February 26, 2014 by Joey Keogh
Live from the glamorous confines of a sweaty, crowded arena in Minneapolis, Minnesota it’s the second PPV of the year, the never-as-rough-as-it-pretends-to-me Elimination Chamber! Tonight is a sold out show, with a raucous crowd brandishing so many signs, it’s impossible to tell whether any of them are attractive or not (probably not). The show opens with an inspirational promo, complete with super-serious voiceover, of course, and some typically meaningless word vomit from Cole, who must be creaming his pants at his inclusion. The promo hints at a victory for Randy Orton, which does not bode well for, er, any WWE fan at all.
Apparently, we are still on the road to Wrestlemania (no word yet on whether John Cena is still in the car), which is totally shocking. The theme song for tonight is the worst song ever, and it’s clear they’ll be getting their money’s worth out of it so we best get used to hearing it, but still, it’s like this year’s “invaders Must Die” – remember when that scored, like, every single movie trailer ever? I don’t think I’ve listened to it since. The media ruined The Prodigy for me, damn it! Luckily, this song (“Doomsday” by Nero, if you want your ears to bleed) already sucks, so there’s no danger of it being ruined. Hooray!
Intercontinental Championship Match
Jack Swagger -v- Big E Langston
Seeing as this is a PPV, there’s less bullshit than on the weekly shows, so we’re straight into it, with the Intercontinental Champ match, starring two dudes nobody really gives a shit about, but both of whom are giving it their all regardless and should be given props for at least occupying the opening slot, instead of the goddamn pre-show match (shudder). The great Zeb Coulter accompanies Swagger to the ring, and demands his charge’s music be cut mid-stride, so he can reveal to everyone the true meaning behind the “E” in Big E’s name – apparently, it stands for “enough” because we’ve all had enough of him being champ. Ho ho ho, Zeb, you old tease. Did you know that things have got worse in America in the three months since Big E’s held the championship? Coincidence..? Swagger looks totally stoned out of his mind, which means Big E should have an easy time retaining his belt (some dude in the crowd has a replica and is holding it aloft SO proudly throughout the entrances, bless him). Special attention, as always, is given to the Spanish announce table – starring Ricardo Rodriguez! – so we know it’ll be destroyed before the night is out. Anyway, though this particular match seems like a load of shit, the two participants are actually quite well matched, and, as both are clearly aware of the fact that they’re not quite rising above the other Superstars just yet, they’re impressively engaged throughout, even the very woozy Swagger. This is a genuinely unpredictable and exciting match, full of twists and turns and sweat and blood – so many near-misses, so many throws in spite of the impressive builds of both men, so much Zeb yelling inaudible rubbish from the sidelines! However, once Big E gets his impressive moobs out, we know it’s all over for Swagger, and a Big Ending finishes him off. Good try, though (just maybe don’t take tips from RVD on pre-match rituals next time).
Winner: Big E Langston (retaining the title)
Bad News Barrett! Otherwise known as the most fun, and ridiculously silly, segment ages! Barrett will pop up several times tonight – a surprisingly smart move on WWE’s part – but this is the only time his podium will move up, to place him “above” the crowd, both metaphorically and literally speaking. He grins maniacally throughout his bit, clearly enjoying it as much as we are. This time, it’s about how the Americans all suck at sports and were beaten at the Winter Olympics, which is so very true. Up next, we are reminded of the slow, yet imminent, death of the worldwide media as the various news outlets covering the triumphant return of Hulk Hogan are splashed across the screen. Who wants to move underground and survive by eating rocks, so we don’t have to endure this bullshit from all angles?! We then get a little replay of a pretty cool match from last week’s Smackdown, featuring Daniel Bryan and Christian, which was interrupted by Kane.
Perhaps this is alluding to what may happen later tonight? Also on SD, Bryan beat Jack Swagger and Cesaro, before being attacked by Kane yet again. Okay, so they’re definitely hinting at something, and it’s not the beautiful reunion of Team Hell No, as much as I desperately want it to be (do you think they’re receiving my fan mail, or should I send more?) Byron, who is not Renee or Josh, is with Bryan, who is happy in spite of his fake bandages. Er, I mean, his totally real shoulder injury that will definitely stop him from inciting a “Yes” chant later on. Speaking of which, the crowd go properly nuts for the first time upon spotting Bryan, which makes him beam as he delivers an impassioned speech about headlining Wrestlemania and being the face of the WWE and all the other things that we want for him, but we know he won’t get because the company are mean and won’t listen to Mick Foley no matter how often he posts on his Facebook about it.
