If you were hoping for swerves and major surprises at Sunday night’s Elimination Chamber pay-per-view, you were probably disappointed. However, if you were looking for a show filled with good-to-great matches, then you certainly got your money’s worth.
If you’ve been paying attention at all to WWE programming recently, you likely went into this show with a pretty good idea of what the top matches at WrestleMania XXVII are going to be, so the winners of Sunday’s matches weren’t that hard to predict. But with that being said, the action and the way the matches were laid out more than made up for the predictability. I’d much rather have logical booking – especially heading into the biggest show of the year – than swerves just for the sake of having them.
Edge and John Cena won their respective brand’s Elimination Chamber matches, and The Miz retained the WWE title against Jerry Lawler. So – barring any surprises over the next six weeks – it will be world heavyweight champion Edge versus Alberto Del Rio, and WWE champion The Miz versus Cena at WrestleMania on April 3.
As far as surprise appearances Sunday night, there was no sign of Triple H or The Undertaker, but Christian returned and did a run-in – he saved Edge from a post-match beatdown by Del Rio – and Trish Stratus was introduced as a trainer for the upcoming Tough Enough series. She also had a physical confrontation with Lay-Cool.
The replacement for Dolph Ziggler in the Smackdown Elimination Chamber match was The Big Show, which was definitely a letdown for fans who were expecting someone such as Triple H or The Undertaker to fill the spot.
While John Morrison didn’t win the Raw Chamber match, he put on the best individual performance of the night with his innovative, acrobatic moves.
Here is a match-by-match look at the show:
Edge retained the world heavyweight title in the Smackdown Elimination Chamber Match over Wade Barrett, The Big Show, Kane, Drew McIntyre and Rey Mysterio (31:28): Fittingly, Smackdown’s two biggest stars at the moment – Edge and Mysterio – were the first two in this match and they ended up as the final two. For the last eight and a half minutes of the contest it was a singles match between the two fan favorites, and they put on quite a show. At the 25:40 mark, Edge went for a spear, but Mysterio ducked it and rolled up Edge for a very close near fall. After a near fall by Edge, Mysterio came off the top rope but Edge turned it into a powerbomb for a two count. At 28:30, Edge applied a variation of the Texas Cloverleaf, but Mysterio countered with a roll-up for a near fall. Edge then went for a spear, but Mysterio ducked it, bounced off the ropes and Edge nailed him with a spear on the rebound. I thought for sure that was the finish, but Mysterio kicked out.
Mysterio hit his 619/top rope splash combination, but Edge kicked out. Mysterio hit another 619 and then dove off the top rope, but Edge hit him with a spear in mid-air for the victory. After the match, Alberto Del Rio entered the cage and put the Cross Armbreaker on Edge. Suddenly, Christian’s music played and he charged into the ring. He attacked Del Rio, the man who (in story line) put him out with an injury, and hit the Killswitch on him. Also of note was the performance of McIntyre, who was very aggressive and is starting to look more and more like the up-and-coming star he was touted to be.
The order of entry was as follows: Edge/Mysterio, Barrett, Kane, McIntyre and Big Show. Here is the order of elimination: Big Show pinned Barrett, 18:48; Kane pinned Big Show, 20:53; Kane pinned McIntyre, 21:08; Edge pinned Kane, 22:50; Edge pinned Mysterio, 31:28.
John Cena won the Raw Elimination Chamber Match over John Morrison, Randy Orton, CM Punk, R-Truth and Sheamus (33:10): Cena was interviewed backstage before the match and he was eating a bowl of Fruity Pebbles, a nod to the promo that The Rock cut on him this past Monday on Raw. Cena came out with the victory in this match, but Morrison stole the show and Punk also was a focal point. Punk entered the match fourth, following Morrison and Sheamus – who started the match – and Orton. Punk’s pod “malfunctioned,” however, and he got stuck in the door. Orton dragged him out, landed the RKO and pinned him. The anonymous Raw general manager then chimed in and announced that due to the malfunction, Punk was allowed back into the match. Punk returned to his pod and ended up being the last man to enter.
R-Truth was in next-to-last and was technically the first man eliminated. He began with a flurry of offense, but then was quickly eliminated after Sheamus nailed him with the Brogue Kick. Thanks for coming. A few minutes later, Sheamus connected with the Brogue Kick on Orton, and Punk then hit the GTS on a weakened Orton and pinned him. So Punk won this round with Orton to set up their expected showdown at WrestleMania. Morrison pulled off the spot of the night around the 25-minute mark, as he climbed up the cage and across the roof of the dome ala Spider-Man. He then dropped down onto Sheamus and pinned him. In doing so, Morrison sold that he injured his knee. He would suffer more damage to the knee, including missing a Starship Pain attempt on Punk, who capitalized on the miscue by hitting the GTS on Morrison and eliminating him.
