Monday, February 21, 2011

JC's Take: Elimination Chamber Review

JC's Take: Elimination Chamber Review

Welcome back everyone. Yesterday the WWE held their annual Elimination Chamber PPV. While the show ended up being as predictable as it looked, it still was a great show. Even though the WWE won't use this word, it was a solid WRESTLING show from top to bottom. Lets get right into the review.

Alberto del Rio defeated Kofi Kingston (**1/2)
I think this was a smart choice for the opener. The WWE tends to have one of the Chamber matches open the show, but this was the better choice. Del Rio surprisingly received a good amount of cheers during the match. Is that an indication of how much people are starting to like his character? Or does it show they have lost faith in Kofi Kingston? The crowd being into this match as much as it was were good indications for the rest of the card. Del Rio went over with his armbar submission. Kofi got enough offense in to make it look like he belonged in the ring with Alberto. Of course the right man went over. You can't really have Del Rio going into Wrestlemania looking weak or losing any momentum. While Del Rio is awesome as a character, there still seems to be a little bit lacking in his work in the ring. It can be a tough transition from working as a luchador in Mexico all your professional life to working in the WWE. But that is just a small wrinkle in Del Rio. I think he is well on his way to winning the World Title at Wrestlemania.

Edge won the Smackdown Elimination Chamber to retain the World Heavyweight Championship (****1/2)
As of now, this would be my WWE Match of the Year. Of course we are not even two months into 2011, so I'm sure that will change. But everyone in this match brought their A game Sunday. The 6th surprise entrant, Big Show, wasn't really too much of a surprise. Everyone in this match had their own moments where they looked good, although I was surprised how quickly Wade Barrett was eliminated. I thought for sure Barrett would be in the final two, but instead he was eliminated first by Big Show. I guess I understand it. Big Show got some of his heat back by finally getting the best of Barrett one-on-one. Barrett being eliminated first also put to rest any idea of a Wade Barrett/Undertaker match at Wrestlemania.

Kane regained some of his momentum here. He's pretty much been dormant since he lost the World Heavyweight Title to Edge. Even after he was eliminated he got some heat by chokeslamming Edge and Rey. Drew McIntyre showed a different side of himself in this match. He had a bit of an aggressive side to him, throwing Barrett and Rey through the pods. Will this lead to anything with him character wise? Probably not yet. But McIntyre showed tonight that he just might belong in the main event scene after all.

The stars of this match, however, were Edge and Rey Mysterio. As much as I've grown to not really like his character, I have to give props to Rey for taking some sick bumps in the Chamber. I really thought Rey was hurt after he went head first into the pods, because his head was the only thing to hit it. Edge and Rey also put on a great final showing. The near falls and moves were executed perfectly. Even though I thought Barrett should have been in the final two, you really thought as a fan either Edge or Rey could win. They both have a history with Del Rio. Edge, meanwhile, looks to be rejuvinated after a lackluster 2010. He's had two quality PPV matches in a row. Maybe he is putting everything into what could possibly be his last year with the company. Edge ended up winning after spearing Rey mid-air.

Alberto del Rio came out after and attacked Edge while still being in the Chamber. Del Rio had the upper hand until Christian returned to make the save. Interesting timing for his return. Could it be a triple threat match at Mania? Or maybe something else? Don't really know. But as I've said, great drama all around and a great Chamber match. Maybe the best one yet, but I haven't watched the others in a long time to judge that statement properly.

After this match Booker T was in the ring. He said he was a trainer on the new Tough Enough, and then introduced another trainer: Trish Stratus. Trish still looked as good as she did when she left, and considering I prefer brunettes to blondes, I could say she got even better. She said she was working on a new catchphrase and it was a combination of The Rock and Booker T's main sayings. It was a bit of an awkward delivery, and it could have been better.