Tag Team Championship: The New Age Outlaws -v- The Usos
A couple of weeks back, I lamented the fact that the Rhodes brothers weren’t vying for this title anymore, but they were actually relegated to the pre-show this evening, so maybe their time is up, or the powers that be have decided The Usos need a push. Or something. Anyway, who doesn’t love the NAO? They’re awesome and funny and tough, and they remind me of being a little kid and eating too much cereal and watching WWE on Saturday mornings in my PJs. I wasn’t allowed to wear their shirt because they “swore”, according to my mother – “bad ass” and “suck it” are totally swears words, you guys – but now I can show everyone how much I love them so ha! I win! At first, the crowd seem to be booing Road Dogg and Billy Gunn, but it quickly emerges that they are, in fact, barking for them. And, if you need yet another reason to love these dudes, they recently sprayed Cole with a Super Soaker and he’s all butthurt about it. Lately, though, there’s been a weird theme running through the Outlaws’ matches, wherein they seem to tire quickly and pull the “old dude” card, which is highly irritating because, let’s face it, they’re legends and the majority of wrestlers set to fight against them aren’t even fit to shine their boots (or oil their arms, in wrestling terms). Midway through the match, they seem to be quitting, but instead they play the old guy angle while simultaneously kicking butt, which is an interesting move. The first “CM Punk” chant of the night happens during this match too, and indeed there are loads of signs for him scattered throughout the crowd, with the majority of T-shirts bearing his signage also. It’s sad, but when he returns in 2017 we’ll all know it was a work, right? We know. Anyway, the NAO are kicking butt – or ass, rather, har de har – in spite of their advancing age, and a theme of tonight’s matches is established as man after man after man is launched out of the ring, with the action continuing on the floor. At least the crowd will get their money’s worth. Who doesn’t want to get whipped in the face by Gunn’s impressively flowing locks!?
Winner: New Age Outlaws (retaining the title)
Bad News Barrett is back again, this time having brought himself down to the level of the crowd thanks to his podium giving up. It’s not clear whether Barrett knew there was an issue, or improvised this line on his own, but it hits like crazy, either way. His bad news this time around is that Bryan has no chance of winning tonight, which will result in the death of the “Yes” movement. Barrett tries to start a “Yes” chant in favour of this, and the crowd immediately turn it into a “No”, which further proves Bryan’s incredible reach. We are then treated to a Wrestlemania promo, which thankfully is not the serious, over the top one of the last few weeks’ Raw episodes, but the other one, which seems like a promo for “Nashville”, only with more drinking and less singing.
The Network has already launched this week, with some serious issues thanks to all the traffic, so this promo for it comes across a lot funnier than was perhaps intended. We are, of course,treated to a handy “How-To” guide, courtesy of Cole, which begs the question, does nobody in the States have a fucking DVR? It’s literally a case of choosing the show and then hitting “play”, but Cole drags it out like he’s describing how to hack into a super-secret Government server. The always reliable JBL is going to use the Network primarily to watch his own matches, which is fair enough. He particularly enjoys the one from 2005, where he was up against Boo-tista. Cole stresses over and over that the Network isn’t like TV, because you can choose and play and pause and rewind! Like that thing that sounds like much the same word, but isn’t – Webflix, is it?
Darren Young -v- Titus O’Neill
These two are feuding, mainly on Smackdown, which means there hasn’t been a massive build-up for this match as far as most of us are concerned, but it’s still a decent pairing and both are strong in their own ways (though I prefer them together). Young emerges in a “No H8” hoodie, which is pretty sweet. As he removes it, a sign comes into view which reads “Why Punk Why”, which is very to the point. It’s still real to me, damn it. The two participants’ trunks seem to complement each other, which is funny – Young is in blue, as he’s the calm, collected face, while O’Neill is in red, as he is the hot-headed heel. It’s a nice touch, even though it’s probably not on purpose (let’s not give the poor, long-suffering writers too much credit – when they’re not being beaten with a stick by Steph, they’re just trying to keep their heads down). Cole sounds like he’s enjoying this pairing a bit too much, especially as O’Neill’s recent heel turn has turned him into a far more extreme fighter – he spends the majority of the match beating his mate up (Young taking it like a champ, no pun intended), before ultimately winning and leaving him in a crumpled heap. It’s not quite clear yet where this storyline is going, but at least they’re both playing their parts well.
