– PPV days are the most important time to share a Best and Worst column. Shares for non-Raw shows can get kinda iffy, so if you’d like to see these reports continue, take a few seconds and share it around. Here’s a thing that allows you to do that. UPROXX Shares. They’re WAY over the top!
– If you’d like to revisit past reports, you can check out The Best And Worst Of WWE Elimination Chamber ’12 here and last year’s “I’m at the WrestleMania XXX press conference so here’s a podcast so you’ll have SOMETHING” edition here.
And now, the Best and Worst of WWE Elimination Chamber 2014.
Best: Larry Hennig’s Bad-Ass Christmas Sweater Vest (And Bad-Ass Christmas Face)
I normally don’t include pre-show shenanigans in the Best and Worst reports (especially since the Rhodes Brothers have been stuck in two consecutive pre-show matches with no obvious plans for a WrestleMania where their plans should be super obvious), but I wanted to give a special, sparkling best to the appearance of Larry “The Axe” Hennig and his spectacular Christmas sweater vest. Also, his Christmas face. The guy looks like a White Walker and I love it.
In fact, if you want Curtis Axel and Ryback to suddenly have THE MOST personality, make Larry The Axe their permanent manager. Have him be sort of a rural, non-confrontational Zeb Colter. A guy who is upset that his team lost and wants to cheer them up by taking them to the Sizzler. A guy who is some weird, reassuring Edgar Winter version of Santa Claus 24/7.
Best: An Intercontinental Title Defense That Actually Feels Like A Title Defense
The build up for Jack Swagger vs. Big E hasn’t been mind-blowing or anything, but it existing at all deserves a Best. It’s been so long since someone feuded over the Intercontinental Championship beyond “we are having several matches in a row for the Intercontinental Championship” that it feels fresh and exciting, especially when it culminates in twelve minutes of quality wrestling.
I stand by my belief that Jack Swagger is the most underrated guy in WWE. The guy has a ton of wrestling ability and can be an entertaining character, he just seems like one of those guys who never speaks up and demands to have one. When he was showing off all his wrestling trophies and palling around with the Swagger Soaring Eagle, he was fantastic. When he and Zeb first got together and started driving jeeps around it seemed like it was gonna go somewhere, but it just kinda stayed what it was and mellowed out, so now it’s mostly just Zeb going easier-to-roll-your-eyes-at speeches while Swagger mouths along with them. He’s not the guy who’s gonna break out, but he’s a guy who COULD if WWE Creative was interested in working with what they’ve got instead of throwing shit at the wall in the hopes that something random will stick. Why do you think it took them a decade to get from “what” to “yes?”
I didn’t like the obviously repeated spot at the end — Swagger countered Big E coming off the ropes seemingly by accident, then thought LET’S BOUNCE OFF THE ROPES AGAIN instead of just, I don’t know, punching him in the face — but I’ll forgive it. A lot of people talk about how former World Heavyweight Champions challenging for secondary titles is “beneath them” or whatever, but I think that’s because WWE’s never taken the time to establish the IC or US titles as something everybody wants. Everybody SHOULD want them. If I’m a guy like Sheamus and I see Cena, Orton and Batista clogging up the WWE title scene with a bunch of personal, regularly-scheduled nonsense, why not set my eyes on a little prestige and an increased payday by holding some available gold of my own? It’s like not winning the World Series and being mad you won MVP.
Worst: What Is With The Omnipresent Big E Blood?
A lot of you have noticed this already, but what’s with people suddenly bleeding from the head every time they wrestle Big E? Sometimes it’s the opponent, sometimes it’s Big E himself, but SOMEBODY’s bleeding practically every time he wrestles. Last night, it was Swagger bleeding from the mouth. Does Big E have Ken Shamrock Disease, and if so, is it contagious?
Best/Worst: So … They’re NOT Transitional Champions?
When the New Age Outlaws won the tag titles from the Rhodes Brothers, I was okay with it based on two assumptions:
1. They were transitional champs and would immediately lose the straps to a team like the Usos or the Real Americans, who you might not want to have beat the Rhodeses. The Outlaws work in that role because they’re a well-known team who could in theory pull off a surprise “legends” victory or whatever, but they’re 50 and were barely worth 5 title runs in their prime, so maybe they shouldn’t be beating young teams 15 years later. Or,
2. They were a storytelling tool for Triple H, who has seemingly been bringing in his old buddies and cramming them into prestigious roles because “political manipulator” is his character. See also: guest referee Shawn Michaels, Royal Rumble entrant Kevin Nash (and maybe even Hall of Famer Scott Hall). They’d win and keep the belts because they were getting a hand from The Authority, which would make people mad and give a guy like Daniel Bryan another reason to running knee him to death.
