Monday, February 22, 2021

WWE Elimination Chamber 2021: The Miz? Really? REALLY??

Well, that was a show.  A kinda pointless show overall, but a show that kept me entertained and didn't go on forever.  I guess in 2021 that's all we can ask of a WWE PPV?  

The show opened with the Smackdown Elimination Chamber for a shot at Roman Reigns later in the evening.  I liked this Chamber a lot, and it helped that Daniel Bryan ran the table and Cesaro lasted most of the match.  Bryan and Cesaro carried the early phase of the bout and I'll never complain about watching those two.  Baron Corbin was in next and dominated both babyfaces in monster heel fashion.  Again, Corbin being dominant at this point is pretty amusing, but the action was good.  In fourth was a reluctant Sami Zayn, who attempted to hold his pod shut as the referee was opening it, forgetting that each pod now has two doors.  Cesaro came up behind Zayn and attacked, and Zayn sold it like a mugging.  They ended up on top of one of the pods and then halfway in between pods, and Cesaro hit Zayn with a series of uppercuts until Zayn collapsed to the floor of the Chamber.  The first elimination of the match, fittingly, was Corbin, after Cesaro used the giant swing followed by a sharpshooter for the tapout.  Owens came in next and Zayn tried to forge an alliance with him like old times, but Owens wasn't having it.  Owens beat up Sami and then ran wild on everyone else.  Jey Uso was the final entrant and the match turned into a melee, with Owens at one point landing a moonsault off one of the pods onto the group.  Owens stunned Zayn to eliminate him, but as Zayn was leaving, Jey slammed the big door on Owens' arm and superkicked him into oblivion, followed by a top rope splash to pin him.  Bryan and Cesaro had a pretty great sequence that culminated in Cesaro swinging Bryan around by his injured leg only for Uso to hit Cesaro with a superkick and top rope splash to eliminate him.  It was down to Bryan and Uso.  Uso hit a splash on Bryan but Bryan kicked out, so Uso went to the top of a pod for another splash, but Bryan got his knees up and followed up with the running knee to win the whole Chamber.  He is now tied with John Cena at three Chamber wins, trailing Triple H at four.  This was a fine Chamber match.  It was centered around the best workers, the weakest guy in the match got pinned first, and the best guy in the match won it.  ****  

Bryan's celebration was short-lived, as Roman Reigns came out immediately for their Universal Title match.  Reigns went for a spear on a barely-standing Bryan, who countered into a Yes Lock that nearly ended the match.  Roman powered out though and spent the next 90 seconds ground pounding Bryan and powerbombing him.  Reigns locked in a guillotine choke and Bryan passed out.  Well that was pointless.  Edge ran in and speared Roman after the match, pointing to the WrestleMania sign to make their match official.  Yawn.  Edge is to 2021 what Batista was to 2014 - the guy Vince threw into the WrestleMania main event after he couldn't get The Rock.  Problem is neither Edge nor Batista is anywhere near the draw The Rock is.  NR

The third match on the show was Bobby Lashley vs. Matt Riddle vs. replacement opponent John Morrison (subbing for an injured Keith Lee).  Lashley was booked like an unstoppable monster, easily manhandling both opponents, even once they started teaming up.  Both challengers hit their twisting dive moves on him but couldn't score the pinfall.  Outside the ring Morrison and MVP got into an argument and Morrison stole MVP's crutch.  Morrison ran in and swung it at Lashley but Lashley countered with his Hurt Lock.  Riddle grabbed the crutch and broke it over Lashley's back, knocking Lashley to the outside.  Riddle hit his Bro Derek finisher on Morrison to win the US Title.  Well I'm happy Riddle is finally a main roster champion.  Hopefully they don't book him like a joke.  Also why have they been booking Lashley like he's unbeatable, after two or three years of him being just another guy?  Why does this company radically change course with a talent out of nowhere and expect people to instantly get on board with it?  It was the same situation with Drew McIntyre last year.  He returned in 2018 and was presented as nothing terribly special, then all of a sudden he's beating Brock Lesnar.  You have to build stars consistently, not just say someone's unbeatable after years of them being beatable.  Anyway, this match was fun.  ***1/4

For some reason, even after the pre-show hosts mentioned that Lacey Evans wouldn't be able to challenge Asuka on this show as planned, and wondering who would replace her, they just scrapped the match altogether without a word of explanation.

