Before the shocking conclusion to WWE Elimination Chamber, WWE’s latest pay-per-view could best be described with “Eh.” It wasn’t a bad show, but in many ways, the penultimate stop on the road to WrestleMania felt fairly inconsequential. Edge’s confirmation that he will indeed challenge Roman Reigns was the highlight of the show for most of the night. This development came at the top of the card, so the middle of the event dragged because it was hard to picture how anything could top Edge’s declaration. Some fan theories, like the return of The Fiend, made it seem like the WWE Championship Match would end with a twist.
Oh, it did. But few fans could have predicted a successful Money in the Bank cash-in by The Miz to close the show. That’s exactly what happened, and at the very least, this twist makes WWE RAW a lot more interesting. In a rollercoaster finish, Bobby Lashley destroyed WWE Champion Drew McIntyre after a brief tease earlier in the show suggested that The Miz was in cahoots with The Hurt Business. Some fans, including this writer, eagerly awaited MVP’s revelation that the stable bought the briefcase from The Miz in order to have Lashley cash in on the champion. Instead, “The Almighty” was just a hired gun.
After his vicious attack, the unmistakable sound of “Awesome!” filled the ThunderDome, and a few brief minutes later, The Miz reigned supreme as the WWE Champion. Love it or hate it, this cash-in was an exciting way to close a fairly lackluster show. RAW, in particular, has desperately needed this level of unpredictability.
Now, questions abound. Why did Lashley and The Hurt Business help The Miz? What’s in it for them?
— WWE (@WWE) February 22, 2021
It’s also worth noting that the match brilliantly set up a continuation of Sheamus’ feud with McIntyre. “The Celtic Warrior” blasted McIntyre with a Brogue Kick, but Sheamus was immediately eliminated thanks to a Phenomenal Forearm from AJ Styles. As a result, Sheamus has a perfectly sound reason to challenge McIntyre if/when he regains the title. He could claim that he had McIntyre beat, and he was only seconds away from pinning the champion. Before Elimination Chamber, the RAW main event scene felt like it paled in comparison to the potential WrestleMania match between Reigns and Edge. Now, RAW has its own compelling assortment of challengers.
For viewers who may not care for the unusual storyline between Randy Orton, The Fiend and Alexa Bliss, this dynamic title picture could be what the doctor ordered for the red brand heading into WWE WrestleMania 37.
Sticking with the world title scene, Daniel Bryan won an excellent Elimination Chamber Match. Ever the ultimate underdog, “The Yes! Man” went the distance with an increasingly injured knee, and he picked up a gritty win in the process. Every competitor looked good in this match. Cesaro, the presumed favorite, was the standout performer. Like Bryan, he started the match and lasted until nearly the end. Though he ultimately lost, “The Swiss Superman” looked impressive, and he could easily hold his own with any number of SmackDown’s top stars heading into WrestleMania.
Otherwise, Sami Zayn’s antics as a heel entertained as always, and he briefly teased the fans with an attempted reunion with Kevin Owens. Thankfully, Owens lost this match, as the prospect of “The PrizeFighter” receiving potentially two more title matches with Reigns was quite worrisome. His feud with Reigns is long past its expiration date, and it’s time to move on. Finally, Jey Uso had a solid performance and reminded fans of his remarkable run throughout the fall.
Naturally, Reigns played the dastardly heel card by marching to the ring as soon as the Elimination Chamber Match ended. Bryan couldn’t even stand, but Reigns demanded to start the match. After a crisp counter of a Spear into a LeBell Lock, Reigns utterly mauled Bryan and choked him out to earn a quick, decisive and tainted victory. It was disappointing to see Bryan get squashed, but now he has a good reason to challenge Reigns to a fair fight at WWE Fastlane. There, fans could get to see a WrestleMania-worthy match on what tends to be a throwaway pay-per-view.
— WWE WrestleMania (@WrestleMania) February 22, 2021
After Reigns’ win, Edge arrived out of nowhere and dropped him with a Spear. The WWE Hall of Famer pointed to the WrestleMania sign, so SmackDown is off to the races. At The Showcase of the Immortals, Edge will challenge Reigns for the WWE Universal Championship. We’ve shared our thoughts on it before, and we’ll do it again on the road to the show. But in a nutshell, this story could deliver a great clash of good and evil, as Edge is a pure babyface on a run that feels like a Cindarella story. Meanwhile, Reigns has been doing the best work of his career as the despicable “Tribal Chief.” This rivalry is perfect for the WrestleMania stage, and it should deliver some excellent programming on Friday nights.
Elsewhere, in the moment, Riddle’s WWE United States Championship win was disappointing, at least for fans that haven’t been blown away by his time on the main roster. Keith Lee’s absence from the show was also a let-down because a victory for “The Limitless One” could have been more satisfying. Lashley has been a dominant champion, so it was initially unclear why WWE took the title off him. But by the end of the night, Lashley made it clear that he’s on to big and better things, namely the WWE Championship picture. It’ll be interesting to see whether this win has any implications on Riddle’s character. Now that he’s a champion, he could possibly dial back the goofiness and become a fighting champion. It’s also possible that, as the champion, WWE will feature him even more prominently and have him retain the same persona because ‘The Powers That Be’ think it’s funny. Regardless, Riddle is now a champion in WWE, so congratulations are in order.
Finally, WWE threw another curveball at the fans when Nia Jax and Shayna Baszler retained the WWE Women’s Tag Team Championship over Bianca Belair and Sasha Banks. It had been easy to imagine a scenario in which “The Boss” and “The EST” held the titles while they built up their feud while WrestleMania nears. Instead, Jax pinned the SmackDown Women’s Champion thanks to some botched interference by Reginald. Banks and Belair worked like a great team, so it’s fair to argue that they should have won this match. Instead, Reginald continues to hold a featured role in this storyline, and it’s unclear how Banks and Belair will be able to draw their rivalry out more than another month.
WWE Elimination Chamber turned to be a solid, unspectacular show. The matches delivered, but the majority of the card felt inconsequential. Still, Edge’s official challenge and The Miz’s stunning win were enthralling enough to boost this pay-per-view from low B-minus territory up to a high B-plus. Both RAW and SmackDown should benefit from the fallout of this event, especially in their world title scenes. On the road to WrestleMania, that’s all you can really ask for.