So…Elimination Chamber was pretty good, right? Two good Chamber matches, one with a heartrending finish, plus some solid matches as well as Shane McMahon no longer being a fucking Tag Team Champion. All in all, I was very happy indeed.
So let’s find something to get pissy about.
Fuck you for agreeing to this, Usos
Christ, Shane McMahon to start off the night. If this is him being a managerial figure, well and good. If this is about his and the Miz’s further tag team aspirations, he can burn in hell. I served my time having to watch that bullshit, and I complained every step of the way. I’m still complaining now, just in case I could have conceivably bitched about it more when it was happening.
It’s Black History Month, so I’m not going to actually use the word “reparations”, but I deserve some form of material apology.
Speaking of Black History Month, we’re shown footage of Kofi Kingston almost but not quite winning the greatest prize in this industry. I’m being flippant: his whole run in the Chamber was fucking majestic and I can’t remember being so disappointed in a result whilst ecstatic with the match itself.
Shane calls a six-man tag match “an amazing main event”, because Shane McMahon is a lying bastard who doesn’t deserve to be Tag Team Champion. He also talks up the NXT talents who were on RAW last night, and it’s just enough to make me wonder whether him and Triple H are sleeping together, but it turns out that he’s got them here tonight as well.
They could still be sleeping together.
And then the Miz shows out, bringing this dangerously close to a tag team-related gathering. I don’t like this: not one bit. Miz says he’s consumed with guilt, which I acknowledge must be a new emotion for him. He takes full responsibility for losing the Tag Team Championships. He says that Shane took a chance to once again make this show disproportionately about a McMahon by making the Miz his partner.
The Miz says he used Shane, talking about how both their fathers give the impression of being semi-abusive, affection-withholding dicks and how he used that as a connection. I guess that is the sort of stuff you can bond over if it tickles you. He says that Shane selflessly made the Best in the World Tournament all about him, and selflessly worked with the Miz to make the Tag Team Championships all about him too. The Miz talks about finally jumping through the final of his father’s series of absurd hoops required to gain his love and respect.
The Miz says that that night was the first time his father had ever said that he was proud of him or that he loved him. Honestly, I’d be asking for a WrestleMania match against the hateful old prick, not acting like being the recipient of a worthless compliment he was practically shoved into saying suddenly makes everything okay.
The Miz needs a real father figure. And, if we’re making a list, a real tag team partner.
Poor old desperately-in-need-of-human-love Mike begs that Shane ignore that whole “no automatic Championship rematch” rule and give them another shot at the belts. And the crowd, those mindless, scum-sucking fucks, chant for it. You shut your worthless holes.
The Usos arrive to address this flagrant disregard for protocol which threatens the very fabric of WWE itself. Oh, but apparently they’ll do it if Shane McMahon says that he forgives the Miz. They warn Shane that he doesn’t want the match if it means depending on a terrible partner like the Miz. Yes: Shane McMahon is the strongest link in this scene.
Shane uses urban slang again, which seems racist even if it isn’t actually, and he makes the match for Fastlane. I’d call out the abuse of power, but he’s a McMahon: it’s in the blood. Well, it wouldn’t be a WWE PPV without at least one segment that made me want to open my veins.
Andrade can’t escape Aleister Black even by switching shows
But hey: Aleister Black’s here to be a palate cleanser, and I’d literally take that big Dutchman in my mouth if that could erase the memory of Shane and the Miz’s Championship reign. He’s here to face Andrade, because the guy needs to see his wife at some point.
So, this is a rematch of the NXT Championship match that these two had a while back. Zelina might want to not jump off the top rope this time, because I remember that not going great for her client.
Big “NXT” chant from the crowd as the two approach, and we get some rapid reverse-and-counter action, with Andrade only just dodging a sudden Black Mass attempt. They lock up again, this time Black getting shot off the ropes, dodging Andrade twice before eating a slap to the chest. We see Ciampa and Gargano watching the match backstage as Andrade goes to work on Black with a leaping knee to the chest.
