The SmarK Rant for WWE Elimination Chamber 2014 – 02.23.14
This was the last WWE PPV before they all went to the Network in 2014, and obviously I wasn’t feeling the show enough to spend $60 on it at the time. I don’t recall being super into the Daniel Bryan storyline until shortly before Wrestlemania, which is likely why I skipped this one. But unfortunately another match on the card here has made me want to finally watch it, albeit for sadder reasons. Other than that I have no memory of anything on the show or most of what was happening at the time.
Live from Minneapolis, MN, drawing 11,000 doncha know?
Your hosts are Michael Cole & JBL & Jerry Lawler
Intercontinental title: Big E Langston v. Jack Swagger
Zeb accusing the polar vortex of being caused by illegal immigration sounds exactly like something peddled on Fox News today. Also his promo is kind of death, because he can’t go with the obvious racist dog whistle of pointing out Big E’s African roots and so he has to accuse Big E of “not doing anything for North America” instead. Lame. Man, just own the gimmick. Big E quickly overpowers Swagger and sends him to the floor as Michael promises that something called “The WWE Network” launches the day after this show. Swagger stalls for a bit on the floor, and then back in Big E tosses him around with suplexes and Swagger bails again. Cole notes that the panel for NXT Arrival on Thursday will feature a panel of Kevin Nash, Paul Heyman and Bret “The Hitman” Hart. That sounds like the setup for a Carnac the Magnificent punchline. “Name a Diesel, a weasel…” Eh I’ve got nothing. Back in the ring, Swagger gets a clothesline in the corner to take over and grabs a hold while I continue to workshop that Carnac joke and will hopefully have an answer for you by the end of the show. Swagger salutes the people and puts E down with a big boot for two. They collide off a clothesline while Cole bitches about the bitter cold in Minnesota just like a CITY BOY who’s never been to Saskatchewan in any month but August. Big E misses a charge and Swagger rolls him up for two. He tries for the Big Ending and Swagger bails to the apron to escape, so E gives him the spear to the floor, and back in for two. Ironically he did that move for a decade and we always thought it would eventually catch up to him, but instead it was a freak accident that may have ended his career for good. Swagger with the anklelock and E boots his way out of it, but Swagger kind of paws him down with a forearm. But then E pops up and pulls down the straps, so Swagger puts him back in the anklelock and E powers up into an enzuigiri. And the Big Ending finishes at 11:47. Kind of a dull and sloppy match overall but the finish had good heat. **1/2.
Wait wait I think I’ve got it: An Oz, a schnozz, and someone who was told it would end in a schmoz.
BUT WAIT! Bad News Barrett pops up on his hilarious oversized podium, and HE’S GOT SOME BAD NEWS FOR US. Russians have won a bunch of medals at the Olympics. Spoiler: This was pretty much the high point of the running joke tonight.
Meanwhile, Tony Khan’s booking understudy Daniel Bryan updates us on his injuries after getting screwed over by Corporate Kane a bunch of times in the past week. Kane’s “Director of Operations” character was so weird in retrospect.
WWE Tag team titles: The New Age Outlaws v. The Usos
JBL reminds us that the Usos are FUN TO WATCH, GUYS. I had washed the 2014 comeback of the Outlaws out of my brain, although thankfully it didn’t last long and they both faded into graceful retirement soon after. I hear Billy is into arts and crafts these days. The Usos do their wacky babyface superkicking and Jey is HAVING FUN as Cole is pretty sure that tonight is when they’re finally gonna win some tag team gold and make their father proud! I’m sure someday they might get a tag team title. Just a hunch. Road Dogg tosses Jey after tossing him into the corner to take over and the crowd is dead as JBL and King discuss old fossil tag teams that no one under 50 remembers, and the crowd chants for CM Punk while the announcers desperately ignore it. Pretty sure he’s never coming back anyway. Match drags on with Outlaws getting heat on Jey while JBL and King are paying no attention to the match and instead joke about watching their own matches on the WWE Network, and Jimmy gets a hot tag and cleans house. Outlaws bail to escape and the Usos dive on them as everyone gets laid out in a trainwreck. Back in the ring, Jimmy reverses the fameasser for two. Jimmy goes up, but gets distracted by Dogg and Billy rolls him up to retain at 8:17. To call this a style clash would be a gross understatement. 1/2*.
