WrestleWatch- WWE Elimination Chamber 2022
By Mick Robson
Sometimes, my wrestling fandom makes me question my own sanity. This year's Elimination Chamber PPV- sorry, "premium live event"- emanated from Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. That means that the show didn't air at the usual Aussie-friendly time of around midday, but rather, started at 4am, with the Kickoff show starting at 3am. Guess which crazy bastard got up to watch it live?
Silver lining in a way- I had a broken sleep all weekend, which meant I naturally woke up just before 3, and went, "well, I'm here, I might as well". A busy Sunday and a catch-up on sleep means I'm getting this review done on a Monday morning. And it needs to be done because it's the last stop on the Road To Wrestlemania.
The Saudi shows have been a mixed bag over the years. Often, they've been extremely high-budget house shows, with a huge stadium, tons of pyro... but poor, uninspired creative and an effort from the wrestlers that usually matched. I imagine the flight there from the States causes a fair amount of fatigue. Last year, however, turned the corner, with Crown Jewel being likely the best WWE event of 2021, highlighted by a wonderful Hell In A Cell match between Edge and Seth Rollins which could also lay claim to WWE Match of the Year.
So the success of Crown Jewel led to me having high hopes for this event. The first time the Elimination Chamber travelled overseas. We get two of the matches, both with WrestleMania implications. The winner of the women's Chamber goes to Mania to face the Raw Women's Champion. The winner of the men's Chamber becomes the WWE Champion. And we also have Hall of Fame legends Lita and Goldberg returning to the ring to challenge for championships. Plus, the 2021 Women's Royal Rumble winner, Ronda Rousey, is in action.
Yep, this show is as stacked as prime Trish Stratus. Let's do this!
Kickoff Show- Rey Mysterio def. The Miz (at 8:20)
Thoughts: This was moved to the pre-show in order to accomodate a strict 3 hour PPV window... we'll be getting more into that as the show rolls on. Great effort from Rey & Miz, neither did anything awe-inspiring, but each stayed in their wheelhouse, playing to a Saudi crowd that was incredibly invested in both men. Miz had a fun little spot with Dominik, who was at ringside for his dad. Miz pulls off an Eddie Guerrero-esque spot, acting like Dom hit him with a chair, leading to the ref ejecting the younger Mysterio. A savvy Rey gets the win moments later, and Rey and Dom hit Miz with a double 619, followed by Frog Splashes. I think we can be certain by the way Dominik hits the Frog Splash- he ain't Eddie's kid. (***1/4)
Match 1: Universal Championship- Roman Reigns (c) def. Goldberg (at 6:00)
Thoughts: Huge sense of occasion, starting the main show with these mega-stars. The people loved Goldberg, but simultaneously treated Reigns like a god, roaring when he called for their acknowledgement. The match itself was fairly standard Goldberg fare- short, with big moves on both sides. This wasn't a bad rendition of the formula by any means. Roman was able to lock in the guillotine choke, and although Goldberg fought valiantly, he passed out in the hold. This was the last match on Goldberg's WWE deal, but throwing it out there first with that kind of finish, leads me to believe he's re-signed in some fashion. (**3/4)
Match 2: Women's Elimination Chamber- Bianca Belair def. Alexa Bliss, Rhea Ripley, Doudrop, Nikki ASH & Liv Morgan (at 15:45)
Thoughts: This was a decent six-person elimination match that just happened to occur inside a Chamber. The structure barely came into play until one spot with the final 2 of Bianca & Alexa. Plus it was super rushed- the chamber used to be 5 minute intervals between entrants, but this had to be 2 or 3 minutes instead. The Chamber is meant to be a brutal match, you can't speed run these match types. They did it with a few of the early 2010's Hell In A Cells when the HIAC PPVs started, and it sucked then as well. On a positive note, we had the correct winner in Belair, and Ripley & Bliss looked strong in defeat. Particularly fun was the Belair/Ripley interactions- that could be like the modern day Austin/Rock of the women's division if they continue to protect both ladies. (**1/2)
Match 3: Ronda Rousey & Naomi def. Charlotte Flair & Sonya Deville
