The Miz's Wasted Cash-In and Hot Takes of 2021 WWE Elimination Chamber
WWE hopped in the DeLorean and traveled back to 2010 on Sunday night at Elimination Chamber, delivering booking decisions and creative choices that left some thinking Doc Brown might pop up out of nowhere and exclaim "Great Scott!"
The Miz captured the WWE Championship in a meaningless, tired and cliched Money in the Bank cash-in that will do neither him nor the long-term future of the Raw brand any good. Earlier in the show, the 47-year-old Edge attacked Roman Reigns and expressed his desire to challenge for the Universal Championship at WrestleMania 37.
Those developments divided fans, but Cesaro's latest breakout performance inside the event's namesake contest united them in hopes of a main event push for the best professional wrestler in the industry.
Those topics, as well as Bobby Lashley's dominance and the disappearance of Asuka and the Raw Women's Championship from the broadcast, make up the hottest takes from this year's mostly purposeless Chamber spectacular.
The Miz Wins WWE Championship in Wasted, Tone-Deaf Money in the Bank Cash-In
The Miz is a damn hard worker whose media relations effort is admirable. He puts in the work, never says no and is a phenomenal ambassador for WWE and its attempts to be a mainstream entertainment company. Over the past decade, his in-ring work has improved tenfold, and his promos are among the best in the business.
That is probably why it is so disappointing to hear his most passionate fans and staunchest defenders' guttural excitement in the wake of his second successful Money in the Bank briefcase cash-in, which netted him the second WWE Championship reign of his career in the final moments of Sunday's Elimination Chamber pay-per-view.
To them, there is some sort of bright future ahead wherein they can't wait to see what he does with this second reign. They celebrated with him, applauding the creative choice as gratitude for his years of dedication.
The cold, hard dose of reality is that Miz is going to drop that title almost immediately to either Drew McIntyre or Bobby Lashley to set up their WrestleMania match, while he gets to lose to a rapper in a tag team match.
There is no sudden, well-deserved push on the horizon for the Hollywood A-Lister. This reign is going to make his previous one look like CM Punk's history-making 2012 run. No, his cash-in Sunday night was a wasted effort from a company that never had any plans for Miz and the briefcase, instead using it to generate momentary social media buzz on the Road to WrestleMania.
Worst of all, it comes at a time when those same fans across Twitter have criticized the company for relying on the same handful of stars the company has leaned on for the better part of a decade. How does WWE respond? By booking a guy to win a title he won 10 years ago.
This should have been momentous for Miz, and maybe it was. Maybe he is perfectly OK with having his name etched in the history books as WWE champion for the second time in his Hall of Fame career regardless of the circumstances.
He will probably cut one of those passionate, "tough guy" Miz promos Monday night that talks down to the critics and spews pro-WWE rhetoric, but that does not change the fact that what could have been a monumental moment that paid off a decade of dedication and a grueling climb back to the top was, instead, a cheap buzzy moment that resulted in a placeholder title reign that will have no real impact on the Road to WrestleMania.
No matter how hard the company tries to spin it otherwise.
Universal Title Match Is WrestleMania Main Event WWE Needs, Not Roman Reigns
For better or worse, WrestleMania 37 will be headlined by Edge challenging Roman Reigns for the Universal Championship after The Rated R Superstar speared The Tribal Chief on Sunday night and partook in the ceremonial sign-pointing that every WWE Superstar is seemingly obligated to at this time of the year.
It is a match WWE needs, if only because Edge brings a level of star power to the show the company simply does not have elsewhere at this moment. It is also a match that Reigns does not deserve.
The champion has been nothing short of stellar since returning in August and undergoing a heel turn that reignited the fire behind his character. Cold, calculating, manipulative and physically dominant, he has been the heel the company has lacked for almost 20 years.
He is a bad guy who is believable and doesn't have to cower in fear but damn sure will not turn down help from cousin Jey Uso or adviser Paul Heyman. He is a centerpiece heel, a bad guy for a new generation of fans who operates almost like a brooding mob boss than a loud-mouthed wrestling villain.
His work with Uso, Kevin Owens and even WWE official Adam Pearce has helped SmackDown become the A-show in WWE, a testament to just how on-fire he is.
Along comes Edge, a Hall of Famer in the midst of a comeback story, to unfurl all of that.
Yes, Edge is a beloved member of the WWE Universe. His journey back to WWE is remarkable. His work to get back into shape and to be cleared for in-ring competition after a decade away and the fans' willingness to embrace him upon his return is the stuff of fairytales.
But in no way should he beat Reigns.
It's not believable, for starters.
Here is a 47-year-old man, with a body held together by super glue and surgical pins and an injury history a mile long, coming off a career-ending neck injury and torn triceps suffered during the first chapter of his comeback tale.
Are we supposed to buy into the idea that he can knock off the top star in his prime? Sure, WWE will spin the story that way, positioning Edge as this inspirational hero who proves anything is possible.
Once the company writes its one-dimensional story and Edge wins the title, though, what's next? After Reigns' momentum has been stunted in the main event of wrestling's most storied pay-per-view, does he just shake it off and win back the title?
Why even have him lose it in the first place?
Would the company not be better off if Reigns dashed Edge's dreams and then went on to defend his title against a fresh face like Cesaro, who is both a full-time competitor and building support for a main event run with every passing week?
The whole story and setup stink of short-term booking, the likes of which WWE has gotten entirely too comfortable with in recent years. Reigns, with everything he has done to rehabilitate his character, has earned better.
Bobby Lashley Is the Best, Most Believable Choice to Challenge Drew McIntyre
Bobby Lashley dominated everyone in his path Sunday night, setting himself up for a WWE Championship opportunity at WrestleMania in the process.
Sure, he lost the United States Championship to Riddle in a Triple Threat Match also involving John Morrison, but he tore through both opponents over the course of the contest. He shrugged off signature moves, kicked out of finishers and exhibited the sort of dominance typically reserved for Brock Lesnar.
He was colossal throughout the match and lost only when Riddle broke a crutch over his back and sent him to the floor.
The rage that painted his face following the defeat set up what would come later in the night, when he attacked WWE champion Drew McIntyre, laying him out and setting up Miz for a successful Money in the Bank cash-in.
The stuff with Miz notwithstanding, WWE is behind Lashley at this point, recognizing the momentum he has built for himself and paying off booking that has kept him relatively protected over the past six months.
A dominant force and the CEO of The Hurt Business, one of the bright spots on an otherwise plodding Raw brand, Lashley is a logical choice to compete in a WrestleMania main event and, more importantly, is most believable in that role.
This, just one year after he was still embroiled in the Lana wedding nonsense and barely made the card for the Showcase of the Immortals.
WWE Fails Audience, Asuka with Inability to Produce Women's Title Match
On the Elimination Chamber Kickoff Show, host Charly Caruso and panelists Booker T, JBL and Peter Rosenberg discussed the Raw Women's Championship situation and which woman could step in and challenge The Empress of Tomorrow for her title since Lacey Evans would not be able to.
When WWE's own production spends a segment talking about a particular topic, there is every reason to believe it will be featured on the show, correct?
Asuka was nowhere to be seen, and the Raw Women's Championship was not so much as talked about on the pay-per-view broadcast. It was shoved aside, scrapped from the show as if it were Kamala's match at WrestleMania IX.
Except, the difference here is that it was a title match, and eliminating it from the broadcast only further strengthened the resolve of fans unhappy with the company's treatment of Asuka.
She is the Raw women's champion and has been since last summer, yet she has never been the focal point of any feud in which she has appeared. She's simply been there, a competitor defending a title against an opponent WWE had more interest in promoting.
That feeling was only intensified by Charlotte Flair's return and Asuka suddenly taking an even greater backseat to The Queen.
She has been ignored for so long that Sunday night, after the back-and-forth during the Kickoff Show, WWE officials decided they would just boot her from the show and assume no one would even care.
They failed the audience, which has a connection with Asuka that cannot be manufactured in a creative meeting and the performer herself.
Unfortunately, it does not look like it is a pattern that will change anytime soon.
Cesaro Is Ready for the Bright Lights of WWE's Main Event Scene
The drama surrounding the SmackDown Elimination Chamber match Sunday night did not center around which Superstar would emerge from the unforgiving steel structure with an opportunity at Roman Reigns' Universal Championship but, rather, whether it would be Cesaro.
The Swiss Superman was one of the first two competitors in the contest, and from the opening bell, all eyes were on the espresso-loving, European uppercutting wrestling purist as he teed off on Daniel Bryan, swung King Corbin around the ring and sent Sami Zayn crashing off the steel chains and to the mat below—and then did pull-ups to showcase his superior conditioning.
And when Cesaro was pinned by Jey Uso, the air went out of living rooms around the country as the fans' choice to win the match was eliminated.
While those expecting a massive push right away were disappointed, Cesaro's performance and the drama surrounding it were promising. Here is a veteran performer whose only weakness was his ability to connect with fans. We are learning now that, in order to do that, he does not have to be a stereotypical Swiss export or an Un-American but, rather, the wrestling machine he has always been.
Fans will flock to that character because it is believable and because they want to see the best wrestler in the world succeed.
Cesaro is that and has been for quite some time.
He is only just getting the recognition, support and exposure he has earned.
His time is now, and WWE should strike while the iron is hot, delivering something juicy for him and his fans to invest in come WrestleMania.