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Kickoff Match The Good Brothers vs. The Miztourage
RESULT: Good Brothers win via pinfall; Gallows pinned Axel following the Magic Killer.
THOUGHTS: Perfectly okay kickoff match here, with the right team going over; as much as I enjoy their characterization as Miz's "heavies", Axel and Dallas really do nothing for me as any sort of effective in-ring team. Given the rumors swirling around both Miz and Balor concerning their involvement at WM 34, this match may very well serve as a minor prelude to a six-man encounter between The Club and The Miztourage at Mania, or a one-on-one for the IC Title with these two teams at ringside. I'd honestly be fine with either scenario, but I lean more towards the Intercontinental Title getting some buzz on the Grandest Stage.
RAW Women's Championship Elimination Chamber Match Alexa Bliss (c) vs. Bayley vs. Mandy Rose vs. Mickie James vs. Sonya DeVille vs. Sasha Banks
RESULT: Alexa Bliss wins via pinfall; Bliss last eliminated Banks after a top-rope elevated DDT.
THOUGHTS: Surprisingly short for an EC match, but I suppose with a first-time match they can't stretch things out like most Chamber matches. Absolution had a little presence at the beginning of the match, but really didn't play a crucial role otherwise. Same could be said for Mickie, who was used as a sacrificial lion to showcase Bayley and Sasha's partnership and Alexa having to endure without her insurance policy. They all played their roles effectively, though, so I can't complain about that.
Speaking of lions though, we had a "Scar and Mufasa" moment with Sasha knocking Bayley to the floor from the chamber pod, which was more indicative of Sasha's "all for one" mentality that resurfaced at the Royal Rumble last month rather than an actual heel turn, though Bayley obviously felt otherwise based on the aggression we saw from the "Hugger." That dissension would open the door for Bliss take out Bayley, then ultimately finish off Banks after a brief intense exchange. With Sasha and Bayley both seemingly out of the title picture for the time being, I certainly wouldn't be surprised to see the two of them in a grudge-type singles match at WM 34.
A fine first time for the ladies all around, and the expected outcome with Alexa retaining sets her up for the likely encounter with Asuka and/or Nia Jax.
WK KING OF PPV Dan - 2 pts (1st pick) Ken - 2 pts (1st pick) Julie - 0 pts Greg - 2 pts (1st pick) Nick - 2 pts (1st pick)
WWE RAW Tag Team Championship The Bar (c) vs. Titus Worldwide w/Dana Brooke
RESULT: The Bar wins via pinfall; Sheamus pinned Apollo following a double-team White Noise.
THOUGHTS: A middle-of-the-road defense for Cesaro and Sheamus versus a team that seemingly had their number in recent weeks in Titus Worldwide. However, The Bar would come out on top after their usual tactics of dividing Apollo from Titus, softening him up and keeping Titus enough of a non-factor in the match long enough for Sheamus and Cesaro to hit the springboard White Noise for the three count. Apollo was fun here, and The Bar did their level best to make Titus Worldwide seem like a legit threat to the tag titles, but the result was never really in question.
WK KING OF PPV Dan - 3 pts Ken - 3 pts Julie - 0 pts Greg - 3 pts Nick - 3 pts
Women's Singles Match Asuka vs. Nia Jax
(If Nia wins, she's added to the championship match at WrestleMania)
RESULT: Asuka wins via pinfall; Asuka rolled Nia into a double-leg cradle for the three count.
THOUGHTS: A short match that got physical right away, which I liked because it helped to establish the sense of urgency that both women should have in this situation; Nia vying for a title opportunity at Mania, and Asuka looking to defend her one-on-one opportunity she earned at the Rumble. Both women's strengths were played up well here, with Nia overpowering Asuka at every turn, and Asuka looking to wear down a determined big challenger in Nia through her signature kicks and submission holds. Ultimately, it came down to Nia talking just a little too long, allowing Asuka to capitalize and roll her up for three. This would only incense Nia further, and she demolished Asuka post-match, capping it off with a spear through the barricade to the "Empress of Tomorrow."
A fine match overall; following what went down post-match, I could certainly see a rematch down the line leading into WM 34 where Asuka gets a more definitive, clear-cut win. On the other hand, I could see Nia's new level of aggression lead her to turn on her longtime friend Alexa, citing that she's tired of doing Bliss' dirty work to soften up Asuka, and earn her way into the title match with a dominant win over the champion.
