WWE Elimination Chamber 2018
Feburary 25, 2018
Las Vegas, Nevada
Watch: WWE Network
Meet our reviewers:
Lawson Leong: Stand up comedian, writer, podcaster and lariat enthusiast. Writes the “Match of the Month” column on this very site. Co-host of the “Talking Smark” podcast, and has a comedy special for sale at Lawsonleong.com.
Kelly Harrass: You know the drill, Kelly likes nerd stuff and reviews pretty much every WWE PPV for VOW. Kelly often refers to the bathroom as the Elimination Chamber. Follow him on Twitter @comicgeekelly.
Sean Sedor: It’s been a while since Sean has been on a WWE PPV review here on VOW, but since the Elimination Chamber is his favorite gimmick match in wrestling, he decided to hop on this review! You can follow Sean on Twitter @SASedor2994, and you can check out his wrestling reviews blog at http://dxvsnwo1994.blogspot.com.
WWE Raw Women’s Championship – Elimination Chamber
Alexa Bliss (c) def. Bayley, Mandy Rose, Mickie James, Sasha Banks & Sonya Deville
Lawson Leong: Ladies first, I suppose. Going in I was very much rooting for this match to deliver, and for it not to devolve into a contrived triple threat tag match.
We didn’t get that, but the match did deliver. It was a bit paint by numbers for the first half, although I enjoyed Sonya Deville’s clear mark of improvement and Mickie James’ offensive sequences. I had no problem with Absolution and Mickie going out before Alexa even got out, because to me it established a clear food chain within the division.
Things heated up when it got down to the final three: Bayley, Sasha and Alexa. The two babyfaces vs one heel dynamic was clearly unsatisfying, so Sasha turning on Bayley was just the kick the match needed for the go home. Bayley and Sasha make such better opponents than they do partners, as cute as their friendship can be at times. Their chemistry is readily apparent.
Once Alexa eliminated Bayley we got a great mini-match between Alexa and Sasha, who also have great chemistry, real life feelings be damned. The Twisted Bliss off the pod into the Bank Statement is one of the cooler spots of the year so far. And Alexa drilling Banks with that final DDT was reminiscent of the finish to Gargano/Almas.
I really enjoyed this, all of the women really leaned into the Chamber stipulation. This was no fluffy watered down Chamber match, these ladies bumped their behinds off. ***¾
Afterwards Alexa cut a great heel promo. No wonder she’s the champ.
Kelly Harrass: I was really looking forward to this match going on last, only to have the ring cleared for Ronda to sign a contract (That’s a joke btw). I’m incredibly torn on this match because while I did really enjoy the work by all the women involved, I felt like the storytelling was immensely stupid at times. Absolution should have dominated the match getting the advantage early on against Bayley, but the odds had to be overcome as they always are with Sasha making the save. I’m so tired to WWE heels being inept idiots. Though, I guess everyone is an idiot because Bayley tried to stop Mickie from climbing up the Chamber for…. some reason? And then Sasha turned on Bayley before they were able to eliminate Bliss. Seriously, everyone other than Alexa was a moron in this match. Setting that aside, the match kicked it into another gear when things were down to Bliss and Banks. I loved the closing stretch and thought from a work rate perspective that this was easily a four star or higher match. Unfortunately, the storytelling was so poor here that I can’t overlook it. These women did a fantastic job, but whoever laid out the match failed at telling any sort of logical story. ***1/4
Sean Sedor: As many predicted, the women’s Elimination Chamber kicked off the show. The story coming in was that there are three sets of “partners” (Sasha Banks/Bayley, Absolution, and the uneasy alliance of Alexa Bliss & Mickie James), and how they would work together, if at all.
