June 1, 2015 by Joey Keogh
The fortnight’s worth of build-up for this year’s newly-returned Elimination Chamber PPV event was either going to be a blessing or a curse but, with the inclusion of hot NXT talent such as Neville, The Lucha Dragons and, of course, Kevin Owens, the stage was set for it to be, if not life-changing, at least pretty decent. We start things off in the usual manner, with a cringe-worthy panel show chaired by the always-adorable Renee Young. Joining her tonight are Byron Saxton, who’s clearly had a beer or two judging by his strangely strongly-held beliefs, Booker T, who’s sassier than usual, and Corey Graves, who spends much of his screen-time pouting as though he’s on Instagram and is fetching an attention-seeking rosette that does nothing to distract from his terrible tattoos. The news hits the show, later than it hit t’internet, that Rusev is out thanks to an injury sustained on Smackdown or some shit, and a creepy, intrusive backstage video shows Mark Carrano standing over him as he gets examined by the doctor and begs not to be filmed from that unflattering angle. Zack Ryder and Stardust have a warm-up match that goes absolutely nowhere (Cody wins, natch) and the commentators solidify its meaninglessness by discussing RAW throughout instead of calling it. Thankfully, Stephen Amell, star of Arrow, does not show up but his appearance is threatened for subsequent shows. Lana participates in the social media lounge, revealing that she likes Ziggler because he’s “funny” and “makes me laugh”, which I’m fairly certain are the exact same thing. Miz TV with Daniel Bryan is diverting enough, if only because The Miz basks in the heel role while dressed like a sexy Death Eater and Bryan looks suitably bemused. Macho Mandow and Axelmania are beckoned towards the end, much to Miz’s chagrin, and they vamp with Bryan until the final preparations for the main show are put in place and they’re all shooed off once more.
Elimination Chamber Match for the Tag Team Championship: The New Day (c) Vs. The Lucha Dragons Vs. Tyson Kidd and Cesaro Vs. The Prime Time Players Vs. The Ascension Vs. Los Matadores
Unfortunately, the two low points of tonight also happen to be the two Elimination Chamber matches themselves, but it’s not for lack of trying, nor does it have anything to do with the fact the camera angle makes it seem like we’re peeping in on an ancient courtship ritual of some sort. Current champs The New Day stroll out confidently in brand spanking new ring gear (#TheBlueDay amirite?) while El Torito, who accompanies the matadors as usual, hangs out on top of their pod until they’re called up. Sadly Nattie, who accompanies her hubbie and his lover as per, remains at ringside throughout meaning her view is sadly obscured and there’s no danger of her falling off and accidentally pinning one of the men (heaven forbid!). The Ascension crouch down for their entrance, suggesting that perhaps their spirit hasn’t been broken just yet, and they kick things off, quite literally, opposite their fellow NXT survivors, The Lucha Dragons. Refreshingly, this is a tornado tag match so, unlike what we’ve become sadly accustomed to on RAW as of late, there’s no politely waiting around for someone to tag in and out, it’s an all-out, let-the-bodies-hit-the-floor brawl from the get-go, and rightly so. Kalisto makes the fatal error of trying to show off by climbing atop The New Day‘s pod, only to find himself stuck up there once they grab his leg and refuse to let go. Cesaro and Kidd are soon dropped into the mix to show them all how it’s done, with Cesaro Superplexing Sin Cara off the top of a pod and Kidd swiftly following it up with an elbow drop from the top rope to almost finish him off. This is a very spot-heavy match, but in a good way, and every near fall feels like it might be the end, which is key here. In what is arguably the spot of the match, Kalisto swings off the top of the chamber itself before dropping down to tackle everyone at once. The matadors, on the other hand, are also there, but not for long as The Ascension soon team up to double pin them and knock them out. They soon knock the Dragons out, too, much to the surprise of, well, everyone, but are immediately eliminated once The Prime Time Players enter the match, much to the surprise of, well, no one. Cesaro wastes no time in hitting a crazy flying dropkick to Darren Young on the top rope, before everyone gathers for a Tower Of Death and a ridiculous triple Suplex in the centre. Somewhat shockingly, it’s Kidd and Cesaro who are the last to go, leaving The New Day and The Prime Time Players to duke it out – a first in what feels like forever, as it means five African American dudes fighting for the titles. The New Day focus on Titus first, forcing his head through the chamber wall in excruciating fashion before lining him up for the first of many near falls. It’s tight right up until the very last moments, with Big E Suplexing Darren Young onto the steel floor as he and his team-mates confidently gather traction. The end comes when all three of them round on Titus and cover him for the pin to win.
