WWE Elimination Chamber 2018
by Scrooge McSuck
- Presented LIVE on the WWE Network on February 25th, 2018, from the T-Mobile Arena in Paradise (Las Vegas), NV. It's the final stop on the Road to WrestleMania™, with two Elimination Chamber matches (1 for the men, 1 for the women) and the "official" signing of Ronda Rousey to a WWE Raw contract. Michael Cole, Corey Graves, and JONATHON COACHMAN (yes, he's back) are calling the action, unless otherwise noted.
Kickoff Match: Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson vs. Bo Dallas & Curtis Axel
This was set up by the Miztourage being responsible for the Miz beating Finn Balor during the Gauntlet Match on the February 19th episode of Raw. Axel with a side headlock and shoulder tackle on Anderson. Anderson takes control with a jumping heel kick. Gallows unloads with body blows and gets the crowd chanting "nerd" before finishing the flurry with an uppercut. Dallas (as far removed from the goof he was as NXT Champion) comes in to work over Anderson. Anderson makes his own comeback, but misses the blind tag to Dallas, who shoves him from the top rope, to the floor. Axel with the rolling neck snap for two. Dallas cuts off another comeback attempt but gets planted with a back suplex. Running kick to Axel and Gallows with the hot tag. Avalanche to Dallas, followed by a standing roundhouse kick. Axel makes the save from the Magic Killer and hits Anderson with a knee to the side of the head for two. Anderson plants Dallas with a spine-buster and they finish Axel with the Magic Killer at 9:00. I guess this was the one week a month where Dallas and Axel are supposed to be serious competition. Standard Kickoff match. **
WWE Women's Championship; Elimination Chamber Match: Alexa Bliss (c) vs. Bayley vs. Sasha Banks vs. Mickie James vs. Mandy Rose vs. Sonya Deville
For the FIRST TIME EVER (WWE loves this "first time" crap), the women get the honor of participating in the Elimination Chamber. My big question is "has their been a 1st-ever Women's TLC Match? Boiler Room Brawl? Brawl for All?" There's no reason for this match, other than to have it. In the weeks leading in, Bayley and Sasha have had their friendship tested, and Bliss has tried to worm her way out before attempting a reconciliation with Mickie James. After the introduction, hype video, and entrances, the first bell comes at 8:17 (ET). It's going to be a long night (5 match card, nearly 3 ½ hours, for the record).
The two unfortunate souls starting the match are Sonya Deville and Bayley (surprised?). Deville with a takedown, fighting for position. Then a lot of nothing. No offense to Daria Berenato (no, I'm not some super-smart-ass using real names, she was on Tough Enough and worked in NXT with her birth name), but she's too inexperienced for such an "important" match, and the first 5-minutes is very uninteresting because of it, with lots of standing around, like the AI on Easy in WWE 2K18 (can you guess what I'm playing lately?). Bayley hits the flying elbow drop onto the platform in the high-spot of the period. Mandy Rose (predictably) comes in next, leaving Bayley in for a world of hurt. Bayley fights them off briefly before a combination right-hook and spear rocks her world. Things continue to move at a lethargic pace, with Rose and Deville doing a slow beat-down, including trapping Bayley in the mesh of the cage in a crucified position. Sasha Banks enters next (that wasn't 5-minutes!) to save the friend she'll turn on mid-match like she does every time. Banks somehow goes 30-seconds without a spot where she awkwardly lands on her head. Bayley comes back to life to help hip throw Deville into the cage. Rose hits Sasha with a sit-out face-buster but takes too long to follow up. Bank Statement to Rose, Bayley prevents Deville from saving, and Rose taps out at 13:50 for our first elimination (my honest prediction for that dubious spot was Bayley).
