With the WWE World Heavyweight Championship and a WrestleMania XXX headline match against No. 1 contender Batista on the line, six of wrestling's brightest stars stepped inside the unforgiving confines of the Elimination Chamber for Sunday night's main event.
Champion Randy Orton faced several questions surrounding both his title reign and his status as the so-called "Face of the WWE" heading into the match. With challengers such as John Cena, Daniel Bryan Sheamus, Christian and Cesaro gunning for the top prize in the sport, there was a great deal of pressure squarely on the shoulders of The Viper.
How did he fare in his final pay-per-view test before the Showcase of the Immortals?
Orton successfully retained his title in a wild and chaotic main event that started off sluggishly but picked up with Cena's entrance.
Despite being the weakest of the competitors heading into the bout, "Captain Charisma" Christian scored the first elimination of the evening as he gained a measure of revenge on Sheamus for a loss Friday night on SmackDown.
His night would come to an end courtesy of Bryan.
Cena brought the impressive run of Cesaro to its conclusion with the STF, only to be eliminated by Orton following interference from The Wyatt Family.
Bryan appeared to be well on his way to victory, once again matched up with Orton with the WWE title at stake, when director of operations Kane interfered, ending his chase of championship gold in disappointing fashion yet again.
The Wyatt Family's involvement late in the match really stood out. Their attack on Cena seemingly indicates that they will begin their mission to tear down the machine at WrestleMania as Bray takes on the top star in the industry.
The fans in Minneapolis appreciated the assault on Cena, raining down on the heels with a"thank you Wyatts" chant to show their gratitude.
Earlier in the match, Orton had entered the match, only to be cornered by his challengers. Seeking asylum, he re-entered his pod. Sheamus, never one to let a sneaky, cowardly snake hide from battle, delivered a Brogue Kick that broke the glass and allowed him to retrieve the champion from inside.
The brief exchange between Cena and Bryan was explosive and really hooked the crowd. Given how receptive they were, it appears as though the company may have a big-money rematch on its hands if it wishes to pursue it.
Sunday's main event built steadily. By the time it hit its peak late, with the involvement of both The Wyatt Family and Kane, fans were completely invested into the action being presented to them.
Everyone worked hard, including Sheamus, who took a great deal of punishment as he bumped around the cell from the very beginning.
The company accomplished a great deal in the wild, show-closing bout. It initiated the Cena-Wyatt feud that will culminate at WrestleMania, once again created doubt surrounding Orton's title reign and continued to paint Bryan as the sympathetic figure who constantly has his championship opportunities stolen from him.
While all signs may point to Orton defending his title against Batista in one of several WrestleMania main events, the fact that Michael Cole put over how deserving Bryan is of being champion on commentary as hard as he did may indicate that the company is considering putting the leader of the Yes Movement into the title match come April 6.
A hard-hitting match that was very physical but lacked the sheer brutality and big bumps that many of the more memorable bouts have incorporated.
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!