With Royal Rumble 2010 in the books we are on the Road to WrestleMania. But first we must stop at the roadside attraction known as Elimination Chamber. While both Chamber Matches were quite good in 2010, I still feel like having two Chamber Matches on one show kind of waters down the concept. They could have gotten away with just having the Smackdown Elimination Chamber and found a way to accomplish the storytelling they wanted for Raw in another way. The other big thing happening this month is that ECW will be getting the boot and replaced with NXT. While WWECW in no way represented the spirit of the Original ECW, I feel like it became an interesting concept. Old pros they weren’t doing much with meet against the up and coming stars of the future on a third brand. It helped give some of the not ready for prime time players a place above developmental to honor their skills and get the audience familiar with them. It’s odd to see these humble beginnings for NXT. The show really took off but not in the way they were anticipating at the time.
Other than guest host segments, the main focus of Raw for this month is building for the Bret Hart vs Vince McMahon feud heading towards WrestleMania. John Cena gets pulled into this feud in an odd way and it leads to his Mania program with Batista. Batista comes over from Smackdown and the Blue Brand gets no compensation. This is one of the things that drive me nuts about the brand split. It gets fuzzy whenever it’s convenient. With ECW get shut down, it could have been simple as Smackdown gets first pick of the ECW free agents in exchange for Batista. Instead, they lose their top heel and I guess Smackdown GM Teddy Long is ok with this.
Bret Hart, Batista, and John Cena
After some weeks of convincing, Vince agrees to let Bret address the WWE Universe. Instead Bret gets verbally dressed down by Mr. McMahon and jumped by Batista. Batista did a fair jump taking care of Bret during this attack. The following week, John Cena takes up for Bret and calls out Mr. McMahon, which gives Bret a chance to jump Vince. Bret has one last chance to say goodbye to all the fans but not so fast my friend. While leaving the arena, Bret is involved in a car accident, allegedly crushing his leg. What has never been made clear, having seen this entire angle, is was this phony car accident cooked up by Bret and Cena to trick Vince into a match or did Vince try to have Bret murderer by the airheaded woman who crashed into his limo? It’s a key moment in this storyline and is never really followed up on.
John Cena qualified for the Elimination Chamber by making short work of Cody Rhodes. Occasionally, Cena will let us know he is confident he will win the Elimination Chamber Match but really the bulk of this month Cena spends being Bret Hart’s advocate when Bret isn’t on the show. He has a pretty good match with Triple H leading up to Elimination Chamber and the Chamber Match itself is quite good. For these first two months of the year, John Cena is taking it kind of easy for being the Face that Runs the Place. Cena wins the WWE Champion in the Elimination Chamber but immediately has to defend the title against this man.
Batista is rewarded for his loyalty to Mr. McMahon by receiving a title match with John Cena immediately after the Elimination Chamber. This time the odds were just too great for Cena to overcome and Batista becomes the new WWE Champion. This adds some context as to why he walked out of his Elimination Chamber Qualifying Match against CM Punk. Batista has some odd matches this month. We walks out on Punk. He has a match against Edge on Smackdown that doesn’t get started because the Undertaker’s gong goes off and the lights go out, leaving both competitors laying in the ring. Then, if John Cena wants to face Batista at WrestleMania, he will need to win a match against The Animal on Raw. Batista immediately kicks Cena below the belt, causing a DQ and giving Cena the win. The way Dave is so casual about striking Cena in the nether regions, it’s hard not to love heel Batista.
It’s a Shame.
Entering February, Sheamus is the WWE Champion. He has a good match with Christian on Raw, which was sorely needed. Also, he jumps John Cena and Triple H, interrupting a fairly decent match, leaving two of his Elimination Chamber opponents laying. But Sheamus is not really a priority in how the story of this month is told. No one believed he was walking out of The Chamber with the belt. Sheamus is eliminated by Triple H, setting up their issue going into WrestleMania. Sheamus had a good showing in the Elimination Chamber but it was too little, too late. I’m not sure what was the point of having Sheamus as Champion for this couple month stretch. He did everything he was asked, I don’t blame Sheamus of what happened. He just wasn’t booked like the WWE Champion. Other, more important things were going on and he just kind of got lost in the shuffle.
