WWE Elimination Chamber 2017 Results: Winners, Grades, Reaction and Highlights
WWE Elimination Chamber 2017 arrived Sunday night promising a strong main event.
Inside the unforgiving structure, John Cena defended his WWE Championship against Dean Ambrose, The Miz, Bray Wyatt, AJ Styles and Baron Corbin. The winner cashed his ticket to WrestleMania 33 and a spot in the main event against 2017 Royal Rumble winner Randy Orton.
Who emerged from the bout victorious, and how did that contest measure up to previous Elimination Chamber matches?
That was one of three title matches on the night, joined by a number of grudge matches that influenced the blue brand's plans for The Showcase of the Immortals.
Which Superstars strengthened their cases for inclusion on the biggest show of the year, how did each match grade out and how will the outcomes affect the brand going forward?
Find out the answers to those questions and more with this look back at Elimination Chamber.
Mojo Rawley vs. Curt Hawkins
Born in a backstage segment from last week's SmackDown Live, the issues between Mojo Rawley and Curt Hawkins came to an end in Sunday's pre-show match.
Hawkins gained early control, knocking Rawley out at ringside. He worked a bland, generic heat segment in through the middle of the match, cutting a few attempts at a comeback off before Rawley was able to fire off some offense.
Hawkins again cut Rawley off with a DDT, followed by an enzuigiri, but he was not able to keep the obnoxiously hyped babyface down.
Rawley scored a tilt-a-whirl slam from out of nowhere for the pinfall moments later.
Mojo Rawley defeated Curt Hawkins.
This was a painfully average wrestling match that did nothing to help anyone.
Is Rawley better off now that he's beaten Hawkins? No.
Is Hawkins any better off having worked a Superstars-quality match with Rawley? Not at all.
A pointless match? Absolutely.
Becky Lynch vs. Mickie James
Becky Lynch vs. Mickie James, one of three women's matches on the night, kicked off the show.
After an intense collar-and-elbow tie-up to start the match, James seized control with a big DDT that flattened The Lass Kicker. She proceeded to work over Lynch's arm for the majority of the match—a strategy usually employed by the former SmackDown women's champion.
Lynch fought back but was cut off by James, who landed a seated senton for a two-count.
Even James' Mick Kick could not keep Lynch down, much to the chagrin of the future Hall of Famer. Lynch countered a DDT attempt into a suplex. Her Dis-arm-her attempt was countered, but in the end, it was the Irishwoman who scored a jackknife roll-up for the pinfall victory.
Becky Lynch defeated Mickie James.
This was a solid way to kick off the pay-per-view portion of the show. Fans love Lynch and were genuinely behind her as she fought back into the match and scored the win.
The outcome does nothing to hurt James, who had the match won after the Mick Kick but had to get off a cover and pull Lynch further into the ring before the official could count the fall. She dominated the match and was only beaten via fluky roll-up.
The foundation for a rematch is there if WWE Creative opts to take that route with these two women, but for now, Lynch scored a big victory that should keep her in contention for a SmackDown Women's Championship match.
A rematch—perhaps with greater stakes—would also be welcome, as it feels like there is potential for a greater match to be had between these two.
Apollo Crews and Kalisto vs. Dolph Ziggler
Before the 2-on-1 Handicap match could get started, Dolph Ziggler attacked Kalisto, sending him crashing into the stage and setting up a singles match with Apollo Crews.
The former world champion laughed off his actions before entering the squared circle to combat one of the men he had repeatedly attacked with a steel chair in recent weeks.
Ziggler controlled the match until Kalisto made a valiant effort to compete. A low dropkick by Crews allowed the masked luchador to enter the match and take out some of his frustration on The Showoff.
A blind tag to Crews was followed by a spinning sit-out powerbomb for the pinfall victory.
After the match, Ziggler brought an end to the babyfaces' celebration, pulling Kalisto from the ropes and attacking Crews with a chair. He trapped the latter's ankle in said chair and then proceeded to jump on it twice, causing Crews to scream out in agony.
Pleased with himself, he headed up the ramp, smiling as referees and Kalisto checked on a fallen Crews.
Apollo Crews and Kalisto defeated Dolph Ziggler.
