Elimination Chamber recap & reactions: When Mami came home


Momma I Hit a Lick

I’m not going to dwell too long on Rhea Ripley vs. Nia Jax. It was solid. Rhea worked under as the babyface in her homeland, and Nia looked like the monster heel. I will say I think this is Nia’s best match. She looked confident, competent, and never missed a step. Her big spots looked huge, like this one:

And she played her position perfectly. Rhea is great but she made her look greater when Mami expanded her offense a bit to workaround Nia’s strength.

The Frog Splash was a great touch. It’s a shoutout to her Latino Heat, and showed the challenge Nia presented.

In the end, after a slugfest, Rhea vanquished Nia through showing that strength that felt nullified for most of the main event. A Superplex off the top rope gave way to a hellacious Rip Tide.

Mami celebrated in front of her family and friends for a cool moment. Why just “cool” and not anything better? No Becky. I understand letting Rhea celebrate in front of her country and getting the hero’s party. But whew, they missed an opportunity with The Man and the Mami staring each other down with the WrestleMania sign in the background.


The Man

Before we get into this, let me acknowledge Bret Hart just one more time. We got a spot in this match where Tiffany Stratton did a Swanton off the top of a chamber door while her three opponents stood waiting with open arms. The Hitman, in only the way he can, derided that spot for its lack of realism. And, of course, how silly it looks. Once he said it, I can’t unsee it and the replays only make it look sillier. Bret was right.

With that out the way, the women’s chamber match started a little rough. Naomi and Becky Lynch set it off and looked a touch slow out of the starting blocks. If I understood Cricket a bit more—or at all—I’d go with a related metaphor but I used to run track and I understand that. So yeah, I go with what I know. They had a few rough exchanges but also moved a bit slow. Something was off with these two and I’m not sure why. All that went away once the clock struck Tiffy time.

And on the real? Tiffany is my MVP here.

The former NXT Women’s champ brought a spark to the match, took the brunt of the punishment, and just did everything right. She played crash test dummy really well since no one in the match liked her even a little bit, and it takes a lot to sell all that offense from different opponents. But she also showed off her incredible strength. The one thing I thought about the most for this match before they set foot in the land of kangaroos is the shows of strength between Tiffy, Bianca Belair, and Raquel Rodriguez. On that front, Bianca and Raquel got the bigger moments. But Tiffany got moments like this:

Enough of my Tiffany adoration though. Every competitor did their thing and represented well in the hour long match. Yes, that first chamber match went for an hour in a very humid Australia where temps hit 100 degrees. Whew, I can’t imagine how any of that and don’t want to. Going that long in those conditions in a match filled with multiple high spots off the elimination chamber pods, plenty of counters, and a lot of physicality against the chamber fence.

I loved how they finished the match too. It came down to Bianca, Becky, and Liv. Those three made sense seeing as how they had the most story going into the match. Liv’s revenge tour, Bianca’s quest to get back on top, and Becky’s need to see if she still has it against the woman she considers the new measuring stick in the division, Rhea Ripley. All compelling stories but like I said in my predictions, only one of these avenues made the most sense right now. WWE went down that road because, duh, of course they did.

They booked a clever finish that literally came down to momentum. A lot of push, pull, and counters between the three women illustrated A, how close this match was in the final minutes and 2, that each woman came into the match with their own mojo flowing. They made it a toss up where it looked like anyone’s game. Those type of finishes always work for me. They make everyone look good and make this whole thing feel like real sports, where the difference between who wins and who loses often comes down to a few seconds.

Liv elmianted Bianca after the EST failed on a KOD attempt on Becky, and Liv simply caught her by surprise in a roll up. Becky caught Liv off guard and threw her into a Manhandle Slam, and that was all she wrote. Bianca’s anguish told a story in itself and I wonder what’s next for the EST as I doubt she’s off the WrestleMania card.

But this is Becky’s moment. A fun match that I ended up enjoying quite a bit where every wrestler did their thing. Outside of those opening moments, and of course the thing that Bret hates the most, I have no complaints.


No Mercy

I got a thing for running themes in my stories. Things that recur and often develop character or reinforce what I already know. The men’s chamber provided me what I crave during its closing moments, so I’m starting at the end and working backwards.

For those playing catch up, Drew McIntyre’s whole thing as of late is that he’s an honest broker. More than that, he says he does things the right way; the “Drew” way. Like most compelling heels, he truly believes what he’s shoveling despite the evidence pointing in the opposite direction. On a recent Monday Night Raw, Drew defeated Cody Rhodes with a little help from the Bloodline.

That’s not a typo; Drew showed no problem taking a shortcut thanks to a group he utterly despises. And that goes back to his decree from months ago about getting all mercy out of his system. Taking advantage of the situation in front of him is top of mind and Elimination Chamber presented him with two such moments.

First? Randy Orton’s back. Randy, who was out for months with a back injury, executed that Hanging DDT he loves so much onto the steel chamber floor as his first move in the match. Not what I consider a smart choice but hey, that’s what they did. That put Randy’s back in a terrible spot for the whole match. Was he working? Possibly. The fact that I don’t know speaks to Randy’s skill and longevity.

But I digress. When the match came down to Drew vs. Randy, the Viper barely stood up straight. He winced, he moved extra gingerly, and clearly felt the pain. Drew didn’t show restraint when he looked down at a barely moving Randy; he showed glee. He savored the moment and knew this was it for him.

True to his name, however, this was just Randy lying in the grass ready to strike. He caught Drew with an RKO and looked like a man destined for the main event in a place that unfortunately houses the Philadelphia Eagles.

