The Road to WrestleMania continued Sunday with Elimination Chamber setting up a WrestleMania showdown and giving fans a shocking ending.
That doesn’t mean the show was very good, however.
Instead, it was relatively useless with only two moments worth mentioning. And one of them was a feeble attempt at shock value while the other produced the obvious.
Roman Reigns squashed Daniel Bryan to retain the WWE Universal championship after the latter survived the first Elimination Chamber of the night. But then Edge came down and hit Reigns with the Spear to formally announce his opponent for WWE’s biggest event.
On the other side, The Miz cashed in his Money in the Bank briefcase and used some help from Bobby Lashley to pin Drew McIntyre and claim the WWE championship. That finish will surely be met with criticism because The Miz had very little momentum while carrying the briefcase. But here we are.
Here’s how it all went down.
Daniel Bryan def. Kevin Owens, Jey Uso, Sami Zayn, Cesaro & Baron Corbin (Elimination Chamber)
This match felt extremely long, and that hurts because it wasn’t necessarily bad. But with so much filler time between competitors exiting the pod, it just wasn’t particularly engaging.
Elimination Chamber matches are challenging to pull off if there aren’t any storylines between the competitors. And outside of Owens vs. Uso and Bryan vs. Cesaro, there wasn’t a lot of story to tell other than Bryan fighting a knee injury. Strangely, that didn’t factor into the decision.
Eliminations started with Cesaro forcing Corbin to submit with a sharpshooter and Owens getting rid of Zayn with a Stunner. Uso shockingly eliminated Owens after trapping his arm in the chamber and landing a bevy of superkicks before a splash to get the pinfall.
That might mean Owens and Uso will be involved in a feud at WrestleMania. Cesaro’s momentum was ground to a halt when Uso eliminated him after a superkick during a giant swing that was followed by another splash.
But Bryan got the last laugh by hitting Uso with the running knee to secure the pin and then challenge Roman Reigns for the Universal title.
He had no chance in hell of winning that match, which makes the entire first match a moot point. WWE had an opportunity to create a new angle during this match but didn’t. Why? Who knows?
Roman Reigns def. Daniel Bryan to retain WWE Universal championship
This wasn’t a match. It was a vehicle to get us to the main event of WrestleMania with Edge finally picking his opponent.
With Bryan beaten down, Reigns immediately attempted a spear but was reversed into a Yes Lock. A fresh Reigns was able to power out of the hold and obliterate Bryan with ground and pound. A powerbomb and a guillotine followed to put an end to the squash match.
But the real story was Edge making his decision to challenge Reigns at WrestleMania by spearing him afterward.
You can’t grade this. It was more a story than a match. And the story was very well told.
Riddle def. Bobby Lashley and John Morrison for United States championship
This match had a last-minute change: Keith Lee was removed because of injury and replaced by Morrison, who won a fatal four-way match on the preshow. The bout suffered without Lee, but now WWE has a chance to make Riddle the star he seems destined to be.
Riddle has spent the last few weeks getting rag-dolled by Lashley and has been stuck with an aloof persona that hasn’t done much to show that he is an excellent wrestler. Maybe WWE will pull the trigger now because he certainly has “it.”
The match was fine for what it was and it protected Lashley by having Morrison eat the pin. Everything else was just kind of there.
Nia Jax and Shayna Baszler def. Sasha Banks and Bianca Belair to retain WWE women’s tag team championships
Why are we prolonging the inevitable Banks-Belair feud? And why is Reginald involved in this Banks-Belair angle?
This match was yet another vehicle for storytelling. It became obvious that Reginald would involve himself and cost Banks and Belair, but why? Banks and Belair showed fantastic chemistry against the champions, but once Reginald — who inexplicably has split from Carmella — appeared, the match was doomed.
Reginald made his way to the ring with a bottle of champagne and then rolled it into the ring while Banks had Jax in the Bank Statement. Why? Nobody knows.
Banks turned back Reginald’s help and was met with a Samoan Drop from Jax for the pin.
This was really dumb.
Prior to this, Banks and Belair looked like stars as they continued to whet the appetite for their pretty obvious showdown at WrestleMania. But injecting Reginald into this and having Banks eat the pin was absurdly bad.
Drew McIntyre def. Jeff Hardy, Randy Orton, Kofi Kingston, Sheamus and AJ Styles to retain WWE championship
In the second Elimination Chamber match of the night, McIntyre successfully defended his title with a fantastic finish, intercepting Styles’ Phenomenal Forearm out of midair with a Claymore Kick.
The match had strange ebbs and flows to it. There were moments like Kingston eliminating Orton first and some solid chemistry between Styles and McIntyre. But it also had moments that lacked logic, such as Styles inexplicably entering himself into the match to try to take advantage of Orton RKO’ing Kingston and Hardy after being eliminated. It was also odd having Kingston and Hardy do little more than jump off things.
Earlier in the night, we saw The Miz conversing with MVP and it became obvious that something would take place after the match. That bit of information sucked any drama out of it.
Hardy met his demise after eating a Claymore Kick from McIntyre, Kingston was sent packing via a Brogue Kick by Sheamus, and Styles nailed Sheamus with the Phenomenal Forearm to narrow the field to two.
But, as mentioned earlier, the finish wasn’t in doubt. That didn’t make it any less remarkable to see McIntyre’s Claymore Kick land as he retained the title.
But then we had what took place after the match . . .
The Miz def. Drew McIntyre for the WWE championship
Whew. So this is what it came down to?
The Miz yanked the Money in the Bank briefcase from Otis, lost it when he failed to cash in successfully and inexplicably got it back. It had to be cashed in at some point and WWE decided to do it at Elimination Chamber.
Bobby Lashley attacked McIntyre after the match and then The Miz waltzed in, hit the Skull Crushing Finale and became the champion.
This is an absolute head-scratcher because The Miz has done very little since getting the briefcase and has been feuding with music superstar Bad Bunny. He hasn’t won many matches so having him pin one of the more dominant champions in recent years wasn’t the best way to close this show.
What does this mean for WrestleMania? Surely WWE cannot be hitching its wagon to The Miz carrying the title. There’s still another PPV with FastLane and whatever deal there was between The Miz and MVP will certainly play out in the coming weeks. But this just wasn’t fun and it doesn’t give us anything intriguing heading into WrestleMania.