Top 10 Elimination Chamber Matches Of All Time
The Elimination Chamber is one of my favourite gimmick matches in WWE history. With the Elimination Chamber 2020 event right around the corner, I thought I'd go through the archives and watch every single Chamber match in history, and deliver a Top 10 for you fine readers. The things I do for you guys...
So, for the uninitiated, what is an Elimination Chamber match? Well, first introduced by Eric Bischoff in 2002, it is a match inside a large dome-like cage structure. It was promoted as something of a hybrid, incorporating elements of the old WCW match, War Games, as well as the Survivor Series elimination format, with a touch of the Royal Rumble, as new entrants join the match at timed intervals. Bischoff, who was the Raw General Manager at the time, brought the match to life in response to Smackdown putting on a Hell In A Cell match the month prior at No Mercy 2002, an absolute classic between a rookie Brock Lesnar and The Undertaker. Although it's had a couple of alterations over the years, the base concept is that 6 superstars are in the match. Within the Chamber structure are 4 small pods. An entrant enters each pod, and the remaning two wrestlers start the match. Every 5 minutes, a wrestler is released from their pod to join the match. Competitors are eliminated via pinfall or submission, until there is only one left. It's violent, it's unique and it's just about always a ton of fun. To watch, anyway. I imagine it's no picnic for the wrestlers involved.
There have been 24 Elimination Chamber matches in WWE history. The nature of the match means there's bound to be a fair amount of entertainment value in the Chamber regardless, but some definitely stand out more than others. Let's get to it.
10. No. 1 Contenders- Triple H vs. Jeff Hardy vs. JBL vs. Umaga vs. Chris Jericho vs. Shawn Michaels- No Way Out 2008
This began a trope I really enjoy in modern WWE- the use of the Chamber match to crown a no. 1 contender for a Wrestlemania title match. It's why I have less problem with the Elimination Chamber as a gimmick PPV, it makes sense to use such a big violent match as a means to get the ultimate prize of a Mania main event- makes way more sense than "hey, let's have a Hell In A Cell match because it's October!" Anyway, the action in this was really good. We began with Chris Jericho and Shawn Michaels, veterans of the Chamber and long time rivals, having a really quality wrestling sequence to kick things off. Then big bruisers JBL and Umaga join the match for some old fashioned ass-kicking. Then we get the favourites, Triple H and Jeff Hardy, added to the mix. In a cool change of pace, we get some rapid fire eliminations, with four of the guys getting taken out in seemingly a minute or two. JBL is enraged by his loss and blasts everyone with a steel chair. With Hunter and Hardy in the final two, the atmosphere is electric- Triple H is a tenured main eventer, but Hardy was a recent addition to the main event scene, having challenged Randy Orton a month earlier for the WWE Championship at the Royal Rumble in a valiant effort. He kicks out of the Pedigree, giving us hope, but a second finisher on the chair ends things for the Charismatic Enigma. In hindsight, probably a good thing he didn't win, as he fell victim to the Wellness Policy a month later. Goddamit Jeff.
9. Raw Women's Championship- Alexa Bliss vs. Bayley vs. Sasha Banks vs. Mickie James vs. Mandy Rose vs. Sonya Deville- Elimination Chamber 2018
The first time women were in an Elimination Chamber match, and it was very successful. Some of the "firsts" in this Women's Revolution... haven't been the greatest- see Money In The Bank and Hell In A Cell- but this was really well laid out. More storytelling here, revolving around alliances- Bayley & Sasha (pre-Boss and Hug Connection), Absolution and the friendship between Alexa Bliss and Mickie James. The use of the Chamber was smart, with cage fighter Sonya being the first to use the structure, followed by the veteran Mickie. Mickie, who has been sadly underutilised since her return to WWE- besides her awesome Takeover match with Asuka- got an awesome moment, scoring an elimination with a huge Lou Thesz press from the top of a Chamber pod. Then we had the big "Lion King" moment with Sasha stomping Bayley off the pod. And finally, Bliss retains- Twisted Bliss from the top of a pod, smashing Sasha into the pod, followed by the top rope spike DDT- and cuts a fire heel promo. Good shit, pal!
