Viewers of tonight’s WWE Elimination Chamber show devoted five seconds of their lives to watching the “which pod will it be, transference of light” shot between Jeff Hardy and Randy Orton in the main event of the evening. It’s easy to wonder about the necessity of such a shot considering Orton winning a gauntlet match on the previous Smackdown Live guaranteed that he would be the final entrant in the six-man main event, not Hardy.
Trading in five seconds of needless time-killing silliness to appease Vince McMahon’s camera angle fetish would prove to be a well worth it audience investment, though, as a riveting 12-minute finishing sequence featured WWE champion Daniel Bryan and Kofi Kingston battling to near fall-filled perfection.
The “Kofi!” chants were loud, and it was refreshing to hear a crowd actually have energy, support and appreciation for a face in the main event of a WWE show. These days, it seems almost like a foreign concept to have the fans in attendance invested in a main event instead of tired out for it.
The six-man smorgasbord of talent in the Men’s elimination chamber featured praise-worthy performances from Bryan and Kingston. Everyone else filled their role as good appetizers.
That was the well-timed height of what turned out to be a good but nothing special, typical between Rumble and Mania B-show.
The Women’s tag team title match had some weird pacing issues in the beginning. The heat for the match picked up surprisingly enough when Carmella and Naomi entered. The Nia Jax bursting through the pod spot was intense, as was Bayley’s and Sasha’s individual bumps into the metal part of the pods.
Seeing the Boss and Hug connection hoist the newly designed gold after the inaugural win felt like the right move. There were a few mistimes and miscues in this one, notably Mandy Rose being late to break up a Bayley pin on partner Sonya Deville, but overall it was a fine enough match for what it was.
Crowd heat waned for the following two matches, but two title changes in a row seemed to help. The Usos beating Shane and Miz for the Smackdown Tag titles was a welcome surprise. There was also notable excitement for Finn Balor’s intercontinental championship victory. The Coup De Grace always receives a big pop, regardless if it’s coming at the end of a rather ordinary match like the one he had with Bobby Lashley and Lio Rush.
Ruby Riott played sacrificial lamb to a Ronda Rousey, Charlotte and Becky Lynch stare down segment that might have made more sense to do on either the coming Raw or Smackdown for ratings purposes.
Once a member of the “we need three heels from the Raw roster to have a lot of six-man tag matches” trio with Drew McIntyre and Dolph Ziggler, Braun Strowman saw the other side of the coin tonight as Baron Corbin, McIntyre and Bobby Lashley showed Strowman what it’s like to have strength in numbers.
The Monster Among Men will likely be on the lookout for some partners to join him in his quest for payback. Finn Balor and Kurt Angle are obvious possibilities. Who knows, maybe even a guy like John Cena will return to settle his beef with McIntyre.
The main event featured its fair share of interesting spots that were aided by the Chamber setting such as Kofi Kingston flying off the cage, AJ Styles’ phenomenal forearm to Daniel Bryan on the outside and Jeff Hardy’s Swanton bomb from atop of one of the pods onto a top rope dangling Styles.
It’s easy to believe that Mustafa Ali was likely the initial choice to be the final foe for Bryan before an injury forced him to the sideline. Ali would have worked well in the role. However, judging by how excited fans in Houston were for Kington’s close calls, it seems that Ali’s injury may have been a blessing in disguise.
With tons of momentum built from his recent hour long performance in the Gauntlet match on Smackdown, it can be argued that his performance inside the Chamber was the highlight and peak of Kingston’s career.
The 37-year-old veteran thrived when handed an opportunity he’s clearly been waiting years for. Right now, Kofi’s got the type of heat and fan interest that make him a worthy candidate for a Wrestlemania title feud with Bryan.