Elimination Chamber started as a gimmick match and eventually became its own pay-per-view. This year, two actual Elimination Chamber matches were included on the card. The first one was for the SmackDown Tag Team Championships and the second was to decide the number one contender for Becky Lynch’s Raw Women’s Championship.
The crowd seemed kind of sedate in many of the matches, possibly because of the lack of build-up for many of them. Some matches were just being announced two days before the pay-per-view. Still, there were some surprisingly good bouts and some strange booking decisions made on the road to WrestleMania.
It certainly wasn’t an NXT TakeOver.
Elimination Chamber Kick-Off Show
The only match on the Kick-Off Show was The Viking Raiders taking on Zack Ryder and Kurt Hawkins. While it’s always great to see Ryder and Hawkins get TV time in any fashion, it wasn’t a shock to see them get crushed by The Viking Raiders.
Once one of the hottest tag teams out there, WWE seems to be at a loss at what to do with the Raiders. A random Kick-Off Show match building to nothing was not the best use of their talent. At this point, it’s difficult to imagine them on WrestleMania unless they take on the Street Profits.
Fortunately, they made their return later into the pay-per-view to expand on another story.
Daniel Bryan vs Drew Gulak
When he’s healthy, Daniel Bryan is a mainstay of the WWE pay-per-view scene. Even when he’s not competing for a championship, his matches are always incredible. As such, putting Drew Gulak in the ring with him was a truly great idea.
Both men are skilled performers with a mix of technical skills and hard-hitting moves. There’s no doubt that Gulak is talented but WWE needed to get him in the ring on pay-per-views for fans to get behind him. Gulak and Bryan worked incredibly well with each other, hopefully leading to more matches between them.
The only problem was that fans were surprisingly quiet for a match featuring Daniel Bryan. In reality, the issue was that there was extremely little build-up to the bout. It was announced two days earlier on SmackDown. While they warmed up by the finish, fans weren’t invested. But this is still a rivalry with potential.
Andrade vs Humberto Carrillo
For once, it was nice to see Andrade defend his United States Championship on an actual pay-per-view and not just the Kick-off Show.
Without question, Andrade and Humberto Carrillo are two of the best performers in the company. Their match was outstanding, with several huge spots from both superstars. Naturally, the finish featured Andrade cheating to win but that’s nothing new. Zelina Vega’s expressions sold the big moments brilliantly. The crowd was pretty cold off the start but was loud and into the match by the end.
Carrillo’s star is definitely on the rise, with a championship reign in his future. After WrestleMania, Andrade should be moving on to the main event run chasing the Universal Championship.
SmackDown Tag Team Championship Elimination Chamber Match
The early moments of this match could best be described as Botch City. It wasn’t one superstar’s fault as pretty much everyone seemed to screw something up. Even Kofi Kingston, who’s normally reliable in all situations, had a rough miss. But business picked up quite quickly.
Lince Dorado and Gran Metalik took full advantage of the environment in the early going with some beautiful moves off the top of the pods. Lince dropped from the top of the cage to deliver a Shooting Star Press, the biggest spot of the match. Unfortunately, Lucha House Party was the first team to be eliminated, much to the chagrin of the live audience.
Fortunately, the sentimental favorites, Heavy Machinery, were in the match at that point. They absolutely demolished The Usos, bouncing off the ropes repeatedly and sandwiching them against the chains. Tucker tossed himself off the top of a pod. That was 300+ pounds of human somersaulting through the air. Otis, on the other hand, ran at a pod so hard he slammed through it and outside the Chamber.
Inexplicably, Heavy Machinery was the second team eliminated by Ziggler and Roode. The Elimination Chamber crowd was highly unimpressed by this, and rightfully so. The only upside was that The Usos and The New Day worked together to quickly eliminate Ziggler and Roode after that while Miz and Morrison retained their championships.
A.J. Styles vs Aleister Black
When the tag team of Aleister Black and Ricochet split up, it seemed like WWE was more focused on Ricochet. He had some high profile matches and even held the United States Championship for a bit. Aleister Black faded into the background as WWE didn’t seem to know what to do with him.
