Matthew Roberts takes a look at Elimination Chamber 2019, courtesy of WWE Home Video UK.
It’s February, so it must be time for that gimmick match that was originally meant to signify that the WWE had got so crazy there was no other way to contain it all than stick some people in the Elimination Chamber. No, I’m not a fan of gimmick PPV’s. Still, by hook or by crook, Elimination Chamber has now evolved into a pre-Mania tradition that doesn’t feel too incongruous anymore. It’s an accepted step on the “Road to WrestleMania”.
As is also traditional there were two matches on the card that shared the name of the event, which bookended the show. This year there was some added glitz to the Women’s match as it heralded the “first ever” Women’s Tag Team Champions (I know, I know…), who would be decided in the Chamber. If the build up to it had been ever so convoluted (some teams had to win matches to qualify, others were simply announced as being int it) there were no such concerns with the match itself when all was said and done. We started off with the Boss-n-Hug Connection and Fire & Desire as the first two teams in and ended with them being the final two but there was much to enjoy in between The fact that the four women who had been in the previous year’s Women’s Chamber match meant that there was a lot of “experience” to carry the match and have some great little nods to what had gone before. No-one in the match was simply there to make up the numbers; Tamina and Nia were able to showcase their power, the Iiconics were able to show that behind their characters there lies good workers, The Riott Squad got a couple of big chances to shine and even Carmella & Naomi were able to get in the spotlight despite being first eliminated. To be fair, as the most “thrown together” team in the match, it was only fair.
It was thirty plus minutes that flew by and gave us the end result that most wanted.
You almost felt as if the Chamber match for the WWE Championship wouldn’t be able to live up to it. Under normal circumstances it might not have done, despite the stellar work on show, but whilst the injury to Mustafa Ali was undoubtedly a bad thing for him it gave Kofi Kingston a moment in the spotlight that many thought would never come. Like the women’s match this was booked very well. Samoa Joe was first to go but still got his moment to shine; Jeff Hardy hit his trademark insane high spots, Randy Orton did what he’s been doing for the past decade (although at least looked menacing whilst doing it) and AJ Styles held everything together and made everyone look good. But the real story was Daniel Bryan and Kofi. Fans really rallied behind him; some had even convinced themselves that a last minute replacement in a PPV match less than two months before Mania could actually lift the World Title. He didn’t of course but it made it a rather special closing sequence and at the time you could only hope that the WWE would capitalise on the situation and not punish someone for getting over when they shouldn’t have.
If the two Chamber matches delivered, the undercard was a bit more hit and miss. If I never saw Shane McMahon wrestle another match it would still be far too soon so I had no interest whatsoever in his and the Miz’s Tag Team Title defence against The Uso’s. Looking at it objectively it wasn’t too bad and at least furthered the ongoing storyline between Shane and Miz. It was probably better than Lashley and Lio Rush defending the former’s Intercontinental title against Finn Balor in a handicap match. It was a reasonable effort but it was a filler on Raw, not a PPV quality match.
It will take me longer to type this paragraph about the match than the amount of time Ronda Rousey’s Raw Women’s Championship defence against Ruby Riott took. Ronda went over in a squash which was only memorable for the Sonya Blade / Mortal Kombat gear that Rousey wore. Yes they wanted to keep Ronda “strong” and yes it was a match purely designed to give Ronda a reason to be in the ring for the post-match shenanigans involving Charlotte and Becky (which were entertaining) but it all seemed a waste of Ruby (and even more so the next night when they had a competitive match on Raw). A No DQ match between Braun Strowman and Baron Corbin was as inconsequential as it sounds and even more so when what happened here was largely ignored afterwards.
An Elimination Chamber show will always live and die on the quality of the Chamber matches themselves. On this occasion both matches delivered and were up there with the very best in the gimmick’s history. The undercard flattered to deceive but by the same token nothing was too bad and as a show overall it didn’t outstay its welcome.
Format reviewed: DVD
Photos courtesy of Fetch and WWE.
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