Written by: Samoa Rowe from Dawrestlingsite.com
-From Corpus Cristi, TX. Our hosts are Michael Cole, John Bradshaw Layfield, and Jerry Lawler.
-This pay-per-view is something of an oddity in WWE. Originally scheduled as a routine weekend house show in Corpus Cristi, WWE decided to take advantage of the American Bank Center’s ability to hoist the Elimination Chamber structure above the ring and schedule an extra spur of the moment pay-per-view (2 weeks after Payback, two weeks before Money in the Bank). This show is offered exclusively on WWE Network and not on any traditional pay-per-view services. The creative scrambling has allowed for a novel card, including Dean Ambrose getting a singles WWE title match, Kevin Owens storming the main roster to face John Cena, and the tag team jobber division getting their own EC match for the belts.
WWE Tag Team Championship (Elimination Chamber Match):
The New Day © (Kofi Kingston, Xavier Woods, and Big E) vs. The Primetime Players (Titus O’Neil and Darren Young) vs. Los Matadores (Fernando and Diego, with El Torito) vs. Cesaro and Tyson Kidd (with Natalya) vs. The Ascension (Viktor and Konnor) vs. Lucha Dragons (Sin Cara and Kalisto)
I would have preferred having the three hottest teams in WWE competing and filling the normal quota of six participants, but WWE Creative chose to shove the entire division into the match instead, giving us fish out of water competitors like Los Matadores and The Ascension. Oh well, I’m trying to keep an open mind, so here goes something. All three members of the New Day are allowed to be in the match, citing an unheard of clause from the Freebird Rule. During the Los Matadores entrance, El Torito climbs one of the pods and remains as the bell rings. The Ascension start against Lucha Dragons, and they rekindle their NXT rivalry. Sin Cara tries to throw Kalisto onto a pod, but the spot goes badly and he gets his leg stuck in the chains. They improvise nicely, and Sin Cara climbs a second pod for a big time Swanton Bomb on Viktor. Kalisto gains his footing, but the New Day trip him from inside the pod. Cesaro and Kidd join the match and catch Sin Cara with a German Suplex/European Uppercut combo. They destroy the Ascension with an elevated uppercut. Cesaro nails a leaping uppercut on Kalisto and bails him out with a superplex off the pod. The three teams exchange near falls until Los Matadores get unleashed. El Torito leaps off the pod for a rana, helping his running mates have a hot start. Kalisto has climbed to the center of the chamber ceiling and splats himself on the others. That spot was more awkward and scary than anything else. El Torito mimics Kalisto but falls into the Ascension’s arms and thrown at a Matador. The Ascension finish off Los Matadores at 10:25. They follow up with another Fall of Man on Lucha Dragons for a second elimination at 11:20. The Primetime Players exit the pod and come out swinging. Young finishes Viktor with a double knee gut buster at 13:30. Cesaro and Kidd trade high impact moves with the Primetime Players, even busting out Tower of Doom spot, with Young taking the brunt of it. They wear themselves down just in time for all three members of The New Day to join the match. The Players, Kidd, and Cesaro team up to hit a triple suplex! Cesaro and Kidd lock Woods in a pod to even the odds. Cesaro swings Kofi into Kidd’s drop-kick. Young ambushes Cesaro with a roll-up to pin him at 18:40. The crowd boos this terrible booking before settling back into “New Day Sucks” chants. Woods returns to give New Day a 3 on 2 advantage. Young trips Kofi and Xavier on the ropes and sidesteps Big E to send him crashing badly head-first into the ring post and pod. Titus wakes up and monstrously bashes Big E around the structure. Darren hits his gut buster on Kofi for only 2. Big E manages a release German suplex on Young onto the steel platform. The New Day overwhelm Titus and all three pin him after a Trouble in Paradise at 23:44. Highly disappointing match here, with little flow, a bunch of experimental high risk spots that didn’t pay off, and some baffling booking decisions, **.
