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KELLER’S WWE ELIMINATION CHAMBER REPORT
FEBRUARY 12, 2017
AIRED LIVE ON WWE NETWORK
-Renee Young, Booker T, and podcaster Sam Roberts hosted the pre-show panel discussion. Booker T laughed uproariously when JBL did a Texas two-step on the ramp on his way to ringside and slipped and fell. A camera man helped break JBL’s fall. JBL at ringside was laughing along with Booker T.
-Dasha Fuentes interviewed Becky Lynch in the Social Media Lounge. Lynch said she has been studying Mickie James footage to prepare for tonight.
(A) MOJO RAWLEY pinned CURT HAWKINS.
-The panel discussed the Elimination Chamber near the end of the pre-show. Roberts said his podcast listeners used to hate The Miz, but he’s having the best year of his career and he should be considered a contender to win. He said John Cena is amazing lately, too.
Announcers: Mauro Ranalo, David Otunga, JBL with Dasha Fuentes on interviews.
-A video feature aired talking about the ominous danger of the Elimination Chamber.
(1) BECKY LYNCH vs. MICKIE JAMES
When Otunga talked about this being a new generation vs. the previous generation, JBL said had she not left seven years ago, she’d have been on top and still be on top, trying to sell the idea that she’s not some nostalgia act, which is a good point to make It’s not like Mickie is Sting was, a wrestler in their mid-50s coming back for a special attraction match. She’s younger than John Cena and a year older than Randy Orton. Back and forth match until Mickie went on sustained offense around 7:00. She scored a near fall after a superkick. Lynch came back with a jackknife for the leverage pin after a rapid-fire series of reversals.
WINNER: Lynch at 11:40. (*1/2)
(Keller’s Analysis: I was hoping for more. It seemed they approached this as the start of something between them, not an intense blowoff of a feud or a showcase performance. They also wrestled like an opening match, not a significant match later on the card, by design.)
-Fuentes interviewed Carmella and James Ellsworth in their luxury suite reacting to the previous match. After Carmella commented, Dasha asked James what he thought. He said, “What she said.”
(2) DOLPH ZIGGLER vs. APOLLO CREWS & KALISTO
Before the match, Ziggler attacked Kalisto. So it become a one-on-one match. Did someone plan that from the beginning of announcing the two babyfaces vs. one heel match, or did someone realize a two babyface vs. one heel match was unprecedentedly stupid that they decided to knock Kalisto out of the match before it started? Check that. A few minutes in, Kalisto tried to come out to the ring, but he was holding his back. A ref at ringside tried to stop him. Crews gave Ziggler an enzuigiri. Mauro yelled, “That put Ziggler in Airplane Mode!” That’s a good one. In the end, Kalisto entered and gave Ziggler a spin kick, and then Crews tagged in and landed a spinning powerbomb for the win.
WINNERS: Crews & Kalisto at 7:20. (*1/2)
(Keller’s Analysis: I don’t really know what the purpose was of any of that. Why not just book Ziggler and Crews one-on-one?)
-Afterward, Ziggler snapped and knocked Kalisto off the ring apron. Then he put Crews’s ankle in a chair and stomped on it. Mauro said, “How can anyone defend the actions of Dolph Ziggler!” Ziggler put the chair around his ankle again. JBL said somebody needs to stop him. Too bad every other wrestler in WWE was apparently locked away in some far-away room. Ziggler stomped Crews’s ankle again. Kalisto recovered and checked on Crews. As Ziggler left, the fans chanted “Thank you, Ziggler!”
(Keller’s Analysis: Rough crowd. The crowd reaction isn’t a sign that fans like heels and will cheer whatever they do; it’s a sign that nothing has been done to get Crews over with the adult male fanbase who attend PPVs.)
-A Hulu commercial aired.
(3) TAG TEAM TURMOIL
•BREEZANGO vs. HEATH SLATER & RHYNO
WINNERS: Rhyno & Slater with a Gore by Rhyno at 4:30.