Winner: Titus O’Neill (boo, boo this heeeeel)
Bad News Barrett again! Man, this does not get old! Can we have this every PPV!? The podium is completely fucked at this stage, but no matter, the real issue is that Minnesota has a SHIT NFL TEAM. As the camera pans back to get the crowd reaction, one enthusiastic cowgirl is way too into it, which means either she’s horny for Barrett (who isn’t!?) or she’s too drunk to know what she’s cheering about. Barrett also takes the opportunity to note that he is better than Hogan. Well, Hogan is the worst man in the world ever, so yes, Barrett, you can have that, we won’t argue with you.
We next take a little trip over to meet the EC Panel Of Experts (dun dun duuuun), which is made up of Josh (he’s ALIVE!) and some wrestlers who won’t be appearing tonight, namely Mark Henry, The Miz and Rey Mysterio (who has paired his mask and contact lenses with a dress shirt and waistcoat – come on, it’s not like he can see too well, that probably seemed like a really good outfit choice to him at the time). They discuss the kick-off match between the Rhodes brothers and Rybaxel. Rybaxel is a thing now, and if you can’t remember who makes up that tag team, well I can’t help you, and you should pay more attention to jobbers who do nothing of interest. The Rhodes won, thankfully, otherwise that would’ve been highly embarrassing.
Henry says something in his smooth, sexual chocolate voice, before
The Miz cuts in and spouts some rather obvious garbagethat took him a whole twenty minutes of hard-thinking to come up with, as he gelled his hair to within an inch of its life. This is genuinely the first time I’ve heard Mysterio speak, even though he did commentary at Hell In A Cell, so that’s kind of thrilling, but let’s face it, this is all just killing time while The Shield get oiled up somewhere (oh, to be a fly on the wall). Speaking of The Shield, before their match, we’re given a little reminder of just how unbreakable they are – so they’re probably going to break up soon – and also how Bray Wyatt is a terrible speaker and should be left to sit in his rocking chair and think about his hat some more, instead of participating in matches.
6-Man Tag Team Match: The Shield -v- The Wyatt Family
There’s been a serious build-up to this match over the past few weeks on Raw, and the momentum has been generated pretty effectively, and consistently, it has to be said. There were several, homo-erotically charged instances of stand-and-stare brooding across the ring, and we finally got a taste of the carnage at the end of last week’s episode as everyone entered the ring and it all became a mass of bodies – so the “This is awesome” chants that drown out the commentary before the match even starts seem, for once, pretty justified. There’s a lot of talking, before anything happens, which is typical of both teams. The Shield do it better, of course, and it is Ambrose who takes the first punch, before the bell has even rung – a moment which causes one, isolated woman, to shriek in fear/arousal (this happens several times throughout the evening, it’s difficult to un-hear her after the first time). This is Reigns’ match, or at least it should be, as he’s really coming into his own lately, especially since the Rumble. Surprisingly, Rollins finally emerges as an actual competitor, out of the shadows of his bigger, tougher, louder comrades, and even gets a few hits in, instead of just selling the ones he takes, like he usually does. At one point, Erick Rowan actually drags Rollins across the ring to the corner, by his hair, which is just one of many brutal moments in this bizarrely effective match-up. The Shield are like a well-oiled machine (pun intended), effortlessly tagging each other in and out (pun also intended), but it’s Reigns versus Wyatt that elicits the biggest cheer, even though the most impressive moment belongs to Rollins who, after tackling Luke Harper on the top rope, flips backwards over him, lands expertly on his feet, and continues fighting. As Wyatt stalks the ring, a kid audibly yells “You’re ugly and STUPID”, while the rest of the assembled crowd yell for tables which would, let’s face it, only confuse matters more. The theme of tonight’s matches really seems to be throwing dudes out of the ring and continuing the fight on the floor, and this is none more evident than during this one, which involves Ambrose and Wyatt in the crowd, Reigns and Rowan in the ring and Harper and Rollins on the floor – all simultaneously. It truly is a sight to behold, and as Harper and Rowan set Rollins up to go through the Spanish announce table, we can sense it’s all over for the hounds of justice (man, that’s stupid – I’ve only just realised it now as I typed it. Sheesh) The crowd, understandably, respond succinctly with the classic “Holy shit” chant as the commentators scatter, trying in vain to cover what’s happening in three separate areas. Cole is so confused by it, he refers to “Roman and Reigns” sparring in the ring, which makes it sound as though the man is having an existential crisis instead of beating the shit out of some hairy swamp loon. Finally, it’s just Reigns left, as he powers out of a Sister Abigail, and then dispenses with Harper, and Rowan, with the crowd going absolutely mental. Rowan returns, he spears him easily, and it seems like Reigns has it all but won, but suddenly, Wyatt turns it around and utilises the Sister Abigail once again.
