“For the first time ever, the Elimination Chamber leaves the United States!” That seemed completely baffling to me. North America, sure. I’d have been convinced that there had been at least one Chamber match held in Canada, at some point in the last twenty years. Big events in Canada had been frequent enough that it seemed like a given to me. But no. Every single Chamber match had been held in the United States, until now.

On the pre-show, Rey Mysterio defeated The Miz to prove why he is the cover star for WWE 2K22. Dominik Mysterio was at ringside to look out for any chicanery because when it comes to the Miz, he’s often looking for a victory by any means necessary. After a slight misunderstanding, the referee ejected Dominik from ringside. However, Miz was too excited by Dominik leaving, that it was enough of a distraction for Mysterio to get a rollup victory. Following the match, Miz tried to attack Rey, before Dominik made the save and the father-son duo finished off Miz with a double 619.

WWE Universal Championship
Roman Reigns (C) vs Goldberg

Reigns entered first, accompanied by Paul Heyman, where he took a microphone and demanded that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia acknowledge him. Goldberg came out second and then we were treated to the formal ring introductions before the opening bell. A brief staredown was about as slow as this match ever was. The remaining was a hard-hitting affair where fists were flying and there was a battle at ringside, on the commentary table and an Irish whip into the barrier.

Back in the ring, there were Spears galore. Roman played his part of the cocky heel, a role he has shifted into so organically and getting ahead of himself as though he had already beaten Goldberg. There were two occasions where Roman would set up for a Spear, only to eat one himself. What helped, was that the Spears genuinely looked like they sucked the wind out of Reigns, leaving Heyman looking worried at ringside. Goldberg tried twice for a Jackhammer, but Roman escaped each time. The second time, Roman transitioned into a Guillotine. Goldberg attempted to power out – maybe he could’ve done a couple of years ago – but in the end, fatigue makes cowards of us all, even the great Goldberg, who passed out in the arms of the Tribal Chief.

Winner: Roman Reigns

Verdict: This match was always going to be better on paper (or a video game) than in actuality. It’s just one of those things, Goldberg isn’t the athlete it used to be. With that in mind, the delivery of this match was as good as can be. The fact of the matter is, after how long Roman has held the title, we all know he was never going to lose it this close to “WrestleMania,” although God bless Paul Heyman for effectively selling the fear of a Goldberg victory. At six minutes, this was as long as it should be and I think it was a genuine crowd-pleaser.

Women’s Elimination Chamber Match
Bianca Belair vs Doudrop vs Rhea Ripley vs Alexa Bliss vs Nikki A.S.H vs Liv Morgan

This match is a huge reflection of the journey we’ve been on when it comes to the Women’s Division. When WWE held their first show in Saudi Arabia (in 2018) they weren’t allowed to have any women’s matches on the card at all. In fact, it took a couple of years into the agreement before they were even allowed to hold a singles women’s match. Of course, we know that the women have to be completely covered up in a full bodysuit, but at least this show had three women’s matches on the card, including this multi-woman Chamber. There may still be a long way to go, but at least it feels like progress is being made.

The full bodysuits were on display here, but they didn’t feel as plain as previous times. In fact, there was a great deal of creativity involved, for all six women as what they wore was still in fitting with the current gimmicks. The winner, on the wardrobe front, may have been Liv Morgan, whose red attire was very similar to one worn by Britney Spears in her “Oops!… I Did It Again” video. Nikki and Liv started the match while the other four were confined to the pods. An extra nice touch was that Bliss’s pod had a swing from Alexa’s Playground that she could chill on until her entrance.

Once the action started, the narrative unfolded quickly. It was a case of ghosts of exes past for Nikki, as she tried to torment her former tag team partners – Ripley and Bliss – while they were still in the pods. It goes to show that Nikki does get around teams quite a lot. Doudrop was the next to enter the match and Nikki quickly tried to make an ally out of her. Doudrop was not that easily convinced, I suppose she learnt the hard way from teaming with Eva Marie. Ripley was next out – looking similar to Michelle Pfeiffer in Batman Returns – and quickly tore through her former tag team partner, eliminating Nikki with a Riptide. Bliss was next out, looking like she hadn’t missed a step from a few months of inactivity, and her Insult to Injury may be one of the best moves of the current era. Morgan eliminated Doudrop before Belair became the final entrant into the match. Alexa eliminated Morgan with the Twisted Bliss before Belair used the KOD to eliminate Ripley. After a frantic back and forth between the final two, Bianca eliminated Bliss, following a KOD, to win the match.

