Date: February 17, 2019
Location: Toyota Center, Houston, Texas, USA
- Bayley and Sasha Banks def. Carmella and Naomi, Mandy Rose and Sonya Deville, Nia Jax and Tamina, The IIconics and The Riott Squad in an Elimination Chamber match (33:00) [****]
- The Usos def. The Miz and Shane McMahon (14:10) [**1/4]
- Finn Balor def. Bobby Lashley and Lio Rush in a handicap match (9:30) [*]
- Ronda Rousey def. Ruby Riott (1:40) [N/R]
- Baron Corbin def. Braun Strowman (10:50) [DUD]
- Daniel Bryan def. AJ Styles, Jeff Hardy, Samoa Joe, Randy Orton and Kofi Kingston in an Elimination Chamber match (36:40) [****1/2]
We’re in Houston, Texas. Hosts are various dudes from both shows. Michael Cole is the first voice I hear.
Elimination Chamber, WWE Women’s Tag Team Championship
Carmella & Naomi vs. Riott Squad vs. The Iiconics vs. Nia Jax & Tamina vs. Sonya Deville & Mandy Rose vs. Bayley & Sasha Banks
It’s weird they have a tag title for women when the belts are not exclusive to either RAW or Smackers. Riott Squad: Liv Morgan completely changed her look to make her more Riotty. Sarah Logan hasn’t. She still doesn’t fit into that stable.
The only thing that makes me think Bayley & Sasha aren’t winning is that you cannot trust Sasha. But she’s been a blue-eye of late and has leaned on the Four Horsewoman gimmick. Sasha is the one who brings something to the match from the start; a pre-existing shoulder injury, which Sarah Logan smartly targets.
The match features a lot of attempts at tandem offence but it rarely comes off. Worse still is that a load of teams get in there and then lie around selling due to the poor match structure. It’s also pretty obvious that they leave Nia & Tamina until last so they can fully demonstrate their power advantage while not getting gassed. In Mella and Naomi WWE have struck upon a solid idea and Carmella seems to morph into new partnerships with relative ease. That versatility will serve her well.
The ‘everyone hits a move’ sequence is pretty nifty. The IIconics team up to get shot of Naomi, which I don’t really understand but their lack of experience as a team cost them. That leaves four other teams when Nia and Tamina get in there. Billie Kay brings a lot of personality and screeching, which compensates for the actual technique or lack thereof. IIconics get dumped by a double Samoan Drop.
Sonya looks great going after the two big Islanders with leg kicks. Several of these teams are hampered by having one poor member. This is why the Boss and Hug Connection feel like the obvious winners. The Riotts get booted by Tamina’s Superfly Splash. Nia, to her credit, smashes one of the pods. Also Tamina does a good job of selling actual fear at being outnumbered. Tamina gets piled on and dumped with Nia still out on the floor of the pod. That leaves Boss n’ Hug vs. Sonya & Mandy. The crowd pop huge for that elimination, with the booking appearing to be either Nia and Tamina winning or Sasha & Bayley.
This comes down to one established team and one looking to prove they belong. They do a fine job of throwing back to the Sasha/Bayley turn spot from last year only this time Sasha pulls Bayley up and Bayley stomps Sonya down. The finish is absolutely sensational with Sasha being unable to hook the Banks Statement so she hooks her leg around Sonya’s neck and hauls back for the submission.
This felt special although the first half was lacking in creativity. They got the big spots right and the elimination order made sense too. Sasha’s emotional promo about change and driving women’s wrestling forward has me genuinely choked up. Change the business! Make it better.
Final Rating: ****
Smackdown Tag Team Championship
The Miz & Shane McMahon (c) vs. The Usos
Miz has made this whole angle worthwhile. This is his redemption. If Shane wasn’t the drizzling s**ts they could even get some decent matches out of it. I am enjoying various tags guys getting the chance to kick lumps out of Shane though. Maryse joins us pre-match to announce she’s pregnant again. It’s all coming up gold for Mike Mizanin.
Shane is bizarre to watch. At times he does things that are completely fine. There’s a sunset flip in this that looks good but he peppers all his work with strikes that I just don’t buy into or stuff like that shit floatover DDT. You’d think he’d be able to do it right by now. It’s also totally weird seeing Miz take heat. It doesn’t feel right at all.
Shane gets superkicked doing the Van Terminator and they cut in mid move and miss it. There’s another production snaffu for Vince to get mad at. Speaking of getting mad, I’m positively beside myself with how bad the match is at the finish. Shane puts Jay through a table and Jimmy pins Miz after the Skull Crushing Finale. Jimmy rolling him up off a lax pin. You should never pin a guy by taking his finisher.
Final Rating: **1/4
WWE Intercontinental Championship
Bobby Lashley (c) & Lio Rush vs. Finn Balor
In an attempt to make Lashley interesting they’ve put Lio in the match. If he gets pinned Big Bob loses his strap. “Say what you like about Bobby Lashley” chirps Cole.