Later on in the show, Vickie Guerrero came out begging for Teddy Long to rehire Dolph Ziggler, who was fired on Friday's Smackdown. Long came out and said he was in a re-hiring mood, but he wasn't going to rehire Dolph. Instead he rehired Kelly Kely, and she returned to get revenge on Vickie. Laycool made the save, only for Trish to make the save on behalf of Kelly. Trish probably shouldn't have been wearing those black boot heels, because they caused her to mess up her hurricarana corner spot. I'm sure this segment looked good on paper, but it's execution did not come off well.

The Corre (Justin Gabriel & Heath Slater) defeated Santino and Vladimir Kozlov to win the Unified Tag Team Titles (*1/4)
This was pretty much just filler in between the Smackdown main matches and the two RAW main matches. Not too much action here. The right team went over. Corre looks more credible with belts in their camp. This also allows Gabriel & Slater to appear on both shows, which means that they can now set up a potential Tag Title match with Nexus at Wrestlemania. This was your typical short WWE Tag Team match. Nothing great, but nothing bad either.

The Miz defeated Jerry Lawler to retain the WWE Championship (**1/2)
These two put forth a good match that told a good story. Jerry Lawler is 62 years old, you knew going in you weren't going to get any flashy offense from him. But as I've been saying the last two weeks, Lawler knows how to tell a good story in the ring, and he did that here. The crowd believed everything Lawler did, and there were a couple of points where you actually thought Lawler might win. Especially after Alex Riley was thrown out from ringside and Michael Cole was taken out after Lawler threw Miz into him.

But in the end, the right man went over. Miz needed to get a clean victory here, and he pretty much did. Sure Riley interfered a couple of times on behalf of the Miz, but it didn't affect the outcome of the match. The finish kind of came out of nowhere, but it was still a satisying match. Lawler sold the finish of the match well, looking back at the Wrestlemania logo and realizing that he not only lost his chance to win the WWE Title, but also a chance to have his first ever Wrestlemania match. Of course I think he will finally have one this year, but he sold it well.

In between the WWE Title match they aired the 2-21-11 vignette. I'm convinced that there are 2 people in that video. Whether the second person is Sting or HHH or someone else I don't know. But there has to be 2 people in it, or the WWE just did a bad editing job or an intentional editing job to make us think there are 2 people in it.

They then showed Cena eating a bowl of Fruity Pebbles. He said it was his favorite cereal. Todd Grisham was going to ask him about Rock's comments, but he said his focus was on the Chamber match. Cena's character is so lame that it is almost beyond repair.

John Cena won the RAW Elimination Chamber, earning a WWE Championship Match at Wrestlemania (***1/2)
I thought this was another good Chamber match. It wasn't as good as the Smackdown one. It didn't have as much action and it lacked in the drama department, but it was played out ok. Once again C.M. Punk stood out here. His facial expressions after he went back into his pod was great. I wasn't the biggest fan of the whole "pod malfunctioning" angle, specifically because the pod functioned fine in the first Chamber match. But since it's C.M. Punk, he played it off great. Punk also received a good crowd reaction. He's not turning face anytime soon, however. His heel character is too good to do that.

John Morrison was once again the standout. He used his parkour style well in the Chamber. His climb to the top of the Chamber to take out Sheamus was unique and innovative. He also sold his knee injury really well. I thought it would have been a star making match for Morrison if he had won here, but that was not the case. Morrison is either winning Money in the Bank, or he will look like a star in the match and build up to a traditional title match at a PPV somewhere down the line.

As much as I hate to admit it, the right man went over in the end. Unless the WWE secretly was planning Cena/Rock, the most money is in Cena in the title match at Wrestlemania. It was a typical Cena type of match. He looked strong and barely sold any moves long term. But even the crowd reaction after he won wasn't as great as you would have expected. Cena still sells the most merchandise and is relatively young (30), so he is not going away anytime soon. But he may be starting to grown tiresome on even his fans.