That left Punk and Cena, which surprised me a bit, because there would have been more drama if Morrison and Cena were the final two. Fans could have envisioned Morrison pulling the upset and going on to face his former tag team partner The Miz at WrestleMania, but everyone knew that we weren’t getting a Punk-Miz match, so it was obvious that Cena was going over. I wonder if WWE decided to go with Punk-Cena at the end instead of Morrison-Cena because it feared that the crowd would be firmly behind Morrison and against Cena. Anyway, just 20 seconds after Morrison was eliminated, Cena hit the Attitude Adjustment on Punk on the steel grate and pinned him.
The order of entry was as follows: Morrison/Sheamus, Orton, Punk, Cena, R-Truth, Punk again. Here is the order of elimination: Orton pinned Punk, 8:59 (the Raw GM then re-inserted Punk into the match); Sheamus pinned R-Truth, 17:30; Punk pinned Orton, 21:32; Morrison pinned Sheamus, 25:17; Punk pinned Morrison, 32:50; Cena pinned Punk, 33:10.
WWE champion The Miz defeated Jerry Lawler (12:08): The crowd was solidly behind “The King,” who once again showed that despite being 61, he is still capable of putting on an entertaining, championship-caliber match. Lawler hit a superplex at the 5:20 mark for a good near fall. A couple minutes later, the referee threw out Alex Riley after he caught Riley tripping Lawler. The Miz sold concern over being out there on his own. Lawler came within an eyelash of winning when he reversed Miz’s pin attempt into a pinning combination of his own. At that point, the crowd seemed to be buying into the fact that Lawler actually could win. Michael Cole, whose cheerleading for The Miz during this match was quite entertaining (at least I thought so), stood up and began jawing at Lawler after the match spilled onto the floor. The distraction allowed Miz to gain a brief advantage, but Lawler then threw Miz over the announce table and right onto Cole.
At the 11:20 mark, Lawler hit a fistdrop from the second rope and made a cover, but Miz got his foot on the bottom rope just in time. After Miz landed a hard kick to Lawler’s head, he followed up with the Skull-Crushing Finale for the win. The match was well-booked, as Miz scored a clean win and Lawler, the sentimental favorite, put up a good fight. After the match, Cole ran into the ring and raised Miz’s hand. The crowd chanted Lawler’s name as he sold the emotion of seeing his dream of winning the WWE title and competing at WrestleMania come to an end. I was surprised that Cole didn’t physically interfere in the match, but he did rant and rave on commentary after it was over about Lawler being an embarrassment, so the seed was still planted for some type of confrontation between the two at WrestleMania.
Alberto Del Rio defeated Kofi Kingston (10:29): Interestingly, there were a lot of people cheering for Del Rio in this match, which opened the show. There was a cool spot about seven minutes in when Kingston went for a crossbody off the top, but Del Rio planted his knees in Kingston’s chest in mid-air. Kingston got in a few near falls after that and appeared to have Del Rio pinned at one point, but the referee was distracted by Ricardo Rodriguez. Del Rio hit a sick-looking neckbreaker while Kingston was sitting on the top rope, and then followed with the Cross Armbreaker. Kingston tried to block it, but Del Rio eventually locked it on and Kingston tapped out. It was another solid win for Del Rio, and WWE continues to do a great job of getting his finisher over. The match was competitive enough that Kingston wasn’t buried by losing.
I actually thought for a second that Kingston was going to pull the upset when Del Rio had difficulty fully applying the Cross Armbreaker. I thought perhaps Kingston was going to shift his weight and put Del Rio on his back for a three count. It would’ve been a bold move to have the challenger for the world heavyweight title at WrestleMania lose, but I think there is a scenario that could have worked. Del Rio could have gotten his heat back by attacking Kingston either after the match or on TV and “injuring” him. Then if Del Rio goes on to beat Edge for the title at WrestleMania, you’d have a ready-made title program between Del Rio and Kingston. The problem is that I just don’t think WWE views Kingston as a main-eventer at this point.
Justin Gabriel and Heath Slater defeated WWE tag team champions Santino Marella and Vladimir Kozlov to win the title (5:09): This was kept short and was perfectly fine. Gabriel hit the 450 Splash on Kozlov for the victory.
Non-wrestling segments: Booker T. got in the ring and introduced Trish Stratus as one of the trainers for Tough Enough. She got a surprisingly tepid response from the crowd. Then she tried to cut a promo combining the catch phrases of The Rock and Booker T. that bombed big time. Booker T. did his “tell me you didn’t just say that” shtick, but he couldn’t save the segment. “Is it over yet?” Cole asked sarcastically. He took the words right out of my mouth. … Vickie Guerrero came out and said “excuse me” a few times in uncharacteristically subdued fashion. She was being contrite and pleaded for Dolph Ziggler to be rehired. Smackdown general manager Teddy Long appeared on the stage and denied her request. He then announced that he had re-hired Kelly Kelly, who got in the ring and began physically assaulting Guerrero. Kelly Kelly got a much bigger pop coming out than Stratus did earlier. Lay-Cool hit the ring and double-teamed Kelly Kelly before Stratus made the save. Stratus’ bad night continued, as she botched her handstand headscissors in the corner on Layla and the crowd booed. It looks as if we may be getting Stratus and Kelly Kelly against Lay-Cool at WrestleMania.