I’m not going to spend a lot of time discussing the Elimination Chamber, because it was 95% filler. There was boring build up for the Elimination Chamber match that mostly consisted of Orton putting on lame singles matches and losing, in a pathetic attempt by WWE to try and sell the possibility of Orton dropping the title. Everyone knew better, and we got a predictable and uneventful Elimination Chamber match. A complete waste of one of my favorite gimmick matches of the year.
Big E finally got semi-real feud for the Intercontinental Championship, but his match with Jack Swagger was simply an uninteresting clash of two solid-yet-forgettable talents. The tag team titles match was OK, but most everyone expected the Outlaws to carry the titles into Mania. Del Rio vs Batista was better than it should have been thanks to a good performance from ADR and the crowd cheering on Del Rio while booing Batista, but ultimately there was a dark cloud of knowing Batista was going to rise up and win in the end left me unable to truly enjoy the match.
The saving grace of this pay per view, as most expected going in, was the likely once in a lifetime (truly once in a lifetime, not some Rock/Cena nonsense) battle between the Shield and the Wyatt Family. The build up for this match was perfect, teasing the physical altercation for weeks before finally giving the audience a tiny taste on the Raw go-home show, leaving the crowd dying to see the confrontation at the pay per view. Booking doesn’t always need to be overly-elaborate to be entertaining.
The match itself was surrounded by a ton of hype, but if you ask me it definitely lived up to it. All six competitors had a clearly defined role in what was happening in the match, and they all performed well. The crowd was very into it, with chants for both teams and just a general buzz that never went away. The WWE has done an amazing job at getting people interested in these two groups.
The match lasted for 22 minutes, and was booked perfectly to allow for everyone to shine. The match is so awesome, there was a “This is awesome” chant before the bell even rings.
The Wyatt Family
Bray Wyatt was already made to look like a star at last month’s Royal Rumble when he defeated Daniel Bryan, and he took that momentum and built on it in a big way at the Elimination Chamber. During the six man tag match, Bray pinned Roman Reigns after hitting him with Sister Abigail. Perhaps more notably for Bray, he interfered in the main event and hit John Cena with Sister Abigail, allowing for Randy Orton to pin him.
Wyatt will now move onto a program with Cena and be placed in a marquee match at Mania against the face of the company. This is a huge push for Bray, even bigger than going over two of WWE’s hottest commodities in Reigns and Bryan on consecutive pay per views. Wyatt’s finisher Sister Abigail also remains among the most protected finishers in WWE, as I can’t think of a single time that anyone even threatened to kick out of the move.
As for Harper and Rowan, they were both incredibly on-point in this match. Harper is the more polished worker of the two, and continues to show he is much more athletic than his size and look would lead you to believe. He put the athleticism on display by connecting with a suicide dive during the match, and it looked like someone got hit by a bus. It was cool to see.
Rowan is fairly green worker, but I thought his work in this match was the best I had seen from him. He shows signs of improvement from week to week and he fits the role perfectly in this stable. I think he and Harper should continue to have tag matches and move up the ladder in that division a bit. Involving the Wyatts in the tag division, perhaps giving them a run with the tag team championships, could add some much needed storylines and feuds to the current meat and potatoes type of booking we get. A New Age Outlaws vs Harper and Rowan feud could be great if booked properly
Seth Rollins was the first guy in this match to really get things rolling. He is known for his top-notch ring work, but he might have done his best work inside a WWE ring in this match. He displayed tremendous athleticism when countering a top rope suplex attempt by doing a backflip and landing on his feet. He followed that up with a dive to the outside, and then re-entered the ring by nailing a flying knee off the top. Rollins was eventually taken out by a nasty double team through the Spanish announce table from Harper and Rowan, but he looked great before that. I’m not sure how he plays into the Shield split up, as he seems like the man in the middle of an Amrbose vs Reigns beef, but after he moves on as a singles competitor he could be in store for big things.
Dean Ambrose is the wild card, the pitbull of the group. He excels at playing this part, and his outbursts and violent beatdowns are cool to see. He came into the WWE with a niche fanbase and a lot of people hyped him up. I don’t think the WWE has even scratched the surface on what Ambrose can do to this point. He is certainly capable in the ring, but its not where he thrives. He has the potential to be one of the better promo men in the business, but I think he is being restricted by the Shield gimmick, and once he moves past it he can become more demented and hopefully psychotic. Similar to Rollins, Ambrose was taken out late in this match by the Wyatts which left Reigns to fend for himself, which he was forced to do quite often.
Roman Reigns ate the pin in this match, which leads many to complain that he shouldn’t be eating pins if he is supposed to be the next big thing in WWE. While the argument is almost valid, it isn’t quite. Reigns was still booked like an absolute monster in this match, and having him eat this pin gives Ambrose some ammunition for their break up. If Ambrose had just eaten another pin it wouldn’t have provided the same wrinkle to the angle. And it certainly wasn’t like the big fella went down without putting up one hell of a fight. Reigns was the lone man for stretches at a time, including the final stretch of the match. Reigns powered out of Wyatt’s first attempt at Sister Abigail, something that I hadn’t seen anyone do to Bray before and it evoked a huge reaction from the crowd. He then started destroying the entire Family, superman punching Harper and then Bray Wyatt, and then spearing the everloving shit out of Rowan. He could only do so much before his lack of support caught up to him though, and that will certainly not make him look weak.
Bottom line: This match did exactly what it needed to do for all parties involved. The Shield have 3 members who seem poised for nice singles runs after the break up, and the Wyatts are a dominant force to be reckoned with at this point.