Welp, the Outlaws haven’t really mentioned The Authority at all, and they won their PPV title defense against The Usos. Whoops!
If this had happened two weeks ago I’d be outraged, but after their banter on Raw I’m pretty okay with the Outlaws and Usos stretching out their beef until WrestleMania. Although after the match The Usos didn’t really seem like they were gonna challenge again … they just hugged each other and made “aw shucks” gestures while the Outlaws celebrated. So, is that it? Are the Outlaws just the top tag team now? Is that a thing I have to deal with? How long do I have to wait before I start getting irate that Vigo the Carpathian and your aging pothead uncle are beating everybody?
Best: Bad News Barrett, Stuck At Sea Level, Stuck On Repeat
I’m giving Bad News Barrett a Best because of course I’m giving Bad News Barrett a Best, but I’m a little worried.
See, I think BNB might be getting over. He’s already a hit with jerks like me, so if he keeps stealing peoples’ Christmas charity donations and kicking also-ran LEGO off tables he’s gonna start getting cheered by arena crowds, isn’t he? His dastardly shit is just so likable. What does WWE do when something gets over unexpectedly, though? “Bad News Barrett” is obviously the worst possible gimmick idea and I don’t think he’s wrestled since he got it (at least not on any of the shows I watch), so it feels like one of WWE’s purposeful wrestler torpedoings. If one of those starts to get too popular, what do they do? Torpedo it again.
Bad News Barrett works in small doses. He’s best when you aren’t expecting him, and he shows up to dramatically do or say something stupid and leave. At Elimination Chamber they had him appearing over and over, each time rambling on about something unrelated to the match we’d just seen, most of the time with an immobile Super Podium. I still liked it, don’t get me wrong … Wade is probably the best improvisor in WWE and his jabs at local electricians and being “on the same level” as the fans were great. There just wasn’t really a payoff for it, so it felt like they were trying to kill a horse and beat it. Does that make sense?
Anyway, my love for Bad News Barrett remains at 100%, and if he starts off Raw tonight with “I’M AFRAID I’VE GOT SOME BAD NEWS, HERE’S HULK HOGAN” I will work to canonize him.
Best: Mid-card Feuds Not Involving Title Belts Getting Matches On Pay-Per-Views
I will always support this.
One of the few things Vince Russo did correctly was making sure that everybody on the show had something to do. You weren’t just “a wrestler,” you had SOME kind of story, even if it was penis envy or your penis being really big or your penis being chopped off by angry Asians. In recent years, especially since the arrival of Cena and Orton, WWE’s focused on a group of top guys and sorta used the rest of the roster as filler. It’s why guys like JTG and Ezekiel Jackson are still employed. They’re hands to have around in case they need someone to lose to a guy getting a push and Kofi Kingston’s busy.
So I like it a lot when lower-card guys who clearly have nothing going on get these little stories, and they play out on pay-per-views. Here, Titus O’Neil and Darren Young got to wrestle a match that nobody in the crowd really cared about, but is necessary for wherever WWE wants their careers to go. Titus got a win over his former tag team partner. Darren got to do a bunch of moves we’ve never seen him do, like the neckbreaker on the ring apron. THAT’S THE HARDEST PART OF THE RING. Long story short, they got to seem like “wrestlers,” and not just “guys on the show.”
WWE Network will probably help people realize this, but it’s the pointless mid-card feuds on shows that are the most interesting when you revisit them years later. You’ll get a DVD with Kurt Angle vs. John Cena on it and you’re like, “all right,” but then you see SHAWN MICHAELS VS. CHRIS MASTERS and you’re all like WHAT, and you don’t just watch the match, you watch the entire hype video before it. It’s like a living version of the WWE Encyclopedia. Expanded universe shit you never allowed your brain to commit to memory.
You guys can watch WrestleMania 1 all you want, I’m gonna go through old Smackdowns and try to find all the Mordecai matches.
Worst: By The Time I Was Writing Up Show Results I’d Completely Forgotten The Match
All that said, yeah, this wasn’t great. I do a quick-and-dirty results post, and by the time was almost over and the results were set to publish I realized I’d left off Titus vs. Darren. I’d forgotten about it in the two-ish hours since it had occurred. That’s not a good sign, is it?