Cheers and chants of "Thank you, Ziggler!" could not have been what WWE Creative was going for when it wrote the angle the way it did. The fans in Phoenix were adamant in their support of The Showoff, who was a loose cannon as he brutalized Crews.
That is a clear indictment of the babyfaces and how underdeveloped they have been thus far in the brand extension.
Ziggler, on the other hand, has experienced a clear story arc, and the result has been a hotter reaction.
The match itself was nothing, but the angle afterward earned the above-average grade and may prove to be exactly what Ziggler needs to energize his persona heading into WrestleMania.
Tag Team Turmoil Match
Former SmackDown tag team champions Heath Slater and Rhyno kicked off the Tag Team Turmoil match, squaring off with Breezango. Though Tyler Breeze and Fandango dominated the majority of the action, Rhyno exploded across the ring with a Gore to send them packing.
The Vaudevillains, Aiden English and Simon Gotch, joined the action next and worked over a beaten-down Slater. The popular underdog scored the second win of the match, pinning English after a few short minutes.
The Usos would end the Cinderella run of Slater and Rhyno, almost exclusively beating down Slater. A big pop-up Samoan Drop nearly ended Slater's night, but The Man Beast made the save. From there, a superkick felled Slater and allowed The Usos to score the elimination.
American Alpha was out next.
Tag team champions Chad Gable and Jason Jordan wasted little time renewing their rivalry with the twin brothers who put them out of action and cost them the opportunity to win tag team gold earlier in their SmackDown run. The heels isolated Gable, executing several quick tags to keep the former Olympian disoriented.
Gable finally escaped the onslaught of The Usos and made the hot tag to Jordan, who exploded into the ring. He tossed his opponents around the ring with reckless abandon. A blind tag back to Gable allowed him to score a surprise roll-up and eliminate Jimmy and Jey.
Furious over their defeat, the twins assaulted Jordan and Gable, leaving them lying.
The Ascension was out next and picked up the pieces, delivering Fall of Man for what appeared to be its first main-roster tag titles. Gable made the save at the last second, though, and the match continued. Konnor and Viktor dominated the action until a big belly-to-belly overhead allowed Jordan to gain separation. Gable was tagged in, and Grand Amplitude earned the champions the victory.
American Alpha defeated The Usos, The Ascension, Heath Slater and Rhyno, Breezango and The Vaudevillains.
If anything, this got all five teams on the SmackDown Live roster some screen time.
Otherwise, it was another instance of American Alpha being so incredibly dominant over its peers that one has to wonder who on the current roster can possibly knock it off. The answer? No one.
Even The Ascension, which had the greatest opportunity to unseat the champions, failed and looked like a joke because of it.
If anything, only The Usos came out of the match looking even remotely competitive.
To this point in the brand extension, the tag team division remains the one glaring weakness of the SmackDown Live brand.
Yes, Jordan and Gable looked strong for winning despite the attack, but what does that say for the rest of the roster?
Nikki Bella vs. Natalya
One of the most surprisingly intense matches on the show saw Nikki Bella wage war with Natalya. After months of insults, sneak attacks and questions regarding credibility, the Total Divas castmates did not hesitate to unleash hell on each other.
Commentators Mauro Ranallo and David Otunga sold the narrative of Natalya playing mind games with Bella, attempting to showcase her superior wrestling skills.
After a lengthy exchange to start the match, Bella exploded off the ring apron with a clothesline, only to be shoved into the ring post moments later as the third-generation Hart family member took control.
Natalya controlled the match, overwhelming her opponent with her strength and technical expertise while simultaneously talking trash with the fans. She encouraged chants of "Nikki sucks!" and then worked over the left leg of her opponent.
Her overconfidence proved costly as Bella fought back into the match. A Michinoku Driver by Natalya cut her off and continued the oppressive rule of The Queen of Harts.
Bella escaped a Sharpshooter attempt and then blasted Natalya with a forearm that scored a count of two. A spinebuster followed for two.
A superplex moments later allowed Natalya to finally apply the Sharpshooter, which drew one of the loudest reactions of the match. Bella powered out, though, and countered into the Fearless Lock. The heel made it to the ropes, and both women spilled to the arena floor. Natalya sent her opponent into the guardrail, and Bella returned the favor.
