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Elimination Chamber 2017 Recap

The first Elimination Chamber match took place in 2002 and was the brainchild of former World Championship Wrestling Executive Producer and later World Wrestling Entertainment Raw General Manager Eric Bischoff. This is a six person match inside of a chain-linked circular steel structure. Two competitors start off the match, then every few minutes, one of four containment pods opens and another opponent enters the fray. This match is an exercise in brutality and the structure has caused many an injury throughout the years. I’ve made it no secret that, while a fan of the match, I am not a fan of ‘gimmick match’ themed pay-per-views (Elimination Chamber, Hell In A Cell, TLC, etc) as they make the matches occur on a predictable timetable each year, making them feel less and less special. Even more perplexing is the fact that WWE is holding this event less than two months before their biggest event of the year, WrestleMania. The Chamber match needs to be moved to either late spring or mid-Fall, so as to not disrupt any of the ‘big four’ pay-per-views. Was the Elimination Chamber great enough to warrant such a dangerous match so close to the grand daddy of them all?

BECKY LYNCH vs. MICKIE JAMES: Both competitors locked up for what seemed like several minutes. The collar and elbow tie up went all over the ring and even outside of the ring. They made it back in just before the referee’s ten count. They kept the fight on the mat for quite a while. Lynch locked in an arm bar and tried to build momentum, but James cut her off. Mickie began to work on Lynch’s arm. With hammerlocks, arm bars, including an arm bar over the second rope. Lynch tried again to mount the comeback, but Mickie hit her with a Yakuza kick, followed up by a hurricanrana. James put on a clinic, going right back to the arm with a half nelson. Mickie went for another Yakuza kick, but Lynch countered and began her comeback. She nailed James with an exploder suplex. Before she could capitalize, Mickie cut her off with a flapjack and then a seated senton. The crowd was behind Lynch all the way. Becky went for a pump handle slam, but James countered and hit her with a roundhouse kick, flooring the Irish ‘Lass Kicker”. Lynch went for the Disarm Her submission. James countered, but Lynch countered back and rolled her up for the one-two-three. WINNER: BECKY LYNCH

APOLLO CREWS & KALISTO vs. DOLPH ZIGGLER (Handicap Match): Not sure who the genius in creative is that thought booking a heel against two babyfaces was a good idea, but I digress. As Kalisto made his entrance to the ring, Ziggler attacked him, taking out one of his opponents to even the odds. As Crews entered the match, he proceeded to stomp a Georgia sized mudhole into the ‘Show Off’. Apollo showed more aggression and less happy smiling in this match, which was a welcome change. Crews attempted to grab Ziggler from the apron, but Dolph caught him with a hangman’s neckbreaker on the top rope. Ziggler continued to work on the neck, pulling out Ravishing Rick Rude’s old finisher, the Rude Awakening neckbraker. Dolph dropped repeated elbows onto Crews’ neck. He followed it up with a reverse chin lock on Crews. Ziggler wisely kept the match grounded to prevent Apollo’s high flying offense. An injured Kalisto limped his way down to the ring, nursing his lower back. While Ziggler was distracted, Crews caught him right on the jaw with a dropkick. Kalisto tagged in and went on a tear against Ziggler, also completely forgetting to sell his back injury. Crews tagged back in and hit his finisher, defeating Ziggler. This didn’t stop Ziggler from going to town on both of his opponents after the match with a steel chair. WINNERS: KALISTO & APOLLO CREWS

