The last PPV before WrestleMania saw three titles up for grabs, as well as a number one contender spot to face Becky Lynch for the RAW Women’s Championship, and for the most part, it was worth watching. Although the card didn’t feature big names like Brock Lesnar, “The Fiend” Bray Wyatt, or Roman Reigns, there was still plenty of talent that elevated Elimination Chamber to be more than just a stop-gap to the Showcase of the Immortals. In the kick-off show, The Viking Raiders defeated Heath Slater and Zack Ryder, but it wouldn’t be the last we saw of Erik and Ivar.
Daniel Bryan vs Drew Gulak
WWE often gets criticised for not telling stories in their matches, and that it’s all about moving from one big move to the next, but this couldn’t be more wrong here. Bryan and Gulak had a fantastic match, with Bryan being visibly shaken by the ability of Gulak. The two used their technical prowess to outdo one and other, with Gulak repeatedly countering everything Bryan threw at him. Half-Boston crabs, scissors, chops – every move was countered, and Bryan had to step out the ring to gather himself, something he’s rarely done before.
Even when they weren’t trying to technically outdo each other, suplexes were countered, including a high-risk move where Bryan tried to suplex Gulak over the top rope, only for Gulak to land his feet on the apron, pick up Bryan, and drop him to the outside. The storytelling never stopped, and when Gulak hit a German release suplex and Bryan landed awkwardly on his neck, Bryan’s old injury looked as though it could see Gulak pick up the win. Bryan managed to counter Gulak’s dragon suplex into the Yes Lock, making Gulak tap out. It was a superb opener to the show and helped to get 205 Live’s Drew Gulak over in a big way.
Winner: Daniel Bryan
United States Championship Match: Andrade (c) w/ Zelina Vega vs Humberto Carrillo
Three PPVs into 2020 and Humberto Carrillo has had singles matches in two of them. It’s clear to see why Vince McMahon thinks highly of him, and whilst the match wasn’t quite as good as his bout with Angel Garza at Super ShowDown, it was still filled with some great spots, even if the finish was a letdown. Andrade landed a back elbow right out the gate, and he kept up that aggression throughout the match. After fighting back, Carrillo flew through the air and caught Andrade with a flying headbutt.
The padding on the outside was always going to play a part as soon as Andrade tried to remove it, but it wasn’t until later on. The two went back and forth throughout, with neither man getting any real momentum, but that’s what made it so exciting. Carrillo nailed Andrade with a super hurricanrana, then Andrade delivered a savage double knee on Carrillo. It wasn’t until Zelina Vega started to rip away the padding from the concrete floor that the match started to come to ahead. Andrade was set to hit the hammerlock DDT, but Carrillo broke it off and threw Andrade over his head. The two got back into the ring and continued the fight until Andrade managed to hold onto Humberto Carrillo’s tights to get the pin.
Winner: And Still the United States Champion, Andrade
Smackdown Tag Team Championship Elimination Chamber Match: The Miz & John Morrison (c) vs Robert Roode & Dolph Ziggler vs Lucha House Party vs Heavy Machinery vs The New Day vs The Usos
This was an incredible match, and every single team involved put on a performance that proved they deserved to be there. The New Day and The Usos started things off, but it didn’t get going until the Lucha House Party joined the fray. There was a great triple moonsault by the Luchas on Jey Uso, and after taking a beating from Big E and the Usos, they landed a double attack on both The Usos and The New Day, with both Lince Dorado and Gran Metalik flying off two of the pods.
The Miz and John Morrison entered next, and they got some great teamwork in against The Lucha House Party. All four teams ended up getting in some solid moves, including Metalik using a hurricanrana to throw Morrison off the top of a pod and Kofi Kingston hitting the Boom Drop on The Miz. The New Day then dropped Miz with their double stomp/powerbomb combination, but only managed a two-count.
Heavy Machinery were released from their pod and were quick to get into the action. Perhaps the most impressive and downright insane part of the match came next when Lince Dorado swung off the top of the chamber and dropped onto everyone except Heavy Machinery. It was incredible. The first team got eliminated when Otis pins Gran Metalik, followed by the release of Dolph Ziggler and Robert Roode into the match. Ziggler and The Miz teamed up to double team Otis, whilst Tucker threw his almost 300lb body onto The New Day and The Usos.
The second big spot of the match occurred next when Otis ran at Ziggler, only for him to move out of the way and see Otis charge through a pod and onto the mat outside the ring. Although Tucker vented his frustration on Roode and Ziggler, it wasn’t enough. Bobby Roode drops Tucker with Glorious DDT and got the pin.
With only four teams left, the action refused to stop and the remaining guys continued to dish out punishment. The New Day hit Trouble in Paradise and the Big Ending on Ziggler and Roode, followed by The Usos jumping off two of the pods to hit Uso Splashes on them as well, leading to their elimination. They continued working together to team up against The Miz and John Morrison, but it didn’t last long. Kofi missed a splash on Jey, so The Miz and John Morrison capitalised by pinning him and getting The New Day eliminated. Shortly after, the tag team champs overcame The Usos to retain the belts.
