WWE Elimination Chamber 2017 really delivered where it mattered most. It wasn’t a universally liked event judging from what I saw on Twitter, but I enjoyed it for the most part, even if the show was incredibly back loaded. Let’s get to the recap.
WWE Elimination Chamber 2017 Recap – Kickoff Show
The Kickoff Show featured the panel of Renee Young, Booker T, Sam Roberts… and Carmella? Yeah, Carmella randomly sat in for about half of the Kickoff Show looking largely indifferent and otherwise preoccupied with ordering “Jimmy” (James Ellsworth) around via text message. Tom Phillips has apparently been eliminated from the Social Media Lounge on SmackDown branded PPVs as Dasha Fuentes fielded WWE Universe questions directed at Becky Lynch this time around.
The Kickoff Show was otherwise your standard “here is a video package explaining the feud and the panel will now discuss the match” fare. At the halfway point, James Ellsworth appears and tells Carmella he bought them “skybox seats” for the show. And sure enough, that’ll be a running theme throughout the PPV. In fact, when wrestlers went up on the ropes in that corner of the arena you could see Ellsworth and Carmella sitting there in the background. We won’t even bother getting into the logic of Ellsworth needing to kayfabe buy tickets to a show on a brand he and his main squeeze are signed to.
The other notable thing to happen on the show is J** falling and taking a bump during his entrance. Marking the second time in the past month or so that J** has fallen. The last time got us the exciting “Tripp Bradshaw” gimmick on 205 Live. Considering Booker T made such a big deal out of tonight’s fall, maybe Tripp gets another match?
The lone match on the Kickoff Show is Mojo Rawley vs. Curt Hawkins. As we wind down the Kickoff Show, Curt Hawkins is out first, complete with an announcement that calls Phoenix “Tucson” and cuts a promo on Mojo’s football career. Mojo, sans Zubaz is out next.
Match #1: Curt Hawkins vs. Mojo Rawley
This happened. This was an odd choice of a match since the entire thing was predicated on a backstage exchange between Rawley and Hawkins that didn’t even make that week’s SmackDown episode. 20/20 hindsight seems like moving the Ziggler handicap match into this spot and having one less match may have meant for a more concise PPV, but alas this match is here. And, Mojo goes over, unsurprisingly. Considering Hawkins’ live event gimmick is losing a match in record time, he does “go the distance” here with Rawley. Mojo eventually takes out Hawking with a running fist, hits a tilt-a-whirl slam, and gets the pinfall victory.
Verdict: Thumbs In The Middle – Not a very exciting match, the crowd didn’t seem all that into it, but hey, Mojo Rawley has an actual finisher that doesn’t involve his ass. So there’s that.
Time to profile the Elimination Chamber match and head to the main show.
WWE Elimination Chamber 2017 Recap
WWE. Then. Now. Forever. Elimination Chamber promo video, pyro, and we’re live from Phoenix (or Tucson if you’re Curt Hawkins). Standard announce panel of Tom Phillips, J**, Mauro Ranallo, and David Otunga.
Becky’s music hits first and she’s out to kick off the show. Mickie James enters next.
Match #2: Becky Lynch vs. Mickie James
A strange one here. First off, I expected Mickie to get some sort of win here to establish her on the roster – even if it was a cheap, heel win. Instead, we get an even match that ultimately ends with Becky going over. The match was good, don’t get me wrong, it’s Becky Lynch in her prime versus an experienced Mickie James. But, this match just felt like it was lacking something. Maybe that they were holding back because it was the show opener or because this feud has legs and they didn’t want to blow it out in the first go round. I don’t know. Something just kind of felt off. I’m perfectly okay with Becky winning, especially by roll up and not a Disarmer tap out, so even though this went different from I expected it was still pretty good. It was super annoying hearing commentary make it sound like Mickie James has been in some vault the past seven years. I get the “don’t draw attention to TNA” idea, but at the same time, don’t try to pretend the audience will believe she hasn’t worked a match since leaving the WWE.
Verdict: Thumbs In The Middle – Not as amazing as I’d hoped it would be, but this feud feels far from over. I expect we’ll get the amazing match between these two somewhere down the line.
Post-match, we’re sent to Dasha who is creeping behind Carmella and Ellsworth in their luxury box. James is eating popcorn and they briefly chime in about the match we just saw. They are the Statler & Waldorf of WWE tonight.
Next, we see Corbin shadow boxing in preparation for the Elimination Chamber match later tonight.
Hey, it’s time for the handicap match. Crews is out first, Kalisto tries to enter second and is taken out by Ziggler on the entrance ramp. Kalisto goes into the LED board, breaking it temporarily, and Crews goes to check on him while Ziggler heads to the ring. The match continues… as a singles match… sort of?
