Another week, another bone to pick for the Champion of Champions. Randy Orton took center stage on Monday Night Raw to once again voice his gripes over having to defend his WWE World Heavyweight Title – this time, as one of six participants in the dreaded Elimination Chamber Match. And with Orton's continued displeasure came yet another response from The Authority, who went so far as to out-and-out question whether their handpicked champion was really the man to carry the company's standard.
Either to spite Orton's insubordination or to help him stay the corporate course, Triple H & Stephanie McMahon decreed that The Viper would face each of his five Chamber opponents over the next two weeks. First up would be the man who started a movement – and, should he win, a possibility for the new "Face of WWE" – Daniel Bryan.
The Shield rolls on en route to their collision with The Wyatts at Elimination Chamber, but victory over Big E Langston, Kofi Kingston & Rey Mysterio did little to calm the tension between The Hounds of Justice when Dean Ambrose, for all intents and purposes, stole a pinfall that rightfully belonged to Roman Reigns. The win was an uphill battle in every sense of the word: Kofi Kingston used his agility to confound Seth Rollins early on, sending him tumbling with a monkey flip before Ambrose and Reigns helped drive Kofi & Co. into a rut that not even a fresh Mysterio could pull them out of.
Rey's timely escape of the Tree of Woe brought Big E into the fray, and the Intercontinental Champion seized the moment with a shoulder block that all but rendered Reigns into 2-D. Rollins & Ambrose saved the bout with timely interference and Reigns surged forth with a Superman Punch to Langston, though Ambrose tagged in to snatch the pin for himself. The miscue seemed to cause a bit of friction between the three Superstars; a development that Bray Wyatt – who appeared on the TitanTron after the match – was practically salivating over.
That's two for the Peeps: Christian got one more match against Jack Swagger and doubled down on his comeback victory from SmackDown, defeating his foe for a second time on Raw. The match was a potential moment of redemption for Swagger, who was denied entry into the Elimination Chamber by virtue of his loss to Christian; instead, it – along with some pointed inaction by the Chamber-bound Antonio Cesaro – just ended up salting the wound of the former World Heavyweight Champion.
The ageless Captain Charisma fought to an advantage early on, though Swagger flipped the script by sweeping his legs out from under him on the apron. Swagger manhandled his opponent but gloated a few minutes too long; Christian booted the former World Champion in the face and never let up from there, reversing the gutwrench powerbomb into an inverted DDT. Despite Swagger's dire straits, neither his mentor nor partner helped him in any way, to the tune of a countered Swagger Bomb, sunset flip roll-up for three, and a disappointed shake of the head from Cesaro.
The New Age Outlaws are apparently here to stay as WWE Tag Team Champions, defeating Cody Rhodes & Goldust in a Steel Cage rematch for the twin titles and proving their upset win at Royal Rumble was far from fluky. Battling with the stipulation that the match had to be won by pinfall or submission, the Outlaws were all smiles at the opening bell.
Road Dogg made like his namesake and pounced on Cody Rhodes, with Gunn complimenting his partner's street-fighting stomps with holds that zeroed in on Cody's taped-up arm. The Rhodes Bros. rebounded thanks to a strong showing from Goldust, until a missed crossbody sent The Bizarre One back first into the cage wall and slowed “The Brotherhood” down. Cody did tag in with a showstopping moonsault off the top of the cage to Road Dogg ... yet it was Billy Gunn who was legal, and the former King of the Ring brought the hammer down on the reeling Rhodes with a Famouser for the retention.
An impressive new look from Zack Ryder didn't do much to help him Raw when a surging Titus O’Neil – Prime Time Player no more – feasted on the former United States Champion. “The Big Deal” besieged The Ultimate Broski from the start, tossing him over the ropes like a rag doll and wrapping him up in a rib-crunching bear hug. Despite some unexpected mid-match insults to both competitors by The Miz on commentary, Ryder impressively rallied with the Broski Boot, though O’Neil's power won out in the end and he planted Long Island Iced-Z with an emphatic Clash of the Titus for the win.
Not only did Summer Rae learn everything she knows about dancing from Fandango, it appears she inherited her mentor's strange propensity for upset losses in dance competitions as well. What was set to be a dance-off between Fandango and Santino Marella quickly turned into Summer's contest to lose when Fandango declared his companion would take his place. Santino – who knows better than anyone the best competitors come from the crowd – went to the WWE Universe itself for his replacement and plucked out Emma, the sign-toting NXT trainee who's been boogieing her way through Fandango's matches in recent weeks.
As it turns out, The Italian Stallion chose well: Despite her unorthodox dancing, the WWE Universe handily voted Emma as the winner. Let the #EMMAlution begin.
It's a shameful thing that we didn't see The Celtic Warrior for six months, but as the collective howl of Brogue Kick Hooligans the world over can attest, Sheamus is back and ready to fight. The first unlucky Superstar to meet the Irishman's famous foot turned out to be Curtis Axel, who tussled with Sheamus in a singles match on Raw.
