On the back of one the most hated shows in WWE history, it seems that the company already started building to WrestleMania straight away. OH! And there is a PPV on Sunday if anyone forgot that because clearly WWE did. This is the go-home episode to that show yet clearly nobody cares. Hopefully, we get some good action at least since storytelling development is probably not on the cards tonight. And “Elimination Chamber” is on Sunday just to remind everyone.
Let’s get to business…
A moment of Bliss…
After a video recap of Cena’s return and his altercation with the Fiend, Smackdown opened with a moment of bliss. Alexa Bliss introduced the HOF class of 2020, then threw a challenge to the Kabuki Warriors for good measures. Her guests were, bear with me, Kevin Nash, Scott Hall, and… X-PAC!. X-Pac ??? Really?? Why ?? I want to know why. To be fair, this segment wasn’t interesting in any way. Then, Sami Zayn and co. arrived. Zayn was his usual awesome self. His trio almost got into a fight with the n.W.o and the crowd were cheering that. Braun Strowman came out, kicked Cesaro and Nakamura for a while but Zayn escaped. I bet that n.W.o will interfere and help Strowman in his 3-on-1 match because what is better than some legends burying your current products on B-level shows. This segment, in general, was an epitome of the current WWE product where Nostalgia always gets the advantage.
Naomi/Lacey Evans vs Bayley/Sasha Banks
Elimination Chamber is a milestone for Bayley and Banks as it was there where they won the first women’s tag titles match inside said structure. So, commentators played it up big time. As for the match, Bayley and Banks started strong working over Lacey Evans legs and separating her from Naomi who was attacked before the break. Eventually, Naomi got the tag and started running wild taking advantage of her athleticism. She had a good near fall off a sunset flip. Bayley distracted Naomi allowing Sasha Banks to hit double knees on her for the win in an abrupt finish.
Where this match leads for the Smackdown women’s championship, nobody knows. If it will be Sasha Banks, WWE needs to start building for that or plant the seeds at least.
- Backstage: New Day are interviewed ahead of a tag team gauntlet later on
- Sasha Banks and Bayley celebrate their win
Sheamus vs Apollo Crews
Before the match, Apollo Crews was confronted by CHAD GABLE who tried offering him help. However, Apollo refused. Crews started strong against the Celtic Warrior, even getting some near falls. However, a brogue kick “from outta nowhere” ended the match quite abruptly. Just like the women’s championship, where this thing is going right now??.
- Backstage: Drake Maverick approaches Drew Gulak, and Daniel Bryan challenges him for a match at Elimination Chamber.
Carmella/Dana Brooke vs Mandy Rose/Sonya Deville
These matches keep coming from the blue. Here is another one of them. Fire and Desire were accompanied by Dolph Ziggler (poor Otis). Fire and Desire start with working Carmella over, as Ziggler looks on. By the way, the “Mella-go round” is one of the lamest moves in WWE now. Dolph Ziggler distracts Dana Brooke allowing Mandy Rose to pick up the win with a running knee. I hope Otis gets his revenge one day
- The same recap of Cena’s return and interaction with the Fiend.
Obviously, the backstory dating all the way to WM 30 is going to be involved because of course, it will. Bray Wyatt was his usual deep and psychotic self even with more aplomb this time. This feud is going to be fascinating all the way. It’s a shame that it is not for the Universal title. However, these two are good enough to carry this feud to great levels of hype and intrigue. We’ll see.
- A recap of Goldberg’s interaction with Roman Reigns.
- Backstage: King Corbin is being interviewed. He gets interrupted by Elias.
- Otis goes and apologizes to Mandy Rose.
Tag team Gauntlet: New Day vs The Usos vs Heavy Machinery vs Miz and Morrison vs Lucha House Party vs Ziggler/Roode
This is the main event of the night to provide the big chunk of wrestling, which is why the other matches were quite short and skippable. New Day entered First, as they are the former champions. To be honest, I don’t like this stipulation of “entering last in the chamber” as it feels really hockey.
- New Day vs Heavy Machinery
The first mini-match in this gauntlet is really about experience vs aspiration. Kofi Kingston starts with Tucker with a show of athleticism. Big E comes in and asks for Otis which he gets in an entertaining face-off. Otis overpowers Big E and delivers double vertical suplexes alongside Tucker. After the commercial, Big E tags Kingston who goes “House on Fire” on Tucker. Kofi Kingston tries a dive but gets caught by Tucker and slammed on the Floor. In the ring, Big E is pinned courtesy of a compactor.
- Lucha House Party vs Heavy Machinery
The pace quickens with the three luchadors in the ring. They start attacking Tucker and Gran Metallik almost gets a pin. Otis comes in and just runs wild. Back from commercial, and Heavy Machinery are dominating Lince Dorado and working him over. Tucker “turnbuckles” himself, but tags Otis eventually who just wears down Dorado with a bear hug as the crowd is near silent. Gran Metallik is tagged in and flies all over the ring. Dorado gets a near fall off a splash. Otis comes in, and he is fired up as he hits the caterpillar for the win.
- Heavy Machinery vs The Usos
The Usos start the match in control of their opponents, with Jimmy working over Tucker. However, from out of nowhere, Tucker rolls up Jey for the win. This was pretty quick and surprising.
- Miz/Morrison vs Heavy Machinery
Smartly, Miz and Morrison are basically picking apart Tucker who is spent after three mini-matches. Miz and Morrison take their time in picking their opponents. Tucker dropkicks Miz and almost tags Otis as he is taken out by The Miz. The fresh heels double team Tucker and almost get the three count but Otis broke the pin. However, in the ring, Tucker rolls up Morrison for another win. After that, the Tag champions attack Heavy Machinery.
- Heavy Machinery vs Ziggler/Roode
This gauntlet reached its conclusion. Roode and Ziggler are in a 2-on-1 basically as Otis was driven through the barricade. Tucker tries to fight back, but it is too much for him to take. Ziggler gets a two count from a dropkick. Roode and Ziggler double team Tucker as the Heavy Machinery man keeps fighting back. Meanwhile, Otis is back on his feet and takes out Roode to a great reaction from the fans as he is back in his corner. Tucker finds an opening and tags Otis to an explosive reaction. Otis prepares to hit the caterpillar as Ziggler blasts him with a superkick for the win. This was a great booking in my opinion and it will gather more sympathy for Otis when he eventually gets his revenge. Thus, Smackdown ends abruptly.
Overall, this was a harmless episode with nothing standing out. The gauntlet was entertaining and interesting despite the quality of wrestling just a shade lower than expected, but it achieved its goal in making Heavy Machinery look like mega babyfaces. Elsewhere, No Cena, Goldberg, Reigns which made the show light on real star power. Anyway, Elimination Chamber didn’t feel more like a true bump on the Road to WrestleMania than this year, so hopefully, we get a decent show on Sunday and sail plain towards WrestleMania!.
Final rating: 6.5/10
This was one man’s opinion, after all, reach out on Twitter @austin316tn or tell in the comments below. Till next week.