Match #3: Dolph Ziggler vs. Apollo Crews (and Kalisto… kinda)
So, this is largely Ziggler versus Crews. Kalisto finally recovers and heads to the ring for the last few sequences of the match. There isn’t much here that we haven’t seen over the past few weeks on SmackDown. Crews hits Ziggler with his powerbomb finisher and gets the win. Mercifully short at just over seven minutes. The match is so inconsequential, WWE even just gives us a video clip of the post-match segment on their YouTube channel.
Verdict: Thumbs Down – I didn’t care about this program going in and I still don’t care about it heading out of this PPV.
Post-match, imagine that, Ziggler attacks everyone… again. This time the ante is upped when Ziggler uses a chair to “Pillmanize” Crews’ ankle a few times.
Next, we see Ambrose backstage getting psyched up for the Chamber match.
Time for the Tag Team Turmoil match. Slater & Rhyno are out first. Breezango follow.
Match #4: Tag Team Turmoil Match for the WWE SmackDown Tag Team Championship
I’m starting to grow weary of the SmackDown tag division in its current form. I mean, there are some good teams here – American Alpha, heel Usos, the criminally underused Vaudevillains, Ascension, and Breezango. But, somehow the execution of this division has been lacking for a while now. Case in point, the “division killer” Wyatts drop the titles to Alpha and then nothing happens heading into the Royal Rumble. Then it’s like “Oh crap, we have a PPV in two weeks” and we’re back to the same old “division reset” where everyone is a contender again, but the champs retain. We get that again here. Of course, a tease was given by having the Ascension get a pinfall win on TV last week and then saving them for the last spot in this match. A small part of me wanted them to come out and seal the deal just for something, anything, to shake up in this division. But alas, even a post-fall beat down by the Usos on American Alpha wasn’t enough for the Ascension to do anything. But man, get those guys inside Full Sail and they’re nearly unstoppable. The eliminations broke down like this:
Fall 1: Rhyno pins Fandango after a Gore
Fall 2: Slater pins English after a DDT
Fall 3: A Uso superkick leads to Slater getting pinned
Fall 4: The Usos fall to American Alpha after Gable gets an awkward looking roll up
Fall 5: American Alpha hit the Grand Amplitude on Viktor to retain
Verdict: Thumbs In The Middle – The Ascension tease was a lot of fun, but this, again, felt like something we’ve seen over and over again. We have “no challengers”, the entire field answers the challenge, and the champs retain. They did this with Slater & Rhyno a bunch too. Hopefully some new blood after WrestleMania will freshen things up.
Next, we see The Miz and Maryse preparing for the Elimination Chamber match.
After that, Nikki Bella is out first for her match. Natalya is out second and grabs a guy’s “Cena” sign on the aisle, crumples it, and tosses it into the crowd on the other side. Savage.
Match #5: Nikki Bella vs. Natalya
Ugh. This match. I was hoping this would be the blow off and it maybe (?) is by way of a double count out of all things. I haven’t really been able to get into the story of this one at all, so by extension this match did very little for me. Add to that Nattie randomly prevents Nikki from beating a ten count to preserve the double count out and… yeah, don’t care. Don’t get me wrong, parts of the build to this were okay, especially the sick “into the glass table with your head” bump Nikki took on last week’s Talking Smack. But, even moreso than the Becky / Mickie match earlier this one just felt lacking to me. Especially considering what happens later in the night, I imagine this pivots away from Nattie vs. Nikki without any real solid resolution either.
Verdict: Thumbs Down – Just couldn’t get into this one at all. Your mileage will likely vary.
Post-match, Nattie attacks Nikki again and starts leave. Nikki runs the aisle and spears Nattie, who eventually gets up and runs to the back.
Next, we get Waldorf and Statler’s take on what just went down.
Meanwhile, Randy Orton and Bray Wyatt are backstage in the smoky room. Bray says that he and Orton must split up and go their separate ways tonight, but they’ll eventually reunite. Randy adds “Run” for emphasis.
It’s Match #6, you know what that means. Orton is out to his normal music because apparently that is how he rolls on PPV now. Luke Harper is out next to Swamp Gas (!) and he shoots an invisible arrow into the sky. These entrances alone earned something like four shots in the drinking game.
Match #6: Randy Orton vs. Luke Harper
Welcome to Luke Harper’s coming out party. Sure, Harper lost because Orton is going to WrestleMania and there was no real chance of them booking Orton weakly heading into that show. But, instead of making this a seven minute squash match, they put on the longest singles match on the card tonight. Anyone in doubt of Harper’s abilities, since they have been hidden inside the Wyatt Family trappings, had their eyes opened by this match. Orton and Harper told a story that amplified the tension in the Wyatt Family over the past few months and made Harper look like a legit singles star. WWE has had chances to do this with Harper in the past and never pulled the trigger, instead keeping him largely in the “Wyatt Family lackey” role. If they want to go there, they can build from this point and make Harper into something new and it would likely work. All of the offense Harper gets in here, and there was a lot, looks credible. Of course, Randy wins with a RKO (out of nowhere) but everyone knew that was going to happen going in. The real story was if the WWE did Harper right or just had Orton run through him. This match and the two that followed were prime examples of how good WWE can be.