Mickie James (in Wonder Woman gear) in next, running wild on everyone, which is a good sign she's not long for this match. Mickie with a spinning hurricanrana on Deville, and a Thesz Press FROM THE TOP OF THE POD puts Deville away at 17:33. Banks hits Mickie with the back stabber, and Bayley-to-Belly finishes Mickie at 17:58. Good guys Bayley and Sasha stalk and gang-up on Alexa Bliss, throwing the crowd off that was, at this point, honoring the babyface/heel dynamics. They do a long cat-and-mouse, and then SHOCKER, Sasha cheap-shots Bayley. Bliss takes advantage of Sasha and Bayley going after each other, catching a breather and attacking at opportunistic moments. Sasha with a worse frog splash than Hornswoggle for a near-fall. Bayley hits Sasha with a top-rope Bayley-to-Belly, but Alexa sneaks up and rolls her up for three at 25:31. With how long they kept the shot on Bayley, it almost seemed like the door was open to set something up with Sasha for WrestleMania, but no, it was just a sympathy grab watching her leave disappointed. Sasha no-sells Twisted Bliss FROM THE TOP OF THE POD (you have to do all caps each time because HIGH SPOT!) and turns it into the Bank Statement, but Bliss rolls through and escapes by ramming Sasha into the corner. Sasha tries going high risk, but gets sent face-first into the pod, and Alexa finishes with a draping DDT to retain at 29:36. Post-match, Bliss cuts a heartfelt babyface promo, then decides she's a heel again and goes back in character. What was the point of that? Match started off rather ho-hum, but it really picked up mid-way through and finished on a high note. Weird crowd tonight, getting behind Bayley and Mickie James more than Sasha. I guess Las Vegas is stop #67 in the Bizzaro World Map, or, gasp, maybe treating them as serious threats during the match might've helped. ***
Raw Tag Team Championship Match: The Bar (c) vs. Titus Worldwide (w/ Dana Brooke)Since we last saw him, Apollo Crews has dropped his last name. Usually the first name gets taken away, but whatever. You can tell it's a B-Show when a 3rd-tier team gets a title shot on the Network Special/Pay-Per-View. No heat for this one. Cole randomly reminds us that Cesaro fought on the first live match on the WWE Network (vs. Sami Zayn in NXT). It's the 4-year anniversary of the Network. Sheamus and Cesaro attack before the bell but get cleared from the ring and Apollo follows them with a flying plancha. Apollo with a splash on Cesaro for two. No time wasted in having Apollo worked over in the corner of the Champions. It's amazing watching Titus try to play babyface cheerleader on the apron. He's been with WWE for the better part of a decade and still seems like someone who just came out of Tough Enough. The crowd is more interested in beach balls at this point. We get a few teased hot tag spots, but nothing is going to get the crowd hyped for this one. Titus finally hot tags and runs wild with his mid-80's offensive flurry. The underdog tale comes short, though, as The Bar clears Titus out and finish Apollo with the double-team White Noise at 10:02. Rest-hold Mania was running wild here, with Apollo instantly playing face-in-peril. Highlight of the match was Cole shooting Coach down on how many words "game plan" is. *1/2
Asuka vs. Nia Jax
If Nia wins, she gets added to the Raw Women's Title Match at WrestleMania, if Asuka decides to challenge Alexa Bliss instead of the Smackdown Champion. Not to rag on Coach, but I laughed a little when he suggested Asuka has never faced anyone like Nia (ignoring she beat her very decisively on a NXT Takeover. I think "The End"?). Jax ignores an attempt at a takedown into the arm-bar and tosses Asuka around. She charges up but takes a spill to the floor. Asuka misses a hip attack and takes a knee to the back. Nia surfboard stomps Asuka face-first into the canvas, hits an avalanche, and drops an elbow for a near fall. Asuka with more strikes, but a knee-bar attempt is no-sold. Cole with another laughable stat, saying Fabulous Moolah is the only woman to win her first four PPV matches. Umm... 1.) Even though her team won in 1987, she was pinned so that's a dubious claim, and 2.) Didn't Charlotte