HEATH SLATER & RHYNO vs. BREEZANGO vs. THE VAUDEVILLAINS vs. THE USOS vs. AMERICAN ALPHA (Tag Team Turmoil for the SmackDown Tag Titles): Slater and Fandango started off, with Slater unleashed with right hands and several Atomic Drops. Rhyno tagged in to a booming E-C-W chant by the crowd. Rhyno hit a shoulder block and short-arm clothesline. He and Slater continued to make quick tags. Fandango cut off Slater’s offense while tripping him up as Slater hit the ropes. Breeze and Fandango kept Slater in their half of the ring. Slater made the tag to Rhyno without Fandango seeing. Rhyno nailed him with the Gore, eliminating Breezango. The Vaudevillains made their way to the ring, pulled Rhyno out and vaulted him into the security barrier. Slater hit a suicide dive out of the ring to take out their opponents. The match made its way back into the ring. Aiden English and Simon Gotch drilled Slater with repeated knees and Muay Thai knee strikes to the head. Slater hit a swinging DDT on English for the quick elimination. The Usos then came down to the ring. Jimmy Uso caught Slater with a side kick. Rhyno got the tag, but Jimmy hurled him into the turnbuckle and made the tag to Jey. Slater got the hot tag and went wild on the Usos. Jey drilled Slater with a Samoan drop and almost got the pin. Slater tried to roll up Jey, but Jimmy made the blind tag and followed up with a super kick to get the elimination. American Alpha made their way to the ring, but the Usos met them halfway. This match devolved into an all out brawl. When they finally got to the ring, Jason Jordan and Chad Gable hit tandem German suplexes on their opponents. Gable hit a cross body from the top rope and nearly got the pin fall. Jey hit a backbreaker on Gable, while Jimmy followed it up with a knee drop from the top rope. Gable, who was contained to the Usos’ corner, ate a series of vicious knife edge chops to the chest. Gable and Jimmy Uso dropped each other with a double clothesline. Both men crawled to their corners and made the hot tags. Jordan went on a tear with suplexes all over the ring. Gable got the quick roll up to eliminate the Usos. Jimmy and Jey would leave a parting gift, by assaulting the men who beat them, leaving them a beaten and bruised mess. The Ascension’s music hit and they stalked their prey in the ring. Konnor and Viktor hit their finisher, the Fall of Man. However Gable broke up the pin. Both men proceeded to stomp the hell out of Jordan. Gable and Jordan mounted their comeback and before you could blink, American Alpha hit the Grand Amplitude, picking up the win and retaining their tag team championships. WINNERS: AMERICAN ALPHA

NIKKI BELLA vs. NATALYA: I will refrain from pointing out the stupidity of this feud and the fact that Nikki is denying being the self-serving person who did what she had to do to get to the top, even though that is exactly how she was portrayed on Total Divas for several seasons. Natalya started off by slapping the taste out of Bella’s mouth and followed up with a side headlock takeover. Bella countered. Natalya went for an armbar, but Nikki countered with a cross arm breaker. Natalya got out of the hold, but Nikki slapped her right back. Natalya grabbed her by the hair, and then proceeded to hit her with repeated waistlock takedowns. She went for a third, but Bella countered into a kneebar. Natalya barely got to the bottom rope in time to force the break. Natalya escaped out of the ring, but Nikki hit a diving clothesline from the apron. Natalya had control for several minutes, taunting Nikki throughout the middle of the match. After minutes of this, Nikki tried to lock in an STF. Natalya once again forced the break. Natalya tried to lock in the Sharpshooter, but Nikki broke free and drilled Natalya in the face with a stiff forearm. Bella locked in the STF again, but Natalya got to the rope once again. The fight spilled out of the ring and both women were concerned with beating the hell out of each other so both were counted out. DOUBLE COUNT OUT

LUKE HARPER vs. RANDY ORTON: Both men stared each other down for a minute or two in an attempt to gain the psychological advantage. They locked up, with neither gaining the advantage. This was going to be a slow burn match, given both men’s styles. The match went to the outside, with Harper gaining the advantage. Harper slammed Orton’s head onto the announcer’s table. Harper went to the top rope, but Orton struck him in the jaw, sending Luke careening to the floor. Orton kept up his methodical pace, wearing down the bearded bad ass. Harper made his comeback with an impressive Senton Atomico and a big boot right to Orton’s grill. Orton tried to cut him off with a Hangman’s DDT, but Harper countered. Orton showed us one from his pappy’s playbook, with the top rope superplex. Harper went for his discus clothesline, but Orton countered with a Full Nelson slam. Orton’s second attempt at the Hangman’s DDT was a success. Harper caught Orton with two hard super kicks. Harper went for his sitout powerbomb, nearly getting the three count. Harper went for the discus clothesline again, but Orton had it scouted and hit him with an RKO, securing the victory. WINNER: RANDY ORTON