Thoughts: Say what you want about the WWE/Saudi relationship, they've definitely made some social progress. We've gone from no women allowed on the shows to having 3 matches on this card. They've still got to wear attire that covers their bodies, but no longer need the oversized shirts that makes the matches look like a training session. The ladies in the Chamber wore different types of body suits, and Rousey had a cool throwback, as she wore the gi she wore when she competed in the Olympics in judo. Per the match stipulation, she wrestled with one arm tied behind her back, but it barely slowed her down as she still hit Deville with Piper's Pit and locked in the armbar as Charlotte watched on. It was okay. (**1/4)
Match 4: Falls Count Anywhere- Drew McIntyre def. Madcap Moss (w/ Happy Corbin) (at 9:00)
Thoughts: Great effort from both men, and damn, is Moss one tough SOB! He took Drew's reverse Alabama Slam wrong, over-rotating and tucking his neck in a scary spot which saw him spiked head-first into the mat. Shades of Benoit vs. Sabu back in the day. Not only did Moss continue, but he kept going balls-to-the-wall with big bumps all over the place. Credit to Corbin too, who quickly pulled Moss out of the ring and created a distraction with Drew so that the ref could check on Moss and make sure he was okay to continue. We get some absolute fuckery for the finish as McIntyre swings his sword at Corbin (not an innuendo) as the ref shrugs like "it's no DQ". Moments later, a Claymore gives the win to the Scottish Warrior, but that's not what people will remember from this battle. (***1/2)
Match 5: Raw Women's Championship- Becky Lynch (c) def. Lita (at 12:15)
Thoughts: Michael Cole called this "the first meaningful singles match for Lita in 16 years". We just gonna disrespect Lita vs. Heath Slater from Raw 1000 like that? But seriously, Lita looked phenomenal here, clearly putting in the work. This may have been MOTN. Lita even pulled out a Stratusphere (Team Bestie for life). Big Time Becks went for a big moonsault but missed, allowing Lita to capitalise and hit the Twist of Fate, followed by a beautiful moonsault... but the champ kicked out for a tremendous near fall. Moments later, the Manhandle Slam was hit for the "and still". I hope Lita comes back for more matches, that was as good as she's ever looked in the ring! (***3/4)
The Smackdown Tag Team Championship match never happened, as the Viking Raiders made their entrance, and the Usos attacked them from behind. The attack wasn't even that bad, but the Vikings were ruled unable to compete. They flew those guys to Saudi Arabia for that?!?
Match 6: WWE Championship- Elimination Chamber- Brock Lesnar def. Austin Theory, Riddle, AJ Styles, Seth Rollins & Bobby Lashley (c) (at 14:55)
Thoughts: Again, a super-sped up Chamber match, and Lashley was taken out of the match with some fuckery, after Rollins powerbombed Theory threw his pod, they removed him from the match due to "concussion protocol". Apparently, he suffered a shoulder injury at the Rumble and can't compete. Why they didn't just strip him of the title and make this a Chamber for the vacant title, I don't know. This was a cheap cop-out. Lesnar kicked his way out of his Chamber pod and annihilated everyone. As much as I always enjoy Brock Smash, I wasn't overjoyed seeing him mow through Rollins, Styles & Riddle like they were absolutely nothing. Made a little more sense seeing him toy with Austin Theory in the final two, and seeing Theory get launched off the top of a Chamber pod with an F5 was an amazing visual that stops me putting this whole Chamber in the bin. (**)
The last Saudi show was the best of the year. Technically, this one might be as well, only because the Rumble was such a huge misfire. This show looked incredible on paper, but rushed matches and assorted WWE fuckery made it fall short of those expectations. Goldberg matches these days are always a coin-flip for entertainment value, and this one just managed to land on the right side of the coin. They managed to fuck up not one, but two Chamber matches. Really, the only match that truly lived up to the hype was Becky vs. Lita, with the HOFer clearly working her ass off for this big return. Very predictable in terms of results and storylines, putting the pieces in place for Mania. That in itself isn't necessarily a bad thing, but we want to enjoy the road there, even when we know where it's going. That wasn't the case at Elimination Chamber.
Overall Score: 4.5/10
Until next time, take care.