Andrade tries for the knee again, but a dodge from Black sends the man out of the ring before Black performs a moonsault…I guess to taunt him? Seems fairly petty from a badass like Aleister. After a break, Black seems to be on a roll until Andrade suddenly shoves him out of the ring mid-springboard. He tries for the Hammerlock DDT, gets rolled up for one before eating a pair of knees from the top rope, a roundhouse kick and a bridging German suplex for two.
Andrade blocks a suplex, then slips over Black’s shoulder, tossing him into the corner before hitting a pair of knees himself to his opponent’s skull. Second Hammerlock DDT attempt is countered, with Aleister smashing Andrade’s head off the turnbuckle before ending things with the Black Mass.
Obviously good match between these two: more a showcase than a serious match. 2.5 Stars.
Backstage, Ciampa and Gargano persist in wearing jackets but no trousers like the deviants they are. An interviewer pounces, asking whether they can keep up with the hype. Ciampa promises that they’re going to defy expectations and Gargano reflects on their history together.
Sheamus and Cesaro arrive, making the sort of jokes I’d not be making if I was wearing purple camouflage jackets. I want to be shown a location where that is considered stealth-appropriate attire. Anyway, these two NXT lads need a match, and the Bar’s reputation is through the fucking basement, so that all works out. Cesaro and Sheamus don’t seem concerned, like they don’t remember being pinned by a fucking McMahon a few weeks ago.
Maybe they gave Aleister Black a blowjob. Maybe it really does work.
Elsewhere backstage, Jeff Hardy and AJ Styles are talking about letting bygones be bygones and forgetting what happened at Elimination Chamber. Like Jeff even remembers.
That’s not an Aleister-Black-has-memory-destroying-semen joke; that’s a Jeff-Hardy-has-a-terrible-drug-habit joke.
Then Kofi Kingston arrives, offering a pancake bouquet. It’s quite a world WWE has created where I no longer question that sort of thing.
These guys used to be Tag Team Champions
Here are the Bar, ready to add “two guys who aren’t even on this show” to a list of people who’ve beaten them: a list also populated by “Shane McMahon”, “a ten year old” and “the pale imitation of what used to be the Authors of Pain”. Even mocking these guys feels like bullying, and either one of them could snap my fucking neck.
Gargano and Ciampa make their entrances, and it’s weird not to hear vicious abuse being hurled at that evil, bearded fuck. Sheamus and Cesaro aren’t taking them seriously, which is ironic because that’s how everyone feels about them at this stage in their tag team career.
Sheamus back Ciampa into the corner, and the NXT Champion shoves him back, firing off some nasty kicks to the big Irishman. Sheamus bails to ruminate on the ruin of his very credibility, then re-enters the match before tagging in Cesaro. Gargano also tags in before getting picked up and dropped with ease by the Swiss Cyborg. Cesaro controls the arm, taunting Johnny before getting hit with a tilt-a-whirl.
Cesaro regains his composure with a big uppercut, tagging in Sheamus for a double-team. Gargano counters, with he and Ciampa sending both men to the outside, keeping the momentum going before Cesaro catches Ciampa with a backbreaker as we head to the commercial break.
When we come back, Sheamus is in complete control of Ciampa, taking him up to the top on his shoulders. Ciampa rolls over him with a sunset flip, and Sheamus lands right on his leg. That looked legitimately bad, and he tags in Gargano as Cesaro enters the match. Johnny Wrestling hits both Bar members with a flurry off the apron, taking both of them out. He dodges a charge from Cesaro, hitting him with a hurricanrana.
Back in the ring, he grounds Cesaro with a slingshot DDT for a near-fall. He dodges a second charge, rolls through with a kick to the face before locking in the Gargano Escape! Cesaro powers out, hitting a backbreaker and tagging in Sheamus whilst still carrying Gargano! Sheamus and Cesaro hit a big-time double-team to Johnny, with Ciampa only just making the save. The Bar bundle him out of the ring, then Sheamus hits Gargano with the Irish Curse backbreaker for two.
Gargano superkicks Sheamus for a near-fall, then crawls towards Ciampa. Cesaro tries to take out Ciampa, but the crafty Italian dodges, tags himself in and rolls up Cesaro for the win!
Actually a way more competitive match than I was expecting, and it makes a lot more sense to make the Bar eat a defeat than the Revival. 3 Stars.
