If you look in the rearview mirror, you’ll see the Royal Rumble getting further and further behind us. If you look out the windshield, you’ll see WrestleMania creeping up on us.
Yes, folks, we’re in that weird time on the WWE calendar where the company tries to cram as much as they possibly can between the Rumble and Mania.
The build to this weekend’s Elimination Chamber event has been… interesting… to say the least. I’ve been finding myself having a bunch of opinions on the show’s card, but it’s also one of those situations where those opinions don’t necessarily warrant an entire column of their own. What do I do when that happens? I dust off my Peter King-inspired “10 Things I Think I Think” series.
Ten opinions, in no particular order, about the current Elimination Chamber card and how we’ve reached this point. Simple enough, no?
- Jeff Hardy Has No Business Being In The WWE Championship Elimination Chamber: Yeah, yeah, yeah… former champion… blah, blah, blah. Let’s look at some numbers. In his last 19 non-tag matches, Jeff Hardy has won four of them. Three of those four wins were against Elias, who nobody cares about anymore, and the other one was a disqualification victory over Jaxson Ryker, who is even lower down the proverbial totem pole than Elias. You have to go all the way back to August 28th… almost six whole months ago… to find a singles victory for Hardy over someone not named Elias or Jaxson Ryker. On that night, Jeff pinned Shinsuke Nakamura, and he was actually riding a six-match winning streak in singles competition. So many wins, followed by a metric fuckton of garbage. WWE putting Jeff Hardy in this match is yet another instance where the company is telling the people who watch the programming that wins and losses don’t mean anything. You could win a ton of matches and get no title shots, or you could lose a ton of matches and become a champion. Who knows? Who cares?
- It’s Like Asuka Never Defends Her Title: Asuka defeated Sasha Banks at SummerSlam to become the Raw Women’s Champion. That was on August 23rd of last year. On the day I post this column, it will be her 178th day as champion. In those 178 days, she has defended the title four times. Of those four title defenses, the last one came on November 23rd. That was almost three fucking months ago! WWE, in their infinite wisdom, decided to place Asuka in a tag team with Charlotte Flair and have them win the Women’s Tag Team Titles, only to also have them participate in completely separate singles feuds. Asuka’s mini-feud with Alexa Bliss was, obviously, never for the Raw Women’s Title, and when you combine that with Asuka’s time in a tag team, you have one giant lack of a point. Oh, but that problem was to be solved here at Elimination Chamber. Asuka was set to defend the title against Lacey Evans, only for Lacey to then find out she was pregnant a week before the event, cancelling the match and putting a question mark on whether or not Asuka will have a match at all. Of course. Sure, WWE could scrounge something up at the last minute and just have Asuka defend against someone like Alexa (who pinned the champ in a non-title match), Naomi (who pinned the champ in a tag match), or Peyton Royce (who is kinda sorta Lacey’s tag partner) on the show, but it’s not guaranteed. I will say this, though…
- Thank God For Lacey Evans Getting Pregnant: Becky Lynch revealed that she was pregnant nine months ago. Baby Roux was born a little more than two months ago. There is still no word on when “The Man” is set to return to WWE programming. Honestly, good for her. She should cherish every single moment with her daughter. I can only pray that Lacey Evans decides to do the same. If I don’t have to see her for at least the next nine months, I don’t have the words to express how happy that would make me. In fact, it would be even better if she just decided that being a mom is too good to give up and she retired altogether. That would be amazing. If I never see another Lacey Evans match for as long as I live, it would be too soon. She is awful. She has yet to wrestle a match that doesn’t feature some sort of a botch or ridiculous timing issue that simply shouldn’t be happening to someone that has been wrestling for seven years, five under the WWE umbrella. Her gimmick would be viewed as too corny and over-the-top if this were the 1980’s. Just… yuck. Her not wrestling at Elimination Chamber automatically makes the show quality better.