What a difference a year makes.
Ricochet is slowly disappearing from Raw like Cedric Alexander did, reputedly because Vince McMahon is not a fan of either wrestler. On the other hand, Aleister Black is taking on A.J. Styles in a No Disqualification match on a pay-per-view.
Their Elimination Chamber match was surprisingly slow and lacking in energy considering the two men involved. While most of the offence seemed to come from Styles, Black got his hits in and they were big ones. Putting Styles through a table outside the ring with the Meteora was huge.
Quite expectedly, Gallows and Anderson got involved, which led to the Undertaker appearing to even the odds. Aleister delivered Black Mass and earned a pay-per-view win over one of the best in the business. It might have been set up for Undertaker vs A.J. Styles at WrestleMania but it was still good to see Black pick up the win.
Street Profits vs Seth Rollins and Buddy Murphy
The Elimination Chamber crowd seemed largely disinterested in the match, possibly because they’re already tired of the Monday Night Messiah storyline. The Street Profits defended their recently won Raw Tag Team Championships against the duo they took them from, Seth Rollins and Buddy Murphy. Fortunately, The Viking Raiders removed AOP from the match.
It was a sedate, low key match with little build-up that only happened to further the Rollins versus Kevin Owens storyline. Their feud is, in theory, building up to WrestleMania. The only thing that carried the match was the frenetic energy, and fan popularity, of the Street Profits.
Excluding the Street Profits retaining the belts, the biggest pop of the match was Kevin Owens walking down through the crowd with his popcorn to watch the match. He followed up by hitting Rollins with the Stunner in the ring. That being said, watching Rollins get mad at popcorn lying on the ground was a beautiful moment.
Braun Strowman vs Shinsuke Nakamura, Cesaro and Sami Zayn
Braun Strowman recently won his first singles title in WWE when he took the Intercontinental Championship from Shinsuke Nakamura. This didn’t well with Nakamura, his manager Sami Zayn, or Cesaro. They essentially suckered Braun into a three on one match to defend his belt.
Until the match started, how this would shake out was a little confusing. Braun was facing three men but how the winner would be decided was not clear. As it turned out, whoever pinned Braun would win the Intercontinental Championship. In this case, it was Sami Zayn who got the pinfall and the win, a surprising Elimination Chamber twist, to say the least.
On one hand, it was a rough way for Braun to lose his first championship. On the other, it was actually kind of nice to see Zayn win his first singles title since being called up from NXT. Still, it was kind of a dull match as the three-man combo largely dominated Braun with the Monster Among Men managing to get in a few of his usual spots.
Raw Women’s Championship Number One Contender Elimination Chamber Match
This match started off promising but took a bad left turn when Shayna Baszler got out of her pod.
Natalya, Ruby Riott, and Sarah Logan were the first three competitors in the cage. Admittedly, there were some solid spots to get things rolling. There was some good Elimination Chamber brutality. It was good since fans weren’t sure what to expect from this line up of superstars but there was potential once the started mixing things up.
Once Shayna got in the match, she eliminated both Riott and Logan within 60 seconds. She took out Natalya shortly after that. The end result was Baszler wandering around the ring by herself for several minutes while nothing happened. When Liv Morgan’s pod opened, Baszler made similarly short work of her. It felt like an eternity before Asuka was released.
At this point, there was at least somewhat of a match as Asuka delivered some actual offence. Eventually, Shayna won, cementing her well-telegraphed bout with Becky Lynch at WrestleMania. That in and of itself is not a problem. Shayna is a solid heel and should give Becky a hell of a match. But this was easily one of the most boring Elimination Chambers of all time.
The match was booked to make Baszler look strong leading into WrestleMania but there was so much downtime that any energy built in the early going dissipated quickly. There was a lot of watching Baszler pace in the ring. Outside of a couple of spots, the crowd was largely silent.
A boring, quick match with an inevitable finish is the final taste fans were left with from Elimination Chamber 2020 and it was not a good one.