WK KING OF PPV Dan - 4 pts Ken - 5 pts (LOCK) Julie - 0 pts Greg - 3 pts Nick - 5 pts (LOCK)
Singles Match "Woken" Matt Hardy vs. Bray Wyatt
RESULT: Matt Hardy wins via pinfall; Hardy countered out of Sister Abigail into the Twist of Fate for the win.
THOUGHTS: It was a match that happened, which is probably the best thing I can say about this. There was nothing appealing to this match, which can also be said about the feud in general. It was clunky, the pace was far too slow and grinding, and the emotion was seriously lacking. The crowd certainly couldn't have cared less for this match, focusing more on beach balls and Rusev Day chants (Machka, everybody!) than any of the action. This feud should just end, but Hardy's win goes in accordance with WWE's typical 50-50 booking, meaning that the rubber match will most probably go down at WM 34. At this point, however, I'm not sure even a balls-to-the-wall, over-the-top, callback-filled war at the "Hardy Compound" will save what has been the early favorite for most dismal feud of 2018.
WK KING OF PPV Dan - 4 pts Ken - 6 pts Julie - 2 pts (LOCK) Greg - 4 pts Nick - 5 pts
"Rowdy" Ronda Rousy's WWE Contract Signing
THOUGHTS: I'll just cut right to the heart of this and say that a big part of this segment was just plain awkward. While Ronda does have prior acting experience, that does little to help you when you're holding a live microphone in front of 10,000+ fans for your first WWE promo. I can understand that emotions may have been running high for her, but she clearly wasn't comfortable on the mic, it showed, and I would definitely suggest that WWE find a mouthpiece (like Heyman) to build her up from a verbal standpoint in the coming weeks to WM 34.
That being said, the rest of the segment played out fine. Angle played his role quite well, creating strife between the H's and Ronda by bringing up their history from WM 31, saying Triple H and Steph have been looking for payback since then and now finally have Rousey cowed under their proverbial heel. This would lead to dissension between the three, ending up with Triple H thrown through a table by Rousey and Steph making a mistake in aggravating Ronda further with an emotional slap to the face, all of which the crowd popped big time for.
So it seems that Angle, having got his revenge for Triple H's antics at Survivor Series, will be Ronda's partner for the most likely mixed tag match with Trips and Steph at WM 34, which is fine. That said, though, I can't help but wonder what Seth Rollins' situation will be come Mania, considering that now two of his prospective opponents are either shelved or otherwise preoccupied.
Men's Elimination Chamber Match Braun Strowman vs. Elias vs. John Cena vs. Roman Reigns vs. The Miz vs. Seth Rollins vs. Finn Balor
(Winner faces Univeral Champion Brock Lesnar at WrestleMania 34)
RESULT: Roman Reigns wins via pinfall; Reigns last eliminated Braun Strowman after a Superman Punch and back-to-back spears.
THOUGHTS: No shocker here, ladies and gents. Reigns was practically preordained by Vince last year to face Lesnar at WM 34, and WWE had no intention of swerving the fans here. Strowman looked every bit the indomitable monster we've come to know him as, tanking a TON of punishment and yet coming back by eliminating every other competitor by his own hands before being ultimately upended by Reigns.
Outside of Braun steamrolling everyone, there wasn't a whole lot to take away from this match. If anything, I found that the Women's Chamber Match stood out more than the men's simply because every women had an individual role to play in the match, rather than serve as little more than tackling dummies as Elias, Miz and the others did for Strowman. The men's match ended up being somewhat flat and far more predictable than the women's match.
While I'm not at all surprised by the outcome, what irks me is Strowman's treatment by WWE higher-ups. Yes, he's been made to look all kinds of destructive and brutal. Yes, he's been made to look like one of WWE's biggest stars, and yes, the WWE fans react to him and treat him as such. And yet despite all of those notions, he remains just on the cusp of reaching the very peak, i.e. winning a top WWE championship. He's been brought to that breakthrough point two or three times in the past year, including tonight, only to be pulled back at the last minute, and it concerns me that by the time WWE and Vince finally pull the trigger on Braun, the audience will have already moved on. Mind you, this isn't a dig on Reigns and his efforts; he puts on consistently good to great performances, but Strowman's organically felt more like the main event star to finally dethrone Lesnar than Roman has in the last year.
WK KING OF PPV Dan - 7 pts (LOCK; 1st pick) Ken - 8 pts (1st pick) Julie - 2 pts Greg - 6 pts (1st pick) Nick - 7 pts (1st pick)
Your Winner and NEWWW 15-Time WK King of PPV Champion...