- We Should Be Prepared For Some REALLY Long Chamber Matches: If you remember back to the Royal Rumble, the main show had a total of five matches on it. The show still went almost four hours long, of course boosted by the two Rumble matches themselves, which combined to go over 131 minutes on their own. Elimination Chamber may or may not be a four-hour show, but we might be in for some lengthy matches again. As of this moment, there are only four scheduled matches on the card. We might still get a Raw Women’s Championship match on the card, or we may get an Intercontinental Title match. We know the Chamber matches will get a good chunk of time. There hasn’t been a men’s Elimination Chamber to go less than 30 minutes since 2015, and there have only been eight total men’s Chambers to not reach the 30-minute mark… and three of those eight came within 90 seconds of reaching that time. There have been three women’s Chambers, with the longest being 33 minutes and the shortest being 21 minutes. The 21-minute match took place last year, and was only that short because it was designed for Shayna Baszler to look unstoppable as she eliminated the other five women involved. With both Chambers involving men this year, you have to think they’ll both be long, especially considering the people involved in them. If you told me each match will be in the 45-50 minute range, I wouldn’t doubt it. The men’s Chamber at the 2018 EC event is the longest match in the stipulation’s history, clocking in at 40:15. This year is a special case for several reasons, though. More time needs to be filled with only four announced matches. On top of that, one of the non-Chamber matches is going to be Roman Reigns defending the Universal Title against a Chamber winner immediately after that match is done. Let’s just say nobody is expecting the Reigns match to be a 30-minute bout. Two Elimination Chambers and a very brief Universal Title match. Raise your hand if you think Bobby Lashley defending the United States Title against Riddle and mayyyyybe Keith Lee is going to be a lengthy bout. If Lee is pulled from the match, as rumors are circulating could be the case, raise your hand if you think Lashley vs Riddle going one-on-one will be a long match. This is a weird card when it comes to time. I’d like to circle back to the Universal Title for a moment now…
- This Is Another Brilliant Heel Strategy By Roman Reigns: We’re actually living in a time where Roman Reigns is a chickenshit heel without being a chickenshit heel. He’s having other people do the heavy lifting for him. He’s inserting himself into matches halfway through when his opponents are already battered and bruised. Now, he’s using his power to make a title defense against someone who just went through a war inside the Elimination Chamber. He’s doing everything he can to put himself in the best possible situations to keep his title. Isn’t that what a good heel should do?
- Normally, I’d Say Cesaro Should Win His Chamber Match, But This Isn’t A Normal Time: We’re about seven months away from the ten-year anniversary of Claudio Castagnoli signing his WWE contract and becoming the man we now know as Cesaro. In that decade, do you know how many televised World Title shots Cesaro has had? Two. He was in the WWE World Title Elimination Chamber match in 2014, and he was in the Money In The Bank Ladder Match later that year when the same WWE World Title was vacant and up for grabs instead of a title shot in a briefcase. That’s it. Two whole matches. He has been one of the most criminally underutilized performers in all of wrestling year in and year out. This could… should… be a time for Cesaro to finally get a real singles push for a company he has worked so hard for over the last ten years. He presents a unique challenge for Roman Reigns, and he could undoubtedly have a great match with the Universal Champion. It would also be a fresh match, as they haven’t had a singles bout in over three years, and needless to say, they’re both different characters than they were back then. I’m just having an issue with the idea of Cesaro FINALLY becoming a main event guy, only to lose his first singles World Title match in a matter of seconds. Even as part of a bigger story, his title shot should be more than that. I have a sneaking suspicion that none of this will matter, anyway, because Reigns will find a way to help Jey Uso win the Chamber, only to have Jey “take the dive” so that Roman remains the champ. This allows the heels to get another one up on Adam Pearce and WWE Officials, which can, and probably will, build to something at WrestleMania where Roman has no more cards to play and must defend the title against someone without any smoke and mirrors, outside interference, and so on. We’ll see.
- I’m Sick Of Seeing King Corbin In Spots Like This: Let’s do the same research that we did for Cesaro here. We’re coming up on the five-year anniversary of Corbin’s main roster debut. If he wins this Chamber, his match with Reigns will be his 10th televised World Title shot. I don’t think Corbin is anywhere near as bad a wrestler as many of you feel he is. He’s not a technical wizard or anything, but with the right opponent, he is perfectly capable of turning in a match that is watchable and can be enjoyed. It’s just the same thing over and over and over and over and over again with Corbin. His “King” gimmick is the same as his “Constable” gimmick, and it’s all been going on for three years now. He’s fine in a midcard spot. Hell, if you want to make him the Intercontinental or United States Champion, knock yourself out. Anything beyond that is getting tiring.
- I’m Glad There Isn’t A Women’s Chamber Match This Year: Before the Cancel Police come after me for being unrelentingly sexist, let me clarify. There are a total of 15 women on the Raw roster. Of those 15, two are now out of action and on maternity leave, while one more is on the shelf due to testing positive for COVID. That leaves 12 women. Dana Brooke? No, thanks. Naomi? Nah. Lana? No. Mickie James? In this economy? Mandy Rose? I’ll pass. That leaves seven women, most of which have already been squaring off time and time again recently, so I don’t care to see it happen in a longer setting. On Smackdown, there are 11 women. One of those women is out of action with an injury, leaving ten, if you’re counting Billie Kay, who hasn’t wrestled outside of the Royal Rumble in two months. Natalya? Pass. Sonya Deville? She’s technically an “authority figure” right now. Bianca Belair? There’s not exactly a reason to have the Royal Rumble winner competing in the Elimination Chamber. Liv Morgan? Nuh-uh. Tamina? Yeah… no. There aren’t even enough women left over to have a Chamber match. The women’s divisions on Raw and Smackdown simply aren’t very deep right now, partly due to WWE’s ineptitude, but also partly due to some bad luck and some desire to build families. Even though it wouldn’t make a lick of sense, a women’s Chamber for the NXT Women’s Title could be a ton of fun, as the division on Wednesdays is insanely talented right now. As it is, I just don’t have any interest in seeing either Raw or Smackdown field competitors for a Chamber. Sorry.
