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Having a lot of potential isn’t the same as following through with it, as WWE Elimination Chamber 2022 showcased.
While there were a few segments that showed what the talent has to offer and took the right steps toward WrestleMania 38, many other parts of the premium live event were as flat as could be or downright problematic.
The fans who packed the Jeddah Superdome fervently chanted “this is awesome” for most of the night, while Twitter was abuzz with reactions like “awful is an understatement.”
Now that the dust has settled, let’s look back on what transpired and break down the best and the worst parts of the pay-per-view.
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Even Friday night after SmackDown, WWE had yet to establish a match for the pre-show. It could have been any number of options, including something that featured Mansoor, who was strangely absent from this show.
Saturday morning, it was announced The Miz vs. Rey Mysterio would be bumped off the main card and repositioned as a kickoff match.
As we would later find out that, there were many timing issues with this show that forced an entire match to be cut, so this was ultimately the right call.
Every other match was more important and would have felt odd on the kickoff. WWE certainly wasn’t going to put Ronda Rousey, Goldberg, Lita or Brock Lesnar there, which meant limited options were available.
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WWE has been able to squeeze more than these eight matches on a card with lesser time before and still had each contest last a decent chunk of time. Whoever was timing this show out, though, clearly didn’t know what they were doing.
Even after moving The Miz vs. Mysterio to the kickoff and rushing every match—so much so that these are now the two shortest Elimination Chamber matches in the gimmick’s history, being cut in half of the average time—WWE still found itself flat out removing The Usos vs. The Viking Raiders.
All of this should have been planned in advance to avoid the problem in the first place. As much as planning ahead is frustrating and requires more work, it’s worth it.
Then, when things were running behind, WWE should have opted to cut out some of the ridiculous video packages and promos instead of a match. Far too much of this show was filled with unnecessary highlight reels about the competitors, featuring footage fans have seen more times than they can count.
If by some chance none of that could have been avoided, WWE still could have had a better attack spot for The Usos to jump The Viking Raiders. Even using a weapon like a steel chair could have rendered it more believable than just doing a suplex and pretending there was no way Erik and Ivar could possibly complete.
WWE will assuredly just slap this on the next episode of SmackDown, act like that boosts that program’s value and hope fans forgive and forget—a philosophy that plagues the company these days.
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While Roman Reigns vs. Goldberg was quite literally built twice in a row on the concept of one of them simply saying they were going to fight the other one and that’s it, it was still technically two years in the making. This match should have happened at WrestleMania 36, but it was put on hold until now.
The simplest, easiest story to tell was that Goldberg made a career off essentially destroying his opponents with only two moves, wherein one of them—the spear—has been the go-to finisher for The Tribal Chief over most of his career, too.
The phrase “spear versus spear” was one of the big selling points before and should have been factored in here, yet was entirely absent.
Goldberg failed to get Reigns up for a Jackhammer, which is fine. He’s shown that’s too difficult for him to do these days anyway and was doomed to lose the match. But why couldn’t he at least take a single spear from Reigns?
If the intention was to firmly put the universal champion over as much as possible, having him beat Goldberg with his own move would have sealed the deal even more than the Hall of Famer passing out to a choke hold. At least then, he should have actually tapped, as the priority shouldn’t be protecting him, but making Reigns look as strong as can be.
Outside of some punches, a head-butt and a uranage, all that happened was Goldberg’s spears, a Superman Punch and Reigns’ guillotine. What a massive missed opportunity to make it seem as though Reigns has the best spear in the business.
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Before getting too much deeper into the weeds with the negatives, let’s toss out a massive positive that spans the entire event.
By and large, if you look on paper at who won each match, the right call was made.
How WWE got to that point, the details of each segment, the way the finishes went down and why these were even the matches on the card to begin with all notwithstanding, at least the winners were the ones who made the most sense.
The Miz losing to Mysterio will help set up The A-Lister’s lust for vengeance and take things to the next level with his new partner, who he wouldn’t have had the motivation to get had he won.