The women lost track of the referee's count, though, and a double count-out was declared.
Natalya delivered a cheap shot and left the ring, only to be taken down on the ramp by Bella after a nasty spear. The heel fled as the crowd cheered for Bella.
Nikki Bella and Natalya fought to a double count-out.
This was a much better match than it had any right to be.
Natalya's greatness as a ring technician should never be in question, but Bella was equally great here, taking big bumps and proving just how immensely she has improved since the beginning of her career as a Diva Search reject.
The finish may not have been a satisfying one, but it continues a feud that could use a hotter, more interesting conclusion than a one-off pay-per-view match that no one will remember past Tuesday.
Does that mean a showdown at WrestleMania 33 or before then? Perhaps a No Disqualification match on SmackDown Live? Maybe.
Regardless of where it takes place, these two women deserve one last chance to satisfy fans with the conclusion to their wild and chaotic rivalry.
Luke Harper vs. Randy Orton
Randy Orton entered the arena to his own theme music, drawing a sizable ovation despite being the obvious heel in this story.
Orton utilized a big side suplex onto the announce table, recalling a spot the two have used against each other over the last few weeks. He wore the big man down with a headlock as the crowd became restless.
Luke Harper fought back into the match, scoring a near-fall, avoiding a draping DDT and sending Orton throat-first into the bottom rope. A chant of "Let's go, Harper!" broke out, and the former intercontinental champion rewarded the fans with a suicide dive that knocked The Viper over the announcers' table.
Harper returned the favor, dropping Orton back-first onto the announcers' table. The No. 1 contender to the WWE Championship fired off a big snap powerslam to Harper on the floor, though, halting his momentum.
Late, a slugfest developed but was interrupted by an RKO attempt from Orton. A full nelson slam by The Viper netted a two-count, and the draping DDT followed. Orton teased the RKO, but Harper destroyed him with two straight superkicks for a close two.
Harper slipped out of another RKO and delivered a sit-out powerbomb for another close near-fall. Another slugfest ensued. This time, Harper tried his discus clothesline, but Orton shoved his arm off, sending him spinning right into an RKO for the win.
Randy Orton defeated Luke Harper.
Orton may have won this to continue rolling into WrestleMania, but damn if this did not do more to make a legitimate star out of Harper than anything the company has done with the big man to date.
After a bumpy start, including a headlock that lasted just a moment too long, the Superstars hit the next gear and told a story that built off spots from earlier in the match. The contest steadily intensified, culminating in a few strong near-falls late and the RKO that sealed Orton's victory.
What started as a smattering of cheers earlier in the bout grew into a chorus of "Let's go, Harper!" chants that demonstrated how perfectly structured the match proved to be and how effectively it put the former IC champion over.
SmackDown Women's Championship Match: Naomi vs. Alexa Bliss
Alexa Bliss disrespected Naomi early, throwing gum in her face to start. The tenacity that led to her championship reign was on full display as she countered everything the challenger threw at her early.
A double kick put both women down and started an electric comeback by Naomi.
A series of kicks and a flipping clothesline had Bliss reeling. A blockbuster continued the challenger's offensive onslaught. As she attempted to pull Bliss out of the corner, the champion caught Naomi with a big kick. The challenger answered with the Rear View but only kept Bliss down for two.
Bliss halted her opponent's momentum and tried for her Twisted Bliss finisher, but Naomi caught her with a big kick that knocked her off the ropes. Naomi teased a dive to the floor but was caught with a forearm to the face and a DDT for two.
Bliss threw a tantrum, growing more frustrated with every passing display of resilience from Naomi.
A botched finish saw an ugly roll-up, a missed Twisted Bliss from the champion and an even uglier split-legged moonsault by Naomi to score the first women's title of her career.
After the match, Renee Young caught up with the new champion, who broke down in tears as a chant of "You deserve it!" broke out.
Naomi defeated Alexa Bliss.
The match was progressing along nicely, the best of the three women's matches, until the unfortunate finish. Too much frenetic energy and a rushed series of spots hurt it down the stretch but did not damage its overall effect.