8. WWE Championship- John Cena vs. AJ Styles vs. Bray Wyatt vs. Dean Ambrose vs. Baron Corbin vs. The Miz- Elimination Chamber 2017
This marked a re-designing of the Elimination Chamber, which I was initially unhappy about. They took away the steel grated floor surrounding the ring and replaced it with some thin mats. I understood the motivation for wrestler safety, but to me it felt like having a ladder match with some cushions placed on the canvas so no one got hurt too badly. Stupid pussified WWE. But then, Cena took a fall off the Chamber wall- which was higher than the original Chamber- and it looked pretty cool. Doing things that kinda looked more dangerous but were essentially safe- yeah, I'm good with that. Besides some new unique spots, one of the reasons I really enjoyed this match was the result. After years of toiling away, being awesome but not winning the big one, Bray Wyatt finally became WWE Champion, beating both AJ Styles and John Cena clean! It's a pity it didn't last, but on this night, WWE used the Chamber match to crown a new main event superstar.
7. World Heavyweight Championship- Chris Jericho vs. Undertaker vs. Rey Mysterio vs. CM Punk vs. John Morrison vs. R-Truth- Elimination Chamber 2010
This match is well remembered for two main things- the closing sequence, which saw Shawn Michaels break into the Chamber through the steel grate and cost Undertaker the match with Sweet Chin Music; and the entrances, where Taker was set on fire by a mistimed pyrotechnic blast. So The Deadman wrestled the match with first degree burns- and he had a while to wait in his pod before he actually joined the match. This match had a high level of aerial athleticism given the style of the other wrestlers involved in the Chamber- John Morrison pulled off some nice parkour shit, and we had a healthy Rey Mysterio flying around the place. Most importantly, Chris Jericho got the win to capture the world title, which instantly elevates it in my book. Jerichoholic since 1999, baby!
6. World Heavyweight Championship- Daniel Bryan vs. Big Show vs. Wade Barrett vs. Cody Rhodes vs. Great Khali vs. Santino Marella- Elimination Chamber 2012
A match with Santino and Khali was awesome, you better believe it. Khali's stint was fairly inoffensive- he lasted about a minute and was taken out by a colossal Big Show spear. Santino Marella had no business being in a World Heavyweight Championship Chamber match... and that's exactly why it worked so well. The crowd went crazy for this underdog story with perennial comedy character Santino... and against all odds, he made it to the final two with defending world champ Daniel Bryan. The reactions of the crowd were insanely loud, particularly when he hit his Cobra finisher in the centre of the ring! It seemed like for one crazy, insane moment, that Santino was going to become the champ... then Bryan kicked out and made him tap to the Lebell Lock seconds later. Oh well. It was a hell of a fun thrill ride while it lasted. Also, Wade Barrett and Cody Rhodes got lots of spots to shine early on against Big Show which felt like a great look at the future of WWE (yeah, about that...)
5. World Heavyweight Championship- Triple H vs. Batista vs. Randy Orton vs. Chris Jericho vs. Chris Benoit vs. Edge (Special Ref- Shawn Michaels)- New Year's Revolution 2005
New Year's Revolution was a pretty awful PPV in all honesty. But this Chamber match just about saved it. Look at that line-up of wrestlers. Crazy to think what a loaded roster WWE had during the Ruthless Aggression era. Also, this is the only Chamber match to have a special referee- I forget why HBK was reffing this, but oh well. Also, the World Heavyweight Championship was vacant coming into this one, with Benoit and Edge beating each other in a Triple Threat title match in late 2004, causing Vince to vacate the title that belonged to Triple H at the time. So, the Game added another title reign to his resume, but there was some great action along the way, including an insane flying headbutt off the pod by Benoit. We also had the X factor of HBK as the ref, and the slow burning story of Triple H and Batista. It was becoming clear that Big Dave had his eyes on Hunter's prize, but he was expected to fall in line as a member of Evolution and help The Game win. Thrilling stuff bell-to-bell. It's a shame that the Benoit factor means that WWE don't really acknowledge this match when talking about classic Elimination Chamber matches, because it's way up there.
