The Elimination Chamber Report
Doctor's Orders: The Elimination Chamber Report (w/ updated Chamber rankings)
By The Doc
Feb 19, 2012 - 9:00:47 PM
Match 1: CM Punk retains the WWE Title in the Raw Elimination Chamber in 33-minutes (DOC’s rating - ****) (DOC’s note – I thought this was a great match. Truth was eliminated early. It was nice to see someone actually take a fall to Punk’s flying elbow drop. That will help create greater near falls for when it’s used in situations in the future. Jericho came in and got some more ring rust knocked off – joking, the guy is still great. He got rid of Ziggler, who up to that point had shared in some of the better moments of the match with his superior bumping skills. Jericho and Punk had a nice exchange before the focus turned elsewhere. Jericho’s elimination and subsequent thrashing of Kingston answered my question as to how they were going to get Y2J out of there without losing to Punk or winning the title. I liked how they played that out. I did not want to see Jericho win the title, only to drop it back to Punk a few weeks later. This was the right call, giving Jericho the excuse that he never lost the match. Miz, by the way, continued his streak of screwing up before finally getting it going a few minutes later and doing quite well for himself. He had perhaps the near fall of the night when he hit Punk with the SCF, only for Punk to kick out. The champ did win, though, so his title reign continues and I hope it continues for quite awhile)
Match 2: Beth Phoenix retained the Diva’s title (DOC’s rating - **) (DOC’s note – I rather liked the story that they told, here. Tamina was trying to get up to that top rope and connect with her knockout blow, but Beth managed to avoid it twice. When Tamina finally scored with her Superfly Splash, Beth actually kicked out. It was a good moment for the division to see a strong match for the first time in months on PPV. Here’s hoping we’ll get Beth vs. Kharma for the title, as it’s the biggest thing they’ve got for the women)
Match 3: Daniel Bryan retained the World title in the SD Elimination Chamber in 34-minutes (DOC’s rating - ***1/2) (DOC’s note – The first 20-minutes of this match were rather ho-hum. When Show eliminated Khali, though, my attention to the match picked up. After Show broke into Bryan’s cell from up top, my interest skyrocketed. The star power was not there, but they did well with the Show vs. Bryan interaction from recent weeks. It was the one true source of drama in this match. The elimination of Show was handled well. Rhodes and Barrett looked good in this match. Santino…well, I have to give credit where it’s due to the WWE for giving this guy a shot. Those final minutes with he and Bryan were awesome)
Match 4: Jack Swagger retained the US title over Justin Gabriel (DOC’s rating – ¾ *) (DOC’s note - I cannot stand it when they put unadvertised matches on the card, especially ones that don’t have any back story whatsoever and feature guys that are rarely even on TV. BOOOOO!)
Match 5: John Cena defeated Kane in an Ambulance match in 21-minutes (DOC’s rating - ***) (DOC’s note – This was never going to be a great match because there’s just not enough drama in the feud anymore. They did have a chance, though, to put on a solid or better performance and I thought that they did good work out there. The hardcore limits of a match like this in the modern era versus nine years ago is night and day, so there’s only so much that they could do and should do, especially given Cena’s main-event status for Mania against Rock. They kept it simple, hit some high impact moves, told their story well enough and ended it)
Backstage Skits and Interviews (DOC’s rating - **) (DOC’s note – I thought the segment with Christian, Henry, and Del Rio endorsing Johnny Ace was OK, assuming it actually leads to something for Wrestlemania. If not, it was just a waste of time. Perhaps that could be the story for those folks that have nothing else going on at Mania, if they choose not to do MITB. The segments with Santino using Eugene’s old music were somewhat amusing, but they served their purpose in helping to set him up for the big response he got as the second biggest babyface in the SD Chamber. The segment that set-up the Swagger-Gabriel match was just silly, but it did reinforce the potential for a GM storyline that might get some guys involved at Mania in something with a purpose. I’m usually pretty kind to this part of the show, but tonight didn’t do it for me)
Doc’s PPV Rating System
0-1.5 stars = Demand a refund and don't take no for an answer. If it was this bad, they should pay you to watch the next two PPVs, at least. (Great American Bash 2005)
1.75-2.25 stars = A below average PPV that wasn't worth the money spent watching. (Survivor Series 2010; Royal Rumble 2012)
2.5-2.75 stars = An average to above average event that was worth watching on that given night. (Wrestlemania XXVII, Survivor Series 2011)
3.0-3.25 = A really good show that you'd buy on DVD and watch again (Money in the Bank 2011, Summerslam 2011)
3.5 = This is how PPV should be done (Summerslam 2002)
3.75-5.0 = You never thought a PPV could be this good...