Verdict: Thumbs Up – Orton goes over looking strong heading into WrestleMania and Luke Harper is made in the process. No complaints.
Meanwhile, AJ Styles is backstage getting ready for the Elimination Chamber match.
Next, Renee Young is backstage talking to Nikki Bella. Nattie immediately appears and… guess what… jumps Nikki. The ensuing brawl sees Nikki accidentally shoot baby powder all over Maryse… and thus a WrestleMania mixed tag match is born.
Next, Naomi heads out to challenge for the Women’s Championship. Both she and Alexa, who enters next, are sporting new gear for this match.
Match #7: Alexa Bliss (c) vs. Naomi (WWE SmackDown Women’s Championship Match)
There wasn’t a ton of back story to this one, but that was also kind of the point. Naomi appeared out of nowhere with a pair of pins on Alexa, thus getting herself a title shot. The story they told here was Alexa completely underestimating a veteran on a roll after reinventing herself. Kind of ironic since Alexa’s pal Mickie is running with that as her literal gimmick right now. I had a feeling Naomi was going over here once she kicked out of the DDT finisher that Alexa’s been using lately. After a blocked Twisted Bliss attempt, Naomi hits her springboard moonsault and gets her long-awaited run as women’s champion.
Verdict: Thumbs Up – The first of two victories tonight that gave me a little faith that WWE can look beyond the top two or three people on their roster when planning out title runs. At least as far as SmackDown is concerned.
Post-match, Renee interviews a tearful Naomi who gets a “you deserve it” chant. Naomi vows to walk into WrestleMania in her hometown of Orlando with the SmackDown women’s championship.
We catch up with Ellsdorf and the Princess of Statler Island one last time. Carmella is visibly annoyed at Naomi’s title win and Ellsworth kicks Dasha out of their skybox.
Time for the Elimination Chamber match. Dean enters first and heads to his pod. Corbin is out next, followed by Miz. The last person to get a pod is Bray Wyatt. Bray stares down each man in a pod before heading into his own pod. This means we’re starting out with AJ and Cena. AJ is out first. Champ enters last.
Match #8: John Cena (c) vs. Dean Ambrose vs. Baron Corbin vs. The Miz vs. Bray Wyatt vs. AJ Styles (Elimination Chamber Match for the WWE Championship)
From the Orton / Harper match on, SmackDown Live was firing on all cylinders tonight. The big story out of this match is Bray Wyatt finally being validated on the main roster with his first WWE Championship. He does so by eliminating both John Cena and eventually AJ Styles. Bray vs. AJ is definitely a program I know I’d love to see some day. Other big developments out of this match are Ambrose causing Corbin to get eliminated, thus leading to a potential IC title dust-up between them. Especially after Corbin beat Dean down after the elimination and broke one of the pods after tossing Dean into it. Also, Cena eliminated Miz adding more fuel to the “OMG you got baby powder on me” fire that happened between Nikki and Maryse. The pods opened in the following order: Dean Ambrose, Bray Wyatt, Baron Corbin, The Miz.
Elimination #1: Corbin eliminated by Dean Ambrose after a roll up
Elimination #2: Ambrose eliminated by Miz by pin fall following the post-elimination beat down from Corbin
Elimination #3: Cena eliminates Miz after a AA
Elimination #4: Cena eliminated by Bray Wyatt after a Sister Abigail
Elimination #5: AJ Styles eliminated by Wyatt after countering a Phenomenal Forearm into a Sister Abigail
The “new” Elimination Chamber seemed to be more padded and also provides more spot opportunities off of the pods. And boy did they take advantage of some “off the pod” spots. For an EC match, this one was really well put together. We got several programs for Mania set up and also got Wyatt as Champion. So all in all, a good end to a mixed PPV.
Verdict: Thumbs Up – WWE Champion Bray Wyatt. Enough said.
Post-match, Wyatt celebrates with the belt. Randy Orton heads out and takes off his hood on his sweatshirt and stares at Bray. We go off the air on Wyatt posing in the ring with his new title.
So, like I said somewhere above, Elimination Chamber 2017 was really back loaded. There wasn’t a whole lot to go on from the first handful of matches, but some really monumental stuff went down later on. Harper looking solid, Naomi winning, Corbin looking great, AJ and Cena continuing to have unreal chemistry, and Bray Wyatt finally winning a world title made this show a fun watch for me.