•THE VAUDEVILLIANS vs. SLATER & RHYNO
As the Vaudevillians ran out, Mauro said, “Just like a Snapchat photo, Breezango are gone.”
WINNERS: Slater & Rhyno at 6:45.
•THE USOS vs. SLATER & RHYNO
It didn’t take long, and it made sense for the Usos to eliminate Slater & Rhyno after Slater & Rhyno were worn down from the previous two opponents.
WINNERS: The Usos at 9:45.
•AMERICAN ALPHA vs. THE USOS
Gable eliminated Jay Uso with a leverage pin. The Usos jumped Gable afterward, then threw Jordan shoulder-first into the ringpost. They continued the beatdown for another minute.
WINNERS: American Alpha at 15:20.
•THE ASCENSION vs. AMERICAN ALPHA
JBL said his favorite all along has been The Ascension. They bumped shoulders with the Usos on their way to the ring. They went to work on Jordan who looked more out of it than Holly Holm after the late punch she took last night at UFC 208. Gable saved Jordan from the three count, although the ref could have kept counting because the “save” didn’t result in Jordan’s shoulder being lifted or Konnor not being on top. I don’t get why it makes sense for a ref to stop finishing the third slap on the mat just because someone illegal hits the legal opponent on their back. Alpha came back with Grand Amplitude for the pin on Konnor. JBL revised history and said they were his pick all along. Otunga called him on it.
WINNERS: American Alpha to retain the WWE Smackdown Tag Team Titles at 21:10. (**)
(Keller’s Analysis: The match was fine given the rules. The relatively quick pins in the early falls occurred with lower-end teams, so it was more believable. Alpha overcoming the Usos, the post-fall attack, and the Ascension was a logical way to close out the match. It still didn’t add up to anything that felt like a match that needed to be on PPV or felt important. I’d much rather see two teams that are over have a full-fledged regular length match. This type of gimmicky tag match feels like a crutch for a poorly booked tag division. I’m relieved they haven’t decided to give Ascension a major push out of nowhere. They’re still just not believable as badasses in how they carry themselves, but at least they’ve deviated from the Road Warrior look.)
(4) NIKKI BELLA vs. NATALYA
A few minutes in, Nikki leaped off the ring apron and knocked Natalya down at ringside. Otunga said Nikki is underrated, “and she knows what she is doing, trust me.” Natalya shoved Nikki into the ringpost a minute later. Natalya did the “You can’t see me” hand wave to taunt Nikki. She then did a cocky trot around the ring before applying a sleeper on her mid-ring. Nikki arm-dragged out of it. Nikki angrily went right back on offense and did the hand-save taunt again. She got distracted by a fan and did the hand wave, and Nikki schoolgirled her for a two count. Natalya went right back on offense again. Nikki came back and hit Natalya with a forearm. Natalya landed a superplex, but she was slow to get up herself from the impact of the landing. Natalya beat the ref’s two count and then applied a Sharpshooter. Nikki crawled over toward the bottom rope, but Natalya dragged he back to the middle. Nikki twisted free and pivoted right into the “Fearless Lock.” She applied that better than Cena, I’d say. Natalya crawled over and grabbed the bottom rope. Natalya and Nikki battled at ringside and the ref counted them both out. The crowd groaned. Natalya attacked Nikki afterward. Nikki charged at Natalya on the ramp and tackled her.
WINNER: Double countout at 13:40. (**)
(Keller’s Analysis: They are going to continue this, obviously, likely with a rematch on Smackdown. That’s fine. I liked Natalya’s heelish posturing and Nikki seemed to be working hard to show she could have a more than passable match against a respected vet in the division. It was pretty solid given the context of the feud.)
-Dasha interviewed Carmella and Ellsworth afterward. Ellsworth repeated what Carmella said word for word while almost choking on corn chips.
-A promo aired with Bray Wyatt and Randy Orton. Bray said, “Welcome to the era of Wyatt.” Orton leaned in and said, “Run.”
