By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
Prowrestling.net Live returns today. Dot Net staffer John Moore and I will be taking your calls coming out of last night’s WWE Elimination Chamber event at 3CT/4ET at PWAudio.net.
WWE Elimination Chamber Hits
Daniel Bryan vs. AJ Styles vs. Samoa Joe vs. Kofi Kingston vs. Randy Orton vs. Jeff Hardy in an Elimination Chamber match for the WWE Championship: This was the Kofi Kingston Show and it was tremendous. The live crowd was with him every step of the way to the point that they would have exploded had he pinned Bryan in an upset win. I initially felt that Big E replacing Mustafa Ali would have felt fresher than going back to Kingston in the singles role, but I could not have been more wrong. Kingston delivered a hell of a performance during the Smackdown gauntlet match, and then came through again with a stellar outing in this match, particularly when the Elimination Chamber came down to him and Bryan. This was the rightful main event and they told a hell of a story to make Kingston not only relevant, but a red hot act. It will be interesting to see what they do to follow up on this.
Elimination Chamber match for the new WWE Women’s Tag Titles: A quality performance all the teams involved. The Iiconics stood out in a good way for a change by working a more aggressive style than usual. You had to know Nia Jax and Tamina weren’t going to win when they performed their big finishing sequence on Liv Morgan and Sarah Logan. That said, I really liked the way that four wrestlers ganged up on Tamina to eliminate her while Jax was down after crashing through the pod glass. The monsters were protected despite not surviving until the final two, and they can definitely be built up as strong challengers for the new champions. I also liked the way that the teams that started the match ended up being the final two. Sonya Deville and Mandy Rose gained something in defeat, and WWE delivered their usual happy ending to a female empowerment milestone moment by having Sasha Banks and Bayley go over strong in the end.
Becky Lynch, Charlotte Flair, and Ronda Rousey angle: It was pretty silly that a suspended wrestler was able to limp on crutches right past arena security and slowly enter the ring. If you can get past that, it was a crowd pleasing angle with Lynch beating both of her likely WrestleMania opponents with the crutches. I’m not sure what Vince McMahon want fans to make of Rousey at the moment. It seems like he is trying desperately to make sure she remains a babyface, but by redirecting the heat to Flair, it left Rousey in a fairly bland position. Here’s hoping that cut on the side of Ronda’s head from the crutch is nothing series.
Buddy Murphy vs. Akira Tozawa for the WWE Cruiserweight Championship: A very good match that played to an eager crowd in the opening match position. It was a big turnoff that they went to a split screen shot during the match to show Kayla Braxton talking with Big E and Xavier Woods outside the New Day locker room. It sent a bad message about the match and what company officials think of the cruiserweight division. On the plus side, the overall Kickoff Show was fast moving and felt more relevant with fewer video packages and less time dedicated to the panel’s match predictions.
WWE Elimination Chamber Misses
Bobby Lashley and Lio Rush vs. Finn Balor in a handicap match for the Intercontinental Championship: It felt like creative cared more about protecting Lashley than making the new champion look strong. Balor pinned the weak link and then raced out of the ring to avoid Lashley afterward. It wasn’t a good look for Balor, and it feels like there’s a game of hot potato taking place with the Intercontinental Championship.
Braun Strowman vs. Baron Corbin in a No DQ match: The match between the two was fine, but then came the silly finish with Drew McIntyre and Bobby Lashley interfering. Strowman looked like a big oaf who didn’t see this coming and who doesn’t have any friends. We just saw him team with Finn Balor and Kurt Angle. Perhaps the company will take the time to come up with a storyline reason why neither man was in the building at the time this took place, but it sure was weak in the moment.
Ronda Rousey vs. Ruby Riott for the Raw Women’s Championship: Not what I was hoping for. I get the idea of having Rousey plow through an opponent the company never bothered to build up and who fans didn’t view as a realistic threat to win due in part to the timing of the event. It doesn’t change the fact that what could have been a highly entertaining match was booked to be a complete squash match that only existed to set up the post match angle. It was a rough night for Riott Squad. Will they be scripted to bounce back on Raw tonight or is this just going to be treated like the norm for the trio?
The Miz and Shane McMahon vs. Jimmy Uso and Jey Uso for the Smackdown Tag Titles: A minor Miss for my complete lack of enthusiasm for the Usos regaining the tag titles. I love the Usos’ work, but it’s hard to get excited about them winning the titles again while assuming that another round of well worked and yet repetitive feuds with New Day and The Bar are right around the corner. Of course, WWE can always go in a different direction, but it’s hard to shake the “been there and done that” feel of the Usos winning WWE tag titles for the sixth time. Here’s hoping that the Superstar Shakeup leads to some fresh matchups for them. Meanwhile, this appeared to be step one of the road to the Miz and Shane breakup angle as we inch closer to their expected singles match at WrestleMania.
Check below for the new Pro Wrestling Boom with Jason Powell and guest Mick Karch discussing the AWA Appreciation event on February 23, Paul Heyman’s role in helping Mick land a longtime hosting position, his friendship with Nick Bockwinkel, Billy Robinson slapping a fan on live television, and much more.