After a controversy-filled week, the Superstars of WWE came together in Houston, TX, last night for the Elimination Chamber event. New champions were crowned. Plexiglass was shattered, and the hemp belt held sway over all. Jeffery X Martin and Around the Loop columnist Richard Kirwin got together via chat the morning after to discuss the show. Get ready for spoilers, lingo, and armchair booking!
JXM: For a show with the ominous name of Elimination Chamber, they played it pretty safe.
RK: Well, it’s the PG era. I don’t think that the “extreme” events really make sense anymore. And, if you look at either main event – it was the final part of the match that worked up the crowd.
JXM: Lots of promos from competitors who did not have matches. The Bar. Heavy Machinery. Mojo Rawley and his magic mirror. Kevin Owens. Even Lacey Evans came down the ramp and went right back up. Any reason you can think of for that?
RK: What was the deal with Lacey? Someone on the writing team really likes that walk out and walk off gimmick. I don’t know about the promos, I didn’t watch many of them. Maybe so all those guys got a payday?
JXM: I guess? The Evans bit was weird. Blink and miss it. I wasn’t even sure it was real. There was a cruiserweight match. Buddy Murphy sold nothing Akira Tozawa did and retained the title. No one is surprised by this and I know you didn’t watch the match, but I do want to verify that it did happen.
RK: I did watch most of it, actually. Both those guys worked hard. A few pops in the audience. But I think without regular exposure the cruiserweights have a weird spot on a PPV.
JXM: Yeah, it’s called the kickoff show. Even with cross promotion on the other shows (Gulak on NXT, Lio Rush everywhere), the cruiserweights are still relegated to the kickoff.
RK: I like Murphy, though. Why not give him a spot during the three hours on Raw?
JXM: He seems like a good fit. I still say Raw could use Tony Nese, tell people he’s Damien Sandow, and nobody would know the difference.
RK: That’s a fact. Where is that guy right now?
JXM: He’s an actor! Doing pretty well, from what I gather. We now have the first female tag team champions in the company since Velvet McIntyre and Princess Victoria in 1983. Were Sasha and Bailey the right choice to pick those titles back up?
RK: I think so. Nice honour for them since they have been lost in Beckymania and Ronda.
JXM: It was interesting because every team felt like a wild card to me. Even the IIconics were more vicious than they usually are. Do you think Fabulous Glow were eliminated first as a sort of punishment or as a pre-emptive strike for Midwestern rage?
RK: No, I think they were a filler team and someone had to go first. I did cringe every time Corey said Carmella or mentioned his daughters, though. Yikes, what a mess that is.
JXM: Isn’t it weird when reality enters kayfabe? Talk about working yourself into a shoot.
RK: At least, it wasn’t Mandy I guess…?
JXM: That would have been TOO on the nose. I enjoyed Renee subtly giving him shit about everything, too. Also: how amazing would heel Bayley be?
RK: I think any change in character for her would be a bonus at this point. Let her grow a little. Regarding the commentary, I tune them all out at this point. None of them add anything to the match. I thought that the women’s Chamber was so full, it meant the ladies were powdering all over the place for others to get their stuff in. Did you catch that the bottom rope submission break rule was different between the men and women’s Chambers?
JXM: I did not! What happened?
RK: In the ladies Chamber, they pointed out that rope breaks weren’t a thing, but in the men’s, Kofi got a rope break out of the Yes Lock.
RK: I know its nitpicking, but they called it in the first match during a submission. They even explained someone reaching for the rope to get leverage.
JXM: I wonder what the point of that was?
RK: Because it’s the actual rules of the match! No DQ or breaks. Then they dropped that rule for the struggle spot. It worked and only a geek like me would notice, but still…
JXM: So why do it for Kofi? Was it a mistake on the official’s part?
RK: I think its convenience booking.
JXM: Well, it escaped my notice. What has been incredibly obvious is that Shane McMahon is blowing up early, gassed in the first few minutes of his matches. Is it time for him to stop competing in the ring?
RK: Yes. Full stop. 20 years ago, those spots blew my mind. Today, they are played out in a big way.
JXM: Surely, someone else can do a Coast to Coast.
RK: I’d be surprised if half the roster can’t do it. But they save it for him because he’s Shane.
JXM: Well, Shane looks like he’s just had a violent sneezing fit about two minutes into a match anymore.
RK: They have SO much talent right now. Miz could have gotten someone else over with that angle.
JXM: Is there any real competition for the Usos? McMiz didn’t get the job done.
RK: The roster is massive, there are so many matches to be had.
