Elimination Chamber 2023: Reigns Still Reigns
Elimination Chamber 2023 Review
Elimination Chamber is the last WWE premium event before Wrestlemania. It helps solidify the Mania match card and adds a second act to long-brewing storylines and feuds. This year’s entry was pretty solid. Although nothing especially shocking occurred, it nonetheless fulfilled its purpose by teeing up a series of matches for Mania in early April.
Elimination Chamber match for a WWE Raw Women’s Championship match at WrestleMania – Asuka vs. Liv Morgan vs. Nikki Cross vs. Raquel Rodriguez vs. Natalya vs. Carmella
This match started out a bit slow, but the early minutes served as a nice showcase for a dominant Raquel Rodriguez. There was a fun sunset flip sequence between Raquel, Natalya, and Liv Morgan. Nikki Cross leaped off a pod with a cross-body that took out a small crowd of her competitors. It continues to be impressive that Carmella can project her voice so loudly that we can nearly always hear her.
There were some odd production issues as Carmella said something that got censored and the broadcast somehow didn’t catch a pin the first time it happened. Nonetheless, Raquel smashed Nikki through the door of a pod and then eliminated her. Liv executed an awesome sunset flip off the top of a pod that received a pretty sizable pop. When Asuka finally entered the match, the action definitely picked up and the crowd became fully invested.
Liv was eliminated after she passed out while in a simultaneous double submission from Natalya and Asuka. The crowd didn’t love this choice. but it was obviously an effective way to get Liv out while still making her look good. Carmella then sneakily pinned Natalya for another elimination. Carmella and Asuka teamed up to dispatch Raquel and then, perhaps predictably, Askua finished off Carmella for the win.
Overall, a solid match that sends Asuka to Mania to face off against Bianca Belair for the Raw Women’s championship in what should be a great bout.
Brock Lesnar vs. Bobby Lashley
This was a mostly pointless match with an odd but funny finish. Lesnar delivered two F5s but Lashley kicked out of both of them. Then Lesnar gave Lashley a low blow and lost by disqualification. He then delivered an F5 to the referee and another one to Lashley.
Then he put Lashley through a table. Then he gave the ref another F5 onto the destroyed table (which was admittedly pretty funny). The crowd was definitely into it, but it feels like this feud is being extended for as long as humanly possible, with perhaps and hopefully a final confrontation to occur at Mania.
Edge & Beth Phoenix vs. The Judgement Day (Finn Balor & Rhea Ripley)
This was really more of a Dominik Mysterio vs. The Crowd match but it was pretty enjoyable nonetheless. Beth and Rhea are such a great pair – everything they do together feels so brutal – and Edge and Finn are two of the best around.
“F You” Dominik chants broke out pretty early on, which was hilarious. Dominik then interfered in the match briefly before sprinting backstage. Then he came back out to another round of “F You Dominik” chants. Dominik handed some brass knuckles to Rhea, almost ending the match.
The women delivered double power bombs to the men which was fun to see.
Edge and Beth both executed their finishers before Edge took out Dominik. Edge then went back into the ring and speared Balor. Then he and Beth delivered a Shatter Machine to Finn for the win. Great finish to a fun mixed tag match.
U.S. Title Match – Austin Theory (c) vs. Seth Rollins vs. Johnny Gargano vs. Bronson Reed vs. Damian Priest vs. Montez Ford
It felt like there were a number of people in this match the WWE Universe doesn’t especially care about, but Seth and Johnny got the people going to start things off. Then Austin Theory entered and bored everyone. Damian Priest had a couple of nice spots, especially with Seth Rollins. Bronson Reed came in next and did the whole strongman thing for a few minutes.
Montez Ford injected some fun into a thus-far mediocre match by climbing to the top of the chamber and dropping down like a bomb onto a few dudes. This sparked a great sequence that led to Bronson Reed being eliminated.