When the dust settled, this was a pretty good Elimination Chamber match. It certainly wasn’t one of the best, but it was far from the worst. There were a couple of cool moments scattered throughout involving the structure itself, the biggest of which (at least, in the first part of the bout) saw Mickie James hit a big dive off one of the pods onto Sonya Deville. What was interesting was that half the field got eliminated before the final entrant (Alexa Bliss) even got in the match. Absolution did dominate Bayley early on, with Sonya starting and Mandy Rose being the third entrant, but once Sasha Banks evened up the odds, they never got that advantage back. Mandy got eliminated first by Sasha, and that aforementioned dive by Mickie eliminated Sonya. I feel like most people were expecting Absolution to play a bigger role than they did. Then Mickie James got eliminated by Bayley, so the whole “uneasy” alliance between Mickie James and Alexa Bliss against Absolution that was built up for weeks on RAW ended up meaning nothing. The final section of the match got off to a weird start, with Bayley & Sasha Banks trying to chase down Bliss, but once Banks turned on Bayley, this last portion got really good. This solid Triple Threat section ended after Bayley got caught in a rollup by Bliss right after Bayley hit a Bayley-To-Belly on Banks from the second rope. It came down to Bliss vs. Banks, and those two had a fun exchange. At one point, Bliss actually hit her Twisted Bliss splash off a pod to the outside, and Banks somehow countered that into the Banks Statement. In the end, Bliss finally caught Banks with a draping DDT after ramming Sasha’s head into one of the pods. Again, this was far from great, but it ended up being very solid. I wasn’t really sure what to expect here, but all six women worked hard, and their efforts resulted in a relatively entertaining Elimination Chamber match. ***1/2
Raw Tag Team Championship – The Bar (Cesaro and Sheamus) (c) def. Titus Worldwide (Titus O’Neil and Apollo)
Lawson Leong: This actually got fun at the very end. Titus’ manic hot tags always concern/entertain me. I just don’t want him to hurt anyone. The heat spot took forever and lacked the titular heat. I’m not sure why this match happened, but I guess I’m glad Apollo got a PPV spot. Hopefully The Bar has something much more interesting going on at Wrestlemania. **1/2
Kelly Harrass: This was about as average as average gets. Maybe a little worse than that actually. I suppose that average should be classified as being better than boring with a tiny bit of flash thanks to Apollo. The Bar is better than this match and they really phoned things in tonight. *½
Sean Sedor: So if I’m remembering the feud between these two correctly, Titus Worldwide beat The Bar twice in a row prior to the Royal Rumble. After The Bar got the RAW Tag Team Titles back, Titus Worldwide got a title shot on RAW and lost. Then for some reason, they beat The Bar again and got another shot at the titles. The two teams brawled on the outside before the match even began. Once things officially got started, we ended up getting an average tag team contest. The first half of the match wasn’t that interesting, and the crowd didn’t seem to care that much (they actually booed Apollo at one point when he tried to mount a comeback). To be fair, the last two minutes or so of the bout were solid, but in the end, The Bar managed to pick up the win to retain. Hey, at least this was better than The Bar vs. Seth Rollins & Jason Jordan from the Royal Rumble. **1/2
Asuka def. Nia Jax
Lawson Leong: I came into this strangely confident that Asuka wouldn’t lose. Not that she’d necessarily win, just that she wouldn’t lose.
I turned out to be right. As for the match, it was fine. The spot where they screamed in each other’s faces was probably the highlight. The real story here was the post-match, where Nia drove Asuka through the barricade, which may be the first time we’ve seen the women do that spot. Asuka’s great, but I couldn’t get into this. **1/2
Kelly Harrass: For as poorly constructed as the women’s Chamber match was, this was put together extremely well. Both women came out of this looking like absolute killers in different ways. Asuka gave everything she had, kicking the life out of Jax at every opportunity. Even in loss, Nia came out of this looking great too. She took all of Asuka’s offense and kept pushing forward, only being defeated when Asuka was just barely able to roll her up. Asuka may have won the match, but Jax destroyed her after the match to get her heat back. The only real downside of this match was that it felt like it was cut short a bit too early. I’m looking forward to seeing these two have an extended match at some point down the road. ***¼
