WWE ELIMINATION CHAMBER REVIEW 12/02/2017: Bray Wyatt's Time Is Now!

The art of professional wrestling is one of the most socially active mediums of entertainment across the world. Millions watch men and women grapple for championships, financial success, accolades, celebrity status, and supposed immortality within the squared circle. The Hype Train provides a glancing review of WWE’s Tuesday night show, SmackDown Live, evaluating the show itself, and then commenting on the good, the bad, and everything else in-between. For this edition we review SmackDown's last pay-per-view before Wrestlemania 33, the Elimination Chamber event. All aboard.

WWE Elimination Chamber Review: 12/02/2017

Two weeks removed from a Royal Rumble event that ended with Randy Orton becoming the third member of Evolution to win the Royal Rumble twice in the last four years, SmackDown had one last pay-per-view pit stop before the blue brand headS to Wrestlemania 33 for the show of shows. Full to the brim of part-time wrestlers collecting a massive pay-check, WWE's hopes of pulling in the big bucks from casual fans was well and truly tested with the Elimination Chamber, with many fans of the genre either ecstatic, or downright disappointed with the path that WWE has taken in recent weeks.

SmackDown Live has taken the phrase of 'the land of opportunity' by the horns since the reintroduction of the brand split, and for the most part, has been the dominant show in terms of viewership enjoyment. Whilst RAW is laboured, often sacrificing its quality to make the unpopular fan favourites, such as Roman Reigns, the biggest deals in the company, SmackDown has been producing a dynamic booking style, even though from time to time there is little inspiration with particular booking such as Randy Orton taking on John Cena on the shows most recent edition. But the point in whole is that the blue brand has been constantly stirring the pot, not letting any of the wrestlers on its roster take up too much time on the top of the mountain, in a process of recycling/changing champions, at least producing the allure that the opportunity of a championship brass ring is just a three count away. Dolph Ziggler emphasised that point, beating The Miz for the Intercontinental title, only to surprisingly lose it back to The Miz, and then even more so, to Dean Ambrose.

The itch for fans and journalists is the headache of understanding where Wrestlemania is going from here, and we're focusing on that element due to the fact that the Elimination Chamber pay-per-view was largely skippable. We won't be in a hurry to rewatch the first half of the show, with the slow burner finally picking up pace when Luke Harper and Rand Orton delivered a solid and entertaining affair, with the only damp squid coming with another predictable close to the match - an obvious Randy Orton victory. To keep Harper relevant in the title scene he should have won this match, and could have been the man to drive the wedge between Orton and Wyatt to help this feud explode into something larger than life. Harper's threat could have been real, constantly pulling at the loose bond of the Wyatt family, but realistically this was only capable of doing that whilst looking strong in victory against Orton. Now his role is minimised due to falling victim to the RKO. WWE could still lead down this path in which Harper becomes a catalyst for disaster, but we're not too sure WWE cares all that much about appeasing fans or their wishes.

There is a real opportunity to breathe new life into the title picture on SmackDown live here though in a positive manner. Unlike with RAW, which is set to strip its audience of Owens vs. Jericho for the Universal Championship, all because Vince McMahon wants to pull all his eggs in one basket with Goldberg against Lesner at the last minute, SmackDown has finally given one of its most underutilised wrestlers a platform to create his own legacy. Owens might have to settle for second best, buy Wyatt doesn't, and he's doing it with thee belt in the WWE. At the biggest show of the year it has become a spectacle to shove the hard working wrestlers down the card in favour for part-timers, but Bray's inclusion breaks that mould and we couldn't be happier that four years of losing pay-per-view matches has finally led to a concrete Wrestlemania main event. The phrasing of a land of opportunity well and truly applies in this instance with Bray Wyatt as WWE Champion.

Elimination Chamber in general is something that was partly frustrating, partly unwatchable, and partly brilliant, even in its predictability. Wyatt's victory sparked an approval in the arena that was long overdue, and was helped along with another phenomenal performance from AJ Styles, who in our eyes is becoming the new Kurt Angle of WWE. It doesn't matter if he's a heel or baby face, there is no opponent who Styles can't carry to a good match in the wrestling industry. Inside an impressive and television friendly Elimination Chamber (which we will soon be marketed as Lego and every type of sell-able children's toy), Styles and Wyatt flourished, whilst as many imagined, Miz, Ambrose, and Corbin, quickly became afterthoughts, to make way for the stand off between Orton's two potential Mania challengers - AJ or Bray.

As for the rest of the show? The Tag Team Turmoil match and Ziggler's continued feud with Crews and Kalisto, is essentially a continuation from SmackDown and doesn't really hold any credit to what a pay-per-view is supposed to deliver in the modern age. Ziggler's match in particular lacked logical booking. Why oh why was a heel booked against two faces in a Handicap match? The newly turned villain received 'Thank you Ziggler' chants for laying waste to Crews and Kalisto to close their match, and to top it off, Ziggler lost? The optimum outcome would have been for the match to never happen, and for Ziggler to beat up the duo across the arena. It's a mess, just like the Tag Title scene, which quickly needs revamping with fresh blood (The Revival anyone?).

As far as a go home PPV for Wrestlemania goes, Elimination Chamber was a slow burner, that will largely be remembered for the night that Bray Wyatt finally cemented his place in WWE history as champion, and little else.

Elimination Chamber Results: 12/02/2017

Mojo Rawley def. Curt Hawkins(Kickoff Match)

Becky Lynch def. Mickie James

Kalisto & Apollo Crews def. Dolph Ziggler (2-on-1 Handicap Match)

SmackDown Tag Team Champions American Alpha win Tag Team Turmoil

Nikki Bella vs. Natalya ends in a Double Count-out

Randy Orton def. Luke Harper

Naomi def. Alexa Bliss {c} to win the SmackDown Women's Championship

Bray Wyatt def. John Cena {c}, The Miz, Baron Corbin, AJ Styles, and Dean Ambrose in an Elimination Chamber match to win the WWE Championship

Elimination Chamber Observations

AJ Styles's introductory pop was absolutely through the roof at the Chamber event, further solidifying the rightful fame the former WWE Champion deserves.

Perhaps the biggest kick of the night comes in the pre-show, when JBL tripped over the cameraman's wires on the way to the ring.

Ziggler's more popular than ever, as a bad guy, beating up two despised baby faces.

Luke Harper won a lot of plaudits over, but really needed to win against Orton to have any sizeable impact as a singles wrestlers.

Nikki and Natalya put on a decent outing until the Double Count Out. That match should have been the outcome of the Ziggler match.

Mauro Ranallo kept repeatedly callin the Elimination Chamber a Hell in the Cell match.

David Otunga is an inert presence on commentary.

Next on Pay-Per-View: Wrestlemania 33 (Sunday 2nd April 2017)

Brock Lesner vs. Goldberg (most likely for the Universal Championship)

WWE Champion Bray Wyatt defending against Randy Orton (expected)

Kevin Owens against Chris Jericho for the United States Championship (expected)

Roman Reigns vs. The Undertaker (expected)

AJ Styles vs. Shane McMahon (expected)

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