By Jason Powell, Prowrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
Prowrestling.net Live returns today at 3CT/4ET at PWAudio.net. Will Pruett and I will be taking your calls during the live audio show regarding the WWE Elimination Chamber and any other pro wrestling topics you wish to discuss.
WWE Elimination Chamber Hits
Braun Strowman vs. Roman Reigns vs. John Cena vs. The Miz vs. Elias vs. Seth Rollins vs. Finn Balor in an Elimination Chamber match: A good Chamber match that set out to make Strowman look like a monster despite the fact that he was pinned by Reigns in the end. Yes, the Reigns win was predictable, but I’m still clinging to the fact that Vince McMahon didn’t ruin the Royal Rumble match to get to his big WrestleMania showdown. Of course, the WrestleMania main event would feel so much bigger if they had gone with Lesnar vs. Strowman and kept them apart all this time. That said, I reached the point of acceptance long ago that McMahon wasn’t going to budge on his obsession with Lesnar vs. Reigns. At least there’s light at the end of the tunnel in that we’ve expected Reigns to beat Lesnar at WrestleMania 34 for a year now, but hopefully the predictability disappears once Vince finally gets this match out of his system. And even if it’s not the match that most fans want to see, Lesnar and Reigns should have a terrific match at WrestleMania, assuming the live crowd plays along and doesn’t attempt to hijack the match in protest.
Alexa Bliss vs. Bayley vs. Mandy Rose vs. Mickie James vs. Sonya Deville vs. Sasha Banks in an Elimination Chamber match for the Raw Women’s Championship: The first women’s Elimination Chamber match was well done. Unlike the main event, there was actual suspense in terms of who was going to win. I am all for long reigning champions heading into WrestleMania, so it was nice to see them stick with Bliss. The James and Bliss alliance was much ado about nothing, and Absolution’s numbers advantage led to Rose and Deville being the first women eliminated from the match. On the bright side, we had a moment with Sasha blindsiding Bayley in a spot that Jake Barnett stated in members’ audio was inspired by The Lion King. In fact, he noted that both women foreshadowed that on social media. Hopefully Banks showing frustration afterward is another step toward a heel turn. I found it odd that Banks attacking Bayley was labeled as stabbing her best friend in the back by the broadcast team, yet Rollins attacking Reigns in the main event was dismissed as a case of every man for himself.
Ronda Rousey contract signing: As much as we’ve rolled our eyes at the mega push of the Triple H and Stephanie McMahon act over the years, they were the reason this angle worked. The live crowd did not seem excited about Rousey to start and her quiet mic work only made things worse. I’m convinced that the fans would have opted to cheer for nearly any member of the female roster had they been sent out to confront Rousey. Instead, the fans sided with Rousey over Hunter and Stephanie, and ended up applauding Rousey by the end of the segment. It will be interesting to see if Kurt Angle ruining Hunter and Stephanie’s plan leads to him teaming with Rousey to face them in the mixed tag match at WrestleMania or if they have someone else in mind. Obviously, The Rock would be their first choice, but if he can’t work the match then everyone from Angle to Braun Strowman to Seth Rollins to Dave Bautista should be considered for that spot.
Asuka vs. Nia Jax: This match had the big fight feel. It was hard to believe they would end Asuka’s winning streak before she challenges for one of the women’s championships at WrestleMania, but they did a nice job of showcasing Jax during and after the match and some of her near falls were well done. They have six weeks to make Asuka look strong on television and I wonder if the plan will be to have Asuka beat Jax again to avenge the post match attack. I actually hope not, as I’d prefer to see them kept apart with the idea of working toward another showdown match somewhere down the road. Between the comments from the Kickoff Show panel and the broadcast team, it seems like WWE is walking back Angle’s claim that Asuka will challenge for the Raw Women’s Championship at WrestleMania. Asuka challenging Charlotte would be a terrific match and it would explain why Asuka has already plowed through her top Raw opponents so quickly.
WWE Elimination Chamber Misses
Matt Hardy vs. Bray Wyatt: The crowd was flat during the entrances, which is never a good sign. Hardy won them over with the Obsolete song and had some fans chanting Delete shortly thereafter, but then the beachball arrived and it was all over. The beachball interruption served as an excuse to mask just how flat this feud is. Where are Queen Rebecca, Señor Benjamin, King Maxel, and Vanguard 1? Will they ever send a camera crew to Cameron or have WWE officials already convinced themselves that the Broken Universe won’t work on their big stage? They should take a chance . What do they have to lose?
Sheamus and Cesaro vs. Titus O’Neil and Apollo for the Raw Tag Titles: Titus and Apollo picked up three non-title wins over Sheamus and Cesaro, and the live crowd still didn’t seem to buy them as threats to win the titles. Brother Nero can’t return soon enough to give the Raw Tag Champions some credible challengers. Meanwhile, Apollo has made the most of what he’s been given lately. The Titus Worldwide act isn’t going anywhere. It’s time to turn Apollo into his own man or drop the Titus Worldwide act that doesn’t seem to be over with anyone in favor of turning these two into more of a traditional tag team.
Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson vs. Curtis Axel and Bo Dallas: A forgettable and predictable Kickoff Show match. The Kickoff Shows feel pointless. If WWE intends to go with four-hour shows once they start the dual brand pay-per-views after WrestleMania, then here’s hoping they will scrap the needless Kickoff Show and turn that hour into the fourth hour of the pay-per-views. WWE can always air the first hour of undercard matches on social media if they think it actually makes a difference in selling the event. Asking viewers to sit through four-hour pay-per-views and a one-hour pre-show on a monthly basis is too much. Call me crazy, but I think we’d all find a way to live without Booker T’s “shucky ducky quack quack” moment.
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Jason Powell and Jake Barnett co-host the Dot Net Weekly and Pro Wrestling Boom Podcast combo show and discuss Raw Underground and other WWE concepts, The Rock's group buying the XFL, the Marty Jannetty story, AEW Dynamite and NXT TV, and more...