Segunda Caida

Phil Schneider, Eric Ritz, Matt D and occasional guests write about pro wrestling. Follow us @segundacaida

Sunday, February 12, 2017

WWE Elimination Chamber 2017 Live Blog

1. Curt Hawkins vs. Mojo Rawley

This was a surprisingly nicely structured opener between two of the most pointless guys on the roster. It had the feeling of a dark match where two guys were given a chance to do their thing, and it benefitted from that. These two have had minimal run-ins, no angle to speak of, and Hawkins was dead on arrival a few months ago. So they get 8 minutes to do their unadorned thing. This was the last sketch of the night on SNL, the last match of a SNME card, something with no expectations and minimal chance. And they benefit from all of that! Mojo looks leaner than usual, and moves quicker than I've seen him. Hawkins doesn't bring a whole lot to this, evading Mojo for the first couple, but once Mojo gets his hands on him things get fun. Mojo breaks out a big lariat, killer fireman's carry flapjack, and huge running forearm to the corner. Hawkins takes the abuse and picks his shots nicely, and this is the kind of match you hope fleshes out a good house show. A match you wouldn't have even noticed on paper, but keeps the good times going so the live show doesn't lag. Good work guys.

2. Becky Lynch vs. Mickie James

Was hoping James would have ditched the bell bottoms by now. That could really use an update. And I wasn't expecting this to get 12 minutes. But their must be something in my coffee tonight as I liked this match too. This is feeling like a really great house show so far, which is awesome. Becky talks about becoming the Arm Break Kid and so Mickie comes out and goes after that fucking arm. Crowd is cold and that's a shame as Mickie attacks the arm in cool ways, wrapping it grossly around ropes, and best of all wraps it around her legs and jumps to the mat. I loved the arm work, and she got a lot of time to show it off. James even has some really great mounted punches, which are the most difficult punches to throw. I don't remember her having great punches. Becky sells the arm nicely...except every single time she goes on offense, which is really annoying. I don't need her to do every move one-armed or anything, but at least acknowledge that you arm has gotten kicked in the last 10 minutes. But Becky is a good underdog in this, even takes a sick DDT on the side of her head. James looked kind of tired by the end, but unintentionally or not I dug it, as it makes sense for the returning veteran to have lost a step. Match ending could have used a bit more as the ending as is was lazy and somewhat unearned, but this was a satisfying 12 minutes, worked in a style that was a pleasant surprise.

3. Apollo Crews & Kalisto vs. Dolph Ziggler

When I saw this handicapped match listed, I thought it was a pretty dumb idea considering the participants. So I loved when Ziggler just jumped Kalisto during his entrance and took him out of the match. Dolph should be using smarts to win this stacked match at all odds, and that was the most logical start. Crews, Hawkins and Rawley are pretty low on the totem to be getting onto PPV, but I kind of love that it's a thing. Again, feels like a really fun house show. Might not be the best business plan, but I don't care at all about what benefits them. Ziggler as a cocky athletic asskicker is soooo much better as cocky babyface who bumps. And Ziggler was good, yanking on a nasty horizontal side headlock, grounding Crews and gassing him out by choking off his air supply. Crews showed a side I haven't really seen as I thought his selling was really engaging. I thought his exhaustion felt authentic, and Ziggler's smirks to the crowd and not just the camera while he picked apart Crews was great. The opening match jumping did its job, as off camera as Kalisto got to his feet the crowd noise started to swell. Ziggler did all Kalisto's sympathy build for him, as Kalisto got to lie around for 6 minutes and all his heat was built up for him. Nice idea. Crews gets an all time great enziguiri with his last gasp of strength, and Kalisto tags in for a springboard dropkick and a nice enziguiri of his own. Crews makes a blind tag and I love how he actually acknowledge the beating he took, not rushing in right away and instead grimacing hard as he forced himself through the ropes, then uses whatever restored strength he had to plant Ziggler with a killer high angle tossed powerbomb. This was another good one, and Ziggler pays him back by destroying Crews with a chair afterwards. Well done by all, a heel performance that Ziggler needed, and the first time I've actually "seen something" in Crews, beyond "athletic black man" spots.

