Last night's Elimination Chamber pay-per-view, overall, was a great show.
It featured some terrific matches and exciting moments, but as to be expected, it had some lousy ones too.
However, WWE should get their credit; there were far more good moments than bad.
The Elimination Chamber has a tough gig, as it's placed in between the Royal Rumble and WrestleMania, the WWE's two biggest shows of the year. Despite that, this year's show did more than enough to warrant a lot of attention.
There were some smart booking decisions made by WWE's creative team, and this year's Road to WrestleMania will be getting a whole lot more exciting in the weeks to come, thanks to the shenanigans that occured at this PPV.
But more than anything, Elimination Chamber 2013 deserves to be thought of as it's own pay-per-view, rather than simply a part of WrestleMania season. Here are the best and worst moments of the event.
It's been a while since WWE stopped pretending like the Raw brand and it's championship wasn't significantly more important than SmackDown and its championship, but things have gone too far.
This is not the most flagrant transgression committed regarding the World Heavyweight Championship. It wasn't "18 seconds at WrestleMania" bad, but it's still disappointing to see the World Heavyweight Championship open two pay-per-view events in a row.
The match between Big Show and Del Rio was for the World Heavyweight Championship, yet it was the fourth-most important match on the card behind the Chamber, WWE Championship and Cena match.
This is symptomatic of a big problem in the WWE; SmackDown and the World Heavyweight Championship aren't nearly as important as they should be.
This trend really began back in 2011 when Edge faced Del Rio in the opening match of WrestleMania XXVII. The idea was obviously that a big match would open the show to imply that the whole event is ultra important.
It's a novel idea but it only works if you use it sparingly. Eventually it stops making the event look big-time and starts making the title look meaningless.
In the second match of the night, The Miz faced Antonio Cesaro in an average match for the US Championship, which ended when the champion was inadvertently kneed in the groin.
My immediate reaction was negative; the finish made Cesaro look weak and made the whole feud seem pointless.
After the match, however, Miz got up, kicked Cesaro square in the balls and taunted him from the apron. It was the first good thing Miz has done since turning babyface.
The reason why people thought Miz would work as a crowd favorite was because he was the type of heel who could be a babyface simply by feuding with other heels. His jock-ish charisma could be endearing if directed at the right people.
The problem is, since he turned babyface he's played the role of courageous tough guy, which is decidedly unlike The Miz and, as a result, he couldn't pull it off.
When he attacked Cesaro after the match, the Awesome One regained some of the edge that made him an interesting heel. Hopefully it was part of a conscious effort to move his character that way.
In what was a huge surprise, Jack Swagger pinned Randy Orton with a roll-up to win the Elimination Chamber match and the opportunity to compete for the World Heavyweight Championship at WrestleMania.
Given the push he has received since his return, many expected Swagger to have a strong showing in the chamber, but very few—if any—predicted he would win.
Henry, Orton and Jericho all seemed far more likely than Swagger, but as they say, never say never in the WWE.
Truthfully, the entire match itself could be placed in a "best" slide, because it was terrific.
WWE achieved a lot with it. Kane and Bryan are one step closer to a Mania match, Orton and Jericho both came off strong despite losing and Mark Henry looked better than he ever has.
But the biggest winner of the match was the Real American Jack Swagger.
Perhaps the most consistent criticism leveled at the WWE is that they don't do enough to make new stars. It's hard to say they've made a new star for sure considering their history with the All-American American, but they've surprisingly taken one huge step in the right direction.
During the Elimination Chamber pay-per-view, Alberto Del Rio and The Rock retained their respective world championships and Jack Swagger had the best night of his career. Despite all that, the biggest winner of the night may very well be Roman Reigns.
Before Elimination Chamber, Reigns felt like third fiddle to Ambrose and Rollins. Ambrose has a strong quirky charisma and Rollins is a talented talker and very talented wrestler, and Reigns seemed relatively generic in comparison.
After Elimination Chamber, Roman Reigns may be the breakout star of The Shield.
All three superstars got the chance to show the attributes noted above. Ambrose comes off as The Joker of professional wrestling (in a good way), and Rollins got a few exciting aerial moves in.
However, the two highest spots in the match both came from Reigns and his fiendish spear. First he decimated Sheamus with it by tackling him through the barricade and then he hit Ryback with it, leading Big Hungry to get pinned.
In terms of the spear itself, it may not be at a Goldberg level of impact yet, but it sure does put Edge to shame.
Either way, Elimination Chamber was the first time we got to see just how impressive Reigns can be.
The match between The Rock and CM Punk at the Royal Rumble was thrilling and constantly engaging. The match between The Rock and CM Punk at Elimination Chamber was not.
If their first meeting could be criticized for anything, it was that it had too many rest holds and a sloppy finish—but neither problem was big enough to ruin the match. However, the issues were much more pronounced the second time around.
The rematch failed to gain any real momentum because the pace was so slow. It may be unfair to blame it all on The Rock; perhaps they were just trying to tell a very basic wrestling story and have a slow buildup to a big comeback.
If that was their plan, it was a bad plan—and either way it didn't work because the ending was so asinine and, quite frankly, poorly done. Things began to get ridiculous when the second referee rolled out of the ring because Punk's back briefly touched his ankle.
To be fair, they used the stipulation of Rock not being able to get disqualified or counted out well, but it felt like literally all he did when he wasn't in a headlock was do something that almost got him disqualified or counted out.
Many have noted that the Rock isn't in the best ring shape, possibly due to his considerably muscle-bound physique. His match with Cena at last year's WrestleMania was underwhelming, but it seemed like all was okay after Rock vs. Punk at the Rumble.
Rock vs. Punk II is cause for concern for the quality of the WrestleMania main event.