Winners and still WWE Tag Team Champions: The New Day
-Footage from Smackdown shows Rusev injuring his ankle in a match against Ryback. Therefore, Rusev is out of tonight’s IC title Elimination Chamber match, and since he was the projected winner, all bets are now off.
-Dolph Ziggler is warming up when Lana stops by to wish him luck. Dolph seems to be well aware that Lana is using him to make Rusev jealous, but is a-okay with it. He’s looking forward to celebrating his IC title win with her later.
Nikki Bella © vs. Naomi vs. Paige
There’s actually quite a bit of backstory here. Paige won a battle royal some time ago to become the #1 contender, but Naomi snapped and ambushed her, frustrated that she wasn’t named #1 contender after pinning Nikki on multiple occasions. Nikki has turned into some sort of tweener and is first to take a break while clear heel Naomi gets flustered by babyface Paige. Nikki returns to pile her opponents in the corner for a move that a Network skip caused me to miss. The action returns with Nikki hitting an Alabama Slam. Nikki misses a wild springboard kick, but at least the others are smart enough not to sell it. Naomi gets power bombed while hitting Paige with a top rope German suplex (for no reaction from the crowd, as it was sloppier than a similar spot from the previous match). Naomi prevents Paige from using the PTO on Nikki and botches a reverse rana rather spectacularly. Nikki mercifully finishes Naomi with the Rack Attack at 6:02. Maybe I’m just spoiled by the NXT women matches, but this was a disaster. The fans weren’t interested in giving these divas a chance and they botched almost every key spot, ½*.
Winner and still Divas Champion: Nikki Bella
-Brie Bella appears to raise her sister’s arm in victory.
NXT Champion Kevin Owens vs. United States Champion John Cena
Just two weeks ago, Owens had one of the most memorable Raw debuts in a long time when he spoke down to Cena, laid him out with a pop-up power bomb, and stomped on the U.S. title while hoisting the NXT belt. Owens makes his entrance here wearing a new red, white, and blue “Fight Owens Fight” t-shirt. Bell rings, and surprisingly Owens locks up with Cena rather than play the stalling game. Cena scores a shoulder tackle, which motivates Kevin to turn up the aggression. Cena manages a bulldog but a Network skip makes Owens back in control, so huzzah. Cena breaks a chinlock, is unable to hit an AA, and suffers a DDT for 2. A slugfest leads to Owens countering into a crucifix slam. Running cannonball by Owens gets 2. Cena avoids a pop-up bomb and unleashes his Five Moves of Doom. Owens survives and hits a pop-up power bomb for a 2 count. Kevin blocks a superplex but misses a moonsault! Cena nails the AA but OWENS KICKS OUT! Whew. Owens recovers and mocks the Five Knuckle Shuffle, but Cena catches him off guard with the STF. Kevin shakes him off and steals the AA for an effective near fall. Leaping tornado DDT also gets a 2 count, though it pales in comparison to earlier false finishes. Cena’s goofy looking flying leg drop startles the fans more than it does me., Owens blocks the AA and nails a power bomb variation for yet another 2.5 count. Owens manages to kick out of the springboard Stunner. I wish they were doing something more interesting than kicking out of finishers, but I’ll take this. Top rope Brainbuster by Owens and a Swanton Bomb but CENA KICKS OUT AGAIN. Cena puts together a short comeback but Owens cuts him off with another pop-up power bomb… FOR THE FOTHERMUCKING 3 COUNT AT 19:30! Oh my stars and garters! Nitpicking aside, this was a HELL of a match that did more to put Owens and the NXT title over than anything I was expecting, ****¼.
Winner: Kevin Owens
-Owens remains in the ring to cut a promo rubbing his victory into the fans’ faces. Owens offers Cena some veteran advice: go away because the new champ is here. Simple and brilliant.