4. Heath Slater & Rhyno vs. Breezango

I wish Breeze had gotten a better shake on the active roster. He is/was a favorite of mine in NXT, but some guys play the big stage, some need to fill out the small stage. Slater is a feel good story and an easy guy to get behind, and Rhyno is great at apron work. Fandango doesn't have tons to do so he makes up his time by hamming it up while not falling right away on a sunset flip, and tossing tons of fashion citations onto Slater. Slater throws a nice high kick and great Memphis overhand right to the forehead, and Breeze bumps properly around on for Slater's comeback. Could have been more, but we have 14 tag teams to get through.

5. Heath Slater & Rhyno vs. The Vaudevillains

Aiden English, like Tyler Breeze, was one of my favorite things in NXT. In other words, nobody in a position of authority should trust my taste in professional wrestling, and how it relates to making money. This is sadly short, but English got some nice moments, hitting a boss knee drop and taking Slater's match ending DDT incredibly. Slater lifted him into the air to deliver it, and English kicked his legs in a panic while falling. Gotch didn't manage to murder anyone during his brief time in, and I actually liked his little kick combo and rolling fireman's carry.

6. Heath Slater & Rhyno vs. The Usos

Okay each match has been shorter than the last. Hate where this is going. Jey hits an amazing pop-up Samoan drop, and the superkick finish made sense, but this was a steamrolling.

7. The Usos vs. American Alpha

Usos are getting easier to tell apart, now that Jimmy is chubbier. Usos get dumped with double Germans but from then on it's all Usos and they're pretty vicious taking Gable apart. The superkick to Gable's ribs while he was being held prone was nasty. Gable is a good underdog and the Usos as heels have been sadly wasted but good whenever given the chance. But I had a feeling the Usos aren't advancing here. Jordan's hot tag was good, one of his more fiery ones. But the ending felt too rushed and predictable. These teams are capable of having a great match, I'm sure of it, and we've gotten glimpses and teases and one really good TV bout, but damn they need to just given them 17 minutes and say "GO!"

8. American Alpha vs. The Ascension

The best thing about this was the best part, with Ascension hitting the Fall of Man with a spinning back elbow instead of a kick, and I liked the idea of a flash upset. But the rest of this didn't do much for me. After that opening flurry didn't work, the Ascension had no chance of winning the belts. Having them as the last team sucked out any kind of drama. Clearly AA was getting the belts. Crowd would have deflated had Ascension won after a long, hard fought contest. No way they would do that. It only would have worked if it happened 10 seconds in. After that they were just waiting around to die. This whole gauntlet was overall disappointing, as we all expected it would be.

9. Nikki Bella vs. Natalya

This is pretty dull for a grudge match. It's possible Natalya was grinding down Nikki with boring holds on purpose, to tease her for not being as good a wrestler, but Natalya doesn't do "subtle", so if she was trying to get that story across we would have heard a lot of "You're not stronger than me, Nikki! I'm a better wrestler than you!!" Since we did not, I have to imagine she was not. Nikki hits hard on her comeback, Natalya takes a nasty landing while delivering a superplex, and good lord Nikki genuinely looks like she's choking the life out of Natalya on BOTH STFs she does. The second one was especially gross as Natalya's tongue starts sticking out and her eyes get wide. Either Nikki delivers the best looking headlocks in the company, or she is just strangling people while Natalya is suddenly a great seller. Either way, the match finish blew, but the match was totally worth it for them chokes.

10. Randy Orton vs. Luke Harper

I do not like this nearly as much as the recent Wyatt/Harper house show singles match (review coming tomorrow!!), and I guess that had a better built in story. But it was also worked bigger, and was the match we were hoping it looked like on paper. Here Orton overpowers Harper to start, which is stupid. He just muscles Harper around and beats him up. Harper's the dude who should be overpowering EVERYone around. I like that he can sell, but this should have been Orton scrambling for his ass.That Harper/Wyatt match went barely 10 minutes, started big, caught its breath in the middle, and ended big. This has been 13 minutes of methodical. Admittedly, all that build made Harper's epic superkick feel that much more epic. I loathe when Orton pounds his fists on the mat, it looks so stupid. So I loved Harper blasting him with a superkick right when he stops Vipering or whatever the fuck that is. Vipers don't have fists. Gawd. But that kick was a lifesaver, and I thought for sure the follow up kick was getting the big win. AND THE CROWD GETS BEHIND HARPER!!! And fucccccccck they didn't let him kick out of the RKO. I'm telling you, if Harper kicks out of that motherfucker, we have a new babyface superstar. How killer and unexpected would that be? Harper shocking Orton by kicking out of the RKO and going on to win; Orton flips out and puts up his WM title shot if Harper will face him again; Harper wins the title shot and goes on to be featured in a singles match at WM; Wyatt tries to bring him back as a follower mid-match, and Harper gets one final moment against Bray, turning on him officially in front of the biggest live crowd of the year. He commits, and the fans get committed in his commitment. He wins the title from whomever has it (Cena?) and Harper is the new bearded World Champion babyface superstar and former tag team partner of Necro Butcher.