Sean Sedor: This was about what I was expecting, in terms of how things would play out. Nia Jax dominated certain sections of the match, but she couldn’t keep Asuka down for the count. Asuka took advantage of the opportunities that were presented to her, in the form of vicious kicks, submissions, or just getting out of the way when Nia Jax went for a big move. Eventually, Asuka countered a powerbomb attempt into a pin, and got the win. Unfortunately, her victory was short lived, as Nia Jax attacked after the match, and speared her through the barricade. As a whole, this was a relatively good bout. While this didn’t quite match their first encounter at NXT TakeOver: The End two years ago for the NXT Women’s Title, it wasn’t that far off, in terms of quality. However, this reeked of those booking situations WWE always get themselves into, where they have two wrestlers facing each other in a match, but they really don’t want either to lose. Asuka technically got the win, and is still undefeated, but Nia Jax controlled most of the bout, and ultimately stood tall in the aftermath. ***1/4
“Woken” Matt Hardy def. Bray Wyatt
Lawson Leong: At least this match had a unique beginning. After that, it was…there. These two aren’t ever going to have a great match. Here’s hoping we get a fun gimmick match to end this nonsense. **
Kelly Harrass: The lead singer of Korn is a very bad wrestler. *¾
Sean Sedor: So instead of making his normal entrance, Bray Wyatt just appeared in the ring, in what I guess was an attempt to jump Matt Hardy before the bell. However, Hardy “vanished”, and then sang his brother’s “Obsolete” song as Wyatt tried to find him around ringside. I thought this was setting up for Jeff Hardy to come out and wrestle Wyatt instead, but then Matt just appeared again and attacked Wyatt on the outside. That was really the most interesting part of this whole thing, as match itself was very “meh”. Even though the crowd didn’t seem totally dead (there were a couple of “Delete” chants), they clearly weren’t invested, as the “We Want Beach Balls” and “Rusev Day” chants were much louder. At least Bray Wyatt lost. **
Ronda Rousey Contract Signing
Lawson Leong: I’ll say it, I loved this. Sure, the first half was meh, but I actually want to see Ronda kill HHH and Stephanie. It brings me joy. The story with Kurt getting back at HHH for Survivor Series here legitimately made me chuckle. And Rousey finally had the scowl and air of badassery we were looking for. Less talking and smiling for Ronda, more scowling and killing people. Looks like Angle and Rousey vs The Authority at Wrestlemania, which I’m fine with. Keep her away from the titles for a bit. Color me the optimist for this Rousey run.
— Kelly Harrass (@comicgeekelly) February 26, 2018
Kelly Harrass: You guys, I feel so vindicated by how terrible this segment was. Ronda was just as awkward and terrible as she was in her first appearance. Then they turn it into a McMahon thing and we really see how much this is benefiting the women’s roster. This was everything I thought it would be when Ronda showed up at the Royal Rumble and I am here to take my goddamn victory lap.
Sean Sedor: Well, this whole things was awkward. Triple H & Stephanie McMahon came out with Kurt Angle to the contract signing. Ronda then gave this promo that just….wasn’t very good at all. We’ve said it before, but she sucks as the “I’m just happy to be here” Ronda Rousey. Before she signed her contract, Kurt Angle started to spout out the truth, as (I guess) payback for what happened at Survivor Series. The Authority just want Ronda under their thumb, Angle said, and they’re still upset about WrestleMania 31. Triple H leads Angle away, but not before he mentioned that Stephanie called her washed up. Ronda got in Stephanie’s face, Triple H separates them, and then Ronda put Triple H through the table that was already set up in the ring. Stephanie then slapped Ronda, who gave her a mean look in return which caused Stephanie to retreat. Ronda signed the contract to cap off the segment, and it looks like we are indeed getting that mixed tag at WrestleMania. I have to say, the first half of this segment was so cringeworthy, but then it definitely got better when mean, badass Ronda Rousey finally showed herself. As for Ronda’s partner, the way this segment played out certainly seemed to indicate that it would be Kurt Angle. Will that end up being the case? Who knows. It sucks that the first thing Ronda is doing in WWE is feuding with Stephanie McMahon, but this is what we get with WWE these days. The McMahons always have to be involved in something big at WrestleMania.
WWE Universal Championship #1 Contendership – Elimination Chamber
Roman Reigns def. Braun Strowman, Elias, Finn Bálor, John Cena, Seth Rollins & The Miz
Lawson Leong: Because there are seven participants, three men will start. So by Miz losing a match and having to enter 1st, he’s only in as bad a position as 33% of the rest of the field. Seems fair.
