WWE Elimination Chamber 2012 Review

Between the Royal Rumble and WrestleMania 28, there is one very critical stop on the Road To WrestleMania. The annual Elimination Chamber pay-per-view determines the two world title holders heading into WrestleMania and helps sets the stage for the greatest spectacle in wrestling. After a lacklustre event in January at the Royal Rumble, could the WWE liven things up en route to the biggest show of the year?

WWE Championship Elimination Chamber Match – CM Punk defeats The Miz, Chris Jericho, Kofi Kingston, Dolph Ziggler and R-Truth
Unexpectedly, the opening match of the show was the Raw world title match. Even more unexpected was two of the match’s three faces opening up the show. But it worked out well because they established a fast pace that the match somehow built on over the course of its 25 minutes. There was always some active offense happening during the match (almost always at the expense of Dolph Ziggler) with little lulls in the action for viewers to notice.

The finish to this one was surprising as it was The Miz who was the last man standing against the eventually victorious Punk. How did they get to that final two? Punk kicked Jericho in the back of the head which knocked him out as he flew out of the cage and into a cameraman. That left Miz and Punk to have an actual match. The kind with counters of finishers and high-risk maneuvers that are different from the move-and-finishers that we see on TV. It almost makes me wonder if these two could put on 3.5-star or better PPV match if given 15 or 20 minutes sometime this summer pre-SummerSlam.

The star of this match wasn’t Punk or Jericho but Dolph Ziggler. Sure, he was the second man eliminated from the match but it was plainly obvious that he was working his ass off to make this match work. From taking big moves to being flung on the steel floor of the chamber to doing ab crunches on the side of the chamber, Ziggler stole the show. He might never be the biggest draw of the WWE but he will make everyone else draw better by making them look like a million bucks. He sells better than everyone else in the company.

So where do we go from here? The heavily anticipated final showdown between Punk and Jericho never materialized. Sure, they did battle for a couple of minutes following Y2J’s entrance into the match but we never saw a classic one-on-one showdown between the two Twitter feuding wrestlers. And I know that they’re booked to battle each other at WrestleMania after Monday’s #1 Contender battle royal but I don’t want a month of “I knocked you out at Elimination Chamber!” and “You stole my gimmick!” At least the match will make it all worth it.
Rating: 8.5/10

WWE Divas Championship Match – Beth Phoenix defeats Tamina Snuka
Yes, this show had the obligatory Divas match for a bathroom break. Except, it seems as through they let Fit Finlay book the match and gave the women a decent amount of time to do the match. Granted, seven minutes isn’t a lot of time but I’m pretty sure it was more time than any other Divas title match I’ve reviewed. Anyway, Beth opened by disrespecting Tamina and proceeded to get her ass kicked for the next five minutes. But they did it with real wrestling moves instead of ass-shaking moonsaults and handspring stumbling into someone. They actually had an actual wrestling match here. Beth got the win by hitting her finisher after kicking out of the Superfly splash.

My only problem with the match was that the only way that Tamina seems to have established any credibility in her challenge for the title is through being Jimmy Snuka’s daughter. Not that she’s dominated the Divas division or that she has a couple of non-title wins. She could win because her father was a mid-carder in the 80s. So where is Jim Neidhart’s daughter’s title shot? Oh, right, she’s the butt of fart jokes in a backstage segment with a kayfabe leprechaun. If you have to use a PPV match to make the whole storyline, it’s probably not worth the match. At least this match will get the ball rolling toward WrestleMania.
Rating: 6/10

World Heavyweight Championship Match – Daniel Bryan defeats Santino Marella, Wade Barrett, Cody Rhodes, The Great Khali and The Big Show
Surprisingly, they gave this match better billing on the card than the Raw match. Though the crowd sure sounded like they couldn’t care less about this match. All the charisma was in the Raw match. With other key wrestlers like Mark Henry, Christian and Alberto Del Rio sidelined due to injury and Sheamus sitting out because he has a title shot coming at WrestleMania, it was a stretch to fill the SmackDown chamber match. Mind you, I was surprised that one of those four didn’t just beat up Santino and take his spot in the chamber like Edge did a couple of years ago. But maybe even WWE knows that too much of a good thing might not go over well.

The match went through the motions for the first part of the match. People came out of their pods and got some offence in. Most of the offence was at the expense of Santino but what else did you expect when you put a comedy act in. Speaking of comedy acts, The Great Khali was also in the match but he had to put everyone down and get eliminated to let Show and Daniel Bryan (Danielson) have a moment with DB stuck in his pod. And that moment featured Show tearing the chain roof off Bryan’s pod and lowering himself in to pound the crap out of DB. When the pod was opened and they spilled into the chamber, Rhodes and Barrett teamed up to eliminate Show and take out the match’s biggest threat.

Cody Rhodes’ big Royal Rumble push was blown away with a quick Santino roll-up after getting the best of Show. Then Barrett and Bryan attempted to put on a wrestling match which also featured a powerbomb into the side of the chamber and Bryan getting his head slammed by a pod door. Then Santino got the best of Barrett by pinning him after a Bryan flying headbutt.

The finishing sequence between Santino and Bryan was better than it had any business being. Despite being Santino, these two actually had everyone believing that he might actually pull off the upset with the near falls, including a strike from the Cobra, before Bryan got the win with the LeBell Lock and even then it was looking like Santino might get out of it. It says something about Santino when he was the single most over person in that match (with Bryan being a close second). He might actually have potential if the WWE tries turning him into an actual wrestler. And Santino’s push ended with the match as Sheamus dropped by to drop Bryan and seemingly announce his choice for title match at WrestleMania 28.