Then Logan Paul changed everything with a pair of brass knuckles. Payback for that clip at the top of this section, no doubt.

Once again, Drew found himself at a crossroads: Take the high road or the path most taken. He won the match so clearly you know which route he chose. He let someone else do the work for him while he reaped the glory with a one-arm pin.

It’s a fantastic story that gets me every time. The elimination chamber match is the perfect venue for that theme too since it’s all about capitalizing on mistakes and taking the W when it’s presented. Drew did what anyone else might do and should do. But within context, it looks hypocritical. That’s a perfect ending that also sets up Randy vs. Logan.

Speaking of the future, the territory sowed seeds for another Mania matchup. AJ Styles jumped into the match with a chair after Bobby Lashley’s elimination. AJ made a beeline for LA Knight and pumeled the Megastar.

That presented anyone with an opportunity to eliminate LA. Guess who covered LA with one arm for the three count?

Drew McIntyre.

The match itself delivered because it just felt violent. It helps that this match contained legitimate beef between Kevin Owens and Logan, which became the catalyst for this:

All in all, consider me very satisfied with this match. I’m looking forward to the aftermath because I see potential in several directions, with questions also. What of KO? If Randy gets Logan, where does he go? And what’s Bobby’s role at Mania now? Seth Rollins vs. Drew is locked in and I’m hoping Drew gets the belt here. But that’s for a later date. For now, just watch this match if you missed it and revel in the fine storytelling.


B-Sides

No Quarter

Dom is a wanker. Well said, Australia.

Shoutout to whoever decided that New Catch Republic need an entire presentation. These cats not only got their own logo, but Pete Duane & Tyler Bate have team theme music. I miss joint theme music so much. So often when two singles wrestlers get together, we get this thing where themes elope and create this weird marriage that never sounds right. Like a lot of elopements, it comes off rushed, sloppy, and half-assed. None of that for New Catch Republic! You can’t see it, but I’m raising my hands to the sky and thanking the deity to whom I pray that this happened. You should do the same.

As for the tag team championship match itself, of course it delivered. Tyler & Pete are so dope together in the ring. I genuinely love their tandem offense but not for the big moves like the double Tyler Driver or the big Birminghammer. It’s for the little things like Tyler tagging in, jumping off the top ropes over his partner, and doing a slight kick off Pete’s shoulders for a bit more elevation on the way down. I don’t imagine WWE highlighting that move often, if at all, but it’s a small thing that turned into something larger the longer the match went.

The little things always work when done well.

The first half of the match told a tale of the challengers bringing it to the champs but dealing with Dirty Dom’s convict-like antics on the outside. Once the ref tossed him, the odds evened up in the second act. I have to take Cory Graves’ word on some of that because the feed went completely black when Finn Balor started his assault post-Dom. If I’m correct, and it’s still incredibly early on the East Coast so forgive me if I’m not, that was the first of a few technical difficulties on this fine Saturday in Crocodile Dundee land.

Once the feed came back in, Finn motioned to Damian Priest for the Razor’s Edge. He tagged Damian and went to the top rope for the Coup de Grace. But interestingly, when the Razor’s Edge didn’t work, we got a little miscommunication between Finn and Damian. It wasn’t the smoothest action, but Damian careened into a perched Finn. I always find any discombobulation between Judgment Day members worth mentioning. It’s more than likely nothing at all but Finn’s idea foreshadowed the finish.

While I never expected Pete & Tyler to win, this really was their match. They got the best moments and showcased what they do well individually. They got several very close calls against the champs and if not for quick saves, they fly home with gold around their waists. They made Judgment Day sweat and that’s all I ask for in a match like this.

In the end, Judgment Day got the win with a callback to that thing I mentioned a few sentences ago. Instead of the Razor’s Edge, Damian executed a double South of Heaven on the challengers after Finn tagged in, and the Prince nailed Pete with a Coup de Grace for the W.

As an aside, Finn looked like he really messed up his hand somehow. I didn’t see what happened but I saw a little blood and he could barely flex it. Oh, and of course his face and anguish told the story. Hopefully he’s all good.

Fun tag match that made the challengers look great and presented them as serious contenders. Whenever Finn & Damian lost those belts, I hope it’s to these two cats.

Down Under

Fun and newsworthy Grayson Waller Effect. First off, Grayson got a huge well-deserved ovation. In a smart move, WWE booked Austin Theory in the segment as well because someone needed to get the heel heat. Grayson didn’t play a face, but this crowd wasn’t booing him no matter what he said or did. And his jab at Cody Rhodes not understanding how to finish a story because of the American education system made me laugh almost as hard as the Australian crowd.

The big news? Cody challenged The Rock to a one-on-one match. That’s huge. Seth Rollins stepped in and reminded Cody that no match with the Bloodline is truly one-on-one, so he’ll have his back once again.

Austin then did some Rock insults against Cody and took the violence from the faces because he’s a jerk.


A very, very fun show that did a lot of things well. I really only have two complaints here and they’re minor: The opening minutes of the women’s elimination chamber match and no Becky and Rhea spotlight to close the show. Minor quibbles that don’t take away from the event as a whole.

Oh and the preshow match? The Kabuki Warriors retained in an okay match that, like I predicted, just got Indi Hartwell on the show. I’m happy for her but that’s not the thing to get up at 4 a.m. to watch.

Grade: A

What say you, Cagesiders? How you feeling about Rock vs. Cody?

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