Is that so fucking difficult??

11. Naomi vs. Alexa Bliss

I love Alexa's cartoon villain facials. David Otunga sounds like a black Brett Gelman. But yes, Alexa Bliss cartoon facials. I especially like her snarl. Or when the ref admonishes her and she snaps "I know!" That kind of work goes a long way. Naomi is a good face with a great look, but sometimes she can get a little lost. The kick combos can get a little complicated, but her energy is good. Bliss did her a lot of favors in this, really flying into her stuff. The best is Alexa running fast into the rear view. I love the rear view as a part of Naomi's offense, but I don't always love the Irish whip set up. So Alexa running into it is the best. Alex comes back but then misses a great twisting body press into knees, real nasty. Then Naomi hits her own monsault, with her knees whipping right into Alexa's stomach. Yeesh that hurts. And I was NOT expecting a win for Naomi, that's kind of awesome. I think this is her first, and why not? They're switching the titles a lot, but I like that this makes it seem like ANY of these women can win the title on any given night.

Chamber hype video was AWESOME. They get older Chamber workers to come back and talk about what they loved and hated about it, they show a lot of grisly black and white footage of Chamber bumps, all good stuff. I'm hyped.

12. Elimination Chamber: Dean Ambrose vs. Baron Corbin vs. The Miz vs. Bray Wyatt vs. AJ Styles vs. John Cena

Styles is GOD in this match so far. He has been bumping like wild for everything. Cena roughed him around, then Ambrose clotheslined him over the ropes, powerbombed him on the side plank, and then crashed into him with an awesome clothesline off the top of a pod. Cena hits a German on both of them at the same time, and Bray Wyatt comes in just as things are really getting good. And he feeds off that energy. Wyatt hits his crazy high/fast cross block, then gets knocked to the side plank by AJ and takes a wicked post shot. Moves look so damn unforgiving on these side panels. Cena and Styles do some of the best "fighting on top of a cage" that you've seen, and Cena takes the death plunge. Then Ambrose and Styles take turns seeing who can bank the others' head off a pod panel, and this is reminding me why I love the Elimination Chamber gimmick so much. Suplex powerbomb spots suck ass, look dangerous and never look "worth it", so that can get the hell out of my chamber match. Corbin comes in, and I finally notice how fucking lame it is to where a "lone wolf" t shirt when you're called the Lone Wolf. Like, Disco Stu don't advertise. Everybody is taking such full force bumps into the chain link parts, it's reading really well in HD. The structure seems unflinching so every bump into any part of it is coming off dangerous. And Ambrose gets plastered through a pod after eliminating Corbin, makes it look amazing. Miz wisely hides in his pod, knowing he will get his skin ripped off by Corbin if he reveals himself. Cena has some ridiculous strength and I'm glad his body allows him to display it sometimes, because him rolling through a Miz crossbody to stand up - holding a 225 lb. man! - to lift him to a fireman's carry, and THEN AA him?? That's epic as hell. AJ has the makings of a legendary Chamber performer. Rey Mysterio is the obvious king of the Chamber match. He invented these things. But AJ gets it. Some day when Rey comes back for a superstar glory tour, these two need to cross paths in a Chamber. Wyatt gets to pin Cena, which is and should be big, and Styles and the newly energized Wyatt are the finalists for the belt. And both guys sprint to the finish. AJ Styles hits his sliding elbow, and then a bonkers springboard 450. Holy cow. Styles toss out a strike combo and Wyatt spins into a huge lariat. Styles is great at taking lariats. And Styles gets caught going for his flying forearm, as Bray snags him and plants him with Sister Abigail. Super match, loved the order of entrants and the stories that unfolded. This is doing the most with what you are given.

Awesome night of wrestling, well worth the time spent. The show had a lot of undercard performers stepping up on a smaller show, while the headliners delivered strong performances. Really great stuff all around.

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