We Review WWE Elimination Chamber 2017
WWE hasn’t done an Elimination Chamber event since 2015. While many fans may speculate the underwhelming chamber matches from that event may have hurt the show’s chances, the real damage was done by arenas that are unable to sustain the massive chamber. However, the chamber is back in its comfortable position between WrestleMania and the Royal Rumble, as a Smackdown exclusive.
Mickie James vs. Becky Lynch
Becky Lynch and Mickie James together in one match – Be still my heart! This show was noteworthy for having three women’s matches on one show (likely do to most A-talent being in the Chamber match). I think it speaks volumes for the women’s division that these matches could take place and feel like they belong. This was a fairly solid opener. It was a little heavy on rest holds, but there was great back and forth action, making it believable that either woman could have won this. Both women also demonstrated their abilities to rile up the crowd. There were also cool spots such as a flying fire-arm by Becky to the outside. Becky won the match with a roll-up.
Match rating: 3.5 stars (out of 5)
In between matches, there were segments about Carmella and James Ellsworth sharing a skybox. I’ve defended Ellsworth as a good comedy character, but… this was not his A-material. The “ain’t it funny because it’s an ugly guy going out with a hot chick” narrative that WWE bookers do every now and then hasn’t exactly won me over (but I’m waiting to see how it pays off before I make a full judgement), but this was a weak segment. The joke was Carmella said something, then Ellsworth said the same thing. These weren’t bad enough to put me in a bad mood, but they were definitely a waste of time.
Dolph Ziggler vs. Kalisto and Apollo Crews – Handicap match
This match was serviceable, but mostly noteworthy for what happened before and after the match. The match began with Dolph Ziggler ambushing Kalisto during his entrance. This left Ziggler and Apollo Crews to have a one-on-one match. The match was okay, but the two men didn’t seem to bring their A-game. The good Lucha thing Kalisto returned mid-match and since he was legally part of the match, he helped Crews gain the victory. After the match, Ziggler beat the stuffing out of Crews and even slamming a steel chair on his leg. I have to give the bookers credit for having their cake and eating it to with this one. Even after losing, Ziggler still looked like a vicious heel. This was alright, but I could not shake the “this could have happened on Smackdown Live” vibe.
Match rating: 2.75 stars
Tag Team Turmoil Match for the Smackdown Tag Team Championship
I had mixed feelings about this match. On one hand, it felt like a cheap excuse to put every tag team on the show with no build (a month BEFORE WrestleMania). At the same time, it gave the tag team division a minor boost. I mean THREE of these teams – The Ascension, the Vaudvillains and Breezeango have been jobbers for the longest time. So this match did make them feel like they have a full division and not just “two important teams and everyone else.” The match itself had its ups and downs. On one hand, there was plenty of fast-paced back and forth action in pair-ups such as Rhyno and Heath Slater vs. Tyler Breeze and Fandango including an impressive dive by Slater and Breeze teasing a fake pin to a point where I actually laughed.
Having this format also meant there was a slew of micro-matches such as Slater and Rhyno quickly disposing of The Vaudvillains – okay, I guess SOME people still are jobbers. Conversely, the Usos quickly disposed of Slater and Rhyno – the difference is they did so after those two faced two other teams. American Alpha came out next. Surprisingly, American Alpha and the Usos never quite picked up – probably because of the short time they were together. Even if AA were pacing themselves for the next part, it surprises me that arguably the two best teams on SD Live didn’t have the BEST segment. After American Alpha vanquished the Usos, the Usos continued to beat the tar out of them, weakening them for the Ascension. The final part was quite exciting with American Alpha playing the underdog team to the Ascension. The Ascension got The Fall of Man in early, but American Alpha barely pulled through with just barely pulling out the Grand Amplitude to retain their Tag Team Titles. Even though, the Ascension lost, the team who’s been jobbers longer than anyone else actually looking like a legit threat put them back on the map.
Match rating: 3.5 stars
Natalya vs. Nikki Bella
With so many interlocking women’s matches, I wonder why they didn’t book a women’s elimination chamber match. My opinion is moot because I’m not a booker, but I also have a feeling I’m not the first person to point that out. Oh well… This was the second women’s match of the night. The match was actually pretty good as could be expected from one of the best women workers in the company and someone who seems to improve by the match. There was suspense as it felt like either Nikki Bella or Natalya could have won this match, though there was a long stretch where Natalya whaled on Nikki to the point where I thought for sure this would turn into a super-Bella match. The match was decent but the biggest demerit was the lack of satisfying conclusion as both women were counted out. Honestly, without these two even having that many matches, this feud feels like it has overstayed its welcome and I always hate when PPV matches lack closure. These two brawled in a backstage segment after the match so don’t expect this to be over for a while.
