IHAO on ... the 2014 WWE Elimination Chamber

We are on the cusp of the WWE Network.  And I am very excited to have it, because it will allow more wrestling viewing, and reviewing.  The big PPV to sell the WWE Network, the last big stop on the Road to Wrestlemania, is the Elimination Chamber.  Just like with the Rumble I’ll go match by match and grade them.  Here we go.

Firstly, it is absolutely ridiculous that this poster is all about Stephanie.  Yeah, that’ll sell this PPV.  *rolls eyes*

Big E. (c) defeats Jack Swagger for the Intercontinental Championship

Zeb Colter, the manager of the Real Americans (of which Swagger is a member) starts with his normal stuff, you know, Polar Vortex = Immigration Problems.  “We want Ziggler” chants start but are not strong, which is very good.  You see, with the crowd reaction from the Rumble, crapping on a match that I honestly didn’t find good to begin with, and reacting like they did in the Rumble match itself, it has emboldened fans to not only chant what they actually want, but to be real trolls about other things.  The fact that this match just started, that we haven’t seen a thing from these two dudes, and some guys are trying to “smark” chant is a little worrisome, but they are shut down, and Big E does some amazing athletic stuff right off the back to keep the fans into this match, right now.

“We the People” chant … and it continues to show this trend of “Smark” chants – Smark means Smart+Mark, or the wrestler terminology for a fan who knows a lot of the behind the stage information and that informs their fan attitude – except I love seeing this: the smarks are chanting, sure, and that is a little irritating, but it has no effect on the actual real chants.  Big E still getting pops, Swagger still getting heat (though not very much, because he’s Swagger and isn’t a very good wrestler or believable bad guy), and the smarks are chanting what they want, but still watching.  This is good news.  Hopefully.

Great diving spear spot through the ropes by Big E.  There were some good spots, some weird ones, and a botch or two, but the fans were overall into the match, and the two guys did a good job opening the show.

Verdict: Good

Bad News Barrett segment 1 – Pointless heat.  :/

New Age Outlaws (c) retain against the Usos for the Tag Team Championships

This is a fairly standard match.  Perfectly fine.  Most interesting thing was Road Dogg (accidentally?) calling one of the Usos “punk” which got a CM Punk chant (he is on sabbatical because of unhappiness with how the company is currently going).  This match is here to build the rivalry up for a Mania match, where I suspect the good guys will win.  Wiley heel veterans able to eek out another retain.  It is very sweet to see the Usos smiling even though they are supposed to be upset over the loss because they get to be two guys they respect in the ring.  Nice, even if they need to be babyface upset to get that fire for another match.

Verdict: Fine

Bad News Barrett segment 2 – More pointless heat, though this time being honest about what’s gonna happen to Daniel Bryan tonight.  This one was better than the last.  This gimmick is stupid.  Poor Barrett.  :/

Titus O’Neil defeated Darren Young in a grudge match

Ahh, the tag team that had potential is split apart so both men can flounder.  At least they both get a PPV match.  Right now.  I like Young, he does some nice spots and is a natural babyface, though the crowd is not behind him.  The crowd really only popped for the Clash of the Titus finisher.  Terrible commentary as they talk about everyone that isn’t in this match, from Ron Simmons to JBL not picking up the tab at restaurants.  Well, they talk about Titus.  Because that’s what this is, a match to make Titus be a bigger heel for singles.  Too bad he is outclassed by the other heels in the next match, and will not do much.  This match had no fire, no real “grudge” to it, and was just a glorified squash.  Sad.

Verdict: Bad

Bad News Barrett segment 3 – Cheap heat, though it is hilarious as he has to cover up for the reason his podium isn’t working like it is supposed to and does well doing so.  He’s a good talker, with a terrible gimmick and an awful script to work from.  Let him do his own stuff, guys.  Sigh.  :/

Wyatt Family defeat the Shield

This match has six heels in it.  Except there is one face, he just doesn’t know it yet.  Roman Reigns.  He is a new big star and gonna be huge.  And I’ve loved him since I learned about him years and years ago.  Wyatt is also a new star with his great match against Bryan last month.  This is the future of the company.  This is six men who three or four of them will be a BIG deal.  We are tired of Cena and Orton and part-timers.  We want new.  We want Wyatt, and Reigns, and Ambrose, and Daniel Bryan!  And that is where the world is going … maybe.  Hopefully.

JBL: “I don’t know if everyone here knows WHO to cheer for, they are just cheering for a fight!”  Very observant, though it is clear that the Shield are the faces here in this contest, even if they aren’t going to act like faces (which is good).

There are some slow points in this match, but it just builds, and builds, and BUILDS.  There comes  a point that would have been the TV ending, but Reigns kicks out of the roll-up, and we are firmly in HOLY CRAP territory from that point forward.  Bodies everywhere, everyone killing everyone, it is chaos, and glorious.  There is a lot of story going on, too, as Dean just disappears during that ending sequence.  Reigns does what he does best, be a sole survivor and eliminator, but this isn’t a match with eliminations, and he can’t put the Wyatt’s away as they keep stepping in front of his moves before they can hurt Wyatt himself.  Great match.  Not the best match by any means, but a lot of carnage and a lot of fun, with Seth Rollins REALLY being the stand out, with a lot of great spots and evasive maneuvers, as well as big bumps.

