So WWE’s next event is Fast Lane taking the place of what used to be Elimination Chamber. Does this mean that the Chamber match is dead? Who knows. There are some rumors that it’ll come back in the summer but the pay-per-view name doesn’t show up on the schedule. Maybe it’s the end of the road. So let’s say goodbye (for now) to the gimmick that’s created some great moments and a lot of HHH and John Cena victories. Yes, this is a short intro because this list is balls long.
17. ECW – December To Dismember – RVD vs. Hardcore Holly vs. CM Punk vs. Bobby Lashley vs. Big Show vs. Test – This match was so bad, it single-handedly killed off ECW and made Paul Heyman quit the company. This match concluded one of the worst PPVs in WWE history (live from the ECW haven known as Augusta, Georgia) and was as tone deaf as WWE having Roman Reigns win the Rumble this year. The were in love with CM Punk and RVD and had sort of hoped they’d end up being the last two in the match. But WWE was pushing Bobby f*cking Lashley as their guy and nothing else mattered. Overall, it was a disaster.
Not only was Punk eliminated first, he was eliminated by RVD, causing the fans to boo the other favorite guy in the match. Seconds later, Hardcore Holly was eliminated by kicking out then whispering “OOOPS” as loud as he could to the ref before rolling out. Then, when our last three guys in the match were Test, Lashley and Big Show the fans damn near rioted.
…and Twitter wasn’t even around.
16. Summerslam 2003 – HHH vs. Shawn Michaels vs. Chris Jericho vs. Randy Orton vs. Goldberg vs. Kevin Nash – Hey, make sure Goldberg looks strong. This was a trash match, guys. Basically everyone hung around the ring and waited for Goldberg to show up and beat people up. Goldberg treated HBK, Jericho and Orton like jobbers before getting to HHH. At least the crowd was hot for it all because this was the worst crowd ever. The ending came when HHH basically recreated the Bret Hart steel plate gag from WCW to win and make Goldberg look like a goof. Remember this was in 2003, which was HHH’s reign of terror so everything sucked.
The only enjoyable thing about this match was Ric Flair losing his sh*t trying to keep HHH in his cell. Because Flair is God.
15. Elimination Chamber 2012 – Santino vs. Khali vs. Big Show vs. Wade Barrett vs. Daniel Bryan vs. Cody Rhodes – Santino pinned Cody Rhodes and Wade Barrett. That’s pretty much all you need to know here. Santino as comedy underdog has been done so many times that nobody believes it anymore. Bryan did his best to make it funny, but the last sequence was anticlimactic. At least Cody Rhodes got some action. But there’s one too many Khali’s here to consider the match good.
14. Elimination Chamber 2013 – Mark Henry vs. Chris Jericho vs. Randy Orton vs. Kane vs. Daniel Bryan vs. Jack Swagger – This is probably the most boring of the Chamber matches. It’s just sort of lazy. It just seems to want to get to an end point and doesn’t care about the way we get there. It’s not bad, per se, but of the 17 matches I watched, this was the only one I had to try hard to focus on and make sure I made it through. That’s not good, right?
13. Elimination Chamber 2010 – Kofi Kingston vs. Sheamus vs. HHH vs. Ted DiBiase vs. John Cena vs. Randy Orton – Here’s what makes me sad about this match…or at least one of the things that make me sad about this match: in 2009, Kofi Kingston was eliminated before the EC match began. Then he went on to have a great feud with Orton and be one of the most popular guys in the company. And just as quickly he was an afterthought in another EC match. That Kofi 2009 run still baffles me for how it was just forgotten. This match stinks. The saddest part is HHH and Cena doing that epic face-off thing and nobody giving a damn. Hey, at least it led to a great Cena/Batista match at ‘Mania. Also, they must have started making the Chamber out of different material because around this time everyone stopped bleeding at the same part of their foreheads when they hit the railing. Odd.
12. Elimination Chamber 2011 – R-Truth vs. CM Punk vs. Randy Orton vs. John Morrison vs. Sheamus vs. John Cena – Man, the first quarter of 2011 really stunk. The only real story here was CM Punk and Randy Orton, heading to their feud at ‘Mania. We even get a general manager cameo, which is never welcome. For the second year in a row, though, we’re reminded that Punk is the best heel in wrestling and once again we’re frustrated by the fact he’s going to a mid-card match. Morrison’s top of the cage thing was cool, but it did take almost half as long to get to as Christian’s Kill Switch. Cena wins. And I’m starting to think that matches where Cena or HHH win are innately bad for the most part.