Winners: And Still SmackDown Tag Team Champions, The Miz & John Morrison
No Disqualification Match: AJ Styles vs Aleister Black
This could have been the standout match of the night, but for some reason, it felt like a step back compared to the quality already seen so far. Gallows and Anderson joined Styles at ringside, but they rarely got involved. Styles started to work on Black’s left leg, and even though he was limping the more the match went on, Black refused to quit. He delivered a Meteora onto Styles through a table, but The O.C. finally gave in and started attacking Black in the ring. After taunting The Undertaker early in the match by imitating the Tombstone, it was inevitable we’d at least see the Phenom mess with Styles’ head, and when the lights went out, the tables turned.
They came back on, and Taker had his hands around Gallows and Anderson’s necks. Styles jumped towards The Undertaker, but he grabbed him and delivered a chokeslam. The lights went off and he disappeared, leaving Aleister Black to hit Black Mass for the win. It was a decent end to a rather lacklustre match, but not even the Deadman could stop this from being disappointing.
Winner: Aleister Black
RAW Tag Team Championship Match: The Street Profits (c) vs Seth Rollins & Murphy
Individually, these teams are fantastic, but it’s starting to get repetitive seeing them both in matches. Although it was a decent match, it acted more of a setup for what looks like Seth Rollins taking on Kevin Owens at WrestleMania 36. Still, the athleticism of Montez Ford and the power of Angelo Dawkins helped them to carry the match. The Authors of Pain were at ringside, and as soon as they intervened, the Viking Raiders came to ringside to take them out. With the AOP comprised, The Street Profits had some good offence, but Seth Rollins and Murphy landed a set of double superkicks, first on Dawkins, and second on Ford after he jumped off the turnbuckle.
This match was always going to see the emergence of Kevin Owens, and he did just that, appearing from the crowd with a bag of popcorn. He sat at ringside with his popcorn, leading Rollins to get distracted. As Rollins started shouting at KO, Dawkins ran at Rollins like a steam train into the barrier. The Street Profits then caught Murphy after he tried to take them out after jumping over the rope, slamming him into the barrier as well. They threw him into the ring so that Ford could hit a frog splash from the heavens, picking up the three count to retain the belts.
Winners: And Still RAW Tag Team Champions, The Street Profits
Intercontinental Championship Match: Braun Strowman (c) vs Shinsuke Nakamura, Cesaro & Sami Zayn
This was the weakest match of the night. Strowman just can’t get over for many people, and his match against Nakamura, Zayn, and Cesaro was dull. The trio continued to wear down Strowman, with the big man rarely getting in any attacks. but it was over much sooner than it should’ve been. Strowman didn’t succeed in the main event picture, and he can’t at this level, but now he’s without a title, it’s unclear what’s next for him.
After Nakamura delivered a devastating Kinshasa, a repeat of Friday night’s SmackDown occurred when Zayn kicked Strowman in the head as Nakamura and Cesaro landed a double suplex on him. Zayn covered Strowman for the three-count without any dissension in the ranks. The three celebrated after the bell, with Zayn finally getting some gold.
Winner: Sami Zayn (New Intercontinental Champion)
Number One Contender Elimination Chamber Match: Asuka vs Liv Morgan vs Natalya vs Ruby Riott vs Sarah Logan vs Shayna Baszler
There was no way Shayna Baszler was going to lose this match, but I wasn’t expecting such a great mix of dangerous spots and decent storytelling for each competitor. Natalya and Ruby Riott started off strong, brutalising each other with the steel chains that lined the chamber. Logan came in next and hit a running double knee on Natalya that knocked her between Liv Morgan’s pod and the ring post. There was a nasty looking crossbody from Logan that looked to catch Natalya across the face, but she got back to her feet and powerbombed Logan from the top turnbuckle whilst she suplexed Riott in the ring.
From there, it went downhill for everyone, as Shayna Baszler entered the Chamber. She made Riott and Logan tap out to the Kirifuda Clutch within 60 seconds, then proceeded to slam the pod door into Natalya repeatedly before locking in the Kirifuda Clutch again to make Natty tap out. What followed was a momentary wait until either Morgan or Asuka were released. Baszler taunted the crowd and played the heel beautifully. She’s everything Ronda Rousey could’ve been but never was. When Morgan was finally released, it didn’t take long until Baszler locked in another Kirifuda Clutch, doing so on the turnbuckle whilst staring down Asuka. With Morgan eliminated, Baszler waited until Asuka was released, and when she finally was, she managed to get some offence in.
It didn’t last long, however. Baszler escaped the Asuka Lock and continued to fight back, eventually locking in the Kirifuda Clutch for the final time, making Asuka tap out and picking up the victory. It was always going to be Becky Lynch vs Shayna Baszler at WrestleMania, but this match was a great starting point for Baszler and Lynch’s road to greatest stage of them all.
Winner: Shayna Baszler
Elimination Chamber was much better than it had any right to be. Apart from a few matches, there were some real battles, especially the SmackDown Tag Team Championship match. With the Road To WrestleMania fully underway, the last PPV before WWE head to Tampa Bay was a great surprise.
All images courtesy of WWE