is clearly on an upward trajectory and this Bo Dallas thing was just a diversion. **3/4

Garrett Kidney: Poor Neville, second show in a row he’s been put in a terrible spot on the card. Even the very best version of a Bo/Neville match would’ve struggled here and this wasn’t that. Neville has essentially been hovering around the midcard since his debut, I really hope they actually have a plan for him in the coming months. He’s looked good in every match he’s had since he debuted, but he’s been aimless. This match was decent, following the last it was unlikely to ever be anything else. **1/4

Elimination Chamber – WWE Intercontinental Championship
Ryback def. Sheamus vs. R-Truth vs. King Barrett vs. Mark Henry vs. Dolph Ziggler


Rob McCarron: What is with guys breaking up pins in the Chamber? Like, if you’re the agent for this match, that may just be the first thing you tell the guys when laying the match out. It just makes no sense. You can argue that, if this were real, it’d be “instinct” for the wrestlers to break up pins. The problem, is, you don’t have any commentator making that case to save the mistake. The real story of the match, although you wouldn’t know it because commentary never explained it properly, was that Sheamus used his cross chain to keep his pod closed until the perfect time. Sheamus then entered, in the perfect time, and eliminated everyone until the Ryback caught him in the end for the win. The story was “too clever” for their own good, and they couldn’t tell it correctly anyway. *1/2

Alex Wendland: The WWE Intercontinental Championship is cursed. There’s no other way to understand this anymore. The matches are boring, the champ can’t win a non-title match (not part of the curse, but it doesn’t help) and when WWE makes a concerted effort to return the title to its “workers title” glory, the title’s savior gets injured.

This didn’t need to be special to meet the goal, but it never even came close. Also, Rob’s point about breaking up pin attempts in Chamber matches took me out of both Chamber matches tonight. **

Rich Kraetsch: It’s hard to make an Elimination Chamber boring but these guys did everything in their post to do so. This never quite got going and while the result (Ryback winning the Championship) should have felt like a monumental moment, it seemed flat and uninspiring. I don’t know if it was anyone dragging it down in particular, bad booking, weird agenting but this just didn’t work. **1/2

Garrett Kidney: This was so boring, like painfully dull. No match has better encapsulated WWE’s midcard than this one. Guys who have been stuck there for years indiscriminately trading wins that don’t matter, none of whom who are over. Ryback as champion doesn’t inspire confidence in me that the division is in good hands. I’m pretty sure this was the worst Elimination Chamber match ever (not to mention the worst back to back Elimination Chamber matches on a single show, traditionally Elimination Chamber delivers on the quality of the Chamber matches alone). *1/2


WWE World Heavyweight Championship
Dean Ambrose def. Seth Rollins (by DQ)

Rob McCarron: It will help you out if you don’t think too hard about non-finishes on WWE PPVs anymore. They are, and have been, essentially a hybrid of Raw and PPV ever since going on WWE Network. Some matches/finishes just bridge to the next event moreso now than ever, and this was one of them. Dean won the match, and seemingly the title, but the victory came via disqualification. Seth remains champion, and Dean walks out with the title belt. So, there’s your Money In The Bank angle. This show did a pretty good job of setting up MITB, which will do a good job of setting up Summerslam. Summerslam is the actual next PPV, and has been since WrestleMania. ***1/4

Alex Wendland: WWE had the opportunity to sell the bajeezus out of the network tonight and they took a half measure. It’s almost too much to call this show uneven because there was just one true high point in a night of choppy matches and over-telegraphed spots. A dusty finish makes sense for chapter two in what will be a lifetime of chasing back and forth between Rollins and Ambrose, but WWE did something exceptional and kind of special in the original finish for this match. The referee run-in never, NEVER results in a pin. It’s always a kick-out. Always. It’s like an unwritten rule of wrestling, but it worked. The match itself was entertaining enough, and the best thing to come out of the main event scene in WWE in months, but it didn’t add up to anything as exceptional as what Rollins and Ambrose have done in the past or will do in the future. ***

Rich Kraetsch: I’m not in love with the finish. I don’t mind that it was an angle to build up to the next PPV/special event but how it happened. The unintentional ref bump happens all the time and rarely if ever results in a DQ. In this case, it did. That’s hard to wrap your head around but whatever. This match was fine for what it was and it did a good job of building up to Money in the Bank. They teased Ambrose winning the title, but, c’mon, did you really think they’d do that? This was fine. People are going to be upset by the Dusty Finish and I don’t blame them, it was kinda shitty but when you think of it in the long-term sense, it’s fine. This shouldn’t have been a title switch and they needed a way to build to Dean getting a rematch (or at the very least a shot along with Roman Reigns at MITB) ***

Garrett Kidney: I love how pretty much nobody actually believed that Ambrose was going to walk out as champion. A contrived finish to an underperforming match capped off a one match show. The first ten minutes of this match were as dull as the Chamber match, partially due to a poor crowd (likely because of a combination of that terrible arrest angle on Monday to build up this match and the way this show has played out) and an overlong Rollins heat segment when the match could’ve used pretty much anything else. It picked up toward the end but the slow start and bad finish hold this one back for me. At least it looks like they’re taking their time getting to the Rollins/Reigns/Ambrose three-way title match. ***