There was some good wrestling throughout, particularly from Rollins and Balor (would like to see those two have another featured singles match), but the narrative of the match hurt its overall quality. Braun sets the record that will never be broken. He eliminated everyone with powerslams. Everyone that is, except Roman Reigns. We all knew where this was going. But the journey wasn’t a ton of fun, either.
A rare highlight was when Balor squared off with Braun, actually getting the better of the big man. There were audible “Let’s go Balor” chants during that sequence. But remember guys, Finn’s not over.
There were really no other standout moments. Cena was pinned with no fuss or fanfare, AGAIN. That is starting to bother me, how easily they give away Cena losses. You could’ve had Balor pin Cena and get the same idea across, while giving Balor something to take away from this match. But no, let’s just hammer this same idea until the nail breaks. It’s like WWE has no food chain until they really want to make it crystal clear. Roman > Braun > Everyone. Braun was more fun kicking out of moves here than he was giving them. Roman, much like in his Rumble win, didn’t do a lot. Overall this match, and therefore this show, was disappointing. ***
Kelly Harrass: I fought the urge to fall asleep during that match harder than Roman fought to beat Strowman. Very little of this Chamber match was actually compelling and had absolutely no juice until Strowman made his entrance. The Braun stuff was fun, but I grew tired of it pretty quickly. We all knew that Roman was winning so Braun’s path of destruction felt pointless. That’s actually the wrong word, this whole match felt lifeless. Outside of maybe two or three moments, this was an utterly forgettable, heatless match in every way. At this point they’re not even trying to get us to cheer Roman. They’re just going with the story they want to tell and are mashing that square peg into the round hole with all the might that a two year old can muster. I truly feel as though I have wasted my time watching this C+ match. **¼
Sean Sedor: It was confirmed (as most people guessed) that with seven participants involved, we would see three people at the start. When I found out they were throwing in an additional guy, I was actually kind of pissed, but hey….WWE’s gonna WWE I guess. If there was a silver lining, it’s that the match was filled with a lot of really good talents. Elias was really the one guy I was uncertain about, and even though Cena hasn’t been stellar in the last several months, I had faith that he’d do fine in this kind of environment. In general, I was pretty excited for this match coming into it. Elias, Braun Strowman, John Cena, and Roman Reigns were in the pods. That meant The Miz, Finn Balor, and Seth Rollins started off the match as the first three, which are probably the three guys I would’ve picked to be in it right from the start.
Unfortunately, the majority of this match wasn’t very good at all. The first fifteen minutes or so were incredibly slow and boring. The action itself was perfectly fine, but there was just no sense of urgency. It felt like they were stuck in first gear, and never attempted to pick up the pace. I was begging them to do something….anything….but they just worked like it was a house show for the first portion of this match. Fortunately, things did start to pick up a little bit when Braun Strowman entered. Even though Roman Reigns ultimately won, the star of this Elimination Chamber match was unquestionably Braun Strowman. He kick out of multiple finishers (including an Attitude Adjustment from Cena and a Spear from Reigns), and at one point, he tossed The Miz off one of the pods onto the other guys in the match. Not only did he do all of that, but he eliminated everyone except Roman Reigns. The Miz, Rollins, Balor, and Cena were all ok, and Elias did practically nothing aside from being the chickenshit heel that tried to steal pins (I have no idea why he was even in here). Strowman was head and shoulders above all of them. Of course, Reigns and Strowman were the final two, and Reigns eventually picked up the win after a series of Superman Punches and Spears to the “Monster Among Men”. Much like Asuka earlier in the night, however, his celebration didn’t last long, as Strowman attacked him and sent him through one of the pods.
The final few minutes were relatively solid, but as a whole, this was an incredibly disappointing Elimination Chamber match, especially considering the names involved. Again, the wrestling itself was competent and clean, but those first fifteen minutes were just so plodding and totally uninteresting. The strong booking of Strowman did save this from being a complete snoozefest, but still, it fell well below my expectations. There have been a few subpar Elimination Chamber matches in the past, but those were at least memorable for either the clusterfuck nature, or the bad booking, or the crowd reactions (the ECW Elimination Chamber and the two Elimination Chamber matches from 2015 come to mind), but this was the first Elimination Chamber match that was truly boring. I didn’t think that was possible, but hey, this is WWE. Their ability to ruin anything that’s good is impeccable. ***