Elimination Chamber 2012’s Final Score = **1/2 (DOC’S note – Based on my scale, that equates to an average event worth watching once and I concur. I had a good time kicking back and nonchalantly watching this show much like I would a Raw or SD. That’s unfortunate that it felt that way, but it was what it was. That’s the curse of the February PPV. I liked the Mania build-up for CM Punk vs. Jericho and Sheamus vs. Bryan, though. I’m shocked that Bryan vs. Sheamus might actually happen. Still not sold. People will get added, I’ll bet. Let’s kick the tires and light the fires…Mania 28 is 6 weeks out)
The Elimination Chamber is upon us; the last PPV stop on the Road to Wrestlemania 28. I, for one, was struck on my way home from the office with the realization that we’re about 6 weeks out from April 1st. That, as a wrestling fan no matter the age, is a good feeling. Yet, we’ve got a PPV on Sunday that has traditionally given us some quality moments. It took me a year or two to come to grips with the Elimination Chamber’s role at the February event. By giving customers a viable reason to want to spend money 6 weeks before Wrestlemania, the WWE threw a wrench in their old game plan of starting many rivalries at the Royal Rumble or before. Last year was somewhat of an exception, but I doubt it’ll be the rule. Frankly, the Elimination Chamber is a money gimmick and they have to pay attention to it. If it has the potential to draw money, then they have to give people a reason to spend.
This year’s event, by and large, does not interest me as much as previous events. In now five years of featuring the EC in Feb, three of those years have featured pretty compelling Chamber matches from both brands. Like 2008’s SD/ECW Chamber, this year’s SD Chamber is significantly lacking in star power and is, thus, not nearly as compelling on paper as have been other Chamber matches in recent years. I had originally been interested based on my belief that Randy Orton would win it, but without him to give a second potential winner outside of Daniel Bryan, I’m no longer as intrigued. Santino, along with Great Khali, are wastes of time and space in 2012, with neither having been relevant since ’08 (when their acts were still interesting, at least in Santino’s case; Khali is my least favorite wrestler of all-time).
Here’s the one thing I’m hanging my hat on, though…I don’t think Bryan will win. I think something unexpected will happen that places Orton or Mark Henry or even Alberto Del Rio in the Chamber in Santino’s place, putting them in position to win the title. I just have such a hard time imagining Bryan headlining Wrestlemania in a title match. Don’t get me wrong; I like Bryan quite a bit. My issue is that he was doing nothing for almost all of 2011. Even as Mr. MITB, he did little but job on TV. Just because he won the title doesn’t mean that all of that can be forgotten. He’s done well in his role as the annoying heel character, but is that a Mania title match storyline to see someone give him his comeuppance? To me, that’s a Night of Champions caliber story, no matter how much the IWC may like Bryan. Call me old fashioned, but I prefer the guys that headline Manias be ones that have had substantial build-up in the past. Alberto Del Rio was a stretch last year, but it was passable given the roster and his potential. He and Miz were the weakest main-event players in Mania history, but at least they had some substantial and legitimate pushes behind their names. Bryan is riding a wave. I think he’s bound to fall off on Sunday. The only way I can see him headlining Mania is in a multi-man title match, but predicting multi-man title matches is such a crap shoot. I’ve probably never predicted one that actually happened.
