KELLER’S WWE ELIMINATION CHAMBER PPV REPORT
FEBRUARY 25, 2018
LAS VEGAS, NEV.
AIRED LIVE ON WWE NETWORK
Announcers: Michael Cole, Corey Graves, Jonathan Coachman
Panel: Renee Young, Booker T, Peter Rosenberg, and David Outing
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-The panel welcomed Booker T back to the Kickoff Show panel. Rosenberg made a crack about Corey Graves.
-Charly Caruso discussed the arrival earlier of Ronda Rousey. She said the other women are apprehensive about what her arrival means to the WrestleMania line-up.
-A video package aired on the women’s Chamber match.
-Paige joined the panel and took credit for igniting the Women’s Revolution. She predicted one of her stablemates will win the Chamber match. When asked about Rousey, Paige said in WWE they fight hundreds of a times a year whereas Rousey is used to one or two fights in a year.
-Mike Rome interviewed Sasha Banks and Bayley. They each said they’d win. Mickie James showed up and said she’d actually win. She said she’s not being used by Alexa Bliss, but the Bayley-Banks friendship would break tonight.
-A Miz selfie promo aired. He said entering first isn’t great, but he’s used to being number and he’d prove he’s number one by winning the Chamber.
-A Matt Hardy promo broke into the show. He vowed to delete Bray Wyatt.
-A video package aired on Asuka’s unbeaten streak and facing Nia Jax tonight. Booker and Otunga predicted a win for Jax, Rosenberg strongly picked Asuka. Rosenberg said if Asuka wins, she hasn’t declared which title she’ll go after at WrestleMania.
-The panel discussed the Raw Tag Team Title match.
-Kurt Angle answered fan questions in the Social Media Lounge. Angle updated Jason Jordan’s condition and said he’ll be back sooner than Jimmy Butler. Okay, he didn’t say that. He said he’d be back right after WrestleMania. Angle talked about the Chamber matches and Rousey.
(A) THE MIZTOURAGE (Bo Dallas & Curtis Axel) vs. KARL ANDERSON & LUKE GALLOWS
The announcers talked about the anticipation for the Elimination Chamber match and how Hollywood celebrities were at the arena to see the Ronda Rousey contract signing. Graves touted his Bollywood credentials and told Coach he’s a big star.
WINNERS: Gallows & Anderson with The Magic Killer.
-Mike Rome interviewed The Revival backstage. They said the match they just watched was a mockery of tag team wrestling. They oddly cut away from the interview just as Dash Wilder began talking.
-They went back to the panel which pitched the Elimination Chamber and the Rousey contract signing. Renee said WWE broke the Internet ever since the Royal Rumble appearance of Rousey. They showed a smiling Rousey arriving at the arena earlier. Booker predicted it’ll be Shucky Ducky and they added a duck pond graphic with floating rubber ducks. Rosenberg brought up how some of the other women might not love the attention Rousey is getting.
-A video package aired on the men’s Chamber match.
-Heyman said the main event doesn’t take place tonight, it takes place tomorrow night when the person who win will hear their fate at WrestleMania from the mouth of Brock Lesnar. He said they will go into self-preservation mode when they go eyeball-to-eyeball with Lesnar. As Renee concluded the segment, Heyman turned and asked Rosenberg, “Who are you?!” Funny.
MAIN PPV EVENT
-The announcers introduced the event. Then a video package aired on the Women’s Chamber match.
(1) WOMEN’S ELIMINATION CHAMBER MATCH
Ring introductions took place. The announcers talked about this being a historical moment. Coach added the sports-like talk about how every athlete deals with big-deal firsts in their career, and for each woman in this match, it’s one of them. The bell rang 17 minutes into the show as Bayley started against Sonya Deville. There was some Rousey talk early. The timing of this event being in Vegas, essentially the capital of UFC fights, is perfect. When Deville launched Bayley, Bayley grabbed the Chamber’s chain fence and climbed. Deville pulled her down. Bayley, though, took over offense until she missed an elbow drop.
