WWE Elimination Chamber '18 Review
Alexa Bliss vs. Sonya DeVille vs. Mandy Rose vs. Mickie James vs. Sasha Banks vs. Bayley - Elimination Chamber match for the Women's Championship
WWE hammered home that this was the first women's elimination chamber match. Some of the "firsts" have been misses, but they knocked it out of the park with this one. Representing Absolution, DeVille and Rose looked like serious threats. This helped make Bayley and Sasha look the best they've looked in a while. Mickie James looked like a million bucks (and I don't just mean that Wonder Woman outfit) during her brief stint in the match.
Alexa Bliss was the last entrant. Bliss managed to play both a cowardly heel - running away from Bayley and Banks - and a desperate heel - flying off pod with Twisted Bliss. Bliss's dastardly ways triumphing over the valiant heroes only made her look more despicable.
After the match, Bliss cut a wonderfully nasty promo. This was one of Bliss's best performances in the ring, but all women - even in defeat - looked good.
Match Rating: 4 stars (Out of 5)
The Bar vs. Titus Worldwide - Raw Tag Team Title Match
Haven't we seen this match before? Yes, as a matter of fact, we were reminded that Titus Worldwide won three matches prior on Raw. This was a pretty formula tag match. It did nothing egregiously wrong, but it did nothing special either. Okay, there were a few exciting moments - mostly from Apollo. It's a shame Apollo - essentially the match MVP - took the fall.
Match Rating: 2.5 stars
Asuka vs. Nia Jax
Another match we've seen several times over, with nothing really added. One positive: This match is another example of Nia Jax showing off how much she's improved. Jax took the fall, which surprised nobody. It does feel like the right move, especially since it would be anticlimactic to just kill off Asuka's streak... like this time last year when Jax's own undefeated streak was killed off unceremoniously.
The most exciting part came after the match when Nia speared Asuka through the barricade - she must have stored her finisher for that OMG moment.
Match rating: 3 stars
Woken Matt Hardy vs. Bray Wyatt
Hardy and Wyatt have battled so may times on TV. When this match was announced, I badly hoped they were going to add SOME kind of spin on this match. No stipulation was announced. There was a hint of something special with Bray seemingly teleporting in the ring and Matt seemingly disappearing and taunting Bray over the loudspeaker. Sadly, after that, the two began having a fairly standard match.
Ever since he became Woken, Matt's act has felt like the diet version of Broken Brilliance (tm) in TNA. However, even diet Broken is a trade-up. The only few exciting moments of this match featured Matt's craziness, such as applauding Bray. Alas, those moments were few and far between. The rest of the match was so meh that the audience started chanting "We Want Beach Balls" and "Rusev Day." Matt won.
Match rating: 2 stars
Rhonda Rousey Contract Signing
A month after she debuted at the Royal Rumble, Rhonda Rousey finally signs her contract. In a respectable nod to continuity, Kurt Angle stirs the pot with Rhonda by reminding her of the bad blood from Wrestlemania 31. Even if he clearly flubbed his lines, Angle had some pretty funny lines. Also, Triple H claimed Rousey won't receive any special treatment. Having "Bad Reputation" as her entrance music is special treatment.
The segment concluded when Rhonda put Hunter through a table but got slapped by Stephanie. The order seems a little weird, but giving credit where it's due, they are building stories. Granted, there is a distinct "This is how they're using Rhonda feel?"
Braun Stroman vs. Roman Reigns vs. Elias vs. John Cena vs. The Miz vs. Seth Rollins vs. Finn Balor
Elias cut a pretty funny promo before the match. Considering this show went into overtime, it's tempting to say this promo should have been cut. But there were other things they could have cut instead.
The match was good, but sadly after everything else that happened, the crowd was having none of the first half of this match. It put a damper on a pretty good match section. Highlights of the first half included Miz trying to garner heel heat by requesting a Bullet Club high five and giving a roundtable "It Kick" to every other opponent.
Then, the Monster Among Men, Braun Stroman entered. This woke the crowd up, and it's easy to see why. Braun looked amazing - dishing out as much pain as he took. He cleaned house with everyone all the while taking abuse from every angle. One memorable spot saw four men perform a Shield bomb on Strowman and Strowman STILL kicked out. Even better was when Strowman threw Miz off the Chamber into every other opponent.
As the last entrant, Elias had a funny spot where he tried to pin every downed man in the ring, obviously to no avail. Every fall was made Stroman... except one. The match came to Roman vs. Braun. To their credit, the two put on a show as the last two. Roman eventually earned the duke. There was an almost immediate graphic of Reigns vs. Lesnar for Mania. It's tempting to make a joke about how quickly that was made. But even from a kayfabe perspective, I don't think the production staff worked on an Elias/Lesnar graphic.
I'm not going to gripe about Stroman being shortchanged again because the ending makes me think the company still has Mania plans for the guy. (And even if I did want to complain, that would be a separate article.)
Match Rating: 4.25 stars
In conclusion. Elimination Chamber was a mixed bag. The two chamber matches were excellent, everything in-between felt like Raw fodder. This issue is compounded by the fact that every non-chamber match had been done on TV, several times. Much of this show felt like, the WWE bookers were passing time before Wrestlemania.
Bottom line: Check out the Chamber matches, skip everything else.
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