Probably the main selling point for this event is to see if Chris Jericho will win the WWE title. They’ve done a solid job laying the foundation for their “Best of the World” squabble, particularly their segment from two weeks ago. I will look forward to seeing how they play it out moving forward, but the short-term question is simply which one of them will walk into Miami as champion. Obviously, the easy play is to have Jericho win the title on Sunday. Call me crazy, though – I just don’t want to see Punk lose the belt. I don’t care about the dozens of title changes in recent years until a guy like Punk threatens to lose the championship before he finishes the lengthy reign that could solidify him as a pinnacle performer. At a different Mania in a different year that didn’t feature Rock vs. Cena and Taker vs. Triple H, Punk chasing and ultimately regaining the title would be a good story. This year, I think it would get lost in the shuffle. It benefits Punk more in the long run to win on Sunday, retain at Wrestlemania, and move forward from there. I’m unsure how that would work for Jericho. My hope is that they find a way to keep the belt on Punk and get the rivalry going in a different way. The Raw Chamber should live up to the Chamber’s reputation.
The Cena-Kane feud has not been interesting in weeks. I look forward to their match being over, but not to the match itself. Cena hasn’t embraced the hate, but rather has embraced the douche. Zack Ryder has embraced the tool. Eve has embraced the bad actress. Who cares? Tamina vs. Beth Phoenix is more interesting. However, on the bright side, Cena is always game and Kane has made a career habit of doing more than expected with crap.
The saving grace for this PPV could be that, traditionally, the Chamber has always been a good match. Even the not-so compelling ’08 Chamber from SD/ECW turned out to be worth a watch. It’s one of the WWE’s highest quality gimmick matches. So, I suspect that the two Chambers will make this an enjoyable show to watch at the bar. How will they stack up historically? Well, let’s take a look at the competition…
15 – The Extreme Elimination Chamber from December to Dismember – (Doc’s rating - **3/4) – On the surface, this seemed to be severely lacking in star power and, historically, it did. At the time, though, even Hardcore Holly and Test were made to look very good by RVD and the ECW style. The concept sounded good, but it was just ho-hum in execution, mainly because Punk was eliminated so early.
14 – The SD/ECW Chamber from No Way Out 2008 – (Doc’s rating - ***1/4) – Chambers are most compelling when there is star power. From the first one onward, that was part of the draw. I don’t recall this as a bad match (hence the rating), but it was never worth a second viewing. The result was obvious and, like I feel about this year’s SD Chamber, there was not enough talent to make up for it.
13 – The Edge Cashes In Post-Match Chamber from New Year’s Revolution ’06 – (Doc’s rating - ***1/2) – This was not your traditional, loaded with star power version of this gimmick. Guys like Carlito and Chris Masters were mid-carders that played integral roles and lasted to the end along with Cena. The more established Kane, Kurt Angle, and HBK all got ousted prior to. Cena overcoming the odds was not what made this memorable, but rather the post-match Money in the Bank cash-in by Edge. That was one of the great moments of Edge’s career and one of my favorite moments of the last decade.
12 – The Goldberg Chamber from Summerslam ’03 – (Doc’s rating - ***1/2) – I enjoyed the second Chamber match. I thought it was the showcase match of Goldberg’s run in the WWE, despite his loss. I don’t think the WWE used him more effectively in his year with the company than they did that night. It was well paced and each guy played their role well. It also did well to build further heat on Triple H. Not a great match, but a fun one…
11 – Daniel Bryan Finds A Way Chamber from Elimination Chamber ‘12
10 – The Cena Wins, Then Loses Chamber from Elimination Chamber ’10 – (Doc’s rating - ***3/4) – I went in thinking Sheamus would retain, but his loss made it seem obvious that Cena would win…and he did. The surprise came after the match, when Batista got a random title shot and won it. It set up a fantastic championship feud for Wrestlemania, with Bats doing the best character work of his career.
9 – CM Punk Knocks Out Jericho Chamber from Elimination Chamber ‘12
8 – The Original Chamber from Survivor Series ’02 – (Doc’s rating - ****) – Excitement could not begin to describe my feelings for this match going in. I wonder how good it could have been had Triple H not been injured in the early going. His throat injury and some general miscues prevented this from being one of the best matches in Survivor Series history, which I believe it would’ve been. It was just a night when all the stars failed to align. Still memorable, though.
