Tuesday, February 27, 2018

WWE Elimination Chamber 2018

Fun fact: Not counting Survivor Series and Royal Rumble, this is the third straight WWE B-show that I've used the sleeping cat for a header. Another fun fact is that this is the first time I've sat down to watch a WWE B-show since Hell In A Cell left a sour taste in my mouth. Turns out I had a bit of free time and needed some background noise.

So I suppose the first noteworthy positive of having signed Ronda Rousey and advertising her on this show is that I'm watching a WWE B-level PPV for the first time in months. I assure you that has less to do with "Cold Ronda" and more to do with how WWE is going to pull off their "history making" seven man Elimination Chamber match.

Also, the women are getting an elimination chamber match. That's also "history making" too, right?

Make note of this, folks. This is probably the last stretch of WWE B-shows that I'm going to watch before the ill-conceived notion of dual-branded ten hour B-shows come to fruition once Wrestlemania has come and gone. That means more multi-person matches and less reasons to actually give a shit about anything that's going on. If nothing else, I'm hoping the creative ups their game... but that's basically a fool's hope at this point.

Anyway, on with the show...

Raw Women's Champion Alexa Bliss defeated Sasha Banks, Bayley, Mickie James, Sonya Deville, and Mandy Rose in an Elimination Chamber match to retain the title and face off against whoever would win the match between Asuka and Nia Jax. I was largely ambivalent going into this one because this was the women having a Chamber match for the sake of having a Chamber match and... well, turns out my ambivalence was well-founded because boy, was I not into this match. Unfortunately, when the whole point of this match is to make history rather than tell a story, I tend to tune out. The match was okay for what it's worth, but there's no reason this needed to be a Chamber match. Hell, no reason for this to be a multi-person match. Just a straight-up one on one match for the title would've sufficed for me.

While we're wasting time with a post-match interview between Renee Young and Alexa Bliss that I immediately tune out because I already know how it works - Bliss pretends to be a goody good then pulls a swerve that puts Big Show to shame - I'd like to make a couple observations.

Point 1: Bayley was double-crossed by Sasha Banks in the Royal Rumble and here she is getting boned by Sasha again in the chamber. A few more times and Sasha turning on Bayley can be as synonymous as Flair turning on Sting.

Point 2: Mickie James is sporting a Wonder Woman-esque ring attire for some reason. At the Rumble, Sasha Banks sported a similar garb. What's the deal and sudden fascination with Wonder Woman that we need one of these ladies to dress up as her? Did I miss the memo or something?

Point 3: Alexa Bliss winning the match wasn't much of a surprise; she does the mean girl bit just fine. There's a small part of me that would've liked to have seen Mickie James win this one; give her one last run as champ and I'd imagine give Asuka another great match at Mania, much like they did in Toronto back in 2016. Still, Asuka beating the crap out of Bliss for the title should be fun for the whole family - particularly those who are into public child abuse.

Raw Tag-Team Champions Cesaro and Sheamus defeated Apollo (no longer Crews) and Starbuck (no longer Titus O'Neil) to retain the titles. Never really bought into this one, probably because Titus Worldwide is less a proper tag team you'd consider a threat and more like the old Kaientai; a joke team with no chance of winning. On the flip side, I like this Apollo (no longer Crews) dude and hope he gets a chance to do his own thing down the line. He did well enough back when I saw him at NXT ages ago, so I don't see why he can't do the same here.

(Because Creative has nothing for him.)

Oh... right.

Asuka defeated Nia Jax to earn a beating from Nia Jax, who remains the least convincing "monster" female that I've seen. No matter how hard they try to sell Nia Jax as this big imposing figure, all I get is the XL-sized former model who resorts to petty twits whenever someone calls her fat... because she's being fat shamed or whatever the case may be. Oh yeah, that's bad-ass and all that.

You know who else was called fat? The former Awesome Kong. And you know what she did? She maimed people. Because, folks, when I see Awesome Kong, I don't see "big, round woman". I see "big, dwarfing monster of a woman walking among ten-year-olds." Kong was imposing; Nia Jax isn't. Hell, Tamina Snuka on her best day is more of a monster and she's nowhere near the size of Nia Jax.

But I digress.

So the match itself was... meh. I don't care... and that actually feels a bit sad in retrospect because I actually like Asuka; she has a presence and a mystique to her that I find very interesting (so long as I stay away from Twitter, at least... not that difficult a task for me to do, at least.) And she's also one of the few instances where being an undefeated championship-caliber wrestler doesn't feel like a lame story. I'm actually intrigued by how far she'll go and it only makes me wonder who'll be the one to hand her that first loss... but then I think too much on that and it makes me sad... but I'm just digressing from the rest of this fascinating show.

"Broken" Matt Hardy... er, "Woken" Matt Hardy... um, Matt Hardy Version I Lost Count defeated Husky Harris in a match so enthralling and so exciting that the crowd was chanting for Brother Nero to show up. I was tempted to take a piss break here, but held off long enough to watch the rest of this match. Not because it was any good, but just because of what's coming next. Anyway, this Woken Matt is deader than dead... either send him back to Impact where he can be broken and brilliant or just put him out of his misery and send him to NXT where he can be unbroken and we get Matt Lillard or something.

So now we have the Ronda Rousey signing, where Triple H, Nipple H, and Jason Jordan's dad welcome Cold Ronda to the ring so that we can have a contract signing. Then Ronda talks for a bit while I fall asleep. Then Jason Jordan's dad reminds people of that thing that happened at that one Wrestlemania that I completely forgot about, then Ronda tosses Triple H through a table, then scares off Nipple H before signing the contract. If this is supposed to sell me on Ronda being badass and all that... well, I'm sure there's a lot of other people that'll get suckered into believing that more easily, but I was just... Holy fuck, that was a complete waste of time.