Backstage, Samoa Joe, Randy Orton and Daniel Bryan are standing around without talking to each other. Erick Rowan’s there as well, continuing his slow metamorphosis into a Viking hipster.
It’s like no-one notices that Sonya DeVille is right there
Oh wow, Asuka’s still alive and employed. I genuinely had my doubts. Apparently she’s here for an “interview”, which should be worth hearing in a laboured, painful fashion.
We get a quick recap of Asuka’s feats, and then the interviewer compares her to Ronda Rousey before asking what the fuck’s she done lately. Asuka claims she’s ready for a new challenge and, you know, maybe a PPV paycheck.
And Mandy Rose’s music hits. I’m laughing, Corey Graves is masturbating: we’re all happy in our own ways. I guess if Ronda Rousey can beat Ruby Riott in about a minute on Sunday, then we may as well feed Rose to Asuka in a couple of seconds at Fastlane.
Oh shit: we’re getting an actual Asuka match, on free TV. A dropkick puts Rose down, and we get a few seconds in before Lacey Evans arrives in one of her awesome hats and 1950’s dresses. Sonya DeVille looks pissed, and you’ll want to be careful with how these two interact, lest homophobes flock to Evans as their new mascot.
Lacey eventually just walks off, and Mandy tries to take advantage of Asuka’s distraction. Because she’s stupid, however, she does so with a side Russian legsweep rather than, say, her finisher. Rose ducks out of the ring as Asuka yells at her in Japanese, which Mandy Rose does not speak.
Rose finally re-enters the ring, hitting Asuka with some knees before putting her down on the mat. Asuka kicks back at her from the mat, gets stomped in the corner before being flung bodily through the ropes and into a commercial break.
When we come back, Mandy Rose was briefly in control before Asuka catches her with an ankle lock. Rose reaches the ropes as her much more effective partner cheers her on, rolling out of the ring and luring Asuka in to eat a knee right to the face. Rose waits back in the ring, happy to accept a count-out victory: the stuff that number one contenders are made of.
Rose shoves Asuka, who takes this to mean that Mandy has run out of wrestling moves and she can start her comeback now. We get an extended period of Mandy getting her ass kicked as Corey Graves simultaneously white-knights her and considers his chances of smuggling her unconscious body out of the arena to his windowless van.
Asuka slams a knee into Mandy’s face, and apparently she’s injured her eye. Asuka, like an idiot…actually, because she’s an idiot, stays super-close to Mandy, allowing the blonde to toss her into the ropes and roll her up for the win. I’m angry about the apparent new number one contender, and in-universe it’s Asuka’s fault.
This is going to suck, because we saw all of Mandy’s wrestling ability in that one short match, and it was nowhere near enough. 1.5 Stars.
Backstage, Charlotte is watching a TV screen, looking unimpressed. You and me both, Queen. This is bullshit. An interviewer arrives for some girl talk, that talk being “so, Becky Lynch keeps beating the shit out of you, huh?’ Charlotte says that Becky is a ghost, claiming that she’s suspended and therefore doesn’t exist. Man, the Flairs had some fucked-up views on existence.
Charlotte says that next time Becky attacks her, she’ll have her arrested. She’ll go to the papers if she has to. She then verbally rubs herself all over the WrestleMania main event, and I am not here for it.
Elsewhere backstage, the Miz catches up with Shane to tell him that his Dad will be at ringside for their title match at Fastlane. Stop trying to impress your disaster of a father, Miz, or you turn into Shane McMahon.
Alas, poor SAnitY
Here’s Ricochet, whose driving force is not a terrible father’s love but the need to discredit the life’s work of Isaac Newton. Aaaand Eric Young got jobber-entranced. And to think, I was already in danger of forgetting the SAnitY existed: they’ve actually been less visible than Asuka these past several months.
Ricochet works the arm, bamboozling his opponent, before Young knocks him down with a shoulder block. Ricochet’s athleticism and acrobatics continue to give him the edge as he sends Young out of the ring and taunts SAnitY with a flip.