-Renee Young hosts the event center, along with Byron Saxton, Booker T, and Corey Graves. They’re all in shock over Owens upsetting Cena.
Bo Dallas vs. Neville
Dallas is getting a mini-push because Neville needed an opponent tonight. He cuts a condescending promo on his way to the ring, claiming he was trying to help Neville when he injured his knee. Bell rings and we already have an “NXT” chant. Neville seems to be at 100% as he flips around the ring and manages a moonsault to the floor. Bo tries to reason with Neville, only to get kicked in the face. Dallas causes Neville to take a bad spill off the apron and takes control. I’m surprised that Bo is not targeting the bad knee, which was the basis for this feud in the first place. Neville absorbs some rest holds and drives Dallas into the turnbuckles on a counter. Neville utilizes his educated feet in a comeback and lands a standing SSP. Bo head butts the gut and nails a DDT for 2. Neville blocks the Bo Dog, hits an enziguri, and finishes with the Red Arrow at 8:52. This didn’t strive to be anything more than a buffer match, and I was let down by the lack of knee work by Bo, *¾.
-Triple H pays a visit to Dean Ambrose and Roman Reigns in a hallway. The boss is concerned about Reigns being in Ambrose’s corner and overrules them. He stipulates that if Roman gets involved, Dean will be disqualified. Um, I might be confused, but isn’t that ALWAYS THE RULE! Outside interference = DQ, amirite? Triple H might as well stipulated that a 3 count equals a pinfall. I give up.
-They show footage from Raw of Daniel Bryan relinquishing the Intercontinental title due to yet another injury. I hope Bryan is alright. The former champion enters the arena to present the IC title to the winner.
Intercontinental Championship (Elimination Chamber Match):
Mark Henry vs. Sheamus vs. R-Truth vs. Ryback vs. King Barrett vs. Dolph Ziggler
Texas’ own Mark Henry is the surprise replacement for Rusev, and he gets a nice reaction from the fans. Barrett, the current King of the Ring who loses constantly, starts against Ziggler, a plucky underdog face who also loses constantly. They go through the motions in the center of the ring but Barrett does get to smashing Dolph around the steel platform as their alone time expires. R-Truth, another guy who loses constantly, can’t even get out of his pod before Barrett starts pummeling him. Barrett turns his attention to Dolph, giving Truth a chance to mount a comeback. Truth runs into the Winds of Change, and even he gets to kick out of it. Barrett super-kicks Ziggler and then tackles him through Henry’s pod wall. Henry knows he can’t get disqualified so he storms into the match for hot start. Despite Henry forcing his way in, Ryback is released soon after, so the two fresh monsters collide. Barrett and Ziggler resume their fight, and Henry foolishly saves Dolph from Wasteland. Barrett winds up the Bull Hammer, but he takes a series of finishers, with Truth pinning him with an axe kick at 11:00. Tonight’s odd booking continues, as the freaking King of the Ring was just eliminated by a JTTS. The match lumbers on as a bunch of referees struggle to open Sheamus’ door. Heroic babyface heroes Ziggler, Truth, and Ryback decide to triple team Henry, until Ryback goes into business for himself and attacks Dolph. Ryback finishes Truth with the Shellshock at 13:53. Sheamus is still stuck in his pod while Ryback hits Dolph with a delayed suplex to “Goldberg” chants. Ryback signals a Meat Hook clothesline, but runs into Ziggler’s super-kick. Sheamus uses his Celtic cross pendant to free himself and pick up the scraps. Sheamus finishes Henry with a Brogue Kick at 17:13. Dolph shows some fire, but still gets completely dominated by the Celtic Warrior. Dolph desperately nails a DDT for only 2. Ziggler fends off Ryback and nails a Fame-asser on Sheamus, who pops up for the Brogue Kick to finish Dolph at 20:20. The crowd did not like that one bit, but they get on the Ryback bandwagon with “Feed me more” chants. Ryback appears to be on the winning path, but Sheamus nails White Noise onto the steel platform. Ryback struggles an arm drag over the ropes and Sheamus delivers Rolling Thunder onto the metal floor. Ryback comes back with a power bomb and Shell Shock for the win at 25:04. Huh, didn’t see that finish coming. This felt longer than it was, packed with basic, yet solid action, and a meandering pace. A lack of compelling storylines, tops this one at around **½.