Mandy Rose entered third. Bayley went right after her, which Graves said was “rude” because she didn’t have time to even fully exit her pod. Bayley rallied against both heels at first. Deville ended up spearing Bayley onto the hard platform outside the ring. Coach wondered if Deville and Rose would now turn on each other. Cole said they should work together until they’ve eliminated everyone, then deal with each other. They did just that.
Bayley entered fourth and evened the odds. Graves predicted Sasha would turn on Bayley right away. Sasha, though, went after Deville at ringside with running double-knees. Coach noted this gave Bayley a much-needed breather.
(Keller’s Analysis: Coach is adding so much to commentary by not playing a character or being a goof. The ESPN persona and sports-like approach is really adding to the commentary. He’s letting the wrestlers be the personalties and he’s there to amplify what the wrestlers are doing, not get himself over or banter in a jocular way that ends up being a distraction.)
Back in the ring, Rose clotheslined Banks and then planted her on the mat. Instead of going for the pin, she gloated and set up a butterfly suplex, but Banks escaped and hit the Back Stabber and then rolled into the Back Statement. Bayley cut off Deville’s attempt at the save. Rose tapped. Graves said Rose was the first women to ever be eliminated from a Women’s Royal Rumble and now the Women’s Elimination Chamber.
Next out was Mickie James. The overhead shot of the Chamber during the suspension seconds before the pod lights up and opens for someone is really slick. Mickie wet to work on all three other worn out workers. Eventually Sasha rolled her up from behind, but Mickie rolled through for a two count. She then hit a neck breaker. Mickie kipped up a minute later, but ate a knee from Deville. Mickie came back with a head scissors. They showed Alexa watching from the pod, the last entrant. When Sasha grabbed at Mickie as she tried to climb the cage, Mickie kicked her. Bayley then climbed alongside Mickie and they fought each other. Cole wondered where Mickie was going because there’s no escape and it’s not in the rules. Mickie then leaped off the top of a pod onto Deville with a Thesz Press for the pin.
As Mickie celebrated, Bayley attacked her. She hit a Bayley-to-Belly on Mickie for the sudden win. Graves said this is bad news for Alexa. Cole said having three eliminations before she even entered the match is a good thing because it increases her chances. Bayley and Sasha just stood and rested and waited for Alexa’s pod to open.
When Alexa’s pod opened, she didn’t come out and tried to keep a door closed. She escaped out the other side and climbed to the top of the pod to try to run from Sasha and Bayley. As she walked along the middle support beam of the Chamber, Bayley and Banks approached her from both sides. Bliss dropped down to the mat, but so did Bayley and Banks. Bliss climbed back up. She went back to the roof of her pod where Sasha took a shot at her. Sasha then turned and stomped on Bayley to knock her down. Graves said, “Man, I’m tired of being right.” Cole said it’s every woman for herself. Coach said. “I don’t know that it was heinous. I think it was just necessary.” As Banks pursued Bliss, Bayley charged at Banks from behind. Bliss then surprised Bayley from behind and took control against her as Banks recovered from being knocked down.
Banks cut off Bayley at one point and attacked her aggressively in the corner. Bayley flipped Banks upside in the corner in the Tree of Woe. Coach said he likes Bayley’s intensity. She climbed to the top rope, but Bliss met her and superplexed Bayley. Banks recovered and leaped off the top rope onto Bayley with a frog splash for a near fall. Banks continued to beat on Bayley as Bliss recovered on the other side of the ring. Bayley surprised Banks with a B2B off the ropes. Bliss popped up and rolled up Bayley for a surprise three count.
It came down to Bliss and Banks. Bliss covered Banks, but Banks kicked out. Bliss went for a Twisted Bliss, but Banks lifted her knees and then took over offense with a series of knees at ringside. Bliss avoided a running knee and then yanked Banks hard to the mat. Cole said that’s the aggressive streak that has made Bliss four time champion. Bliss climbed to the top of a pod. She landed a Twisted Bliss at ringside. Banks countered into a Bank Statement. She rolled into the ring to try to get a legal submission, but Bliss escaped. Bliss gave Banks a DDT off the top rope a minute later for the win.