Winner: Bianca Belair

Verdict: By no means a classic, but still a fun match. Considering the history of the Chamber match, this wasn’t an example of one that was particularly brutal or career-threatening. That said, everybody involved got their time to shine, in a country where they wouldn’t have been allowed to just a couple of years prior. When all is said and done, I think everyone involved will look back on this match with pride – and so they should. Bianca Belair was the rightful winner here, to finally get her rematch with Lynch (we presume) on the biggest stage.

Rousey had to compete with one arm tied behind her back
Charlotte Flair & Sonya Deville vs Naomi & Ronda Rousey

Once again, the full bodysuits were on display and Sonya Deville’s was accessorised with an arm-sling, selling the effects of Rousey’s attack on her two weeks ago. Of course, that is also the reason for Rousey competing with one arm tied behind her back, to even the odds. Rousey came out wearing the same judo attire she wore when she won a medal at the Olympics in Beijing. The referee tied up Ronda’s arm before the bell rang, with Ronda starting the match opposite Sonya. But then, Sonya removed the sling to show that it was all a ruse and she was feeling just fine.

The rest of the match played into the hands of the heels. Charlotte and Sonya worked effectively together to wear down Ronda and make the most of their extra arm advantage. What was most impressive, when the wind was back in her sails, was how effectively Rousey could work with just one arm. She nailed Deville with Piper’s Pit, before applying the armbar for the submission victory, while Charlotte just watched on, knowing that a more important battle was yet to come.

Winners: Ronda Rousey & Naomi

Verdict: A by the numbers match where the babyfaces overcame the odds that were stacked against them. I’m not sure how this match would’ve gone down in the States – due to the fanbase mostly seeming bored of Rousey and Flair – but the audience here completely ate it up. But now WWE has to figure out how they’re going to build the Charlotte vs Ronda over the 6 weeks of television between now and ‘Mania when it seems unlikely there’ll be any matches during that time.

Falls Count Anywhere
Madcap Moss vs Drew McIntyre

The duo of Moss and Happy Corbin immediately attacked Drew at the start of the bell, taking advantage of the no disqualification stipulation. From that point onwards, this was effectively a handicap match, where Drew had to rely on chasing away Corbin, long enough that he could do damage to Moss.

Speaking of Moss, he made the rookie mistake of tucking his chin when taking a reverse Alabama Slam and he landed right on his head. The bump looked terrifying, especially on the number of replays were shown, and he seems lucky to be okay. Somehow or another, Madcap got up practically immediately and finished the match. He chased McIntyre and took a back bump at ringside. Back in the ring, McIntyre kept Corbin at bay by swinging the sword at him. He then delivered a Claymore to Moss – while holding the sword – for the victory.

Winner: Drew McIntyre

Verdict: For two years in a row, McIntyre has challenged for the WWE Championship at “WrestleMania.” No offence to Corbin or Moss, but this is quite a steep step down from where Drew should be now, and he looks like he could be miles away from a future World Championship contender. Personally, I think he needs to lose the sword. It was cool when he first brought it out and plunged it into the stone as part of his entrance, but it has no business being at ringside. It was one thing for Triple H to have the sledgehammer or Sting to have his baseball bat, but we know that Drew isn’t going to use that sword without getting arrested, so let’s just be done with it.

RAW Women’s Championship
Becky Lynch (C) vs Lita

Returns following a long absence in pro-wrestling can be polarising. For every Goldberg, there’s an Edge. Thankfully, Lita’s return fell into the category of the latter. Considering it had supposedly been 16 years since her last singles match, Lita still looks like she belongs. These two worked perfectly together – the chemistry felt natural – and Becky is such an effective heel that we’re left wanting Lita to win. Big Time Becks looked for any advantage she could get, using the ropes for leverage, but was rightly caught by the referee.

For anyone who knows what Lita can do in the ring, she gave it everything. From the countless Moonsaults and the Twist of Fate. She came believably close to beating Lynch, which appeared to frustrate the Champion more and more. Lynch applied the Dis-arm-her, and Lita was in jeopardy but was determined not to tap out. In the end, Lynch finished off Lita with a Manhandle Slam, to ensure that she goes to WrestleMania as Champion.