Winner and new Intercontinental Champion: Ryback
-The chamber is lifted up and Daniel Bryan enters the ring with the IC title and a mic. He congratulates Ryback and leads the fans in a Yes! chant for him. Ryback humbly thanks Bryan and they share a nice moment together.
-Money in the Bank is in two weeks, and a Cena vs. Owens rematch is already signed. Also, Ziggler, Neville, Reigns, Orton, Kofi, and Sheamus will be in the MITB ladder match.
WWE World Heavyweight Championship:
Seth Rollins © (with Kane, Jamie Noble, and Joey Mercury) vs. Dean Ambrose
After two of the lesser EC matches I’ve ever seen, it’s a relief to see Ambrose and Rollins start building a singles match by exchanging holds. Dean builds some team while the announcers fret over what it’ll be like if Dean Ambrose shows up at a board room meeting as WWE Champion. I’d watch this on mute if I didn’t want to hear the crowd reactions. Mercury distracts long enough for Seth to trip Ambrose into a Tree of Woe, allowing a sick double stomp to the chest. Ambrose tries to stay in the fight, but Rollins drops him into the turnbuckles. Seth takes his time dishing out a beating, but they collide in a double cross body spot. They exchange pinning predicaments and Ambrose this a wheelbarrow type slam for 2. J&J Security pull Rollins to ringside, only for Ambrose to score a suicide dive. Back to the ring, Seth nearly wins via rope-assisted backslide. Ambrose nearly steals it in some rapid fire pinfall attempts. Dean avoids a sunset flip power bomb, but clotheslines Seth and himself to the floor. Rollins power bombs Ambrose into the barricade! Seth is unable to put Dean away, despite a flying knee strike and power slam. Dean finds his second win, nailing a tornado DDT for a good near fall. Dean wipes out in a flying leg drop but manages to hit his patented clothesline for 2. A flying elbow to a standing Rollins also gets an effective 2.5 count. The stooges provide a distraction, and Seth clears the ring for a suicide dive of his own. Ambrose absorbs a buckle bomb and charges into a clothesline. Dean has to fend off Kane and decides to dive onto the Authority on the floor. Dean catches Seth with a third clothesline and goes for another flying elbow, but Seth shields himself with the referee. Rollins misses a Phoenix Splash, and Ambrose nails Dirty Deeds, but there’s no official. A replacement runs in and counts to 3 and AMBROSE WINS THE WWE TITLE at 21:44! WHAT IS GOING ON!! I can’t believe this, I’m just waiting for a reverse decision… and it sort of happens. The two referees talk it out and Seth ends up disqualified for that referee-as-a-shield stunt. You know, if they really wanted to punish Rollins, they’d just let the second referee’s decision stand, but I’m too tired to complain about it anymore. Dusty Finish aside, I was impressed by the slow burn approach this match took, building to a nice crescendo in the final stretch, ***¾.
Winner via DQ: Dean Ambrose
-The Authority put the boots to Ambrose, prompting Roman Reigns to run in for the save. Ambrose cuts a promo saying that he won the match, so he’s taking the WWE title with him. Ambrose and Reigns take off into the stands, leaving Seth to throw a fit in the ring.
Final Thoughts: I think it might be time to consider retiring the Elimination Chamber match if they’re going to give us matches like tonight. Both EC matches under delivered in different ways and they ate up a lot of pay-per-view time. Fortunately, the Cena/Owens match was awesome, and the main event ended up being a jolly good time as well. Thumbs in the Middle.