Winners: The Wyatt Family (less talking, more fighting, please)
It’s going to be difficult to top that match, so here’s an ad for some disgusting-looking pizza rolls, that seem to bear no resemblance to pizza whatsoever. Good old America. This is followed up with another Network promo, starring a near-death Hogan, but with a voiceover from Cena because, let’s face it, Hogan can’t be trusted to say much more than “Get the Network, brother” (in fact, he doesn’t even say that because he’s useless and should be put down).
Elsewhere, Renee corners an uncharacteristically grumpy Christian, who may or may not be still working his heel angle from last week’s Raw. He’s the only one Orton has beaten over the past few weeks, which puts him in a difficult position, but he hasn’t got the time to discuss it with his fellow countryperson (who someone in the crowd believes to be Lillian) because he has to prepare for the match and whatnot. But before we get to the next match, here’s that horrible theme song again!
Divas Championship Match: AJ Lee -v- Cameron
Apologies for referring to this as a match, I hadn’t realised it’d be Divas. At least AJ is involved! She tells the crowd that it’s totally okay to cheer for her being the longest running Divas champ ever, because it’s impressive, which it is not, but we love AJ so who gives a shit. Naturally, she doesn’t care who she’s up against, because she’s already beaten everyone, but surely it could’ve been someone a bit better than Cameron? What about my beloved Summer Rae? Give her a match, damn it! Anyway, Cameron’s entrance is weird without Naomi (who is injured after Aksana kneed her in the face the other week, nearly blinding her) because it involves her dancing on her own for a bit, and it’s even more annoying when she does it after each and every pathetic non-move. Midway through the match, it’s revealed that “RIP Spanish Announce Table” is trending on Twitter, which may just be the best trend during a PPV ever (and is more interesting than this match). The crowd doesn’t give a shit, and how could they, with a match that involves one chick making fun of the other skipping, before having the correct way to do so shown to her by the girl in question!? Continuing with tonight’s theme, Cameron is unceremoniously dumped out of the ring, before AJ beats her with her own pom-poms. They really don’t help themselves, do they!? Tamina then accidentally kicks AJ, and has to revive her as Cameron drags her corpse back into the ring to claim victory. Tamina then beats the shit out of her, as some sort of apology for wronging AJ.
Winner: Cameron (by DQ, so AJ retains)
Bad News Barrett and his broken podium return! He has more time to speak, because none will be wasted on him travelling slowly upwards. This time around, his bad news is also kind of a Network promo, because Barrett reckons that the new system is so amazing, it’s going to ruin everyone’s lives and eventually render them homeless as a result. Sure, but at least we get to watch “Total Divas” first, right!? Elsewhere, Santino Marella has invited his friends Los Matadores and The Great Khali to play with his new Stack Down toys, but when love interest Emma turns up, he gets embarrassed and runs away, leaving her to enjoy them instead. This is not a euphemism, this actually happens, and the marketing ploy totally works because I want those toys now. Before we get to Boo-tista, there’s another commercial for those horrible pizza rolls. What’s sad is, those people probably paid an insane amount of money to feature their product tonight, and it could not be less appetising to me. I think I’d rather eat the Stack Down set. It’d be more nutritious, too.