The Miz is getting really good, you guys. Moreover, he is becoming a workhorse for this company. Miz is featured prominently on all three shows and this will only increase as we go into March. I like the pairing of him with Big Show. Show cuts a promo on Jericho about how much happier he is to be Miz’s partner because Miz treats him with respect. At least at this stage in their partnership, it seems sincere. Miz is more than happy to have this Giant backing him up while he runs his mouth. Their in ring chemistry isn’t what it could be yet. Even with that, they win the Unified Tag Team Titles in a Three Way against DX and The Straight Edge Society. Miz is also still the United States Heavyweight Champion. The visual of Miz walking around with three belts like he is Ulitmo Dragon or something is just awesome. This is the guy no one thought would make it and here he is carting around three championship belts. In addition to his duties as a Unified Tag Team Champion, The Miz is tapped to be the mentor for Daniel Bryan on the first season of NXT. At the time, this bothered a lot of fans but looking back, it’s a brilliant move to help get Miz over as a heel. They freely acknowledge that Daniel Bryan has been wrestling longer than The Miz and is an indie darling. But The Miz is walking around with those three belts in the biggest company in the world. Miz says he is going to teach Daniel Bryan how to be a star. Apparently the plan is to be a massive dick to Bryan and abuse him at every turn. You can definitely sense that Miz is resentful of Bryan’s critical success whereas Miz has been more successful in the Sports Entertainment world. It’s great storytelling really. The online chatter was they were burying Bryan Danielson but I think it all works out well for him in this company. They reheat the Miz vs MVP feud leading into Elimination Chamber, having MVP Team with Mark Henry to take on ShowMiz. It seemed like their issue was pretty well settled but they needed something for Miz to do at Elimination Chamber. Speaking of issues that should have been settled at Royal Rumble.
Legacy Keeps On Exploding!
It really felt like Legacy should have been done after costing Randy Orton the WWE Championship at Royal Rumble against Sheamus. For whatever reason, Randy forgives Rhodes and DiBiase, only to have them continue to screw up and cost him matches. Which inevitably leads to both getting RKOed. This pattern continues until Elimination Chamber where Rhodes throws a lead pipe into the Chamber for DiBiase to use. Ted misses Sheamus and nails Orton, causing him to be eliminated. Add Ted DiBiase Jr to the list of unlikely Elimination Chamber participants. The chatter online was that Ted was going to be a big star coming out of this group. After two months of watching him, I just don’t see it. Maybe people just really like his dad. I don’t see anything that would lead me to believe he is going to be anything special. I have the benefit of hidesight but feel free to go back and watch the matches then tell me if you feel the company missed the boat on Ted Jr.
Tell Me A Lie.
Shawn Michaels is still obsessed with getting a WrestleMania rematch against The Undertaker. Shawn hopes his path to The Undertaker goes through the Elimination Chamber. That path is cut off by Randy Orton. The DX Revival quietly comes to an end when they lose the Unified Tag Team Title to Miz and The Big Show. With few options left, Shawn is left with no choice but to cost Undertaker the World Heavyweight Championship in the Elimination Chamber, handing the championship to Chris Jericho. The Undertaker wants payback but under one condition, Shawn must put his career on the line to get the match at WrestleMania, which Shawn agrees to do. There is some excellent storytelling here.
The focus on Smackdown is building towards the Elimination Chamber. Edge is really cheering for Jericho to come out of the Chamber so he can challenge him for the WWE Championship at WrestleMania. Jericho warns Edge, for his own good, to choose someone else. Jericho qualifies for the Chamber in an alright match with Matt Hardy. John Morrison prevails in a Three way against Kane and Drew McIntyre. R Truth gets in over Mike Knox who I was genuinely shocked to see and I can’t imagine we will be seeing much more from. CM Punk punches his ticket when Batista walks out of their match immediately, taking a count out. Finally, Rey Mysterio gets the win over Dolph Ziggler. The chamber match itself was very useful in building programs towards WrestleMania. First and foremost is Shawn Michaels nailing Undertake with Sweet Chin Music, setting up their big match at WrestleMania. R Truth and John Morrison being their partnership starting here. Punk and Mysterio run afoul with each other, although their issue starts going into this match. Jericho walks out with the Championship. Edge officially challenges Jericho and tells him the future will be filled with ” spear spear spear.” I think they did a good job setting this up and building for WrestleMania. On one hand, it seems like they are telegraphing that Jericho will win the belt on the other, it seems unlikely he will get past The Undertaker.
