By Brad Carroll
WWE’s Elimination Chamber pay-per-view started well enough, with an enjoyable women’s chamber match, an awkward-turned-solid Ronda Rousey appearance and a men’s chamber match that appeared headed toward a proper conclusion. But that’s where everything changed, as the Braun Strowman build into an unbeatable monster ended quickly again as Roman Reigns pinned him clean and won his way into the main event (again) at WrestleMania, where he will face Brock Lesnar for the Universal title.
Now, everyone knew Reigns was going to win, so it can’t be surprising. But to do it the way they did, with Strowman pinning everyone before getting beat by Reigns, it all just fell flat. Worse, it was predictable, which WWE has been for a long time now.
It was a solid show, with the women of Raw stealing the entire show, with three exceptional segments, once Rousey stopped talking of course, and the main event being good enough to entertain before the finish nobody wanted to see.
We’ll go a little deeper into the card, however, and hand out our biggest winners and losers from Elimination Chamber, which has little to do with who actually won their match or not. Not surprisingly, it's the women who take our biggest kudos.
Ronda Rousey: OK, this started out terrible. Really, really terrible. Rousey wasn’t comfortable talking on the microphone and wasn’t fluid at all, making for an uncomfortable watch for several seconds, which felt like much longer. Things started to get good when Kurt Angle finally interjected to save Rousey on the mic and proceed to turn Rousey’s happy-to-lucky, just-glad-to-be-here smile and attitude into something more sinister when he said Triple H and Stephanie McMahon were using Rousey to get revenge for their WrestleMania interaction from a couple years ago. After that, Rousey ended up flipping Triple H through a table, Stephanie answered by slapping Rousey across the face, to which Rousey responded by signing her Raw contract when Stephanie bailed. If Rousey can limit her work on the mic, at least until she gets the hang of it, and keep her character to simply an intimidating badass, this whole thing will work. Of course, Triple H and Stephanie vs. Rousey and Angle at WrestleMania won’t do anyone any favors, but this is what it always was going to be. It’s an easy way for Rousey to get her first match, be hidden in case she’s still nowhere near ready, and continue to learn while they build her up without actually wrestling a one-on-one match. I’m not sure if Rousey really can be a true wrestling star (she’s already a star), but let’s give her a shot to prove it before we discount it.
Alexa Bliss: The Raw women’s champion was floundering in the division for months now, dwarfed by the arrivals of Asuka and Ronda Rousey and the attention given to Absolution and Nia Jax. But Bliss took center stage in a big way once again Sunday, not only becoming the first ever winner of the women’s Elimination Chamber match, but cutting a promo that had everyone guessing, not to mention chanting “you deserve it” to her. The babyface promo was just a setup, of course, as Bliss flipped the script and let her heel persona shine through. And she was as good as ever. Bliss was the best woman in the division for the past year, not the best wrestler, but the best overall performer, and it was great to see her back on top. She will probably lose to Asuka at WrestleMania, and nobody will expect her to win, but Bliss isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. She proved again how good she really is.
Asuka: She is or is becoming the AJ Styles of the women’s division, having the ability to put together a great match with anyone. Her battle and victory over Nia Jax was yet another example, and a great one considering the size of Jax. Asuka is the best woman in the company and is likely going to win the Raw women’s title at WrestleMania.
Nia Jax: She lost, but she came off as a true threat to both Asuka and the rest of the women’s division. Jax needed this performance in the worst way, and she delivered, even in defeat. Another woman who looked great in defeat was Mickey James in the chamber match. For the time she was in the match, she was the best of them all.
Roman Reigns: No matter what you think of him, Reigns is going to main event WrestleMania for the fourth straight year. That’s insane. It’s also the reason most hate him and boo him every chance they get. But here he is again, in the biggest spotlight the company has. He’s going to beat Brock Lesnar too, so get ready for a Reigns title reign soon enough. Reigns is on top of WWE once again, like it or not.
Braun Strowman: He pinned five guys in the chamber match, looked dominate kicking out of everyone’s finishers on multiple occasions, but none of it matters because of what happened at the end. This is the plain old fact: Strowman was pinned clean by Roman Reigns, losing yet another big match at a pay-per-view. So, forget those eliminations. Forget the post-match beat-down of Reigns. Forget everything about this match when it comes to Strowman looking great. In the end, he lost. That’s it. I picked Strowman to win and I wanted him to win the match, but there’s no denying WWE stunted his momentum once again. WWE continues to push Strowman to the moon, and then have it all come crashing down when it doesn’t have to. Now, Strowman will be lucky to get an interesting match for WrestleMania.
Bray Wyatt: One year earlier at Elimination Chamber, Bray Wyatt was WWE champion. This year, he wrestled and lost to Matt Hardy in a match absolutely nobody cared about. It was just as boring at home as it had to be in the arena, which was more into a beach ball than an actual wrestling match at a wrestling show. Nobody has become more irrelevant than Wyatt over the past year and even his biggest supporters have likely jumped ship on him already. I have.
John Cena: If you’re going to retire, just retire already. I’m sick of seeing Cena lose on PPV and then go on the post-match show and sit there and talk about whether or not he’s done with wrestling. It’s happened several times already and it’s just getting stupid now. With all of Cena’s talk about winning the chamber match being his only way into WrestleMania, too, he shouldn’t be on the card at all. But we all know that’s not going to happen, which makes Cena’s whining even more unbearable.