Match rating: 2.5 stars
Randy Orton vs. Luke Harper
Even though these two wrestled fairly recently on Smackdown Live, this proved to be another winner of a match. Not too surprising considering these are two of the best athletes on the blue brand. Luke Harper has been one of the most underrated performers in years and this was a match that finally let him show his potential. Even the commentators hyped him up, describing this as a “career match”. Harper got some impressive looking offense against Randy Orton such as a tope suicido, a back suplex against the announce table and a flip to the inside of the ring. The match was fairly back and forth with both men getting great offense. Naturally, Orton won the match with an RKO, but both men looked like winners by the end.
Match rating: 4.25 stars
Alexa Bliss vs. Naomi – Smackdown Women’s Championship Match
These two had a match at No Mercy that was… a letdown to say the least. I gave them the benefit of the doubt that maybe they just underperformed because they had to do it on the spur of the moment after Becky Lynch’s injury. Boy, was I pleased to be right because this match was a night and day improvement over that debacle. Like many matches this evening, the bout was competitive enough that I believed either woman could have won this. Alexa Bliss was brilliant in her role as the spiteful heel who literally threw a tantrum when she was unable to defeat Naomi. After blocking Twisted Bliss, Naomi gained the pinfall and won the Women’s Championship. After her victory, Naomi was interviewed by Renee Young in the ring, which made Naomi’s win feel all the more emotional.
Match rating: 3.75 stars
There was one other tick that is worth mentioning: Mauro Ranallo, easily the best commentator in the company, seemed a little off his game, often making gaffs such as referring to the event as Hell in a Cell. At one point, JBL asked if he was drunk (To Ranallo’s credit, he laughed it off). There was also one gaff at the top of the show when the German announce team seemed a little… camera shy. Some viewers might find these things annoying while some will probably laugh at them, but they are worth mentioning.
John Cena vs. Bray Wyatt vs. Baron Corbin vs. The Miz vs. Dean Ambrose vs. AJ Styles – Elimination Chamber for the WWE Championship
Now we’re talking! Considering these are some of the top talents not just on Smackdown Live, but the company in general, it should be no surprise that this was a winner. Everybody looked like a million bucks. The only real problem was this match was a little heel heavy, but with a match this good, I can forgive that. Even Baron Corbin who could have been interpreted as the dark horse of the match looked like he belonged. I get the feeling that even if he doesn’t win Most Improved by year’s end, he’ll at least be in the conversation. This match was filled to the brim with one insane spot after another. Dean Ambrose tossed AJ Styles to the cell floor in a way that made me worry that his back was literally broken. John Cena gave Ambrose and Styles a double German Suplex. Ambrose and Styles returned the favor by knocking Cena off the chamber with a suplex-powerbomb combo. The Miz played his role as cowardly heel brilliantly by staying in his chamber and waiting until Corbin laid waste to Ambrose.
Speaking of Corbin, he looked like a monster heel by destroying Ambrose after his elimination. Cena performed a double dive on Styles and Bray Wyatt. When Styles, Wyatt and Cena were last three, the match still had a ton of suspense. All three men performed their trademark moves – including Styles surviving TWO Attitude Adjustments. Cena was eliminated second-to-last which guaranteed a title change. The final showdown felt like a match in of itself, but Bray Wyatt won when he blocked the Phenomenal Forearm into a Sister Abigail. Even though I’d jeer the heel if I were in the audience, seeing Bray win the WWE Championship was cool. It’s amazing how this guy went from not winning a single title to being a tag champ and world champ in less than six months. (Also, yes I’m eating my words about being worried about Cena/Orton infinity – though I knew that wouldn’t happen at Mania when it happened on SD Live.)
Match rating: 4.75 stars
Overall, Elimination Chamber was a darn fine show. Not every match was perfect, and a few felt like they belonged on Smackdown Live. However, the main event matches were superb and most of the mid-card was at least good. With so many matches, I was worried most mid-card matches would be rushed. However, the show was well-paced. It did go a few minutes over, but not egregiously so.
More importantly, this show made a lot of people look like stars. Even in defeat, people like Luke Harper, The Ascension and Baron Corbin at least looked like they deserve to sit at the cool kids’ table. This may be the best Smackdown-exclusive as well as best brand exclusive pay per view so far.
- - Excellent Elimination Chamber Match - People like Luke Harper, Ascension and Naomi looked like stars - Every match was at least watchable - Even with a so many matches on the card, nothing felt rushed.
- - Unfunny Carmella/Ellsworth segments - Inconclusive Bella/Natalya match