WINNER: Bliss in 36:00. (***3/4)
(Keller’s Analysis: That worked. It told a good story. I wouldn’t say it was off-the-charts good or above good expectations, but it was really good. The Absolution pair, the least experienced, lost in the first phase of the match. The Mickie-Bayley-Banks action was good and included the Bayley vs. Banks action. Then Bliss entering and trying to run from the two babyfaces was a satisfying final third.)
-After the match, Bliss cried and said the win means everything to her. Fans chanted “You deserve it!” Banks cried at ringside. Bliss said this win is about all women and girls who have ever dreamed big. “This victory is all about you,” she said. She pointed at her belt and said this proves you can be whatever you want to be. “Dare to dream, and dream big,” she said. She wiped away tears. She then got sinister and said the reality is none of them will ever accomplish their dreams. She said this match proves there is nobody better than her. She said the odds were clearly stacked against her and she still won. She said not a single person in the arena believed she could win. “Guess what, guys? I did,” she said. She said she is the one true goddess in WWE.
(Keller’s Analysis: I was suspicious, but concerned too that Bliss was going to try to do a post-match babyface moment breaking character and then go back heel on Raw. Or that she was going to turn babyface and then Banks would reenter the ring and attack her and solidifying a heel turn. But the third likely option took place, which was turning on the fans and showing her tears were insincere from the start and just self-serving.)
-Coach said he was thinking about the emotion, execution, and effort that led to Bliss’s victory. Graves congratulated her. Cole said she’ll be defending the championship at WrestleMania.
-They showed G.M. Kurt Angle knocking on Ronda Rousey’s locker room door. Then he went inside.
-A Braun Strowman selfie video aired where he said he’ll make Brock Lesnar his pet Beastie Boy at WrestleMania and become WWE Champion.
-They went to the announcers on camera. Graves wondered if anyone thought they’d see someone talk to Brock Lesnar that way.
(2) THE BAR (Sheamus & Cesaro) vs. TITUS WORLDWIDE (Titus O’Neal & Apollo w/Dana Brooke) – WWE Raw Tag Team Title match
The Bar jump-started the match with an attack before the bell. Apollo and Titus came back quickly and cleared the ring of the heel duo. Apollo then leaped off the top rope onto both of them at ringside. Cesaro grabbed his right ankle. The ref rang the bell once it was Cesaro vs. Apollo in the ring. Sheamus created a distraction to help Cesaro take control against Apollo. Cole and Coach briefly discussed whether “game plan” is one word or two. Cole looked it up and corrected Coach after a brief debate. Titus eventually rallied. He caught Cesaro leaping off the top rope, but Cesaro slipped free and tagged in Sheamus who surprised Titus with a neck snap over the top rope. Titus came right back with a Clash of the Titus after some gloating by Sheamus leading to a two count. The announcers said Sheamus made a misstep and should have stayed focused. Apollo flip dove onto both heels at ringside, then landed a crossbody on Sheamus off the top rope for a two count. Sheamus lifted his knees on a standing moonsault and scored a two count. Meanwhile, Cesaro threw Titus into the ringpost. Apollo gave Sheamus an enzuigiri, but Cesaro secretly tagged in and clipped Apollo’s knee. The Bar then finished Apollo with a double-team move.
WINNERS: Sheamus & Cesaro in 10:00 to retain the Raw Tag Titles. (**1/2)
(Keller’s Analysis: This was okay.)
-A commercial aired hyping the HBO documentary on Andre the Giant. (VIP members, you can look forward to a Bruce Mitchell Audio Show covering the documentary in-depth, perhaps a real-time alt-commentary style podcast that weekend!)
-A video package aired hyping Jax vs. Asuka and Jax in general.
(3) ASUKA vs. NIA JAX – If Jax wins, she’s added to WrestleMania Women’s Title match
Graves said Jax has been living up to the title of the Irresistible Force and he predicted Asuka’s streak ends tonight. Graves said Asuka might compete not to lose rather than win. Jax overpowered Asuka at the start. Asuka landed a spinning elbow, but Jax headbutted her. Jax tossed Asuka across the ring with a Biel throw. She charged, but Asuka sidestepped her. Jax went over the top rope but landed on her feet on the floor. Jax then took over. They showed Bliss watching on a monitor backstage. (It’s bad for Bliss’s eyes to watch a screen that giant from just six inches away.) Jax gave Asuka a backbreaker and then a splash in the corner. Cole said only one women in history has won her first four PPV matches in WWE – Fabulous Moolah – and Asuka can tie that record tonight.