Batista -v- Alberto Del Rio
Boo-tista is not getting a good response from the crowd tonight, but he loves pointing at that damn Wrestlemania sign, doesn’t he? Is he rubbing it in or following the script like the brilliant Hollywood actor he is? In a wonderfully clever little twist, ADR enters the ring with a crutch, all bandaged up, before claiming he’s too hurt to compete tonight. Then, just as Boo-tista is struggling for words, he tears his clothes off, throws his crutch to the side, and attacks him, awakening the crowd from their self-imposed slumber. Let’s face it, nobody cares who’s beating Boo-tista, as long as he’s getting a beating. The crowd are instantly on ADR’s side, even chanting “Si” for the first time in ages – hey, WWE, if you want to get someone over, just have that person attack Batista! It’s genius! As the bell rings to signal the beginning of the match, the “Boo-tista” chants are deafening, and several signs are presented in the crowd, of varying cleverness – one in particular catches the eye as it simply reads “Batista = zzz”, which is not quite as clever as the “Boo this man” from last week’s Raw, but it’ll do. ADR has been threatening to break Batista’s arms for weeks, and he almost immediately puts him in a cross-armbreaker over the ropes, which makes his opponent react, well, as though he’s poking him with the teeny arm of a Bleacher Creature, because he isn’t invested in this at all. The commentators consistently remind us of Boo-tista’s upcoming Wrestlemania match, which means they might as well be telling us “hey, you guys, ADR doesn’t have a chance in hell, he’s just wasting his time” The crowd continue to throw their weight behind ADR, only stopping momentarily to shout for Punk, and immediately turning whenever Boo-tista is in control. Towards the end, they chant for, literally, anyone but him, even RVD and Jericho, and at another point Lesnar, because anyone is better than a man who even grabs the ropes half-assedly. And yet, of course, he wins.
Winner: Batista (it’s a miracle the crowd don’t riot after this)
As the camera pans back to reveal an army of disappointed, yet not shocked, fans, a sign reading “Batista – the choice of the choiceless” is revealed, which echoes Punk’s old persona as the voice of the voiceless. It’s sad in so many ways. But, before we can get too wrapped up in just how much this company is shitting all over us, there’s another Network promo, and our friend who does the super-serious voiceover, probably for no money at all, is back to tell us the same thing again, with just one piece of new info – there will be a one week trial, which is a pretty good deal, because at least it allows us to check out Legends House, right?
We then return to the esteemed, respected, not wasting time at all, EC Panel, with Miz drowning everyone out with his self-important bollocks once again. Apparently, none of these people think Orton is going to win tonight (uh oh). The chamber itself is then lowered, scored by its very own theme tune (of course) and Cole reminds us exactly what it is, with the blissfully unaware exuberance of a child. There is a short replay of other Chamber matches, with the serious voiceover man again. It all looks really, really, really scary.
Main Event: Elimination Chamber Match: World Heavyweight Championship: Randy Orton -v- Sheamus -v- John Cena -v- Christian -v- Cesaro -v- Daniel Bryan
The most shocking moment of this match is Cena getting a genuine cheer as he enters first. Just kidding, but that was pretty awesome. Apparently, he’s still looking for a ticket to Wrestlemania after being kicked out of the car for demanding more Garth Brooks (he looks like a Brooks fan, doesn’t he?) Christian enters next and strips for Cena, right in front of his pod. Cena seems to enjoy it, but that may be my twisted imagination feeding into the very explicit fanfic I’m writing while watching this sexy match. Orton is next and my GOD those shorts are revealing.
I don’t even need to make a joke here, because he notices it himself and uses his belts to cover it, before removing them and showing them (the belts, but probably the rest too) to the other two, now pod-ridden men. Bryan is next, happy as a little bearded man could be. He’s still bandaged up, but his injured shoulder won’t stop him from doing a “Yes” chant. What a trooper. With all four men inside their pods, it’s revealed that Sheamo and Cesaro will be starting the match off, and both emerge to triumphant cheers – rightly so.