4. WWE World Heavyweight Championship- Randy Orton vs. John Cena vs. Daniel Bryan vs. Cesaro vs. Sheamus vs. Christian- Elimination Chamber 2014
The prize in this one was the unified WWE World Heavyweight Championship, where the world titles from both Raw and Smackdown were merged. This occurred a few months before this event in a TLC match between John Cena and Randy Orton. I can't remember the TLC match that well, but what I do remember is a segment on Raw before the TLC PPV, where Triple H and Steph brought every former world champion in the ring, and even though the focus was meant to be on Cena and Orton, the crowd went crazy chanting for Daniel Bryan. Well, Cena, Orton and Bryan were all in this match as major players, as well as reliable hands Sheamus, Cesaro and Christian to round out the field. You rarely get a bad match among these 6 superstars. Also, this was Christian's last major PPV match, with concussion issues forcing him to retire from in-ring competition about a month later. Christian for 2020 Hall of Fame! This match was all-action, all-intensity, starting with Sheamus and Cesaro. The men who would later team as The Bar kicked seven shades of shit out of each other for the first five minutes, before being joined by the uber-popular Bryan who brought a faster gear, then Christian came in to put in a performance worthy of his last stand, before Cena came in, initially cleaning house but getting cut off, and finally the defending champ Orton joined the fray. There was never a moment in this without action, and it was so competitive that we had all 6 wrestlers involved at the same time without elimination. The booking was smart in that everyone got at least one significant moment before taking that elimination- Sheamus was first to go, but he had the memorable spot of Brogue Kicking through a Chamber pod when Orton tried to hide in there. Then Christian went, but he was the one to eliminate Sheamus with a splash from the top of a pod. Cesaro got some crazy displays of strength, including hitting his patented Swing on Orton for 30 rotations! Then Cena made him tap to the STF, then it was to the business end of proceedings. The Wyatt Family got involved to cost Cena the title and set up a Wrestlemania 30 match between the Dr. of Thuganomics and the Eater of Worlds. Down to Orton and Bryan, which the crowd was molten for. Bryan very nearly beats the champ, but Corporate Kane gets involved, furthering the Bryan vs. The Authority storyline, allowing the Viper to keep the gold. Originally going off my memories, this was going to rank a little lower in my list, but based on a re-watch, they packed so much goodness into this, it truly belongs in the upper echelons of Elimination Chamber history!
3. World Heavyweight Championship- John Cena vs. Chris Jericho vs. Rey Mysterio vs. Mike Knox vs. Kane vs. Edge- No Way Out 2009
Wait, a match with Mike Freaking Knox in it ranked this high? Well, yeah. Knox was a minimal factor here, but the story of the match was Edge. He walked into this No Way Out event as the WWE Champion, and participated in another Chamber match to open the show. He was rolled up within the first 5 minutes by Jeff Hardy, being eliminated from the match and unceremoniously losing his championship. Enraged, Edge somehow inserted himself into this match by ambushing Kofi Kingston during his entrance, and being allowed to take his spot, because wrestling. Edge drew major heat for this, which came into play as this match went on. Rey Mysterio was beloved, and the final two participants wound up being Edge and Rey. The crowd willed Rey on against this dirty cheating outsider from Smackdown Edge (you don't even go here). Both men knew each other really well, and provided some dramatic and athletic sequences to thrill the audience as a result. In the end, Edge hit a massive Spear to claim victory in the Chamber. Walks in as WWE Champion, leaves as World Heavyweight Champion. Not a bad night to be the Rated R Superstar.
2. WWE Championship- Daniel Bryan vs. Kofi Kingston vs. AJ Styles vs. Jeff Hardy vs. Randy Orton vs. Samoa Joe- Elimination Chamber 2019
Card is subject to change. A disclaimer that worked out incredibly for the better in 2019. Originally, Mustafa Ali was scheduled to compete in this match, but he suffered a concussion, leaving a spot open a week before the Chamber PPV. So, veteran performer Kofi Kingston stepped up, winning a Gauntlet Match on Smackdown in a career-defining moment in order to just qualify for this opportunity. With that, out of pure happenstance, Kofi-mania was born. He had his eyes on the one prize that had eluded him throughout his 11 year WWE career... the WWE Championship. And he had the perfect foil- the reigning champ, the egotistical and self-righteous "New" Daniel Bryan. That dynamic alone would be enough to carry a really strong match, but let's not forget- there's 6 wrestlers in this Chamber. Samoa Joe felt completely in his element dishing out devastation, the veteran Randy Orton acquitted himself well in the familar surroundings. Jeff Hardy, in one of his first big singles opportunities since returning to WWE at Wrestlemania 33, found a way to stand out with his ballsy Swanton off the pod onto AJ Styles, who was phenomenal as always. Ultimately, we came down to Kofi and Bryan, and the crowd was completely behind the elder statesman of the New Day. We got a little extra violence in the new version of the Chamber, with both men battling atop the larger pods and smashing each other into the Plexiglass panels. Following a series of nail biting near falls where Kofi came within millimetres of winning the big one, the champ Bryan ultimately retained here. A genuine MOTY candidate that was perhaps an even better match than Kofi's eventual title win at Wrestlemania 35- which was excellent in its own right. But the Chamber was truly a special match and night for Kofi and all his fans. I still hope Mustafa Ali gets a crack at the main event scene again though, as great as Kofimania was, my man Ali definitely got shafted.