Asuka came back with a guillotine at 3:00. Jax escaped with a modified jackhammer, then hit a Samoan Drop. Asuka avoided a running legdrop and hit a Shining Wizard and then scored a two count. Both were slow to get up. Asuka got up and landed two kicks for a near fall. When Jax lifted Asuka on this second rope, Asuka slipped free and went for a sunset flip. Jax then went for a corner butt-splash, but Asuka moved. Coach said she took too much time. Graves said she was trying to get momentum and some height before crashing down. Jax knocked Asuka hard to the mat seconds later when the collided. Jax flip dove onto Asuka, who rolled out of the way, but the splash still landed on her legs. Asuka avoided a charge in the corner by Jax. Asuka then applied her signature Asuka lock mid-ring. Jax lifted and Asuka and rammed her into the corner, causing a break of the hold. Graves wondered if doubt was entering the mind of Asuka. Coach said Jax might be doubting herself. Graves said she isn’t doubting herself at all. Asuka countered a Jax powerbomb seconds later and jackknife pinned her.
After the match Jax attacked Asuka during her post-match celebration. She threw her into the ringpost and then speared her into the ringside barricade and into the time keeper’s area. Coach called Jax “the sorest loser I’ve ever seen.” Jax marched to the back. They cut to Bliss laughing giddily backstage.
WINNER: Asuka in 8:00. (**1/4)
(Keller’s Analysis: Smart that they kept Asuka’s undefeated streak in place. The match was pretty short, but not too short for the story they told. The leverage pin along with the post-match attack kept Jax pretty strong.)
-Renee Young interviewed Bliss backstage and said it looks like she’ll be facing Asuka at WrestleMania. Bliss said WrestleMania is just six weeks away and she’s not sad to see what Jax did to Asuka. Bliss said, “No one – no one – is ready for Alexa!”
-Two referees helped Asuka to her feet and toward the back.
-A KFC ad aired.
-Graves thanked Will Roush for the “M.O.M.” theme for the EC PPV.
-Charly Caruso interviewed Roman Reigns backstage. She asked for his reaction to Heyman’s comments earlier. Reigns said he doesn’t care what Heyman has to say. He said Heyman shows up to work ten days a year and waddles to the ring and says things that he can’t accomplish himself. Reigns said he does his own work, and Heyman should listen to his spoiler alert: “I’m going to WrestleMania, I’m beating Brock Lesnar, and I’m taking the WWE Championship.”
(4) BRAY WYATT vs. MATT HARDY
Matt played some mind games early. After his ring entrance, he disappeared. Bray looked for him. Matt showed up at ringside on the steps and attacked him. A beachball distraction hurt the match, which Bray looked annoyed by. Later the crowd did a wave. Then they chanted “Rusev Day!” Hardy avoided a senton splash off the ropes by Bray late in the match. Bray came back to set up Sister Abigail, but Matt powered out. Bray kicked him in the face. Matt, through, came back with a Twist of Fate for the clean win.
WINNER: Hardy in 10:00.
(Keller’s Analysis: The crowd wasn’t exactly polite here, but if the crowd is doing that, it’s a sign that the wrestlers, the match, and the hype all were below par.)
-The announcers touted the media buzz around Ronda Rousey arriving in WWE. A long video package aired on her.
RONDA ROUSEY CONTRACT SIGNING SEGMENT
-Kurt Angle came out to his music with a contract clipboard. Then Triple H and Stephanie McMahon came out to Triple H’s music. (Interesting that Triple H’s music trumped Stephanie’s.) Fans chanted “Triple H!” He seemed to be trying unsuccessfully to hold back a smile. Stephanie said they’re about to make history. Triple H said they scour the Earth looking for the greatest elite athletes to take WWE to the next level. He said this might be the greatest signing since Kurt Angle, an Olympic Gold Medalist walked through the doors. He talked about Rousey’s accomplishments. Some fans chanted “What?” He said UFC made divisions just for her. He said she has paved the way for women athletes around the globe. He said she has earned the right to be the called the Baddest Women on the Planet.