(5) RANDY ORTON vs. LUKE HARPER
The bell rang 90 minutes into the main card. Otunga said Harper was unpredictable when he was Wyatt, but now who knows what he’ll be like. He shoulder tackled Orton to drop him at the start. Otunga put over Harper’s athleticism and speed. He said he’ll do things you’d only expect cruiserweight to do. Orton circled the perimeter of the ring. Harper went after him. Orton eventually took over and got in sustained offense. He then climbed the second rope and posed to taunt the crowd, or “pose for the WWE Universe,” as Mauro said. Orton applied a chinlock. Harper fought out of it. He landed a big boot for a two count at 8:00. Harper dropped Orton back-first over the announce table. Harper banged the desk and played to the crowd a bit. Orton surprised Harper with a snap powerslam. Orton knocked Harper off balance on top rope. Orton went for an RKO a minute later, but Harper stopped short. Orton dropped him with a Full Nelson slam instead for a two count. After a DDT, JBL said, “As that great play-by-play announcer said, vintage Orton!!” What, he’s not allowed to say Michael Cole’s name? Harper came back with a superkick. Orton tried to stay on his feet, but Harper hit another superkick for a two count. Harper stood over Orton and spread his arms. Orton recovered and went for an RKO. Harper escaped and kicked Orton in the gut. Then he gave Orton a sitout powerbomb for a near fall. Mauro sold it with drama. Eventually Orton scored the clean win with an RKO after Orton blocked a discus clothesline. Otunga immediately said he had to give credit to Harper for putting up such a long hard fight.
WINNER: Orton in 18:00. (**3/4)
(Keller’s Analysis: Good match, but as usual with Orton, too often it just seemed to lack urgency and it felt 15 percent slower and more methodical than it should have. With the allotment of time they had, this was supposed to come across as epic, but it ended up coming up short of that, although it had its moments when they turned up the pace and intensity. There were too many spots where each wrestler postured for the crowd and that led to their opponent recovering and making a comeback. That’s fine for a heel, but Harper looked like he didn’t care enough about winning or didn’t have the mental focus to stay on task when he did that.)
-A WrestleMania commercial aired.
-They showed A.J. Styles warming up backstage.
-Renee interviewed Nikki regarding not ending her feud with Natalya tonight. As Nikki began to talk about how Natalya claims to be an amazing wrestler, Natalya attacked her from behind. Their brawl led to Maryse getting knocked into and a face full of powder. That could be the seed-planting for the WrestleMania feud with Miz & Maryse vs. Cena & Nikki.
(6) ALEXA BLISS vs. NAOMI – WWE Smackdown Women’s Title match
Naomi popped Bliss in the chin early. Bliss came back and applied a chinlock. They went into a nice sequence off the ropes of a couple near fall reversals. They knocked each other down with simultaneous blows. Naomi went on a flurry of offense including a somersault clothesline and a dive into the corner. She hit a blockbuster off the top rope for a two count. Naomi lifted her knees when Nikki went for a splash on her, then flip splashed her and scored the three count.
WINNER: Naomi to capture the WWE Women’s Championship.
-Afterward, Renee interviewed Naomi in the ring. The crowd chanted “You deserve it.” She got emotional and told the crowd a few seconds later they made her cry. She seemed genuinely thrilled she was potentially going to enter WrestleMania in her hometown of Orlando as champion.
-Dasha asked Carmella for comment. Carmella said she’s too busy watching the show. Ellsworth yanked the mic away from Dasha and dropped it, then told her to leave.
-Enzo & Cass did a commercial for KFC’s “Georgia Gold” chicken.
-A commercial aired for “Holy Foley!” after Raw.
-Phillips plugged Fast Lane.
(7) JOHN CENA vs. THE MIZ vs. BRAY WYATT vs. DEAN AMBROSE vs. BARON CORBIN vs. A.J. STYLES
Styles was the last out before Cena. Bray came out right before Styles. Cena, appropriately, came out last. The Chamber structure is all new this year.