Bad News Barrett has some MORE BAD NEWS for us: Daniel Bryan will not be winning the WWE title tonight and then fans will turn on him.
Meanwhile, old man Jerry Lawler explains how to watch this new WWE Network thing on his iPad. The flashback to the original interface makes me feel better about the current trash interface.
THE PRIME TIME PLAYERS EXPLODE: Darren Young v. Titus O’Neil
Cole questions JBL about whether he would ever turn on Ron Simmons like Titus did to Young and JBL says he never would have. THAT WAS LITERALLY HOW THE JBL CHARACTER STARTED. He turned on Ron Simmons and broke up the APA! Titus pounds on Young to start, but Darren clotheslines him to the floor and they’re already showing zero chemistry together despite being a team for years. Titus runs him into the corner and Young bumps over the top, and back in Titus gets two. He goes to the bearhug as this heated feud is down the toilet and JBL and King are again ignoring the match and riffing on each other. That stuff is fine for shows like Velocity but this is supposed to be a major PPV show and they’re out there arguing about Hidden Valley Ranch. Titus with an abdominal stretch and Young escapes that and slams Titus on the apron, which JBL informs us is THE HARDEST PART OF THE RING. But Titus hits the dreaded Clash of the Titus to finish at 6:22. “Well I guess Darren was the dead weight” notes JBL to really put over the competitors. Pretty not good, which is I’m sure a gross understatement. DUD. On the bright side, Titus went on to become a vital character in the WWE Champions game. So there’s that.
Bad News Barrett has some MORE BAD NEWS as this joke has already worn out its welcome, which I’m sure is another gross understatement.
The Wyatt Family v. The Shield
The crowd chants “This is awesome” before the Wyatts even make it into the ring in a tremendous moment. We get the big brawl to start and the Shield clears the ring. Back in, Seth dropkicks Rowan into the corner for the triple team beatdown, but Rowan powers him down and the Wyatts work him over in their corner. Bray beats on Seth, so it’s over to Roman Reigns, who “many say” is the leader of the Shield according to Cole. I don’t see Roman leading any stables yet, sorry. Roman slugs away in the corner and clotheslines Bray for two. Harper tries a suplex and Roman reverses that, and Ambrose gets some shots on Harper before Reigns slugs him down for two. Ambrose with a dropkick on the ropes for two. He goes up with a back elbow off the middle rope, but walks into a dropkick from Harper. It’s funny because I have a hard time mentally reconciling him as anything but Mr. Brodie Lee at this point. Like Dean Ambrose and Jon Moxley are such distinct entities that they might as well be different people but Brodie basically eclipsed himself. I dunno, maybe you know what I mean better than I do. Rowan with the DOUBLE ATOMIC NOOGIE OF DOOM, and Harper slugs Dean down for two. Meanwhile JBL is referencing Bruiser Brody and Stan Hansen, really keeping the pulse of the kids. Rollins comes in and goes up before getting cut off by Harper with a german suplex, but Seth lands on his feet and clotheslines Harper to the floor. He follows with a dive and back in for the flying knee, but he misses the curb stomp and Harper catches him in the Bossman Slam for two.
So the Wyatts take Seth to the floor and Bray hits a senton out there while Roman just glares at him. Bray doesn’t even acknowledge him. Rowan beats Seth down with a headbutt and Harper slingshots him under the bottom rope. Back to Bray with a chinlock, but Seth fights out and Bray puts him down with a uranage for two. Ambrose saves and Harper levels him with a big boot in a great spot. Reigns finally gets the hot tag and hits Rowan with a samoan drop and drive by, and then the Moment of Silence slam for two. I’ve never seen him use that one outside of NXT! This is historic. So everyone piles up on the floor and Harper dives onto the Shield, and then Seth dives onto them, and Reigns and Rowan beat on each other in the ring. Rollins preps the Spanish table and the Wyatts try to put him through it, but Ambrose takes Bray into the crowd and they brawl away. I’d like to think that Bray Wyatt and Luke Harper are powerbombing Terry Funk through a flaming table in Heaven right now. Back in the ring, Reigns misses the spear, but hits a flying clothesline for two. Bray and Harper continue to double-team Rollins after Bray dispatches Ambrose, and Rowan dumps Roman to get rid of him. So that leaves Seth alone for the moment and the Bludgeon Brothers chokeslam him off the announce table and through the Spanish table. Back in the ring, Reigns is last man standing against all three Wyatts and he tries to fight back, but Harper whips Rowan into him with a clothesline and then hits Roman with a big boot. This leaves him laid out for Bray to finish with Sister Abigail…but Roman powers out of it as the crowd goes nuts. How did they possibly fuck this guy up for so long? Roman runs wild with superman punches on all these weirdos to clean house, leaving Bray alone now, but Luke sacrifices himself and Bray hits Sister Abigail to finish at 22:42. That was an exhausting, incredible match and a definite hidden gem to check out. ****1/2.