Even now writing this report I can’t remember a ton about it. I remember the neckbreaker, I remember how one guy was wearing bright blue and one guy was wearing bright red like they were competing in a physical challenge on Double Dare. I don’t know, maybe in five years I’ll be doing that “endless browse” Netflix thing on WWE Network, come across Elimination Chamber 2014 and go OH SNAP THIS IS THE ONE WHERE THE PRIME TIME PLAYERS WRESTLED EACH OTHER. And I’ll look back on it fondly amidst a 2019 where Titus O’Neil is a four-time WWE Champion and Darren Young’s squirting lotion all over himself like it’s ejaculate on whatever TNA’s calling itself.
(Note: I don’t want either of those things to happen.)
Best: The Shield vs. The Wyatt Family Was Everything It Needed To Be (And More)
this was alright
JUST KIDDING THIS WAS AMAZING. Capital letters. I wanted to just type in capital letters for an entire page.
I’ve been singing the praises of The Shield/Wyatt Family feud for like a month now, and it’s got to be the most obvious thing I’ve ever homered for. It’s a six-man tag (my fourth favorite thing) based on a tense, don’t-touch-each-other-before-the-big-match feud (my third favorite thing) between two heel factions (my second favorite thing) with NXT roots (my favorite thing). If they’d involved a battle royal and finger work during an armbar it would’ve been pretty much everything I love about wrestling.
Usually I’ll go to a live show in my area on pay-per-view days and catch up with the WWE show when I get home, but nope, I sat my ass directly in front of the television for Shield/Wyatts. This was my Christmas. LARRY THE AXE WAS BRINGING THIS TO ME FOR CHRISTMAS, YOU GUYS. I’m jaded as hell and always ready to think the worst, but I never for a second allowed myself to think this would be anything less than amazing. Amazing in the actual definition of amazing. A thing that would cause amazement.
This is my favorite match of the year, going on a February-to-February match rating scale. I can’t even tell you how much I liked this because my columns are so full of hyperbole you can’t believe a word I say. There’s no standard of reference. I don’t have star ratings or any kind of scale. But I’ll tell you that during the match I left my seat to get one closer to the screen, and I watched the last five minutes or so with my hands in fists in front of my mouth, my eyes bugged out like I’m in some kind of wonderful Cinema Paradiso of wrestling.
Best: Seth By God Rollins
We spend a lot of time talking about Roman Reigns and Dean Ambrose in these columns and usually only touch on Seth when he bumps to the point of insanity or talks through his nose too much, but this was Seth’s match. In a world where The Shield is a super over babyface team, Seth is the star. He’s the Ricky Morton. Watching him fire up and pull of physical insanity was INCREDIBLE, and if you don’t remember I would like to point you in the direction of him BACKFLIPPING OUT OF A TOP ROPE GERMAN SUPLEX AND LANDING ON HIS FEET before clotheslining a giant man out of the ring and diving out onto him. I would also like to direct you toward him being yanked up from the ground, managing to land on his feet and throw an enzuigiri. That ridiculous fall through the Spanish announce table. Seth Rollins is secretly in touch with some next-level babyface shit, and when the Shield breaks up (which, again, should never happen) he is gonna be THE KING OF THIS.
I think that’s the true, unspoken value of The Shield … we spend a lot of time talking about where they should go and who is the leader and who’s gonna be the big star when it’s all done, but the truth is that this team has turned three iffy developmental guys into absolute f*cking diamonds and I love it more than I thought I could love a wrestling thing.
Best: SUPER ROMAN, or
Best: How To Beat The Shield
But okay yeah let’s talk about Handsome Prince for a second.
The running theme since Survivor Series has been “Roman Reigns is the coolest person in the entire world.” Survivor Series saw Roman eliminate four guys with spears and win the match for his team. The guys didn’t have spears, he speared them and pinned them all. You know what I was trying to say. WWE doesn’t suddenly let dudes carry spears in the ring. We made a brief detour at TLC to allow a 200-pound misanthrope to beat the three most dangerous guys in the company, but we picked back up in January with Roman eliminating 12 motherf*ckers in the Royal Rumble. That show ended with the WWE Universe clearly stating “we like Roman Reigns more than we like Batista,” which I take to mean “we want the future, not the past.” That is PROGRESS for the WWE Universe.
In February, we get the Wyatt Family elaborating on CM Punk’s blueprint on how to beat the Shield (pull them apart and take them out one at a time so they can’t work together) and Roman Reigns almost fighting off all three of them by himself. He didn’t do it, but he died a warrior’s death, physically breaking out of Sister Abigail and SCREAMING IN BRAY WYATT’S FACE, then spearing Luke Harper. That left him open for Bray, but goddamn did he still look like a wrestling Truckasaurus.
