Every wrestling fan knows that analysis of any event goes beyond mere wins and losses. Usually, it matters very little whose arm gets raised at the end of a match. So with that in mind, let’s take a look at who the real winners and losers were at WWE’s 2019 edition of Elimination Chamber.
Women’s Tag Team Elimination Chamber – WWE Women’s Tag Team Titles
Just for the attention lavished on the females and tag team wrestling alone, this match was a win for everyone. The raw emotion of Sasha Banks, Bayley and the fans once they’d claimed the belts was exactly the scene WWE wanted. Fans will be seeing replays of that for generations to come. It will be very interesting to see where the division goes from here, and just as interesting to see if men’s tag team wrestling is ever given this kind of focus again.
The Usos vs The Miz & Shane McMahon (C) – SmackDown Tag Team Titles
The Usos stepped out from the controversy they’ve been mired in for their SmackDown Tag Team Championship match versus The Miz and Shane McMahon. The title win for the Usos was somewhat of a surprise following the real-life arrest of Jimmy earlier in the week. A nice, welcome surprise, but a surprise nonetheless. It must surely be the beginning of the end for the World’s Greatest Tag Team, and hopefully the beginning of the end of Shane in the ring. The Usos could use a boost, and this is definitely a big win for them. It’s a big win for the blue tag belts too, which can go back to being the prizes they’re meant to be, instead of props for the inevitable Miz vs Shane WrestleMania program.
Finn Balor vs Bobby Lashley (C) & Lio Rush – Intercontinental Title
From the moment this match was made, it was always going to be hard for Lashley and Rush to come across as winners, regardless of whose arm was raised. And challenging for the Intercontinental championship in a handicap match always meant it would be tough to see Balor as a loser no matter what the result. When a two-man team drops a handicap match, they’re big losers. The All Mighty might have an excuse, but his short run with the IC strap doesn’t look good for him either. It’s somewhat of a shame, because Lashley had an intensity and energy tonight that was refreshing; too often, his performances have looked dialed-in over the last year. The outcome was obvious as soon as Rush tagged himself in. While this is a win for Balor, there’s an argument that it could be seen as a bit of a step back. In the space of about a month, Balor’s gone from being the number-one contender to the Universal title to the secondary championship scene. Let’s hope the Intercontinental title can make a bit of a home around Balor’s waist – it’s been passed around like a hot potato for a while. If it wasn’t for the US title being ignored so thoroughly, so often, the IC belt would have no status at all.
Ruby Riott vs Ronda Rousey (C) – Raw Women’s Championship
Rousey’s Sonya Blade cosplay gets at least a half-win, if for no other reason than it meant she wasn’t constantly adjusting her wardrobe. The match should have lasted longer, Riott should have been given a chance to show a little bit of offense to raise her own profile. She heads up a stable of three ladies, we should have been left at least understanding why Liv Morgan and Sarah Logan follow her. It turns out the match was simply a way to build more hype for the eventual WrestleMania main event. It’s only a matter of time before Becky Lynch is reinserted into that bout with Rousey and Charlotte Flair, and she was the biggest winner of this segment. The biggest losers were the buckled crutches Lynch apparently thought were made of cotton.
Baron Corbin vs Braun Strowman – No DQ
The losers in this match were, undoubtedly, the fans. Neither Strowman or Corbin gets anything out of this, which isn’t surprising, since neither guy has gotten anything from any of their interactions. Having Lashley and McIntyre join Corbin to beat up The Monster again also comes across as pointless. Even if Strowman needs to be written out again for some reason, what is this on-again, off-again trio doing together? It was never explained the first time, and seems even more bizarre this time. Big loss for Strowman, an empty and pointless win for Corbin, and another loss for Lashley. From IC champ to second-sidekick in the same night.
Did they… did they just have Lacey Evans walk down the aisle, have Commentary question why on-air, then have her turn around and leave? Did they learn nothing from Emmalina, or Eva Marie? That goes down as a loss for Evans, who frankly looked like a puppy when it wanders into a room, forgets why it did, then sheepishly circles until it lies down.
WWE Championship Elimination Chamber
The SmackDown men getting the main event for the night was a win for the blue brand. The show itself hasn’t had the spotlight on a Network Special since Survivor Series – and the focus that night was shining on them losing everything. Samoa Joe and Daniel Bryan did some solid work as the opening duo. They were a great choice for the first pairing, because the tempto of the match could only go up. Kofi Kingston launching himself off the Chamber wall and onto Bryan and Joe was a fun spot. Joe being taken out before all six men were even in the Chamber leaves him looking, once again, like less of a championship contender and more like an extra. By outlasting Jeff Hardy, Randy Orton, Styles and Joe to get one-on-one with the champ, Kingston massively increased his stock. He never looked out of place with the group in the Chamber, and the fans were solidly behind him. Bryan retained the title, as he was always expected to, but Kingston was the biggest winner of the night. Hard to remember the last time a crowd was that into false finishes in a title match. Kudos to the fans in attendance for a classy tribute to Kingston at the end of the show, too.
All in all, Elimination Chamber 2019 was the throwaway PPV it’s buildup has promised for a few weeks. Aside from the Rousey / Flair / Lynch interaction, there wasn’t any WrestleMania setup, which should probably be a key ingredient on the Road to WrestleMania. Obviously things will shake out and shape up over the next few weeks of television, and we’ve got another PPV between now and the Show of Shows, but this felt more like an extra television show than a ‘Special Event’. The Women’s Tag Team Championship Elimination Chamber match was a special, historic moment to kick off the show, and it ended with a highlight performance by Kingston and Bryan. In between was a whole lotta not much.