Our wrestling television week begins with Kane’s focus on the Ambulance he claims will carry John Cena out of the Elimination Chamber PPV in 6 days. Passively advertising a match like this is ideal to me, but as we will see later, that was too good to be true.
The true start to the show was the announcement and commencement of an “Elimination Chamber Debate”, which reeks of an NXT challenge. With the exception of CM Punk, R Truth received by far the biggest pop. Laurinitis interrupts Punk, simply to introduce himself and retreat to the back; these people can’t help but waste time.
The segment went off as one would expect; Punk says he’s the best, Ziggler says he’s even better, Miz harkened back to Mania from last year, which is the last time he was successful, Kofi tries to stake his claim as a viable threat, Jericho points out that HE’S the best in the world (at everything he does) and Truth thinks he’s running for office, which admittedly led to a bit of actual comedy.
Match 1: Chris Jericho vs Kofi Kingston
A relatively short match, with Kofi getting in a bit of signature offense, aggression and escaping the Walls, to show him as viable. Kofi hits his finisher on Jericho, but cannot capitalize for the fall, leading to an eye poke from Jericho and a ‘cheap’ win via Codebreaker. The fact that Jericho had to cheat to beat Kofi solidifies him as a threat in the eyes of the higher ups, I’m sure.
Winner: Chris Jericho via pinfall.
Something I loved in this match was Jericho using a belly to back suplex as an offensive move, not just a counter as is typically done in modern WWE. There was also a great powerbomb spot out with Jericho countering Kofi’s signature corner punches.
We were then treated to three rapid fire non-match segments with commercials in between: HBK on screen, to get a big pop from the crowd; Ryder and Cena in the back, for another big pop and to put ‘star power’ on screen in between matches; and Laurinitis/Otunga ‘hatching a plan’ to gain more backstage power.
Match 2: Randy Orton vs Big Show
Daniel Bryan comes out first with his usual entrance and his splendid “YES YES YES YES” entrance – this man celebrates anything, even walking down to the ring and I love it. Orton is landing strikes on Big Show and actually moving him; need a credible threat to the ‘monster’ in the cage. The match went well, with a great top rope spike DDT spot on big show, leading to a botched RKO attempt, quickly and effectively resetting and landing the RKO, prompting Bryan to enter the ring and pop both men with his belt.
Bryan is turning out to be a great chickenshit heel, getting in people’s heads. Of note: Orton apparently suffered an actual concussion here and has (at this time) been replaced with Santino in the chamber match. One can only assume someone else will replace him. Also of note: Even after popping Randy Orton with a belt, there were vocal chants for Bryan.
Winner: Technically Randy Orton, as he was struck first.
It bugs me that the announcers could not fathom an excuse for the RKO mistake – that’s their job.
The second hour opens with HBK making a full entrance with pyro. Everyone still loves him, as they damn well should. I won’t bore with the details of the talk with HHH, as if you’re reading this, you’ve watched that.
What comes of this is HBK immediately conflicting/butting heads with HHH; not a punch was pulled here. Seems they want to kick the trip down the Road to Wrestlemania into high gear…fine by me. This concluded with a new video from The Undertaker, showing him cutting his ‘hair’ – this will explain Taker’s short hair look in the match, since he has had short hair in real life recently.
Match 3: R-Truth vs Dolph Ziggler
Ziggler got the ‘jobber’ entrance here – come back from commercial, and he’s already in ring, music finishing. They do this to him a lot and I cannot fathom why. Truth hit signature offense, Dolph hit a great dropkick->kip up->strut sequence, followed by a signature Dolph jumping elbow and situps…only to be cradled and pinned by Truth
Winner: R-Truth via pinfall
Truth is ‘strong’ thanks to a win over the last #1 contender, and Ziggler is given a reason to be less cocky and show-off less in the chamber match, since it cost him here.
Santino gives Ryder a garlic breathstrip. I love Santino and his antics, I really do. This one fell flat. I still love the sonamagun.
Match 4: Tamina Snuka vs Brie Bella
Beth Phoenix is ringside and quite boring on commentary. Great bedazzled shirt though: “Ding. Glamslam. Ding”. Tamina is being announced with her last name now, and proceeds to dominate Brie via Samoan Drop and Superfly Splash.
Winner: Tamina via pinfallAnnouncing her with her father’s surname and the quick wins peg her as the face diva of the month. I doubt anyone takes the belt from Beth before Mania, which is hopefully when we see Kharma back in action full time. She does need to be a mommy first. Also, Layla is slated to return soon; hopefully some good divas action coming soon. AJ needs to be unleashed upon her return – she’s solid in ring.
Cena/Kane time – So much for passively advertising the ambulance match. Again, details aren’t needed as you’ve more than likely seen this. What the result sets up is the end of night spot AND potential for a Ryder angle when he’s “healthy” again. He’s filming a movie at the moment.
Match 5: The Miz vs CM Punk
Aside from a fun finisher sequence with the Skull Crushing Finale countered into a shoulder throw and the Anaconda Vice, this fell flat. Something was off with the chemistry between them, and Miz needs to be having strong showings right now.
Winner via submission: CM Punk
Show concludes with the return of the ambulance and ultimately Ryder being pushed off the stage in a wheelchair. This was a nasty NASTY bump. When Mick Foley gets on Twitter and says a bump wasn’t a good idea…you know it wasn’t a good idea. This gives Cena more incentive to embrace the hate at the PPV, but who knows what that will lead to and how that will play into Wrestlemania. Would I like to see a turn from Cena and therefore some development? Hell yeah. Do I expect? Not so much.
Here we have the makings of a lot of things: Ryder has multiple possibilities upon his return; I hate to see the fistpumper give up all of his goofiness, but a slightly more serious Ryder would be great for him and great for fans. The chamber is set up with the usual suspects.
Cena has all the more reason to embrace the hate, get past Kane and prep for the Rock; maybe Ryder feuds with Kane upon his return? HBK is set to take part in the HHH/Taker match as a ref/enforcer/etc. Will he turn on HHH and not let him do what he couldn’t get done himself? Will he help HHH put Taker out? Will Taker have a decent haircut beforehand? Pay your $55.99 to find out in just a few short weeks.
Back with Smackdown and the post-EC podcast real soon!