I loved every second of this match, from the pre-match “This Is Awesome” chant from a knowing audience to Dean Ambrose suddenly going missing in the crowd during the end-of-match melee. Great moment after great moment, all handled delicately, executed perfectly, leaving me wanting more. WWE is dumber than pile of brick shit if they don’t pull a rematch at WrestleMania. Give me a 50-minute elimination tag and tell Honey Boo Boo or whoever you brought in to film a pop culture wank with Santino to go screw.
Worst: Gurl Bye
1. I understand that they needed a cool down match after the six-man tag, because if Batista/Del Rio had gone on immediately following it Batista might’ve literally exploded from shame.
2. I am deeply upset that they keep saying “Naomi suffered an injury” instead of “Aksana knee-dropped Naomi in the f*cking eyeball and put her on the shelf.” No love for Aksana? She gave you Old Glory to the brain. If anything, she should’ve gotten the Divas title shot.
She’s improved a lot since she first showed up all bright-eyed about Melina vs. Alicia Fox, but “improved Cameron” is still about 40 paces behind a competent pro wrestler, and no amount of sassy vagina drops is gonna turn me around on her. My favorite part of the match was Tamina proving once again that she is the worst Diesel in history by “accidentally” hitting AJ in a situation that seemed less like “partner miscommunication” and more like that scene in Austin Powers where the henchman gets run over by a slow-ass steamroller.
Hey Cameron, the next time some heel manager malfeasance goes your way, don’t roll your opponent into the ring and try to pin them three inches from the ropes in front of said heel manager.
Worst: Just To Reiterate
WWE’s list of freaks includes:
1. an ethnic stereotype with a snake arm
2. a gigantic ugly man who can’t speak English
3. a trio of masked guys that includes a little person/bull amalgamation
4. a woman
Worst: I Was Saying Boo-Batista
The less said about Batista/Del Rio, the better. The crowd sure doesn’t seem to like this Batista guy much!
Big Dave’s been back for a month now, so there’s really no excuse for him to be blown up before the match starts. Dude gets gassed trying to take off a button-up shirt. Bray Wyatt is fat as balls and he’s out there killing it in a 30 minute match, but Dave’s got all these muscles and accolades and a jiujitsu logo on his ass and he can’t hold a rope and stomp without having an asthma attack? His cardio makes The Rock’s look like Usain Bolt’s.
Batista’s never been able to sit properly on his Batista Bombs because he doesn’t bend in the middle, but now he can’t sit OR roll backwards convincingly, so he just flails around like a QWOP runner until he’s in the right position. You are the saddest thing ever, Batista.
Best: Boo-Tista Chants
I like you guys a lot sometimes.
Best: We’ve Figured Out What’s Going On With Batista’s Head
“It looks like a scrotum” is too easy.
The problem with Batista’s head is that he doesn’t have a skull. He just has a brain, and what you’re seeing is skin pulled over brain. That’s why it wrinkles all weird. It also explains why his face has turned into a Chinese baby’s. He’s soft-headed.
DEAL WITH IT.
Best/Worst: We Spent All Night Debating Who Was Gonna Attack Christian And Take Him Out, And Then Whoops, Christian’s Eliminating Sheamus First
And now, a chamber … of eliminations!
I watched the show with a pretty big group of people, and the first thing each of us said as we walked through the door was SO WHO’S GONNA BEAT UP CHRISTIAN BEFORE THE MATCH AND TAKE HIS SPOT? Lesnar seemed like a good choice. Maybe CM Punk would stop being a weirdo and take the spot that was so obviously his. Maybe Hulk Hogan would take it and WrestleMania IX the shit out of somebody. Instead, Christian just wrestled the match. This is Daniel Bryan not being in the Royal Rumble all over again!
He got an elimination, too, taking out Sheamus with a splash from the top of a pod in the “please excuse Christian for being in this match” moment of the night. Objectively I kinda love when guys who aren’t top-top-shelf get put into top-shelf situations and have to deal with it. My favorite Elimination Chamber ever is still the one where Carlito and Chris Masters ended up in it together and teamed up to eliminate guys way better than them. Too bad Christian didn’t have a Chris Masters on his side. Too bad Mason Ryan isn’t around.
Worst: That Cesaro Elimination Tho
I was actually pretty bored by the match as I was watching it, but revisiting it I’m finding a lot of cool stuff to remember, like Christian’s admittedly pretty-great splash from the pod (way better than Rob Van Dam’s, and with 100% windpipe crushage) or Sheamus getting MADFACED and Brogue Kicking out a pod wall. That one’s extra funny to me because the Brogue Kick itself doesn’t actually displace the glass, so Orton sells an upright pane of “bulletproof glass” and Sheamus just kinda shoves it out of the way.