11. Elimination Chamber 2010 – Undertaker vs. R-Truth vs. CM Punk vs. Chris Jericho vs. Rey Mysterio vs. John Morrison – THEY SET UNDERTAKER ON SHOOT FIRE AND HE JUST SCOOTED A BIT AND POURED WATER ON HIMSELF AND WRESTLED. Re-watching these matches has given me unending appreciation for Undertaker and Chris Jericho and, again, holy sh*t he got set on fire when his pyro malfunctioned. This was one of the more predictable Chamber matches but the undeniable highlight was SES CM Punk eliminating people and cutting promos mid-match. It’s peak Punk. He eliminates Truth, grabs the mic and walks straight to Undertaker’s pod to talk sh*t. You can even see a glimpse of Jericho eating the promos up. Subjectively, I want to make this #1 solely for Punk. But I have to be objective and this was about as run-of-the-mill of a match as you’re going to get with an ending we all saw a mile away.
10. No Way Out 2009 – HHH vs. Jeff Hardy vs. Koslov vs. Undertaker vs. Edge vs. Big Show – This was one half of the craziest Elimination Chamber-related pay-per-view ever. We had Edge eliminated early, which would play into the match later that night. And if these two matches could be combined, the story and booking alone would make them top of the list with a bullet. But this match had Koslov and Big Show in it so it mostly sucked. Then HHH and Undertaker showed up and had a one-on-one match that was better than the matches they’d eventually have at WrestleMania by a mile. They saved the match, really. In the end, HHH wins and I’ve written that a ton already today.
9. Elimination Chamber 2012 – CM Punk vs. Kofi Kingston vs. Chris Jericho vs. The Miz vs. Dolph Ziggler vs. R-Truth – This match tried. It really did. But right around 2012, Elimination Chamber matches started getting really predictable because the WrestleMania cards were pretty much set in stone. These guys really had a shot to showcase their talent, but there was something missing. There was little drama because only Punk or Jericho had shots to win. I’m sort of disappointed that there weren’t more wow moments. Add on the crappy Jericho ending and this match suffers more than it should.
8. Now Way Out 2008 – Undertaker vs. Big Daddy V vs. Great Khali vs Finley vs. MVP – The Undertaker is a goddamn miracle worker. Rewind a year to 2007 and Undertaker and Batista shocked everyone by putting on two of the best matches of the year (even blowing HBK/Cena’s WM main event out of the water). In 2008, Undertaker and Batista were straddled with an impossible match. Smackdown! was pushing monsters that looked like the definitive Who’s Who of crappy Undertaker matches and they were squeezed into this one. Somehow, ‘Taker and Batista essentially used them (and MVP) as props in a glorified singles match. And the ending. Just goddamn watch it. Undertaker and Batista will make me happy any time they’re in the same ring. This was no different.
7. Survivor Series 2002 – HHH vs. RVD vs. Shawn Michaels vs. Booker T vs. Chris Jericho vs. Kane – It’s amazing to watch the first ever Elimination Chamber match. You can clearly see everyone sort of figuring out how to maneuver in the contraption. It’s also fun to watch HHH’s legit “holy sh*t this hurts” expression when he takes that first bump on the chamber. Another takeaway: RVD was really Daniel Bryan in 2002. He was as over as anyone in the company but WWE just didn’t believe in him for whatever reason (maybe the belief that he’d get caught with weed as soon as he won the title or something). RVD got eliminated first and unceremoniously dumped after some crowd-pleasing moves and crushing HHH’s throat. The rest of the match is by-the-books early-2000s booking with HBK ending up getting a nice homecoming win in MSG. The pop was genuine excitement and massive. The match? About as middle-of-the-road as possible but it showed the gimmick’s potential.
6. No Way Out 2008 – HHH vs. Jeff Hardy vs. Umaga vs. Shawn Michaels vs. Chris Jericho vs. JBL – So by the time WWE was cranking out two Chamber matches per PPV, they were really hitting a stride and understanding how to execute great matches. This was one of them. It started off great with Jericho and HBK opening. Then Umaga went full #BeastMode and destroyed everyone for like 15 straight minutes. He was the star of the match and did some really innovative stuff. Once again, Jericho and Michaels were really working hard to make the big guy look as strong as possible. I’m starting to really appreciate just how great and integral Jericho is to these matches.