Winners: The New Day (retaining)
Triple Threat Match for the Divas Championship: Nikki Bella (c) Vs. Paige Vs. Naomi
The ladies are up next and, sadly, even though they put on a hell of a show tonight, comparatively speaking, they’re only given about ten minutes to show off what they can do which, again, considering their sisters are killing it over on NXT, seems like a shame. Naomi‘s new ring gear sucks, Paige sings along to her own music like an adorable dork and Nikki is too covered up by her own standards to make much of an impact. Thankfully, Brie doesn’t show up until the last few seconds when she attempts to run in a pair of heeled sneakers, a shoe which should not exist in its own right and certainly shouldn’t be worn under circumstances such as these. There are a lot of super-cool spots in this match, including a Lady Spear by Nikki, a Lady Superkick by Naomi and a Lady Tower Of Death by all three of them. I don’t mean to attach the word “lady” as in insult, it’s just that these moves come off a lot weaker when delivered here, for some unknown reason. It’s as though they’re not loud enough or the force doesn’t seem real or the threat isn’t properly communicated or something. An Alabama Slam, a move Nikki has made her own over the past few months, knocks Paige out pretty hard, and a gnarly leg drop by Naomi has much the same effect but none of it sounds or feels half as strong as it should. Nikki goes for the Rack Attack but Naomi counters with the Rear View, before Paige aims for an Electric Chair and Naomi reverses it into a hurricanrana. Nikki retains once she manages to hit the Rack Attack, and Cole epitomises everything that is wrong with this match, and main roster women’s wrestling in the WWE in general, by referring to a sweet enziguiri as a “kick”.
Winner: Nikki Bella (retaining)
John Cena Vs. Kevin Owens
The match of the night by far, which proves that Cena doesn’t have to win all the time, the fact that Kevin Owens is here tonight is so cool that even he can’t quite hide his excitement entirely en route to the ring, his NXT title proudly hung on his shoulder. Cena is so fucking over in Texas, even with a crowd as dead as Corpus Christi, and he and Owens tease us for ages before finally locking up. Owens focuses on classic heel tactics for the most part, restraining the action to the mat and keeping his opponent in tight headlocks for much of the match. He pauses to bask in the glory of the Texan heat as Cena crawls up him, almost begging for mercy but not quite because, let’s face it, he’s still John Cena. Given that he’s a powerhouse brawler, Owens keeps it simple, beating the hell out of Cena with his fists before delivering some gnarly clotheslines. In fact, for the most part, he’s just punching him in the head, which is both hilarious and quite shocking to see as not since the infamous 16 Suplexes has Cena taken an honest hit quite this badly. There’s a crazy running cannonball senton Splash to the corner by Owens, after which he cockily attempts to hit the Pop Up Powerbomb only for Cena to counter with the 5-Knuckle Shuffle. However, soon after, Cena attempts the Attitude Adjustment, only for Owens to hit the Pop Up Powerbomb and follow it up with a crazy moonsault from the top rope. Somewhat cheekily, Owens teases he’s going to hit the Attitude Adjustment but Cena manages to reverse it and lock him into the STF. For a few horrifying moments it seems as though Owens may do the unthinkable and tap but he makes it to the ropes and hits the Attitude Adjustment himself on Cena. Another near fall soon follows as Cena hits a tornado DDT but Owens, although obviously growing more frustrated, manages to kick out. A springboard stunner, again, looks to have won it for Cena, but miraculously Owens recovers enough for a senton and a brainbuster from the top. He finally manages to get one over on the Superman by hitting the Pop Up Powerbomb to win, cutting a breathless promo immediately after, during which he assures us all defiantly that “the champ is HERE”.
Winner: Kevin Owens
Neville Vs. Bo Dallas
Let’s face it, nothing was ever going to be able to follow that match, but this glorifiedRAW- time-waster has no place being included on a PPV, even if it does showcase the talents of the terrific Neville. Bo Dallas is relishing his moment in the spotlight by attempting to establish himself as the heel to hate, pretending he only wants to help his opponent succeed while simultaneously kicking the shit out of him and demanding he play by the rules, even when Bo himself doesn’t (he screams “Get back!”, imitating the ref, after stranding Neville in the corner and laying into him). This a slow, purposeful bout peppered with headlocks, very much confined to the mat at all times and with only a couple of key spots of note, including a gnarly moonsault from Neville from the top to the outside, a reversed running Bo dog into a swift dropkick and, naturally, the stand-out Red Arrow, which once again, rather predictably, wins it for the Geordie powerhouse.