There’s a sign in the crowd emblazoned with “Cesaro Section” which makes me feel a bit uncomfortable, because it’s not like a Caesarean can be used to extract anything other than a baby, it’s specifically used during pregnancy! Is this implying that the man moonlights as a backdoor surgeon!? What an odd choice of wording! Anyway, Sheamo is wearing his massive Celtic medallion, which he removes, much like Cena does his dog tags, before the match. Not sure which is more hardcore. Probably Sheamo. The match starts off strong, and thankfully the momentum is retained throughout. Orton is behaving like a stripper in his pod, while Christian taps on the plastic to distract the participants and Cena just grins like a loon. Cesaro steals his “You can’t see me” bit and, for a moment, his smile dims before returning to its full brightness once more. Good ol’ Cena, he never lets up. Bryan is unleashed first, and starts off strong with a roundhouse kick to Cesaro. He once again shows off just how talented he is, and how much he wants it, at one point even simultaneously holding Sheamo with his legs, and Cesaro with his arms, before being thrown through his own pod.
Christian is next, and he immediately targets Bryan’s shoulder as Orton looks on from his pod, smirking that horrible smirk of his. Cena is next (so Orton will be last, oh lord) to be released, with Sheamo and Cesaro showcasing their best work as they tackle the other participants. Bryan delivers an old school Frankensteiner on Cena, as Cesaro tries to spin Christian around, before Cena intervenes, thereby launching Christian into the turnbuckle – one of numerous heart-stopping moments in a relentlessly fun, ridiculously entertaining match. Cesaro administers the Swiss Death on Cena, following which they all lie around, totally exhausted. But there’s more carnage afoot as Snoreton is finally unleashed, which begs the question – is he being set up to win yet again because he’s in cahoots with The Authority, or do the WWE really just hate us all that much? Anyway, he doesn’t add much, as per usual, choosing to do his pose, and then point to the Wrestlemania sign, before running back to hide in his pod. Luckily, this sets up an AWESOME spot for Sheamo, as he lines himself up and Brogue Kicks his way through the plastic, revealing Snoreton once more. Chants of “Boring” and “Pussy” echo around the arena, as Cesaro picks Orton up and swings him around an amazing thirty times. Christian then jumps from the top of a pod, eliminating Sheamo in the process.
He is then eliminated himself by Bryan, who quickly turns on Cena, who tries to do the Attitude Adjustment only for Cesaro to get underneath both of them and flip the two of them over. Immediately after this victorious turn, Cesaro is robbed of his chances as he taps out of the STF, which does a disservice to him, and us, as the ones rooting for anyone to win but Snoreton. Just when it seems it can’t get any crazier, the Wyatts turn up to wreak even more havoc. They target Cena by dragging him into a corner, before Bray performs the Sister Abigail, leaving Orton to pin Cena and knock him out of the running. As predicted, Corporate Kane appears and is immediately attacked by a rather furious Bryan, who leaps triumphantly from the top rope like a manic little bearded monkey.
Bryan then turns on Orton, hanging him upside down from the ropes and kicking him repeatedly. He does a Suplex from the top rope, resulting in a quick two count as Orton kicks out. He tries to pin Orton again, but Kane intervenes just in time. Orton tries the RKO, but then Bryan kicks out. The crowd are going absolutely insane, the commentators can barely speak as everything happens so fast. It all suddenly seems so close, like Bryan finally has it in his grip again, and then Kane hits him once more, leaving the path open for Orton to deliver the RKO once and for all, thereby dashing Bryan’s chances, and our hopes for him, all over again.
Winner: Randy Orton (the seething of the crowd is practically audible)
As the camera pans back over the crowd, it’s near-silent in the arena. Even the dude in the RKO shirt looks pissed. This shit is sad, and yet, they still feel the need to replay it for us again, in order to cut us even deeper. This is one of the worst Wrestlemania main event match ups possible, and it’s even sadder because, overall, this was a really strong PPV.
Each match was suitably, enjoyably long, entertaining, and involving – of the three duds, not one was painfully dull or irritatingly drawn out. It was almost as though the WWE wanted to lull us all into a false sense of security, before disappointing us yet again. There will be some who claim this is all part of the plan, but even they must be having doubts at this stage.
One thing is for certain, this week’s Monday Night Raw is going to be brutal.