WWE Elimination Chamber 2021 (Cert 15)
1 Disc DVD (Distributor: Fremantle Media) Running Time: 147 minutes approx.
Release Date: April 12th
Now firmly on the Road to Wrestlemania, the first pit stop is for the annual caged mayhem that is the Elimination Chamber. With the challengers for the two World title matches for Wrestlemania up in the air, a Edge has yet to declare which champion he wants to face, intrigue is abound as Drew McIntyre defends the WWE title against five former WWE Champions in the RAW Chamber match, whilst Universal Champion Roman Reigns is obliged to defend his title against the winner of an SD chamber match.
However, the big story heading into this show is what occurred off screen. Keith Lee was pulled from a US Title Triple Threat match for unknown reasons and has yet to return to WWE TV, requiring a last minute replacement. Meanwhile, Asuka was due to defend her RAW Women’s title against Lacey Evans, but Evans revealed on the RAW episode before this show that she was pregnant and was subsequently sent home.
Yet, despite having six days to find a replacement for Asuka, Evans was still advertised for this match right up to the last minute…only for it to be dropped from the show. But they went out of their way to find a substitute for Keith Lee at the eleventh hour. So much for the Women’s Evolution….
Anyway, this is the first Chamber PPV to take place in the Thunderdome, and the chamber matches themselves are ones that are really helped by the crowd reactions to the crazy spots. This year, like the other PPVs, the wrestlers have to make do with fake crowd noises, used liberally (Hah!) to spur them on as they put their bodies on the line for our entertainment.
Held on February 21st 2021 at the WWE Thunderdome located inside the Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida in front of virtual crowd seen via a bank of video screens, with added piped in crowd noises to create the impression of a hot crowd. Commentary is provided by Michael Cole and Corey Graves for SD and Tom Phillips, Byron Saxton and Samoa Joe for RAW.
Onto the matches and as always no results spoilers since the DVD/Blu-ray back cover artwork has that bit covered but plenty of opinion.
Smackdown Elimination Chamber Match – Daniel Bryan vs. Cesaro vs. Kevin Owens vs. Baron Corbin vs. Jey Uso vs. Sami Zayn
The winner of this match faces Roman Reigns later in the show. He was originally to follow McIntyre’s lead and defend it in this match but crafty Paul Heyman added a loophole in the contract stating Reigns only had to defend “on the show”, not in the chamber. So, a group of talented workers, and Baron Corbin, do battle to earn that all-important title shot. Aside from Owens and Uso, everyone else had to qualify for this match, with Cesaro subtly turning face during this period by teaming with Daniel Bryan (who had been pitching for Cesaro in his role on the creative team).
Despite the awkward time intervals between the pods opening, this was an all action match, kicking off with some solid wrestling from Bryan and Cesaro. Sami Zayn, in the middle of his conspiracy theory, provided some comedy as he refused to enter the match so Cesaro broke INTO his pod to bring him out! There was an inventive elimination from Uso otherwise, this was one of the least spectacular chamber matches in the sense of big bumps and crazy spots and more hard-hitting wrestling, and it worked.
WWE Universal Title Match – Roman Reigns (c) vs. Elimination Chamber Match Winner
Or, if you’ve read the cover artwork or the DVD chapter listings menu, you know who the winner already is. Doh! Of course, Roman was going to come out straight away and not give his opponent time to rest meaning the match was short. In terms of storyline progression, it was exactly what it needed to be, concluding with Edge showing up to confirm his title match at Wrestlemania.
Roger Rabbit..sorry, I mean Bad Bunny is back now 24/7 champion and still feuding with The Miz. I’m sure we all know where this is going.
WWE US Title Triple Threat Match – Bobby Lashley (c) vs. Matt Riddle vs. John Morrison
Keith Lee was actually supposed to win the US title here, pinning Riddle to keep Lashley strong, but his absence led to a change of plan. Morrison won a four-way on the pre-show to the third man/take the pin but really, the result was never in doubt. Basically, Lashley dominated the other two, who flit between double-teaming him then fighting each other. Solid work but nothing memorable.
WWE Women’s Tag Title Match – Shayna Baszler (c) vs. Sasha Banks & Bianca Belair
If there is one trope that has been severely overused, it is the feuding tag partners, most notably a champion and challenger. Unlike Edge, Bianca wasted little time choosing Sasha Banks as her Wrestlemania opponent, and to show how serious they are about Belair as their next big babyface star, they’ve had Sasha acts a little (well, a lot) heelish.
Quite why this needed to be against the Women’s tag champs and a title match to boot, when on NXT they were running the Dusty Tag Classic tournament with the winners of the Women’s round getting a title shot, which would have made this and the tourney more important.
Match was fine, but mostly a backdrop for the ongoing saga with Sasha and Carmella’s sommelier Reginald trying to help her win via dubious methods and distracting her to Bianca’s annoyance.
WWE Title Elimination Match – Drew McIntyre (c) vs. Sheamus vs. Kofi Kingston vs. Jeff Hardy vs. AJ Styles vs. Randy Orton
The Miz was originally in this match but decided to pull out, allowing Kofi to earn his way into the spot instead. In fact, Miz was talking with Lashley prior to this match backstage, which was left up in the air but I’m sure most of you will be able to put two and two together.
Meanwhile, Sheamus was a babyface for about two weeks after supposedly being Drew’s friend for 20 years then turned on him after being in Drew’s shadow. We would have been shocked if this didn’t happen so quickly and that their friendship had never been mentioned before. Maybe this match might have been the better place for the turn?
A lot more silliness is found in this match, with AJ Styles trying to escape from Orton who was on a RKO spree by having Omos rip the panel from the pod to free him. AJ then joined the match prematurely (which was allowed somehow) as Omos was ejected from ringside. A bit of a slog compared to the SD chamber match, but it is what happened afterwards that is newsworthy in setting up the new title feud.
Much like TLC, MITB and Hell In A Cell matches, the chamber match is losing its lustre, both in being creative with the spots and the storytelling. Having two on one show has long helped harm its impact and this year it was more evident than ever. It should be compelling to see how will be the No 1 Contender, or if the champion will be toppled before Wrestlemania, but this year it was a struggle to muster any interest, partly due to the lack of new faces thrown into the mix.
For example, the RAW match has five former champions challenging the current champ; who gets elevated there? Nobody. The SD line up gave a long overlooked Cesaro a chance but we all know Vince doesn’t rate him – the others have all been around the block with either Reigns of each other on many occasions. I can’t fault the work of the wrestlers but until the status quo is seriously challenged, every show is like trying to run in custard.
I have long been an advocate dropping the interim show between the Royal Rumble and Wrestlemania and think this show supports this more than ever. Not necessarily a bad show just an unnecessary one. The only real noteworthy thing is what happened with Lashley, a rare example of cohesive(ish) narrative to set up future directions in the main title scene on RAW, which could have easily occurred on RAW.
At least it wasn’t a long show, actually running shorter than an episode of RAW!
Best match – SD Chamber Match
Elimination Chamber Kickoff Show Match – Fatal Four Way Match – Mustafa Ali vs. Ricochet vs. John Morrison vs. Elias
Rating – ** ½
Man In Black