So this is the first time I'm hearing Ronda Rousey talk and I need to apologize for calling her a "vapid charisma vacuum" in my Royal Ramble post. Clearly, listening to her droning promo made me realize that I was being very, VERY generous in calling her that thing. If WWE wanted the female equivalent of an insomnia-curing half-hour Triple H promo, they've succeeded a hundred fold with Cold Ronda.

I mean, is this the same kind of charisma she had in UFC? Because if that's the case, then I fail to see how she became such a big deal. (I'd imagine her fights with opponents who had no business getting title matches, but I digress.) That's the funny thing; my brother who watches UFC says that Cold Ronda would be a good fit in WWE because of her personality, but from what I've seen of her - not just in her few appearances in WWE, but also in various interviews here and there - if that's what people like to call charismatic, then Lance Storm is one tremendously charismatic personality.

And now everyone is going to have a hard on because Ronda's there and she's the greatest and... I'm just ambivalent. This may be due to the fact that I'm NOT an MMA or UFC fan, so I'm not as easily impressed with everything she does as seemingly everybody else is. From my standpoint, she seems awkward, her promos are sleep-inducing, her facial expressions are the equivalent of an actress you'd find in those old B-movies who tries to emote and fails miserably - her beady-eyed "mean face" is more like a "meh face" and I'd imagine that was done in her UFC run to throw off her opponents who seriously didn't deserve title shots - and to be quite frank, she really isn't that hot.

But, just so I'm not being completely negative here... that table spot was okay. Maybe if it had been Steph instead of Trips... but I guess we need to wait until Mania and five hours into the show for that to happen, I guess. See, that's the other reason why I'm not excited. Bad enough we have Cold Ronda; now there's also the Queen of Ear Rape front and center... looks like the Mute button is working overtime in April.

Roman Reigns defeated Braun Strowman, Seth Rollins, Finn Balor, John Cena, Elias, and Miz in a seven-man Elimination Chamber match to earn a Universal Championship match against Brock Lesnar at Wrestlemania 34... do me a favor and pretend you're surprised by the end result. Naturally, the crowd isn't too happy that Roman won, so Strowman sends the crowd home happy by beating him up a bit. You can't blame Braun; he did all the work by pinning all the other guys and then Roman gets lucky. I'd be pissed too.

A couple quick points...

Point 1: Braun Strowman knocks a bunch of guys on the floor and pins none of them. Meanwhile, Elias (the last man out) gets out of his pod, sees a bunch of guys on the floor, and goes for the pin on each guy. He only got a two-count and he eventually lost, but that one bit alone makes Elias the smartest motherfucker in this whole match.

Point 2: Finn Balor has a good showing here and hits his Coup De Gras move on Roman Reigns that could've been a pin, but Braun Strowman hits Finn and pins him. I get the idea that Strowman wants to eliminate everyone himself... but considering he lost the match, he probably should've let Finn pin Roman.

Point 3: Seth Rollins hits Roman Reigns with a Buckle Bomb - the move that retired Sting, the move that put Finn Balor on the injured list - and Reigns no-sells it to come back with his Aquaman punch. At the very least, when Braun was down, Rollins didn't try to do the curb stomp from the top and risk pulling a Sid.

Point 4: Asuka earns a title match at Wrestlemania and gets beat up by Nia Jax. Roman Reigns earns a title match at Wrestlemania and gets beat up by Braun Strowman. Does anyone not know how to book strong babyfaces in this fucking company that people will actually care about?

(Of course they fucking don't. That's why Braun Strowman, the hottest thing they have going right now, is likely to be stuck feuding with Miz over the unimportant IC title while WWE desperately tries to turn their "product" into the next big thing that will fail spectacularly once again.)

Oh, one more thing I just realized; the Elimination Chamber is supposed to be this dangerous structure, this fearsome creation made to shorten careers and all that fluff? Why is everyone excited to be part of this structure that could potential shorten your career? It's especially evident with the women, who are excited to be part of their first Elimination Chamber match and yet by doing so, completely kill the gimmick of the Chamber being this dangerous and it's like... why even bother with the chamber? Just have a Gauntlet match or something. Same thing with Hell In A Cell. The lack of danger and dread in the build severely undercuts any tension and any emotion there could've been with this.

So that was Elimination Chamber 2018... a stark reminder why I stopped watching these B-level PPVs to begin with. Nothing of note happened here - and yes, I'm tossing that Cold Ronda business in there too - and this whole show just came off as a complete waste of time. Or it would've been... if not for the fact that as I was watching this show, I was prepping the next batch of reviews to upload.

And then they wonder why nobody is watching their "network specials."

A couple hours later, I load up the WWE Network and I start up an old WCW Pay-Per-View. And the first thing I see is Eric Bischoff reading a letter from Vince McMahon's legal attorney saying that Vince wouldn't show up. I remember this bit being completely ridiculous, but completely forgot about the bit where WCW head of security, Doug Dillinger, went out and asked if anyone had seen McMahon. In Doug's hand was a ready-made backstage pass with Vince's face on it. It was absurd, but also outright hilarious.

Already, I got more entertainment value out of the first five minutes of an old WCW Pay Per View than I did three plus hours of a modern day WWE B-Level PPV. What a world.

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