NAOMI vs. ALEXA BLISS (Smackdown Women’s Championship): Bliss threw her gum at Naomi to cause the distraction, and then unleashed a flurry of offense. Alexa stomped her in the corner and used her knee into the rope to choke Naomi. She did everything possible to keep the match grounded. Naomi tried to build momentum, but Bliss Irish whipped Naomi, face first, into the turnbuckle post. Bliss and Naomi unleashed a cavalcade of innovative moves. Alexa grabbed Naomi by the hair on the top rope, did a front flip into a roll up pin. Naomi tried to go to the top rope, but Bliss grabbed her leg, preventing her from climbing the ropes. She caught Naomi with cheap shot after cheap shot. Bliss caught Naomi with the Insult to Injury moonsault knee drop. She then went to the top rope, but Naomi delivered an Enziguri, knocking her off the rope. Bliss delivered a DDT, but could not get the three count. Naomi hit a split-legged moonsault, but Bliss dodged and went for a pin. The referee however saw Bliss’ foot on the rope for leverage. Bliss went for her twisting top rope splash. Naomi dodged and caught Bliss with her second attempt at the split-legged moonsault, getting the pin fall and becoming the SmackDown women’s champion. WINNER: NAOMI

DEAN AMBROSE vs. BARON CORBIN vs. THE MIZ vs. BRAY WYATT vs. AJ STYLES vs. JOHN CENA (Elimination Chamber match for the WWE Championship): Styles and Cena started the match off. A test of strength followed, with Cena the obvious victor. Cena went for a leap frog, but Styles attacked the leg. He followed this up with an Argentine rack, followed by a powerslam. AJ attempted the Styles Clash, but Cena countered into a Code Red. Dean Ambrose was the next man to enter. He and Styles exchanged blows on the metal grating outside the ring. Ambrose drilled him with a front suplex on the metal. He then climbed his empty pod and hit Cena with an elbow drop from at least ten feet up. Styles attempted a German suplex on Ambrose, but Cena grabbed them and did a German suplex to both men simultaneously. Bray Wyatt then entered the chamber. He unleashed on all three competitors before being catapulted out of the ring by Styles. AJ went to the top rope, but Wyatt grabbed him and tossed Styles into the chain link fence. Styles and Cena then proceeded to scale the chamber. They exchanged blows about fifteen feet up. Styles got in one last hit and Cena fell to the metal floor. Ambrose then climbed up and he and Styles brawled on top of one of the pods. Ambrose dove off of the pod, but Wyatt caught him with a stiff forearm as he fell. The next man to enter was Baron Corbin. Ambrose met him head on, but Corbin laid him out with quite a clothesline. He then took Ambrose to the outside and rammed his head into the chain link fence over and over again. Ambrose tried to come back, but Corbin dropped him with the Deep Six. Wyatt tried to get in on the action, but Corbin hit him with an STO on the metal grating. Cena finally made his way back into the action. However Corbin was waiting and hit him with End of Days. He was not able to capitalize as Ambrose went after Corbin once again. The Miz was then the final entrant. He hesitated to enter as Corbin was ready to kick his head off. Corbin was snuck up on by Ambrose, who got the roll up pin, which eliminated Corbin. Corbin was pissed and he launched Ambrose through one of the pods, smashed Ambrose’s head into the fence repeatedly, and for good measure, drilled him with End of Days. As soon as Corbin cleared the ring, the Miz picked up the pieces and got the pin on Ambrose. Miz went for the Yes kicks on Wyatt and Cena. He then attacked Styles in the corner with the running dropkick. He hit an Awesome Clothesline on Cena, and then hit Wyatt with the Skull Crushing Finale onto the metal grating. Cena caught the ‘A-lister’ off the top rope and rolled into an Attitude Adjustment, eliminating the Miz. Cena then hit Wyatt with the Attitude Adjustment. Styles hit Cena with the Styles Clash but Cena kicked out of the pin. Styles missed the Phenomenal Forearm and was hit with the AA, but Cena wasn’t able to get the pin fall. Out of nowhere, John Cena got eliminated with Sister Abigail by Bray Wyatt. Wyatt then pummeled Styles. He nearly delivered Sister Abigail, but Styles countered. Styles delivered a Pele kick, Psycho knee and a springboard 450 splash. That still wasn’t enough to put away Bray. Styles went for the Phenomenal Forearm, but Wyatt caught him in mid air and demolished Styles with Sister Abigail, picking up his first world championship in the process. WINNER: BRAY WYATT

As usual, SmackDown Live’s pay-per-view offering has been entertaining and brief (no 4-5 hour run times). While this will not go down as top three events of the year, it was surely an entertaining show with several matches that were damn near four star affairs.

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