Elimination Chamber HITS:
The Wyatt family vs. The Shield: Absolutely the best showing either of these two teams have had against any opponents ever. And that covers a lot of ground, and a lot of good, great and fantastic matches. This was magic right in front of our eyes, and we had the pleasure to watch six masters of their craft weave a beautiful piece of art. The match was given the right amount of time, and the crowd more than helped feed into the emotion of the match, given they were chanting “This is Awesome!” before the two teams ever locked up. Lots of huge (and sometimes scary) bumps, including a picture perfect suicide dive from Luke Harper (YES! That Luke Harper), a summersault plancha by Seth Rollins, and a huge bump through the Spanish Announce table at the end by Rollins as well. The finish was perfect, and the crowd was very, very solidly behind Reigns as he was overcoming the odds. But, as the story is told, Sister Abigail prevails, and the right team won this match. You don’t get any closer to perfect than this.
The Elimination Chamber Match: This was a fitting main event, and while not even approaching the level of the Shield/Wyatt contest, it was still a great Elimination Chamber watch within the confines of PG TV. Christian had a hell of a showing, and harkened back to the Christian-of-old with plenty of really cool spots. Cesaro had the spotlight shone on him for a good period of time as well, and cannot be faulted for what turned out to be a disappointing elimination. It’s difficult to watch the continued dismantling of Daniel Bryan’s natural connection with the crowd, but in accepting that we weren’t escaping that, we knew Randy Orton was the obvious winner. I’m okay with the interference by Kane, and the Wyatt Family, as both continue existing feuds leading into WrestleMania. Not the best Chamber match in the world, but certainly not the worst either.
Big E vs. Jack Swagger: Perhaps it’s because I went into this match with such low expectations, but this match shocked me for both its intensity, and its flow. Both of these guys busted their butts to put on a good match, and it turned out to be exactly that. It was a great way to start the show, and if you can go out of your way to see the spear that Big E delivered on Jack Swagger from the ring apron to the outside of the ring, do it. It really solidified how hard these guys were willing to work to put in a good performance, and set the pace for the finish of the match which was highly entertaining. This is the definition of a HIT.
Elimination Chamber MISSES:
Titus O’Neil vs. Darren Young: A missed opportunity moreso than a miss of a match. This had the opportunity to be much more emotionally invested than it was, and it just wasn’t. It felt like two dudes trying to get all of their cool moves in, hoping that it got them recognized by the power that be, which would subsequently result in a push. This should have been a match about a brother turning on a brother, and the pain and emotions that are caused by that. The match was wrestled well enough, short of it lacking that psychology that’s so important for the emotional investment from the crowd. I hoped for more, and was disappointed.
Cameron vs. AJ Lee: Cameron is one of the most unlikable people in the company. There’s just something about her that turns me off to no end. So my difficulty comes from the fact that this was a very clunky match, where AJ’s abilities weren’t strong enough to carry Cameron to a believable match, and the fact that I just really wanted to see Cameron get dropped on her head. I’m sure this makes me a terrible person. So be it.
Alberto Del Rio vs. Batista: The crowd has completely turned on Batista. And while they were solidly behind Alberto Del Rio (and he thrives playing a heel character that has crowd support), that wasn’t the story WWE wanted to tell here. This was supposed to be Batista’s time to shine against a strong opponent prior to his World Championship match with Randy Orton at WrestleMania. That isn’t what happened here at all. Batista looked old, and was blown up within minutes of the opening bell. This isn’t the same Batista that ran roughshod over the WWE for years in the early-to-mid 2000s, and WWE is foolish to believe that it can continue to present him like that. Furthermore, with WWE’s refusal to acknowledge how important Daniel Bryan is in the minds of the WWE Universe, and seemingly force-feeding Batista to them instead, it is really damaging its business at a time of year where it cannot afford to miss one single dollar. We don’t have The Rock to fall back on this year (or Steve Austin, or Shawn Michaels, or “legacy” star, at least without concerning the angle that closed RAW the following night). But without that knowledge (and arguably even with it), WrestleMania’s main event(s) aren’t shaping up to be what they’ve been in years past.