Out came Rousey. She had a big smile on her face. She waved at the fans. She shook Hunter’s hand, then Stephanie’s. She hugged Angle. Graves said he’s been a fan of hers for years and couldn’t be more excited. Stephanie said she wanted to be the first to welcome her to WWE. Stephanie said the fans don’t want to hear from her (Stephanie), they want to hear from her. Rousey said it’s hard to know what to say. She said she’s not often speechless, but to be in the ring with all three of them, “especially you, Kurt, I don’t think anyone else can really appreciate the magnitude of your accomplishment more than me, so it really is an honor.” Fans chanted “Ronda Rousey.” She stopped as it built some momentum. She was all smiled. She said she wouldn’t be there if not for her hero, “Rowdy” Roddy Piper. She said he was her inspiration for how she handled her career. She said she wants to make him and his family proud. She said she wants to earn their respect, most of all.
Triple H said with that said, it’s time to get down to business. He opened the contract. He said she didn’t want anything special put in the contract. “I want to be sure of it before we sign this,” he said. “You didn’t want special perks, no special travel, no private cars.” She said she didn’t want to be treated any differently than anyone else. They cut to Angle who seemed to react weird to this. Triple H said when she signs the contract, she will be competing at WrestleMania. He said she’ll be in a match, but not a championship match. She said she doesn’t want to be given a title match, she wants to earn it. She thanked them again for the opportunity and smiled. Stephanie said it was time to make it official. Hunter went over and chatted with Angle, and it seemed a little awkward if not heated. Rousey noticed the Hunter-Angle conversation was heating up. Rousey asked Angle if he wanted to say something.
Angle said he is just in awe of Triple H and Stephanie. He said they’re brilliant. He said he’s been listening to them talk about her every since he came back to WWE. “They couldn’t wait to have you here because they wanted to manipulate you for what you did to them at WrestleMania 31.” He said how she flipped Triple H onto his back and almost broke Stephanie’s arm. “They want to put their thumb on you and keep them down.” He asked Triple H if he said earlier, “Didn’t you say earlier three years in the making and now we owe the bi…” Hunter told Angle to shut up. Rousey looked shaken up and concerned. Hunter said tonight is about making dreams come true. Hunter said Kurt isn’t feeling well and he was in the hospital with the flu and isn’t feeling well. He said he’s going to escort him out of the ring and to the back. Steph said the flu has been bad and Angle is delusional
Stephanie said it’s true that they’ve been talking about Rousey since WrestleMania 31, but she impressed her and they wanted her in WWE ever since. She told her to make it official and turn her into a WWE Superstar. Angle on the stage asked Stephanie if she had said in her office earlier that “Rousey is a has-been and even you could take her?” Rousey turned to Stephanie and backed her against the ropes. Hunter rushed back to the ring and stepped between Rousey and Stephanie. Rousey shoved Hunter’s arms away from her. Hunter smiled and tried to talk her down. Hunter then led Stephanie safely to the ring apron. When Hunter turned back to Rousey, Rousey slammed him through the announce table. “Oh my God!” shouted Cole. Stephanie slapped Rousey across the face. Graves said, “Oh my God.” She yelled at Rousey and asked who she thinks she is. Fans chanted “You f—ed up!” Rousey teared up and looked sternly at her. Stephanie rolled out of the ring to safety. Rousey picked up the contract threw the pen cap down and signed the paperwork. She dropped it on Hunter’s chest and walked out. Cole said there is no going back now. “I hope she knows what she did!” he said. “She just buried the CEO in the rubble of a table.” Cole wondered what happens if Rousey shows up on Raw tomorrow night.
