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Brian Fowler

Elimination Chamber

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I want to believe that last night, somewhere on the road between Minneapolis and Green Bay, at a rest stop or a gas station, Sheamus and Cesaro ran into each other, had a stare down and went straight back into their uppercut war.

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Post something interesting instead of something like this. RISE ABOVE HATE

 

 

LET'S GO GREGGULATOR!

GREGGULATOR SUCKS!

 

LET'S GO GREGGULATOR!

GREGGULATOR SUCKS!

 

I see of it less a chant and more like the two days when Fandangoing was popular, but with Greggs spastic Where in the World is Carmen San Diego? dance.

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Back to writing about what happened instead of what could --

I'm rewatching Shield vs. Wyatts right now. Man, there are so many things in this that I don't remember seeing before.

Case in point: Rollins dodges a charge from Bray in the corner and gets the foot up -- a great callback because Bray hit that move earlier in the match. Rollins then goes up top for a hope spot, but Bray catches him and just tosses him with a chokeslam. Bray goes to cover and Ambrose breaks up the fall and is going crazy and then Harper just flattens him with a stiff boot. Then Harper returns to the corner. That Harper/Ambrose thing is just one of those subtle touches that really brings it up a level -- these guys are tossing grenades during pinfall breakups, and any opportunity they can to hurt the other guy they'll take.

Reigns also does inspired apron work when Rollins is going for a hot tag, stomping on the steps. I mean, there has been great apron work before but Reigns REALLY put it over like he would do absolutely anything to get in that match. It wasn't just a spot for the fans to clap with. It was him rallying his own man. Just intense apron work.

What's also great about that Top Rope Geman thing where Rollins landed on his feet -- Bryan actually hit that on Rollins in their crazy great singles match last year, if you remember. So there's a little memory recall that adds to the believability of the potential success of the move.

Reigns stuff after the hot tag was great. I loved him getting tossed to the floor but knowing Rowan was in position for the apron dropkick. He didn't even break stride. It felt like one of "the great ones see the play before it develops" moments.

The big dive sequence was so awesome, too. It gets set up after Dean gets in. He dropkicks Harper down and then starts clubbing at Bray with his lunatic fringe offense. He goes back to the ring, hits something, and then to the floor to get some more of Bray. Then Harper does his dive -- and of course it works, because Ambrose went to the floor never guessing this big swamp monster would fly like that. And then Rollins, in true cocky aerialist fashion, has to top that with his flip. That leads to a little sequence between Reigns and Rowan where Reigns dodges a corner splash into a roll-up that is a terrific near fall. Then they both club each other at once, leading to a bit of a breather for the audience.

But not for long. Because Rollins runs to the announcer tables and starts ripping it apart. The crowd goes nuts for this -- they wanted tables, they got tables. But at the same time, the danger of this match just got upped another level. We've seen table stuff so many times before, but this is built so well. There's a brawl to start, then it's a wrestling match but the emphasis is on showing intensity and character work as opposed to focusing on execution (but everything is executed marvelously well). Even the tag breakups are vicious. Everyone gets a showcase spot and they're all amplified -- Bray's floor senton, for example.

The table-area stuff is so great. Harper does Reigns' thumb's up as Bray sets Rollins up for a powerbomb. But Dean comes out of nowhere and gets more licks in on Bray, keeping in form with him being the hothead sh*ttalker ("Oooooh, we're so scared!"). And somehow the intensity goes up ANOTHER level because they get into the crowd but don't stop swinging. It's been a while since I can remember that happening.  Then they disappear out of sight.

Reigns and Rowan have another showdown. Reigns wins ANOTHER exchange between them, including getting a Superman Punch for two. Harper and Rollins go at it, with Rollins swinging a television monitor -- now the violence is upped again, and when has THAT ever happened? Bray comes charging back and a winded Reigns is edging towards that exchange, allowing Rowan to club him from behind and hit his fallaway slam that sends Reigns to the floor. Rowan FINALLY won an exchange -- he took a lot of punishment all match long and survived.

Bray then orders his monsters to the floor. There, they put Rollins through a table via a double chokeslam. It gets one of the loudest Holy Sh*t chants. I think I wrote earlier about this spot. We've seen so many insane table bumps over the years. Foley. New Jack. Sabu. Michaels. This was as relatively easy a table bump as one will ever take. Yet it got a historic pop. The payoff to the table bump was so worth it -- in a lesser match, it would have come a bit quicker. But they build JUST to that moment and it's great. And it's also really cool since Rollins is the one who put the table in play, let alone the big picture of The Shield getting its start in the same fashion.

