Probably one of the most brutal-looking matches to be introduced this century, the Elimination Chamber is almost always worth a look. Six men locked inside an enclosed structure, with four of them being released in 5-minute increments. It’s definitely my favorite match to play in WWE video games. When it comes to the real deal, the chemistry of the people in the ring can be superceded by painful shots to the steel on the outside of the ring.
The pair of Chamber matches at the 2021 version of the show are a pretty good example of how important the pacing and the people in the match are at pushing it forward, but even with the slower grouping of superstars, it’s still a fun match elevated by violence.
The second Elimination Chamber match of the evening, for Drew McIntyre’s WWE Championship, honestly felt like a bit of let down after how great the first one was (more on that later). It was still, I think, the second-best match of the night, but it certainly lacked something to make it feel special. The pacing early on, with Randy Orton in the ring, was methodical and the match didn’t really ratchet up until Orton was shockingly eliminated early by Kofi Kingston. But as the match built, so did the energy. The brawling between McIntyre and Sheamus and the inclusion of WWE’s most valuable worker AJ Styles, definitely helped. But the ending felt very rushed. With McIntyre, Sheamus and Styles as the final three men in the ring, Styles got rid of Sheamus with a Phenomenal Forearm. When he tried it again just minutes later, he got kicked in the head by McIntyre, who got the final pinfall to retain his championship. I was happy to see Drew retain – the guy should be able to carry the Raw side on his shoulders for a while – but WWE doesn’t always trade in happy endings any more. We’ll get to that later, too.
Best Match: Elimination Chamber No. 1 Contenders Match: Daniel Bryan defeated Jey Uso, Cesaro, Kevin Owens, Sami Zayn and Baron Corbin – The show opened with this match, giving the winner a chance to challenge Universal Champion Roman Reigns later in the evening. Starting the match with Bryan and Cesaro was a fantastic idea, as both of those guys can control the pace of the match and draw in fans to raise the level of excitement. The whole match was nothing but energy, so much so that I didn’t even mind when the hated King Corbin got in the ring. Of course, he didn’t last long, which helped the match a lot, but when he was in there, he brutalized Bryan and Cesaro and never took away from the quality of the match. Throw in Kevin Owens and Jey Uso, who also do a great job of drawing in the crowd, and the always-entertaining Sami Zayn, and you have a great match to start off the show. Bryan going the distance to win the match, calling back to his amazing WRESTLEMANIA XXX performance, was exciting and everyone pulled their weight to put together a fun match.
Worst Match: Universal Championship Match: Roman Reigns (c) defeated Daniel Bryan – This gets the nod over the other short title match later in the show (trust me, we’ll get there) only because I would love to see a main event between these two. It won’t be at WrestleMania, now that Edge has made his choice to fight Reigns after winning the ROYAL RUMBLE, but maybe we can get it at Fast Lane next month.
Miz Got the Money: At first, I thought Miz’s involvement in the show would be held to a backstage segment getting bitch slapped by Bad Bunny. But then, we saw him talking backstage with MVP, the CEO of the Hurt Business, with the Money in the Bank briefcase prominently sitting next to him. It all paid off at the end of the night in a shockingly cohesive story for modern-day WWE. After McIntyre survived the Elimination Chamber with his championship intact, the champ was assaulted by the Hurt Business’ Bobby Lashley, who brutalized McIntyre. Lashley took out all of his frustrations after losing his United States Championship to Matt Riddle earlier in the night, but he wasn’t just there for a therapy session. It was a set-up. The Miz came down with a referee, cashed in his briefcase and had a short match with the battered McIntyre, pinning the champ after hitting him with the Skull Crushing Finale. With WrestleMania on the horizon – and Miz seemingly set to be featured in a tag team match against Damien Priest and Bad Bunny – putting the WWE Championship on Miz now seems an odd choice, though I fully expect McIntyre to become a 3-time WWE Champion at Fast Lane, and possibly set up a WrestleMania title match with Lashley.
Missing Them: I have generally enjoyed one of the bigger effects of the pandemic on WWE programming: shorter WWE Network specials that feel more focused than before. But it means that a lot of people don’t get a spot on the show. There was no room for one of favorites, Bayley. And we didn’t see Intercontinental Champion Big E or Raw Women’s Champion Asuka (who had a match scheduled with Lacey Evans, but it was cancelled when Evans revealed she was pregnant). No Alexa Bliss or Bray Wyatt or Robert Roode. No time for Charlotte Flair! I thought the show was paced well and I never really got bored with any of the action, but it’s a shame some of these men and women didn’t get the chance to shine at a big event.
Ranking Elimination Chamber 2021
*DISCLAIMER* The rankings are for discussion purposes only and in no way reflect an official or authoritative list. It is simply my opinion. If you disagree, let me know in the comment.
1 – Elimination Chamber No. 1 Contenders Match: Daniel Bryan defeated Jey Uso, Cesaro, Kevin Owens, Sami Zayn and Baron Corbin
2 – WWE Championship Elimination Chamber Match: Drew McIntyre (c) defeated AJ Styles, Sheamus, Jeff Hardy, Kofi Kingston and Randy Orton
3 – United States Championship Triple Threat Match: Matt Riddle defeated Bobby Lashley (c) and John Morrison
4 – Women’s Tag Team Championship Match: Nia Jax and Shayna Baszler (c) defeated Bianca Belair and Sasha Banks
5 – WWE Championship Money in the Bank Cash-in: The Miz defeats Drew McIntyre (c)
6 – Universal Championship Match: Roman Reigns (c) defeated Daniel Bryan
The 2021 WWE Network Special Top 10
With 11 big event matches out of the way, we can now have a full top 10!
1 – Elimination Chamber No. 1 Contenders Match: Daniel Bryan defeated Jey Uso, Cesaro, Kevin Owens, Sami Zayn and Baron Corbin – Elimination Chamber 2021
2 – Universal Championship Last Man Standing Match: Roman Reigns (c) defeated Kevin Owens – Royal Rumble 2021
3 – Bianca Belair wins 30-woman Royal Rumble – Royal Rumble 2021
4 – WWE Championship Elimination Chamber Match: Drew McIntyre (c) defeated AJ Styles, Sheamus, Jeff Hardy, Kofi Kingston and Randy Orton
5 – WWE Championship Match: Drew McIntyre (c) defeats Goldberg – Royal Rumble 2021
6 – Women’s Tag Team Championship Match: Nia Jax and Shayna Baszler (c) defeated Bianca Belair and Sasha Banks – Elimination Chamber 2021
7 – Edge wins 30-man Royal Rumble – Royal Rumble 2021
8 – United States Championship Triple Threat Match: Matt Riddle defeated Bobby Lashley (c) and John Morrison – Elimination Chamber 2021
9 – WWE Championship Money in the Bank Cash-in: The Miz defeats Drew McIntyre (c)
10 – Universal Championship Match: Roman Reigns (c) defeated Daniel Bryan – Elimination Chamber 2021
That’s all for the Elimination Chamber! We’ll be back in 4 weeks for Fast Lane, the final stop before WrestleMania! Stay Tuned!