(Keller’s Analysis: So any remaining doubt that Ronda’s first match would be a mixed tag match against Stephanie & Hunter is now removed. Rousey was pretty good here. She talked a little too softly and quietly, but she’ll probably figure that out pretty easily. Her facial expressions and acting was where it needed to be here. Stephanie and Hunter were so over the top ebullient early on, you knew something was up. Angle stumbled a couple times on his words, but overall played his part very well, making it obvious enough to be noticed that he wasn’t on board with this, but not to a cartoonish degree. Hunter and Stephanie were really good here. This seems to point strongly toward Angle being in the mixed tag match with Rousey against Hunter & Stephanie. Rousey expressing early in the segment how much she admired Angle, and Hunter calling Rousey the biggest signing since Angle, all build the foundation that Rousey would trust Angle’s claims that came a few minutes later. That worked well as a starting place for Rousey. She’s likable as a babyface. The added touch that her contract says she gets no special treatment was part of establishing that she’s not coming in as a prima donna or celebrity getting extra perks. It makes sense that they don’t want fans turning against her, so anything they can do to make her seem like a common fan who happened to win in UFC instead of a highly paid prima donna leapfrogging and overshadowing hard working women wrestlers was important.)
VIP members, send your WWE Elimination Chamber-related questions and comments for tonight’s special post-PPV Wade Keller Hotline to firstname.lastname@example.org.
-Elias sat with his guitar mid-ring. He took some digs at Las Vegas, but fans still chanted “Walk With Elias.” He said he’ll be watching the others in the match tear each other up. He dedicated his song to himself. He asked everyone to shut their mouths. Boos. He stopped after a few strums and said, “After all I do for you, the least you could do is sit silently and listen.” He threatened not to sing and just sit in his pod. Cheers. He said the thing is, he just hit his perfect pitch so he’s going to continue. He sang that Miz is delusional D-list, not a legend like him. He sang about Cena, Reigns, and Braun. Braun Strowman’s music interrupted.
-After Braun, out came John Cena, Roman Reigns, The Miz, Seth Rollins. and Finn Balor. Cole said Stephanie would join Renee Young & Peter Rosenberg on “Raw Talk” after the PPV exclusively on WWE Network. Cole noted that Reigns has never been in an Elimination Chamber match. Reigns got booed as he raised his arms when he entered the ring. Cena waved at him as he saluted the crowd from the other side of the ring. Coach said it cannot be undersold how much getting to WrestleMania means for all of these wrestlers, “and there’s only so many spots.”
(5) MEN’S ELIMINATION CHAMBER MATCH
Miz vs. Seth vs. Balor started the match. Coach said unlike with the women, none of these men are friends. Graves quickly said that Seth and Reigns have a healthy respect for each other. The match started 40 minutes into the third hour.
After five minutes, the lights flashed over the four pods seemingly randomly and stopped on Cena. (Just to get across the fact that Elias gets to enter last, they could have the light land on his pod early and then state that they have to reactivate the randomizer because he gets to enter last. Either that, or the lights should avoid going over Elias’s pod altogether.) Cena trash-talked Seth a little, then took early control against Seth as Balor and Miz were recovering in opposite corners. Cena looked around and threw his arms up and then did a double You Can’t See Me over both Miz and Seth. he landed a stereo Five Knuckle Shuffle. Balor broke up the pin and went after Miz with a Slingblade. With all four men down at the end of the five minutes, Reigns’s pod opened.
Reigns entered the ring to boos. He punched wrestlers as they came at him one after another. Seth stood and stared at Reigns. Miz jumped them both. He kicked Reigns and gave Seth a DDT for a near fall. He turned to Cena and kicked him next. Miz pointed at all four opponents who were all kneeling, with the crowd reacting to each of them at different levels when he indicated he’d Yes Kick them. Most cheers when he pointed at Reigns. He took turns kicking each of them. (This was overly orchestrated and way too cute.) Reigns exploded with a comeback against Miz. Balor hit Reigns from the side and aggressively went after him. Reigns clotheslined Balor over and over in the corner. Reigns came back with a powerbomb. He then gave a Samoan Drop to a charging Cena. Cena kicked ut at two. He caught Miz’s leg and then gave him a sitout powerbomb for a near fall.