Verdict: Great

Cameron beat AJ (c) by DQ for the Diva’s Championship; AJ retains (thank god)
There is absolutely no way this wasn’t going to be terrible.  AJ is a very good Diva, and that was never going to counteract the awful that is Cameron.

Verdict: The Worst

More Bad News Barrett segment 4 – this is a commercial for WWE Network.  \:

Another commercial, this one for rip-off legos for WWE, featuring all the comedy characters: Santino, Emma, Khali, Los Matadores, and El Torito.  Awful.  Both of the last segments were better than the Divas match.

Batista beat Del Rio because of course he did

I feel really bad for Batista.  I love Batista.  He’s here to really come back and wrestle, to promote his movie, to give fans what they want.  But he’s also become the poster child for all the terrible part-time shenanigans and refusal to listen to fans, and has been turned into an effigy with we fans give our heat and burn.  Not only that, but there is absolutely no way that he can stay face doing this.  He’s trying, he really is, but his own anger makes him vocal and act like a heel.  And it is justified anger too, because it is unfortunate that the fans boo him.  It isn’t his fault, but he is the closest thing to a target the fans can boo for.

On top of that, this match wasn’t good.  They even had Del Rio try to do some cheap heat, and it just did not work.  Which just brings on the boos.  Even JBL has a little fun and says Boo-tista once as the fans chant it, and for Daniel Bryan, and just all sorts of things.  Most chants are for other part-timers, though, which I don’t think people are thinking about or caring.  Or even worse, the original intent has just become heat on Batista, which is crazy unfortunate.  Batista heads to Mania, needing to be a conquering babyface, and actually a heat-magnet.  If they don’t throw a babyface into that match with him and Orton (because of course Orton is going to win) then the fans will revolt. 

It also looks like Batista got injured in the match, as well.  Hopefully it is not a big deal.

Verdict: Bad

Randy Orton (c) because OF COURSE HE DOES in the Elimination Chamber v. John Cena, Cesaro, Sheamus, Christian, and Daniel Bryan

Randy Orton was always going to win.  There was never any doubt.  And Daniel Bryan was always going to lose.  Because of course he was going to.  This Elimination Chamber has the most interferences in a match that is SUPPOSED to be basically interference free considering it is in a huge f-you cage that I’ve ever seen.  It was ridiculous.

That said, this match is pretty great.  Because OF COURSE IT WAS GONNA BE!  You have 4 legitimately great workers, a heel Orton who is finally getting his heel-groove back, and Cena.  This was gonna be a good match.  A great match, really.  Brutal, awesome spots, great elimination spots, fantastic storytelling with Bryan’s injury and Christian’s rage at being the only one to not beat Orton, the series of interchanging double teams, reminders of former feuds, the amazing “pussy” chant as Orton hides in a chamber, immediately followed by an amazing Brogue Kick!  This is just great.  The crowd gets a little overstimulated at some points, but are never bored, and genuinely seems interested the whole time.  The interferences and shenanigans, all Russo-WCW styled, are what deflates this match.  But the actual 40 minutes of wrestling are phenomenal.  26 minutes before the first elimination. 

The way the PPV ends is so on the nose, with the fans being upset with Daniel Bryan’s loss, it either has to actually lead somewhere (Bryan emotionally triumphant as the new champ at Wrestlemania by being added to the Orton v. Batista match) or it is going to retroactively make this match way way worse, which is unfortunate, but that is the burden of storytelling.  Also, it should be noted, that Bryan kicks out of 2 finishers, including an amazing RKO kickout right at the climax of the match.  He is put over huge with the injury, the interference, and the kick outs.  The PPV ends with Bryan looking on, angry and shaking his head over Randy’s celebration and cheap win, for god’s sake.  So we’ll see.

Lemme talk about this Bryan thing a little more, because why not, you are this far in to the review: think if the storytelling currently being used for Bryan and his matches and not listening to the fans was what they did 15 years ago with Stone Cold.  Constant losses, constantly screwed, constantly never having the upperhand, constantly refusing to give the fans the man they cheer for.  Very very different world we are in, 15 years in the future from the Attitude Era.  This truly is the Disillusionment Era.  And ALL that said, I really feel positively about the whole Bryan storyline and it really does remind me of the Austin storylines … but WWE has been known to kill my positivity before.  Let’s remain hopeful, because there are still a few Raws before Mania, and anything can happen.

Verdict: Great, but potentially soured

How is Mania going to end up?  Why does Orton still carry around both belts?  Will 2014 continue to be the Year of the Wyatts?  Does HHH have a plan beyond screwing the fans out of their money?  We’ll see.

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