The Choosen One.
At some point, they remembered that our Intercontinental Champion Drew McIntyre is supposed to be Mr. McMahon’s hand picked next great man. He gets paired with Kane this month, first in the Three Way to get into the Elimination Chamber. Then a one on one match which ends in a Double Countout or no contest, it’s never made clear. At Elimination Chamber, Drew successfully defends the IC Title against Kane. It’s a fine match, I guess. Then they follow it up with Kane ending Drew’s undefeated Streak, advancing Kane to the Money in the Bank Match at WrestleMania.
Straight Edge Society
In the previous month, Punk and Gallows earned an Unified Tag Team Title Match. They kind of get screwed out of it and instead get put in a Three Way Tag Title Match against Champions DX and ShowMiz. Rey and Punk have a very good match on Smackdown which Rey wins and the Straight Edge Society beat him down after the match. This heats up issues between them going into the Elimination Chamber. Punk has some excellent moments in that match, getting on the mic between eliminations in the match, then Rey Mysterio eliminates him. Rey also costs Punk the Money in the Bank Qualifier against Shelton Benjamin. Going into March, I don’t believe CM Punk will take this laying down.
With no real next program in mind, they quickly reheat the issues between Mickie James and LayCool. Vickie Guerrero gets involved on the side of LayCool. You would think Vickie would be sensitive to the fat jokes being made at Mickie’s expense. Instead she sides with LayCool, acting as special guest referee and helping Michelle McCool win the Women’s Title on the 2/26 Smackdown.
We only have one episode of NXT to discuss in February. The concept is 8 NXT Rookies will pair with 8 WWE Pros. One rookie will get a spot on the WWE roster while the other 7 disappear into obscurity, never to be seen or heard from again. Well, thankfully the second part didn’t happen because they had a pretty good crew in with the first season of NXT. The star of the first show, although he takes a lot of abuse, is Daniel Bryan. The Miz runs him down verbally a lot. Michael Cole even piles on some, taking shots at Daniel Bryan for no reason. Bryan faces Chris Jericho on this show and as far as I know, it’s the only match between the two to date. We open with Carlito and Michael Tarver vs Christian and Heath Slater. It’s alright, I guess. The answer to a trivia question if nothing else. CM Punk is pissed he is even on this show and more pissed to be paired with The South Beach Party Boy Darren Young. Young faces David Otunga who gets paired with R Truth. I like the video packages and profile pieces that get us familiar with the NXT Rookies. Some of the cast off talent that ended up on Raw and Smackdown from the recently closed ECW could have used this treatment. The first episode doesn’t have a lot of angles other than Miz and Daniel Bryan not mixing well together. I like the presentation. I don’t think this version of NXT was going to work long term but I think it’s very useful at building these characters.
- Elimination Chamber Match for the World Heavyweight Championship. The Undertaker vs Chris Jericho vs CM Punk vs John Morrison vs R Truth vs Rey Mysterio. Elimination Chamber 2010.
- Elimination Chamber Match for the WWE Championship. Sheamus vs John Cena vs Kofi Kingston vs Randy Orton vs Ted DiBiase vs Triple H. Elimination Chamber 2010.
- CM Punk vs Rey Mysterio. 2/12/10 Smackdown.
- Edge vs The Miz. 2/26/10 Smackdown.
- Sheamus vs Christian. 2/8/10. Raw.
- Chris Jericho vs Daniel Bryan. 2/23/10. NXT.
- Triple H vs John Cena. 2/15/10. RAW.
- Chris Jericho vs The Undertaker. 2/12/10. Smackdown.
- Unified Tag Team Title Triple Threat Match. DX vs The Straight Edge Society vs ShowMiz. 2/8/10. RAW.
- Rey Mysterio vs Dolph Ziggler. 2/5/10. Smackdown.
- Money in the Bank Qualifying Triple Threat Match. John Morrison vs R Truth vs Dolph Ziggler. 2/26/10. Smackdown.
- Kane vs Dolph Ziggler. 2/19/10. Smackdown.
- United States Heavyweight Championship Match. The Miz vs MVP. Elimination Chamber.
As always, discussion is appreciated. What did you think of this period of time in WWE history? Did I get something wrong? Do you have some matches or moments worthy of discussion? I’d be glad to hear from any and all of you.