Braun came in next and suplexed both Seth and Cena at once. He then shoved Balor into Reigns to stop him. Graves said Braun’s weapon of choice is human beings. Miz climbed to the top of a pod. Braun chased after him. He caught up to him and yanked him by his hair. He rammed Miz into the side of the chamber over and over. Then he tossed Miz off of the pod onto a crowd of wrestlers below. He let out a big yell. Coach said, “Did I mention he was made for this match?” Cole called it an absolutely amazing sight. Elias taunted Braun from inside the pod. Braun just moved from one wrestler to another and used power moves to take them down. He eventually eliminated Miz after a running powerslam.
The other four popped up and attacked Braun. Then they ooked at each other and worked out how to work together. Reigns called for the triple powerbomb, but with four men. Strowman kicked out. Cena gave Strowman an AA next and almost dropped him on his head. Strowman kicked out at one with authority. Reigns speared Strowman and scored a two count. “This is ridiculous!” said Seth. Seth then charged at Strowman and landed a stomp. Balor landed a Coup de Grace at ringside on the platform. Cena then gave Reigns an AA. Seth superkicked Cena twice. Seth and Balor battled and collided mid-air mid-ring. Everyone was slow to get up. Elias then entered, apparently deciding when he was going to do it. Coach said it was so smart. He tried pinning each wrestler one after another. (That was almost too cute, but sort of worked, too.) A couple minutes later, when Elias tried to lift Braun onto his shoulders. Braun powerslammed him and eliminated him with a pin. Fans sang “Na na na na, good bye” to him as he left.
Strowman lifted Reigns, but took his time as he trash-talked him a bit first and also looked at Elias. Seth then gave Reigns a flying knee from behind. Balor dropkicked STrowman. Reigns popped up and clotheslined Strowman. Cena dove at Braun, but Braun powerslammed him for a three count. Some cheers, but also some shock from the audience. Cole said there is no clear path for Cena at WrestleMania.
Balor stood up and faced Braun. They exchanged blows. Balor caught a charging Strowman twice with boots and then used his agility to kick him from another angle. Braun yanked Balor off the top rope and quickly went for a running powerslam. Balor slipped out and dropkicked Strowman into the corner. He dropkicked him a second time. Braun dropped. Balor then hit the Coup de Grace for a near fall. Thankfully, none of the announcers said, “That’s it! It’s over!” Balor then went to work on Seth and scored a two count after the 1916. Balor gave Reigns a Sling Blade and a running dropkick. He landed a Coup de Grace off the top rope next but Braun grabbed Balor and scored a three count after a powerslam. That left Braun, Seth, and Reigns.
Seth and Reigns worked over Braun, but then Seth turned on Reigns and superkicked him and went for his high knee. Reigns avoided it, but Seth gave him a running buckle bomb. Reigns popped out of the corner with a Superman Punch. Braun recovered and picked up Seth. Seth climbed the structure. Reigns gave Braun a Samoan Drop to take Braun off the side of the structure. Braun rolled back into the ring. Seth then stood on the pod and looked to the crowd. He landed a frog splash for a two count at 35:00.
A minute later, Strowman dropkicked Reigns. Seth went for his stomp, but Braun powerslammed him and scored the pin. It came down to Reigns and Braun. No surprise. Cole said it’s down to Braun or Roman who will face Lesnar at WrestleMania. Strowman dropped his straps and called Reigns into the ring. Braun grabbed Reigns by his throat and shoved him over the top rope onto the platform at ringside. Reigns came back and leaped over the top rope and charged into Strowman against the structure. Strowman charged back at Reigns, but Reigns moved and then Strowman crashed through the wall of one of the pods. Reigns landed a Superman Punch. Fans booed as Reigns set up and delivered a Superman Punch. Coach said Reigns looked like he wondered what it would take. Cole said he has one more weapon in his arsenal. He charged, but Braun avoided the Spear. Reigns went for it again and landed it. Then he did hit the spear. Strowman popped up. Reigns hit another Spear and scored the three count.
Coach did the obligatory praise for the effort of the loser, Strowman.
WINNER: Reigns in 40:00. (****)
(Keller’s Analysis: The match began slow, but the final half was a step up and there was enough drama and big spots to satisfy. The finish, well, some will be upset, but if you weren’t prepared for it as the likelihood, you weren’t paying attention or were in denial.)