Rollins and Gargano climbed up onto a pod, and Johnny tossed off Seth with a hurricanrana. Then Gargano went on a tear, delivering a fury of tornado DDTs and superkicks to anyone in sight. Disappointingly, Priest then swiftly dispatched Gargano with a Razor’s Edge and Gargano was eliminated. (This is an official plea to the WWE to give Gargano a title run, which he so obviously deserves.) Thankfully, Ford then eliminated Priest.
Ford electrified the crowd before a Curb Stomp from Rollins resulted in Theory pinning and eliminating Ford. This left Theory and Rollins as the finalists. Ford then had to be helped out of the ring by a few officials as the crowd cheered for him. Rollins hit Theory with a pedigree before Logan Paul ran out and clotheslined Rollins. Theory then finished off Rollins for the win and retained the title.
A pretty good match overall, thanks to Montez Ford being a lot of fun, with Rollins and Gargano being absolute champs (in our hearts at least) per usual. Some sort of Logan Paul/Seth Rollins match at Mania seems inevitable.
Universal Title Match – Roman Reigns (c) vs. Sami Zayn
The hype for this one was off the charts. The Bloodline storyline has given us some of WWE’s best stuff in years. This match was no exception. Sami had an almost Daniel Bryan-level pop in front of his hometown crowd. Sami and Roman started the match by just standing there for a few minutes and letting the crowd go nuts.
The match had a fairly slow tempo, with Reigns mostly dominating. Roman repeatedly taunted Sami’s wife and family, who were sitting ringside. Sami gave his wife a kiss at one point. Roman attempted a Superman Punch, but Sami reversed it to set up a Helluva Kick. Roman ducked and instead hit a Superman Punch for a near fall.
Reigns went for a spear, but Sami countered and rolled up Reigns for a pin attempt. Sami attempted his own Superman Punch and nailed it. Then he connected with a Helluva Kick for an incredibly close two-and-a-half count.
Outside the ring, Sami tossed Reigns through the barricade. Back in the ring, Sami delivered a Blue Thunder Bomb, but it still wasn’t enough the win. Reins knocked out the ref before Sami hit another Helluva Kick, which of course, meant nothing with the ref out of commission.
Jimmy Uso entered the ring and hit a few super kicks on Sami. He went up top and hit an Uso Splash. He dragged Roman onto Sami, and another official came out. But Sami kicked out after a two-count. Later, Uso again tried to interfere, but Zayn kicked him off the ring apron. A Reigns spear still wasn’t enough for a three-count, and the match continued.
The second official was taken out by an errant Superman Punch. Sami and Roman each knocked each other out and lay lifeless in the ring with no ref in sight. Paul Heyman used the opportunity to hand Roman a steel chair. Jey Uso then stepped into the ring in front of Sami to stop Roman from using the chair. Roman presented Jey with the chair, saying, “It’s me or him.” Roman turned his back, and Jey decided not to act. Sami accidentally speared Jey, and Roman then beat the crap out of Sami with the chair. Roman speared Sami. Another ref dove into the ring and made the three count. Roman wins and retains the title.
After the match, Jimmy Uso started punching Sami before Kevin Owens came out. KO beat up Jimmy outside the ring, then took out Roman inside the ring with a stunner. He went back outside to deliver a Pop Up Powerbomb to Jimmy onto the announcers’ table. Paul Heyman tried to slap KO silly to no avail. KO gave Heyman a stunner. Sami stood up to give Reigns one more Helluva Kick. Sami and Kevin looked at each other from afar as the event ended with the crowd applauding Sami.
This was a hell of a main event with perhaps no big surprises but still a lot of storytelling momentum that will surely culminate with some matches at Wrestlemania. It’s a little unclear where the whole quasi-betrayal by Jey Uso is headed. An Usos vs. KO and Sami tag match at Mania would be fun but perhaps a little too obvious. It’ll be interesting to see how or if the Cody Rhodes/Paul Heyman feud is brought into the Bloodline story. But all these questions and speculation just serve to illustrate how great this entire storyline has been. Let’s hope it has a stellar third act in April.