Elimination Chamber match for the Intercontinental Championship: Sheamus Vs. Ryback Vs. R-Truth Vs. King Barrett Vs. Mark Henry Vs. Dolph Ziggler
As noted earlier, Rusev was taken out of the running for the IC title and taking his place tonight is none other than Mark Henry who, in case you haven’t noticed, hasn’t been around too much lately. Or at all. Rumours swirled earlier on that yet another NXT upstart would be joining the other titleholder wannabes in the chamber tonight, but we knew better than to expect the best and instead prepared for the worst – and boy, did this suck-fest of a match deliver. Ziggler and Barrett start things off in okay fashion, with a load of lock-ups and pin attempts right off the bat, while Barrett yells at Henry to watch him like he’s the son desperate for some attention from his long lost father. Over the course of about five minutes, Barrett manages to chuck Ziggler into a pod, a turnbuckle, and the chamber wall itself before finally Truth enters the fray and takes his place as whipping boy. He manages some offence, mind, with a few well-executed clothelines but, let’s face it, the man is the walking embodiment of the words “mid-card” and hasn’t a hope in hell of winning this. Henry, unable to wait any longer to get a piece of the action, eventually busts out of his pod and immediately hits Ziggler. Ryback is next in and sets his sights firmly on Henry, before turning his attention to Barrett, to whom he delivers a Spinebuster. Henry strands Barrett in the corner, but he escapes and lands the Bullhammer on Ziggler. However, his happiness is short-lived as none other than Truth eliminates him with the Lie Detector. Meanwhile, the door on Sheamo’s pod appears to be stuck and he struggles with it as Ziggler superkicks Henry and Ryback Spinebusters him in return. He clotheslines Ziggler, Shellshocks Truth to knock him out of the running and then hits a vertical Suplex on Ziggler for good measure. It’s revealed that Sheamo jammed his crucifix in his pod door on purpose, to keep himself out of the match, but he finally takes part in the proceedings, throwing Ziggler through the wall of his pod and clotheslining The Big Guy, too. He eliminates Henry soon after, and Ziggler follows hot on his heels in spite of managing to hit a Fame Asser. Corpus Christi are fully behind Ryback for some reason, even when he suffers a White Noise onto the steel grating. The man can’t even kick out correctly, and it’s a botch-fest once the bout is focused on just him and Sheamo. A rolling senton on the grating looks to have won it for the Irishman but Ryback hits the Shellshock, back in the ring, to emerge victorious and to steal the IC title in the process. It’s left to poor, baffled Daniel Bryan to present it to him. He refers to him as “the Ryback”, Ryback calls him “Dan” and it’s all very awkward and sad.
Main Event: World Heavyweight Championship Match: Seth Rollins (c) Vs. Dean Ambrose
The last time these two headlined was at Hell In A Cell back in October. It was a hell of a match (excuse the pun) and, although their feud kind of died since, Rollins and Ambrose have both enjoyed their own massive career trajectories in the intervening months, to the point that it seems totally fitting they headline Elimination Chamber in a non-chamber title match. Before we get started, there’s a really weird, and totally unnecessary, Ambrose promo that’s shot and scored like an old school Linkin Park video. Credit where it’s due, Elimination Chamber did not feel, for the most part, like an episode of RAW, but it’s little interludes like this, and an earlier segment during which Trips told Reigns not to interrupt the Main Event or his buddy would be disqualified, that disrupt the flow and make us not want to pay for this shit anymore. Rollins enters first and, my god, Texas don’t hate anyone more than they hate him so fair play because the man is clearly loving it. He and Ambrose tear each other to pieces from the outset, in what is an incredibly skilled, well-paced and cleverly thought out piece of sports entertainment. It’s not history-making in the way the Owens/Cena match was, but it’s a terrific display of the kind of magic these two can create in the ring together, and how far they’ve both come as performers, too. JBL is still very concerned about a possible Ambrose victory, even though it doesn’t seem possible until the very end. Noble yells “dig deep, baby!” from ringside as Rollins almost cheats his way to a win by hooking his feet onto the ropes while administering a back-slide. Ambrose sells it like he’s been hit by a truck when Rollins nearly knocks his teeth out with a superkick, and likewise when he drops a flying knee from the top, leading to the first of many nail-biting near falls in a match made of will-they-won’t-they moments (not like that, Tumblr, calm down). Stranding Ambrose in the corner, Rollins yells “It was never about you” as he lays into him, but The Lunatic Fringe soon shuts his ex-brother up with a stunning tornado DDT. He hits the Dirty Deeds but the ref, who was caught in the crossfire thanks to Rollins, is dead so another official is called in to crown Ambrose champ only for his victory to be – correctly, but still – called as a DQ, meaning a visibly stunned Rollins is still the champ. Unfortunately, a struggle ensues as Ambrose refuses to hand over the belt, leading The Authority to pile on top of him in the middle of the ring so that Roman Cena has to come and save the day yet again with his stupid Superman Punch and his stupid Spear and his stupid hair and his stupid face. Ambrose is all “I’m the champ and I’m buying the beers” and Reigns is all “It should’ve been me” only he doesn’t say that and instead drags his buddy into the crowd to reluctantly celebrate his sort-of win. It’s an odd end to an odd PPV that will surely have repercussions in the weeks to come but, to its credit, we’re kind of excited for it.
Winner: Dean Ambrose (by DQ, Rollins technically retains)