WWE – Elimination Chamber 2019 (Cert 15)
1 Disc DVD (Distributor: Fremantle Media) Running Time: 189 minutes approx.
We’re now on the road to Wrestlemania and the first stop is the Elimination Chamber where the big old cage contraption is brought out to give the WWE roster a chance to vent their frustrations en masse in multi-person matches.
Since Brock Lesnar is taking a well earned break after his last Universal Title defence at the Royal Rumble (and what a punishing 10 minutes that was), the big chamber matches this year feature the WWE Title and for the women, the crowning of the first ever WWE Women’s tag team champions!
Except of course, this isn’t the first time there have been women’s tag titles in WWE – unless you are the picky type who argues over the semantics of WWE and WWF. In 1983 before splitting from the NWA, Vince McMahon bought the rights to the NWA Women’s tag titles from Fabulous Moolah when he signed then champions Velvet McIntyre and Princess Victoria, recognising them as the WWF Woman’s tag champs.
Following a title change to the Glamour Girls in 1985, the belts were inactive until the Jumping Bomb Angels were brought in from Japan in 1987, winning them at the Royal Rumble in 1988. However with hardly any women wrestlers and fewer teams, the belts were quietly retired in 1989 with the Glamour Girls as the final champs. The new titles will have no lineage to the former ones.
The other story of this card is the singles resurgence for Kofi Kingston. As the last minute replacement for an injured Mustafa Ali (at the hands of Randy Orton) in a gauntlet match ahead of this show, Kofi’s epic performance was a hit with the fans and suddenly he seemed like a contender for the first time in 11 years. Thus, KofiMania was born but we all know what Vince McSenile is like with organically grown movements among the fans that contradict his own myopic plans….
Held on February 17th 2019 at the Toyota Centre in Houston, Texas before a reported 10,000 fans, with commentary provided by Michael Cole and Renee Young for RAW, Tom Phillips and Byron Saxton for SD, Corey Graves working for both and Beth Phoenix for the opening match.
Onto the matches and as always no results spoilers but plenty of opinion.
WWE Women’s Tag Title Elimination Chamber Match – Sasha Banks & Bayley vs. Nia Jax & Tamina vs. The Iiconics vs. Naomi & Carmella vs. Mandy Rose & Sonya Deville vs. Riott Squad (Sarah Logan & Liv Morgan)
Vince announced the creation of the women’s tag titles back in December 2018 during that five minute period when the McFamily were faces who “listened” to the fans and wanted to do right by the wrestlers. It might surprise people that there were six eligible teams but the reality is that only Naomi and Carmella are a makeshift tandem for this match, the rest have history working together.
You might notice that the fans starting chanted for Corey Graves when Carmella entered the ring – this is because on the morning on the show, Graves’ wife and mother of his three children took to social media to accuse him of being unfaithful with Carmella! This and Graves’ icky lusting after Mandy Rose makes his presence on commentary very awkward.
An entertaining if slightly messy bout in places due to a couple of the participants but the high stakes and popularity of Bayley & Sasha helped keep the fans invested. A good showing for Rose and Deville – the latter is very underrated, the former overrated but blonde so… – whilst the story of Banks being inured heading into this match and Bayley having to cover for her in the build up worked well here. Also look out for Nia Jax throwing herself through the pod window because Bayley wasn’t in position!
SD Tag Title Match – The Miz & Shane McMahon (c) vs. The Usos
The so-called Besties, Shane and Miz defeated The Bar at the Royal Rumble and The Usos became no 1 contenders on SD two nights later in a fatal four way. This was also a newsworthy match for non-wrestling reasons, as prior to the match Miz and Maryse announced they are expecting their second child.
Far more juicier is that earlier in the week Naomi was pulled over by police in Detroit for driving the wrong way down a one way street, with an intoxicated Jimmy Uso in the passenger seat who then picked a fight with the cops and was arrested! Oops! Match wasn’t anything special, with Shane getting to play Superman whilst looking ready to drop dead at any minute, although there is one spot that deserves credit despite being dangerous for a clearly unfit man of his age.
