The Era of Wyatt is here.
SmackDown Live’s Elimination Chamber pay-per-view became an obstacle for many superstars on their road to Wrestlemania. For six men in particular, Satan’s Structure was their pit stop on the way to Orlando, Florida. Who survived the chamber and came out with the WWE Championship? And as we inch closer to the Show of Shows, which of the blue brand’s stars managed to avoid their biggest obstacles? Here’s a quick review of the Elimination Chamber event.
1) Mojo Rawley def. Curt Hawkins
Mojo comes out on top to continue his mini singles push. Not much to say about this match as it was on the pre-show.
2) Becky Lynch def. Mickie James
A nice contest to kick off the PPV. It’s clear that Mickie’s role in her return is to put over younger talent such as Becky Lynch, but it was still a slick match which saw Lynch reverse Mickie’s pin attempt into a pin of her own for the win.
3) Apollo Crews & Kalisto def. Dolph Ziggler in a 2-on-1 Handicap Match
Some great heel work by Ziggler before and after the match, where he attacked Kalisto from behind and injured him for the majority of the contest. Not much to say about the in-ring action between Crews and Ziggler, but we later see Kalisto limping down to the ring and selling his injuries, before getting the hot tag and unleashing an attack on Dolph. The finish sees Apollo hit his spin-out powerbomb on Ziggler for the win. Ziggler attacks the two faces with a steel chair after the match to make him look strong, even aiming for Crews’ ankle with the weapon. The crowd loudly cheers for Ziggler and even chants of “Thank You Ziggler” can be heard.
4) American Alpha (c) def. The Ascension, The Usos, Heath Slater/Rhyno, The Vaudevillains and Breezango in a Tag Team Turmoil Match for the WWE SmackDown Tag Team Championships
The match kicks off with Slater and Rhyno taking care of Breezango and The Vaudevillains, before The Usos walk out looking like they’re about to drop the hottest track of 2017. The Usos defeat the Beauty and the Man Beast before they are confronted by their closest rivals and tag team champs American Alpha. A solid battle takes place here until Chad Gable rolls up one of The Usos (I still don’t know the difference between them) for the pinfall. Then The Usos, like Dolph Ziggler earlier in the night, launches a vicious attack on AA, maintaining their heat in the process. I like how strong The Usos have looked despite not having won the SmackDown tag titles. American Alpha are left in a vulnerable position when The Ascension arrives, expected to take advantage and take the win. This would’ve been the best opportunity for The Ascension to gain a push, especially after getting the winning pinfall on SD Live the previous week. However, Alpha somehow survives the Fall of Man and manages to dig deep to hit Grand Amplitude on The Ascension for the win. Unfortunately, The Ascension look like idiots here for now being able to take advantage of The Usos’ attack. Meanwhile, the crowd were dead silent when Alpha won the match in Roman Reigns fashion. They definitely need Kurt Angle by their side to get them over with the crowd.
5) Nikki Bella vs Natalya ends in a double countout
This was a slow and intense bout that had a disappointing finish. A highlight of this match was Natalya shouting “You can’t see me bitch!” to Nikki as she’s about to lock in her submission move. The near-end of the match saw Nikki survive the Sharpshooter and lock in her version of the STF on Nattie. Both superstars then sprawled to the outside, where they brawled during the ref’s count (or the crowd’s ten chant depending on who you believe). As Nikki is about to roll inside the ring on 9, Natalya takes her down, causing a double countout. This clearly means the two are set to compete again in the future in order to settle this great rivalry.
SIDE NOTE: These two later brawled backstage, which saw Nikki get pushed into Maryse and makeup powder flying everywhere. This must mean a Cena/Nikki vs Miz/Maryse tag match will happen at Wrestlemania, which has been rumoured. (Oops, did I spoil the main event?).