Still, it was a fantastically emotional moment for Naomi, who worked hard to develop as a worker and, more importantly, find a persona for herself after mediocre runs with The Funkadactyls and Team B.A.D. No longer known primarily as a reality star, she has the opportunity to shine on wrestling's biggest stage in her hometown of Orlando, Florida.
There are not many performers who get to enjoy that sort of storybook ending.
As for Bliss, she is one of the best heels in the sport and far from finished with winning championships. It would be surprising if she is not a two-time champion by the time June arrives.
Elimination Chamber Match for the WWE Championship
WWE champion John Cena and AJ Styles continued their epic rivalry at the onset of the Elimination Chamber bout, wrestling what was essentially a superb five-minute match until Dean Ambrose entered as the third Superstar in the contest.
The Lunatic Fringe wiped The Phenomenal One out with a big suplex on the chamber floor and then dove off the top of a pod with a big elbow drop that took out Cena.
A double German suplex spot kept the fans engaged, and soon thereafter, Bray Wyatt entered the squared circle. He blasted Cena with a big clothesline and sent Styles flying into the chain-link fencing of the chamber.
Cena and Styles climbed the cell, only for The Phenomenal One to send the champion crashing to the ground. On top of one of the pods, Ambrose and Styles took turns slamming each other face-first into the wall.
In a scary spot, Ambrose delivered a powerbomb to Wyatt out of the corner that also sent Styles crashing to the mat below.
Baron Corbin entered the match next and wasted little time flattening Ambrose with a clothesline. He ran roughshod over the field, even telling Wyatt, "I don't fear you," before putting him down on the chamber floor. He continued his warpath, flattening Styles with End of Days before escaping the STF by Cena and planting him with another End of Days.
After a brief exchange between Corbin and Ambrose, The Miz was the final Superstar to enter the match—albeit hesitantly. As The Lone Wolf was distracted by The Hollywood A-Lister, Ambrose rolled him up and eliminated him, much to the dismay of the fans, who had bought into his destructive act. He tossed Ambrose crashing through one of the pods and pummeled him before finishing the assault with End of Days.
The Miz, an opportunist if there ever was one, pinned Ambrose to bring the field to its final four.
The former intercontinental champion unloaded with a series of Daniel Bryan-inspired kicks to Cena, Wyatt and Styles as fans dictated who he should attack next based on cheers. His night would come to an end when he was eliminated by Cena, drawing a chorus of boos.
Cena went into Superman mode, delivering a 10 Knuckle Shuffle to Styles and Wyatt before a Styles Clash from The Phenomenal One put him down for a near-fall. He recovered and delivered an Attitude Adjustment but was stunned when Styles kicked out at two.
A high cross body block had Cena thriving until Wyatt delivered Sister Abigail and pinned the franchise star, eliciting the biggest pop of the night.
Styles attempted a springboard 450 splash but landed on the knees of Wyatt, hurting his ribs in the process. Another springboard attempt, and Styles landed in the waiting arms of Wyatt, who delivered Sister Abigail and realized his dream of becoming WWE champion.
Bray Wyatt defeated John Cena, AJ Styles, The Miz, Baron Corbin and Dean Ambrose to win the WWE Championship.
This was a fantastic match with a plethora of stories for fans to sink their teeth into.
Coming out of this match, fans can now expect Ambrose and Corbin to feud over the Intercontinental Championship.
The Miz shined brightly for a fleeting moment, unloading on everyone before succumbing to an Attitude Adjustment by Cena, whose significant other just happened to be responsible for Maryse being doused in powder.
Styles was his typically fantastic self and held the match together as one of the first two men to start and the final man eliminated.
The biggest story, though, was Wyatt's championship victory.
After years of coming close, losing big match after big match, he is now the top dog on the SmackDown Live brand and eyeing a WrestleMania main event. His staredown with Randy Orton, his Wyatt Family cohort, leaves fans guessing as to which path WWE Creative will take in the coming weeks.
Is it a match that builds out of reluctance, or does Orton reveal that his plan to destroy The Wyatt Family from the inside was executed to perfection, and now, at WrestleMania, he has the opportunity to beat The Reaper of Souls without the backup of former henchman Luke Harper?
The intrigue was high, and after a legitimate Match of the Year candidate, fans of the blue brand have an idea of what they can expect come April 2 in Orlando.