John Cena is back in San Jose, and fittingly enough, the sharks are in the water. As Cena discussed what he deemed a must-win bout in the Men’s Elimination Chamber Match and his ambition to topple the “unbeatable” Universal Champion Brock Lesnar at WrestleMania, The Miz surfaced with a proclamation of his own: The A-Lister would win the Chamber and outsmart The Beast to become the first Superstar to hold the Intercontinental and Universal Titles simultaneously. The idea wasn’t so far-fetched, as there is a precedent for Miz using his wits to defeat a more powerful opponent at the big dance — after all, he did it to Cena himself.
He wasn’t so lucky this time around. The ensuing match was decided in The Cenation Leader’s favour, despite a brutal pre-match assault from The Miztourage that left Cena splayed out in the ring. Raw General Manager Kurt Angle banned Miz’s cronies from ringside as a result, but between the ambush and a near-endless sleeper hold from the Intercontinental Champion, it looked like the damage was done. Even when The Cenation Leader began to claw back, Miz managed to escape most of Cena’s big moves, including a kick out of the Attitude Adjustment and a rope-break of the STF and what appeared to be a “Yes!” Lock from the 16-time champion.
Cena proved resilient enough to counter Miz’s own big swings as well, breaking out of two Figure-Four Leglocks and kicking out of the Skull-Crushing Finale. The A-Lister took a page out of Cena’s book by trying to set up a Skull-Crushing Finale off the second rope, but Cena quickly hoisted Miz on his shoulders for an avalanche AA. And, on top of that, Cena managed to finagle a solid stipulation, wherein the loser of the match would enter the Elimination Chamber first. In other words, The Miz had better hope he’s half as smart as he thinks he is because he’s got a long way to go to New Orleans.
Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson may have a new “Nerd-O-Meter” that precedes their arrival, but as entertaining as that was, The Revival’s idea for a pre-match show — jumping the good brothers from behind — ended up paying more dividends. The sneak attack from the decidedly no-frills “tag team specialists” worked as both a condemnation of Gallows & Anderson’s antics and a game plan for toppling the former Raw Tag Team Champions, as the good brothers were left a beat behind their opponents as a result of the ambush. Gallows, in particular, was a step slow thanks to a chop block from Dash Wilder that left him vulnerable to the “Top Guys’” attacks, so all The Revival had to do was wait out the early storm and focus their offence on The Suntan Biker Man’s bum leg. Anderson eventually made it back in to spell his partner, but after Dawson sent Gallows tumbling into the steel steps, an impeccably-timed tag sent Anderson sprinting headfirst into a waiting Shatter Machine. So Dash & Dawson outsmarted and outwitted their opponent’s thanks to sneakiness, scouting and some pinpoint timing. If Gallows & Anderson think that makes them nerds, it might not be as bad as they think it is.
Last week, Jason Jordan cost Seth Rollins and replacement partner Roman Reigns a Raw Tag Team Title win and was sent home indefinitely by Kurt Angle due to a nagging injury. This week, the Raw General Manager addressed his son’s status and received a surprising plea from Rollins himself that had nothing to do with the tag team scene. The Olympic Hero began his address with “mixed emotions,” both informing the WWE Universe that Ronda Rousey would be signing a Monday Night Raw contract at the Elimination Chamber event and that Jordan’s injury would prevent him from competing at WrestleMania. When Rollins arrived, Angle seemed ready to rescind his last-chance ultimatum from the previous week and allow Rollins another crack at the Tag Titles with a new partner. But The Kingslayer had bigger things on his mind. Citing a desire to get back to the main event of WrestleMania, he asked Angle for a different kind of second chance: An entry into the Fatal 4-Way for the last slot in the Men’s Elimination Chamber. Much like last week, Angle left it up to the WWE Universe, and at their overwhelming suggestion, the Fatal 4-Way became a Fatal 5-Way.
They may have both lost close matches to Asuka, but coming up just short against The Empress of Tomorrow ironically awakened Bayley and Sasha Banks’ competitive fire against each other. And after their sniping led Kurt Angle to sanction a match between the two former Raw Women’s Champions, Bayley got a leg up on her Bossy counterpart — even if the last word belonged to someone else. Despite a wave of hometown support from the Cali faithful, Bayley found herself at a disadvantage when the wily Banks targeted her taped-up shoulder. The Huggable One hung tough against The Boss, however, breaking out of a ruthless Bank Statement. Banks powered her way out of a superplex attempt from the second rope, but the effort left her drained and vulnerable to an avalanche Bayley-to-Belly that got the hometown girl the win. Bayley and Banks shared a long pause after the match, seemingly unsure of what the match meant for their friendship, but Nia Jax — who’ll face Asuka at the Elimination Chamber event in a match with WrestleMania implications — quickly crashed the scene, bulldozing both Superstars and taking them out with Samoan Drops. Why? To show Asuka that she has less to fear from the Superstars who took her to the limit than the one woman capable of destroying them both.