Ok mate: he bores the hell out of me. He has virtually zero personality and probably spends all his spare time eating plain grilled chicken with no sauce and lifting weights. I bet he doesn’t even listen to music because he likes to count off his reps. I honestly can’t tell when he’s wrestling heel or face.
The theme of the match is that Lashley completely dominates and crushes Balor throughout and Lio, who’s a d**khead, tags in when Balor is down and is the “weak link”. Which is daft because I would far rather watch Balor vs. Rush in singles than Lashley vs. anyone. Then Finn hits Coup de Grace on Lio for the belt. Jesus, this sucked. At least they got the belt off Lashley. Also Lashley dumps Lio.
Final Rating: *
Promo Time: Charlotte Flair
She’s out here to brag about her WrestleMania spot. It’s kinda weird with the Four Horsewomen angle that Sasha and Bayley are back together but Charlotte and Becky hate each other. Both Charlotte and Becky are firing on all cylinders though. I’m excited to see how their feud pans out after Mania. Charlotte is out here to scout her Mania opponent.
RAW Women’s Championship
Ronda Rousey (c) vs. Ruby Riott
Ronda is overlooking Ruby and rightfully so. There’s no way they’d change the belts here. Although it would be one hell of a way to build a new star in Riott out of the blue. After all Ronda’s losses created new stars in UFC.
The crowd decides to chant for Becky, which is almost engineered by WWE and their choices. Armbar finishes in a couple of minutes with Ruby getting nothing. Doubling down on Ronda as the indestructible champion was probably the right move. She didn’t even break a sweat here.
Final Rating: NR (Squash)
Post Match: Charlotte goes to showdown with Ronda but Becky Lynch, on crutches, marches to the ring. Becky wears Charlotte out with a crutch, which Ronda isn’t bothered about because Charlotte did that to her. Becky baits Ronda in and beats her up too before security run in. Both Ronda and Charlotte are bleeding. Ronda from the head.
Baron Corbin vs. Braun Strowman
“I don’t need a kendo stick to whip your ass”. Two big lumbering beasts going at it in what we used to call the ‘Vince McMahon has wood Special’. Powerslam through a table should finish but here comes Drew McIntyre and Bobby Lashley. There is an endless beat down and Braun takes the Shield powerbomb through three tables and that’s it.
Final Rating: DUD
Daniel Bryan (c) vs. Kofi Kingston vs. Jeff Hardy vs. Randy Orton vs. AJ Styles vs. Samoa Joe
Kofi has huge crowd support after a stunning performance on Smackdown last week. Orton won that match incidentally so he’s entering last. It’s an intriguing mix of new age WWE talent/former ROH guys in Bryan, Joe and Styles against three die-hard WWF lifers in Kofi, Hardy and Orton. I’m aware Jeff was in TNA but that’s the feel.
Bryan’s cowardice and opening beatdown at the hands of Joe is almost reminiscent of a greasy vegan Ric Flair. He has that same swagger, only with different life goals. The opening sequence is a great start to the match. Joe showing his presence and power, Daniel his sneakiness.
Kofi joins us next, as you’d expect after Smackdown. Bryan, already sick of Joe’s abuse, takes refuge atop a pod. Kofi is having none of that and we get into cage climbing antics. Kofi only got into this match thanks to an unfortunate injury to Mustafa Ali but he’s certainly good money for it. Some of the things they attempt in this are so out there that it feels like watching a video game.
The Phenomenal Forearm to a climbing Dan Bryan is fantastic. Joe can’t put Kofi away with the Coquina Clutch and AJ catches him with the Phenomenal Forearm for the first elimination. Jeff Hardy ups the ante with a Swanton Bomb onto the buckles off the pod, which is frankly insane. Bryan clocks him with a Busaiku Knee while he’s celebrating though and Jeff is gone.
Orton looks huge in there with these new main event guys. He’s from an era of giants that, semi-main aside, doesn’t really exist anymore. Randy gets rid of AJ with an RKO, outta nowhere. It would have been better in mid-air instead of plucking Styles off the ropes but I appreciate the gesture. Trouble in Paradise gets rid of Orton and we’re down to two! This match has flown by but again the result is correct. You need Kofi in that final two spot after his performance on Smackdown.
Kofi getting all fired up is a wonderful sight. Can he do the impossible and come out of nowhere and win the title? The crowd get very excited about the prospect. They do a few odd things; like having a rope break in a no DQ environment and having Bryan roll Kofi up off his own finisher but otherwise it’s a solid underdog vs. scheming champion motif. Kofi getting added sympathy because he’s been in this company for so long and he’s so lovely.
Kingston goes for broke off the top of the pod, misses and the Busaiku Knee finishes. They told a great story here although the disappointment of people that Kingston didn’t claim the strap was palpable at the conclusion.
Final Rating: ****1/2
Both Chamber bouts came across well. Everything else is a pass.
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