7 – The HBK Costs Taker Chamber from Elimination Chamber ’10 – (Doc’s rating - ****) – Taker got burned by his own pyro on the way to the ring, but then proceeded to work a great match alongside Morrison, Punk, Mysterio, and Jericho. I think this one flies under the radar. You kept waiting for HBK to make his presence felt and he eventually did, allowing Jericho to win the title. Five of the guys involved had standout performances.
6 – The Edge Turns World into WWE Chamber from No Way out ’09 – (Doc’s rating - ****) – Edge and Mysterio nearly stole the show, but this is still overshadowed by the Chamber match that preceded it earlier on the same card. It was an exciting night in ’09, as the title change to start the show and the title change to end the show were fascinating to watch. It was a unique approach that worked that night to show that the February PPV wasn’t just around for the hell of it.
5 – The Purple Shirt Cena Chamber from Elimination Chamber ’11 – (Doc’s rating - ****) – Much like the above match, the Raw Chamber from last year was pretty outstanding, but not quite on the level of the SD version. John Morrison, in particular, did some phenomenal work. How his push died after this, I’ll never know. Who gives a damn if he didn’t want to include Trish’s ideas at Mania? This guy could do things that NOBODY his size should be able to do. Hopefully, he’ll be back some day. Don’t go to TNA and waste your career, Jo Mo.
4 – The Jeff Hardy Almost Main-Evented Chamber from No Way Out ’08 – (Doc’s rating - ****1/4) – Jeff Hardy was so close to being in the main-event at a Wrestlemania, but we all knew that Triple H was going to win the ’08 Raw Chamber. It was a foregone conclusion for months. Nevertheless, this was a great match that featured a helluva cast (Y2J, JBL, HBK, HHH, Jeff, and Umaga). This is one of my favorite Chamber matches, without a doubt.
3 – The Evolution Implodes Chamber from New Year’s Revolution ’05 – (Doc’s rating - ****1/4) – This is the most underrated Chamber match, in my opinion. It deserves to be mentioned in the same breath as the two I’ve ranked first and second. The storyline was executed flawlessly. Batista was coming up through the ranks, Orton was trying to regain the belt, and Triple H was the cunning 9-time champion attempting to reclaim what he felt was his. The title was vacant, at this point, and the additions of Edge, Benoit, and Jericho took this to the next level. The last few minutes were quite compelling. To me, this is one of the defining moments in the history of Evolution.
2 – The Awesome SD Chamber from Elimination Chamber ’11 – (Doc’s rating - ****1/2) – I almost put this at number one, but the reason I chose against it is because we saw Rey and Edge have a similar (although not nearly as brilliant) encounter two years prior. Unfortunately, those encounters always remind me that they never had a great one-on-one PPV match. My friend in college had this saying toward women that he’d “show them the good and then take them away.” That’s what Rey and Edge did twice. They showed us how good their singles matches should’ve been, but then never actually had them. Every participant in this match worked their ass off, notably Drew McIntyre, who had a breakout performance that never translated to anything. All over thinking aside, Edge and Mysterio tore the house down in those closing minutes. Awesome match.
1 – The Best of the Best Chamber from No Way Out ’09 – (Doc’s rating - ****1/2) – Like the classic above, this match had a thrilling final sequence, this one featuring Triple H and Undertaker in a preview of a couple of Manias. Yet, it also featured so much excitement and drama before it. What sets it apart was Edge unexpectedly losing the WWE title. That little touch makes this the preeminent Chamber match because you had not only the spectacle of Taker vs. Trips to close it out, but this shocking moment in the first few minutes to set the tone. Hardy was on such a roll that he could’ve conceivably gone on to win. Big Show was on a similar roll throughout the previous year that made him a viable option, too. Taker was always a threat after two consecutive title matches in the two years prior. Trips was Trips and he did win it. Four realistic options remained after Edge lost the title.
Enjoy the Chamber event, if you so choose to watch. Do the wrestling world a favor and don’t order this. It’ll make the WWE try harder next year, maybe. Go the bar route. I’ll be back with the Countdown tomorrow and Sunday and post a Chamber review and place them in the above list for fun on Monday.