have a 15 PPV winning streak that ran all the way from her debut through last year's February PPV (her first show was SummerSlam '15, and won, then won the title the next month)?! Asuka goes for a guillotine choke and it's countered with a Jackhammer. Jax with a Samoan Drop. Asuka rolls away from a leg drop and hits the Shining Wizard for two. Roundhouse kicks for two. That was the spot that ended their match in NXT. Asuka escapes a Super Samoan Drop, then rolls away from a Banzai Splash. Asuka with a takedown into the arm-bar, but Jax escapes, slamming Asuka into the corner. Nia takes too long setting up for a Powerbomb, and Asuka counters into a victory roll for three at 8:12. Post-match, Nia attacks and avalanches Asuka through the security barricade. Some might complain that Asuka sold too much, but she's unbeaten in 2 ½ years. It's fine. Nia needs better showcases like this if they seriously are pushing her for a big role at WrestleMania Fleur-de-lis. **1/2
Matt Hardy vs. Bray Wyatt
I have nothing snarky to say here... no wait, yes, I do. Come WrestleMania time, Bray has interacted with the likes of John Cena (2014), Undertaker (2015), The Rock (2016), and Randy Orton (2017). This year? A filler mid-card angle with a comedy character. That's hard times, DADDY! Matt plays mind-games, hiding from Bray, laughing like an idiot, before making a surprise attack to formally start the match. Bray reverses a whip to the corner and poses, so Matt claps for him rather than act scared. Bray blocks the Twist-of-Fate, so Matt audibles with a DDT for two. Bray hits the whiplash body press to take control. The crowd decides to give up on the match, chanting for Beach Balls and Rusev Day, among other things. We can see one ball on the hard-camera side being confiscated. Things slow down, and rightfully so. If it were my call, I'd tank it to spite the audience at this point. Hardy comes back with a Tornado DDT. Matt with the side-effect for two. He plays to the crowd and walks into a uranage. Wyatt with a running senton for two. Hardy counters Sister Abigail and hits a Twist of Fate for three at 9:56. Work was fine, and they worked a fast-enough pace to not have had the crowd give up on them so quickly. They came back by the end, but it was already lost. ** (the crowd, on the other hand, gets -** for dumping on a match prematurely).
- Kurt Angle, Stephanie McMahon, and Triple H come out for the official contract signing of "Rowdy" Ronda Rousey. They hype her up, and Hunter even says it's the biggest signing since Olympic Gold Medalist, Kurt Angle. The obnoxious crowd continues to earn negative points, trying to "What" him, but he knows how to play off it. Rousey comes out and the smiling, slapping hands crap automatically makes me shake my head. Then she has a live microphone, and it's awkward. I mean, REALLY awkward. If this were anyone else, the crowd would've dumped all over them like a noob in Fortnite (guess what other game I'm currently playing). Then we make a clumsy transition to Angle trying to say Hunter and Stephanie resent her for what happened at WrestleMania 31 and called her washed-up (allegedly). Hunter shoos him off, citing the symptoms of the flu causing hallucinations. Rousey makes mean faces, Hunter saves Stephanie from her, only to get slammed through a table, and Stephanie slaps Rousey because Mike Tyson sold tickets to Mania 14 by getting kicked in the nuts by Vince. Guess which part of that run-on sentence ISN'T true. I don't care how you try to spin it, this was a bad segment.
Elimination Chamber Match: Roman Reigns vs. Seth Rollins vs. John Cena vs. Finn Balor vs. Braun Strowman vs. The Miz vs. Elias
For the FIRST TIME EVER (see?), there's SEVEN men in the Chamber instead of six. In one laughable set-up for the match, John Cena defeated The Miz where the loser has to start the match, of course, ignoring TWO people (at that moment) start. Then Balor and Rollins double-pinned Wyatt to add another man to the lineup, so three men start. Lucky for Cena, he doesn't have to start, but he comes in as the first man released from the pods. Elias does an extended concert, because the show wasn't bloated enough, already.