Reigns needed to beat Goldberg to keep his unprecedented run going and to secure the already scheduled match against Brock Lesnar for WrestleMania.
Lita absolutely shouldn’t have beaten Becky Lynch but was allowed to put up a fight before Big Time Becks retained. Likewise, Bianca Belair made the most sense to challenge Lynch and undo her loss at SummerSlam, despite how she’s already had rematches since then. The others just didn’t make sense.
Ronda Rousey and Naomi had to beat Charlotte Flair and Sonya Deville so The Queen’s title could look to be in jeopardy and the Royal Rumble winner would have momentum on her side.
Drew McIntyre overcame both Madcap Moss and Happy Corbin, as he should, since he’s the more serious wrestler and the babyface.
Finally, it was clear for months now that all eggs are in the basket of Reigns vs. Lesnar. If WWE as heading in that direction no matter what and both belts were going to end up like this, had anyone won other than The Beast Incarnate, the company would have just continued to play hot potato with the belt like it has done the past month, only to end up on Lesnar anyway. Him winning here saves those extra steps.
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For the past several weeks, WWE has run these cringy vignettes about Alexa Bliss talking to a therapist to get over the trauma of losing Lilly the puppet.
They were painfully awkward and completely unnecessary, especially now that it seems they were quite literally all for nothing.
The last one ended with Bliss seemingly moving on past Lilly in some regard to either go back to her Goddess character or adjust her gimmick in another way.
Lo and behold, she came out to exactly the same music as before, wearing basically the same outfit.
If you’d argue the therapist said the opposite of moving on, suggesting she should keep Lilly by her side at all times, she didn’t do that, either! That means both stepping away from the character or bringing it to the forefront were both not fully realized.
These therapy segments were a waste of time, and we can only hope there aren’t any more to come on the next episode of Raw.
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If you’re going to have a stipulation where someone needs to have their arm tied behind their back, you should actually tie their arm behind their back!
Ronda Rousey spent nearly every minute of this match with her arm very loosely down by her side. She would even often have her hand practically clasped with the other right in front of her.
It rendered the whole thing laughable. Rousey had to pretend as though she couldn’t use her arm that was clearly free, and the referee wasn’t doing an adequate job by assessing the situation and fixing it.
Had Rousey had the sensibility to just hold her arm behind her and pretend it was a tighter clasp, all of this could have been avoided. Instead, at a glance, she looked like she just forgot she had another arm to use.
Frustratingly, that means WWE has two options. Either it can be forgotten about and ignored with the hopes, again, that fans will just forgive the flub, or it can be called out.
If the latter happens, that means Rousey will look foolish and/or this will be dragged out as something Sonya Deville and Charlotte Flair can complain about and say they never would have lost had the rules been followed.
The only way that goes anywhere is if there’s a rematch, which is unnecessary. Plus, does anyone really want to listen to those tiresome promos in the first place?
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It’s unclear if Bobby Lashley is actually injured or if it was all a work that he was taken out of the match.
However if Kazeem Famuyide has the story right from what he said on The Ringer Wrestling Show, (h/t WrestlingInc’s Kellie Haulotte) Lashley could be out for at least four months and require shoulder surgery.
If WWE knew that The All Mighty had been dealing with injuries and wouldn’t make WrestleMania, he couldn’t possibly hold the WWE Championship any longer. Whether it was the right call to put it on Lesnar is another discussion, but it certainly had to change hands in some way.
Writing him out of the match with an injury that got him pulled so he didn’t have to actually wrestle, nor take a pin or tap out, gives him plausible deniability. As soon as he’s able to return, he can say he didn’t actually lose and he would have gone on to retain the title and headline WrestleMania if he had been allowed to compete.
Ideally, no one would be injured and this title scene wouldn’t be as messy, but if these are the cards WWE has been dealt, this was at least one hand that was played well.
Anthony Mango is the owner of the wrestling website Smark Out Moment and the host of the podcast show Smack Talk on YouTube, iTunes and Stitcher. You can follow him on Facebook and elsewhere for more.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism