Best: The Smackdown Elimination Chamber
Now this is what I’m talking about.
Based on talent alone, Raw’s Elimination Chamber match should’ve smoked Smackdown’s, but if I’ve learned one thing from Everybody In gimmick matches its that talent doesn’t matter: booking matters.
My favorite Elimination Chamber moment ever is Carlito and Chris Masters deciding they were outmatched in the Chamber and working together to eliminate everybody. That’s how you do it… you use this big goofy metal dome to tell a story, not to house a normal wrestling match. So you’ve got Big Show, Santino Marella and The Great Khali in your pay-per-view match. What do you do? You give them reasons to be there and things to do. Duh.
Hilarious Worst: Thanks For Playing, Great.
The best part of the match for me was The Great Khali’s reason to be there being “clear the ring so Big Show and Daniel Bryan can have a funny moment before his pod opens”, and his thing to do being “lose almost immediately”.
Seriously, this 7-foot-14 guy wandering into the ring to aimlessly face chop people only to get R.U.N.N.O.F.T. by a 500-pound spear was glorious. There was something so much more rewarding in Show’s fat monster body leaping and hugging for victory than watching him just throw a knockout punch. And hey, bonus: Show has reestablished his Ray Harryhausen creature dominance so he can get into a match with or against Shaq at Wrestlemania and give it some kind of thematic appropriateness.
Best: Big Show, Pod
Big Show breaking the chains on top of Daniel Bryan’s pod and giiiiingerly lowering himself into it for violence while Bryan made 1999 Chris Jericho face and helplessly punched at him might’ve been the greatest moment on an Otunga-Twitpic-free show.
I gripe a lot about babyfaces not having motivation for the things they do to heels (why does CM Punk react to everybody the exact same way? Why does Sheamus think getting into impromptu matches as punishment ordered by a general manager is a good way to act? And so on), but Show has the best current gripe: a little guy who may not completely deserve it cashed in Money In The Bank to steal the World Heavyweight Championship, and while that in itself is just sorta how WWE works, Bryan has repeatedly bailed on him and set him up in stupid situations seemingly less to keep the title and more to be an asshole. Show (like all good babyfaces before him) knows that the only time to truly handle this is in the ring, and if he can handle him completely in that ring he can just sorta wipe his boot on the doormat and move on with his career.
I’m a little sad that Bryan didn’t make AJ hang out in the pod with him, though.
Best: Cody Rhodes And Wade Barrett For President
Despite all that complimentary stuff I typed, Big Show blows f**king donkey goats and I love love loved Cody Rhodes and Wade Barrett going Team Hulk on him and eliminating him fairly and squarely. Cody spams the Beautiful Disaster kick like I might in a video game, and Wade’s elbow looks weak but a thousand times more effective than Punk’s. They should always find a way to align themselves, and be that Miz and R-Truth team we almost had for realsies on Raw.
Best: Santino Might Actually Be A Thing
Can a guy be “funny” and still make money?
In North Carolina in 1980, probably not. In the self-aware, self-loathing, post-’Secrets Of Pro Wrestling Revealed’ and dead-Chris-Benoit world? Why the hell not?
The goal of a wrestling match is to make the crowd respond. Good or bad. Wrestling fans pay to “see wrestling”, but they more honestly pay to have a good time. While Santino Marella wearing a cobra sock on his arm and saying SHADDAPAYOOFACE might not get him smirking on Leno or starring in The Marine 4: The Search For John Triton’s Gold, but the loudest crowd reaction of the night — louder than Kofi jumping off a pod, louder than Cena throwing Kane to his death, louder than entrance themes and popular ideas — was this sh*tty guy almost winning a match. He’s given the crowd something easy to understand and simple to believe in. It works. Whether it should or not, it works, and no matter how much you’d like to adjust your glasses and flip through your old issues of PWI to disprove him, wrestling is stupid and the only way to make it in the business NOW is to do your thing and be okay with that.
Santino shouldn’t win, probably ever, but I like him being here. Notice that the people crying “be more unpredictable, WWE” are the ones upset that Santino subbed in for Orton.
Best: CM Punk And Daniel Bryan Are Your Wrestlemania Champions
How cool is that?
Bryan’s run won’t be “respected” by the people who respect him if he taps out the Rock at minute 59 of a 60 minute match and Punk’s a bit of an accidental dickface, and yeah, Punk with wrestle eight matches from the main and Bryan will defend the World Heavyweight strap on Heat before it even starts, but still, that sentence is the coolest.