1. World Heavyweight Championship- Triple H vs. Shawn Michaels vs. Chris Jericho vs. Booker T vs. Kane vs. Rob Van Dam- Survivor Series 2002
The original is still the best. Sure, there's a novelty and maybe even a sense of nostalgia in it being the very first Chamber ever, but it still holds up today. It probably helps that the first entrant in the match was Rob Van Dam, taking on defending world champion Triple H to kick things off. RVD has a very unique offensive style, and has innovated many moves over the years. His creativity was put to good use inside this steel structure, as he experimented with different high flying tactics all around the Chamber, from a spot where he clung to the chain wall of the Chamber like Spiderman, to a breathtaking Five Star Frog Splash from the top of a Chamber pod, it was exciting as hell. We also had the legendary Chris Jericho putting in a great performance, Kane being a tremendous powerhouse and hurling bodies around the Chamber, and the great comeback story of Shawn Michaels. After four years away from the ring from what was thought to be a career ending back injury, he ultimately prevailed inside this hellacious structure, delivering Sweet Chin Music to his hated rival Triple H to capture the World Heavyweight Championship! This was perfection. Also, taking place at Madison Square Garden, in front of a red hot crowd, main eventing one of the best PPVs WWE has ever put on in the 2002 Survivor Series... pro wrestling doesn't get any better than this. Still the gold standard in Elimination Chamber matches.
Well, that does it for this look back at the Elimination Chamber. Looking forward to this year's installment, albeit a little tentatively. Two actual Chamber matches are scheduled for the card, one being a tag team Elimination Chamber. The first one of those in 2015... was an absolute disaster, botched spots aplenty, boasting the "star power" of the Prime Time Players and Los Matadores. The women's tag Chamber from last year was pretty good though, so maybe it'll work out. The other is a no. 1 Contender's match with the winner facing Raw Women's Champion Becky Lynch at Wrestlemania. The problem is, they've already started a Becky Lynch vs. Shayna Baszler feud, which kinda gives away the result of that one. Unless they want to swerve the fans by having someone else win but having Shayna claim the shot through shenanigans- which would be even worse. Silly WWE and their backwards booking!
The Elimination Chamber match is inherently fun. Even the bad ones have some entertainment value. And not all the Chambers that didn't make this list are bad. Except the Extreme Elimination Chamber and the 2015 Chamber matches. They sucked all the dick. 2015 was so bad, they had to shelve the gimmick PPV in 2016 to give us fans time to recover from the trauma it inflicted on us. But you can generally find some cool moments in just about all of them, even if they weren't the greatest as a whole. And some are good matches with flawed finishes... Summerslam 2003, I'm looking at you.
After Monday, there's a WrestleWatch review coming on the Elimination Chamber 2020 PPV! Yay! However, I'm winding down my writing schedule a bit going forward. I really enjoy writing these, obviously it's not something I make money off, it's just a fun hobby for the most part. It is quite time and energy consuming though, and I want to channel my energy and focus into getting back into paid teaching work. In between writing and watching wrestling- and sometimes during- I've been working hard trying to get my body right with diet and exercise here at home. I finally feel like I'm at a stage with my body where I can make a real go at working again, and teaching is one of my other passions besides pro wrestling that I haven't been able to embrace in a while. So, at this time, I'm looking at Wrestlemania 36 being my last blog post, at least for a while. Maybe I'll take a Wrestlemania to Summerslam hiatus. But I need to get life in order outside of pro wrestling, Netflix and video games... they've been great tools to prevent me slipping into a complete depression over my health problems, but it's time to overcome.
See you guys after the Chamber.
Until next time, take care,