The ending was trash (we’ll get to that in a second), but my actual least favorite part of the match was Cesaro’s limp elimination. He gets a lot of great stuff here — the Swiss Death was EPIC, and his giant swing on Randy Orton was lovely — but watching him get Attitudinally Adjusted onto a freestanding sheet of plexiglass and then just kinda lamely pat out in the STF was disappointing. I need to temper my defensiveness of Cesaro. Remember, wrestling fan: just because a guy you like has a bunch of great matches in a row doesn’t mean anybody gives a crap about him. Dolph Ziggler, I’m looking in your direction.
Best: Thank You Wyatts Clap Clap Clapclapclap
Bad: The Wyatt Family’s interference was more telegraphed than a Randy Orton DDT. People have been reporting Cena vs. the Wyatts for months.
Good: The Wyatts RULE, so their interference was great, and the crowd responded. They’d just watched the Wyatts have half an hour of one of (if not THE) best six-man tag in WWE history, so them showing up again to more or less do a curtain call got a “THANK YOU WY-ATTS clap clap clapclapclap” chant. So they got “this is awesome” before the match started and “thank you” an hour after it was over. That’s how good that match was.
Bad: Cena can’t lose. This is going to sound like “Internet complaining,” but I think it’s a valid point. Cena’s been wrestling for a long time now. He’s in his mid-30s. At what point can Cena start losing matches because he lost a match, and not because some crazy circumstance caused him to? Why do you think every WWE Champion has to beat Cena six times in a row under five-or-more stipulations and scenarios to be seen as “a real champion?” Because Cena can step into an Elimination Chamber against five top wrestlers including the current WWE World Heavyweight Champion and the uncrowned people’s hero and SWISS JESUS and the only way he gets eliminated is when three additional guys enter the cage and sneak attack him. Essentially you needed 8 wrestlers to eliminate Cena last night. 8 wrestlers at a “demonic structure.”
Good: Bray Wyatt gets a showcase match against Cena at WrestleMania! In his (character’s) home state!
Bad: How the hell do you think THAT ends?
Good: At least Cena didn’t win the Chamber or end up the guy getting screwed at the end, which saves us from some other combination of Cena and Orton (and BATISTA) at Mania. Uh, assumedly. How sad is it that if Bryan gets worked into the Orton/Batista match on Raw, Cena could seriously just wander out and say “none of you are the real champion until you’ve beaten ME at WRESTLEMANIA!” and get into the match without question? If Cena’s ever revealed as the mastermind behind the Authority it’s gonna be the best, and maybe finally explain why Vince gets all gulpy and starts licking his ass whenever he’s around.
Bad: I am a guy complaining about John Cena on the Internet. Validity be damned!
Worst: WWE Is Doing Seymour Skinner’s Basketball Game
They’re trying to see how many times in a row they can drop the ball with Daniel Bryan, then trying to break that record!
Best: The WWE Universe Begins To Understand Nihilism
It’s okay, Hootie, it’s a work!
If you missed it, I compiled a complete collection of the sad “Daniel Bryan lost AGAIN, REALLY” faces at Elimination Chamber. My favorites are the sad blonde and that kid in the Randy Orton t-shirt and John Cena beanie who looks sad because Daniel Bryan lost. WHOSE SIDE ARE YOU ON, KID.
Best: Top 10 Comments Of The Night
Hopefully this leads to some promos where The Authority question if they think Orton should be the Face of WWE then pay it off with nothing.
Cut to the crowd where dean Ambrose is standing in a yes shirt looking depressed.
Sister Abigal should win the AVN award for Best New Finisher
I feel kinda bad for Batista. He’s like a divorced dad who takes his tween kids to Disney World because they really liked it when they were 5, but now they are over it but they’ve all grown apart and the kids just want to go to Harry Potter world or a big cool city and they keep on dragging their legs and playing with their stupid phones and why can’t it be like it once was? Why does he feel so old now? Do they even know each other anymore?
Man, Batista can really sell the shit out of being tired.
I walk for miles inside this pit of dangerrrrrr, My bestest friend is a raccoon space rangerrrrr
Barrett: “I’m afraid I got some BAD NEWS for you. (ahem) The following match is scheduled for one fall. Introducing first, from Washington, DC and weight 290 pounds, Batista!”
I’m hoping Dean comes running back into the ring ready to fight in the middle of this match and then looking extremely confused
I never realized that a single Funkadactyl looks completely ridiculous.
To quote Clay Davis, Sierra Hotel Echo Echo Echo Echo Echo Echo India Tango
Thanks for reading, everybody. Be sure to get back here for Raw, and for tomorrow’s Best and Worst of Raw column. You are so excited to read me suffering through Hulk Hogan.