JXM: Do you think the depth of the roster is why Braun Strowman is being hamstrung right now?
RK: I think it’s because they are booking a monster heel as a babyface. He has also lost way too many matches to be credible. He’s like Big Show without all the championships
JXM: And they’re flip-flopping him like Big Show. Let a monster be a monster, I say. I really just want him in a straight program with McIntyre. Forget everyone else.
RK: I think that’s a waste of Drew, but sure.
JXM: Who would you pit Drew against?
RK: Anyone else.
JXM: Ha! So you’re not on Team Braun. How about Balor Club?
RK: I’m happy for him. I also think Lashley sucks.
JXM: Oh, Lashley is terrible. This latest run for him has been a cluster. He’s gone from goofy hat wearing bland guy to heel that no one can take seriously. On the kickoff show, Sam Roberts made a huge point about not seeing the Demon enough. What do you think? Do we need to see the Demon King more, or is Smiley Finn good enough?
RK: Smiley Finn is… not my favourite… but the thing with the Demon is that he has to win or what’s the point?
JXM: Because it’s cool? To get someone else over as the Demonslayer?
RK: They protect so few gimmicks these days, I kind of appreciate them keeping this one safe.
JXM: You could say Ronda Rousey being the baddest woman on the planet is a gimmick, and her match with Ruby Riott broke down in spectacular fashion. Charlotte Flair, Becky Lynch, crutches, blood, the whole nine yards. But I think we’re overlooking one important element here, and that’s Ruby Riott. What do you think of her?
RK: I was so excited for Ruby to have this match. They could have made her, instead she got squashed. They should have kept Becky away. Now she has all the heat – so how is she an underdog? The crowd would have booed the shit out of Flair if she showed the tape of her injuring Becky and laughed it off.
JXM: You’re right. They would have. Bex may not really be an underdog anymore, but her tenacity is what has the crowd behind her. Blow out her knee, she shows up with crutches. Suspend her, she comes out of the crowd.
RK: But make them sweat for it. Don’t pay it off same day. Sidebar – the planted signs suck.
JXM: HA! CesaroSection.doc
RK: “Free Becky…” come on…
JXM: What about Kofi? The women’s Chamber match was better than the men’s, but the Universe is really coming together for Kofi. Since the McMahon’s came out and said the fans are essentially the Authority now, will we get a Kofi title at Mania?
RK: Nope. I bet he gets a shot at Fastlane or whatever the throwaway one up next is called. They work that same match, minus the cage and the other guys and that’s it.
JXM: Really? Do you see Daniel Bryan retaining at Mania?
RK: I mean, who is he going to fight? I think so at this point. His heel thing is $$
JXM: BTW – I refer to the next PPV as Fastlame.
RK: Fastlame… #dadjokes
JXM: Guilty as charged.
RK: Can I ask a serious question? Why did New Day come out in ring gear at the end? It would have been so real if they were in street clothes. Even merch would have been fine. But the Aladdin boots on Woods and Big E with the cape thing?
JXM: I think it’s expected. Gotta keep the cosplay element of the audience happy. Big E in jeans doesn’t have the same visual impact as sparkly shiny unicorn horns and clothes that look like rainbow sherbet.
RK: But… why would they be backstage watching the show in tights? I think use of street clothes is really undervalued right now. Which is an odd thing to say, but I stand by it. I loved the Kofi match. The Chamber added nothing (I really don’t like the Chamber) but they had that entire crowd invested. Huge rub for Kofi, giant win for Bryan. And, a showcase of how starved fans are for new things. Oh, one other thing: why did Corbin’s pack do the Shield Bomb? Did you find that weird?
JXM: You know, I made a note of that last night. I don’t know why they did that unless they trying to become some kind of anti-Shield. Which would be Hydra, I guess.
RK: Riott Squad are money, though.
JXM: So, on a scale of one to Drunk Kalisto, how do you rate the Elimination Chamber?
RK: I’d give it a solid corporate Ken Shamrock. Intensity, good work, but missing something to put it over the edge.
JXM: You’re right. I give it a latter-day Dolph Ziggler. Entertaining as all get out but overstayed its welcome just a bit. One more actual question: do you like pineapple on your pizza?
JXM: I’m still trying to figure out that Kevin Owens promo. I like pineapple on my pizza, so am I heel or face?
RK: I don’t think Kevin knows either at this point, for what it’s worth.
JXM: The world’s gone mad, Rich.
RK: It went mad the day people started putting pineapple on pizza, to be honest.