I was fortunate enough to attend WWE’s Elimination Chamber event on Sunday night. It was the first pay-per-view held in Minnesota since Bragging Rights in 2010, and the atmosphere was outstanding, with echoes of the “Yes!” chants raining through the streets of downtown Minneapolis throughout the night.
Here are a few takeaways from the event and thoughts on the dwindling road to WrestleMania.
I’ve never been as wrong about a wrestler as I was about Bray. The guy is phenomenal. When WWE began airing the Wyatt Family “home videos” last year to introduce the new characters, I thought they were doomed to fail. At the time, the most recent character release was Fandango therefore you can understand my skepticism.
Bray (aka Windham Lawrence Rotunda) played on the defensive line at Troy University, and his athleticism for a man of his size is truly remarkable. The young fan sitting near me in the audience was genuinely creeped out by The Wyatts, and that is a testament to how well Rotunda plays the character. With Wyatt expected to square off against John Cena at WrestleMania, I find myself actually caring about a Cena feud for the first time in over a year.
And nearly two months into 2014, The Wyatts vs. The Shield is my early choice for match of the year. The crowd was completely subsumed, as “Let’s go Wyatts/Let’s go Shield” chants echoed throughout the arena. Those I spoke to after the event said the match was every bit as good on TV.
And the end was perfect, with Bray and Roman Reigns having it out in the middle of the ring. I was not surprised to see The Wyatts win, as WWE is starting to hint that The Shield will dissolve sometime in the near future, but I was surprised to see Reigns get pinned. Expect to see that serve as fuel for the ensuing feud between him and Dean Ambrose.
Another positive from the event was Titus O’Neil. He threw his opponent, Darren Young, around the ring like a rag doll.
Another former college football player in his own right, O’Neil possesses the strength and stamina of somebody that looks poised to become WWE’s next big heel. It will be interesting to see what WWE decides to do for his next feud. The company has given him a push the last few weeks, and although the big-ticket matches for 'Mania are nearly solidified (Cena vs. Wyatt, Orton vs. Batista and Daniel Bryan vs. The Authority), the rest of the card is wide open.
Furthermore, guys like Big E and Cesaro have been very visible the last month. As the road to WrestleMania heats up, it will be interesting to see what direction WWE Creative goes with these up-and-comers.
Not everything at Elimination Chamber was well received, however. The fans screamed for Brock Lesnar several times throughout the event, but to no avail.
Lesnar wrestled at the University of Minnesota, tried out for the Minnesota Vikings and is billed as a Minneapolis native. There were rumors swirling, including one from SEScoops.com, that he would beat up one of the Chamber match participants on the night of the event and then steal his spot in the match.
However, there was an audible groan when Christian—who was rumored to eventually be replaced, according to Ringsidenews.com (via F4WOnline.com)—took his spot in the Chamber, thus dispelling the rumor.
WWE only has Lesnar for a limited number of appearances, so it’s understandable that it would reserve him for the major PPVs. But with the WWE network going live on Monday, and the company on the heels of a poorly received Royal Rumble, one would have thought something big was going to happen at Elimination Chamber. Lesnar should have been that big surprise, and WWE dropped the ball by not getting him involved.
Why does this guy get title fights?
He came back last summer, almost immediately had a title fight against Alberto Del Rio, lost, disappeared, then came back again a month ago and was fighting for the title at Elimination Chamber. How is it that he shows up intermittently and gets these pushes from WWE? Does anyone really get excited about seeing Christian perform? I certainly don’t. I’d rather watch another Divas title fight than Christian.
In my estimation, his best days were with Edge, and he is riding on a lot of old equity right now. It’s time for WWE to start looking elsewhere.
The event opened with a “We Want Ziggler” chant from the fans in Minneapolis. It was not the only one during the course of the night, either. WWE’s treatment of Ziggler continues to baffle me.
He wasn’t even on Raw last week and was used on SmackDown as a mere plot device for the Young-O’Neil match. I’ve written about his misuse before, so I’ll leave it at that.
Bad News Barrett
The guy is hilarious. A real beauty.