5. Elimination Chamber 2014 – Daniel Bryan vs. Randy Orton vs. John Cena vs. Cesaro vs. Sheamus vs. Christian – So watching this match live suffered from two things: 1) it followed the Shield/Wyatts classic and 2) we all knew that Daniel Bryan would get screwed at the end so we sort of were sour on the match from the beginning. But watch it out of the context of those two things and it’s a damn good match. Cesaro was at peak Cesaro. Bryan was red hot. Sheamus was doing his matted down hair sweating thing and all was right in the world. I’d put the match higher but the Wyatt run-in and the screw-y finish were back-to-back d*ck punches that killed the momentum. Still, Cesaro is the MVP and the belly-to-back on Cena while he was Attitude Adjusting Bryan is worth the price of admission alone.
4. New Year’s Revolution 2006 – Kurt Angle vs. Shawn Michaels vs. Carlito vs. Chris Masters vs. John Cena vs. Kane – This match had no business being as good as it was. 2006 mouth piece serious assassin Kurt Angle is my favorite Kurt Angle and he was on full display here. But the story was the weird, perfectly executed Carlito and Chris Masters team up (Master Car?) that resulted in them eliminating HBK and Kane and being so great that the crowd was firmly part of the Cenation by the end of the match. The match ended with Carlito and Masters vs. John Cena and it was Cena overcoming the odds not by being John Cena but by pure luck. Carlito hit Masters with a low blow to be alone with a prone Cena, but he screwed up at the last second. He was Pete Carroll. He was at the goal line and let his guard down and Cena won just as shockingly as the Patriots did. Sudden and lucky. Cena is best when he’s vulnerable and sympathetic and it’s possible he wasn’t more sympathetic a figure than at this match. Crazy how that works out.
3. Elimination Chamber 2011 – Edge vs. Rey Mysterio Jr. vs. Big Show vs. Drew Mcintyre vs. Wade Barrett vs. Kane – Yeah, I’m as surprised as you are. I don’t even remember this ever happening so I’d carved a nice spot at the lower part of this list for it, but I was glued to my TV the whole time. For some reason, the crowd was all in on this match and Edge and Mysterio were incredible. I’m starting to think that every chamber match should have had Edge and Rey in them because Jesus. It’s like late-career Mysterio only had functional knees inside a chamber. They utilized Big Show and Kane perfectly and let Edge and Mysterio drive the action. Scoff if you want to, but go back and watch this match. It definitely deserves this high spot.
2. New Year’s Revolution 2005 – Edge vs. Randy Orton vs. HHH. vs. Batista vs. Chris Benoit vs. Chris Jericho – This might be the best story ever told inside of a Chamber. Batista was the Beast and everyone was starting to get behind him as the enforcer badass. And unlike the Goldberg and Bobby Lashley matches, Batista wiped out the competition and looked believable and great the whole time. A lot of credit goes to Benoit and Jericho for looking like they’d been run over by a truck every time Batista did anything. This match just laid out the downfall of Evolution in a 30-minute story: HHH was the egotistical ringleader. Orton was the jaded exile. Batista was the loyal bodyguard watching his future unfold before him. The camerawork at the ending was flawless and by the time the match was over, everyone was ready for Batista to be champion.
1. No Way Out 2009 – Chris Jericho vs. Rey Mysterio vs. Edge vs. John Cena vs. Kane vs. Mike Knox This match is what my heart looks like when it sings the songs I want it to sing. You might see Mike Knox and Kane and think we’re in for a crapper but the match pretty became a Jericho/Edge/Mysterio triple threat match for the majority of it and holy sh*t. The best part, of course, was the orgasmically gratifying way John Cena got eliminated. No cheating. No incredible odds. Just three guys who said “screw this” and took him out because that’s what should happen every time there’s an elimination match with Cena. Forget grouping up on Big Show and Kane. Group up on Cena because it’s proven that he’ll rise above pitfalls every time. The crowd reaction is great. Edge’s reaction is stellar. The it’s back to Mysterio/Edge/Jericho for a classic. It’s one of those truly surprising matches that’s also wrestled incredibly well.