A distraction from Wolfe allows Eric to club Richochet off the apron so we can pretend that SAnitY matters even just a little. Young hangs Richochet up by his neck before dropping a knee on his opponent. Headlock’s applied, keeping the NXT talent grounded.
Ricochet finally fights back, hitting Young with clotheslines and a hurricanrana. He springboards into Young with an elbow, hits a standing shooting star press. Young manages to flip over the top rope, dodging some attacks before running into a pair of boots. Ricochet dropkicks Young out of the ring, takes Wolfe off the apron with a Y2J-esque dropkick before diving out onto Dain and Young.
He sends Young back into the ring, decks him with a kick and hits the 630 splash for the win.
Another showcase. SAnitY is so under-utilised that it’s not like a loss can even effect them now. It’s like an incredibly terrible super power. 2.5 Stars.
Kayla is backstage with the New Day, asking Kofi about his Elimination Chamber performance. Woods and Big E talk up their friend and Kofi speaks about how wild it is to feel the support of the crowd in this way and thanks both Woods and E for pushing him to enter the Elimination Chamber. He promises to keep the momentum up, and we actually see Big E perform the New Day’s announcement on camera, which is a frighteningly intense display.
It really is a New Day
Here’s Kofi, accompanied by the New Day, ready for a six-man tag match. He’s joined by Jeff Hardy and AJ Styles before Samoa Joe, Randy Orton and Daniel Bryan make their way to the ring. Bryan takes some time to deliver unto us the holy word, comparing himself to Beckett, Socrates and Joan d’Arc. When someone sets him on fire or accidentally gets a bunch of lads with swords to murder him, we’ll talk. He states that his opponent at Fastlane will be none of the men in this match because he defeated them all at Elimination Chamber.
When we come back, Kofi’s starting off against Samoa Joe, hitting him with a powerful dropkick, staggering the big man. He tags in Hardy, who continues the momentum of his team with an atomic dropkick, leg drop and a low dropkick for two. He wants the Twist of Fate, but Joe blocks it and slams Hardy’s skull off the mat. Samoa Joe tags in Orton, who gets right into some slow-stomping action before getting Bryan in the match.
Bunch of kicks to the chest and head of Jeff from the WWE Champion, and he tags Orton back in. Perchance we shall see some headlocks or sleeper holds…ah, there it is. Also, Corey Graves points out that Thomas Beckett never fought in an Elimination Chamber, which is correct whilst still sounding wrong in every possible way. Kofi gets the tag, hitting Orton from every which direction. Boom Drop connects to Orton; he sends Bryan out of the ring, then clotheslines Orton out after him, heading up to the top rope before Daniel shoves him down to the floor to crash and burn, allowing Randy to back suplex him onto the announce table.
When we come back from a commercial break, Bryan is smacking Kofi around like this is a Lifetime movie. Orton comes in, slamming Kingston on the announce table again before bringing him back in the ring for a…sleeper hold. Beat still my heart. Kofi escapes, desperate to insert some entertainment into this match, then dodges a charge from Orton, allowing him to tag in Styles.
AJ hits the ring hard and fast, clearing out Bryan’s partners before taking it to the WWE Champion. He goes for the Styles Clash, having to disconnect to counter an RKO before Bryan kicks him in the head. He staggers back into the corner, manages to apply the Calf-Crusher to Bryan before Joe breaks it up. Hardy hits Joe with a Twist of Fate; Randy throws Jeff out of the ring before AJ clotheslines him to the outside and gets placed into the LaBell Lock by Bryan.
Styles reaches the ropes, then counters the running knee with a Pele Kick. Kofi climbs back up to the corner, gets the tag and springboards into the match. Bryan elevates him over the top rope, taking out everyone on the outside, but Kingston fights back, continuing to keep Bryan reeling, sending him out of the ring before jumping on him again. Back in the ring, Trouble in Paradise strikes again, and Kofi Kingston wins!
It was sort of obvious WWE would do this, but I’m still happy that we’re keeping Kofimania going until at least Fastlane. 2.5 Stars.
Shane McMahon comes out to make the match at Fastlane between Kofi and Bryan, guaranteeing that Kingston is going to lose and be forgotten by management by the time WrestleMania rolls around.