Elimination Chamber was SmackDown’s final pay-per-view stop on the Road to WrestleMania and it needed to ensure that it set up rivalries that would then led to the main event in seven weeks time.
There were three titles on the line last night as Alexa Bliss defended against Naomi, American Alpha ran the gauntlet and John Cena stepped inside the chamber with five other men. The event itself was a completely together show that made perfect sense and set up some future rivalries, but at the same time, there were many things that WWE could have done differently to add to the shock factor heading into WrestleMania.
Since FastLane is now just two weeks away as well, it means that Raw will now begin to build momentum and SmackDown will take a backseat to their rivals, which is something they really didn’t need at this point, especially since they are already classed as the B show when compared to WWE’s flagship show.
Elimination Chamber could be considered a success, two new champions were crowned and various other seeds were planted for feuds in the coming weeks, so it will be interesting to see how this pans out. Here are the 15 biggest things we learned from WWE’s second pay-per-view of the year.
15. JBL Learnt The Hard Way Not To Dance
JBL has been entering WWE arenas doing a two-step for the best past of two decades, he has never had a problem with it before, but last night during the kick-off show for Elimination Chamber, Booker T couldn’t stop laughing and focus on his job at all, because he had just watched JBL fall over.
Not only did JBL fall over, but he also nearly took cameraman Stu down with him, maybe this is his body’s way of telling him that it’s time to quit the dancing theme now and be more serious. JBL tripped over on his way to the ring to help Jerry Lawler a few weeks ago as well, he just doesn’t seem great on his feet lately.
14. Carmella Deserves Much Better
The Princess of Staten Island was the only active female wrestler on SmackDown that wasn’t included in a match last night because WWE instead decided to align her with James Ellsworth and create a team that no one actually wanted.
Carmella did get a spot on the kickoff show and then she was seen throughout the show backstage as well, but she deserves much more after a good few weeks on SmackDown. Carmella is a gifted wrestler and has proved to be a decent manager as well. WWE needs to take her away from Ellsworth and start taking her seriously.
13. Poor Jack Swagger
Elimination Chamber was SmackDown’s first exclusive pay-per-view of the year and it seems that WWE decided to use the entire roster that was available to them last night. That’s right, every superstar that was active and available on SmackDown’s roster was used at Elimination Chamber, except Jack Swagger.
The last time Swagger was seen on WWE TV was when he was defeated by Baron Corbin at No Mercy back in October. Corbin has since been involved in many feuds without Swagger since their rivalry ended and was in the main event of last night’s show. It is thought that Swagger could be in the firing line when WWE has their usual clear out of talent, which is sad because he is a former World Champion and a truly gifted performer.
12. AJ Styles Is The Face That Runs The Place
AJ Styles may have lost his WWE Championship at The Royal Rumble a few weeks ago, but it is quite obvious that AJ is still very much “The Face That Runs The Place.” This was further proven last night when he was one of the men who started the Elimination Chamber match and then the runner-up.
AJ took the brunt of the match last night and was then the one who took the pin for Bray Wyatt to win the WWE Championship. It seems that even though The Phenomenal One has lost the title, he is still one of the biggest stars on the brand and it will be interesting to see what path he takes heading into WrestleMania in a few months time.
11. David Otunga Needs To Be Fired
David Otunga is perhaps the worst thing on commentary at the moment. SmackDown already has a four-man team so there is no reason why he is actually needed on that desk. It could be time for WWE to have a word with him and allow him to step aside, he has landed a few roles in TV series’ lately and he could instead see where that takes him.
He hasn’t wrestled for WWE in many years and before the WWE Draft last summer, many of the WWE Universe thought he had already been released. The company needs to sort it out because he is becoming painful to listen to.
10. If You Wear Silver, You’ll Probably Lose
The first two matches on the card last night saw Mickie James face Becky Lynch and Dolph Ziggler take on both Kalisto and Apollo Crews. Both matches were solid but there was something that was consistent with both: Mickie and Dolph were wearing silver attire.
Both Mickie and Dolph lost their matches and it seemed that it was an ongoing theme for the night before the third match changed things dramatically. It is only a small thing but at the same time, it is an odd one that was definitely worth mentioning.
9. John Cena Will Always Kick Out At Two
John Cena is a 16-time World Champion and he has been at the top of the company for the past decade. He has gotten there by having some of the biggest matches in WWE history and by always kicking out at two.
