Elimination Chamber is considered to be the last stop for the Smackdown roster before Wrestlemania. While there were a few slow moments, it’s fair to assume that this show was able outline most of the Mania feuds for the blue brand.
Becky Lynch vs Mickey James
I thought this was the perfect match to kick off this PPV. It’s been decently built, and it included two over wrestlers.
Honestly, I didn’t know what to expect from these two, as they haven’t wrestled a singles match. Well, they had instant chemistry and knew how to work to each other’s strengths. Both James and Lynch knew exactly what to do in terms of creating crowd reactions. However, it did feel somewhat formulaic at times, especially with the Mickey controlling the match. I thought the action could’ve benefited from a stronger back and forth.
Based on the pace they worked, the finish worked, but it felt like Becky’s win was a complete fluke. This is exactly why a proper back and forth is more benefitial for both wrestlers.
Dolph Ziggler vs Apollo Crews
Wow, I didn’t realize how much I didn’t care for this match until it started. Quite honestly, they should’ve worked the handicap stipulation from the start, because the one on one between Ziggler and Crews didn’t feel special.
Kalisto joined the match for the last minute, and I thought the timing couldn’t be worse. In that moment, it appeared as if Crews needed the help to beat Dolph, who had the upper hand. Unfortunately, the win also lead to a lame post match beat down.
Tag Team Turmoil
While Smackdown has obviously been the stronger show of the two, it’s mid to low (men’s) card needs a ton of work. The lack of depth has been covered up by it’s main event players, and all of those men were in the same match for this show. Based on this, matches such as Dolph vs Crews/Kalisto and this one don’t exactly feel important.
Sure, the work rate was fine, but the intrigue wasn’t exactly there. They heavily teased a possible Ascension win, although it felt rather empty. At no point did I think they’d even come close to pinning the current champs. If they did, it would feel underwhelming as they weren’t properly built up to receive any sort of reaction.
Nikki Bella vs Natalya
The mid to low card for the men was extremely weak on this show, but that can’t be said for the women’s division. Every single women’s match was well built with entertaining stories. This contest especially had an amazing pre-match video package, as it showcased all the hatred between Bella and Natalya.
I’m not sure if anybody was expecting a strong match between these two, but I was shocked with how fluid it was. The two clearly had in ring chemistry, and that only added to the drama they included. These two were actually able to work a nail biting match, and that’s saying a lot.
I fully agreed with the finish that was presented. After booking both women to look like legitimate competitors, why not have this end in a count out? It also showed that they didn’t care for the win as much as they did for fighting each other.
Randy Orton vs Luke Harper
Since Harper’s babyface turn, everything about him feels much more fresh. This way Harper came across as his own character and not just a Bray Wyatt lackey.
Obviously the pace of this match wasn’t going to be fast and that was for the best. Both Harper and Orton wrestle a more methodical style, so the speed they worked was perfect for them. I thought they did a brilliant job at building towards the big spots that occurred later on.
I absolutely loved everything they did outside of the ring, but spot of of the match was definitely Harper’s first superkick. He saved it for a crucial part of the contest, and Orton did a superb job at selling it. In fact, Randy legitimately looked like he was knocked out. Even though Luke didn’t win, spots such as that one showcased him as being equal to Randy. At the same time, booking Harper to look strong only made Orton’s win more meaningful.
Alexa Bliss vs Naomi
With both of these two having an acrobatic background, this match could’ve gone either way. Thankfully, they stuck to the basics and knew exactly when to use flashy moves.
Of the two, Naomi appeared to be the stand out. That’s nothing against Bliss, but it’s more of testament to how much Naomi has improved in the ring. Before her most recent injury, there would be times where her move set wasn’t the most fluid, but that wasn’t the case in this match. Everything she did here looked mechanically correct.
I’m not going to lie, my jaw actually dropped when Bliss lost. After Alexa was able to get passed Becky, it didn’t appear she’d be dropping the title anytime soon. I’m not complaining about this though, because the crowd reaction showed that she deserved it. Naomi’s been around for a while now, and it’s about time she’s elevated to that championship level.
How fitting was it that AJ and Cena started the match? I applaud the bookers for this decision because it was smart way to create early excitement. Also, it was great how Ambrose was the third entrant. That spot reminded the fans that he’s not fond of Cena or Styles. However, I can’t say that I foresaw Dean working a high spot early in the match. That was an excellent way of making sure this contest stayed unique and true to the stipulation.
After every big spot that was landed early on, one would assume the pace would slow down, but that wasn’t the case. Some how these competitors continued to work a fast pace with impactful moves. Sure, not all the spots were over the top, but they were done in a way that made them look high risk. The crowd was right, this was awesome.
Each of the competitors had their special spots in this match, but nobody made as much of an impact as Corbin. With the way he’s been booked these past three weeks, it was crucial for him to enter the way he did. With that being said, having him eat a school boy pin was probably the best way to eliminate him. That way he didn’t have to take a “clean” loss, but instead had his momentum stopped by a clever Dean Ambrose.
Let’s not forget how the Miz was still able to stand out as the sixth man. As a cowardly heel, it only made sense for him to be the last one to enter this match. He made the most of his opportunities, and found a great way to accumulate heat from the give crowd. His imitation of Daniel Bryan’s move set was a great touch.
Did anybody think Cena would be eliminated the way he did? I must say, the WWE deserves some credit for not making John look completely invincible. Plus, it gave Wyatt the boost he needed before winning this match. Fans have been begging for a big Wyatt push and what better way to kick it off than by having him pin two of the top guys on Smackdown?
For a PPV that didn’t start off very strong, it certainly turned around and gave the fans an exciting show. A lot happened, and it should have fans curious as to how the next few weeks of Smackdown will play out. I’d say the low point was Ziggler vs Crews, while the high points consisted of Naomi’s win, Harper vs Wyatt, and the Elimination Chamber. Overall, I give this show an 8/10.