WWE's Elimination Chamber Gimmick Is the Perfect Lead-In to WrestleMania
Going from Royal Rumble to Elimination Chamber to WrestleMania is the perfect succession of events, a journey that builds beautifully toward WWE's biggest night of the year.
WWE's calendar has shifted over the years with some concepts being left behind and some finding permanent homes.
The King of the Ring tournament has inexplicably been tossed aside. The Fatal 4-Way pay-per-view lasted only once.
While the move to pay-per-views based around gimmick matches has led to WWE forcing rivalries to go in strange places and for gimmick matches to be booked without good reason, the Elimination Chamber is placed perfectly and is easy to book.
WWE superstars start off each year with the Royal Rumble, a win earning one man an automatic shot at a world title. Crammed in between that big event and The Showcase of the Immortals is the Elimination Chamber event. This is everyone's last chance to get a title shot or to snatch the championship away from the champ.
The Hell in a Cell match is designed for rivalries to explode at their most intense point. If a feud hasn't arrived at that point by the Hell in a Cell pay-per-view, rivals are placed in that structure too soon.
The Elimination Chamber on the other hand, doesn't need previous bad blood or to be at a certain point in a rivalry's narrative to succeed.
It's essentially a single-elimination tournament crammed into a steel and Plexiglas structure.
At the 2013 event, for example, Randy Orton, Kane, Jack Swagger, Chris Jericho, Mark Henry and Daniel Bryan all fought for a chance to take on the World Heavyweight champ at WrestleMania 29.
While there was the story of Mark Henry returning to dominance and Team Hell No's relationship falling apart, WWE didn't need any particular stories to be in progress for the excitement of the match to work.
Either a championship or a championship match is on the line, so the stakes are immediately set high.
The inherent violence of the structure makes for thrilling action regardless of who one roots for. Big men can smash their foes through the pods or rattle their bodies against the steel grates. High-flyers can take to climbing the chains or pods for a creative acrobatic move.
Besides the number of big spots wrestlers can use to thrill fans, the format of the match creates a compelling story on its own.
The first two men in the ring are given a distinct disadvantage. Should they last a significant amount of time or especially if they win the whole thing, they are made to look like gutsy warriors.
The surprise element of who enters next is akin to the surprise of the Royal Rumble entrants.
Only there is no filler in the Chamber. There are no special guests past their prime who pose no real threat of winning.
Did anyone think Godfather was going to come out the winner at Royal Rumble 2013?
The Chamber is (usually) filled only with serious championship contenders, the best of the best.
For WWE to scramble to put together good matches for this event between Royal Rumble and WrestleMania would be a struggle.
Instead, WWE can simply shove six top guys in one match, one brutal fight that serves as a direct feeder into a WrestleMania storyline.
Now that Jack Swagger has won this year's Chamber match, WWE can build his feud vs. Alberto Del Rio.
It's a story that the Chamber did much of the initial work for. WWE only has to continue Swagger's momentum, pointing it directly at Del Rio.
Who knows how long the novelty of the Chamber can last? Some might have thought that the Royal Rumble wouldn't be around long and it's still here today, nearly three decades later.
Elimination Chamber's capacity for carnage and its built-in storylines should make it as permanent a fixture in the WWE season as the Rumble or SummerSlam.
The way that the NFL divisional playoffs lead into the conference championship games into the Super Bowl, Elimination Chamber serves as the ideal bridge between Royal Rumble and WrestleMania.
It forces a man to go through utter darkness before earning his spot at WrestleMania.
It provides a touch of savagery before the ultimate spectacle that is The Granddaddy of Them All. It provides one valiant victor a spot in the center of the spotlight.
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