6) Randy Orton def. Luke Harper
This was the best match of the evening that wasn’t the Elimination Chamber match. I was more focused on Luke Harper’s performance, as he’s one of the most underrated in-ring talents in the WWE with his unique skill set for a big man. It’s the best Harper’s looked on his own since his reign as Intercontinental Champion back in 2014 (remember that?). Harper is clearly over with the crowd, as shown near the end of the match. Then again, Orton did his signature pose a couple of times, testing how good (or terrible) this Phoenix, Arizona audience really was. The end of the match saw Harper hit two superkicks and a sit-out powerbomb on Orton for a near-fall. As he went for the discus clothesline, Orton landed a quick counter on Harper, before hitting an RKO for the win. Orton needed some momentum following his Royal Rumble win, but the star here was Luke Harper. It will interesting to see what happens with him on the road to Wrestlemania.
7) Naomi def. Alexa Bliss (c) for the WWE SmackDown Women’s Championship
Nothing bad to say about this match, as Naomi hits her corkscrew splash to claim her first title in the WWE. It’s a well-deserved victory for the former Funkadactyl, who like former champ Alexa Bliss, has improved over the last few years. Her hard work has finally been given it’s reward, but expect Bliss to get a title rematch soon. If Naomi can hang on to the title, she’ll walk into her hometown of Orlando, Florida, the venue of this year’s Wrestlemania, as SD Women’s champ. And what a moment that would be.
8) Bray Wyatt def. AJ Styles, John Cena (c), The Miz, Dean Ambrose and Baron Corbin in an Elimination Chamber Match for the WWE Championship
The new-look elimination chamber created a big debate on social media, but I’m quite a fan of it. It’s a nice modern look given to one of the most barbaric structures in the WWE. A lot takes place in this match so I’ll skip to the eliminations. But do watch the highlights of this match. As I said in my predictions, this could be a candidate for match of the year, and this bout could be regarded as one of the best Elimination Chamber matches in recent memory (or even history). Baron Corbin enters as the fifth superstar in this contest and takes out everyone in sight, even hitting the End of Days on both Styles and Cena. The final pod opens and The Miz looks intimidated by Corbin as he stares down the Lone Wolf. However, as he eyes out Miz, Corbin is rolled up by Ambrose and eliminated from the contest. In this situation, Corbin looks strong by beating up everyone, but is made to look like an idiot by going down so quickly to a simple roll up. This cheap pinfall angers Corbin as he goes on to attack Ambrose, sending him crashing into one of the pods, before hitting the End of Days on the Intercontinental Champion. The Miz takes advantage of this and pins Ambrose. Great heel work by Miz. Miz then turns into Daniel Bryan, dropkicking Wyatt, Cena and Styles in each corner, before landing a Skullcrushing Finale on Wyatt outside of the ring on the new padded floor. However, just as Miz is gaining momentum, he’s caught by Cena, who lands an Attitude Adjustment and eliminates The Miz. Cena is seen climbing on top of one of the pods and performing a crossbody on Wyatt and Styles. Before he can go for an AA on Wyatt however, the Eater of Worlds hits Sister Abigail on Cena and eliminates him, meaning a new WWE champion is assured at the conclusion of this match. Styles and Wyatt then go at it and the finish involves Styles going for the Phenomenal Forearm, but Bray catches him and hits a nasty looking Sister Abigail for the win. Bray Wyatt is the new WWE Champion! A deserving win for someone who’s been known to lose in big matches for most of his career. From Husky Harris as a part of Nexus, to one of the best characters in wrestling today. The win seemed logical though, as it will possibly set up a main event between Wyatt Family members Bray Wyatt and Randy Orton at Wrestlemania. The ending scene of the PPV is fantastic, as Wyatt and Orton stare each other down and realise what the result of the PPV means for both men.
All in all, this was a solid PPV with two new champions being crowned. Bray Wyatt finally winning the big one is a moment that will last for the ages, but what does it mean for him and his cohort Randy Orton?