WWE Elimination Chamber 2014: Most Underrated Matches in Event's History
Like any WWE pay-per-view, Elimination Chamber has been responsible for a few hidden gems that go largely unrecognized for their quality and effectiveness.
With the high-profile chamber matches taking up so much time on the broadcast, it is not difficult to see how that would happen.
With so many talented Superstars on the WWE roster during the Elimination Chamber event's four-year existence, it is also not difficult to see how there would be a number of excellent matches that have taken place that are overshadowed by a big WrestleMania announcement, a surprise return or an incredible high spot during the Chamber match.
In preparation for the upcoming February 23 Elimination Chamber, which should be an outstanding show on the road to WrestleMania, here is a look back at the most underrated matches in the event's four-year history.
The matches are not ranked and are instead listed chronologically. Only matches taking place at the Elimination Chamber event were included. For the purposes of this article, No Way Out is a separate show entirely.
Kofi Kingston vs. Alberto Del Rio (2011)
The opening match of the 2011 Elimination Chamber show was one that resembled a more old-school wrestling match that polished action fans are accustomed to seeing on Monday and Friday nights. It was a match that was not always pretty to watch, but the sometimes-rigid action helped give it a sense of realism.
Del Rio was very smooth while maneuvering around the ring, and Kingston was still motivated despite falling off a bit and having no clear path to WrestleMania.
Ricardo Rodriguez did a great job with his interference on behalf of Del Rio, and one has to wonder if a reunion with the personal ring announcer would help to freshen up the Mexican aristocrat's otherwise stale persona.
The closing minutes saw a few cool spots, including Kingston's reversal of Del Rio's attempted arm bar into SOS.
Ultimately, Del Rio caught Kingston in the cross armbreaker and scored the submission victory.
He would go on to to lose to World Heavyweight champion Edge in the opener of WrestleMania 27, while Kingston would team with Santino Marella, Kane and Big Show to defeat The Corre in a lightning-quick eight-man tag match.
Tamina vs. Beth Phoenix (2012)
For years, Beth Phoenix was the best female wrestler on the WWE roster. Dubbed "the Glamazon" because of a combination of beauty and brawn, Phoenix defeated every top Diva during her stint with the company.
It was not difficult, either. With such a size advantage over most of them, she won some matches before they even started just by being as physically imposing as she was.
What happened when second-generation Diva Tamina, the daughter of "Superfly" Jimmy Snuka and an athlete rivaling Phoenix's size and strength, challenged her for the Divas title at Elimination Chamber 2012?
A very good match that has gone largely forgotten in the years that followed it.
Tamina and Phoenix had a very physical wrestling match that saw the Divas champion utilize a dragon sleeper that nearly had Tamina bent backwards, while the second-generation Diva went airborne and landed a Superfly Splash that nearly ended Phoenix's title reign.
Unfortunately, the champion's great ring awareness allowed her to escape the squared circle, buying her just enough time to toss Tamina into the turnbuckle, grab her in a double chicken wing and deliver the Glam Slam for the win.
A tough, hard-fought match between the Divas that the fans inside the arena never gave proper respect to.
Elimination Chamber Match for the World Heavyweight Title (2012)
A match involving The Big Show, Great Khali and Santino Marella does not exactly sound like a recipe for a great a match. It sounds more like one of those bad segments WWE used to produce when it had guest hosts every week.
Cody Rhodes, Wade Barrett and Daniel Bryan made for a solid foundation, but all three were heels, and most figured the final two would involve Bryan trying to drag a good match out of Show.
What those fans got instead was a demonstration of Bryan's greatness as a worker and Marella's underrated effectiveness as a character.
The match built perfectly. Big Show eliminated Khali following a spear, only to be done in by a combination of maneuvers from Rhodes and Barrett. With the dead weight out of the way, the beauty of the match really began showing itself.
To help build Marella for the ending sequence of events, he pinned and eliminated both young stars. The crowd ate it up, the idea of the largely comedic-filler character Marella perhaps having a shot at capturing the second-most important title in the company.
To his credit, Bryan bumped around for Marella and really sold him as a threat, but in the end, the Italian underdog fell victim to the LaBell Lock, and Bryan was able to barely escape the chamber with his title.
A really great match with some terrific storytelling that is forgotten in favor of some of the more typical, violent Elimination Chamber matches of the past.
John Cena, Ryback and Sheamus vs. The Shield (2013)
It is difficult to imagine a match featuring either John Cena or The Shield being considered underrated, let alone a match involving both. Yet that is the case with the six-man tag match from 2013's Elimination Chamber event.
Perhaps it was the crowning of new No. 1 contender Jack Swagger or The Rock's second straight defeat of CM Punk in a WWE title match that caught the attention of the wrestling faithful, but the best match from that night's broadcast was the one that saw Seth Rollins, Dean Ambrose and Roman Reigns defeat three of the top babyfaces in all of wrestling in one single match.
The match was wild and chaotic from the get-go, as Ryback and Rollins brawled at ringside. Eventually, it settled down into a more traditional six-man tag match that is not unlike those still seen on Raw every Monday.
John Cena did an excellent job as the babyface in peril, a role he typically is not asked to fill, while allowing Ryback to shine as the recipient of the hot tag. The Big Guy tore through his rivals and looked poised to end The Shield's undefeated streak.
The crowd came unglued for Ryback's spurt of offense, and it appeared as though WWE had finally found a babyface that could join Cena at the top of the card.
Unfortunately for Ryback, he lost track of Reigns, who delivered a spear during a Shell Shocked attempt. Rollins fell directly on top of Ryback, and the referee counted the fall and awarded the match to The Shield.
It was a huge win for the trio in that the biggest threat to them at that point had been defeated. Fans finally bought into The Shield as a force within WWE, and those same fans would watch the former developmental standouts dominate the company all year long.
Alberto Del Rio vs. Big Show for the World Heavyweight Title (2013)
For anyone who witnessed the awful match between Alberto Del Rio and Big Show back in 2011 at Capitol Punishment, the idea that the two Superstars have really good chemistry may seem incomprehensible. After all, there are not many Superstars Show has good chemistry with anymore, as evidenced by his lackluster performances over the last five months.
But early in 2013, the giant and Alberto Del Rio clashed in a few extraordinary matches over the World Heavyweight Championship, and a lot of it had to do with the roles they played.
Big Show was the imposing giant who brutalized and dominated the competition, while Del Rio was the plucky babyface who saw the error of his ways and was accepted by the WWE Universe. It was the perfect feud for Del Rio to gain momentum in his new role, and it produced some memorable matches as a result.
The SmackDown title change, where Del Rio defeated Big Show for the World Heavyweight Championship, and the subsequent rematch at Royal Rumble get a lot of publicity, but the two wrestlers' match at Elimination Chamber, which left the gimmick bouts at home and focused on a straight-up wrestling match, was a very good bout that solidified Del Rio's title reign and spot as one of the better babyface performers in the company.
The finish was a bit disappointing, as Del Rio missed the first enzuigiri kick attempt but landed a second, sending Ricardo Rodriguez's ice bucket off the side of Show's head, leaving him prone to Del Rio's cross armbreaker for the submission win.
Regardless of the disappointing botch at the end, the match was still expertly wrestled and one of the gems of the 2013 show.