Last night was no different. Cena was hit with the Styles Clash, a move that has kept many WWE superstars down but still managed to kick out at two. Cena then hit Styles with an AA, the move that had just eliminated The Miz and he managed to kick out at two as well. Cena always kicks out at two and his matches lack consistency and they have done for a long time.
8. The Ascension Just Can’t Catch A Break
The Ascension were once the longest reigning NXT Tag Team Champions, but they haven’t been able to catch a break at all on the main roster. It looked as though their fortunes were finally changing when they won their match on SmackDown last week.
It looked as though The Usos had handed Ascension the win when they attacked American Alpha and left The Ascension to enter the match and pin the current Champions. Instead, it turned out to be another show for American Alpha to come back and secure the win after Grand Amplitude to retain their titles.
7. Curt Hawkins Is Back To Being The Jobber He Always Was
We have been questioning for a long time what the point in bringing Curt Hawkins back to WWE actually was. It seems as though he has stepped straight back into the position he was in before he was released a few years ago.
Hawkins is another name on the list that could be set to be released once again and it seems that he isn’t going to be booked in an appropriate way. Hawkins lost to Mojo Rawley on last night’s kick-off show that has left him in a position now where he doesn’t have another feud to step into, just weeks away from WrestleMania.
6. Three Divas Matches On A Show Can Work
For the first time in SmackDown history, the show last night had three female matches scheduled. Not only were these matches to a high standard as well, but it just goes to show the faith WWE has in their female division.
The company could easily have booked two tag team matches and put all the women into one match again, but they decided to make a gamble and prove that the women’s division has changed over the past few months for the better. It also proved that SmackDown is now on par with Monday Night Raw as well.
5. There Was No Real Point In Giving Cena The WWE Championship
John Cena lost his WWE Championship last night at Elimination Chamber when he was pinned by Bray Wyatt, who then went on to win the title after pinning AJ Styles. Cena only won his record-equalling 16th World Championship two weeks ago at The Royal Rumble, and now it just seems as though WWE wanted him to win the title to make history and then drop it.
There doesn’t seem to be any plans for Cena to regain the title now either, with Royal Rumble winner Randy Orton now taking on Family Leader Bray Wyatt at WrestleMania in less than seven weeks. The WWE Championship was definitely one that WWE didn’t want to turn into a hot potato.
4. Luke Harper Has Nowhere To Go Now
Luke Harper faced former brother Randy Orton last night at Elimination Chamber and it was well known that if Orton won then Harper would have nothing going forward. Orton could easily have lost that match, knowing that he had already beaten Harper and had a WrestleMania main event in his future, but still, Harper was RKO’d.
If Harper had won the match then it would have opened up the possibility that he could have then invaded the Chamber and cost Bray Wyatt the WWE Championship. Instead, Harper proved how good a wrestler he can be last night and now he has no feud to walk into merely weeks away from WrestleMania.
3. John Cena and Nikki Look Set To Tag Together
Nikki Bella was accidentally thrown into Maryse during a backstage brawl at last night’s event and it seems that these are the seeds that have been planted now that will lead to the mixed Tag Team match between Nikki Bella, John Cena, The Miz, and Maryse.
Nikki Bella is taking some time away from WWE after WrestleMania and it seems that she has requested that she is allowed to tag with her real life boyfriend for the first time on WWE TV. It will also be the first time Miz and Maryse have tagged together since they have been married as well, so it could be a fun match for all four participants.
2. Dean Ambrose Will Face Baron Corbin At WrestleMania
Dean Ambrose was one of the participants in the Elimination Chamber match that didn’t fully make sense, Ambrose already has the Intercontinental Championship, so he should really have been defending that at the event.
Instead, Ambrose was put inside the chamber and it seems that it was a masterstroke because he managed to pick up a feud with Baron Corbin. The Lone Wolf and Ambrose brawled all over Elimination Chamber after Ambrose eliminated Corbin and then he allowed Miz to eliminate Ambrose. It seems logical now that these two will feud over the IC title heading into WrestleMania.
1. WWE Is Starting To Protect Their Stars
A new Elimination Chamber was debuted last night and whilst the most noticeable thing about it was that it was a square, it also served to protect the superstars much better than the old design.
The steel grids were replaced by what looked like a much better-padded cell floor which allowed wrestlers to take much better bumps. It is just weeks away from WrestleMania now and with some stars already out injured, it seems that WWE is pulling out all the stops to ensure that their stars are protected ahead of the event, so they don’t have to change any already planned matches.