Just the other day I saw a video package for the Elimination Chamber that was great. I thought to myself, “Imagine if the action inside of the ring told the same exact story, each man leaving the EC playing of the effects of the chamber, limping to the ring, sporting Diamond Dallas Page-like bandages wrapped around their midsections, black eyes and bandaged foreheads and the like.”
Unfortunately, the current WWE PG climate won't allow for that to happen.
It seems that the Elimination Chamber is only viewed as an object, a prop that the superstars will utilize sparingly in their quest to gain a championship or main event match at Wrestlemania 27.
In this current PG Climate, the chamber is a chair; a kendo stick, a bell, a belt or a trash can. At this rate, the chamber becomes a novelty item that really stands to take away from the intended brutality of the match and the structure.
What if the chamber was viewed by the company as a living, breathing, hulking beast of a structure, feeding off of the pain inflicted upon the superstars trapped inside of it?
What if a superstar entered the massive structure and wrestled with viciousness unseen before, the blood in their veins pumping with an unrivaled intensity that is in sync with EC itself?
Imagine if another superstar entered the ring in total fear, using his ring savvy to avoid being tossed over the top rope and landing square on the unforgiving steel floor surrounding the ring.
Take it one step further and picture the high-flying, daredevil superstar ascending the steel chain link fence, risking his own life and putting his body on the line by trusting the structure long enough to perform the one big maneuver that could turn his boyhood fantasy into a dream come true or a never ending nightmare.
It’s too bad we won’t see that on PPV Sunday.
Instead we'll get six men in a ring surrounded by an obnoxiously large steel cage with a top and pods. One by one they'll defeat each other, and the last man standing will not only become their respective brand's top dog, but will also have a guaranteed match at pro wrestling's grandest stage.
Six men wrestling in a see through room. Twice.
This apathetic description of the WWE’s Elimination Chamber is a far cry from its well professed claims of being a diabolical, ruthless and unforgiving structure that claims more pro wrestling souls than The Undertaker.
The truly tragic point of it all is that the former description of “Satan’s Playground” is more accurate than the latter. A closer, more analytical look reveals to fans that there are really seven individuals participating in each of the Elimination Chamber matches: six pro wrestlers and the actual structure itself.
This is what we’ve been fed ever since the very first Elimination Chamber match; this gargantuan edifice was constructed as a means of watching superstars inflict massive amounts of pain on one another in their quest to become the company’s (or respective brand’s) top dog.
The confinement itself is unrelenting and unwavering, offering no hope of escape for the superstars trapped within its walls unless they’re pinned, knocked out, or made to submit. The Elimination Chamber, in and of itself, is a monster not to be taken lightly or reckoned with!
Because of this, any superstar involved with the match should approach it with some sort of level of fear or timid respect.
Winning the match does not mean one has beaten the Elimination Chamber. A superstar can only survive the Elimination Chamber, with the repercussions leaving a lasting impression on the superstar that either cements his legacy or drowns him in mediocre obscurity.
Will fans see this type of intensity this Sunday? No they will not.
What fans will see this Sunday, however, is two main event matches that will focus on four different superstars—Edge and Dolph Ziggler, John Cena and CM Punk—settling their problems with each other while eight other men serve as accessories to the story lines along with the structure itself.
The WWE’s PG Era has crippled the natural charisma and intended effectiveness of the Elimination Chamber match and structure. The creative direction of the company, which speaks a language mostly consumed by young fans, has essentially neutered the match’s relevance and turned the pay per view into another fifty dollar waste of time and money.
The match and chamber can no longer be “brutal,” because the superstars are not allowed to intentionally bleed during the course of the match. If the superstars are no longer allowed to bleed, they cannot portray the desperate, ruthless and maniacal athletes craving the golden opportunity to grasp the brass ring that has eluded them throughout the year.
If the superstars and the structure cannot be ruthless, then the dark horse competitor in the match—the actual chamber—cannot live and breathe as a diabolical device worthy of feeding off of the blood lust, fear and intimidation brought to the match by the superstars.