So we know who two participants in World Heavyweight Title match at WrestleMania will be. The question now is if The Big Show, who has a two-month running feud with Bryan, will be able to work his way into the title match. Shaquille O’Neal said on radio that he was going to wrestle Show at Mania but we haven’t heard anything about that from the WWE nor has there been any indication that Show would be doing a heel turn for that match. With DB having to yet get a clean singles win over Show in a title match, Show probably won’t just bow out of this one quietly. If this Shaq thing doesn’t work out, I wouldn’t be shocked to see a Bryan vs. Sheamus vs. Show triple threat at WrestleMania. But we also have Cody Rhodes getting in Show’s way. I don’t have any desire to see Show vs. Rhodes at WM28 but that looks to the direction the WWE is heading.
Rating: 8/10

United States Championship Match – Jack Swagger defeats Justin Gabriel
This match was an impromptu addition to the card which was made about four minutes before it started. Those four minutes consisted of Teddy Long saying “playa,” a video package about The Rock and entrances. It was a short match, even shorter than the Divas Title match, and definitely not as good. However, it was still better than the match that came after it. (Yes, two sentences is all I could muster about this match.)

The best moment of this match might have been a Michael Cole line. Jerry Lawler said something to the effect of not knowing what line Vicky Guerrero would’ve used to get Jack Swagger as a client. Cole responded with “Yeah, but how would you know? You’ve never dated anyone older than you.” Whether intentional or not, Cole referenced a statutory rape charge from the 1990s. That almost makes up for Michael Cole being Michael Cole for the last twelve months.
Rating: 5/10

Ambulance Match – John Cena defeats Kane
Typical WWE writing, right? Rather than have one of the TWO world titles that your company promotes main event a pay-per-view, we have a gimmick singles match close the show. But a big gimmick match like this might have enough high spots to overshadow what comes after it (think the Undertaker/Mankind Hell In A Cell match) so it might not be a bad booking call.

So what highspots did we have during this match? The question could be limited to “what SPOTS did we have during this match.” Kane was rolled into an equipment table in a wheelchair, Cena was unimpressively chokeslammed through the Spanish announce table, Kane got his shoulder slammed into by an ambulance door and Cena AA’d Kane off the top of the ambulance into some cardboard boxes (which you could hear on the broadcast) hidden behind some of the stage setup. Apart from punches and two stairs shots, I think those were the only moves during the match. It’s clear that Vince said prior to booking the match “Glen, if you hurt John and he can’t wrestle The Rock at WrestleMania, I will end your career!” It just looked like nothing hurt anyone in this match. It was completely phoned in so as to keep Cena from getting hurt prior to what Vince hopes will be the biggest drawing match at WrestleMania 28. I think Punk/Jericho is likely to draw more eyeballs than Rock/Cena.

It’s clear that Cena vs. The Rock is going to main event WrestleMania 28. We all know that both guys are main eventers so it doesn’t hurt Cena’s credibility to not main event this show. I also understand that he had to go over here to be able to move on to The Rock. However, this feud with Kane has done nothing to build Cena up for his Mania match. To hell with making him the face or heel of his Rock feud, if he looks like a million bucks, it’ll help sell that feud with The Rock. Instead, we get a match with enough violence that you could show it during the Saturday morning cartoon time slots on the networks without upsetting the FCC. A bad match like this reflects badly on Cena and cheapens the whole “embrace the hate to beat The Rock” thing that the WWE has been pushing for the last two months. And the utter lack of Zack Ryder makes me think someone in the writers’ room (likely Vince) finally asked “What the fuck does Ryder have to do with embracing hate in the first place?” To which Triple H replied, “Are you serious, bro?” and Vince answered back with, “Woo! Woo! Woo! You know it!”

Also, to everyone in the WWE’s production and marketing department: John Cena vs. The Rock isn’t the biggest match in WrestleMania history. Twenty-five years ago, you had a match between Hulk Hogan and Andre The Giant at WrestleMania 3 that sold over 90,000 seats which is an all-time indoor attendance record. Ten years ago, you had Hulk Hogan face The Rock which was a battle of the generations. It’s a simple battle of the biggest wrestler of today against the biggest wrestler of all-time (In terms of raw dollars and merchandise, The Rock’s probably outdrawn Hogan. Even if that’s not true, it’s a better sales point than “biggest match in history.). There’s not much else that needs to be said. But leave it to Vince to turn me off what should be a significant match in WWE history by insulting my intelligence with the hype. And what’s the over/under on in-person appearances Dwayne will make on TV before WrestleMania? 2.5?
Rating: 4/10

Well, this was a really feast or famine show. It was more up and down than a five-match show should’ve been. We had two good elimination chamber matches and a good-for-a-Divas-match Divas Title Match. (As an aside, I think it devalues the whole division to call it the “Divas Championship.” Call it the Women’s Championship and show them some actual respect instead of handing the title to the next model who shows up with a spray tan and implants and can execute five moves without screwing up [which coincidentally is also the size of John Cena’s move set].)

We do have a set direction for a bunch of matches heading to WrestleMania, though. Maybe $50 isn’t the right price for a show when an episode of Raw could’ve gotten us to the same place. I’m not sure if the show was worth all $50 but it have been worse. The Royal Rumble was worse. And if the WWE can make such a notable improvement in pay-per-views in a month, maybe there’s hope we can get a good show out of Mania.

Overall Rating: 6.5/10


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