The Real Winners and Losers from 2021 WWE Elimination Chamber
The 2021 WWE Elimination Chamber was a unique show built on the promise of opportunities. So many had a chance to rewrite their future on The Road to WrestleMania. However, that also left plenty of chances that stars failed to earn.
It was a night when wins and losses were larger than just one night. The Grandest Stage of Them All lingered over WWE, with its sign looking down upon the talent in every match.
The Elimination Chamber matches were especially important. Many of the top men worthy of a title shot on SmackDown stepped inside the structure, and some truly showed out. Cesaro and Daniel Bryan went almost all the way.
The WWE Championship was also on the line, with Drew McIntyre having to defend against five former WWE champions: Sheamus, Jeff Hardy, Kofi Kingston, AJ Styles and Randy Orton. While he held strong against the field, he was not ready for what came next.
Other big moments included Nia Jax and Shayna Baszler facing Sasha Banks and Bianca Belair in a competitive clash, and Bobby Lashley having to put his title on the line against Riddle and John Morrison.
The real winners and losers of this show are the ones who will take this moment to WrestleMania and those who missed out on a major spotlight in the blink of an eye.
Cesaro had all the momentum going into the SmackDown Elimination Chamber match. It seemed like the perfect opportunity to put him over.
Instead, though, The Swiss Cyborg fell to the combined effort of Daniel Bryan and Jey Uso before The Planet's Champion pinned Uso.
Whether Cesaro or Bryan won, Roman Reigns was always going to remain champion on the night. This was the time to establish future challengers post-WrestleMania 37. Reigns vs. Bryan was a story WWE could always do, but Cesaro has never gotten a big moment like Bryan has.
Much like his former tag team partner, Shinsuke Nakamura, he is a veteran who could be sold as a potential world title contender. Instead, WWE has fallen short on delivering with him every year.
If Cesaro is not the future according to WWE, he should not have gotten so much spotlight up until this match. He was sold as a special talent who could defeat just about anyone, a role he had earned after years of working whatever role was thrown his way.
It is hard to say what Cesaro will do going forward. He was the MVP in the Elimination Chamber match, but those kind of performances can be quickly forgotten without immediate opportunities to push him forward.
Loser: Bobby Lashley and the United States Championship
Bobby Lashley was United States champion for 175 days, dominating absolutely everyone. However, Sunday night's Triple Threat match was set up to get the title off him without ever letting anyone look like they had a chance against him.
Riddle was established as a ridiculous character for months, losing to Lashley multiple times while making weird jokes backstage. He was not established well enough to dethrone the champion.
However, it seems the plan was always to get the title off Lashley before WrestleMania. This may be because there are bigger plans for The All Mighty, although those plans just aren't clear right now.
The certain loser was the prestige of the United States Championship. Lashley could have defended the title one-on-one at WrestleMania, but Riddle vs. anyone likely isn't enough to get a spot on The Show of Shows.
It is likely the U.S. title will now be defended in a multi-wrestler contest. The Original Bro probably was not meant to win the belt until Keith Lee was injured. It is a shame that title prestige was thrown out for the sake of a story with Lashley moving beyond the gold.
Winners: Shayna Baszler and Nia Jax
While it took some help from Reginald, Nia Jax was able to pin Sasha Banks. She and Shayna Baszler defeated two of the best going in The Boss and Bianca Belair—the likely contestants in the main event of Night 1 of WrestleMania on April 10.
It was always expected that the WWE women's tag team champions would retain with multiple other challengers waiting in the wings. However, this was a great win for the holders to build up their reign.
The women's tag team division needs much more of a spotlight. The belts need to defended repeatedly. Matches like this should just be norm. Until they are though, these opportunities are special to continue to build the potential of this division.
Jax and Baszler will likely leave this second title run fully established as dominant talent. Hopefully, The Queen of Spades in particular gets a serious run on Raw or SmackDown on her own, using this reign as a jumping-off point.
Winner: Kofi Kingston
The New Day has been a special part of WWE for some time now, but the group has only briefly enjoyed one serious singles run.
It seems like that may change soon, though. Big E is the intercontinental titleholder, and Kofi Kingston looked like a star as he competed with several former world champions in the Raw Elimination Chamber match.
Kingston was incredible in Sunday's match, and his booking showed WWE knew he would be. He managed to pin Randy Orton early and clean in the contest and did not appear to have lost any momentum from his run as WWE champion in 2019.
WWE will know he is still a special talent who deserved this opportunity. The veteran can make anything look great with the right spotlight. Hopefully, this is not just the one-off moment that KofiMania ultimately became.
However, Kingston was the second man eliminated in Sunday's contest, which indicates he may be left out of opportunities to come.
Winner: The Miz
After all the teasing and false hype, The Miz finally did it. With some brutal assistance from Bobby Lashley, The A-Lister dethroned Drew McIntyre to become a two-time WWE champion.
This was an emphatic moment for a veteran who has paid his dues in the company. He has been through the ringer of highs and lows and is a much better performer now than the first time he won the title in 2010.
It is unlikely he will carry the title long, especially with so many variables around him. McIntyre will want his title back, and it has been established Miz cannot beat the Scot fair and square, while Lashley also should have his name in the hat for opportunities to come.
The new WWE champion even has a beef with 24/7 champion Bad Bunny. While the rapper should not be in world title contention, he is still certain to factor into the picture in some way.
The WWE Championship scene just grew a whole lot more complicated. Before Sunday's PPV, it was unclear if anyone was ready to take that step forward to challenge McIntyre. Now, anyone could be WWE champion or challenge for the title by WrestleMania.
This was clearly the biggest story of the night and the one moment few will have seen coming. What comes next will keep the red brand relevant all the way to The Show of Shows on April 10-11.