Winner: Becky Lynch

Verdict: For me, as someone who started watching wrestling around the time of Lita in Team Xtreme with the Hardyz, this match was packed full of nostalgia, which I loved. For me, the ending was never in doubt, but it appears to be that Lita could have another run in WWE, the only question is whether or not she wants to.

SmackDown Tag Team Championship
The Usos (C) vs The Viking Raiders

While the Viking Raiders made their entrance, the Usos attacked. None of the four men even touched the ring. The Vikings suffered a series of Superkicks from the reigning Champs before Ivar was slammed onto Erik at ringside. Michael Cole said the Viking Raiders were in no fit state to compete, and the Usos walked away.

Winners: No Contest – match never started.

Verdict: That was absolutely bizarre. I can only imagine that the show was running overtime and this match was the spare part that they decided they could wield the axe to. I suppose it builds the storyline and the Raiders will get their title shot, eventually.

WWE Championship Elimination Chamber match
Bobby Lashley (C) vs Austin Theory vs AJ Styles vs Seth “Freakin” Rollins vs Riddle vs Brock Lesnar

Rollins and Theory were the two who drew the short straws and started the match. Early on, Rollins powerbombed Theory into the pod that contained Lashley. The perspex came in and seemed to trap Lashley’s foot. Referees and producers came into the Chamber, making it look as though this was a spot that went wrong. Lashley was escorted from the Chamber and helped to the back, while the match continued. Later, Cole announced that Lashley was under concussion protocol and wasn’t cleared to compete.

Riddle and Styles were the next to enter the match. The next time the countdown expired, it landed on Lashley’s pod, but of course, he was already gone. Lesnar seemed impatient and kicked his way out of his pod, despite he shouldn’t have officially been out yet. Lesnar made short work of Rollins, Riddle and Styles, pinning them in that order, after an F5 each. That just left Austin Theory, who tried to run from Lesnar, but of course, there was nowhere to go. Theory landed a low blow on Lesnar and earned a one-count over the Beast.

Brock recovered, looking pissed off, and gave chase again. Theory climbed the chain wall to the top of one of the pods and was skinny enough that he could fit through the gaps in the chains and tried to escape. Lesnar gave chase to the top of the pod and tugged Theory back inside. Lesnar then delivered a terrifying F5 from the top of the pod to the floor. Lesnar rolled Theory back into the ring and pinned him to become the WWE Champion once again. As Lesnar celebrated, the commentary team told us that the Roman Reigns vs Brock Lesnar match at WrestleMania will now be Champion vs Champion.

Winner: Brock Lesnar

Verdict: That was the shortest Elimination Chamber match of all time, although we shouldn’t really be surprised, as when Lesnar’s involved he’s around for a good time, not a long time. That said, there’s a fair bit to unpack here. I was surprised that Austin Theory lasted the longest. I was convinced he’d be the first out after taking a few bumps. While he’s not going to automatically be a star tomorrow, this match, having that interaction with Lesnar, suggests that WWE are trying to lay the groundwork and build Austin Theory. What remains is how long until Vince gets bored of him, as we know there’s a history of that.

The Bobby Lashley spot was intriguing too. It’s evident that he was only ever a placeholder. It wasn’t about who beat Lesnar at the Rumble, it was purely about Heyman betraying Lesnar en route to the Mania clash with Reigns. But the fact that Lashley was removed from the match, he was essentially protected from taking a pinfall. This suggests to me that they still see money in another Lesnar vs Lashley match further down the line, a straight-up one-on-one match, but I can’t see that happening before SummerSlam.

Overall: As evident from my part in the SteelChair predictions column, this was a predictable show, but that’s not to say it was unenjoyable. On the contrary, I did enjoy this show. It was by no means a classic, but it served its purpose of putting some key pieces in place for WrestleMania. Every single match was very short, so there was no danger of anything outstaying its welcome.

All images and videos courtesy of WWE

By Danny Cause

Wrestling fan and nerd of almost twenty years. Outside of wrestling, Danny enjoys writing and reading, to excess, TV shows, movies as well Manchester United and the Minnesota Vikings (for his sins).

Leave a Reply