IC Title 2-on-1 Handicap Match – Bobby Lashley (c) & Lio Rush vs. Finn Bálor
After losing to Lesnar at the Royal Rumble, Finn was attacked by Lashley on RAW the next night, exclaiming Lashley was better than Lesnar, then had to beat Rush to earn a shot at Lashley’s IC title which somehow became a handicap match because reasons.
You can guess how this was going to play out before it even started because of the screwed up dynamic of this stipulation. Having two on one is to the heels’ advantage and give the face a mountain to climb but this really should be for a title defence not a challenge. Not much of a match either, it just seemed to get going then ended.
RAW Women’s Title Match – Ronda Rousey (c) vs. Ruby Riott
Charlotte Flair was at ringside so angle alert! In fact this whole match was simply a backdrop for the big angle that followed this two minute squash as there was practically zero build for Riott as a challenger to Rousey. Riott actually can go but clearly someone in WWE doesn’t think so and because this is Rousey she is facing, she had no chance.
The post match situation saw a suspended Becky Lynch show up on crutches with an injured knee to have words with Charlotte, who Vince gave her spot to against Ronda and Wrestlemania, as she faced Rousey in the ring. One of the hottest segments on this show that left Rousey with a nasty cut on the side of her head!
No DQ Match – Braun Strowman vs. Baron Corbin
Presumably this is the blow off to the feud that had been brewing since October last year between these two, not that anybody cared a jot for it. You’ll recall, at TLC an injured Strowman couldn’t face Corbin so he had some help taking Corbin out, so this No DQ match will no doubt see a throwback to that. Which it did.
Coming after the previous hot angle didn’t help this match and neither did having Corbin involved in it either. The ending was interesting in what it hinted to but it would be a couple of weeks before its significance became apparent.
On the original PPV, Lacey Evans walked out to ringside…then turned around and walked off again! It has been cut from this release, which I presume was for timing reasons (sarcasm).
WWE Title Elimination Chamber Match – The New Daniel Bryan (c) vs. AJ Styles vs. Samoa Joe vs. Kofi Kingston vs. Jeff Hardy vs. Randy Orton
As mentioned at the start of this review, the big story was Kofi Kingston becoming the hot new fan favourite after replacing Mustafa Ali, who let’s face it, is a bit too new to the main roster to be in there with main event level talent. Nothing against Ali but this twist of fate has created a much more compelling underdog story with Kofi who is already over and has his 11 year tenure to buttress the sympathy aspect of his journey.
The match started off hot, sagged a bit in the middle, especially when Randy Boreton got involved, then picked up again at the end. It is amazing how hated Bryan has become since morphing into the eco-warrior preacher he is now, with his custom made hemp title belt and Rowan as his bodyguard (who was barred from this match). You can sneer at the result but this turned into a good match, the last few minutes are as exciting as you’ll see anywhere.
With this and the March PPV Fastlane being hailed as the Road To Wrestlemania, there is that gnarly sense that they are simply placeholder shows until the big one in April. Only on rare occasions do they have any direct impact on how the WM card shapes up and if it does, this is the one that gets that honour.
This year’s iteration of the Elimination Chamber doesn’t have that feeling at all, with two title changes and only one that might mean something in the future. The crowning of the Women’s Tag champions was a nice moment but one wonders why this wasn’t held off until WM too? However, as this allowed for a second women’s chamber match this is a moot point and a decision I can live with.
As ever there is some things that are downright hokey and make little sense outside of Vince’s addled head but that is par for the course these days. The only bright light is the serendipity in Kofi becoming an overnight success 11 years in the making and the fact that despite the gormless overbooking and Charlotte being shoehorned into the match, fans are still hot for Becky Lynch vs. Ronda Rousey.
Conclusion – watch the two Chamber matches and the Rousey-Lynch-Charlotte angle, the rest is skippable.
Best match – WWE Title Elimination Chamber Match (by default)
Rating – ** ½
Man In Black