•It opened with Styles vs. Cena and the other four locked in pods. JBL put over the Styles-Cena match last month at the Rumble as one of the greatest matches in “Sports Entertainment history.” Early on Styles applied the Torture Rack, which has again been renamed into the “back breaker rack.” A battle chant broke out: “A.J. Styles! / Let’s Go Cena!”
•Cena had Styles down and signaled for the Five Knuckle Shuffle, but then Ambrose was released from his pod. He went to work on Cena. He threw him into the chain fence. Mauro called it “unforgiving,” although it was pretty much by definition “forgiving.” Ambrose then turned to Styles and gave him a suplex onto the surface at ringside. That prompted a “Holy sh–!” chant. Mauro said he was trying to shatter Styles’s spine. Ambrose stood on top of his pod and then leaped onto Cena outside the ring on the platform. Another “Holy sh–!” chant. Otunga said while most people are scared of the Chamber, Ambrose is like a kid in a candy store. The crowd chanted “This is awesome!” which felt a little generous at this point in the match. Cena suplexed Styles and Ambrose as Ambrose was trying to German suplex Styles. JBL said that was God-given strength.
•Out next was Bray. When the countdown clock approached zero, they showed an overhead cam of the Chamber with the lights blinking in the occupied pods, and then the light stops on the pod chosen. It looks like a game show. As Ambrose was going to powerbomb Styles, Bray sunset flipped them off the top rope and Styles took a big bump. Miz gasped from his pod and the crowd again chanted “Holy sh–!”
•Corbin was released next. Cena put him in an STF. Corbin came back with an End of Days. Dean then threw Corbin over and over into the side of the Chamber. Corbin came back and threw Dean head-first into the chain fence. When Ambrose climbed to the top of a pod, Corbin knocked him off of it.
•Miz was the final wrestler released. He stood there and tok his time stepping out as Corbin yelled for him to come get him. That gave Ambrose time to recover and schoolboy Corbin for a three count.
ELIMINATION #1: Corbin.
Corbin beat up Ambrose afterward. Two referees tried to stop him. Miz opportunistically schoolboyed Ambrose to eliminate him.
ELIMINATION #2: Ambrose
Miz took turns Yes kicking Cena and Bray. Styles recovered and entered. Miz went right after him with some round kicks against Styles in the corner. Miz gave Bray a Skull Crushing Finale at ringside. Cena rolled through a Miz body block and hit the AA for the pin.
ELIMINATION #3: Miz at 23:30.
Styles and Bray eventually double-teamed Cena. Cena made a comeback and delivered a lame looking Ten-Knuckle Shuffle on Bray and Styles. Styles came back with a Styles Clash for a near fall. Cena landed an Attitude Adjustment a minute later for a believable near fall. Cena leaped off a pod onto both Bray and Styles. Bray escaped an AA attempt and hit Sister Abigail for the win. Mauro declared that either Styels or Bray will be the new WWE Champion.
ELIMINATION #4: Cena.
Bray smiled and went after Styles, who looked like he was hurting. Bray battered Styles with a barrage of forearms to the back of Styles’s neck. Interesting they booked the final two as heels. Styles slide-kicked Bray as he charged at him. Bray came back with went for a Sister Abigail. Styles escaped. Bray took Styles down with a hard clothesline for a near fall. Styles went for a Pele Kick and then a flying knee to take Bray down. Styles was slow to get up and make a cover. He rolled to ringside and then springboard 450 splashed Bray for a two count. Bray countered a Phenomenal Forearm into a Sister Abigail for the win. The director chose to cut two fans smiling and celebrating the win by the heel. Mauro said, “The era of Wyatt is here!” JBL said, “Imagine what Bray Wyatt is going to do as champion.” Otunga said he’s warned everyone for years and the time has finally come. They ended with a shot of Randy Orton standing on the stage watching Bray celebrate. The announcers wondered if this meant Orton vs. Bray.
ELIMINATION #5: Styles.
WINNER: Wyatt to capture the WWE World Hvt. Title. (****)
(Keller’s Analysis: Good match. I think most fans were genuinely surprised by the finish.)