- We Should’ve Gotten Drew McIntyre vs Sheamus In A Singles Match: Everybody knew Sheamus would eventually stab Drew McIntyre in the back. He finally did it, ending a friendship that has been going on for years, long before either man was with WWE. I know it isn’t just me because I’ve seen it discussed on social media, but damn, that turn has really fizzled, hasn’t it? He hit McIntyre with a Brogue Kick, said Drew wasn’t his friend anymore, and then wasn’t seen for the rest of that episode of Raw. The following week, they were both randomly thrown into the Chamber match, followed by Sheamus hitting Randy Orton with a Brogue Kick on accident in the night’s main event and then being hit with a Claymore Kick from McIntyre. The next week, they ended a Gauntlet Match together after wrestling for about five minutes (and a total of 40-ish minutes for McIntyre in the match). That’s it. This is supposed to be a super duper blood feud that sees a 20+ year friendship come to an end? It feels like any other random feud that sees people placed into the Elimination Chamber. If you’re not going to keep them apart until WrestleMania, their match at this event should’ve been a singles brawl. The Raw Elimination Chamber could be for a WWE Title shot at Fastlane or something. Not only would it make more sense, but it would also help with the whole “there aren’t many matches on this card” problem that I mentioned earlier.
- Nobody Really Expects The WWE Or Universal Title To Change Hands: This is a problem that WWE often finds themselves in because of their need to have multiple pay-per-view/Network events between the Royal Rumble and WrestleMania. It doesn’t happen every year, but it happens too often. Once the Rumble event comes to a close, you can generally piece together at least one of the WrestleMania main events. WWE can put their top champions in as many title matches as they want, but you generally know the belts aren’t switching hands before Mania. Again, this isn’t the case every year, but it seems to be the overwhelming favorite outcome to happen this year. Most people have Roman Reigns vs Edge penciled in for WrestleMania, and while the WWE Title challenger could be any number of people, nobody really thinks Drew McIntyre loses that title before Mania. Can the matches still be good, or even great, if you pretty much know the outcome going in? They sure can. It just takes a little bit of the excitement out of things is all.
Because I love you all so much, I’m going to give you a BONUS THOUGHT, which means you’re getting 11 things I think I think, all for the same price you would pay for ten thoughts. Don’t ever say I didn’t do anything for you.
- I Would Much Rather Have Elimination Chamber (And Hell In A Cell) Not Be Themed Events: It’s not rocket science. This is the one time of year where there just so happen to be five or six people arguing about who deserves the WWE or Universal Title on a given show. It’s too choreographed. To me, it would be far more exciting if this kind of thing happened in, say, September, just as an example. Coming out of SummerSlam, you have a handful of people who feel they’re the top guy/gal, and if you book things properly, you would have that many who look like they could be in that top spot. They can’t agree on anything, so fuck it, throw them in the Chamber and we’ll see who is really the best. Continuing with that example, if you had an Elimination Chamber in September 2021, I wouldn’t even do another one until April or May 2023, where the same story comes out of WrestleMania, with a handful of people claiming they should be the champion. Hell In A Cell should only be brought out to settle a blood feud. Again, it’s far too choreographed to have those blood feuds always happening around October when the Hell In A Cell event takes place. If Wrestler A and Wrestler B simply have no other option but to try and kill each other, and it only happens to be June, so be it. If it’s December, that’s fine. Whatever works. It’s dumb otherwise.
Weekly Power Rankings (Without write-ups, as I’m running short on time this week.)
- Johnny Gargano vs KUSHIDA
- Finn Balor vs Pete Dunne
- Jon Moxley & Lance Archer vs Kenny Omega & KENTA
- Undisputed Era Drama
- Dakota Kai & Raquel Gonzalez
- MSK vs Grizzled Young Veterans
- Raw Gauntlet Match
- More Character Development For Apollo Crews
- Io Shirai vs Toni Storm vs Mercedes Martinez
- Lacey Evans’ Husband For Getting Her Pregnant & Taking Her Away From My Television Screen
This Week’s Playlist: “T.N.T.” by AC/DC… “Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap” by AC/DC… “Big Balls” by AC/DC… “Highway To Hell” by AC/DC… “Hells Bells” by AC/DC… “Back In Black” by AC/DC… “You Shook Me All Night Long” by AC/DC… “Thunderstruck” by AC/DC… “Welcome To The Jungle” by Guns N’ Roses… “Mr. Brownstone” by Guns N’ Roses… “Paradise City” by Guns N’ Roses… “Sweet Child O’ Mine” by Guns N’ Roses… “Patience” by Guns N’ Roses… “Live And Let Die” by Guns N’ Roses… “Don’t Cry” by Guns N’ Roses… “November Rain” by Guns N’ Roses… “Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door” by Guns N’ Roses… “You Could Be Mine” by Guns N’ Roses… “Love In An Elevator” by Aerosmith… “Janie’s Got A Gun” by Aerosmith