Meanwhile, Christian is having a rough day but he’ll destroy everyone in the Elmination Chamber and win the title. Hey I hear Randy Orton has a father…
Divas title: AJ Lee v. Cameron the Funkadactyl
Apparently this was supposed to be a defense against Naomi but he’s injured, so we get the lesser of the Funkadactyls here. AJ is also not impressed. She brags about being the longest reigning champion of all time, but I believe the Paige era began shortly after this and thankfully the division got much much much better soon after. Cameron takes her down with a snapmare for two, but AJ gets a neckbreaker and goes to a chinlock while the announcers go back to ignoring the matches and jibber-jabbering about whatever. AJ misses a charge and Cameron rolls her up for two, but Cameron makes her comeback with some amateur hour stuff. SOMEBODY STOP THE DAMN MATCH! IT’S GOT A FAMILY! They head to the floor and Tamina accidentally boots AJ, which allows Cameron to get two. But then Cameron yells at Tamina and Tamina lays her out for the DQ at 4:09. You know, these days all the kids are throwing around the phrase “God awful pile of shit” to describe a lot of matches but again I’m pretty sure that falls into the gross understatement category here. -**
Bad News Barrett has yet another round of bad news for us as his podium is still not fixed so he jokes about that, and then notes that everyone will lose their jobs because they’re all watching the WWE Network.
Meanwhile, Santino is playing with Legos and it just goes downhill from there. I don’t even know what the punchline was supposed to be here.
Batista v. Alberto Del Rio
Man I forgot Del Rio was even a thing in 2014. I can’t really reconcile him with this group of people. Del Rio claims to be injured and then attacks Batista with his “crutches” and reveals that he was in fact lying. So the crowd CHEERS that and boos Batista for starting the match, then chants “Boo-tista” and cheers Del Rio while he works on Batista’s arm. I can’t believe that they seriously thought THIS GUY was gonna carry a Wrestlemania main event. Crowd chants for CM Punk, Y2J, and Daniel Bryan while Del Rio works on the arm, but he misses a charge. But then Batista misses his own charge and Del Rio stomps him down while this trainwreck continues falling off the tracks and the crowd chants for RVD now. Del Rio gets two and the halcyon glory days of the six-man seem like hours ago. Also the crowd wants Lesnar. Bastita comes back with a spear for massive boos, for two. He makes the comeback and tries the powerbomb, but Del Rio escapes and superkicks him for two. But then Batista hits the powerbomb and pins him at 7:10 to end this disaster of a match. Frankly I’m shocked Vince didn’t pull the plug right there after this. DUD
Meanwhile, for Black History Month, we learn the story of Rocky Johnson & Tony Atlas, although they pretty much hated each other in real life and of course we can’t really mention that.
WWE Title, Elimination Chamber: Randy Orton v. John Cena v. Daniel Bryan v. Cesaro v. Sheamus v. Christian
We start with Sheamus and Cesaro beating on each other. Hopefully those crazy kids can work out their differences one day. Sheamus beats on Cesaro with kicks and follows with a neckbreaker for two, then clotheslines him onto the grating. I am so very glad they finally fixed that design later on and made it safer for the guys to take bumps without killing themselves. Sheamus with the forearms on the ropes and tries a suplex, but Cesaro gets a double stomp to the grates and beats on Sheamus with forearms in the corner. Daniel Bryan is first into the match at 5:00 and he comes in with a missile dropkick on Sheamus and beats on him with kicks in the corner. Bryan with the kicks on both guys and he wraps up Sheamus in a leglock and suplexes Cesaro at the same time for two. Cesaro hits him with a backbreaker for two. Sheamus goes back to trading forearms with Cesaro, and poor Bryan gets whipped through the pod to injure his shoulder again. Sheamus and Cesaro slug it out on the grating and Sheamus gets his rolling fireman’s carry out there, for two. Christian comes into the match at 10:00 and he goes after Bryan as this thing is certainly taking its time to get going. Bryan fights back and misses a charge, landing on his shoulder, but then Sheamus smashes Christian into the cage a few times before Christian drops him with the inverted DDT on the grating.