With the chamber effectively becoming a voiceless gimmick, the creative direction of the match survives solely off the superstars’ intense hatred for one another, which is contained in a really big cage that obstructs the fans’ view of the wrestling taking place in the ring.
Eight of the twelve superstars involved in the two Elimination Chamber matches are merely present to round out the number of competitors in the match, as only two major story lines are present and necessary to justify the entire pay per view’s relevance to fans.
Think about it: Barrett, Kane, McIntyre and Mysterio are all involved in feuds that have very weak connections to Smackdown’s World Heavyweight Championship. The real feud over the title only involves Ziggler and Edge; all of the aforementioned stars only serve as roadblocks for Edge to maneuver around or conquer in his goal to (a) defeat Ziggler and (b) retain his championship, in that order (notice how retaining the belt is a secondary priority).
On the RAW side of things, three of the six competitors—Sheamus, Orton and Morrison are former number one contenders to the WWE Championship who have all failed in recent times to capture the title and distinction as the brand’s top dog.
R-Truth was thrown in the mix for two reasons: (a) he’s the only person in a position on RAW to round out the list of “potential contenders” for the championship, and (b) to shut up all those fans who believe he’s not being given a push because he made his name in TNA.
The real story in RAW’s Elimination Chamber match is the saga between John Cena and CM Punk. Don’t believe me? Check out the WWE’s Power 25 for the week of Feb. 12.
John Cena and CM Punk are the only two superstars in the RAW Elimination Chamber match that crack the top five of the Power 25.
Orton trails at No.6 (which, according to one of the Smackdown vs. Raw games, makes him ineligible to challenge for both the WWE Championship and the World Heavyweight Championship), Morrison is at No.16, Sheamus at sixteen and Truth at No.23.
These are the guys that could possibly be the main event at Wrestlemania 27 in a match to determine RAW’s top dog?
Just watch the promos and videos leading up to the pay per view this Sunday! On one hand, fans are fed vignettes and video packages that wax poetically about the horrors of the chamber. These videos show superstars tossed into the sides of the structure, screaming in pain and agony, crashing through the pods and in sheer terror of just being in the match.
These vignettes and video packages give fans the idea that this match, this chamber is something not to be taken lightly.
Are the athletes involved in the match talking about this? Are they voicing their trepidation about stepping into this monster of a structure and having to not only defeat five other superstars but survive the chamber itself?
No. All the fans hear is, “Hi, my name is John Cena, and I’m going to beat CM Punk and go on to Wrestlemania 27 blah blah blah!”
It’s even worse on Smackdown because Vickie Guerrero, a “diva” that’s not even in the actual match, is doing most of the hype for it!
Simply put, the actions of the superstars are not in sync with the implied malevolence of the Elimination Chamber. This is a direct result of the WWE’s PG Era, which consistently attempts to take an Attitude/Ruthless Aggression Era product and paint it pretty for a pre-pubescent audience.
The current half-assed creative direction of the company, lacking all sorts of energy and imagination, castrates the essence of such a gruesome match and panders it to fans as if it still maintains its machismo.
How is it really “Hell In a Cell” if no one bleeds? How is the Elimination Chamber a “sadistic structure” if the athletes aren’t even talking about being afraid of it?
It should be no wonder to Vince McMahon why the company’s profits are shrinking. No matter how much he shills his product to consumers as being this or that, the proof will always remain in the pudding itself. If the athletes don’t talk or act as if the chamber is pure hell, then the fans have no reason to believe it to be true.
The matches will fall flat and flaccid right in front of us with a few cool spots here and there to get a quick, cheap pop from the fans. The sad reality is that the chamber lost its uniqueness and importance long ago. In all honesty, it is just another match in another pay per view that is in no way special or significant by itself.
The creative direction of the product has to change if future chamber matches are to become significant once again. This is not a call for wanton blood shed or graphic violence. Rather, it is a cry for those in charge of the pay per view's creative direction to instruct the athletes to at least show some intimidation of the structure in their promos leading up to this Sunday's event.
What do you think?