Helping to break up The Prime Time Players did give Axel a bit extra oomph in the match, though it wasn't enough to carry him past the resurgent former WWE Champion. Even though Axel wisely targeted Sheamus’ bad shoulder, The Celtic Warrior beat him like he'd told too many lies, raining clubbing blows to the former Intercontinental Champion's chest, bouncing him beard-first off the announce table and, despite a furious rally from his opponent, plastering Axel in the face with a Brogue Kick. It was a win that certainly impressed the WWE Universe ... if not Axel's partner Ryback, who had a few pointed words for Sheamus after the match was over.
And you thought Randy Orton wasn't happy about Batista going to WrestleMania. The Viper's frustration at facing his old running mate still doesn't hold a candle to Alberto Del Rio's after he failed to make good on his promise to humiliate The Animal two weeks ago in the Royal Rumble Match. The Essence of Excellence saved his harshest rhetoric for this face off, vowing to turn Batista – who insisted he had no problem with Del Rio – into a quivering mess before pouncing with a cheap shot to the Royal Rumble Match winner. The freshly-anointed Gracie Jiu-Jitsu purple belt didn't have any problem throwing hands in response, though “Mexico’s Greatest Export” hit the road before The Animal could strike with the Batista Bomb.
Three of WWE's most high-octane competitors became little more than an eclectic puree for the buzzards when The Wyatt Family kicked off their own march towards Elimination Chamber in dominant fashion, decimating Dolph Ziggler, R-Truth & Xavier Woods in Six-Man action on Raw. The trio was dominant in nearly all phases; Erick Rowan & Luke Harper flawlessly executed the whims of their “king,” Bray Wyatt, despite some solid resistance from Woods & Truth.
Truth managed to reach Ziggler at the last possible minute and The Showoff roared into action against Harper, pouncing with corner punches, a neckbreaker and leaping DDT before Rowan saved the Family's chances. Bray and Rowan stormed the ring to throw the bout into disarray and Harper capitalized with a discus clothesline to The Showoff, tagging Bray in moments later to put Dolph to bed with Sister Abigail.
That said, The Wyatts clearly have a match when it comes to threatening messages: The Shield repaid the Family for their earlier threats with a pointed one of their own after the match ended. The countdown to "war" continues.
Funk really is on a roll. Naomi – she of numerous pinfalls over Divas Champion AJ Lee – made a strong case for herself as a No. 1 contender to the Divas Title when she defeated Aksana, who has fast emerged as the new powerhouse of the division. Despite Alicia Fox and AJ's presence at ringside, The Funkadactyl would not be denied, withstanding a brutal knee to the face and countering with an enziguiri and split-legged moonsault to pin the Lithuanian beauty with authority. As for Alicia's post-match attempt to get a piece of Naomi? That went south pretty fast as well when she was forcibly tossed from the ring by both Funkadactyls.
With the WWE Universe's legions at his back, Daniel Bryan has found himself in contention for WrestleMania glory, and after eating Randy Orton, he might be the new “Face of WWE” to boot. The “Yes”! man wasted no time in picking up where he left off with the Champion of Champions, dropkicking The Viper's knee to mush against the ring post, following up with an Indian Deathlock that Orton escaped by out-and-out biting Bryan in the knee.
It didn't do the trick for long, as Bryan twice turned Orton into a human projectile – once into the announce table, and once off the turnbuckle with a top-rope hurricanrana. Orton found separation by dissecting Bryan's shoulder with a series of brutal submission holds, though a missile dropkick from Bryan evened things out. The two Superstars traded heavy shots on each other for minutes on end until WWE Director of Operations Kane came down to stop the madness. Bryan had no love for his former partner, though, blasting both Orton and Kane with a suicide dive before finishing The Viper off with a knee to the face.
Bryan's former tag partner wasn't about to hug it out in celebration, though; Kane repaid his old friend's attack with unmitigated brutality, joining forces with Orton to leave the submission master flat on the mat with a chokeslam. If Daniel Bryan is indeed the new Face of WWE, consider this his first black eye.
- Numbers in parentheses indicate the length of the match.
- (c) refers to the champion(s) heading into the match.
- The Shield (Dean Ambrose, Roman Reigns & Seth Rollins) defeated Big E. Langston, Kofi Kingston & Rey Mysterio (11:30)
- Christian defeated Jack Swagger (w/ Antonio Cesaro & Zeb Colter) (6:00)
- The New Age Outlaws (Road Dog & Billy Gunn) defeated The Brotherhood (Goldust & Cody Rhodes) in a Steel Cage Match to retain the WWE Tag Team Championship (16:15)
- Titus O'Neil defeated Zack Ryder (2:45)
- Sheamus defeated Curtis Axel (w/ Ryback) (7:04)
- The Wyatt Family (Bray Wyatt, Erick Rowan & Luke Harper) defeated Dolph Ziggler and Truth and Consequences (R-Truth & Xavier Woods) (5:01)
- Naomi (w/ Cameron) defeated Aksana (w/ Alicia Fox) (4:51)
- Daniel Bryan defeated Randy Orton (27:54)
Other on-screen talent