But then Cesaro powerbombs Christian into the cage and then into the pod, for two. Everyone is out and Cena is next into the match at 15:00 and hopefully that will pick things up because the crowd is not into this one. Cena goes up and Bryan brings him down with a rana and beats on him with the kicks, but Christian catches Bryan with the Killswitch for two. Cesaro tries the swing on Christian, but Cena hits Cesaro with a bodypress and Christian gets slingshotted into the corner because physics, and OK I laughed at that bump. Sheamus hits Cena with the White Noise for two. Cesaro and Sheamus slug it out, but Christian breaks it up with a tornado DDT on Cesaro for two. Cena runs Christian into the cage, but Cesaro gets the uppercut on Cena for two. Everyone slugs it out until they’re all down and the crowd’s not buying it. Randy Orton is the last guy into the match at 20:00 and we still haven’t had any eliminations. So Orton goes after everyone and beats on all of them, and then points at the sign to troll the snarky crowd before hiding back in his pod. So Sheamus breaks the pod with a brogue kick and Cesaro hauls Orton out for a Giant Swing. Bryan cuts that off with a Chaos Theory suplex on Cesaro, but now Sheamus POINTS TO SIGN so he’s probably dead meat right away. Brogue Kick on Cena, but Christian rolls up Sheamus for two. Christian runs to the top of the pod and Sheamus follows him up there, but Orton brings him down with a suplex and Christian splashes Sheamus off the pod for the pin at 25:49. Called that one. Bryan hits Christian with the bu saiku knee for the pin at 27:00. The remaining guys slug it out and we get a showdown between Cena and Bryan, as Daniel tries for the Yes Lock and Cena powers out of it. So then Cesaro suplexes them both and gets two on Cena off that. Cena tries an STF and Cesaro counters out, so Cena goes for the AA and Cesaro grabs the ropes. So Cena just hits the move onto the grating and taps him out with the STF at 29:54. You can see that there’s a piece of pod plastic on the grating and they’re making sure to bump onto that to save their skin from getting ripped off.
Orton attacks Cena and he gets the STF, but the lights go out and we get SPOOKY WYATT MAGIC as the lights go out and they appear in the Chamber. Sister Abigail for Cena (“Thank you Wyatts!”) and Orton slithers on top for the pin at 32:25. Oh no John Cena is left with no clear path to Wrestlemania now and his dream is over. Hopefully he can recover. So then Corporate Kane comes out and sends the Wyatts away, but Bryan attacks Kane and Orton runs Daniel into the pod. Bryan hangs him in the Tree of Woe and makes the comeback with a back suplex for two. Orton drops him with the draping DDT, but Bryan hits him with the bu saiku knee for two before Kane makes the save. So Bryan takes him out again, but RKO OUTTA NOWHERE gets two. Bryan with a small package for two as the only heat the show has had all night is for this comeback, but Kane interferes again and another RKO OUTTA NOWHERE finishes at 37:29. Match was too long and they were obviously working around the grating. It was fine but mostly forgettable compared to better ones that came before and after, but any goodwill was flushed by the god-awful all-timer bad ending with the teleporting Wyatts and Kane leading to a banana peel win for Randy Orton. What a downer of an ending that was supposed to somehow make fans want to see Orton v. Batista in a singles match a month later. ***
Well I’m glad I didn’t pay $60 for this one back in the day. But hey, even though most of the show is a dumpster fire, you can skip it all and just watch the awesome Wyatts-Shield match on that WWE Network thing they spent the whole show hyping up. The rest is either completely forgettable, like how JBL was constantly forgetting what year it is and rambling about 1950s tag teams from his youth, or…whatever AJ Lee’s match was supposed to be. Your mileage may vary.