The camera doesn't really focus on Rollins too much. Instead, it comes to Bray overlooking the broken bones he's used to pave his empire. His look is just so cold and triumphant. This is why Bray Wyatt's the Mike Trout of wrestling, and somehow both a prospect and amazing all at once. His facial expressions just tell the story. He didn't actually participate in Rollins' destruction, but he's the responsible party. And now he can sense victory.

Now comes the final act. Reigns has rolled into the ring and is on his knees with a look of a soldier walking up that hill -- he knows the odds are so against him, but he's going to fight, because that's all he knows how to do. That's one of the great things about Roman -- he can tell the story with his face. In a lesser version of this match, he'd start his comeback immediately. But instead, the Wyatts have control. Harper and Rowan hit their corner splashes. Then Harper kneels before Bray to tag him in -- Cole described it as "an offering" in his commentary, and it's so spot on. The ruler now gets to destroy.

And now it's comeback time. Right when defeat is imminent, Reigns powers out of Sister Abigail. And if you'll recall, he was powering out of Cena's STF when the lamb's mask flashed and The Wyatts appeared and jumped Cena in the moment that led to all of this. Bray's face during this is so great. It's this look of fear and admiration at once. But it doesn't go right into Reigns powering out. Instead, Bray hits a few headbutts. Roman screams though and gets his Samoan Drop on the patriarch.

This is also only the second direct interaction between Reigns and Bray the whole match. There was one near the beginning that got a crazy reaction. There was also a really great indirect one after Bray's floor senton. Reigns was out of his corner, on the floor, staring Bray down, who glared back, while Ambrose was in the corner in a frenzy.

Harper and Rowan both attack, naturally, with Reigns getting the two of them out of the way. He hits a Superman Punch on Bray. Is this possible? This is the dude who beat four men at Survivor Series to win the match. This is the guy who just set the record of eliminations at The Royal Rumble. How many times has he been pinned or tapped out? Off the top of my mind, it's only once, and that was in an 11-on-3 match, of all things. He's waiting for the Spear and calls for it.

But like we said before -- the numbers game came back to haunt Reigns. Harper runs in to take the Spear for his leader. The Shield, too, was built on sacrifice. But it was a sacrifice of friends/allies there to make a statement and deliver justice/make money. They were always a house of cards. Harper's sacrifice is out of religious devotion. Bray then hits his crossbody block and hits Sister Abigail without too much theatrics, but just the kiss of death.

This match wasn't just a great, well-built and structured match. The facial acting of everyone involved in this really brought it up to a whole new level. The training center really has driven in the whole "wrestling as character" part of the game that has eluded so many people. The Shield and The Wyatts are really the first products of the new system.

 

This isn't the end. It's the beginning.

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Damn it, Humpty.

 

I missed the fucking show last night and you're making me all ragey again

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All the bad booking decisions on this show and people are actually saying that the Usos-Outlaws feud should have ended after a week of Usos squashes? Come on. What would that have even done for the Usos? They're trying to give them that big win they didn't get off The Shield to legitimize them as a top-level team. This requires buildup.

 

Except that the Outlaws won clean as a whistle. They proved that they're the better team. There's nothing left to settle. Generally speaking, I think it's interesting how a chickenshit placeholder team is going over clean against all the other tag teams. I guess being friends with the boss has its perks.

 

Hats off to wpdougie2180 for being with me on the Bryan selling thing. Even if none of the rest of you are.

 

I was one of the first guys, if not the first, to criticize Bryan for his spotty limb selling, and I didn't have a problem with his performance. Other than Christian, no one was going after his arm. You can't sell attacks that aren't happening.

 

And folks bitching about HIAC - the very first one ever ended with outside interference.

 

And I'd argue that the gimmick was ruined because of it. Having escapes and run-ins might have worked after it had already been well established that the cell was inescapable, but doing it the first time out was stupid. Even worse, it set a precedent for the focus being on stunt bumps outside the cell rather than violence inside it.

 

Honestly, I don't think there's ever been a more disappointing gimmick than HIAC. On paper, it's a can't-miss concept: you get all the hate and violence of a cage match without the excessively claustrophobic feel cage matches can have. But I don't there's been a single HIAC match that's come close to living up to the gimmick's potential.

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The Chamber of Horrors was a way more disappointing gimmick.