So instead we got the Women's Tag Title match, with Sasha Banks and Bianca Belair challenging Shayna Baszler and Nia Jax.  This was turning into a pretty damn good bout actually (minus Nia's cosmic ineptitude; how exactly has she gotten WORSE over the years?), until an utterly stupid finish.  Kinda like the Women's Tag Title match before the Royal Rumble last month.  Sasha, Bianca and Shayna all looked great here, although they kept sorta teasing dissension between the babyfaces only to not deliver any.  But the upshot is, Sasha seemed to have this match going her way, almost tapping Nia with the Bank Statement, but then Reginald showed up (not sure why Carmella's valet is hanging out with Sasha) with a bottle of bubbly and two glasses.  He rolled the champagne into the ring and Sasha was all "What am I supposed to do with this?" before walking into a Samoan Drop from Nia, to lose the match.  Such an idiotic finish, and it didn't lead to the babyfaces arguing or anything.  Up until that point I'd have given this match ***3/4 or so, but taking into account the finish it dropped to ***1/4.  Looks like Sasha vs. Bianca is the Mania match though, so that's good.

The main event was the RAW Chamber, which I found pretty boring until the last ten minutes.  Starting things off with Randy Orton vs. Jeff Hardy didn't help; I don't need to see those two fight again, ever.  They plodded through the first five minutes until Drew McIntyre came in and beat up both guys.  The most memorable spot outside of the finish occurred, as Drew got set up to launch Jeff into one of the pods but the cameraman was in the way.  Drew yelled at him to move, but the cameraman didn't really have time to go anywhere and Drew lawn-darted Jeff into the pod before yelling again, "I told you to move!"  Kofi was the next man in, and in the most shocking moment rolled up Orton to send him packing, only nine minutes into the match.  I gotta say, I wasn't sad about this.  Orton was though, and RKO'd everyone in the match before leaving.  Then the stupidest thing happened, AJ decided he needed to get into the match early so he could try to pin everyone who just took an RKO, so he had Omos break his pod open and ran around to the front door to get into the Chamber.  This made no sense; you're supposed to want to enter the match as late as possible.  Anyway, AJ did some stuff and the match felt interminable as we waited for Sheamus to come in.  Once he did the match picked up.  Drew and Sheamus had some stiff exchanges, then Drew went for a superplex but AJ and Jeff powerbombed Drew as he suplexed Sheamus, and then Kofi came off one of the pods with a dive on everyone.  Sheamus eliminated Kofi after a Brogue Kick.  Jeff hit multiple finishers on various opponents but Drew took him out with a Claymore.  Drew and Sheamus exchanged big moves, culminating in Sheamus hitting a Brogue, but AJ came out of nowhere with a Phenomenal Forearm to eliminate Sheamus.  With Drew down, AJ went for another forearm, but Drew hit a Claymore in midair to eliminate AJ and win the match.  So a boring first half, an exciting second half, and a great finish.  ***1/2

As Drew was celebrating, Lashley showed up and beat the shit out of him, seemingly setting up Lashley as the WrestleMania challenger, but then The Miz showed up with the briefcase, hit a DDT and the Skull Crushing Finale to become the WWE Champion, in 2021, ten years after his last brush with relevance.  This company sucks.  NR

So yeah, it's time to retire the Money in the Bank briefcase.  I know I've said it repeatedly over the last several years, but it ceased being a useful tool to elevate anyone a long time ago.  Now it's just a slot they have to fill every year, and Vince doesn't ever have a legit plan for it, so we get horseshit like this.  Otis wins the briefcase as a comedy act, loses it to The Miz, The Miz fails on his cash-in but somehow that's thrown out and he gets it back, and then successfully cashes it in six weeks before WrestleMania.  Vince's senility becomes more evident by the week.

Like I said, this show entertained me but was ultimately pointless.  The first Chamber gave its winner a Universal Title shot, which he lost after 90 seconds.  The second Chamber gave the WWE Champion a huge win over all his challengers, but he lost the title 90 seconds later to the Money in the Bank guy.  So why did we sit through a combined hour-plus of Chamber matches?  Literally the only planned match on the show that mattered was Riddle winning the US Title.

Best Match: Smackdown Chamber
Worst Match: Drew vs. Miz
What I'd Change: Have Roman vs. Bryan take place later in the show so they could have a real match.  It's not like there wasn't enough time for that.  Also, maybe address the Asuka situation on the PPV?
Most Disappointing Match: Roman vs. Bryan
Most Pleasant Surprise: Bryan winning his third Chamber
Overall Rating: 7/10

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