The Miz (obviously), Seth Rollins, and Finn Balor start. I wouldn't doubt that Vince sees Elias as a bigger "star" than Seth and Finn. Miz tries to broker a deal, even going as far as offering a "2-Sweet" sign to Balor, but the honorable babyfaces choose 2-on-1 on the heel is the right way to go. Who books this?! HOW HARD IS IT TO MAKE BABYFACES SYMPATHETIC, NOT THE HEELS? Balor and Rollins do preliminary work that gets three guys chanting "This is Awesome", yet Bray and Hardy go at it hard and get ignored for a beach ball the second a chin-lock is grabbed. Balor rolls through a sunset flip and hits Miz with a basement dropkick for two. Rollins with the Falcon Arrow for two. Rollins with a double block-buster for a pair of two counts. John Cena comes in looking smug. Heel Cena?! Too little, too late. Cena wastes no time doing his 5-moves-of-doom on Rollins, and Miz joins in to take a double 5 Knuckle Shuffle. Balor with a leg sweep and double stomp for two. Roman Reigns enters with everyone laid out from synchronized super-plexes. He uppercuts everyone, but hesitates in the face of his BFF, Seth. Miz with It-Kicks to everyone, but Roman cuts him off with clotheslines. Roman rolls up Balor and plants him with a Powerbomb, just to show off.
Strowman joins the match, and things finally get interesting (up to this point, it's just the usual trading moves show where little of substance happens). Strowman casually tosses Seth into the cage on his way in. Miz runs like hell as he lays into everything moving. He takes Seth and Cena over with a double suplex. Strowman follows Miz to the top of one of the pods and repeatedly slams Miz into the plastic before tossing him onto the pile. Strowman finishes Miz with the Powerslam at 20:19. Elias chooses to stay inside his Pod while the remaining field gang up on Braun. We get a Super-Duper, Extra-Large with Picante Powerbomb WITH ALL FOUR MEN STACKING HIM, BUT BRAUN KICKS OUT AT TWO. If this man doesn't win the match, Vince McMahon is retarded. Cena with the Attitude Adjustment for A ONE COUNT. Reigns with a Spear for two. Rollins with a Curb Stomp and Balor with the Coup de Grace, but Strowman is out of the ring. Elias finally comes out to pick the bones, but everyone kicks out of pin attempts. He hits everyone with knees and comes off the top with an elbow on Seth for two. Elias tries to lift Strowman on his shoulders. That backfires horribly, and Strowman finishes with the Powerslam at 26:52. Cena dives into a Powerslam and he's gone at 27:23, crushing his dreams of having a WrestleMania Moment. He'll just have to live with the memories of countless title victories, asking his girlfriend to marry him, and setting the all-time record for money drawn for a wrestling event while he sits at home. (#TellingConfusingStories)
Balor tries his luck, using his clear speed and agility advantage. He slips out of a Powerslam and hits a pair of Shotgun Dropkicks. Coup de Grace to the back gets two. Balor hits Rollins with 1916 for two. Sling-blade and shotgun dropkick to Roman. He hits the Coup de Grace, but here's Strowman to finish Balor with the Powerslam at 30:40. Rollins and Reigns work together on the Monster Among Men™, but that lasts only slightly longer than the Bayley and Sasha alliance. They reuse the Buckle-Bomb/Superman Punch sequence they used in the Gauntlet Match. Rollins hits a far better Frog Splash from the TOP OF THE POD, but that only gets two. In this case, I'm cool with the kick-out. Braun must be going over at this point. Braun with a Twin-Canon Dropkick on Roman. He no-sells Seth's Super-Kicks and finishes with The Usual™ at 36:34. Roman's rope-a-dope tactics finally work, tricking Strowman into putting himself through a Pod. Strowman doesn't take long getting to his feet, but two Spears is enough to put him down at 40:10, sending Roman to "finish what he started three years ago" to face Brock Lesnar at WrestleMania. I don't care if Reigns is getting the coronation moment (again) but doing the monster push end with a clean job makes no-sense. The QUADRUPLE TEAM POWERBOMB and stack-up pin should've been the fall, since it wouldn't be illegal to have it happen here in a non-comedic setting. Strowman was the story of the match, and the rest were just treading water. ***1/2
Final Thoughts: This was a show, and it definitely exceeded the 3-hour mark, despite five matches advertised, and none of them being hour-long Royal Rumbles. Whenever they do these Chamber (or MITB, or other gimmicks that hinder the under-card) shows, you usually can expect things to drag, and this was no exception. The men's Chamber was good, and the women delivered enough considering the limitations of some involved, but the undercard was a solid hour of nothing, plus tons of filler. Neither Chamber Match is worth checking out on their own, making this a show you can miss without missing much.
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