As I said at the start, the card looked predicatble on paper and it played out that way. But the wrestling on the show made it better. All of the matches served their purpose. The two Chamber matches had entertaining action, the opener was hot and got the right man over, the WWE Title match told a good story, and the tag title match was a good filler match. The wrestling on this show was some of the best we've seen from an entire card in a long time. I would recommed this show to anyone who is a fan of the business because of the action in the ring, not the glitz and glamour out of it. I would give the show a solid 8 out of 10. From a wrestling standpoint, it will be tough to top this show for the rest of the year.

Where Do We Go From Here???
Wrestlemania 27 is in 6 weeks, here is a look at the card:
WWE Championship: The Miz (c) vs John Cena
-It's going to be important for the WWE to establish Miz as a serious threat to Cena here. Cena is more than likely going over, but they need to make the casual fan believe that Miz has a shot of winning. The Rock's involvement can also not over-shawdow the Miz here. People want to see the Rock/Cena showdown, but Miz can't be lost in the shuffle.

World Title: Edge (c) vs Alberto del Rio
-Christian's involvement may throw a wrench into this. Will it result in a triple threat match? I doubt it. The higher-ups in the WWE don't see Christian as someone worthy of a Wrestlemania main event. I think Christian will be used in the build to the match, but not in the actual match. This is about Del Rio winning the World Title.

The Undertaker vs HHH w/Shawn Michaels as Special Referee: Career vs Streak
-This is the rumored match. It'll be interesting to see if they can fit this into 6 weeks of build. But the real question is: Is HHH going to return for only 6 weeks and then vanish again forever? Is he really that comfortable with his office role?

Randy Orton vs C.M. Punk
Even though Orton has been stale in recent months, the build to this so far has been good. They each exchanged pinfalls inside the Chamber. I like that they played up the history between the two, with Orton causing Punk to lose the title in 2008. I expect Punk's mic work to carry this feud for 6 weeks.

Rey Mysterio vs Cody Rhodes
Rhodes character is starting to get over. People love to hate him. Mysterio apparently hand picked Cody to be his opponent for Mania, so I'm sure they have a good build lined up. The two would be more than capable of putting on a good match and I think this would make for a solid opener.

Kevin Nash & Big Show vs Wade Barrett & Ezekiel Jackson
Saw this idea on PWTorch today. The story makes sense. Big Show needs help to take out these 2, and him and Nash had a staredown at the Rumble. Hard to believe Barrett went from potential Undertaker opponent to a secondary tag match.

Money in the Bank Match: John Morrison vs Daniel Bryan vs Sheamus vs R-Truth vs Kofi Kingston vs Dolph Ziggler vs Drew McIntyre vs Jack Swagger
This might be the best possible combination of guys. The two mid-card champions (Bryan & Kofi), only one former WWE Champion (Sheamus), a former MITB winner (Swagger), 2 worthy upper mid-card guys (Truth & McIntyre) and 2 guys who appear destined for their 1st title reigns in 2011 (Morrison & Ziggler). My 2 picks to win would be Morrison and Ziggler, with Drew McIntyre as the "Jack Swagger OUT OF NOWHERE" candidate.

Jerry Lawler vs Alex Riley
Lawler gets his first Mania match, and if wins he gets 5 minutes with in the ring with Michael Cole.

Trish Stratus & Kelly Kelly vs Laycool
This was set up last night. It'll probably turn into a Lumberjill match. But Trish wrestling is more of a draw than the Divas Title being defended.

Corre (Gabriel & Slater) vs New Nexus (Otunga & McGillicutty): Tag Titles
Easy set-up for the two. The only question is who do the fans cheer? Maybe they throw in Santino & Kozlov.

That card with The Rock guest hosting looks good. Not your typical Mania card match wise, but The Rock's presence will make the card seem that much more special.

That's all for today. I can't guarantee anything for the rest of the week, but I may put something wrestling or sports related up mid-week.

Until next time,
Justin C

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