 

They shrouded it in secrecy as this ultimate battle between these bloodthirsty motherfuckers and Sting and his homies

 

Go watch the actual match now on the Network 

 

Okay that was rad as fuck but still

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1) #GREGGmalution

2) I hate to agree with Matt D this close to March Madness, but I've been annoyed by Bryan's limb selling too. It's definitely a thing.

3) I worry that there is a theory of booking that says "Never give the people what they want, because then they've got no reason to come back for more."

4) The trouble with Bryan's story arc is that it's not been about Bryan chasing the belt for a long time. It's been Bryan vs. bad booking, and explicitly so. The logical payoff is him going over HHH at Mania, and even the ref can count the number of people who want to see that match.

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3) I worry that there is a theory of booking that says "Never give the people what they want, because then they've got no reason to come back for more."

 

I believe the proper term is "The money is in the chase."

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Michael Cole's rant at the end of EC tells me that WWE is fully aware what is going on and wants to create that WM moment this year. I have faith Bryan will have that moment this year. EC was a good PPV (except for that terirble Divas match). If Batista gets the ratings for WWE and Bryan gets the pops, why not put them both in the match at Mania to get the best of bother worlds? With Cena, Taker, Hogan, Lesnar, and HHH - WWE shouldn't worry about the main event.

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Honestly, I don't think there's ever been a more disappointing gimmick than HIAC. On paper, it's a can't-miss concept: you get all the hate and violence of a cage match without the excessively claustrophobic feel cage matches can have. But I don't there's been a single HIAC match that's come close to living up to the gimmick's potential.

 

 

I'd argue that Taker/Foley and Taker/Lesnar definitely upheld the gimmick. Taker/Foley were only outside the cage because they started there, and was such and impressive spectacle it defined the match forever. Taker/Lesnar was plenty bloody, violent, hate-filled, and stayed inside from start to finish if that's really important to you.

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Taker/HBK HIAC is still the best WWF match ever, so...

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I'm more of a Melina vs. Alicia Fox man myself...

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FINALLY saw the 6 man.  Was that about as good as professional wrestling gets or what?!   Near, if not, perfect match.

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The top two matches definitely delivered and lived up to the expectations for sure. Shield/Wyatts was pretty much perfect, so much great stuff. Favorite part may have been Harper's suicide dive followed by Rollins crazy flip dive. Great finishing stretch too. Chamber was one of the best ones yet with an awesome group of talent in there. Loved Christian getting to score an elimination, fantastic way to do it too. Everyone ruled in this match. Loved the finish here as well with Bryan kicking out of the first RKO being a real perfect hope spot. Also really liked Big E/Swagger, probably my favorite Big E match so far. Would've liked to have seen Swagger go over but they did some nice near falls and both guys looked good.

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Taker/HBK HIAC is still the best WWF match ever, so...

 

I still question why I am friends with you

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Michael Cole's rant at the end of EC tells me that WWE is fully aware what is going on and wants to create that WM moment this year. I have faith Bryan will have that moment this year. EC was a good PPV (except for that terirble Divas match). If Batista gets the ratings for WWE and Bryan gets the pops, why not put them both in the match at Mania to get the best of bother worlds? With Cena, Taker, Hogan, Lesnar, and HHH - WWE shouldn't worry about the main event.

 

The problem is they think that is a win over HHH whereas the majority of people want to see him have a run with the belt that he's been screwed out of 4 times. They might not think too much of their belt but it's clear that everyone else sees it as a signifier of their faith in someone and that they're the top guy and people want to see Bryan in that position ahead of everyone else. At this point, I agree with whoever said Bryan's inevitable title win has to be a crazy stipulation where nobody can interfere or he deals with all the interference, wins clean and closes out the following Raw with his music playing, Yessing with the belt or else nobody will actually believe it's going to stick.

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Taker/HBK HIAC is still the best WWF match ever, so...

 

I still question why I am friends with you

You need someone who makes you feel superior, like the hot chick with the fat friend who makes her feel skinnier.

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HHH vs Bryan at Mania, if Bryan wins he gets a title shot, if he loses he dies. HHH goes over. Finally gets to truly bury someone.

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Taker/HBK HIAC is still the best WWF match ever, so...

 

I still question why I am friends with you

 

I love that match. There's only one I'd have above it, maybe two.

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HHH vs Bryan at Mania, if Bryan wins he gets a title shot, if he loses he dies. HHH goes over. Finally gets to truly bury someone.

 

Wouldn't be the first time.

 

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Watched The Wyatt Family vs. The Shield back and it's my new Match of the Year. Best six man tag either team has had.

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