Having been unable to weasel her way out of the Women’s Elimination Chamber Match, Alexa Bliss seemingly went fishing for allies when she saved Mickie James from a beatdown at the hands of Absolution last week. And even though Alexa and James suffered a defeat to Mandy Rose & Sonya Deville this week, Little Miss Bliss continued to court the six-time Women’s Champion as the biggest test of her title reign approaches.
James seemed amenable enough to a temporary alliance in a pre-match confab with Alexa, but Absolution’s win over the champion and her would-be ally came about when Paige, who was patrolling ringside, distracted Alexa on the apron, teeing her up for a sneak-attack from Sonya. Rose pounced on James to win the match with a devastating manoeuvre, but Alexa successfully defended the six-time Women’s Champion from a post-match mugging by clearing Absolution from the ring. Whether that courtesy will be returned at the moment of truth, of course, remains to be seen.
Having won the final entry in the Men’s Elimination Chamber Match, Elias is heading on down The Road to WrestleMania with the most enviable starting block of the bunch. But Braun Strowman isn’t about to let him drift by so easily. The Monster Among Men interrupted Elias’ debut of “The Elimination Chamber Blues” by showing off his own chops with an orchestra bass as his instrument of choice. And even though he broke the strings on the bass with his bare hands, The Gift of Destruction knew how to play a tune all the same. He administered these hands to “WWE’s modern-day Bob Dylan” in the form of a Running Powerslam before chasing Elias up the ramp and smashing the bass across his back. Having Seth Rollins off their radar didn’t stop The Bar from trash-talking The Kingslayer over his tag-team misfortunes. Unfortunately, they made the mistake of doing so in front of Roman Reigns, and now Sheamus has one more loss on his record than he did before tonight. Not for lack of trying, for what it’s worth. Cesaro may have given The Alabaster Gladiator a ringside safety net after a slow start, but Sheamus kept momentum at his side on his own by administering a Cloverleaf, White Noise and Irish Curse that brought Reigns to the brink of defeat, to say nothing of a wrecking-ball knee to the face that almost knocked The Big Dog out cold. That manoeuvre teed Cesaro up for another interference, but Reigns sent The Swiss Cyborg into the crowd and rammed Sheamus into the ring post. The Celtic Warrior had the wherewithal to block a Drive-By with a massive clothesline, yet the final answer came from The Big Dog, who dropped an airborne Sheamus with a massive Spear that finally spelt the end.
The Fatal 5-Way that pitted Superstars who lost their initial Men’s Elimination Chamber qualifiers (plus Seth Rollins, who maneuvered his way into the match) against each other for the last berth in the fateful contest ended in unprecedented fashion, as both Rollins and Finn Bálor administered a match-ending pinfall that led to a historic ruling by Raw General Manager Kurt Angle. It was a fitting conclusion, as both Superstars had perhaps the most to prove, though Bray Wyatt, looking to return to the site of his first WWE Title victory, certainly kept himself in the thick of the hunt. Sure enough, despite strong showings from “Woken” Matt Hardy (who was so unmoved by Wyatt’s mind games that he got the WWE Universe to offer The Reaper of Souls a golf-clap) and Apollo Crews (who saved the match after Rollins took out Bálor, flattening The Architect with a pair of Standing Shooting Star Presses much to the delight of a ringside Titus O’Neil), the match quickly came down to the three former World Champions of the bunch. Wyatt dispatched his rival Hardy from contention, administering Sister Abigail to The Woken One on the arena floor and honing in on Crews, who was stranded by himself atop the turnbuckle. Rollins and Bálor joined forces for a Tower of Doom, but while Crews quickly rolled out of the ring after the impact, Wyatt suffered a simultaneous pinfall from both The Kingslayer and The Extraordinary Man. With the result of the match thrown into question, Angle opted to split the difference in a post-Raw confrontation on Facebook Live, decreeing that both Rollins and Bálor would be allowed into the Chamber, turning the bout into a seven-man contest for the first time ever.